The Log of Amelia Primrose: Part 9

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19 July 319

The first real construction within the mountain has been going on for the past few days, while scouting parties are scouring the forest for the ships' two other masts. The excavations made to get stone for building the harbor building carved out a great deal of space, and that has been augmented with a number of wooden and stone additions; the first phase is just a large room where we can put down bedrolls and have some shelter.

Empty Dining Hall.png
As a bit of an extravagance, they have also added a small wooden deck on top of an outcropping on the mountain, complete with a fire pit.

Deck On Dining Hall.png
I slept in the hall last night, where there was enough space to sprawl out a little and get comfortable, a luxury not available atop the mountain in our crude shelters. This morning I woke up early, just before sunrise, and walked out onto the deck, where I watched the moon set over the harbor. The touch of silver on the waters with the clouds drifting just above my head was a beautiful sight, only improved by the comforting heat of the fire. Mr. Yancy, who had been sitting watch on the deck and tending the fire overnight, was likewise spellbound by the view.

Moon Setting Over Dock.png
It is nice to have somewhere here in our new home that seems...permanent, suppose, is the best word for it; I suppose the harbor building is permanent as well, but it is not somewhere I spend a great deal of my time, nor does it seem particularly homey. This place is different; no tools scattered all over the place, no piles of construction supplies, the crackle and warmth of a nice fire, even the smell of food cooking. Soon, hopefully, everyone will have a place like this.

More entries behind the cut.
22 July 319

Life seems to have settled into a bit of a routine now, which is helping to calm nerves and let everyone rest from the past few months of frenetic activity. Captain Nichols and his small team of men still have yet to find proper masts, but lumbering continues nearby to collect wood for fires and to continue work inside the mountain. The latest project was restoring the entrance to the mountain; when we cleared that out after first coming here, we could tell that there was once a proper structure, some sort of gatehouse I suspect, that covered the "cave" that leads to the Great Staircase. Duncan and Mr. Shackleton have been leading an effort to build a new gatehouse, and today it was mostly finished, complete with a portcullis to protect the entrance should it be necessary. Though we still have seen no evidence of any of the undead or other monsters, the possibility of their return -- and of hostile natives, which do inhabit some parts of Oestria -- made it seem prudent to be able to close off the mountain in an emergency.

Entrance to Griffon's Nest.png
Another group of men has started to tear down some of the temporary shelters we built on the top of the mountain, replacing them with stone walls and the beginnings of structure that we can use as a fort. Not only will it be safer, but it should be larger as well, and better protected from the elements. Progress is slower there, however, since dismantling the old shelters is only possible when we have space to put everyone who was once living there.

Duncan and a few other men have also been sketching out designs for more buildings and layout for a small village on the land between the harbor building and the butte. There is plenty of space there for at least few buildings; they may be nothing but warehouses and tenements for now, but we can give families a place to stay and clear up space on top and within the mountain for people to live in. They also want to finish work on the harbor building, adding the second story and building up the lighthouse. Some have expressed reservations about building the lighthouse before we are really established, both Duncan and Captain Nichols think that it is a good idea -- with construction on the ship stalled, catching sight of a passing vessel may be our best hope of contacting the outside world.

26 July 319

Today, we finished stitching the sails for the new ship, a process which had stalled a bit while we searched for the last scraps of linen we could find. It was getting a bit desperate, but after using the last few bits of linen clothing anyone had left, we've managed to make good approximations of sails, at the very least. Hopefully, they will last long enough to get the ship to a safe harbor if nothing else. With that finished, though, most of the extra work, aside from keeping the "household", maintaining the small gardens we've planted around the mountain, and foraging for other bits of food in the countryside, is done for the women of the camp, and though that still takes up a fair amount of out time, I have been able to do a bit more exploring of the ruins and the Great Staircase.

I made the most curious find at the bottom of the staircase, which I believe must be at least some 150 feet below the ground. In the middle of the floor there, under a pile of rubble and dust, I found several runes carved into the floor. I have little knowledge of runecraft, but they appear to be largely intact, though I can see a few places where they may have suffered damage. I am not positive, but I think I may be able to repair them, though I admit it may not be a good idea to do so until I have a better idea of their purpose. Perhaps there are more writings somewhere in the mountain I can use to figure these out.

