A Tale of Two Suns - As Above, So Below


The Enlightened Captain marches briskly through the glittering crystal corridors of the Grand Geode. As she passes, the bright-eyed Marines in their pristine uniforms salute her sharply and then go back to their duties of shifting boxes of supplies or practising drills, singing hymns of work and Light. She nods approvingly. In the Captain’s experience, an efficient soldier is a happy soldier. The Work progresses admirably, but there is always more to be done.

Today, she has a pressing engagement with the Commodore. The guards at the door to his office salute at her approach and allow her to enter, staring fixedly at the wall. The Commodore’s office overlooks the sparkling interior cliff, illuminated with a wide window. The bright light from within the Geode reminds the Enlightened Captain of – HE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN T – nothing of consequence. All is well. The Machine has made sure of that.

At her entrance, the Commodore looks up from the paperwork on his desk and gives her a beatific smile. He is handsome, open-faced, as impeccably dressed as anyone in Zelo’s Town.

“Ah, Captain. Come in. Our Light has brought me news. A long-awaited sequence is to be enacted. Do you recall the young gentleman who visited us not long ago? He is returning with the components for the device we discussed. Ample supplies, a source of gant, a collection of terrible secrets, and some fine youths and maidens to join our cause.”

“Very good, sir.”

“Good indeed, Captain. Please make the necessary arrangements. It may be some days yet, but this sequence should prove most pleasing to our Light. It yearns to spread its Law, to create progress without change. The conflagration of Light we spied from London months ago has emboldened it. I fear the young inventor and his crew do not fully comprehend the ramifications of the Work. In time, they will thank us.”

Gideon Stormstrider, renowned mad inventor, is working on his zubmarine. His brow furrows with concentration beneath his welding mask as he seals two hull plates together with an electrode. Striking the arc is the most difficult part of arc welding – after that, it is merely a matter of passing the melting electrode across the join at the proper angle with very, very steady hands. Under his mask and thick leather gloves, Gideon sweats profusely. The space of the warehouse is close and stifling from the heat of the coal-fired generator and the welding itself.

There – done. Gideon switches off the power supply and surveys his handiwork, flipping up the metal mask to reveal a big grin on his clean-shaven, youthful face. The Gnarled Engineer, leaning against the nearby wall with arms crossed, says “Let me see how much of a hash you’ve made of this one.” She pries the electrode from Gideon and peers at the weld. Her leathery face contorts into a frown, deepening her wrinkles. “You see what you’ve done here, don’t you?”

Gideon thinks. “Made a hash of it?”

“You’re d__n right you have. Look at this join. There’s a gap the size of a half-crown here. You know what that’ll do when you dive? You’ll be taking on water before you can say ‘poor life decisions’. How in Hell did you manage to get this thing to Low Barnet and back in the first place?”

“I… had help,” says Gideon reluctantly.

“I should b____y hope so. You may be a polymath and all the rest, but you’re a lousy welder.” She holds out her hands expectantly and Gideon gives her the mask and gloves. “Watch, and maybe you’ll learn something this time.”

A few hours later, the hull is finally welded to the Engineer’s satisfaction. “The sheet metal could very well still scrunch up like a piece of paper if you go too deep, but those welds will probably outlive the zub itself,” she says with a smirk. “I can see why you wanted me along on this d__n fool voyage – God knows what you’d do without me.”

Gideon nods sagely at the Gnarled Engineer’s wisdom. She has certainly proved to be quite the character, just as all the zailors told him, but you can afford to be brusque when you’re the best in the business.

He looks up at the zubmarine – it is a slender thing, steel-plated, studded with thick portholes. It could probably fit a dozen people if they didn’t mind their ribs getting closely acquainted with each other’s elbows. An engraved brass plaque on the stern bears the name Hippocampus. “We’d best get this thing covered up and loaded onto the ship, then. The other passengers will be arriving soon.”

At the stroke of midnight, a rather large shipping crate makes its rumbling way across the Wolfstack Docks on rollers, shepherded by a team of burly zailors. Those who are awake to watch its progress are unaware of its true contents, or have been bribed enough to turn a blind eye to the most obvious smuggling operation in all of London.

Inside the crate, Gideon sits at the helm of the zubmarine. In the dark it feels oddly like the depths of the zee. The zailors told him it wasn’t necessary to travel inside the zub, but nowadays he seems to have an enemy around every corner. Better safe than sorry.

At length, the crate is stopped on the dockside. With a lurch Gideon finds himself lifted up into the air by a crane. He holds onto his seat – and his dinner – as the crane swings across to the deck of the good ship Inexplicable and deposits the zub a little harder than necessary.

Gideon slips his suit jacket on and opens the hatch on the roof of the zub, which is hidden underneath a larger hatch at the top of the shipping container. With a dramatic flourish, he emerges from the top of the crate only to find that absolutely nobody is looking in his direction. “You’re no fun,” he says to a pair of zailors carrying a heavy, ornate Egyptian casket of mysterious provenance. The tattooed men shake their heads and go about their business.

The Inexplicable is a large vessel, originally built to carry cargo but now retrofitted for passengers and for Gideon’s own special requirements. The paperwork for the ship is somewhat sketchy, but Gideon most likely purchased it with some of his endless supply of coupons. The passenger accommodation is surprisingly acceptable, all things considered. There is even a large dining room with copious supplies of truly atrocious port.

Gideon strolls about the main deck, nodding to passing zailors. The crew are reputable – for the most part – and he has managed to curtail the worst of the spitting. After his cursory inspections he finds everything to be shipshape, although what other shape a ship could be is a mystery.

Gideon makes his way down to the stern of the ship. Slouching against a pile of wooden crates, Gregory Henchard gives him a nod. The former soldier tugs at his sleeve as if it fits too tightly. They made their acquaintance under pressing circumstances during the Shade business, but he seems awfully familiar of late. How did he get on board, anyway? Act as if you belong and nobody will question you, I suppose. Can’t fault the man for being early.

Gideon settles onto a box of life-rings and waits for his guests to arrive. A week ago, he sent a letter to an eclectic collection of scholars, mercenaries and adventurers of his acquaintance. The missive detailed his plans for a grand voyage across the Unterzee to the Chelonate, the Gant Pole, the Grand Geode and through the Cumaean Canal to the Surface itself.

What would you risk, it read, for another glimpse of sunlight?

(A Tale of Two Suns will be a lengthy RP about a singular voyage to obtain a Law that can allow even the Neathiest person to stand once again on the Surface without harm. It’s been in the works for a few months so we won’t be accepting any more people, unfortunately – the Inexplicable is quite full already.

Other threads that may provide further context include “The Hunt is On – To Catch A Shade”, “A Squid in the Polls” and “Meeting Your Maker”.)
edited by JimmyTMalice on 12/25/2017


One day, a dreamer woke up to an unfamiliar envelope with a disturbingly familiar seal. The sort of seal that’d send one rushing for a letter-opener while clutching the d_rned thing next to one’s heart. A minute of emotional struggle, roaring words, watering eyes and operating the ivory tool with such shaky hands ensues.

Finally, the seal is dealt with. The possibility of somebody knowing enough of the dreamer to pick out that seal is unpleasant. The possibility of that somebody getting lucky is even worse. Abandon the thought altogether: It’ll do the dreamer no good, and their nerves are already wearing thinner than strands in a spiderweb.

