The Let's Play Archive

Sunless Sea

by Black Wombat

Part 41: The Stigma of the West

Journal entry forty – The Stigma of the West

From The Journal of Captain Petra Blackwood

January 5th, morning - 1889

We left the peir in short order, after our run-in with the assassins, but had not even completely cleared the harbor when I responded to the sound of the Haunted Doctor screaming.

He was being threatened by a sorrow-spider. So I shot it. Ghastly things, sorrow-spiders.

The doctor then saw fit to unburden himself of a bit of his past, involving the sorrow-spiders. What a terrible fate he suffered. Perhaps, when I am done at Zee, I will go and burn down this observatory. I think I would be doing us all a favor.

January 5th, afternoon – 1889

As we continued along towards Venderbight, I realized there was one member of my crew I had yet to speak to – the Carnelian Exile, who I picked up from the Grand Geode.

She revealed what I had already suspected; she was one of those touched by the Dawn Machine. She spoke of the nature of fate, and existence. While I've had many unusual adventures on the Zee, however, I cannot say I've ever felt I was anything but master of my own fate.

She teased more knowledge as we ate – saying she knew about Salt. I will speak with her again, when I've had time to digest these few tidbits.

January 5th, evening - 1889

We arrived at Venderbight, for what may be the last time. While the place is quite nice, with the First Curator's request finally complete, I'm not sure what this place has to offer me.

I had been concerned that the ink's age may have made it less true to its color, but it seemed not to be the case. The Curator was as happy with it as he had been all the other colors I'd brought.

Almost as soon as he'd completed his work with the ink, however, he underwent the dissolution I'd heard other Tomb-Colonists mention before. The colors had fed a creature, growing under his skin – A moth of truly monstrous size. It seemed... Not unintelligent, in its way, so much as one can determine such a thing by looking at a moth.

I was offered a wide selection of rewards from the Curator's estate for my assistance; while the moth seemed fascinating, and the man's journals would have been of amazing historical, value, at the end of the day, I took away treasure.

I am not here to zee to learn what other people know, and while studying the bug would be fascinating, it might well lead to a dead end. However, a massive cache of echos? It will pay for my expeditions and allow me to do all I need across the wide, dark Zee. I will learn for myself more than I will have ever found in those books.

I returned to the Checkmate with my head held high, and a nondescript box under my arm that contained enough wealth to live out the rest of my days, if I so chose. I won't, of course, but I could and knowing that makes me feel a little more comfortable than I would otherwise.

Since I know some of you must be interested – the Moth is a mascot, that gives -3 Hearts, +3 Veils/Mirrors/Pages. It has no dialogue and does not unlock anything. The other rewards are nice and all, but 7,000 echos is too much to pass up. At this point, that's pretty much enough to complete everything else the game has to throw at us without grinding for money.

The boat is nice, but in addition to only having 250 Hull, it has no Fore or Aft slots, so it can only equip one gun. This won't do at all.

As an aside, witnessing the Curator's end satisfies the Fathomking's request for witnessing something really old die, if you don't want to help the Principalities cease to be.

January 6th, morning – 1889

On our way back to London, the Carnelian Exile called me to her cabin – a pleasant change of events.

She spoke of zailing East, and asked me my interest in it.

I told her the truth, of course – should such a thing be possible, of course I would do it. I've never wanted to see less than all of the zee I can get too.

She seemed enthused about the response, but when I pressed for more details about how such a thing would be possible, she was elusive. Or cryptic. It's sometimes hard to tell with her. She said I must visit the house of every power, master the map. I can only assume that means I must visit each of the great powers – of which there are, of course, five. Storm in the north, Salt in the east, Stone in the south, the Dawn Machine in the south-west, and the sun itself, on the surface.

It's something of a terrifying prospect. These are beings far beyond the scope of mere mortals such as myself. But so far, I've faced every danger on the Unterzee without flinching – much. I'll not be scared off from this, either.

Besides, I've always wanted to see the Dawn Machine.

January 6th, evening – 1888

We paid a very short visit to London today – just long enough, mostly, to visit the University and make the Alarming Scholar hand over a really ridiculous quantity of echos.

I also paid my father a short visit, to make sure he was acclimating well. He was. Said he was already working on getting us speaking engagements.

We zailed away again with an hour and a half, even counting loading more supplies. I'm not one to wait around, now that I have a goal again. It feels nice, in a way.

Omitting regular stops at the Canal and the Iron Republic

January 8th, very early morning? - 1889

I may have made an error.

We have ventured as far south-west as we can. Past the Iron Republic, past the Grand Geode. We slipped past numerous Glorious warships to arrive. And finally, we came to the Dawn Machine.

I strongly, strongly recommend viewing a video of the Dawn Machine. Failbetter Games has, fortunately, posted a lovely video of The Dawn machine in motion. It helps really get a scope of the enormity of the thing.

The Machine was... Is, larger than anything I could have imagined. It dwarfs the Checkmate many times over. Hell, it dwarfs the whole of Wolfstack Docks. Its parts spin and tick like the components of a vast clock. And the light that glows from within, it's an awful lot like sunlight, but... It isn't. Not quite.

We were not yet in its house, however. There was more than enough space alongside the Machine to slip past it.

