Part 46: The Touch of the SouthJournal entry 45 The Touch of the South
From The Journal of Captain Petra Blackwood,
January 27th, 1889
Another return to London, another trip behind me. I've been anxious to return. Ever since I returned from the surface, I've been feeling ever-more driven to return to Frostfound. There's not much left between me and my goal.
Once in London, I paid a visit to my friend the Alarming Scholar. We shared stories, and I passed on the Ray-Drenched Cinders to further fund my ventures.
However, it was not merely a pleasure call for simple business. I needed the Scholar's help. I needed something to rival the Name in its burning glory. I had collected many secrets, but none of them equal to the name. I needed someone to tie them together. The Scholar was that person.
The results were regrettable, but I have what I need. Burning truths equal to the name of the Traveller. I'm so close to being ready now. So very close.
I visited my home. I, perhaps, was more brusk with my father than I should have been. I waved his questions aside, for I had work to do. I had Nytell and Gideon carry the slate of fish I had purchased at Irem to my abode, and here, I have labored.
I have created a repository of secrets made of fish and bone. I shall return this to the ship. Remove that silly shrine and place this instead. We don't need to watchful eyes of gods, merely our own wit. Once that is done, and the resupply is completed, we will be departing immediately... For the South. There will be no stops on this voyage; these other ports only offer distractions to my goal.
January 30th, 1889
We've arrived at Adam's Way The massive, wasp-topped statues that mark the enterance to the Elder Continent loom over us. But I am not to be discouraged.
I have gathered the crew in preparation for this. Told them that they're aboard one of the finest ships of the Unterzee. I recounted some of our previous 'impossible' victories. The dangers of the South cannot compare with the Tree of Ages, after all. Or the North. And we've emerged from those.
I have no doubt that we shall also emerge gloriously from this.
Let us see what lies to the South.
If you fail this check, you instantly die. You need Veils 124 for a 100% chance to pull it off.
January 31st, 1889
I sit now on the deck of my ship, looking at the harbor of Adam's Way. I've done what is supposed to be impossible; I've zailed South. I can barely recount the wonders I saw there. It is suffice to say, every legend we tell each other in Fallen London are wrong, but only because they are not glorious enough. I saw a flower bloom in ivory and a tree smile diamonds. There is glory that the human mind is not easily equipped to comprehend; my crew heard it's siren song, as did I. But the Checkmate is mine. I am it's captain. I cannot abandon it... Not even for a place like this.
During my survey of the resources remaining, I learned I have not been entirely abandoned. Huddled in the back of the hull, near the shrine to Salt, I discovered Mr. Snark. He had not once gone up on deck, not for the entire time we were in the South. He looked at me with eyes that said he was not so sure I was not a monster and asked if we were returning home.
I told him we were, but not for long.
Oh no, not for long at all.
With only two pairs of hands to do the work of running the Checkmate, things will be difficult and slow. The very nature of the South would have torn any lesser ship apart, and the bilge pumps will have to be kept on merely to keep us afloat. But I'm not scared. The Impeller will let us outpace any danger we see.
No rest until London.
As a reminder when you have less than half crew, your speed is halved. When you have less than one-quarter crew, you gain Terror twice as fast. And when you have less than half Hull, any damage you take also kills crew. Even if I used a few Rat engineers, even a steam-pinnacle could one-shot us, because 0 crew is also a loss condition.
February 5th, 1889
I am so very tired.
But we did it. We've made it. Even now, some men from the Admiralty are bringing the Checkmate into drydock. My limbs feel like rubber and I can barely keep my eyes open, but every time they close, I see them. The towers, in the north. They call to me. I have no time to be tired.
I must find new crew. I must put my last affairs in order. I will be leaving soon, so soon. Perhaps I have time for a short rest, but as soon as the Checkmate is out of drydock, we will be zailing, even if I have to run the ship by myself all the way to Frostfound.