The Sea of Shadows

Meanwhile in the guest quarters
"So why does it sound like a giant is hitting this ship?"

In the guest quarters of HMS Lightbringer, there was a certain sense of nervousness in the air. Or, well, an edge. The strange old man, journalist and the rich frog were all spectating the battle going on outside, but the others were merely sitting there, waiting for the noise to stop. Or most of them were at least.

Wind, the strange apprentice of Baba Yaga, was chanting something to herself in a language that hurt the ears of anyone who was listening too intently. Perhaps this was protecting all of the passengers there. Perhaps it was just protecting herself. Every other passenger thought she was somewhat weird and off, so most had not made an attempt to get to know her. Well except for Mog’Mog, but Mog’Mog wanted to get to find out everything about everything even remotely interesting. The only passengers he’d left alone were Malgosia and his bodyguard – the frog was apparantely afraid of the grim fishtailed Native.

Speaking of the two Natives, Morgana was dressed in her full armour, and wielding her nasty looking trident. She was ‘standing’ in front of the door to the deck, being ready to repel anything that would come through. Considering the scale of the opposition, it was basically a symbolic gesture, but it did somewhat calm down the more panicked guests. Of course, she was still paying attention to whatever the other guests were doing. Morgana did not really trust any of them. Not even the Observers, although only the Devil was present at the moment – his human colleague was observing the battle, he was observing the passengers.

Shadow had been talking to Malgosia regarding the objectives of his pilgrimage, writing down interesting details for later analysis. Native cultures were varied and mostly a mystery to both the Devils of Bastion and the Stolen Empire. Apparantely Malgosia’s entire race had been preyed upon by the race of Morgana’s, until some large cultural shift appeared and it became taboo to prey on the weaker race. The pilgrim was unwilling to go in to too much details, so Shadow guessed that some greater force had forced the peace, perhaps an external threat. Perhaps he should ask Guinevere, Shadow pondered while glancing at Morgana. She was probably the same race as this Morgana, and if what he’d heard from sailors was true, both had been named after characters in an old human legend. Which was rather strange. He had gathered that there was still plenty of bad blood between the two races though, which was not surprising considering one had literally been hunting the other for food – which made the arrangement between the two all the more curious. Neither one was willing to talk about the reasons for the arrangement of course, that would have made it too easy.

Still, while the two Natives were interesting enigmas, Shadow had been paying attention on a few of the nobles and merchants amongst the passengers. How they all had wanted to go the easternmost colony of the Stolen Empire was strange, at least based on what his British colleague had told him. And strange in the somewhat suspicious way, what were the chances so many were wanting to go there at the same time? Some of them seemed genuine, but Shadow was not sure if all of them had legitimate reasons for going there. Of course there had been no clear signs of any plans for foul play, so Shadow could do little but wait. He had gathered that the Officers of the ship were somewhat suspicious as well, but randomly accussing passengers was not very good for business. There was also the skinstealing monster problem.

“While we are stuck here Horned One”, Malgosia started, bringing Shadow’s attention back to the piranhafaced Native, “I was wondering where is the master of this vessel? The… captain was it? Wellington was his name?”

“Oh, he’s probably screaming in his cabin again.”

Thankfully there was a loud, pained and horrifyingly angry scream from something monstrous outside, so the Devil got an excellent opportunity to leave to the deck to see what was going on himself. Usually a sound like that meant that things were either over, or just about to end. Nodding politely to the heavily armed Native bodyguard, Shadow left for the deck, believing the passengers could handle themselves for the final moments of this battle.

Malgosia looked thoughtful. He had been under the impression the crew of this mighty vessel knew what they were doing, he could sense how the God of the Hunt had blessed this ship. He had not even considered that they might not be prepared for the Siren’s Haven. Well, he’d just inform Morgana of his worries, and she would handle it. She could go talk to that shaman of her tribe that was apparantely serving on the ship, Malgosia was fairly sure this would end well.

Meeting the Russian Witch
Just another adventure

First Mate’s Log, Fourth Entry

Now that we’re back in port, I’ve finally ran out of excuses to avoid this thing. So, where were we…

Once the Kraken let us from its realm, I advocated we get rid of the infernal beast we were burdened with immediately. Luckily the others saw reason and agreed.
The way to the Witch Isle was long, but with few events of note.
We picked up a castaway, a native from sunken HMS Royal Blade. We also had a tangle with some sea monster, but peculiarly I cannot remember the details. There was fighting, was there not? It had something to do with Pinkerton, our new gunner. I’ll have to check his log for the details…

Well, we arrived to the Witch Isle in high spirits. The locals were an interesting bunch of Mantis Folk, who had sworn off human flesh. (No mention of Devil flesh.) We also met with a group of British explorers, who had an unearthly fixation on their Moving Picture Device (it probably got their souls and the poor devils want them back).

