The Let's Play Archive

Sunless Sea

by Black Wombat

Part 32: Great and terrible truths

Journal entry thirty one – Great and terrible truths

From The Journal of Captain Petra Blackwood,

October 4rd, 1888

The first stop of our northward journey towards Frostfound is a short stop in Venderbight; I have something to deliver, after all.

I visited shortly with the First Curator, and delivered the Ray-Drenched Cinder I'd been granted by the people of the Uttershroom. Of all the ways I have seen him, assumably, absorb the essence of these strange pieces I bring, this is certainly the oddest – Music unlike anything I've heard before.

I was in no mood to stay in the dark. Once I'd been paid, I returned to my ship. I find myself growing alternating eager and anxious to face Frostfound, although we have days to go yet.

October 4th, 1888

North of Venderbight, we encountered a Lifeburg and dealt with it the usual way.

The only reason this is overly notable is what we discovered in the creature's remains; the log of some other ship, long lost. Quark, who saw me recover it, says it's bad luck to read a lost ship's journal. Normally, I'd be diving in anyway, but with the visit to Frostfound coming, and the fact that occasionally the book bleeds a small drop of blood, I think avoiding this read for now would be wise.

FACT – You cannot read this log. I find this incredibly frustrating.

October 6th, 1888

Our stay in Wither was not at all unpleasant. But what followed our departure was slightly difficult. Two lifeburgs had blockaded us into the town. With no space to run, we engaged them openly, and almost at a standstill.

We won, but not without damage to the Checkmate – nothing serious, but enough that we should perhaps avoid taking too many more risks during this trip. However, we did claim another Smooth and Copper box from the trip! I'll be happy to pass that on next time we go past Station III.

October 8th, 1888

We arrived on Mount Palmerston this morning. I had my crew set about replenishing our stocks of coal from the market – and finally procuring the Zzoup the Merchant in London keeps asking for - while I took myself out for a little walk.

I found myself thinking about the Dapper Chap as I walked. He's horrified by all this, of course. I told him I'd planned to go into Frostfound, and he was aghast. He made me promise on everything important I could think of that I wouldn't get lost inside the place, but I don't think he needs to worry. It will be dangerous, of course, but I've handled danger before – and if anyone would have a tendency to overstate the mysticism of a place, it'd be the Witheren and the Iremi. All will be well. I'll be back in London before he knows it.

October 9th, 1888

I am ready to enter Frostfound.

We made land at Stoddard's Haven, and I spoke to the squatters. They made their opinions perfectly clear – Frostfound is a place no-one should go. But the Tireless Mechanic obviously went in and came back out, so it's not impossible – And if he can do it, so can I. But just in case, I leave this entry in case something unthinkable happens inside – To my child, away someone else on this dark wide Zee, never let fear stop you from doing anything. Often times, if you try, you will find it is only the fear that stops you.

Continued on the next page – Petra's normally steady script is much more shaky than normal.

Frostfound is behind me now. It's... I cannot even come up with words to describe such a place.

To say it was a like a dream, or even a nightmare, is not quite right. I have been to those places.

It is like a memory.

Someone else's memories, made into ice and flesh and feelings that are only satisfied when surrendered to utterly.

I have learned things I do not think I was meant to know.

And even those things, Frostfound let me keep only unwillingly.

But even a place such as Frostfound only has so many challenges.

Eventually, what I came for was found. Deep within the place. Leaving was simple, by comparison.

Grandalt says I was only gone for ten minutes, but it feels like it's been hours. My body aches. I think the crew noticed the changes in me – many looked concerned and whispered to each other as I retreated here, to my quarters. I need a few minutes to gather my wits. Then I will tell them to depart for the Chapel of Lights as quickly as we can.

I need... Comfort.

October 10th, 1888

The clergy of the Chapel of Lights welcomed us again with open arms. This visit, of course, I was coming for more than merely a good meal.

I told the priest of my commission for the Admiralty, and he told me of the goings-on of his flock... Terrible, dark things that men and women have been absolved of. After that, of course, came the meal.

And then finally of my offering of the Well. I have no need for dreams right now – they only call back unpleasant things. Frostfound has been clinging to me.

Hopefully, this will ease my mind.

October 12th, 1888

We have been to Irem.

Once more I will lay my head on an red pillow and dream of amber skies.

I walked the ways of the Waswood, and found what will be Glory. It is disappointing. The Chelonites have been displeased and deceived, possibly by themselves. But the story is mine now. I will deliver it as I wish.

Under the amber sky I will find strange, beautiful trees with fruit as red and juicy as the finest zee-steaks. Upon waking, I have traded the remainder of the my coffee for linen, and am home in London.