The letter proper unfolds. The dreamer procures their reading googles - their vision isn’t nearly as good as it used to be. A voyage? They won’t be able to handle a voyage. A voyage to the surface? It’s impossible down in the little old Neath, isn’t it? But the theories circumscribed here do make sense, if one tilts one’s logic a bit. That is good enough for the little old Neath - the dreamer knows from experience, and they can’t afford to miss out on a voyage like this.

Cursing abound. This is horrible. Truly horrible. They can’t stand the Zee, the bobbing, the waves, the surface… Might as well go zailing inside a sarcophagus. There is, admittedly, something appealing about the whole idea. And afterwards, a sarcophagus would look pretty fetching in the corner there, between the ushabti and the black mirror. Indeed, might as well go zailing inside a sarcophagus.

In the coming days, a representative wins a surface auction, and the winnings are deposited down the Travertine Spiral. A bandaged master - only Third City, but she did once have acquaintances from the Second - and her assistants restore the ragged, dusty thing to a modicum of its former glory. There is now a sarcophagus in the corner there, between the ushabti and the black mirror. It is not nearly as fetching as hoped for.

In the meantime, the dreamer had prepared seven sets of spare clothes, two mirrors, three different knives, a collection of bottled organs, a soul in a bottle, a cello - mahogany, amber and scarabs - to entertain surface crowds, delicious rations - guaranteed to spoil in days, but those days will be well-spent - prisoner’s honey.and bearable port. All in all, enough to sustain themselves both physically - however much they’d care for that - and morally - a matter of grave importance. A series of smooth sheets had been laid out inside the egyptian casket, to facilitate some degree of comfort during transportation.

The dreamer chambers into the sarcophagus, their spine pressing against linen as hired men pick up the casket alongside the other supplies. This space was not made for their withered shape, but for a muscular titan. They cannot feel the walls. The coffin is deep and dark and marvelous. Soon enough, sleep takes the dreamer away.
edited by Vavakx Nonexus on 12/25/2017


In Schabelport a beggar, covered in sharkskin clothes and rising up to nearly shoulder height when sitting cross-legged, is being avoided by the locals. Beggars in themselves aren’t overly rare nor despised in the Chelonate. However, something is keeping the man’s black ivory bowl empty, and making an occasional passerby spit in his direction.

He is covered head to toe in worn, musty clothes. It is, incidentally, a ‘he’, although this would be hard to know, from the lengths to which he’s gone to hide every bit of exposed skin. A tall jacket of tanned sharkskin covers most of him, and the rest is hidden by a wide-brimmed hat and a multitude of scarves, shawls and other strips of cloth and leather. His hands and feet are covered in wrappings of cloth, the man having failed to find shoes or gloves that would fit. From what can be guessed at, his shoulders are broad, his stomach is bulging, and his limbs are long and lean. He is, also, nearly as tall as a clay man, a fact which he tries to hide with his hunched-over sitting pose. His breathing is deep, heavy, and laborious. His eyes remain downcast, avoiding those of the passersby, not raising in the slightest even when being spat on.

Besides his beggar’s bowl is a sign, text scratched on a piece of leather strung between two sharp sticks of bone. It says, “WILL WORK FOR PASSAGE. PREF LONDON. NO QUESTIONS PLEASE.”

He has been sitting here for weeks. No coins in the bowl, no offers.

Ted really, really misses home.
edited by John Moose on 12/25/2017


Madison reclines uneasily upon the couch, the scheduled hour too near for distraction, yet not enough to depart. Her luggage rests beside her; her home tidied in preparation for an uncertain period of absence. Instead she skims through Gideon Stormstrider’s letter again, the one a scholarly friend of her mother’s had received in the post and decided to pass onwards, rightfully surmising it’d be of interest. Both parents agreed that as an opportunity it was too good to pass up, despite the risks.

She folds the letter back up, placing it upon the end table, atop a novel she had just finished reading nearly an hour ago. Will the Sun in reality be as wondrous as it was described in fiction? Madison can hardly imagine a sky so light and blue, light shining down from above rather than reaching futilely upwards towards the impossible roof, dying long before it can embrace the false-stars.

* * * (a night prior) * * *

The frigid air coils around a young woman and her docile marsh-wolf, prompting her to draw her blue winter coat more tightly to herself, the warmth of her lodgings fresh in her memories. Over her shoulder rests a light pack - all the supplies to set Marlo up in his temporary home during the trip. Anticipation wells up inside of her, unannounced; she bats it back down.

Time carries her to her parents’ home swiftly, Neathmas decorations still on prominent display, emitting a cheery air to soothe lingering unease. Madison barely has time to knock before the door opens to reveal an enthusiastic woman donning a thick white dress, her long dark hair bound in a tight braid. Her feminine attire appears to only accentuate her adventurous upbringing, adding just the slightest veneer of elegance to a wild and predatory soul. &quotThere you are! Come in, come in!&quot her mother loudly exclaims, gently pulling at her sleeve. &quotOh, and I’ll take that, too.&quot

&quotGood evening, mother,&quot Madison steps into her old home as her mother removes the bag, looking around for her father as she subconsciously edges towards the fireplace. Marlo barely manages to slip inside before the door closes, having been distracted by a low-flying bat. He covertly settles onto the sofa while everyone is too preoccupied to shoo him off. &quotIs Father in his study?&quot

&quotCharles is off for the moment - out of coffee. Should be back soon. Si- OFF!&quot Marlo scampers away, deeper into the house. Madison’s mother clears her voice. &quotSit down; I have something for you.&quot

Madison takes her seat on the part of the couch that wasn’t recently occupied by a damp canine as her mother carefully retrieves a scroll of peculiar leather clearly older than the both of them combined, bound in a yellowed spider-silk ribbon. As she draws closers with the offering a hint of a malodorous waft follows, causing Madison’s brows to furrow in confusion as she takes it into her hands. &quotThis,&quot her mother gestures, &quotis my old map, from when I left the Chelonate. Old, but should prove a helpful guideline. Your captain should have a more recent copy available, I’m sure, but take it along just in case.&quot

Madison unwinds the leather carefully, the stench growing exponentially more potent as she reveals its contents, illustrated in a mix of black and rust colors. Madison wrinkles her nose; her mother sighs nostalgically. &quotBring back some tales, won’t you? I miss them terribly.&quot

&quotWill do.&quot Madison rolls the map back up, setting it aside as her mother begins a rigorous investigation regarding her luggage for the trip. Midway through a key unlocks the front door, signaling the arrival of a slim, bespectacled fellow in a modest suit tailored more for comfort than fashion. To most he would seem indistinct, with few memorable features; to Madison he was family. He pauses his trek to the kitchen upon sighting her daughter, groceries in hand. &quotMadison! Good evening! Last time we’ll see each other for a while, eh? Excited?&quot He outwardly smiles, but his smile doesn’t meet his eyes.

&quotIt’s still sinking in, honestly.&quot Madison admits, &quotHard to believe I’ll be off so soon.&quot

Her father nods once in agreement before disappearing into the kitchen, his booming voice continuing onwards. &quotI must say, I’m still unsure about this ‘Gideon’ fellow. Seems a bit…&quot his voice trails off, torn between voicing his concerns explicitly and not wanting to worry his daughter. &quotJust be careful, won’t you?&quot

&quotYes, Father.&quot

He returns from the kitchen, finally removing his coat. &quotDid you want to stay for a cup of coffee, before you head back out?&quot

&quotOh, yes! That’d be great,&quot Madison exclaims, pleased to put off her departure back into the cold. Her mother hums in memory, removing Marlo’s belongings from the pack. She chuckles at the sight of his favourite toy: a tooth-worn stuffed bat.

