Northern Tales

"And heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience; and the great mundane soul were in anguish and remorse for the long sin and suffering it had bred." - Herman Melville
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Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
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Northern Tales

Post by Smyg » 23:44:12 Thursday, 26 June, 2014

Chapter Zero - Let There Be Light

"For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger;
At whose approach ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards.
"
- William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream)

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The Beginning of Spring
  • At long last, Spring arrives. Across the Island, those few hundreds who overwintered and lived to tell the tale emerge from their shelters, greeting the first weak rays of sunlight. The days are yet short, and the nights are long, but the Long Dark is over nonetheless. Soon the first ships of the season arrive, bringing provisions and word from the continent, much to the desperate population's relief, pale, cold and starving as they are. The fjords are still full of drifting ice and the snow remains unmelted, but Summer is not far away.
  • Knowing that the town will soon be flooded with new arrivals, Harbourmaster Hendrik Schultz begins the seasonal headcount. Out of the three hundred and sixty-eight souls who set out to stay in Smeerenburg for the Winter, huddling in the shacks and cabins, fifty-three have succumbed to the Long Dark, either through hunger, the cold, scurvy, the occasional animal attack, or 'giving in to the night' as the local saying goes. While Schultz continues with an inventory of the garrison's supplies, his militia start going door to door, marking down the location of each corpse. Burying them will be difficult until Summer.
  • A crop of newcomers sails into Smeerenburg's anchorage. Entrepeneurs eager to make a mining claim, corsairs flaunting their new Letters of Marque, loud Biscayan mariners singing the curious songs of their homeland in the newly reopened taverns, and other men and women foolish enough to venture so far north. Most of them are whalers who leave quickly, starting their journey well ahead of the high season so that they can refurbish their whaling stations on the Island's fringes without interuption from competitors. Several bar brawls between rivals old and new erupt, and the Harbourmaster hangs two of his Batavian countrymen for theft within only three days of their arrival. The year has truly begun.
  • One new arrival in particular is noted, that of Alistair Daniels. A veteran barber-surgeon who after being marooned for his roundhead sympathies by the corsair crew of Charlie's Vengeance (formerly the Royal Ardour) survived three winterings on his own before being rescued, losing an eye to a polar bear in the process. He returns bearing copies of his memoirs, fully titled "The Adventures and Misfortunes of Alistair C. Daniels, Of Eboracum, Barber-Surgeon: Who Lived Three Years in the frozen Wastes of the North Indies; Marooned by Cavalier Pyrates", freshly published in Londinium.
  • The Batavian fluyt Nachtdame is warmly welcomed by the docks by dozens of eager hands more than happy to help unload its cargo. Madame Françoise, setting out to monopolize Smeerenburg's prostitutition, sent an order for more girls with the last ship back to the continent last Autumn. With both of the town's other two brothels having lost girls to scurvy and nightfear during Winter, the Cœur d'Or seems ready to outshine the competition.
  • The first days of Spring are hectic religiously too, as Joakim Norgaard sets to baptize half a dozen children of various origins in the port's driftwood stave church. It is considered bad luck by most to christen newborns before they've survived their first Long Dark.
  • When allegations of witchcraft emerge soon after, the Scandian chaplain holds the first witch trial of the year, a task in which he relishes. Wielding a copy of Malleus Maleficarum, Norgaard oversees what is little more than a mock tribunal. The alleged witch, Isabelle, is the orphaned daughter of a shipwrecked Biscayan captain, and a Paptist to boot. She is accused of consorting with Satan during the long Winter nights, and trying to seduce the chaplain's son Jakob. The Harbourmaster shows up to stop the lynching, but fails to get to her before she is drowned. A brief brawl erupts before Schultz's men manage to disperse the mob.
