To Fly on Metal Wings

Captain's Log [UNSENT], Feinral 900 [Cont'd]

Feinral 900

An enemy of CITADEL has struck. The Sherra was attacked, a powerful explosive device planted in her engine room. Mr. Marlowe was able to investigate the scene before any well-meaning folk inexpertly picked through the debris. There was precious little evidence to behold, but we found one piece—a remnant of tempered steel, shaped into the form of a butterfly. We await the arrival of Guild Engineers to ascertain the extent of the damage and begin repairs. I believe the detonation was intended, in addition to crippling one of our ships, to eliminate Sir Akienne. The explosion took place shortly after he boarded.

My staff and I were enroute to meet Akienne aboard when the Event happened. At first, all was confusion and chaos—soldiers speaking of non-existent fortifications, the arrival of multiple fleets, acquaintances from far off being present as stalwart allies… The dead or gone returned to our side. All was flame and smoke. The sky shifting, at one moment eerie green, the next brilliant orange. I believe my team and I may have been involved in someone else’s Vision. Though we remained together, of our own mind (and bodies?) we were unable to direct the course of action, and otherwise ran through the proposed events amuck until confronted with Death. Sometimes a Guild invasion, sometimes something more sinister at some foreign place… Some part of me knows the other Castle. I believe He took Them there and now calls to me. But where is it?

Upon our return to the Real and True current world we found Akienne, abed and unresponsive. Something happened elsewhere in the Aetheria, sending ripples felt by those Touched and Gifted. If the rumors are true, Akienne’s power reacted to the Event, and my particulars were sucked into this happening. We must devise some means of awakening and healing the mind of Sir Akienne. He has been a true ally, and I have need of him in the coming days.

We have met three of the Primary Candidates for the position of Director. The Moorlands propose a public, peace-keeping fleet. The Guild would have us small and swift, investigating, obtaining, and neutralizing Powers. The Republic would make us independent, consolidating our power base and beholden to no one nation. A knighthood delegate is also en route—Gods only know what proposal they bring.

Chang Fei-Li believes that Akienne’s waking mind is trapped in the Dreaming. He knows of a way that we may enter in search of him, but the materials needed are rare. With luck, our new allies in Shafton can secure the necessary rare alchemicals needed for the journey. I intend to return with my allies or not at all. Both of them.

Captain's Log, Feinral 900 [Cont'd]

Feinral 900

Preparations for the CITADEL Summit are well under way. We have secured the services of the Sable Band, a security force specializing in small unit tactics, independent agents, and intelligence. While they do not bring traditional firepower or strength with them, I believe that their superior network of skill and diplomatic experience will allow us to diffuse most disputes promptly.

The Fort grows larger with each passing week. The lumber and food from our allies at Shafton Forest have been a tremendous boon. Also to thank are the craftspersons sent by Archbishop Dracovir. Merchants, drawn to the promise of our “festival”, have begun to congregate, necessitating what Mr. Marlowe has deemed “urban planning”. As such, we have laid out a plan for districting various endeavors—mercantile, manufacturing, residential, social, etc. The docks have been extended southward along the coast, allowing swifter turnover amongst merchant and passenger vessels. We have also reserved the space directly outside the Fort’s walls to be made use of as public garden spaces under the direction of Mr. Galliford. We shall encourage the common and public use of these spaces to foster comfort and good feelings to the Keep. Additionally, the reserved, flat space allows for more direct sight for the defense of the walls, should the unfortunate need arise.

Our CITADEL compatriots have begun to arrive. Sir Akienne docked with the Sherra, bringing many Peacekeepers and administrative staff to prepare for the delegates. We are expecting official delegates from the Moorlands, the Republic, the Guild, and several other states—Grave, as a wolf-man of the cloth, has agreed to act as a concierge general. Daniel of Armacaia has joined us as well. I understand CITADEL has hired him expressly for the purpose of secretarial duties to me and my staff. He has been reticent to offer any opinions of substance, but is knowledgeable and concise in his explanations regarding our newfound diplomatic duties.