Moments later Madison sits, steaming coffee mug in hand, staring wordlessly into the roaring fireplace as her parents’ conversation wafts over her. Marlo, finally back from his retreat, sits upon the rug beside her, head resting upon her lap; she pats his head fondly. Her father’s voice suddenly calls out to her, capturing her attention, before he changes his mind. &quotYou remembered to pack medical supplies, correct?&quot

Madison barely has time to nod before her mother pipes up. &quotIndeed she did! First thing I asked.&quot

&quotThe first thing you asked was what weapons I was bringing along,&quot Madison laughs, &quotIt was the second thing you asked.&quot

She makes a face of mock offense; it gives way to a smile near instantly. &quotClose enough.&quot

Charles nods, takes a look at his empty coffee mug, and sets it aside, rubbing his eyes. &quotSorry I can’t be more helpful - this sort of thing is outside my life experience.&quot

&quotMy own zailing adventures are divergent enough to potentially cause issues.&quot Madison’s mother shrugs. &quotYou’ll be fine. I have full faith in that.&quot She places a hand fondly on Madison’s shoulder.

&quotThanks - it’s gonna be wild, I’ve no doubt about that.&quot Madison chuckles, and looks down at her own empty mug. She stands up, pushing herself to move on. &quotI should probably get going - get some rest, make sure I’ve organized everything I’m bringing.&quot

&quotYes, yes. It was lovely having you over; bring back some souvenirs, alright?&quot Charles pulls his daughter into an embrace. &quotI love you, dear. Safe travels.&quot

Madison’s mother joins the embrace, squeezing the pair of them in an uncomfortably tight hold. &quotLove you too, of course. See the sights, have some fun,&quot she sings, tousles Madison’s short dark hair. &quotStride boldly into the unknown.&quot

* * *

She glances at her watch - thirty minutes to midnight. Time to go. Madison gathers her belongings, and departs into the night.

edited by Sara Hysaro on 1/9/2018

An overloaded carriage groans to a stop at the dock, before unloading equal measure men and luggage. As they swarm upon the Inexplicable, two figures watch over ant-like force. One is Evensong, who has left behind her monochromatic fashion sense for a plaid traveling dress, a grey waxed canvas cape, and simple black bonnet with roses embroidered on it. Despite the sudden splashes of color, they did not look much different from any other dark-haired, blue-eyed women on the streets of London.

They were being lovingly crushed in an one-armed embrace from the other figure – Dirae Erinyes - a towering figure dressed in a vibrant green tweed suit, a waxed canvas cape with a sunrise painted on it, a neatly waxed iron-sided top hat,   and a repurposed mask from the Feast of the Rose. Their size, stiff gait, and fashion sense meant they could be mistaken for no one else. 

Evensong’s body tenses off when one of the porters stumbles, carrying a stack of hatboxes. They right themselves, before the whole stack toppled to the ground.

“Relax, it’s our honeymoon.” Dirae Erinyes softly coos to them. “Thanks to Gideon, we finally get to relive being newlyweds again.” As Evensong’s eyes continue to follow that porter, Dirae Erinyes continues to sooth her. “You are supposed to be enjoying your vacation from work.” Their tone drops even lower. “. . . and to enjoy a taste of what I’m working towards.”
edited by Shadowcthuhlu on 12/26/2017
edited by Shadowcthuhlu on 12/26/2017

With a gasp, he fell to the floor, sending the box tumbling down next to him. Flames licked at his feet as he crawled towards the box. Just…one more. He smiled as he grasped the lid. At long last, the light was once again in his palms. No more darkness. No more. His skin tingled with excitement even as it melted away. With a cheer he pried open the lid, eyes hungrily gazing at his prize. When the light shone upon him, he screamed not, as his skin burned to ash, his bones and marrow liquefying under the judgemental light. He simply smiled and laughed till his vocal cords melted, and relished in the sunlight, staring at it fondly until his eyes boiled and burnt away.

And that was that. A macabre tale of addiction and sunshine, a long forgotten desire. A lovely story that will surely be loved by his Appreciation Society. In a minute, the manuscripts were bound, sealed, and sent by bat to his assistant, so to speak. They will see through its publication.

Reinol von Lorica, the Sentimental Writer, sighed as he rubbed his eyes. Here, in his Suite, it was surprisingly quiet, though the mirrors seemed…restless. Reinol cracked his knuckles and left his chair. There was something else in his mind. Something greater than the artistic movements of London. The Surface, his long forgotten home. The sun, the sky. Soon he will once again behold those wonders. Soon.

The Sentimental Writer walked along his study taking notice of the half finished theorem describing light and law. Why was sunlight so enticing? Did the body crave the lawful light of the judgemental sun? Did the law make the body recall its once lawful existence and lead it to stray from the lawless darkness of the Neath? Perhaps.

The Enigmatic Correspondent frowned as he began to pack his notes and other belongings of notice. Ornate Typewrite? Check. Little Red Book? Check. Pens and ink? Check. Pistol? Check. Spare pistol? Check. Pot of Violant Ink? Reinol stared at the bottle filled with the impossible colour. It was a risk. Not of loss. He could always procure more. But of identity. He took the name Paracelsus, the Enigmatic Correspondent as a front to publish his works of the less artistic value, in order to maintain his stance as an Author, for one can easily lose the other when switching style. It was simply the way it worked. Thus two identities were made to prevent such loss. The Sentimental Writer of the Bohemians, Church, and Society. The Enigmatic Correspndent of Benthic and Summerset. Each of them did their the same job in different ways. The Sentimental Writer praised the beauty of Frostfround, its twin fortresses of ice and snow. The Enigmatic Correspondent scrutinised its architecture, pondering its purpose, its dangers, possibilities, and secrets.

A shake of his head removed him from his reverie. Now was not the time. It was time to go. He closed his luggage and stared into the mirror. Travelling between them was possible, yet queer, and so he rarely utilised it. But he stepped through it regardless and closed his eyes.



Travelling using the mirrors was always a experience to go through, to march through the imagined wilderness of Parabola, under the Cosmogone Sun and through the realms of the Fingerkings, Time was distorted there. It worked differently from that of even the Neath. This allowed him to quickly travel from one place to another in seconds, as long as he knew the way. The Suite at the Royal Bethlehem made things more easier, with its mirrored walls and already being halfway submerged into Parabola. That, and the occasional hint from the Manager, however rare it may be.

Reinol found himself in a small room at the Blind Helmsman, a place he rented a few days earlier. Here, any remaining luggage was stored, along with the exit mirror, it worked. He smiled to himself at this thought and stared at the room. Small. But it was enough. It was a risk to leave them in this room, unwatched, but a sufficient bribe ensured that no one comes in. Or out should the worst take place. Money and power can do wonders for all. The containers had what was left of what he needed, spare clothes, fungal tea, and mirrors for…other matters. Time to go. Punctuality was always a virtue he practised.