  • Some of the new ships entering Smeerenburg bring with them - beyond the latest gossip in Londinium, tales of new colonial exploits in Vespuccia, and whisperings of distant wars and rebellions of little consequence to the Island - news of several fresh shipwrecks around Koraaleiland. By the looks of it, they are what's left of a Batavian cargo convoy headed for one of the League's northern stations. No doubt, the site will soon be ravaged by plunderers and looters, despite how hard to reach the frozen reefs are.
  • A landing party from the whaler Vlaamse Kraai, captained by Jacob Leeghwater, returns to ship reporting the almost complete destruction of their station on the northern edge of Black's Point. The ramshackle huts appear to have been partially burned, the brick tryworks have been smashed, and the copper kettles are gone. The small wintering crew, five good men, is nowhere to be seen. Captain Leeghwater heads to Smeerenburg to procure new equipment in an attempt to save the season, while half a dozen armed crewmen stay behind to salvage what they can and rebuild the driftwood shacks.
  • The Scandian outpost Kristianbyen sees the arrival of two men-of-war from Nidaros, surprising the small wintering crew. Apparently His Majesty has decided that the events of last Summer are not to be repeated. The Havsdronning and the Svarte Maeren are trailed by a smaller ship under their escort, the Sphaera Mundi, which is set to deliver cargo to the tower of the eccentric astronomer and alchemist Canute Bilde, whose small observatory - constructed under great difficulty, with royal funding - sits atop a peak above the port's anchorage. When the crew investigates the content of the crates they are to haul up there, they find to their surprise not provisions, but curved glass panes and copper pipes.
  • Upon the first inspection of Spring, the temporary commander in Fort Elizabeth finds that the newly built outer palisade is in need of heavy repair. The two redoubt batteries seem to have survived the Winter quite well, however. The settlement's aeronaut sets out to survey Trinity Island's coastline for driftwood caches by air - the small garrison can't wait for the Summer supply ship from Cetham to fix this.
  • Not far inland from the whaling station Port Soleil, a team of newly arrived Gallic prospectors make a strange find amid the receding ice and snow. A standing stone, carrying carvings depicting a man, his arms stretched out and interwoven with stylized patterns. A long row of runes runs around him. The crew foreman, disinterested in old northern heathenry, orders it moved aside, to make way for a coal quarry.
  • The hermit monks of Mechtaled Monastery finally open their barred gates for Spring, emerging from their frozen cells deep within the glacier's grottos after long months of prayer and fasting. The first Pomor hunters of the season start trickling it, asking for blessings and spiritual advice, and in return give fresh meats to replenish the almost empty storerooms. For the twenty-second year since Mechtaled's founding, the fortified church's blessed silver bell greets the end of the Long Dark once more.
  • With Spring and the first hunters comes a less welcome arrival, too. An envoy from Muscovy comes sailing into Prestbukta on a poorly outfitted brig, which only barely survived the drift ice and lost three sailors to the cold en route from the capital by way of New Kholmogory. In his letter, the Patriarch once more begs of Abbot Semyon to renounce the Schismatic heresy and accept the offer of promotion, but the revered Hegumen turns him down yet again. The envoy and his crew turn back, nearly hitting another ice floe leaving the Monastery's harbour.
SpoilerShow
  • Jean-Sylvain de Saint-Laurent (Gesar)
    Titles: Clergyman, Rector of the Societas Iesu, Captain of the Athalie
  • Semyon Nikolayevich Shergin (Huojin)
    Titles: Trapper, Captain of the Leviathan
  • Hugh Hawke (Serenissima)
    Titles: Corsair, "Prince" of Albion, Son of House Percy, titular 5th Earl of Luguvalium, titular Count Palatine of Dunholme, titular Elector of Strelasund, Captain of the Fire Drake
  • Abe Eshkenazi (BgKnight)
    Titles: Barber-surgeon, Captain of the Sailing Hospital
  • Sara van de Zee (Snacks)
    Titles: Buccaneer, Captain of the Painted Girl
  • Edward Yorke (ykl)
    Titles: Merchant, Captain of the Golden Road
  • Gregor Vandenberg (OYID)
    Titles: Miner, Captain of the Steady Fortune
  • Egil Gry (TRC)
    Titles: Captain of the Sjöorm
  • Francisco-Diego Santiago-Marquez de Ayala (RinKou)
    Titles: Aeronaut Extraordinaire, Commander of the Aurora
  • Zuazo de Durango (Litos)
    Titles: Whaler, Captain of the Ibaizabal
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