Both groups, however, were in agreement that the Witch’s hut could be reached either by taking the long and safe route through the Cannibal Village or the short cut through Forest of Eternal Dooms (or something like it, once you’ve been in a couple of them, they all look and feel the same).
No surprise that the forest had been infected by the Void.
We arrived to a clearing with a void infected machine. The Captain had to sacrifice his colours and I was almost devoured by the unending void, but we wrecked the thing and forced the malign entity to withdraw.
We maybe even wounded it, but the thing is far from dead. It will keep causing trouble, until someone deals with it.

Now, at the hut we were greeted by the Witch’s apprentice Wind. She was pleasant enough host, though she acted as she had a dreadful secret to hide from us. Shame, we might have been able to help, but it’s not my place to pry.
She explained that the eldritch abomination McCreed calls a puppy is, in fact, a soul vessel that contains the souls of twelve native shamans.
Apparently the Red Admiral put them into a dog, so they’d be more easily controlled.
We agreed to aid in a ritual to free the spirits and McCreed courteously volunteered as a new host. The Ritual was successful and I wished we could now leave the dog, but McCreed cannot apparently see a job done and insisted we keep the thing.

As we prepared to head back, Wind asked if we’d take her too. The Admiral had apparently stolen something from the Witch and she wanted our help to retrieve it.
We agreed, as we will most likely run into the Red Fleet in the near future. Besides, I have my own business with them too.

Then it was time to set our sails towards London. (I know, I know, our ship has no sails. It’s a figure of speech!) On our way back we checked Lord Hawke’s Manor. Unfortunately somebody had been there first. We looted the bell.

And just when I decided that nothing was going to go wrong, we were ambushed by the Red Fleet.

London Tribune, September 19th


Today a bunch of TERRORISTS attacked our brave soldiers on some important errand, as a bizarre and terrifying battle took place on the streets. One of the armored steam-mobiles of our Royal Army was assailed by separatists who were probably also Irish, but the attack was fought off and defeated by our brave soldiers.

While most of the TERRORISTS were either arrested or killed by the brave soldiers defending the steam-mobile, it is believed that some are still at large! According to detective Hemet of Scotland Yard, they are following several leads and are sure these traitorous dogs will be brought to justice!

However! We have also received an eyewitness report according to which two DEVILS were battling atop the steam-mobile! One brandishing knives and another brandishing a sword, seems unlikely in this modern age, but we feel that we would be failing as journalists if we did not mention this eye witness account. One of the Devils apparantely jumped off the steam-mobile and escaped on a regular automobile, shouting insults and eternal revenge all the while. We are unsure as to why this Devil was swearing eternal revenge, but rest assured, if we find out, we will tell you, our dear readers! We are also unsure as to what this errand the brave soldiers were doing was all about, and the Ministry of Information informed us before this story hit the printing press that it was nothing important and we should not ask too many questions about it.


The streets are running red with blood again! Another mysterious murder by the enigmatic slasher in the night, the body of a prostitute was found near yet another monument celebrating the Empire’s glorious past in the Sunlit World. The police assure us that they are getting closer and closer to this villain, but in the meantime his bloody misdeeds continue.

We have also, once again, received a letter from this rogue:

“Three points. Their blood. U. U. My joy. The Black Colossus. WHORES. I paintdraw a SYMBOL with blood. Warn you. O is E. Power through Fire. Power through [word removed in accordance with the Law Regarding Things Man Is Not Meant To Know]. One is true, one is part true part lie. Four. And another number. It hurts. I hunger. S. O=E, bears repeating. Three points. He got the chest. THINGS WILL HAVE TO CHANGE. Fooooooouuuuurrrrrr. But from the end.


I hunger. MM. Remember me. Remember. Rememb. Member. Dismember. There is a message here. Please. I will KILL AGAIN."

And as always, it is completely incomprehensible. Hopefully this madman is captured soon, justice needs to prevail.



THE NEWS ABOUT ALL THE BLOOD AND DEATH ARE NOT DELIGHTFUL, THE EDITOR WOULD LIKE TO REMIND EVERYONE. If you find blood and death delightful, seek immediate medical attention.

Ignorance is Bliss
Knowledge is a Curse

Below the deck, in her little workshop near cargospace the Infernal Weaponsmith was completing the finishing touches to the Gatling gun. She was proud of her work, although she realized she hadn’t asked the Officers where she should install it, or whether to keep it somewhat mobile. That work wouldn’t take long, but still, it was an annoying delay – and the Captain had already been asking for the Gatling earlier. She missed something important due to her pondering. A blessing.