The young Austrian youth stumbled out of the inn as he carried his stuff and wandered Wolfstack Docks. He recognised the ship he was to board, the Inexplicable. What a vessel. Sighing, he adjusted his spectacles and walked about the gangplank, auburn hair gleaming under the light of the false stars.
edited by Reinol von Lorica on 12/27/2017


On a particularly cold and foggy night, the witch left her home. Barefoot, no less. No one but a few cats noticed her and they knew enough to steer clear. They knew where she was going, too. After all, the witch hardly ever left the warm, cozy house in Elderwick, stacked top-to-bottom with books, except sometimes on nights like these.

She was going to Charley Square, of course, to spend another night in the old well.

Down in the well, the witch went through the by now familiar ritual: after lighting seven Mourning Candles in a circle around her - while murmuring a powerful Elder Continent chant to make sure they wouldn’t go out - she emptied a glass full of human teeth into the water: an offering for the Drowned Man, that he would leave her in peace. Finally, she pulled a small flask from somewhere beneath her already sodden black rags and took a sniff from the powder within: pulverized Fluke-spine from Aigul. Her vision already blurring, then darkening, she leaned back and steadied her breathing, going through an old hunters’ prayer from Godfall in her mind - not a part of the ritual, but she found the ever-repeating litany calmed her and helped her concentrate.

Down in the well, the witch dreamed.

The witch dreamed, but her dreams were memories. The memories of those who had given of themselves to Aigul. In this case, a ruthless traveller who had followed Salt: one who had found their Destiny way East, past the Deconstruction…

As usual, a storm of images engulfed her at first, threatening to drown any sense of herself. Someone less experienced in the use of this art could well be lost forever here. But the witch held on, and was soon able to focus on particular memories…

… in the Sea of Statues, underneath the waves. The traveller had made extensive studies of the workmanship, trying to pin down their origin…

… lost all their crew in cruel battle with the Constant Companion. Zailing a half-sunken wreck to Fathomking’s Hold… the laughter of the Drownies…

… cosmogone spore-clouds: the Uttershroom rising before her…

… diving beneath Frostfound, the traveller had beheld a great mystery - but later lost it in the irrigo, and so it was lost to her, too…

… but now, what was this? Black stone walls, a thousand stone doors, an ancient hunger. Hooded figures gathered round the altar. No! This was no use to her!

With a huge effort, the witch redirected her dreams once again. It was nauseating. She could feel parts of herself - her Self - cry out in disgust over these intrusions, but she knew no mercy…

There was so much more. Varchas, Whither, Irem, the Iron Republic. And zailing. Endless weeks of zailing, above and beneath the waves. The traveller had thoroghly measured all four corners of the Unterzee, there could be no doubt. But where…

… nothing but the peligin waves of the Unterzee’s darkest depths. Would she meet Lady Black now? No, there was something else… and then the bottom fell out of the world

The Eye! Down in the well, the witch’s sleeping body twitched. Water splashed, a little. She had been right! This traveller had seen the Wound in the World. And more. They went through, to take a glimpse of Beyond.

And they took something else, too.

In the morning, the fog still clinging to buildings like it was glued there, unseen by anyone except the same old alley-mogs who’d watched her before, a very wet and cold witch made her way back to the house in Elderwick, looking forward to a long, hot bath. Not that either the damp or the cold really bothered her, but she knew better than to lie down in bed next to her partner in this shape - you didn’t do that unless you were married to a deep zee creature. Which was an attractive thought, but rather unfair to Eva, so she buried it quickly.

Later at breakfast, over several mugs of steaming hot coffee, Prof. Eva May Canning was given a surprisingly exact description of what she was supposed to look for, and where to look for it. The precise means of how to procure the artefact in the event of finding it were left to her own ingeniousness, however. This suited the free-spirited social scientist who abhorred planning ahead for more than five minutes. In any event, she had another task to complete before setting off tonight, one potentially far more difficult than wrenching magical artefacts from the grasp of ancient horrors dwelling beneath the zee: convincing her daughter to join the expedition.

&quotWell, ‘convincing’ might be the wrong approach,&quot she thought while buttering another toast and lazily losing herself in the abyssal depths of her wife’s eyes. &quotMaybe a spot of blackmail is in order here.&quot

Needless to say, it was only for entirely well-meaning, motherly reasons she considered blackmailing her only child to join her on a dangerous zee-voyage. In no way was she actively trying to get rid of the brat.

She had tried that once before, after all.

When their hackney driver was finally done unloading luggage onto the pier and had successfully escaped into the night; while zailors from the Inexplicable were proceeding to transfer that same luggage from the pier onto the ship, under the lazy gaze of some officers and other members of the expedition, E. L. was still not letting up.

&quotIt’s so unfair! I don’t care for any stupid expeditions! I don’t care for the ****ing Sun either! **** the Surface! And **** the Unterzee! You have to be mad to go out there! If you’re mad, fine, go ahead, I’m not stopping you! But there’s no ******* reason to drag me with you! I don’t want to spend months in the company of dull ****ing zailors, dull ****ing scientists and dull ****ing natives only to end up a dull, damp, miserable Drownie! I hate you for doing this to me!&quot

A few zailors were sharing respectful nods and raised eyebrows with every new expletive coming from her direction. &quotNow that un’s got fire,&quot the Grizzled Midshipman murmured under his breath. &quotReminds me of meself when I was young.&quot &quotLass was born to zail the zee, aye,&quot replied the One-Armed Ensign with a lopsided grin. &quotJust don’t ken it yet.&quot

The Inexplicable hadn’t left port for five minutes when E. L. was engaged in heavy flirting with at least two zailors; picking up nautical expressions and officer ranks left and right; commenting ecstatically about the force of the wind and how sensual, how perfectly sultry, the swaying of the ship on the waves felt to her; demanding to be taken up into the crow’s nest; and asking excitedly when they would meet their first storm.

In their shared cabin, E. M. was calmly stowing away luggage when she suddenly remembered to take out her earplugs. She wondered how long it would be before zailors began asking to borrow them.

edited by phryne on 12/27/2017


He was almost at the docks. The mist was rolling around people’s ankles but the leather outfit was keeping him warm. He once again went through the mental list of items needed on the journey. Hunting rifle, big game hunting rifle, Rattus Faber rifle (for an added challenge,) Emergency Blunderbuss… The one weapon that wasn’t on the list was the leaf-shaped fragment of flint that wasn’t part of his hunter persona, but it was the one thing he didn’t leave his lodgings without. In fact after the Expedition to Elder Continent he didn’t leave his bed without it. He finished recounting the list. Everything was in order. Everything was as it was supposed to be.

- a night prior -
And here are the dossiers. All on time as expected.” He looked out the window of his lodging located in one of the many spires of Bazaar. A swarm of bats crossed the dark sky above while the noises of London and it’s inhabitants reached the windows and balconies of his home from below. Another assignment. And so soon after his trip. Maybe his employers were displeased with him. Maybe the Masters didn’t have a choice. Considering the assignment – it might’ve even been a reward. A pleasant cruise around the Unterzee all-expense paid sounded quite refreshing. With Masters you never knew.

He looked at his reflection in a puddle of salt-water. An older-looking man in an extravagant leather suit with fringes hanging from all available edges, Vake-skin boots that were all the rage lately, with finely-combed chestnut hair with a blood-red streak of unruly hair in the middle, Cosmogone glasses and a careless smile. Perfect for the job. He was Tyr Teg, hunter and adventurer.