The Lady Kannarkin has joined the employ of CITADEL as well, it seems. Her presence at the Fort undoubtedly adds a much needed degree of poise and respectability to our proceedings. I believe that she knows little of the Summit, and that she intends to remain removed—her duties include the organization of our festival. A daunting task, to be sure. She seems to delight in the distraction.

The knights once occupying Fort Rochelle have largely relocated a few miles south along the coast. While we have made no effort to exclude them, they seem to hold a grudge for the transformation of their former base. The Lady Violet has agreed to open talks with the Chaplain and assess the situation.

Lastly, several ships filled with Orc and Dwarven refugees recently made landfall. The symbiotic tribes have settled north of the Fort. My understanding is that they await Mr. Marlowe’s visitation….

Captain's Log, Feinral 900

Feinral 900

I, E. Jacob Riley, Captain of CITADEL and Commander of the Fort Rochelle, being of sound body and mind, do hereby declare myself fit to resume directorship of the operations of the Fort.

The actions of Marshal Galliford and Detektive Marlowe in the intervening period are to be commended. Their activities, decisions, and outcomes of their journey to the Valley have been recorded, copied, and forwarded to the Crystal Palace. A tenuous alliance has been secured with the House Miyang, who seem to be now acting in concert with the local Divines. There is also an elite unit known as the Special Mountaineering Brigade, led by a Goat-Man Captain Xiu, who have left the Valley. We are continuing efforts to recruit the Brigade into CITADEL’s service.

It should be noted with distinction that my people would not have returned successfully without the aid of Violet Dame Tourmaline and her formidable retinue. Lady Tourmaline’s assistance will be rewarded with the full and immediate complement of the Fort Rochelle’s resources in search of the still-missing Lord Cato. While I have yet to form an informed opinion of her, I trust the Good Feelings of my retinue as to her trustworthiness.

It should also be noted that Mr. Jedidiah Thompson, a frontier herdsman, also joined my retinue on their journey. He has agreed to apply his Gift to the Fort’s outlying region. I anticipate a rapid and successful resurgence of the Fort’s agriculture capabilities.

The inclusion of the Tourmaline retinue into the Fort’s landscape has created greater confidence in the surrounding area. As such we continue to see growing interest in re-settlement.

Unfortunately, Doctor Fortescue failed to return after the intercession of Cmdr. Holles’ GFS Nova. I have been informed of a Divine Event, relating to her particulars, which may have either been the cause or the after effect.

Captain's Log, 4 Nidal 900

4 Nidal 900

After much difficulty, both food and lumber have succesfully been acquired for the continued upkeep and reconstruction of Fort Rochelle. We have successfully laid the foundation for further collaboration with the High Council of Shafton via the prestigious Hyle family. Matriarch Hyle has pledged her support towards our ongoing efforts, in no small part due to the actions of Mr. Galliford and a new recruit, the warrior known as Virage. Additionally, we have recieved an offer of support from Father Ivan Dracovir, Arch-Bishop of the Church of the Great Wheel on Gruffyd. The Dracovir has pledged funds, labor, and political privacy in return for bringing stability and maintaining independence on Trebarre. His only outstanding condition is a moritorium on non-Wheelite proselytization.

We have managed to broker a tenuous ceasefire between Ms. Angela Bradley’s Forest Outlaws and the People of Shafton. Bradley has intimated plans to force her way into the highest tier of Shafton society and politics, but is willing to negotiate for a more peaceful means to rise. Mr. Marlowe was instrumental in drawing up plans for arranged political marraige, but no Council family is ready to entertain the notion. With her offer refused and our return to Fort Rochelle, I am unsure how long the truce will last.

During our time in Shafton we became aware of an artifact of particular value. We have been referring to it as OMICRON, a name written on the paper schematics we acquired. There has been speculation that it may be related to the ancient facility where we rescued Ze. It was in the pursuit of this device that we encountered Mr. Lenx Overcrown, a retired Irregular and formidable ally. The device remains in the hands of the Cult of Three Masks and is housed at the Rotwood.