The Frog was rummaging through the Captain’s drawers, occasionally petting the Dog and ribbiting happily while doing it. He’d stolen the spare key to the Captain’s quarters during the old Captain’s time, before he’d shot himself, and had made it a habit to scrounge around in the cabin whenever the Officers were away. Oh, he’d put everything back where they used to be… well, mostly. He would sometimes steal the other sock from a pair, slice a hole in the Captain’s underwear, you know. Performing his duty as the Mascot. Due to this duty, he too missed something. The Dog did not care, and missed it as well. He did say “woof” though.

The Two Spies were walking around the Nameless Village, chatting with each other and taking notes on the strange place and its inhabitants. They almost missed a part of it, but they did see the vessel. A nervous glance was exchanged. They did not know why the vessel visited the village. It could have been nothing.

It was something, even if they did not know it.

The Voice of the Serpent was teaching a captive audience of a couple sailors about the Gods of the Sea and their habits. She was delighted by this chance to take advantage of her recent improvement in status, and paid no attention to anything going on outside her tank and the adjacent room. For once, she missed something that might have given her dread as so many other things had done. To be fair, it was not of the Void so she might not have cared or understood if she’d known anyway.

Some of the sailors might have noticed as well, but most did not understand or care. The Armoured Man certainly did not. The Northener could not care less. And the Unfortunate One just focused on her own misery. Perhaps if there had been more members of the Navy in the crew, someone might have cared or noticed, but it was not to be.
Besides, most were busy trying to figure out how to buy some REAL alcohol from the Masked Ones, with mixed success. Rumor was that Stephen and Robert had managed to buy quite a few bottles, but were refusing to tell anyone else where they had gotten them. Probably hoping to sell ’em later to other crew members.

The only Passenger, the Lost Painter, focused on his art for the most part. He had convinced one of the two Natives who were regular crew members, the one with the tentacles, to be his model. The Native was unsure of what to make of the request, so he’d agreed to it, somewhat bemused. Art consumed both totally for the time being, so they missed something important as well.

All this leaves only two with the means to both see, and to understand what happened while most of the Officers were away. The Chef, quite naturally what with his problems with the Eel was on the deck, with a perfect view. He would see, and perhaps understand as well. The Eel could see, but could not understand. That still left the last one to see, and understand the meaning of what he saw.

The Man with the Black Beard.

The Time We Sailed Into The Tempest

It’s been a busy few days. Too busy to keep a log.

Where to begin? How about our newest discovery!
Some part of our ship is powered by A PIECE OF PURE VOID. Somehow it was only discovered by OUR GUNSMITH of all people! As to underline the point, it didn’t take long out at sea, until we were chased by not one, but TWO Void storms.

Why did no one know about this? How was it undiscovered until a random devil stumbled upon it? I would never admit this out loud, but I find it harder and harder to complain about the blessing we’re offered.

Also, we have a new Bastion Spy. Posar decided to fly over the cuckoo’s nest: he kidnapped one of the natives and demanded Lady Ashmore to reveal something. Somehow he assumed I would take his side.
Maybe I would have? No one knows, because the bastard said nothing about his suspicions! Had zero proof to show! I would have liked to throw him overboard, but the bastard jumped.
If he only knew how much I wanted to know… If he wasn’t such a shifty bastard.
I know I’ll regret it, but I gave my word that I’d leave our passenger in peace. Maybe she’ll give some light into the matter, maybe she won’t.
Well, it won’t be my only nor worst regret.

We reached the Maelstorm, but because of all the strange things happening in our ship we had no Captain to steer nor a Scout to guide the way.
So we just dove in. Still alive.

Realm of the Hunter was nice even, if I don’t approve of the divine hocus pocus every deity loves to flaunt. We found a siren, who’d made some name for herself. Made a deal, got some crew. Guinevere lured us into divine hocus pocus and forced me to relive that one battle. Except it wasn’t, I almost got to redeem myself until that Damned Goat intervened.
Why he’s suddenly so interested in what I do? He’s always dismissed everything I do and suddenly he’s almost supportive.

We did get an interesting peek at our Scout’s past. He’s had an encounter with that Murderer. Very interesting.

We met with the Serpent. We got our blessing. Guinevere got her promotion. I got the location of Yabalchoath. Time to tie that loose strand.

The Serpent will deliver us from its Realm.

