I am afraid I have been losing grasp on the world lately. Very slowly, in almost the most nonsequential of ways, yet each little thing sticks to another. Together they grow and bustle and destroy any certainty I might have thought I have. So much progress lost, it seems. One can hardly know what to make of it all.
As all coins do, so this one has two sides. Each little thing, a word here, a phrase there, countless interactions. Each little thing makes me rethink; reconsider; take a new perspective on my own being. My own ideas and actions and way of life. Perhaps, still, there is a chance of returning better.
Such is life of self-uncertainty, perhaps. Rises and falls, as all humans have, though the climbs and the falls are blind. One might even consider them a straight path, in the end. For who truly knows what lies ahead when one does not even attempt to steer for so long.
As all things, this too shall pass.
Art of London
Sun-Filled Stories, Chapter Four
by Cassius Mortemer
She was waiting for him when he arrived.
“Are you ready for your trip across the zee?” she asked him. He had two large suitcases with him. He didn’t seem particularly excited.
“I’m not sure,” he drops his luggage and looks around. The Devilless was alone.
“Where’s the captain?” he asked. A voice much deeper than the Devilless’ greeted them.
Someone rather tall and scarred came from somewhere behind the Author. Arms like pigs’ thighs, a chest as broad as the unterzee… This Captain surely knew more than the average swashbuckler. And If they didn’t, they most likely wrestled whatever stood in their way.
“Darling, this is Captain Hardt,” the Devilless said. “They will be taking you to Mt Palmerston. And back home, if need be.”
The Captain grunted in agreement. A person of few words…! Lovely.
Brief introductions, luggage hauling, excitable zailors yelling or singing (or both) followed, and in seemingly no time the Author was in a cabin all by himself. This was going to be a very long trip.
The Author barely got absorbed in one of the penny dreadfuls he brought along before he heard yelling and commotion outside.
“What the hell…?” he asked as he swung his legs over the edge. Cannons fired. The Author jerked and covered his ears too late.
Three… four… five… six seconds of silence. Is it over? The Author crept to the door, ears still covered, just in case. He nudged the door handle with his elbow. No luck. It wouldn’t open. He had to let go. His thungering heartbeat made his hand shake as he pried it away from his head, and dropped it to the handle. He turned. The moment it budged he covered his ears and shouldered the door open.
He stumbled into the hallway as another blast of cannonfire shook the ship. The captain was yelling orders at the zailors. The Author couldn’t figure out what the crisis was. All around them is pitch black, with only the false-stars above and the ship lights ahead cutting through the darkness. But the cannons weren’t firing to where the light shone. There, near the coast. Something large jutting out of the black Unterzee. It seemed to be… moving?
“I bloody hate Lifebergs!” the first officer grumbled as she passed the Author to join her crew.
“Can’t we just go around it?” the Author whined. A nearby zailor laughed.
“Captain doesn’t just go around a zee beast!” another said, before unleashing another blast of cannons. The Author barely covered his ears in time.
The Author’s head was pounding and his ears were ringing by the time the blasted thing was defeated. The crew was terribly jolly. The Author was somewhat less so.
“So, ah… how long is this trip going to take, exactly?” The Author asked while zailors worked on fishing out the remains of the previously sentient zee mountain.
“Good question!” a zailor answered. No one continued for her.
“Does the question have an answer?” the Author pressed.
“Technically. It depends on where Mt Palmerston is,”
“Do you not know?”
The zailors laughed. Something told him that was a question frequently asked by the inexperienced.
This was going to be a very long trip.
There is a party tonight, in the Forgotten Quarter. Brightly coloured pavilions strung with electric lanterns where once were dig sites, tables of food and drinks and sweets placed around statues of fallen kings, a bandstand where a Rubbery oompah band cheerfully honks away…all clustered around a makeshift stage, built in front of what used to be a temple back in the days of the Fourth City.
It is no match for the Carnival, yet there is a substantial crowd present tonight. The Debonair Sharpshooter has advertised this event widely, and word of mouth has spread it wider. He has promised a night of wonder, fun, and the reveal of something that will revolutionize London. And admittance was pennies at most.
They have come from all over London. Hunters from the Hill, pickpockets from Spite, bohemians from the Veilgarden and junior clerks from Ladybones. Dockers from Wolfstacks, urchins from the Flit, servants and courtiers from the Shuttered Palace, keepers from the Labyrinth and spies from Wilmots and illusionists from Mahogany Hall. The working-class and the middle-class and the idle rich mingle freely, attracted by novelty, free food, and the promise of spectacle.
And there is spectacle. The Sharpshooter has called in favours by the score to provide entertainment for the evening. The audience has been treated to a selection of Carnelian poetry by a tiger minister from the Wakeful Court, urchin acrobats that swung on ropes and juggled knives, the showcasing of a genuine Winton Automobile from distant America, a Shroud séance that summoned forth the spirits of Fourth City horsemen, and a series of Third City-era ritual dances performed by an ancient troupe of tomb-colonists.
And yet, all of this was only build-up. Organized and orchestrated by a man with a dream of dubious sanity and a vision of questionable rationality. The lure to attract the crowd before the final act: an act of revelation and of love.
News of Art, Art of News
Hidden Killer On The Rise – Authorities Warn Of Congregating
Noxious air is spreading around our dear London. Citizens are dropping like flies with many confirmed cases of infection. So far, the disease has only taken one life permanently, though it had sent many others to the River, with nearly anyone being a possible vector.
Authorities warn that the fumes spread from person to person and thus gatherings and meetings in public spaces are ill-advised. Despite the diseases generally low mortality rate, it is of course best to be safe.
Multiple institutions of learning and even several theaters have already closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Though we at the Gazette do not want to spread false panic, we, too, advise you, dear Londoners, to take care and stay clear of faces with possible infection.
Further investigation into the nature of these fumes is underway, employing doctors, Correspondents, and fortune tellers alike. Opinions of these groups vary, though all agree that it most likely has something to do with the general sins of humanity.
More on this story as it develops.
Ask Mother Goose
Dear Mother Goose,
I do believe I like her, you see. The problem is… well, there are multiple problems. Each one more difficult to grasp than the other. I do not like myself. I do not know what the future holds. I am not brave enough, not good enough. Do I simply not care? Or do I torture myself on purpose?
Each day has moments of bravery and cowardice. Where do I even begin?
Inaction is the worst of curses. Idle hands are a Devil’s playthings, after all. It takes little to truly achieve one’s goal; determination, that is the first step.
I’m afraid I cannot be much help beyond the vagueness of sage advice. Oh how I wish I could provide some substance, yet how when love is so elusive for us all?
Stay strong, for you still have a reason, you still have friends, you still have a roof over your head, and you still have yourself to whom you should be kind, as kind as to the others you love.
Perhaps, one day, the answer will present itself.