Part 43: The Scars of the NorthJournal entry 42 The Scars of the North
from The Journal of Captain Petra Blackwood,
continued from the last entry.
Ultimately, however, I've always known my sweetheart does some distasteful things. He would likely disapprove of some of what I do as well. I shouldn't hold something like employing snuffers for professional benefit against him.
I had expected he'd use the chance to escape, but I really should have known better. I am not attracted to the timid. The entire problem has now been resolved and I had a little time to spend with the Chap afterwards.
With that matter behind me, I went out and applied my confidence towards filling the berths aboard the Checkmate. After a short time, I'd gotten us back up to a solid operational number
and then stocked up on fuel and supplies. We are heading North now, to enter the house of the second of the great powers.
While I'm not overly worried, after how the last one went, I do think I should bring plenty of supplies... Such a choice is prudent. Just like my choice to not inform most of the crew of our current destination. It would only worry them.
Omitting a standard stop at Venderbight and an encounter with a Lifeburg
January 11th, 1889
Our stop at Wither was short, and really barely worth speaking of. The crew is in an excellent mood. We've hit relatively mild weather and there was only one Lifeburg between us and the far North.
It backed us against the coast near Wither, making us unable to fully evade it, but the damage to the Checkmate is nominal and not nearly enough to be worth calling this expedition over.
As we head north, things grow colder. Most of the crew are below deck near the Impeller. I go now to take the helm myself. I must admit to a certain excitement over what we will find, here, where no-one zails.
January 12th, 1889
I feel as though it has been years since I set my quill to the pages of this journal. So much time feels as though it has passed, but so little happened. We zailed north until there was no-where left to zail. Until we, ourselves, were nowhere. The cold became darkness and the darkness took away much, until eventually it even ate the lights of the ship.
I am not sure how we came back to Frostfound, but much is lost. Almost our entire supply of food and water have withered away. Zailors have simply vanished. Half my crew to the man is gone Almost without a trace.
I feel worst about Kalan. I'd heard her telling the others that zailing north was foolish. And yes, I think. Yes it was, to think we could do that without drawing the ire of... Something. It was not merely zailing to an unknown place, but to where there was no place to go.
But her disappearance, in the end, may be a mercy, for all the bats froze in their cages as well. I think she would have preferred death to that.
However, I cannot let this overwhelm me. I am alive. Half my crew is alive. They will be counting on me to maintain my decorum and bring them back to London. I will be visiting the squatters here at Frostfound to ask for a small quantity of supplies, and that should get us to Mt. Palmerstone to buy proper food even with a skeleton crew.
January 13th, 1889
The trip was short. The crew is mostly quiet, a mix of anxiety and fatigue from having only ten of us to run a ship this large.
A short stop on Mt. Palmerstone allowed me to meet with the Admiralty contact since even a brush with a terrible, crushing erasure of existence shouldn't distract me from helping secure London's future and refilled our greatly diminished food stocks, although I think I saw Slaan crying a little as we brought it all aboard.
I think she felt the loss of the dried fruit and meats left from the surface as keenly as the loss of any of her fellow zailors.
January 14th, 1889
It's been a long time since I visited the republic of L.B.s on Pigmote Island. Now, however, is as good as any time to visit.
It seems like the rats are doing as well as ever. They talked to me about their latest infrastructure projects and the like. Not much of interest, but sometimes it's simply nice to be reminded that not every bit of weirdness on the zee is madness and chaos. Sometimes it's just rats that want to build a new well-drilling device so they can stop rationing water among the workers.
They, very generously, offered to fix up a little bit of the damage the Lifeburg had done to the Checkmate. I feel they may have also just wanted to see a ship like this up close, and perhaps steal some spare parts, but the work they did was worth it.
At some point, during the work, I noted one of the blemmigans which somehow survived all this without being nearly as traumatized as the rest of us had snuck off the ship and onto the island. Maybe they'll make friends. I feel, more likely, the rats will eventually have to burn out a nest of them, but I can hope.
January 16th, 1889
Once more, against the odds, the Checkmate returns home. It is time to rest, and collect ourselves, before going out again.
I'm going to pay a short visit to the Alarming Scholar, to fill my pockets with echos,
and then use those echos to hire more crew.
Then will come a short stop at the Admiralty, to learn where else they are waiting on information from a contact, and finally, an evening with my family. It's strange, saying I have a family Father, beau, child They would all be happy if I simply decided to stay here, I think.
I only wish I could be. Something burns in me now. I can feel it when I try to sleep. I have every night since we zailed behind the Dawn Machine, and the trip North has only brought it into a more clear focus. There is something I need to do. It's a feeling like I've forgotten something awfully important, but with each voyage, I draw closer to remembering.