To Fly on Metal Wings

Captain's Log, 7 Freijal 900

7th Freijal 900

[All up and down this page are faint paw prints and occasional liquid stains.]

Docked at Faros yesterday, ladies are getting their traveling preparations finished. Few dings ‘n scratches from upper island turbulence this past week. Not my fault, Piers wanted to run their paces a bit rougher than the rest. Taking on provisions. Imagine we’ll be set to launch in a matter of days.

Received our first assignment from a dog-man wearing a smocking jacket. Thought the poor son-of-a-bitch a bit more likely to set his fur aflame than his clothes. Seems the Guild put this whole shindig together to have me track down some pirates. Real slippery ones at that, [smudge] managed to get their own rogue levium refinery. I guess most try for the lower quality stuff—old fashioned mining, or floating-rock ships, that sort of thing. These guys have managed to get quality levium for the highest bidder. Luftmeisters don’t exactly agree with their business. It’s gonna be like trying to find a marble in a gravel mine in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Met the rest of the crew yesterday, guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t know to expect them. Either the bureaucracy or the liquor; probably the bureaucracy. Seem useful enough, though. Most were Marines, the “[smudge]bore Muskets” from HM. King’s soldiers, CITADEL accords and all that. Their commander (or sergeant? I forget) is one Angus McClintock. Older fellow, looked rough enough for the job. Seemed to understand the chain of command bit better than I do. Don’t know if he cares about me being his Captain ‘n all, though. Still, I’m leading the mission, I’ve got the CITADEL seal, they’ll stay in line.

Met another of interest, hired him, even, though he made a point that CITADEL had already done that. Guess he wanted it done proper, by the Captain. Gnome, tall one at that, seems well-travelled. Should be useful in finding things forgotten and hidden. Good with longarms, too, or claims to be. Better take a look at his tools o’ trade, see what he’s got up his sleeve. Hate surprises from my own. Nice guy, patient. Asked some smart questions, too. Had to keep my [smudge] in mind.

[smudge] girl joined us, too, another pilot. Picked up a stray.

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From the Offyce of Samuel T. Marlowe, Detektive For Hyre
211 Cook St., 20th Lokital, 900

Emile,

Lovely party last night- and once again, heartfelt congratulations. As usual, your sheer perseverance and work ethic have rewarded you, and your accomplishment is far greater than any I can boast. I’m afraid I will be departing rather suddenly- by the time you wake up and read this over your morning tea, I’m afraid I’ll likely have already left Holle. A job came up, of sorts- a representative of the CITADEL paramilitary organization I gave mention to approached me last night at the offyce as I was preparing for the celebration. It seems my services have been requested investigating some sort of illegal pirate levium refin’ry- rather pedestrian sounding, I know, but there are extenuating circumstances. The Captain I’ll be assisting goes by the name of Riley- and he is a curious bird, I’ll warrant. It seems they’ve also hired an old fryend- the plaintiff in the “Mystery of the Metal-Fisted Man”, Case File #895-07.

You’ll notice I’ve moved a decent sum of equipment from the workshop- I’m not certain how extended this engagement will be. I’m leaving you in charge of the Offyce for the time being, and I’ve instructed Charles to follow your orders explicitly- don’t over rely on him however, he’s really quite useless at performing all but the most menial of tasks. Hoping for a swift and profitable return, but…there are certain…details…that are becoming clearer to me…regarding the Project…you’ve seen the Letter- I believe I am on the verge of discovering a Clue…the Magium Echometer does not lie. We’ll soon see if this little excursion proves itself a prudent exercise, or a minor dalliance delaying the pursuit of true discovery.

Oh- speaking of dalliances, give my regards to Lady Barris, and please be a dear and send her a nice bouquet on my behalf, with apologies- I’m afraid I had to slip out this morning before she awoke.

Your Faythful Fryend,

Marlowe

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A Mercenary's Work

To-Be-Done: 4 Freijal 900, En-Route to Faros

Funny feeling, travelling as caravan passenger for once. Not as relaxing as suggested. Am not displeased to be leaving Chukos for a time, however.