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Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
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Re: Northern Tales

Post by Smyg » 00:35:15 Thursday, 07 August, 2014

Chapter One - Not in Our Stars

"The dusky night rides down the sky,
And ushers in the morn;
The hounds all join in glorious cry,
The huntsman winds his horn,
And a-hunting we will go.
"
- Henry Fielding (A-Hunting We Will Go)

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Spring
  • Spring is a period of intense preparations, as whaling stations are repaired and trappers start setting their traps. Scores of ships arrive throughout the Island, flooding the settlements with rowing crews and migrant workers. Activity is intense, but largely peaceful - the weather keeps moods chilly as well, with notable exceptions.
  • From one of the ships arriving for Spring, the Athalie, emerges a colourful sight indeed. Drabbed in a cassock, its young captain introduces himself as Jean-Sylvain de Saint-Laurent. He is one of God's Soldiers, a Jesuit. Soon the talk of the town, Saint-Laurent (and a band of armed bodyguards) spend ample time tropping around town, seeking out its persecuted Paptists. While most others spit in his direction, many of them are quick to embrace him, devoid of spiritual guidance as they are. The Jesuit, perhaps a bit reluctantly, sets out to inform himself of their... lives, such as they are.
  • Captain Sara van de Zee sparks some curiosity as well, but certainly not of the spiritual kind. Few female captains have ever been heard of, let alone female pirate captains! The crew of the Painted Girl appear to blatantly disregard the danger of having women onboard, a well-established fact in the sailing world. While they spend their coin on booze, dice and painted girls, van de Zee herself spends her time collecting information, purchasing two used whaleboats along the way from an impoverished whaler.
  • One early Spring morning, one of Madame Françoise's employees, a young girl of Gaul, is found with her throat slit in the main street gutters. No one has seen or heard anything, of course. The Madame swears vengeance, blaming the Cœur d'Or's competitors for the murder.
  • One of the newcomers is the barber-surgeon Abe Eshkenazi. While no doctor, he is more than proficient in the art of surgery, and other healing as well. One problem though: He's a Hebrew. Despite this taint, many injured in bar-fights or dockland accidents enter his ketch - inexpensive medical care is rare, and the man is wise enough not to overcharge his first patients. Eshkenazi hires two town cries to advertise his services (and his own persona), offering both standard aid and an off-shore rescue service.
  • An adventurous young Biscayan aeronaut can be spotted running around town, with an Albionian barmaid in tow, apparently switching between him teaching her the basics of ballooning the best he can, and her instructing him about life and death on the Island. After doing some first commercial flights, offering aerial whale-spotting, the Aurora (as well as a large stack of mining equipment) is loaded onto a Batavian whaler, Luichtdyker, which sets off to the far north-west.
  • A pair of Gallic aeronauts, the brothers Jacques and Joseph Duret, have their experimental balloon smashed to pieces trying to land on the secluded Koraaleiland, resulting in the loss of their lives. Now joined by the aerial vessel, the shipwrecked Batavian convoy remain left alone, any prospective salvagers dissuaded for the moment.
  • One of the new arrivals is more spectacular than even the Paptist preacher. Styling himself with a slew of titles, "Prince-Captain" Hugh Hawke of the Fire Drake smashes into Smeerenburg like a well-dressed cannon ball. Purporting to be a younger son of Albion's exiled royal family, Hawke does what his kin do best: Feast without care. Renting Cecilias krog, a Scandian tavern, Hawke invites all locals of note for a night that may not be up to continental standards, but certainly is a fantastic event for Smeerenburg, with the best drink and food available. Most of those invited attend happily, with one notable exception: Alistair Daniels, one of the community's most respected men. Reportedly, when rejecting the invitation, he muttered something about "cruel necessities".
  • None the less, the party seems set to be a grand success. Prominent merchants and craftsmen, visiting captains of note, and even Hendrik Schultz himself attends, despite not being much of a royalist. The night begins calmly, but tensions soon skyrocket when Joakim Norgaard decides to show up as well, accompanied by his son and his servants. The atmosphere in the cramped tavern, no more than an large cottage, could be cut with a flensing knife. The Prince-Captain disarms the stand-off between the Harbourmaster and the grim cleric, for the time being, by holding a toast for both men, and cracking open a cask of firewine. Later during the party, a rather intoxicated Hawke lets slip that he has his eye on Trinity Island...
  • The Fire Drake, once its master has recovered from his hangover, sets sail not for Fort Elizabeth, but for the east. Hugging the coast until the Baldheads, she intercepts the Silver Cathie, as it passes through Sydsundet. While both less powerful and far quicker than Hawke's ship, the Albionian brig decides that the only real defence is active offence. The ships exchange fire as the sun rises. One lucky shot from the roundhead vessel nearly takes the Prince-Captain's skull straight off, missing him by inches only. When the smoke clears and the Silver Cathie finally signals surrender, it becomes apparent that she won't make it. Both captains being men of self-perceived chivalry, the Fire Drake brings the surviving mariners to shore after looting the sinking prize, marooning them with just enough supplies to maybe hold out until rescuers possibly arrive.
