To Fly on Metal Wings

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.

Captain's Private Log, 6 Baldral 900

6 Baldral 900

It’s good to be back, if even for a moment. The journey to and from Obstkern was simple enough; the events landside have left me drained of energy and mind. Repairs have continued apace in my absence, and Ze’s been a continual terrror, so as I understand it. These Knights need to loosen up a bit. Can’t wait to rebuild the tavern, have someplace away from the Keep to relax. I understand Sam led a sortie into the catacombs and nearly died. He was showing me some metalline flower-device, speaking hastily about its purpose and power, the knowledge hedden within, the usual mania. He’s stowed it for until we get back from the Continent.

“Do you think you are the first King of Stars?”

He said it hinged on me, making the right choices, doing what needs to be done. Well, how the bleeding hell is that supposed to help me?! Bastard wouldn’t budge, only kept saying that I knew what I had to do, or how to find someone who does. Inaction is action, life and death in my every choice. That good men and women have already died because I chose wrong. But he didn’t tell me what any of that is supposed to mean. No WHY.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s an empty title. People with no connection to me dying, and it’s my fault? How can I feel guilty about that?
It has to be. I can’t.

I’m going to shoot/ throttle/ have a chat with Serren. He may be the only lead to answers available right now. Shifting bastard spying on me the whole time, who the hell does he think he is? How many died because he didn’t tell me what he knew?!

Tyrale’s getting to skinny. I need to do something about food in this place.

I brought one of them back to Fort Rochelle. Found him dying in a shattered Levium field. Just a boy in a grey-blue coat. He wanted someone named Mongoose to know how hard he had tried. That he’d given it everything. A zealot. A believer.
If I had chosen better, would he have lived long enough to be ready for his battle?

Last Time!
On the Incredible Adventures of Samuel T. Marlowe!

Welcome back, loyal readers! My, has our tale of adventure, intrigue, and romance taken quite the unexpected turn in the last few issues! If you have perchance suffered from some horrible malady, a grievous head wound, or a declining interest in our publication due to the recent investigation of our investor practices, then we are here to bring you up to speed on the latest derring-do of our intrepid Hero!

When last we left our fearless famed Detektive in Issue #32, he and the roving band of miscreants known as the Citadel Elite Operatives (or CEO’s, for our veteran readership) had braved the very depths of the nearly decimated Fort Rochelle, in hopes of finding long forgotten relics in the Spirit of Inquisitive Science and Discovery!! Having braved the upper catacombs himself and overcoming many a dire obstacle, the Detektive felt certain that hidden treasures of ancient origin surely lay within his grasp. Hastened by reports of missing squires stranded in the depths below, Marlowe wasted no time in leading his intrepid team into the forbidden catacombs.

Sadly, the brave young squires had succumbed to repeated attacks by the loathsome Un-Dead that infested these lower caverns, despite being but a hidden door away from certain rescue! After vanquishing the foul fiends, the bold Detektive cleverly disarmed a potent magikal trap using his Amazing Resonometrik PocketWatch, opening the vault-way into an ancient repository of forgotten knowledge. Inside he found a mysterious Mekanikal Artefakt of unknown age and design.

Resolute as always in uncovering the Truth in the name of Enlightened Science, our devious Detektive began formulating plans to further investigate this relic and the cryptic design playing across it’s barely faded furnishings…but before he could delve into thorough experimentation, he was interrupted by the unexpected return of the Citadel Captain, who brought with him an urgent new mission…

A Hastily Scrawled Note


Dreaming again! New places colors Ze there watching
Older, crown, HOME, fleet. Both houses aflame!
Captain Cole?
Redhead—who is she? The tip of my tongue.


I swear I will make this right.

A seven pointed star is burned into the paper where a signature should be.

To Whom it May Concern

(Carried in the pack of one Coleman Caine, wandering tradesman, tucked safely in between a small case of Amatsuran rice-wine and a bright new copper pot, is a letter. It has been secured with twine and an unmarked blot of grey sealing wax. Written on the reverse side in a small, tidy hand, is the name “John Weston, Jr.”)

29 Noctis 900

John Jr.,

This letter comes from the desk of one you used to know well. A fellow under whom you served, and I would like to think came to hold in a fond and avuncular esteem. I write it without much hope of response. The abdication of my post five years back was not an act I took lightly at the time, nor one that has let me rest untroubled with too great frequency. But if you’ve read this far without tossing the paper in to your stove, perhaps you will forgive a poor attempt at bridging that rift I dug between us. I should have done it years ago. At least made the attempt. As you know, I did not. I could easily say that I did not want to risk endangering you or yours by any further connection with me. It could even be true. The fact of the matter, though, chiefly, is that I was a coward. I ran, and was too weak ever to risk looking back. But, as tends to happen, the windy vagaries of chance have taken me where I least expected; the difference being, this time, that I — and I v. well might be a fool to suppose it — think I can sense the faintest thread of a purpose to my wanderings. I’m back on Trebarre.

But, first things ought certainly to come first. I hope your folks are doing well, Junior, and that the work I did around their farm has managed to hold up through the years. Some of those irrigation control panels were tricky for your father to handle, with the shape his knees were in, but I’m sure you’ve been lending a responsible hand. Mr. Bradley? George Hagan? They’re well, I do hope. I’d heard that eight-ninety-nine was an especially dry year for Trebarre. If I can offer any consolation on that front, it’s to let you know that Chukos was, for a certainty, dryer.

(A few lines of text have been scratched out in apparent frustration.)

I swear, I just spent an hour and a quarter trying to write a joke, here. Convivial pleasantry seems to elude me. Which is probably not all that shocking to you, when I think about it.

Things have been hard on Trebarre for some time, now, I’ve come to learn. Both through second-hand report and my own engagement with certain factions, both from within Trebarre and without, I am aware of the forces that trouble the island’s people. My current companions and I are stationed at a northeasterly redoubt of the Knighthood which I’ve no doubt you know by reputation: Fort Rochelle. Our ongoing assignment is, in short, the defense of the Fortress, esp. as a means of defending its doorway to the island as a whole. And being in this position, I offer myself to you: if there is anything that I, or those stationed with me, can do for you or for Drydock’s people, I hope that you will send word immediately. Send a letter by any means, or come yourself or with any who are troubled by the lawless elements scattered across the isle, and I will do my best to put the situation to right. I’m in a unique position, here, and if I can use it in any way to make some small amends for the way in which I left Drydock, I fully intend to do so.

I have a final topic for you, John. I don’t feel at all thrilled by the prospect of asking you any boon, but… I’ve got no other recourse for it. So: the gnome who attacked us, (The ink here is blotted.) Did she survive? Octavia. If you could tell me, John, what became of her, perhaps even where she might have gone after her hopeful recuperation, it would be a kindness. Granted, one that I know I don’t necessarily deserve.

I remain — if you will accept the assurance of a few clumsy words where I know that deeds have failed you — your friend,

Ashley Galliford


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