  • duster, waterproofing alch. largely stripped away [sirocco, nine clicks west Satyeva, 2 Tyrnal]; re-treat or procure replacement
  • phosphorshot sidearm arcano-conduction-coil socket, copper transducer ring eroded signif. [sirocco, Ibid. / standard w&t of tech. mock-sonar processes]; will require specialist
  • phosphorshot sidearm proper, infrequent jamming [standard w&t of tech. ammo-enhancement & phosphorous build-up]; thorough barrel, receiver cleaning req.
  • scattergun, breach-hinge sticking [standard w&t]; oiling req., component clean & reassembly not unwise
  • repeater, several ammo wheels in substandard condition [standard w&t]; thorough cleaning req.
  • repeater, clockwerk rotational mechanism operating roughly 80% [standard w&t not aided by this godsdamned desert]; full component clean & reassembly req.
  • repeater, hairline fracture in rifle stock [skirmish, ant-men, seventeen-and-quarter clicks west Satyeva, 28 Rota]; caulking, binding, full replacement when in poss. of genuine Elohim component
  • repeater, ammo-velocity-enhancement plate emitting faint smell of hazelnuts [unclear, first noticed 17 Tyrnal]; will obv. require specialist

(A series of competent sketches depicting what appears to be a cactus flower from several angles.)

  • self, ache and occasional stabbing pain in left knee [skirmish, Ibid.]; stay off of it (ha), poss. Farosian masseuse?
  • self, I’m starting to look and smell like a ratkin particularly down on his luck [standard w&t]; here’s hoping Faros has a decent bathhouse and barber

Am v. keen to meet this Captain Riley. Not a name that rings out, but he’s in command of two ships and obviously trusted by the Guild and this CITADEL. Curious.

Sounds like my duties will be fairly standard, this time around.

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Captain's Log, 3 Freijal 900

3 Freijal 900

What in the name of the gods

This is the first entry of CPS Rebecka captain

Yes Captain Riley, Sir! Let me help you, Captain Riley, Sir! This way, Mr. Captain Riley, Sir!

She’s not the Scorpion

[A large chunk of text is blurred together, damaged by liquid. It fills the better part of the opening page. The runoff trails towards the corner, brushed off too late. Under the swirl of ink, at the bottom of the page, a small amount of text can be deciphered. The penmanship differs noticeably from the slashed through portions above.]

Let here beginn the Record of one Ephraim Jacob Riley, who on this daye took command of these Citadel Powerred Ships, namely the Rebecka, whereon he set his flag, and also the Sherra, as Captain. Let this ledger record, describe, and recount the manie trials and travails, adventures and journeys, accomplishments and losses encountered in defense of our Balance.

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Anger and Resolve

I had my fit of temper and hysteria. Found a quiet room in which to scream and wail and break bits of furniture.

This huge, terrifying anger pounding in my chest is almost unbearable. Llewellyn abandoned us. My attempts to bring him back were not only fruitless, but put my living companions in danger and killed Diggel (if only temporarily). Worst of all, the knowledge that anyone who ever believed in me (for I’ve accepted now that “me” is both Georgina the girl and The Lady the small-goddess) has spent their afterlife wandering without respite.

The other gods don’t know who I am? That is going to change. I am done hiding.

My first goal is to make a place for my followers spirits to go. After that? Madness and destruction. It is time that this new Aetheria learned something of The Lady of Life and Death.

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It's Going to Rain
Right now, I just want to hurt someone

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. Two cats, now that I come to think about it. Sin Dao’s been returned to his good ol’ more-that-fluffy self. Not sure what’s going to happen to him now… last time I saw him he was occupied with the Stratagos.

The Chariot.

I lived with Songen for years, learned from him, ate with him. And all that time I was living near a being of unspeakable power and destruction. Now he’s loose again, and unless he’s contained he’ll rip the Aetheria apart.

I’ve revealed myself. Doesn’t matter anyways, those who were a threat already knew, and I’m furious to know how these … creatures, so powerful, are able to figure out our identities. What have I been missing? Is there something I should be able to feel, some piece of the puzzle that will click in and tell me who they are, what their purpose is?

I was right about Johanness. And I didn’t want to believe that one. What worries me is that he used to be more powerful. Either that or Lughnassa has grown. I wonder if she really is a dragon? There must be some way to kill a dragon. Probably the same way to kill a rampaging, unstoppable machine of war.