  • During the night of Hawke's party, one of Schultz's men hears sounds coming from the Harbourmaster's study. He finds a skulking stranger, who has somehow passed the guards and the fort's defences. The masked individual quickly flees the scene, but catches a round of blunderbuss lead shot in the process. The militiamen pursue him or her, but the snowy blood trail ends by the docks. In the morning, Schultz isn't the only one who finds that he has lost a slew of nautical charts and shipping ledgers. Two merchants, one Batavian and the other Scandian, discover the same when returning to ship after a long night of drinking. A bounty is put out for the wounded fugitive - a whole two hundred and fifty Nordmark.
  • Captain Jacob Leeghwater returns to camp from Smeerenburg with supplies, finding the crewmen he left behind missing once again. In anger, he strives to sate his vengeance for lost sailors and lost investments against the supposed perpetrators. The Vlaamse Kraai begins a brute hunt, disregarding the whaling season preparations, hunting down less defended Albionian whaling ships, burning two and capturing a third. The crews are variably either drowned, hung, or skewered.
  • The ambitious Captain Zuazo de Durango of the Ibaizabal, and the Jesuit Saint-Laurent both set out to, intentionally or unintentionally, inflame religious tensions in Smeerenburg. While the whaler speaks of refuge and economic security, and the clergyman preaches faith and salvation, both men aspire to lead the Reman Catholics of Smeerenburg out of the town, and to set up a new beginning for them in the Gallic settlement of Port Soleil. As could be expected, preacher Norgaard holds several sermons in his church in response, inflaming the congregation. The Biscayan is forced to retreat to ship lest he be murdered in the street, and were it not for the intervention of Schultz's men, on time for once, Saint-Laurent would have been strung up in a balloon mooring mast, bodyguards or no bodyguards.
  • Several skulls are cracked, and the pious disperse before a full riot can ensue. The endeavour apparently has the Harbourmaster's blessing, official or otherwise. Within short, scores of the town's permanent inhabitants pick up all the possessions they can carry, and follow the two charismatic men northwards. Their homes are soon dismantled, the planks and logs absorbed into Norgaard's ever-growing church, both out of spite and pragmatism. In addition to the permanent ones, many newly arrived seasonal labourers follow suit, as so a few ships with predominantly Gallic and Biscayan crews, feeling that staying behind would not turn out well. Strangely, the distinctly non-Paptist Painted Girl also sails, apparently escorting the Athalie.
  • Even before the agitative exodus, one Paptist captain sets off on a venture of his own. The mining entrepreneur Gregor Vandenberg tries to procure a second ship before leaving, but is in the end forced to settle for renting a dingy ketch, the Seathorn - and the ten mercenaries he hires, commanded by one Erich Sarron, are little better than armed thugs. He sees more success in hiring trappers, carpenters, and even an accountant of sorts. Briefly meeting with (and buying the book by) Mr. Daniels, who reluctantly lets the Batavian Paptist bring one of Daniels' barber-surgeon apprentices with him, Vandenberg also chooses to pay his respects to the Harbourmaster, who he praises and presents gifts to. If Schultz is pleased by this, he doesn't show it.
  • Having finished his preparations, the industrious and pious Vandenberg takes his Steady Fortune to the far north-eastern coast, eventually locating a prosperous coal vein by a convenient safe anchorage. There he founds Providence. Strictly hierarchical and strongly influenced by its founder's ideological vision, the nascent town sees the construction of a central mine shaft and a number of smaller bell pits, watchtowers and a primitive palisade, and even a small, somewhat unsettling prison of sorts. Work on barracks for workers, warehouses, a company store, and more grind to a halt after the crew runs out of imported timber as well as readily available driftwood on the most nearby shore, they hadn't expected the lack of trees. Instead, large tents are pitched using surplus sailcloth, which will do fine for the Summer. The dried food rations are made more palpable with wild game and fished introduced into the seafarers' diet.
  • While the construction work goes slowly, Vandenberg's mine starts producing quickly, and while not entirely filled up the Steady Fortune returns to Smeerenburg to sell off its cargo ahead of the high season. There she fails entirely to attract women to serve as partners to the miners - all those ready to move have already headed north. Returning with his pockets somewhat refilled after all his expenses, Vandenberg finds a settlement on the edge, over disagreements between the various layers of its small society, and over complaints regarding the Batavian's strict rules, and system of material rewards (often through company scrip) and physical punishment.
  • Sailing northwards, the Painted Girl - which has luckily avoided any pirate attacks on the ships she's escorting - stumbles upon a strange shipwreck, stranded on the crags of the Spine, south-east of Mechtaled Monastery. Captain Sara makes a quick foray onto the wreck, which seems likely to wash back into the sea, before continuing. She is joined by Péré Saint-Laurent, who narrowly avoids staining his vestments with salt.