October 14th, 1888 - Morning

We paid a visit to Wisdom today, to fetch the Mechanic's friend to assist with building the great engine he dreams of.

The man we've retrieved is... Strange. He's clearly inhuman, by either birth or circumstance. He's properly grateful to be freed from that infernal place, though, and the Mechanic assures me he'll be invaluable in the construction that is to come. He seems more eager than ever to see his dream take shape. We have a ways to go, yet, but I don't reckon it will be too long now – perhaps another month. Two at the most. Before 1889, we'll see the Mechanic's stolen engine.

October 14th, 1888 – Evening

I paid a short stop on Nuncio today. Seeing all these places, seeing them... Unchanged, by what was in Frostfound, soothes my mind a little. But only a little. I fear my manner has started to affect my crew; they go about their duties quickly, with many careful glances out to Zee, in case some beast should be approaching.

I took some time to walk along the beach, where the island calls parcels too it. A particularly noisy package caught my eye.

I wasn't going to open it myself, of course. I have people for that.

Inside was only a clock, which would be disappointingly banal, if it wasn't one of the most exquisite clocks I'd ever seen. Pity it will soon stop. It would have looked lovely on the mantle at home.

October 16th, 1888

As we approached Khan's Shadow, we did so through a thick fog bank – which proved valuable, as we passed within a stone's throw of a Khaganian katamaran, and they didn't see us. While London and the Khan are not, technically speaking, at war, the captains of these war catamarans will assume any English ship they see contains spies and will attack on sight. And, of course, should I defend myself, it will be my fault they sunk. It's better to avoid them entirely.

The stop here was short. Just long enough to collect some supplies, and then we were off to Khan's Heart.

While wandering the streets today, I met a now somewhat-familiar face. I was much less reluctant to make this purchase; I'll have a use for this piscine treasure soon enough.

However, I wasn't quite ready to leave yet. I needed just a little time to relax. So, despite the prices I've heard the zailors on the docks complaining about, I decided to stop in at one of the local tea-houses.

A little peace and quiet was worth the price. Although it has been over a week since my time in Frostfound, I keep seeing glimpses of it here and there – especially in the reflections of fixtures around the ship. I have, temporarily, relived S.M. of her cleaning duties (which she'd been on after I found her trying to find someone in Irem who would talk about my future personal activities) in hopes that having fewer reflective surfaces aboard will put it further from my mind. And I need it further from my mind.

As we departed the Khanate, we saw a tramp steamer – the Zahir, I think, one I've seen in port before – coming the other way. I blew our horn in greeting.

But as soon as it passed into the light of the buoy besides us, it vanished like a spirit! The crew were all looking at me strangely, too. Even Grandalt looked unnerved, and the last time I saw that happen was when drownies took Doc Snark. But I'm certain the ship was there.

I need a rest.

October 17th, 1888

I followed the clay porters up to Station III today, to drop off the longbox with the Acolyte myself.

After delivering the box, I had a chance, for the first time, really, to speak briefly with the woman.

I asked her about the nature of the metal spheres. I'd never heard of the company before, or the tonic – Which is strange enough. In academic circles, there are plenty of things people can't say, for fear of their jobs, or reputation. I would think the tonic would be popular.

I jotted down a few things as she spoke. She didn't seem to mind. Maybe they'll help someone else – I'm no doctor, after all. Before I could ask anything else, the Acolyte excused herself and returned to work.

And I returned to Zee.

If anyone has requests for what I should ask the Acolyte the next time I drop off a box, let me know! I think we get to ask three, in total, before her storyline progresses, so let me know if one of these tickles your curiosity.

October 18th, 1888

We were somewhere between Station III and Gaider's Mourn when I was summoned to the deck by the sounds of screaming.

I emerged from below deck just in time to see Lowell throw himself over the railing, laughing like mad. I immediately ordered the ship to a stop, to try to pick the man back up.

We yelled and cajoled and eventually Jones even fired shots near him to try to snap him out of it, but nothing worked. Soon, something noticed a tasty meal just bobbing in the Zee, and just like that, Lowell's life ended.

I'll lead a prayer to Salt over dinner tonight, to see his soul home safe and sound. Assuming he had one, still.

Omitting uninteresting visits to Gaider's Mourn and Mutton Island

October 19th, 1888

London. Finally, we've finally arrived back at home. This wasn't even one of my longest trips, but I feel like I've been gone for a very long time. I'm glad I've been able to do what I did; we've made huge steps in assembling the Mechanic's engine. But things are... Different. I feel a little different. Maybe it will pass with time. But I can't shake the feeling that some tiny little part of me, in fact, did not come back from Frostfound after all.