28 July 319

Work continues within the mountain; today, Mr. Shackleton and a team of carpenters finished outfitting another room within the growing complex here towards the top of the mountain, completing a small loft over a new room with a fireplace, which is quite a cozy little nook; it would be perfect for a library or study, if we had the luxury. For now, it will be the quarters for the children and some of their parents.

Empty Library.png
I keep thinking how nice it would be if we could take some time and decorate these rooms a little, just to give them more of a touch of home, but we are still so busy with the construction, making sure we have enough food, mending the few clothes we have left, and keeping an eye on the land around us that there is no time for such extravagances, at least for now.

Empty Library Loft.png
Tomorrow, I plan to take another look at the runes at the bottom of the staircase; looking through some of the other sections of the ruins I have discovered pictographs showing a similar circle of runes, only more complete; the around it, I have carefully removed some of the accumulated dirt and grime to reveal some pictographs that show what appears to be a pillar of fire extending throughout the center the staircase. I have not showed them to Duncan yet; I am not sure I want to tell him until I am sure I can restore the runes, but if I am right, then this may be the key to illuminating the entire staircase without the need for a series of torches and lanterns. It would certainly make exploring the staircase much safer, and perhaps provide a good defense against the chill of the night and the rock of the mountain.

29 July 319

I have restored the runes at the bottom of the staircase, carefully carving them with some tools that Mr. Fellows gave me and activating them with some coal dust and a bit of flame. It took nearly all day, and I am still not sure whether it was the right thing to do. However...the results have been nothing short of spectacular, and I will try to recount the events below.

When I finished the runes, there was a great rumbling from the ground, as if some giant creature were clawing its way to the surface -- for a moment, I thought that my interpretation of the pictographs had been horribly mistaken. Then, a great stone platform lifted itself from the floor of the cavern, inch by inch, setting the dust on the floor jumping about, turning into a strange grey fog around my ankles. Once it reached about waist height, the great vibration stopped and suddenly the room grew very cold, as if the warmth of the very air were being sucked out of it. This was accompanied by a great crackling, like water flash-frozen by an intense cold, and as I shivered on the floor I saw a stout cylinder of glass form on top of the stone platform, crystallizing like ice out of the thin air.

When it had reached the height of a man, there was a final crack and the frosty glass became perfectly clear, and then there was another great rumbling for the briefest moment, followed by a loud roar and a sudden, blinding light as a pillar of fire shot from the stone platform, through the glass cylinder, and up as far as I could see. At first, there was a wave of heat, then both the roaring and the heat subsided, leaving just a gentle hum of power and a soothing warmth that seemed to suffuse throughout the stone floor as I sat there, transfixed by the sight.

Base of Fire Pillar.png
Once I had shaken myself from the shock, I sprinted up the stairs as fast as I could -- not an easy task, considering the distance! -- and ran to the top of the mountain. As night was falling, the camp was quite crowded, and everyone who had been in our small quarters was out, lining the railing of the staircase to watch the spectacle, having heard the noise.

Pillar of Fire.png
At the top, glass completely encased the pillar, which came to a halt at least ten or fifteen feet above the mountain. The shock was clear on the face of everyone assembled, few people could speak, they were all just looking at me, as I seemed to be the only one capable of keeping her senses about her -- the rest of the camp stood as statues.

Finally, when they regained their senses, came the relentless interrogation -- many were angry with me for what I'd done, playing with forces that, admittedly, I only barely understood, others amazed I had gotten it to work at all. Duncan, for his part, tried to calm everyone down, but then he pulled me away and yelled at me, asking me if I knew what could have happened -- the fire could have killed everyone in and on the mountain, my little experiment becoming our little colony's funeral pyre.

I am ashamed to say that...well, that I didn't really think about that, and I should know better than to play with runes, especially ancient ones, as these must be. When Duncan confronted me, I did not have much to say for myself -- to be honest, I felt like a little girl getting chided by her father for making some stupid mistake. I apologized, and Duncan made me promise not to do such a foolish thing again, which I agreed to. It was a grave error in judgement on my part, despite the fact that it seems to have worked out in the end.