  • One of Abbot Semyon's Schismatic disciples, a young trapper turned monastic novice, goes missing in the deep, icey caverns below the Monastery, amid the year's Great Fast. The Abbot dismisses the possibility of a search for him, instead quoting an appropriate passage of scripture and asking the rest of his community to merely pray in solitude for their brother's safe return.
  • The disappearance of the Gallic mining crew outside of Port Soleil goes largely unnoticed, what with the other events in town. The Paptist exodus arrives, both the ships following Saint-Laurent and de Durango. While the Gallic Jesuit is warmly welcomed by Port Soleil's commandant, the Biscayan arrivals face fierce suspicion and distrust from the Gallic population. de Durango has spent a lot of time spreading the tale of Port Soleil's offer of refuge - an offer which was never made. The men and women of Gaul may share religion with those of Biscaya, but share little else, especially as most of them come from the Hispanolan side of the border.
  • The whaler de Durango, who has built up a small store of whale blubber and driftwood on the sail north, establishes a workshop in Port Soleil, a meatpacker that turns the meat of trappers and whalers in the area into something that can be easily shipped and conserved. While the operation is small, and the high season has yet to begin, the Biscayan's use of disenfranchised and destitute compatriots as disturbingly cheap labour ensures it soon turns a profit. The royally appointed commandant views this development with great suspicion, and his garrison is itching to oust the outcast southerners from their land.
  • Péré Saint-Laurent on the other hand initaties the construction of a Reman Catholic chapel, the very first on the Island and the world's northern-most such, using supplies bought in Smeerenburg. Dubbed the Chapelle de Saint-Brendan, the chapel ends Spring nearing completion, lodgings for the Jesuit's followers having already been constructed. Standing before his unfinished temple, Saint-Laurent captivates the people of Port Soleil by holding mass, outlining in sermon his vision for a "Beautiful Zion of the North". Many a sin are confessed to the young preacher afterwards.
  • The Leviathan sails south-west, hunting on the shores of Trinity Island and Turk Isle, and the slowly melting drift ice in-between. The ship only narrowly escapes a man-of-war out of Fort Elizabeth, unusually aggressive. Normally the Albionians are more lenient towards trappers, even the heathen Muscovites, active on their hunting grounds, but the Iron Triumph pursues the smaller brig relentlessly, until Captain Shergin shakes him off. Around Turk Isle the crew sees more success, clubbing seal and spearing walrus, as well as gathering driftwood.
  • Semyon Shergin returns to Smeerenburg towards the end of Spring after hunting for a couple of weeks. His crew is three man short, after a disastrous first attempt at taking down a great white bear up close. Their loss was no doubt worth it, given the prize seized: Her two cubs, chained up on deck. One of them is sickly. In the hold, their mother's pelt has joined a cargo of driftwood, seal blubber, meat, hides, and half a dozen walrus tusks of varying quality. It all catches a fair price on Smeerenburg's market, except for the bears and the wood - the Muscovite keeps that for himself.
  • Canute Bilde reveals the intended use of the glass panes and copper piping shipped into Kristianbyen on the Sphaera Mundi: An orangery, of the continental design. A revolutionary idea, the mad astronomer's project may end up providing fresh vegetables and fruits for the first time in the Island's history, if successful, a prospect which seems rather unlikely.
  • In preparation for the high season, the newly arrived merchant Edward Yorke sets up an office in Smeerenburg. Not wasting any time, he leaves representatives behind to negotiate contracts on shipping coal and whale oil, setting off with the Golden Road to Fort Elizabeth to do the same. There, the temporary commander - Captain Henry Craig - greets him. The Spring flow of merchants from Albion has been less steady than previous seasons, and the garrison happily takes a break from their hard repair work to welcome their compatriots - and the island's whalers welcome a chance to pawn off their produce, once the high season arrives.
  • By the end of the season, hundreds of ships have arrived from half a dozen nations. As most snow in the warmer valleys and isles slowly melts away, and Summer comes just around the corner, the totally population of the Islands grows to somewhere around twenty thousand men and women of all classes, ethnicities and faiths. The last Aurora Borealis before the Long Light is seen in the skies one night just before Summer, embracing all arrivals - veterans and newcomers alike - with the transcendant visage of the unknown.
SpoilerShow
  • Jean-Sylvain de Saint-Laurent (Gesar)
    Titles: Clergyman, Rector of the Societas Iesu, Captain of the Athalie
  • Semyon Nikolayevich Shergin (Huojin)
    Titles: Trapper, Captain of the Leviathan
  • Hugh Hawke (Serenissima)
    Titles: Corsair, "Prince" of Albion, Son of House Percy, titular 5th Earl of Luguvalium, titular Count Palatine of Dunholme, titular Elector of Strelasund, Captain of the Fire Drake
  • Abe Eshkenazi (BgKnight)
    Titles: Barber-surgeon, Captain of the Sailing Hospital
  • Sara van de Zee (Snacks)
    Titles: Buccaneer, Captain of the Painted Girl
  • Edward Yorke (ykl)
    Titles: Merchant, Captain of the Golden Road
  • Gregor Vandenberg (OYID)
    Titles: Miner, Master of Providence, Captain of the Steady Fortune
  • Egil Gry (TRC)
    Titles: Captain of the Sjöorm
  • Francisco-Diego Santiago-Marquez de Ayala (RinKou)
    Titles: Aeronaut Extraordinaire, Commander of the Aurora
  • Zuazo de Durango (Litos)
    Titles: Whaler, Captain of the Ibaizabal
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