Bolstering our moderate success in Shafton are two new recruits to the staff of Fort Rochelle. The warrior Virage, previously mentioned, will be joining us as a mercenary agent. We recognize the danger that may befall housing a berserker, but my team will take every precaution to avoid incident. My main concern is the man’s lack of memory. Given recent events, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Virage has been placed in our path with ill intent. The man himself is a quiet and considerate fellow, much beleagured by his own strength. It is my belief that his residence at Fort Rochelle is tied directly to his actions at the Battle of Shafton, namely, the untimely slaughter of the Unnamed Amatsuran woman.

The second addition to our crew is the unlikely Ms. Adelaide Voltus, ward of Mr. Overcrown. It is through her own initiative that she has attached herself to our company and convinced Mr. Overcrown to acknowledge this arrangement. While she appears a capable enough young lady, she seems to make certain members of my staff flustered and uncomfortable Although, when I think back to my former acquaintences, and even the Doctor, I am reminded that no power nor allegiance is entirely predictable.

Lastly, it should be made aware throughout CITADEL that the Power identified as Sin Dao has successfully planted an agent within my staff at Fort Rochelle. The detektive Mr. Samuel T. Marlowe has been infected by the shadow and may be used as a puppet to execute Sin Dao’s wishes at any moment. The Church has been informed, and while my people tell me that the curse has never been lifted, I am officially requesting aid in determining the extent and potency of this curse and any potential remedy.

Captain's Private Log, 20 Baldral 900

20 Baldral 900

I feel sick to my stomach. It’s been years since I figured out the Abbot’s game, but now this King of Stars bullshit has gone too far. They took me in because of a damn prophesy, because they believe I’m the one to fill those boots. The damn thing even says it’s my job because She’s gone. Life and Death are too busy being “distracted” to make sure that the rest of us don’t get slaughtered like sheep when the devourers and older things arrive. Godsdammit all. And now I’ve got this shaggy old wolf-man preaching to me about the Wheel and morality. Could be any kind of spy or assassin, for all I know. Seems content to just bore the shit out of me or maybe I’m just angry. He’ll stay at the Fort for the time being; we’re about to leave for Shafton. It’s the closest source of lumber and trade, and we can get gold, so I don’t see this taking too long. The faster we get buildings back up the faster we can get people back to farm, etc. Nothing is simple.

It’ll be a day at least before we reach the edge of the forest. Sam says he can attempt some long-distance dream messages. Entirely unclear how much can get through. I’m going to try and tell McClintock that I had nothing to do with the attack on Casper. He knows my secret, and the reports coming in make be a bit wary of Moorlander death squads heading our way. I’ve heard that the King’s Irregulars are formidable. I’d rather find out on my own terms.

Captain's Log, 17 Baldral 900

17 Baldral 900

My staff and I safely arrived back at Fort Rochelle. As per my instructions, Md. Alder has managed to keep the people fed, though she informs me that the surrounding lands have been foraged bare. The walls and town remain in deep disrepair, although Mr. Bragg and Fei-Li have succeeded in clearing and recycling what little resources are available. It is my intention to leave for Shafton Forest once our wounds are properly mended—if we can broker an arrangement for lumber then repairs can begin in earnest. Mr. Galliford has suggested that the local miscreant commander, Ms. Angela Bradley, may be ammenable to certain terms of service. Sir Rand has yet to report from Hart’s Falls as to the status of his negotiations, though our short visit indicated a severe increase in military preparedness.

The lupis draconis specimen referred to by the abberant Ziroc the Warped as “Chassa” has been confined to a stone chamber within the Fort. Though its aero-pyratic abilities seem nonfunctional at present I remain skeptical as to the nature of the beast. Dr. Fortescue has been paying regular visits in both medical and husbandry care.

Streams of Consciousness

Connections forming in synapses long disabused nearest correlation of evolutionary leaps and bounds bounds bounding through the mists and skies energies unlocked within no need for lesser faculties simply exulting but changing perhaps an alteration of natural cycles will be hereafter exponentially collating the curve of parabolic dimensions I will be both linear and parabolic a dichotomy of impossibilities there can be no overlap Is this Me?dangers there are dangers about threatening us externally with grievous bodily harm take action against these antagonists these avatars of aggressive Throw them to the fires. It will be the easiest of things

Author: ???
Location: ??? Date: ???