Why is it that Georgie can heal the wounded, Lughnassa’s a dragon, D’Caeli’s immortal and powerful, and I need help taking down a single, non-Small God foe? Where’s the balance of power? I’m not a small god, I’m just a convenient target.

I want Llewellyn back. He didn’t have anything to do with this mess. He finally got to see me do something worthwhile, something he’d be proud of. At least now he won’t see me muck it all up again.

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Waiting for Dawn

As the others watch the fleeing undead army and the wake of destruction the Strategos leaves behind, I kneel here at Llewellyn’s side, waiting for the dawn.

A lot has happened, and I know more than I did before. Neither is much comfort.

In the time since I last wrote, I have discovered that two new friends, the Mantis-man Scarlocke and the Lupin Whistlethorn, knew Eva, and that all three were present at the battle Diggel witnessed through the helm; that Spire was there too, though on the other side; that Aurelius Victor persists and has been waiting to take his vengeance on me; that all of my suspicions about Sir Johannes were correct; and that Riley was hiding more than I could ever have guessed.

I am not sure if I forgive him for not telling me.

I’ve learned that there are some things I cannot heal.

And now I wait, terrified. It’s a funny thing to admit, now that the Dragon Lughnassa and the army and the force that lives only to conquer are gone. Those were nothing compared to the expectant faces that stared back at me when I looked up from Llewellyn’s corpse. Sometimes I think they forget that I am making this up as I go. There is this power, and I can feel it well up and drain away and as I feel for the edges and the depths of it there are times when I actually know how it can be shaped. There are times when I guess.

There are times when I overreach myself. Thank… the Wheel of Fortune, I suppose, that it did not go worse than it did. The familiar feeling of all those tiny wounds lancing across my body… The look on Sir Johannes’ face as the air left his lungs… My imagination is filled with the things that could go wrong on the morrow. If I can even work the spell.

What if he does not want to come back?

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Serran's Secret Report #3
In Mourning

Had to leave official records at home. Consulted the Manual- it offered a solution. I will record these words in the sand, and through much meditation, recall their form and picture later when I have access to my proper documents. I do not know if this will succeed, but I must try it. What happened here must be known, and remembered. So I begin:

Today, one of us has fallen.

We have battled a god, seen another reborn, and I have now witnessed the revelation of two more- our Lady is not alone anymore. Johannes is non other than the Vanishing Lord (explains a lot actually) and Mr. Riley has finally become the King of Stars. I am not surprised so much by the former- indeed, the clash of life energies between the Lady Georgina and the Virtuous Knight made much clear to me. My head still hurts. Riley, however, has been the greatest surprise. It makes sense, however- all those years the Shaan kept him in hiding, quite possibly without his knowledge…his unusually strong Gift…still, even with Three at our sides, and the considerable powers and talents of myself and the other two mortals within this band of companions, we were almost unable to defeat the One that is called Lughnassa. The Dragon of the Moon has been behind the events that have befallen us of late- it was she who raised the armies that almost killed me. It is she who killed Llewellyn. I know that the Knight is sworn to defeat her, and that it is his battle to finish, but I relish the chance to feel my sword bite through her scaled hide again. I had not felt rage in a long time. I harbor it still. I know I must maintain clarity, to keep my emotions in check; I trust in the Lady’s ability to restore our companion to us. All the same, to feel a life snuffed out in such a way…I know Georgina is confident she can bring him back, but I do not believe the Llewellyn that I have come to know will ever fully return. And so tonight, I will mourn the loss of- if not him, then a part of him.

Beyond the walls I hear the clash of the Chariot and the panther Sin Dao, now unbridled and in his full strength. It will not be enough. We face any enemy that cannot be stopped. I cannot help but fear that bringing Llewellyn back will be an exercise in futility- if we do not stop the Chariot soon, this world will not be worth living in.

For now, I close my eyes, and picture the things worth fighting for. I will open them with the dawn, and see what it brings.