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User avatar
Smyg
GETTIN' REAL TIRED OF YOUR MACHIAVELLIAN BULLSHIT, GESAR
Posts: 2836
Joined: 23:01:40 Thursday, 02 August, 2012

Re: Northern Tales

Post by Smyg » 19:34:21 Saturday, 06 February, 2016

Chapter Two - Rowing to the Madman's Tune

"The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free:
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
"
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

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Early Summer
  • Sweet Summer, finally! For almost a year, every single poor Soul left behind on these wretched shores amid the darkness of Winter and the early lights of Spring have awaited this moment. Now the ships begin coming in, and the whaling season is in full bloom. Across the Island, docking in the ports or anchoring in hidden camps and coves secreted away among the barren rocks, a thousand ships or more descend. With the whaling stations readied for action - or rather, for "trying out" the blubber - during the Spring the waters soon turn red, as the crews set out to hunt down their fat prey.
  • After the deadly act of harpooning the whale, an impressive sleight of hand that has cost many their lives during the past years, the slain animals are hauled to shore and slaughtered, and their carcasses scavenged for resources. The baleen is carefully collected - back on the continent, it will make precious corsets, buggy whips, and parasol ribs. Those lucky enough to catch sperm whales gather ambergris, treasured like gold by the southern alchemists, and some of the bone will make it way down too, in the form of scrimshaw talismans. Above all, it is the blubber these seadogs seek, the stinking fat that when rendered in their crude shore tryworks will become train oil, the foremost fuel in all of the civilized lands, a commodity worth dying for. Not only the whalers flock to the Island, however - hunters, tradesmen, miners and all sorts of other madmen use the opportunities of the almost ice-free Summer to carve out their own wealth.
  • Summer, a long season up here in the north, may not be very warm - only a few degrees above freezing, as always - but it grants one singular boon to those fools that risk reaping the bounties of the season. Namely, the midnight sun. Far removed from the everlasting terrors of the Winter shadows, when ice, hunger, scurvy and nightfear grip those few that stay, the Long Light is a time to both work and celebrate. Time flows together, into one long day, where the pale white sun never goes away. The revelry of the whalers - who sleep only rarely, surviving on naught but hastily grilled whalemeat and copious amounts of distilled spirits for days on end as they butcher their prey - catches hold of most others too, especially in the settled harbours. Not even the gloomy puritanism of Joakim Norgaard and his followers can put an end to the decadent celebrations of Smeerenburg, where alcohol flows freely and the fiddle-players turn the streets into rowdy messes of dance and laughter. The preacher retreats into his driftwood church to pray and conspire with the others of his sect, and it seems as if the tension that followed in the near-pogroms and Paptist exodus of Spring has abetted for now, granting the Harbourmaster a much-welcomed reprieve.
  • What would light be without darkness? With the upsurge in brothel activity, the lonely and coin-carrying sailors seeking solace in the warm embrace of the Cœur d'Or and its rival competitors. As could have been expected, the heavy flow of customers soon becomes difficult to manage even for Madame Françoise. It's not in her enterprise that tragedy strikes, however - a nearby rival sees not one but two of their girls be found dead in their beds. With their throats slit, like the poor Gallic girl in the Spring, accusations soon smash Françoise, and Harbourmaster Schultz detains her in his makeshift fort on the suspicion that it was an act of revenge. An investigation is underway, and many fear that the popular if hard-headed madame will soon face the scaffold.
  • In the wake of the Paptist exodus, another member of a religious minority skips town too - the barber-surgeon Abe Eshkenazi, one of God's Chosen. With the influx of new ships for the Summer, and Norgaard's malevolent overtures, perhaps the crew of the pragmatically named Sailing Hospital sought to find new hunting grounds, as Eshkenazi's surgical skills might come to use better when he isn't being strung up in the gallows as a Hebrew. Having purchased large amounts of supplies and even some basic weaponry for self-defense, all in all nearly enough wares to sink their small ketch (and with the ship's quartermaster, M. dé Laurence, having found the mining prospectors of a certain chartered company willing to join them on their expedition), they set off from Smereenburg during a particularly sunlit midnight. They are last seen sailing due west, towards the distant Black's Point.
  • The prospectors accompanying Esheknazi and his crew west hail from the same origin as those that followed the young Biscayan aeronaut, his plucky companion, and their Aurora. News of them and their destination have yet to arrive - the Batavian whaler that carried them returns to port, though. The Luichtdyker was significantly lighter on the return trip, lacking both the balloon and the mining equipment it brought with it originally.
  • One of the many, many fresh arrivals in Smeerenburg is the whaler Anna, and her Batavian captain Willem van Heemskerk. Nearly the moment he lands on the creaking dock plans, repaired since the Winter storms, he heads straight for the town's sole church, Norgaard's ever-expanding realm. The priest welcomes the weary traveller warmly, offering the man the rare gift of tea from Cathay ,and even rarer words of kindness. New captains are always welcome in his house of God, as prized converts to the cause, especially in these sinful days of Summer. After giving thanks to the Lord for a safe passage, vann Heemskerk wastes not a moment to purchase supplies. After recruiting a fellow Batavian to serve as his navigator, a genial man by the name of Havnsbruk, he sets off to the east.