Putting his reading glasses aside, he neatly stacked the dossiers on a small end table before pouring himself a glass of ‘72 and finding a pleasant spot in one of the ridiculously comfortable armchairs present in the room. He loosened the top button of his Irigo-soaked Parabola Suit and checked his Ratwork watch. There was no sunset in the Neath but if it was, now would be the time for the honest folks to go to sleep and for thieves, spies and liars to get to work. He was Tyr Teg, the Polite Peacemaker of Bazaar.

Neatly avoiding the puddle Tyr turned on the next corner and right there – floating tied to the pier was the Inexplicable. Based on the invitation in his possession he expected it to be larger. Especially if one remembered the varied group of scientists, poets and adventurers that were soon going to call it their home away from home. The invitation itself was of course addressed to someone else but that cheerful fella wouldn’t be needing it any-more. Hard to read a letter with no eyes and in his condition it was much safer for him to stay in the gentle care of the Manager of Royal Bethlehem than to face danger on open zee anyway. Getting closer Tyr noticed a person standing at the end of the gangplank and greeting new arrivals. A skinny guy with slightly wild brown hair, clean-shaven, mid-twenties. Black suit that fit him quite well. He realized he actually met Gideon on some ball during an assignment at the Cumaean Canal some time ago. He was undercover by that time so only a minor tailoring of his current cover was required and he was sure to get on board.

The first dossier was titled Gideon Stormstrider The Episcopalian Esotericist and it quite reasonably concerned the brain behind this crazy escapade. The Polite Peacemaker went through it quickly, only pausing to check that the compass on an antiquated glass and metal globe – which showed the Surface at it used to be 40 years ago was still pointing north. He raised an eyebrow over a more interesting passage then muttered something about London needing less “diabolical geniuses” and more honest scientists before putting the dossier aside and opening the next one titled…

Gregory Henchard. The man was as unremarkable as his dossier presented it. Mousy hair an old army doctor’s bag. In the end he would probably be the voice of reason and would lend a hand if things went south. After a short conversation with Gideon, where neither man could remember the details of that ball they met at, but both agreed it was splendid and good – Henchard was the second person Tyr got to meet. Slouching against a pile of crates and perfectly positioned to observe everyone coming aboard.

Then there were the stairs and long hallway with named doors. For some reason it reminded him of an unpleasant dream he had a while ago. Luckily behind the door to his cabin there were no monsters without a face, only stuffy air and a small but sufficiently comfortable room. Wasting no time the hunter started unpacking. He remembered the question troubling him yesterday. Punishment or reward? Only time would tell.

edited by Tyr_Teg on 12/29/2017
edited by Tyr_Teg on 12/29/2017

The Intrepid Scholar hadn’t learned her lesson after her misadventures aboard the Reck, had she? No, she saw that her acquaintance Gideon was setting of on some sort of expedition and signed up as soon as she could. Her research at the University hadn’t been going so well since the mysterious death of her lab assistant, and maybe a little time away from it all is just what she needs.

She’d already sent her things on ahead- scientific apparatus, an assortment of fine hats, etcetera- and was walking down to the docks, humming cheerfully. As Florence passed one of the streetside bar brawls that were a local attraction, she clutched the Unflippable Umbrella in her hand a bit tighter. It was a souvenir of the fight with the Shade, and it had served her well since then, too. A drunk lunged towards her; she bopped him over the head with it and he toppled.

Actually, now that she was almost here, there was one feature of the Umbrella that she’d wanted to test out…

Florence unfolded the umbrella, raised it aloft, and gave an experimental little hop. She floated into the air, borne aloft by the violently pink Umbrella. A bit of lace trailed after it as she bobbed through the air towards the zubmarine.

It all started so well. Her belongings were safe and secure on her person, the roads were surprisingly clear, and even a minor incident involving a woman and a barrel hadn’t cost Madison more time than she had allotted for this little trip out to the docks. She paid the cab and waved the driver off, taking a moment to gaze cheerily out over the Unterzee. And then she saw it - a woman flying through the air holding an umbrella.

The scene startled Madison so much she stepped the wrong way onto an ice patch and slipped harshly onto her back, her luggage taking the opportunity to attempt a getaway before remembering this isn’t Polythreme. She sits up and puts her hand on her head, more shaken than injured but nonetheless displeased with the situation.

As she gathers her things a sinking thought creeps into her mind; is she truly awake, or did she merely dream her trip here? The Neath is strange, but is it truly that peculiar? The odds were in her favour, but as Madison boarded the Inexplicable she found herself unable to avoid searching around for other bizarre phenomena.

Gideon’s arms are beginning to get tired from all the hand-shaking. Still, he continues to beam as he welcomes his numerous friends and acquaintances on board – he can’t say he recalls inviting all of them, but his memory has been known to be faulty on occasion.

During a momentary pause in the flow of guests, zailors and hat-boxes, he heads below to check on Squidley. The poor fellow can be terribly anxious when meeting new people. The fewer passengers under the impression that he is a zee-monster come to devour them in their sleep, the better.

Gideon takes the companionway to avoid traffic. The Inexplicable rocks gently as he descends the ladder into its bowels. Muffled conversations drift into his ears – it seems the passengers have found their rooms.

He peeks into Squidley’s room at the end of a long corridor. A small tide flows out as he spins the wheel and opens the heavy metal door – the room is filled to ankle-height with brackish water. Caustics flicker on the walls, illuminated by nothing in particular. A wicker basket on the night-table is filled with gently glowing amber. But there is no sign of Squidley. Gideon shakes the worst of the damp out of his shoes, as well as a friendly starfish, and shuts the door with a clang.

From downstairs comes a sound like a drain being unblocked, followed by a throaty chuckle. Gideon creeps down the metal stairs and sticks his head into the kitchen. There, he sees a terrible sight.

“Otharooth!” warbles Squidley Johnson, erstwhile Rubbery Mayoral candidate. His greenish face-tentacles wave languidly, and he appears to be frothing a little at the mouth. His normally impeccable suit is crumpled, and his tie is askew. He chugs something from a brown bottle and passes it along to Antonios Methodos. From his flushed face, the man also seems to be enjoying himself quite a bit, although he is not flailing his arms about quite as much as the thoroughly sozzled Squidley. The Moustachioed Cook is cowering under a counter with a saucepan on his head for protection against the peanut shells being flung every which way as Squidley cracks them open for nourishment.

Gideon takes in the scene, nods to the pair, and promptly leaves before any missiles are flung his way.

Back on deck, the preparations for departure are almost complete. The hat-boxes have found their homes, and now the zailors are strapping the cargo down with ropes to prevent it shifting about under the sway of the waves. As Gideon told his friends when they arrived, they will be expected for breakfast at the appropriate hour to discuss the plans for the voyage once the ship is underway. Hopefully those two don’t go through the entire larder before we’ve set sail.

There are only a few more passengers to arrive now. Gideon checks his watch – it is almost one in the morning now. Where could they be?

Surprised shouts reach him at his position near the main gangplank. He looks up to find a most peculiar vision: Florence Garrison, drifting in the air towards the ship underneath the offensively pink Unflippable Umbrella.

Huh, he thinks. I don’t remember adding that feature.