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Trials

These past few Weeks have been most… trying. I Know not what to Make of what has Befallen in this Time. Events, Realizations, Encounters and Battles Most Strange. The City of Eva has fallen into turmoil with Strike brewing Betwixt the Tetrarchs. Omoeia had been Taken by One of My Greatest Enemies, and the Undead are Everywhere. The Knighthood will have Much to Do on Chukos in the Near Future. The Chariot has Been Released. I Failed to Destroy Lughnassa once Again. And, I Realized Something that makes Much of My Life… Matthias, I Cannot even say that This Realization makes my Life Clearer. It makes Parts of it Clearer, and Raises many more Questions… Ah, Martin! I Cannot not tell You any longer! I am One of the Small Gods! It is most Humbling Company to be in. I am among Many Great people. My Lord d’Caeli, my Dear Emperor, the Great Knight, the Mechanikal Lady… and I am suspicious that I know others. And I cannot Understand How I forgot that the Strategos was imprisoned into Kyou Soungen. It was most Foolish of me to Lose track of Such an Important Man within my Jurisdiction!

Agh! I have much work to do. Llewellyn is in Dire Need of Georgie’s Assistance. I will Have to turn my Gaze Away from her magicks, for No Matter how Close they dance to Necromancy, in This Case, I must trust the Lady for Llewellyn is too good of a Friend to Allow to have Died in the Way he Did. And I must do work on Hilda Garde. Fighting with the Dragon has shown me that Her Capabilities are Not Enough. I have new Ideas from Observing Armordynes recently. I May well be Able to Overhaul her. Though She may need to be renamed. She will more than Likely no Longer be the same Girl… We Shall See. First, Llewllyn.

And I have not Seen Gary since I sent him to Tell Sin Dao that the Strategos was Freed. I worry for Him.

I Shall write More later Michael. I Miss you. If you see Gary, Tell me.

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Away from the City Lights

Yup. I’m in prison. Diggle’s fault. That black cat-man came calling. He stayed to the shadows, never showing me anything. Thought he might be there with a kind of deadly intent. ‘Stead, he asked me things. Things like, “What do you think of the sun?” I said the sun nourishes, burns, comes and goes, anything neutral for fear of a wrong answer. Then the same with the moon; I said it shines, illuminates the dark, other noncommittal answers. Turns out we’re not enemies-not friends, though, either. As he left, he got clumsy with the light. He’s bound to the Wheel.

Kitty returned, offered to have one of the Exceptionals take my place in trial. Broke me out, got me Miranda, and said I had to defend Georgie. Found the place and waited. Had another vision, a desert woman all swathed in red. She told me that things in Satyeva are going to get bad. Worse. The dead one was there, too. Aren’t many manifestations I wanted to avoid. He found me. Snapped out of it when the girl arrived. Magicked my way to her side, and caught the touch of some undead creature. I don’t know how to describe it. It wasn’t pain like a bullet or a blade, or even like proper resonance. He put one ghostly hand through my stomach, and I knew I was close to death. My innards, my guts, were nearly gone, ripped out or maybe just plain removed. Better me than her.

We’ve been moved to a safe house. Llewellyn’s finished Sher’ah and Becky, as well as the improvements to my armor and pendant. Had a tailor change my coat. Patchwork on the back. Seven-pointed starburst with two trails going towards my arms, one orange, one purple, just like my ladies. We’re getting a bit stir-crazy. Went out with Georgie to see Whistlethorn, asked him for a song about gods. Shouldn’t write any more on that. Moving out on military business. We’re marching under the cat-goes by Sin Dao. It’s the price of my and Diggle’s freedom. I’m just glad we’re out of the city, especially now that he’s been there.

Diggle’s lost a leg. I’m running out of whiskey.

Twenty years of peace. Years of learning about the earth, growing crops, no one trying to kill me, and the love of a beautiful woman. Four decades of hard work, debt-paying, relearning myself, and sand in my food. Thirty years studying the Broken Lady’s prophesies, the nature of my power, and Shaan doctrine. Two months ignoring what already is. No more. We’re changing-all of us. It’s not a question of “better” or “worse”. We’re all who we are right now. For some, this means accepting the mantle placed on our shoulders, however young. Others are struggling to define themselves with mechanika-one eager and one resentful. Johannes is unaware of who he truly is, though none of us knows any better. And I am left to wonder-am I becoming something new, something foreign, or am I simply accepting something I’ve always been. Perhaps some night they’ll tell me. Probably not. I need a drink.

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