  • With the massive increase in mercantile naval activity, piracy and privateering explodes as well. The seas are more dangerous than usual - although many of the ice floes have gone with the Summer sun, the buccaneers have arrived, and many letters of marque too. Just outside of Smeerenburg, a Batavian merchant schooner goes up with a bang, the Gallic freesailer on its tail accidentally hitting the powder store, after which all survivors are picked up, robbed, and dumped back in. Most drown in the freezing waters, their corpses once again robbed (this time, of their ragged clothes) the moment they wash up on the stoney shores of Smeerenburg. Similar reports of the standard violence and mayhem, common in these utterly lawless waters, abound in all ports. The Harbourmaster finds a brazen and newly arrived Scandian by the name of Erik Kilmar bursting into his office. As the captain of the Starbird, he is licensed by the King to hunt vessels preying on Scandian operations - something that means very little to the Harbourmaster, who however manages to remain relatively cordial. Within short, Kilmar tries to find work aside from his privateering, receiving a contract from a convoy of mining ships from his own homeland to escort them northwards, past the treacherous Zeerover Baai and the Westridges to the port of Kristianbyen.
  • One of those that faces the human terrors of the sea is Captain van Heemskerk, who is harried repeatedly on his sail south to the forlorn Vanøya. His sails are singed by grapeshot around the outlets that lead into the dark and yet unknown Gudsdalen, but the raider - who had crept up on the Anna behind cover - is quickly scared off, with a barrage from the Batavians. Whalers they may be, but no pacifist. They do however fail to catch any whales in the immediate area, but do land briefly to club some seals, adding fine pelts and good meat to their stores. After leaving Vanøya, they begin their true adventure, as they are spotted by a fellow Batavian vessel - that laters spreads the news in Smeerenburg - heading straight for the fanged rocks of Koraaleiland, some of the deadliest reefs in the vicinity of the Islands and its dangerous waters. It seems Captain van Heemskerk aims to rescue the stranded convoy, or perhaps salvage its goods - for now, his fate and the success of this brave enterprise remains unknown.
  • A terror in on her own right, Captain Sara van de Zee departs the company of the strange little cleric and their new French associates, and begins her hunt for booty. Leaving the Gallic harbour, she heads north-east and haunts the waters around the boney ridges of Solryggen, an island that most ships in the region must pass. No patriot, she takes the ships of all nationalities in largely equal measure, although the more well-armed Gallic vessels generally get to pass her by. Some of those that in turn survive her simply by turning around the moment the bloodied Painted Girl is sighted take shelter at Mechtaled Monastery, where the monks provide some of their foodstuffs to these merchants, whalers and trappers that have found their chosen path blocked. While a large expense for them, especially as yet another young novice wanders off into the frozen caverns below (and the original man who went missing has yet to return), Abbot Semyon insists on sharing their stores with all who seek sanctuary, be they of any creed or flag.
  • One of the prizes the Painted Girl captures is especially fine, a true stroke of luck. While the lesser ships captured by van de Zee have been reasonably profitable, mainly resulting in the gain of the captains' private stashes, fresh gunpowder, and other supplies (and several willing recruits), the Hound is much more than that. The Albanian brig seems to have been on a mission of espionage against the Gallic forces in Port Soleil, carrying some interesting documents - not to mention, the ship itself is in good condition, although repairs will be needed on both her and the Captain's own ship following their battle. Half of a full broadside from the Lord Protector's finest will do that to you... Most of van de Zee's previous captures have been left alone, the remaining crews given enough supplies to return to port safely, but this time she takes the Hound for herself, and puts ashore the bitter crew. They begin a long, weary trek towards Mechtaled Monastery, a most dangerous one.
  • Captain van de Zee's exploits following a strange episode outside of the troubled Port Soleil, where she and Péré Saint-Laurent head out into the wilds - accompanied by a set of soldiers from the Gallic garrison - ostensibly to locate the missing mining crew. Upon return, they are a few men short, and visibly shaken. No news of what happened reach outside ears, unusually for a port where gossip usually flows freely. Once the woman leaves Port Soleil, Saint-Laurent continues his busy work among his growing flock... Particularly stunning are his continued sermons, fiery and eloquent, held at first by grand bonfires and later within the the now partially completed Chapelle de Saint-Brendan, his private sanctuary and domain. He speaks of the Twelve Tribes, of the City of God, of the false priest in Smeerenburg... Captivated by his soft yet strong words, several more converts join his congregation, even some less savory figures. The young idealist not only preaches, he also aids - many are those sick or injured in Port Soleil that he visits, laying his hands upon them and praying for their health and fortune. While no effect can be proven, they certainly appreciate that someone is there for them.
  • Alongside his sermons and personal visits, Saint-Laurent sets about to gather material strength as well as spiritual, collecting tithes from the pious to build his chapel and create a burgeoning store of supplies - herbs, oil, food, wood, gunpowder - so that the small religious community will be well-prepared for the Long Dark. He also attempts to align his forces with those of the Biscayan whaler Zuazo de Durango, whose meatpacking workshop sees an influx of business in the new season. This however largely fails, as de Durango mainly keeps to himself. His work to find the friendship of Commandant Beaumont is more successfully, as he repeatedly assures the military man his loyalty to the Crown, and pledges to work with the garrison. Saint-Laurent also manages to take a child, a young ship-boy marooned by his cruel captain, into his care, to serve God.