Florence floats above the deck gaily, like a bespectacled dirigible. Everyone else seems too preoccupied with the spectacle, pointing and staring, to notice the obvious problem. In a flash, Gideon notices that she appears to be heading straight for the open zee rather than landing on the ship. Unsurprising, given the lack of manoeuvring flaps on the Umbrella. I suppose it’s up to me, then.

Gideon scrambles up the ladder to the roof of the bridge – the only place with enough altitude. Florence drifts along under the Umbrella, seemingly unconcerned by the imminent peril. She is about ten feet above the roof as she floats over it. Her layers of voluminous skirts billow in the wind, and Gideon averts his eyes. He is a married man, after all.

“Jump!” he shouts upwards. Florence looks down in alarm to see Gideon with his arms outstretched to catch her. Then she looks back up, then down again in surprise. Reluctantly, she lets go of the Umbrella before it carries her off to become a tale told by only the most unreliable zailors. The Incredible Flying Scientist! Saw her, I did, right off the port bow!

The Umbrella, freed of the weight, soars into the air towards the Neath-Roof and the twinkling light of the false-stars, never to be seen again.

“You certainly know how to make an entrance, Ms Garrison,” says Gideon.

Victoria marches with a furrowed brow and bag slung over her back through the ancient and crooked London streets. The false neath snow crunching underneath her boots, and sending the smell of ammonia unwantedly up into her nostrils. Slowly the tall and proud buildings around her began to give way to the drink houses, warehouses, and the ships that sit moored next Wolfstack Docks. She turns one more corner, and leaves behind the safety of Spite’s comforting shadow.

The sailors and dock workers of Wolfstack go about their business most barely noticing Victoria. Victoria’s grim disposition and rough appearance made her look the part on the docks. A few bystanders do watch her making her way down the dockside, and get glares in return, but altogether nothing of note happens in Wolfstack Docks this cold morning.

Victoria passes ship after ship, until she finally spies a ship with the word Inexplicable written along its side. Victoria nods to herself and makes her way up the gangplank stopping for only a moment to gaze at a lady float down to boat using an umbrella, but only for a moment. She uses the moment to quietly go and find her room, preferring to have to deal with the rest of those on board later.

The door closes behind Victoria and her bag hits the bed with muffled thump. There are only some clothes, a couple blades, and few other personal belonging, but altogether the bag was rather lightly filled. She leaves it as is instead choosing to look around her room. Victoria realizes that it wasn’t much. The cabin wasn’t spacious or grand, it was in fact fairly spartan, but she didn’t truly need much. There were worst places she’d been stuck sleeping the night in, and it wasn’t New Newgate cell, that was for certain.

The ship lurches underneath Victoria as the ship begins to make its way out into the Unterzee. The thought of leaving this venture behind crossed her mind. This was the last chance she had to make it back to the safety of the familiar roofs and streets of London. No, they had trusted her with job. It had been assigned to her, and she would see it through. Victoria breaths out a reluctant sigh. Not that it made her feel any more comfortable about her current predicament.
edited by Lord Gazter on 12/29/2017

Satisfied that all the passengers have arrived – although Victoria Crow seemed disinclined towards a meet-and-greet – Gideon jumps down to the bridge to have a word with the captain, a former naval officer who once served under the Dark-Spectacled Admiral. He certainly looks the part, in a fine blue coat with brass buttons. His ruddy nose looks a little like a squashed orange. More telling is the eyepatch that covers the socket of his left eye – a relic of a disastrous campaign against the sorrow-spiders of Saviour’s Rock. His crew escaped a worse fate at the cost of one eye apiece; as a result, he became known as the Monocular Appeaser. A few members of that crew still serve under him. They are not difficult to identify.

“Hello there!” says Gideon, grinning his toothiest grin. “I trust everything is ship-shape and Blackpool fashion.”

The Monocular Appeaser frowns, puzzled. “D’you not mean Bristol fashion?”

“Ah, Bristol, Blackpool, it’s all the same. Went to Blackpool once – I hear it’s not really the same these days, since they built the tower. I do miss the English seaside. The Neath is marvellous, but sunbathing isn’t quite as enjoyable when there’s no sun and a dreadful zee-monster is waiting just off the shore to eat you. I saw that once; some nasty kraken beastie picked up a man in its tentacle and swallowed him right down. Gulp! Didn’t even touch the sides.”

“Right you are,” says the Appeaser. It seems the only appropriate response.

“Anyway, that was my summer holiday. Frightful business, but one makes do. Found an island full of man-sized snails, but the crew wouldn’t let me take one with us. That’s why I got my own ship. A wonderful crew you’ve put together too! Hearty and apple-y, the lot of them! Finer seamen and seawomen I’ve never seen!”

I can believe that, thinks the Appeaser, but he keeps it to himself. The pay is good, if odd – the deliveries from the inventor range from sacks heaving with pennies to crates of gold bullion. “I take it you’re ready to cast off, Mr Stormstrider.”

“Cast off? No, we’ll not be leaving anything behind! Your zailors just got it all loaded up. We shall cast on presently, my good man!”

The Appeaser rolls his eyes to the roof and mutters a silent prayer to Storm to deliver him from clueless landlubbers. He pulls out the speaking tube from the wall, barks an order to the stokers to get the engine fired up. When he turns around, Gideon is striding out on deck with a megaphone.

“All right, ladies and gentlemen!” booms Gideon’s amplified voice. “Let’s get those mizzens masted, keels hauled and sails flapping! Hard to starboard, cast off the lines and keep going ‘til we see the sunrise!” Apparently it has escaped his notice that such a course would send them careening straight into the dockside.

He is greeted by stunned silence from the zailors. The Appeaser steps up and, failing to keep the amusement from his voice, says “You heard the man! Get to work, ye scurvy dogs!”

The scurvy dogs get to work, and the Inexplicable eases out of its berth and down the Stolen River onto the deep, dark Unterzee.

That night, Gideon is rocked to sleep by the swaying of the ship. He dreams feverishly of a journey down a river of quicksilver, surrounded on both sides by unrelieved jungle. A few times he thinks he sees a blurry figure watching him from the shore, but before he can shout out the figure is gone.

At the end of the journey is a waterfall in reverse, the metallic liquid flowing upwards to rejoin the river at the top of a cliff. Pulling up his little rowboat by the edge of the waterclimb, Gideon reaches out to touch the curtain of mercury only to be swept up and away by the current.

The last thing he sees before the quicksilver engulfs him is the livid orange sun hanging low in the sky.

A little bell rings cheerfully in Gideon’s hand as he knocks on each passenger’s door in turn. “Up and at ‘em, sleepyheads! It’s a wonderful morning, and breakfast is on the table. There’s a big day ahead of us, and lots to discuss!”

It is eight in the morning. Bleary-eyed passengers wander from their berths in various ensembles of crumpled clothing and nightwear. Gideon, meanwhile, is well-slept and infuriatingly chipper. The zailors, who have been up since six, cast a jaundiced eye over the procession.

The long varnished wooden table in the dining room is set with enough places for all the guests, both invited and uninvited. As they take their places, zailors bring in plates stacked with bacon, sausages, eggs and beans (or the closest fungal equivalents). Squidley Johnson, who collapsed at the table after his escapades last night, devours the meal with gusto upon being prodded awake. His table manners are not gentlemanly.