In the Temple of the Kraken

Excerpt from a letter addressed to the London Royal University department of natural sciences

…The time I’ve spent aboard the HMS Lightbringer has been most enlightening so far! So many new, exciting things out here to discover every day. I think I may even have come across a previously unknown marine species! Enclosed you’ll find drawings and notes I made. Would have sent samples too, but the thing’s pretty massive!

Right now, we’re anchored at the Temple of the Kraken, and it is a truly magnificent place. I can’t even begin to describe the size and scope the temple, it’s amazing that mortals could have built something like this. In any case, there’s lots of things to repair and resupply after Captain Wellington nearly blew out the ship’s engines getting us away from a void storm. But don’t worry, I’m perfectly fine! Though I certainly wish I don’t have to see one of those storms again any time soon.

To be honest, I am more worried for one of our passengers that was hurt quite bad during our journey here. I did my best to treat his wounds while we were at sea, but so far it seems likely that an infection will soon set in and make his condition worse. To add to my fears, I couldn’t find the medical supplies needed from the marketplace here, so I ended up hiring a local shaman to help make him better.

Now, I’m sure that it seems weird to hire a faith healer to do the work of a surgeon, but after all I’ve seen so far, I think it’s not an unreasonable assumption. This world is truly strange, deities work in more direct and observable ways here; just recently, I’m certain I even witnessed a minor case of divine retribution right before my own eyes! The locals offered us a ritual they called a “purification,” and while I mostly agreed out of curiosity, my opinion of it all changed when the ship’s cook was slapped by disembodied tentacles after he mistakenly violated the sanctity of the place.

All in all, I have hope that things will take a turn for the best. We’ll be setting sail again soon, towards another one of the locals’ holy places. Next time I get the chance, I’ll be sure to write another letter and tell you people all about that! I’ll including more field notes, too!

Hand-drawn image of a thing that looks like some kind of crab, with text highlighting anatomical features

A very strange thing indeed! I can say with a fair amount of certainty that it’s poisonous; despite that, the locals use it to make stuff that seems to be their equivalent of moonshine. Sampled some at the market, and it’s not bad at all!

A storm most vile on a journey to a magical isle

On our way to a place of worship we were quite annoyed
when our ship had to race a storm of darkness and void.
We faced malfunctions, sabotage and witches
but finally triumphed and were rewarded with riches.

Natives were grateful having reached an island fit for ballads
and promised us purifying rituals in waters blessed by the gods.
There were pitfalls to be met in their most sacred hall
as some of the party had a bit too much gall.

Receiving the blessing was a simple task of meditating
but not all managed to have the understanding,
that the blessed pool was a place most holy
and certainly not one for undue folly.

Instead of trying to properly focus
Jack did a show of hocus pocus.
It did the trick and Jack got his blessing
although his methods seemed a bit distressing.

Our cook had an accident in the pool
and even though he tried to play it cool
the gods saw it fit to put a curse on his person,
so he fasted for a week and nearly ate his apron.

The devil named Jack went to meet his old friend Goat
and admitted to no mistakes but instead chose to gloat
how he won over darkness and accused Old Goat of being dull,
even when the fault lies with Jack and Bastion’s black metal hull.

Old Goat was not amused and ordered a big fellow with a club
to follow Jack around close enough to give a backrub,
only with orders to give the slippery Jack a terrible head ringer
if he tried to slither away without fixing the Lightbringer.

-An excerpt from The Fantastical Journeys of Lugos Lugadovic Gyffes

Embracing the Kraken
We're alive. Barely.

It was a dark and stormy night, when we reached the Temple of the Kraken.
Only it’s darker during the day and the storm was a void storm.

Since last time we made a brief stop to investigate the wreck of H.M.S. Mordgard, when a void storm found us. The rest of the way have been a frantic struggle for survival. We learned some valuable lessons tonight:

  • Our crew is a bunch of chickens during a crisis.
  • We have void cultists on board. (I’m not so naive to think we’d got all of them.)
  • Posar is either a suicidal idiot or daredevil with balls of hot brass. (Honestly the prick is going to get himself killed. And if I don’t get to him first, I fear the other’s aren’t going to be as merciful.)

We reached port. Alive, yet in tatters. It turns out Guinevere had reinforcements waiting. Now we have a whole church pleading and preaching that we have to do something to our hull. Worse yet, Old Goat’s here and he’s on their side.

We were taken to their sacred shrine for a purification ritual, where Spooner managed to offend them. He was taken away and now we wait. They also insist on purifying our ship. I have to stop them.