The crew had very mixed reactions to this. Some were entranced. Some hid. I can hear Kalan screaming, all the way from the aviary. We zailed deeper. The light, the parts, became more and more prevalent. It is all around us now. If we do not return, I leave this final note and hope maybe it will find its way to wiser hands.

January 8th, morning – 1889

I am still not entirely sure what happened.

One moment, I could see nothing but light and gold. I could even taste the color and the warmth... And then, I could not.

We were in Zelo's Town. I had us depart as quickly as I could, of course. A head-count has revealed not a single person missing, or lost... For once. Many of them are still in a daze. I don't think any of them really, entirely understand what we just went through, or why I chose to do it.

I feel... Different. There's a throbbing warmth inside of me. Is this what I need to go East? Perhaps. Or perhaps the pursuit of this is what I need. In either case, me and my crew have visited the houses of one of the great powers, and come away no worse for it.

Perhaps the Zee is not quite so terrible as I have feared it to be.

January 8th, evening - 1889

Port Carnelian welcomed us with open arms once more.

Another book was delivered into the paws of a waiting tiger.

When I spoke with Antivehicular, he boasted that the reach of our network was very impressive. We were nearly in position to drive out what remained of the Khanate sympathizers. All that's left is for me to find some information about the Khanate's activities across the zee, and we can move forward; I'm rather eager to see the results, myself.

However, there was another matter my spies could help me with. If we can drive out an entire nation of agents, I assumed a snuffer would be easy.

I was quite correct. The speed at which he was isolated and rendered to me was surprising. I had not entirely planned to visit Adam's Way this trip, but I'm not about to keep this thing on my ship any longer than needed.

January 9th, early morning – 1889

I must say, I had a very pleasant time in Adam's Way today, even more than I usually do.

When we arrived, the Adventuress asked if she could accompany me ashore, for just a short time. A last chance to see home. I accepted, of course. She spoke to me of what it was like living here, a little bit. Mostly, she spoke of the matter of Stone. I'm now entirely convinced the Bazaar is not merely a building the Masters inhabit, and people have not been speaking metaphorically when they'd talked about it as such. The Adventuress is not the type to use literary symbolism.

My delivery to the Broker went quite well. He was as pleased to receive the creature as I was to get it out of my hold. Dreadful creatures, Snuffers. Nearly as bad as sorrow-spiders. He provided me, then, by way of payment, an amazing bit of history – A map of the voyage of the Galatea. It was certainly not the first ship to be sent across the Unterzee, but it was, by all accounts, the first to make it back.

I had barely been away a few hours before he summoned me once more to his presence, however.

It seemed the Snuffer revealed some indiscretions inside of his organization he wanted taken care of. I accepted the commission, of course, but did advise him that I would have other business to attend before I returned to London. He didn't seem to mind.

He had, he said, more time than I could imagine.

I think the Adventuress would have punched him.

On my way back to the Checkmate, I came across an unusual scene.

A funerary feast. A ritual eating of the dead. The man was apparently well-loved, and I was invited to participate.

The meal was rich and delicious. I felt welcomed in a way I rarely do, on the Zee. I am still smiling, as I write this – surely this portents good things for our future. I have decided, while I was ashore, our next stop – The surface. I've feared it long enough. If I am to enter the houses of all the powers, I must expose myself to the sun. I have heard, of all the things in the 'Neath, one of the best exports is Darkdrop Coffee – and so I've loaded up.

Hopefully, it will at least pay for the fuel it'll take to get up there.

January 9th, noon – 1889

We stopped at the Uttershroom today – only shortly, to speak to the locals about what sorts of ships they'd seen coming and going from the fungal lookout perch.

The only reason this is really noteworthy is for the sheet number of Blemmigans that decided to come aboard the Checkmate as a result. Four of the little creatures are now on board, and one can hear their whistled conversations echoing through the halls below deck. The crew seems to have taken a liking to the little beasts, and I must admit I'm not dismayed to have a few around, myself.

January 9th, afternoon - 1889

I stopped by Visage, very briefly. Again, just long enough to collect a report.

One of the Blemmigans we'd just received wanted to go ashore here. It seemed to fit in well, even donning a mask before entering the island. These little creatures are far more intelligent than most people give them credit for, I think.

January 9th, evening – 1889

We arrived at the Hold, and while taking notes on the other ships present, I permitted one of the blemmigans to depart the Checkmate.

The Porter noticed, of course. She notices everything. But she didn't seem to mind – in fact, she seemed to think the Fathomking would be glad for the little mushroom to be here. It implies he's had them here before, but I've never seen them, and that makes me slightly concerned for the little thing's fate. I hope nothing bad happens to it.

Omitting a purchase of a great deal of fuel at the Iron Republic

January 9th, late night

We arrived at the Canal near the middle of the night. We put in, and I've submitted our paperwork.

Soon, we will be traveling up, to the surface. It will be a long way, through many locks. A decent chance for me to get a little rest. I've ordered the crew to set sunshades up above the deck, and ordered Kalan to stop telling everyone that I'm mad and we're all going to die. If we dealt with the Dawn Machine, we can deal with the actual sun.

I sort of look forward to seeing it, in fact.