One chair is occupied by a large mirror with an ornate gold-leaf frame. Occasionally, something can be seen stirring in the reflection.

When everyone is assembled, Gideon taps his glass of water with a fork. He speaks after the ringing has stopped and the conversation has quieted. “Friends! Acquaintances! Thank you all for joining us on this momentous voyage. It’s quite a promise I made you – to walk on the Surface again, to feel the Sun’s rays on your skin – and I’m sure you’re all wondering how such a thing is possible.”

Squidley looks up from his disaster site of a plate and gurgles in agreement.

“I’ll spare you the details of Judgemental Law – I’m not sure I fully understand it, anyway – but the gist is that the Sun’s light is Law, and it doesn’t approve of what goes on in the Neath. Once you’ve spent too long in the Neath, you can’t go to the Surface again, or you’ll be struck down by that Law – especially if you’ve experienced a temporary death.

“But I’ve found a way to protect us from that Law, at least for a short time, using another Law. This Law comes from a contrivance that I believe to be responsible for the sadly reduced state of the Royal Navy in recent years – the Dawn Machine.”

A mutter of consternation passes around the table.

“Some of you may have heard of the exploits of the servants of the Dawn Machine, the so-called New Sequence. I don’t trust them further than I can throw them, but for this endeavour they may be our only option. They can manufacture a Law that will protect us, and unless any of you have heard of another artificial Judgement down here, we have no other choice but to throw ourselves on their mercy.”

Gideon runs his hand through his unruly hair with a worried look. “I understand if you want no part in this after what you’ve learned. I would have told you in my letter, but I had to be sure that we were beyond the reach of the Ministry of Public Decency. If such a letter were intercepted, it could be the end for every one of us. If you want to leave, there’s still time – we can flag down a passing ship and negotiate your passage back to London. But if you stay, our first stop is in the far reaches of the Unterzee. We need a hugely concentrated source of gant for Dawn’s Law, and to that end, we’re travelling to the Gant Pole.”

The inventor braces for laughter. The Gant Pole is a myth at best, and a wind-up for new zee-captains at worst. But his sources are reputable. Hopefully. God, I certainly hope it’s real. It would be terribly embarrassing if it really was an elaborate practical joke.

edited by JimmyTMalice on 12/30/2017

Waking up was never an easy experience was Reinol. Despite his seemingly strict and solemn impression, he was quite the sloth. Yet he knew better than to tally in this ship. Best not to earn the ire of the captain after all.

His journal lay tucked quietly in the corner desk, alongside his pot of violant ink, the impossible colour still haunting his memories. A dark waistcoat and a equally dark overcoat was what he wore as he left his quarters. His pale face was scrunched up into a scowl as he entered the mess hall.

A few nods of acknowledgement greeted anyone he crossed. A generous amount of eggs, a few bacon rashes and a heap of breakfast mushrooms was what he opted for. The Sentimental Writer took the seat closest to the mirror.

His curiosity was peaked at its shimmering image and so he sat there. He was always privy to matters regarding the world behind it. Reinol made sure to pay extra attention to their…host so to speak.

The Dawn Machine. The False Sun of the Neath. He brain racked with any information on it. From his sources, he knew that it was apparently an artificial Judgement built by a splinter branch of the Navy, and that it’s power was nigh unfathomable. The words of the Episcopalian Esotericist was dearly noted. Perhaps he could make a thesis on it. Was it reliable? He had little to no clue. His grip on the spoon tightened, bending it in his hands. This was risky, but then again, so was travelling to the surface. But was it worth it? To aid this dangerous power? He heard that there was paradox that could be vitalised in Irem, wouldn’t that be more trustworthy than a Fake Star? But it was going to be done. And while his morals spoke to him, begging him to end this, Reinol decided otherwise. To see the Sun…the sky…it was an offer too sweet.

“Where the zee goes to die.” He whispered, more to himself, though it certainly turned a few heads. Wasn’t that an old tale regaled to fresh zailors? He certainly had such things told to him during his maiden days as a captain. But the Esotericist spoke as if it were real. It very much could. All smoke leads to a fire. The journey seemed more and more implausible by the minute, but then again, so was the Neath.

The Enigmatic Correspondent propped up his chair. Well, this was bound to be interesting at the very least. And who knows…he might be able to make a few decent papers on this. The Sentimental Writer nodded in confirmation. Perhaps more than a few stories can be wangled from this. And then there was the Surface to consider.

This might not be so bad after all.

Dirae Erinyes crouched behind a too short easel, taking up the whole end of the table. Everyone once in a while, they would pause in their manic activity to check if the paint properly caught Squidley’s color or the angle of a particularly sleep deprived face. Evensong sat next them, occasionally shoving a sausage or biscuit into Dirae Erinyes’ hands. The food would eventually disappear behind their mask, even if it was covered in pencil dust.

Evensong did not let her tired state stop her interest she took in Gideon’s breakfast lecture. She stiffed up at the sound of the Dawn Machine and the Gant Pole didn’t ease her mind at all. As Gideon finished his piece, and looked around the room expectantly, she politely raised her hand.

“As we all know, the Dawn Machine are a group of dangerous and subversive Navy men-“

“They aren’t that bad after you give them a right old head-butt after they start their preaching,” Dirae Erinyes interrupted, too immersed to observe proper decorum.

Evensong gave a sigh and continued, “How can you be sure that they will hold up their end of the bargain? They are fanatics and would think little of betraying those who do not praise the sun. My other question is this Gant Pole. I was lead to believe that it was mythical-“

“Just because it’s mythical doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” Dirae Erinyes retorted.

“Point made, but what is your proof? I know you are a man who would not venture out without proof.” Evensong let her questions hang in the air, as Dirae Erinyes proudly turned their easel around. The words “First Day of our Exciting Odyssey!” hung over a mirrored reflections of the groggy crew.
edited by Shadowcthuhlu on 12/30/2017
edited by Shadowcthuhlu on 12/30/2017

Dreamside, an eidolon stares deeply into a gold-leafed mirror-frame, and the dinner room filled with groggy shapes and the man who sent them that invitation . He was finishing up his explanation of the principles involved. It all seemed that much more absurd when heard in person - might have something to do with the cadence of his voice, or his jolly manner, or how both descended into anxiety as he talked of the Pole and the Sequence - but it’s hard to give a response when you are on different sides of the mirror.

The eidolon, presently, only had suspicions as to how They were able to occupy reflections. This was as good a time as any, they figured, to put those suspicions to the test. Their top hat dives into the frame and disappears from sight. That’s a good sign. Now, the eidolon gets on all fours and crawls though the empty frame themselves.

In the world of the Is, ripples spread over the gold-leafed mirror, as if a series of rocks were cast into a still pond or a well.

The first thing that greets them is the uncomfortable sensation of falling and the pain of crushing into the solidly-built wooden table. Both the eidolon and their hat are now lying on the reflection-floor, looking up at the reflection-sky. The room doesn’t have a roof - where the walls end the night sky begins. There is no moon tonight - tonight? - but a few constellations of stars have made themselves known. Grapevines descend from the table.

The eidolon picks themselves - and the top hat, too - up, and takes a glance into the mirror, into the Is. Gideon has finished his monologue. Somebody is staring intently. The eidolon quickly takes care of a few loose locks of hair, puts the top hat on, brushes nonexistent dust off their dress, and sits down right on the table, ripping off some dream-fruit or another to nibble on in stead of the breakfast the rest of the crew are partaking in.