…Bitch got away.

There, got that out. Don’t like the swearin’ none, but unlikely ma’s ever gonna read this. Should’ve grown up respectable; she don’t deserve a son that cuss’s at or about a lady.

Not that it’s without reason.

I had her. Everything accordin’ to plan. They’d set in for a lil’ “shore leave”, and I found the dive where she’d been hangin’ about. I scoped out her crew first- nothin’ I couldn’t handle. Lots of brawn, sure, but she’s the brains of the pack, and the muscle will do what the mind tells it to. Ingratiated myself with a bit of poker. I play well as any man round these parts, but I won’t deny I brought a little extra luck to this game. None of ‘em caught wise, tho she probably suspected somethin’ by that final hand between the two of us. When I turned over that King-high flush, she almost turned the same scarlet as her Queen of Hearts. Big’un next to her didn’t like that- specially considerin’ the stakes. She calmed him down before he did somethin’ stupid, and I didn’t have to paint those nice dive walls with brains. Not yet anyway.

Didn’t know if she’d bite on the proposal- we played that final hand not for gold, but for a night of her “privacy”. Her thugs objected to her goin’ off alone with me, but to listen to ‘em woulda made it seem like she couldn’t handle herself, and that right there’s death to a captain’s command worse’n than any assassin’s blade. So she came with.

We strolled around a bit (not much to do in this po-dunk), found a nice enough water’n hole and set in to wet our whistles. She took my drinks graciously, and shore’nuff spit’em out on the sly when she thought I weren’t lookin’. I drank any she sent my way, trustin’ on the copious amounts of anti-toxin I had goin’ in me to keep me upright.

We were there ‘til the wee hours, when I finally suggested we make ourselves scarce and bunk down at my place. She took the bait (clearly didn’t trust me none, definitely had me made, but I think I had her intrigued on one or two fronts that she’d indulge me a little longer).

On the way home, I bought her a rose. Marty really did good on that one- must’ve spent all night freezin’ his keester off waitin’ for us to stroll on by, but he sold the part like few could. She accepted, and while she didn’t take her gloves off, she did take a brief sniff.

That’s all we needed.

Got back to my place and that was fun. Afterwards she’s goin’ to fresh’n up, comes back and lays down an’ gives me a lil’ kiss. I can tell she’s already fadin’ out, the dosed pollen finally workin’ its way through her system, shuttin’ off all the lights. Took damn near an hour to kick in, but when it did, she started fadin’ fast. Her last words before she went out were, “Guess you got me after all. The flower?” I nodded, shakin’ my head, feelin’ a little fuzzy myself. She grinned as she lay fading out of consciousness on the pillow. “Never could resist a red rose. Neither could you, apparently.” I shook my head again, dizzy all of a sudden. “What’d you…” I began. She smiled a bright red smile again as her eyes closed. “You fellas…never do notice when…a girl..puts on…new…lipstick.” Then we were both gone.

It was just a matter of who woke up first. Turns out she’s a light sleeper.

So I woke up this mornin’ in nuthin’ but my skivvies. Cash gone, long with a couple other minor valuables. Found my clothes, guns and equipment hangin’ off of the highest weather-vane in town. Sittin’ down at a kaffe-shop right now, nursin’ a poison-hangover.

Plannin’ my revenge.

Captain's Private Log, 9 Baldral 900

9 Baldral 900

or it may be 10. Sobering up a bit but it’s dark outside still coming off Evernighttime. Feel all like gunshots over my skin. My clothes are all burned up and off and my holsters and everything! Theres dark black spots of dragons teeth all angry at me from my sleeve. Course his coat is fine. Im always glad he didnt ever wanted it back again.

Below suits a blurred depiction of the Dwarven god’s-coin: the simplistic angel figure is largely recognizable, even under Riley’s unsteady hand. The paper is wrinkled and stained.