  • Amid the noise of the hundreds of ships entering Smeerenburg, Captain Gry of the Sjöorm disappears out of sight. Left behind at his anchoring site is a bloated corpse. The sailor's guts are stuffed full with lead, and it becomes clear he's one of the men that stole nautical charts from Harbourmaster Schultz and some merchants. The previously anonymous bounty is significantly raised, to the value of six hundred Nordmark, and a crude sketch of the mysterious captain is put up at the fort and in the docks. The militia won't forget this.
  • A testament to the region's wild character, those foolish enough to sail near Black's Point find themselves facing a growing fleet of Batavian vessels led by Captain Jacob Leeghwater, now dubbed "the Black" by many fearful voices, following the excesses of the Spring. His own ship, the Vlaamse Kraai, is joined not only by the Albionian prize his crew took last season (the Happy Lolly, now rechristened as the Snellewraak), but also a Albionian trapper's ketch seized outside of Treøyar (the somewhat absurdly named Christmas-No-More, now the Kerstmis), and two fellow Batavian captains who join Leeghwater out of a desire to push the Albionians out of the strategic waters. Although these volunteers have little interest in the Captain's personal vendetta, they are soon drawn into his rampage.
  • The nascent mining town of Providence catches a momentary break from the troubles of its founding in Spring, not only suffering not a single raid by hostile miners or freebooters, but also with dissent at least somewhat decreasing. This is more due to the continuous sunlight and Erich Sarron's foremen (more and more brutal in putting down opposition) than the active efforts of the would-be model port's founder, as Gregor Vandenberg seems to spend most of the season in deep prayer. Despite this, his deep coal veins yield results, and the black gold starts moving south.
  • During the first weeks of Summer, fear spreads throughout Fort Elizabeth, as the temporary commander and the miniature Winter garrison finds itself increasingly hounded by the idea of not only Captain Leeghwater, who poses a very real threat to Albionian shipping, but perhaps even more so the idea of "Prince-Captain" Hugh Hawke. His magnificent Fire Drake could easily outgun the garrison before reinforcements come. The maverick pretender however fails to make a showing, continuing instead his hunt for prizes among the eastern Baldheads. This time the self-declared privateer manages to board two Gallic twin mining transport ships, the Cuivre and the Étain. The Fire Drake sustains a number of casualties in the daring assault, but in turn manage to capture their full cargo of coal. While profitable, it might take a while to sell the mineral.
  • Meanwhile, in Fort Elizabeth, the reinforcements due to arrive in late Summer are sorely missed by Captain Henry Craig and his poorly equipped forces, although their worries are relieved significantly through the actions of Mr. Edward Yorke. The merchant, having opened a second trade office in the military settlement following his enterprise in Smeerenburg, manages to secure a delivery of armaments (primarily a few bronze cannons, looted from a few unlucky ships wrecked outside of Smeerenburg during the last Autumn storms last year, along with some muskets) to the garrison. He subsequently manages to win the favor of a number of locally based whalers, having taken his time to defend their interests. The defensive situation is still severe however, and to will take a lot of Summer hunting and gathering to refill the fort storages with salted reindeer and dried plants to combat scurvy.
  • A particularly decadent Long Light feast in a small Scandian whaling station (consisting of little else but three tryworks and some heavy tents) just south of Arkfjellen turn out poorly. When a second whaling ship from the same chartered company arrives with some supplies, they find that half the crew of the Svenskfan has disappeared, and the other half is too drunk to explain the events of the previous night. Some blame polar bears, oddly enough, while others claim to have experienced "dayfear"... A peculiar situation indeed. None the less, the partying continues, alongside the butchering of the sea's bounties.
  • Docked at Smeerenburg, Semyon Shergin manages to procure the aid of the barber-surgeon Alistair Daniels, who agrees to heal the Moscovite's sickly bear cub in return for the huntsman getting him a fine bottle of whisky... and buying his infamous autobiography. While he rarely works on animals, Daniels seems to find the whole situation both amusing and an interesting exploration of polar biology. The cub soon returns to relative health, although it maintains its sad expression - it's hard to tell whether this is due to the death of its mother, or due to Shergin's strict training regiment. He takes it upon himself to make the twin bears, well, if not dance for him, then at least be passably tame when among humans. Meanwhile, he hires a new set of rough-shod Muscovite trappers in port (and adorns his personal cabin with the snow-white pelt taken from the cubs' mother), before sailing off to make use of the intense Summer season.
  • At the height of Summer, scattered ships coming from Arumstein to the fellow Batavian outpost Sintdaal indicate that some type of sickness is spreading there. The merchants of Sintdaal, ever a pious sort (and always willing to profit), quickly assemble a small squadron of ships that will sail there carrying herbs and a few barber-surgeons, to investigate what can be done to alleviate their troubles. Strangely, similar reports come from the heavily defended fortress-harbour of Pilfjord, on the opposite side of the Island. Doctor Bilde subsequently announces that it is his duty as a scholar to investigate this new illness, and temporarily leaves the work on his orangery in his apprentices' care.
Comrade Astrojildo Pereira Duarte Silva
Secretary-General of the Partido Comunista do Brasil
(PCB)


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