The Old Goat thinks I’m mad (he might be right), but I’m not doing this for shits and giggles. There has to be a reason, why the Aristos made these hulls. Why they insisted on it despite the risks. They were cruel lunatics, but they were not crazy.
And unlike the Goat, I’m not concerned about our race’s future. I won’t be fettered.

Water sleeps...
An excerpt from the First Mate's Log

… but it’s starting to stirr.

I was instructed to keep a regular log. Most likely so Posar could sneak peeks at it. Hey, you could just ask, do I have anything to hide? No, don’t explain. We’re both slaves to our nature.

Our first days on the sea have been just delightful. On our very first day we were attacked by a pirate, who had a… well, this is an Empire ship, so I suppose as long as I’m aboard those don’t exist.
So, the thing is that we were not attacked by a shark headed pirate and his merry crew and the captain did not spout of charming rhymes while he fought. He also did not have a duel with our noble captain, which our captain did not win by the noblest means there are – by having our Scout come and stab the pirate in the back.
If you asked the sharkman pirate, who does not exist by the way, he’d probably claim their duel was interrupted by a kraken. I’ll come back to that later.

Anyhow, the (not-)sharkman. Poor fool seems to have some notions of honour and justice. As if you can have either, when you’re invading ships on sea. The fella’s either naive or mad and I’m not sure, which one’s worse for him.
Their shaman did seem more competent. Didn’t even flinch at my foreboding oneliner. I’m getting rusty, gotta hone those skills.

As I was saying, we didn’t get much to dwell on the attack, as we had to flee a kraken. Nothing special about that, it happens on the sea.

During our next leg of passage I received a message from the Old Goat. I wonder how he gets them on board, does he give Posar a stack to hand out at random times? Does Posar invent them himself? Cannot be the latter, that little snitch has no imagination to speak of.
Apparently the Bastion wants something from me. Again. Posar calls it a test. As if I owed the bastard anything. (I cannot help, but wonder what is being tested. My worth? How much they can control me? How weak Ashmore’s grip on sanity is? It does not matter. A game is a game is a game.)
The lady didn’t prove helpful. And to get her to trust me I swore I’d bother her no more. She was not grateful, which makes what comes next somewhat harder. I’ll ask Posar. Either he has to distract the lady or I Mungo, if we want to get anywhere.
And if he won’t help… well, I don’t care of this game that much.

Our schemes were put on halt as we neared an abandoned island and the wreck of HMS Mordgard. Just now I received the order that I’ll be on the landing party…

H.M.S. Lightbringer sets sail
A letter home

You Old Goat,

I almost think you do love me after all. After an eternity of suffering, something finally happened on this floating diplomatic-catastrophe-waiting-to-happen.

The old Captain Whatshisface finally went over the bend and shot himself and left poor Mr Wellington, our engineer, with the hat.
With that, half the crew vanished. Is it still desertion, when the Captain showed an example?

Anyhow, that left a mere handful, who still had their wits:

The new Captain, Daniel Wellington, who’s supposed to be somewhat competent under the hood. He seems professional enough, tho I fear for his nerves.

The ship’s Chef, Mr Spooner, grumbles constantly how the old captain did things better, but he’s been following along loyally. And his dishes are to die for. (Don’t leave him alone with a cat.)

I haven’t got a handle on Mr Mcreed, our Scout, yet. He’s one of those weirder human specimens. Nimble on his feet. Cozy in the Crow’s nest. Other people seem to have an irrational hatred towards him. (No, not like us.)

Finally Mr. Koltsov. I think he’s the ‘funny one’ as the humans say. For some reason the new Captain expects Koltsov to draw him maps, while our Surgeon would rather map what’s inside his latest catch.

So, crew we lacked so crew we’d hunt. First I lead everyone to the Black Goat, you know, the place that serves the best Roach n’ Chips after Perhana. On the way we met some natives and I graciously agreed to help them meet their makers. At the pub we remembered we had no dosh, so we’d have to find some contracts too.
That’s when Wellington heard about lady Ashmore, who seemed to have an urgent need to get off London. (Nice gal, but she really has to get over her prejudices!)
While Captain went to negotiate with her, me, Spooner and Mcreed went to catch cats. Apparently the humans want cats onboard. I helped to pick the colour.

Ashmore needed to get to Nameless Isles fast, so there we would go. She even got crew for us, when it seemed we couldn’t get the job done. So onwards we sail to the high seas!
Some might think we don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, but…
Well, I have a good hunch about this crew. I know we’ll do just dandy.

Best regards,

P.S. Goat, friend, please, tell Posar to tone it down a little. His behaviour paints us all in bad light.

P.P.S. I’m so glad Barnabas and the Captain seem to get along. I knew it was a good idea to bring him along.


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