How do I get involved in all this nonsense, anyways? Nonsense about men with wings, falling from the mist, or the sky, or whatnot. Llewellyn told me about everything I needed to know about what happened, don’t mean it should be following his ghost. Maybe it should’ve been me, kill me, at least then he’d have an idea what was goin on here. Or be sensible enough to find someone to deal with it. Or walk away. One big stupid angry powerful-beyond-thought family, and now they’re tryin’ to kill each other and the blasted Dwarves worship them? Protect them? Use them as godsdamned giant accumulators for CITIES?! I was trapped into that network for a minute, maybe less, and I couldn’t even stand afterwards. These things have enough Power to last centuries, maybe millenia, and get up and run away. Where did you run?
Met a nice name-eater while I was playing Battery today (yesterday? Ain’t heard no bells yet). Tore me to pieces before some giant grey EYE swallowed him. “Seed from the other tree”, and G is alive for sure but NO he won’t take me to her want to wipe the grin off his
We’re seeds, apparantly. Growing? For what?
He said it was my destiny to destroy everything. Can’t let that happen.

Lost men, a whole company. I’m betting they ran into something no one there could handle. Still might have made an enemy because of it. When you’re in the mercenary business, you always leave something on the ship. That’s how it’s always been! Angry for not retrieving the bodies, hells there may not have been bodies! We don’t know. Too risky. Other lives at stake. Poor tactical decision. I thought being a better commander was supposed to make things easier.
Ms. Cole has been reassigned! Don’t have any idea what’s going on, ‘course not, and I guess she was just on loan but why? She was doing good work with me, important work, plus she’s still got a score to settle on Trebarre and I thought I could count on her to keep me steady.
Foolish, Riley, should know better.
Gary left with her, don’t know what that’s about. Sam and Ashley will help look after Ze, though an over-intelligent drinker and a morose botanist/commando are hardly what a little girl needs. Not so little. Age relativism, gets … difficult to keep perspective. I was learning to shoot at that age. The Scorpion. I had Becky, Llewellyn; she has me. Poor kid doesn’t stand a chance.

Then there’s Talian. His father commanded one of the ships I sent to stall the Strategos. The Nova ‘s commander, Rolles, served under him. Died bravely. I don’t think Talian knows. Brave lad, strong and clean. Is it odd I want him to look up to me? Little chance of that happening. Might even make something out himself someday, keeps away from my decisions.
We brought back the thing that killed me. Ash is not pleased. Sam is delighted at the prospect of continued study. I just hope it tries to betray us. Barring that, I can melt the skin off his hide in front of his bitch mother. Or who knows? Maybe this Chassa will actually be useful.

Written in the ball-turret of the Tortoise BX-7.

(A full page of Ashley’s journal is taken up by an elaborate — if somewhat rushed — charcoal drawing of Kolyat-Vadra from above. His naturalist’s eye has captured the city in all of its alien beauty and fiery decline. The city’s obsidian towers loom in imposing miniature over the streets as they are slowly overtaken by the implacable onset of molten rock. The blackness climbs higher in the form of columns of black smoke; some no greater than fine tendrils, barely escaping from windows and doors among the buildings, a handful of which dwarf the towers themselves. Here and there, a spurt of more violent lava. Near the city’s center, a careful eye can spot the minute detail of several large beasts lying splayed out in a city square. On the page facing opposite, there are a few lines of text. The hand in which they have been written is broader than usual for Ashley; less controlled, restrained. A bit shaky, even. No doubt a result of the aircraft’s ascending motion.)

9 Baldral.
Abomination. Only a symptom, though. Thank “God” for that. Makes all the diff., of course.
“The Father sleeps.”
Danjil. I barely knew your people. Know. Yours, your mother’s. Think I hate them. But what good does that do?
Ziroc. Scaly bastard. I shot Sam. In the chest. Never been as mad as that before. Only partially spell-related.
Jack! Missed me. I could almost laugh.
What am I supposed to do now?
Running hasn’t gotten you anywhere yet, Prof. Galliford. Take note. It may be time for a change.
Funny thing: I don’t even feel tired.


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