The reflection in the gold-leafed mirror stirs and turns, rearranges and uncoils, restructures and changes. The table in the mirror is covered in foliage and, more notably, a new figure has appeared in the reflection. That figure speaks up before somebody can vocally question the absurdity of this whole situation.

&quotI suppose I should introduce myself, since I haven’t had the chance to meet most of you. Extenuating circumstances, you understand- Yes, my name is Amets Estibariz. Glad to make your acquaintance.&quot The figure takes a moment to calibrate their position on the table, and procure a shortcut back to a more comfortable topic than themselves. &quotGetting back to the reason we’re all here, Gideon: I approve of your plan, I truly do - and I would never dare go against the will of our troupe’s leader and mastermind - but ignoring the plausibility of its existence, its location remains an absolute mystery for the good people of London and beyond. I am not a Zailor - the Zee is bad for my health - but I know that there had been enough generations of Zailors and Zubmariners to confirm without a shadow of a doubt that we cannot just stumble into the mythical Gant Pole.

Thusly, I ask: How will you lead us there?&quot
edited by Vavakx Nonexus on 1/18/2018

Madison hadn’t slept well that night. It had little to do with the umbrella lady - all the background gossip pertaining to it quite reassured her. Unfamiliarity was the chief culprit, keeping her from truly settling down; at his side stood novelty, filling her with enough excess energy to render immobility nigh impossible. While she proved victorious in the end, the battle left her more sluggish than she’d have liked. Did she even have time to dream? She wakes with a lingering sense of being watched, one that fades nearly as quickly as she realizes how near she is to missing breakfast. She departs her bed with great haste.

Despite this reduced state of alertness, Madison spies yet another unusual feature of this trip as she joins the others in the dining room - an ornate mirror, seated at the table like any other guest. Curiosity perks her attentiveness more than the food, and she finds herself regretting her unfavourable choices in where to sit. She makes do with the scant options available, the food providing that last bit of energy to feel ready for the day.

Madison gives Gideon her full attention, for all the good paying attention would do for someone who was only just now hearing in full about the New Sequence and the true nature of the Dawn Machine. Her previous fragments lend slight corroboration towards Gideon’s assessment of their trustworthiness, but only just. This was a mental debate to be decided another time, through her own eyes or with the counsel of trusted friends.

On the Gant Pole she was slightly more informed, if only because her older brother told her that’s where her ball went after he had finished playing with it. He wasn’t being entirely dishonest, her mother jested as Madison discovered her deflated toy later that week, prompting a harsher scowl than the one she already had. Madison refrains from reminiscing about a broken toy in the form of a running gag, aided by actual questions being raised; while she didn’t doubt a moment the existence of the Gant Pole, it was hardly a belief based on any solid evidence - proof would be more interesting to hear than the same tired old gag.

Lacking any meaningful input into this discussion at this time, Madison turns her attention to the finished painting, indicating her approval with a nod and smile that suddenly turns into a puzzled expression at the voiced arrival of Amets.

The Cannings, both of them not early risers by habit, were among the last to arrive at breakfast. E. M. had no idea where her daughter had spent the night - definitely not in her own bed in their shared cabin - but that was none of her business. The girl was all grown up, after all, and could do whatever she liked. She gave a distracted nod to the assembled and noticed that no one was sitting near the poor Rubbery man. This immediately got her riled up. So much prejudice, even among a group of so-called visionaries and adventurers? Pfah. Hence, she made a point of sitting down to Squidley’s right, and even attempted some small talk with him. She wasn’t fluent in the Rubbery language, of course, but really: if you lived down here for a while, it wasn’t asking too much to learn a few basic wurbles, was it?

&quotThrerrithroppp?&quot she asked with a smile, quite proud of her exact pronunciation of the triple bilabial stop.

&quotOthatharoooth!!&quot was the enthusiastic answer.

This went on for a while. E. M. only half-listened to Gideon’s monologue, her attention fully occupied between breakfast and wurbling, and not mixing those two up - the result of which would have been unpleasant for the people sitting opposite her.

She applauded the masked person’s painting - how nice, to have an artist on board! - and was only slightly discombobulated by the arrival of Amets Estibariz. There had been a mirror at the table, after all, and this was the Neath. She did perk up at their name, though. Basque, how curious. This, of course, got her thinking about Jackie and the fact that she wouldn’t be seeing her beloved wife for so many weeks, maybe months, to come. But she refused to give in to melancholy this early in the journey and forced herself to keep following the conversation.

Sitting to Squidley's left, E. L. meticulously observed the dynamics developing in the mess hall. The fact that her mother trusted her to be her eyes and ears on this journey made her proud, even if she would never tell her so. 

She made some conversation with the Misses Crowe and Lavery, who were about her age; but both seemed rather preoccupied and she was careful not to press them. 

She quickly developed a deep mistrust for the jovial Mr Methodios - there seemed to be no particular reason for his presence on this journey. And why would he bring his teenage daughter along? The girl seemed airheaded, but that didn't have to mean anything - it was a guise she used often enough herself. She didn't miss that Persephone was paying close attention to Miss Dynamo, and that she gave some rather clumsy finger signals in her father's direction at one point. There were secrets here, she had no doubt.

The person-in-the-mirror occupied the seat next to her, which she found rather unnerving, but was careful not to show. [i]A Fingerking on the left, and a Rubbery on the right. Thanks, mom, for bringing me along.[/i] Though she couldn't help but smile at the thought. 

[i]edited by phryne on 12/30/2017[/i]

Florence still misses the Umbrella, but she supposes it’s in a better place, now. And the excitement of embarking on an expedition as potentially groundbreaking as this one is fantastic! She nods along cheerfully to Gideon’s speech, not even batting an eyelash at his more absurd proposals. She trusts him. Although she would very much like to discuss some of the finer points of the underlying theories at work here later.

As soon as he’s done, she speaks up. &quotI’d just like to say, Gideon, I support you completely in this endeavor. For those of you who do not know my, I am Doctor Florence Garrison. Usually I’m tied up with University work, scientific in nature of course, but I’ve found the time for this and I could not be more glad!&quot She smiles guilelessly at everybody.

Henchard doesn’t dream much, not anymore. His eyes close, and then open to the sound of Gideon’s voice. More of a movement through time than true sleep. Henchard is ready and out the door, almost before Gideon has moved on to the next room. He gives the leader a courtesy nod, and walks out without a word.

Henchard is silent during the meal. He lets Gideon’s words flow past him, only picking up on where they will be going, not the why or how. Those are unimportant, and he trusts Gideon and the party to handle whatever business is driving them there.

During the commotion that followed Gideon’s final announcement, Henchard focuses on clearing his plate, ignoring the panicked nonsense exploding in its wake, though he does pull his plate away from the mirror when Amets appears. At the end, he nods at Flo, someone speaking sense at the trail end of the noise, then opens his mouth.

“If you doubted Gideon’s sanity, if you had doubts about him delivering on his promises, then you should not have joined him aboard his ship. No matter how silly you think his plan is, you trusted him to come up with a plan to get us to the surface, and you trusted in the plan that you did not know about. You trusted it enough to get on a boat to places you do not know. The time for doubt is over.”
edited by suinicide on 1/4/2018