3 August 319

Considering the dangers I seem to have uncovered within the mountain, Duncan has decided to focus our efforts outside once more, especially as the current rooms within the mountain, combined with the shelter and the harbor building, have given us quite a bit of space to spread out. Instead, we have two groups now, one working on building up the fort atop the mountain, now that the shelters can be emptied temporarily while they are replaced with something more permanent, and the other working on the lighthouse. Captain Nichols thinks he has found some suitable trees for the ship's masts too, and so he is working on the best way to fell the mighty oaks he needs and bring them back to camp.

I have been trying to focus on more domestic duties since the incident with the runes, and I have tried not to make too much of a nuisance of myself. Even those at the camp I consider friends, like Mr. Fellows or Mr. Yancy, have been keeping their distance from me, and I can tell that few people are happy about what I did. They may appreciate the light that keeps the chill out of the staircase in the evenings, but they are worried about what else I will uncover if my hands are left idle.

So I will keep myself busy, and try not to let my curiosity get the best of me.

9 August 319

Mrs. Teasdale and a few of the other women surprised everyone today with something special for the new lighthouse, which they finished erecting this afternoon. For the top of the lighthouse, we now have an imperial flag to fly. Some of us were wondering what she was working on, having seen her working with some of the remaining sailcloth unfit for the sails and a great deal of green dye that Mrs. Shackleton helped her distill from the cactus that grow at the edge of the desert, just to the south.

Flag Over the Lighthouse.png
While neither the harbor building nor the ship are quite finished yet, they cut quite the figure at the head of the small peninsula there; work has also started on clearing some of the land between the docks and the mountain in preparation for the construction of some new buildings; the first real permanent residences. It is hard to believe it's been nearly three months and we haven't built any of those yet, and I can tell others are thinking that too, but Duncan has done a good job of keeping everyone focused on tasks that are of the most importance for our small colony as a whole.

I still haven't quite overcome my pariah status, but a bit of the old joviality is returning in my interactions with the men from the Dunsany Star, and I am trying to make it clear to everyone that I am extremely sorry for the trouble I caused. To be honest, though, I feel like no one is even granting the fact that what I did worked spectacularly, and now we all reap the benefits.

15 August 319

Harbor Building Finished.png
Two more milestones today; the forward mast of the ship was lifted into place and the second floor of the harbor building was built, along with a wooden observation deck on the top. It offers a lovely view of the bay and the shoreline, with plenty of room for almost the entire colony's population to crowd up there. It should make for a very nice viewing platform when the ship is ready to depart, which Captain Nichols hopes will not be long now. Of course, once the ship itself is built, we will need to gather supplies for the journey; our hunting parties and gardens manage to provide a bit of surplus, but until now we have used it to buy a few extra days without hunting so more men can be devoted to our construction projects.

That will have to change though, which means we will have to gather enough supplies quickly, and send the ship on its way. The loss of the men for the crew -- even a skeleton crew -- will mean that we have to slow down on construction once that happens too, so as much as possible is being worked on to get our little village in order. Most of the harbor area has been cleared of trees now, and work is already beginning to put in foundations for several new buildings. The Teasdales plan to build another inn, and we will be building a number of small tenements and warehouses to hold stores for the winter -- and, hopefully, to provide storage for supplies brought back by the ship when it returns.

20 August 319

Today we put the last mast into the ship, and Captain Nichols decided that it was finally time for us to give our new vessel a name, something worthy of the hopes that we will soon set her to sail with. Mr. Fellows suggested we name her the Mariner Revenant, to show how far we had come from those dark days almost a year ago now. Everyone seemed to agree it fit, and so we christened her with an empty wine bottle filled with water, which was the closest thing to wine we had around!

Already the work of provisioning her has begun; not just for food and water, but also ropes, barrels, and other equipment they will need for their journey. Captain Nichols and Duncan seem to agree that we are at least 300 miles south of the Oestrian colonies, but they are still our best bet for safe passage. Luckily, that is not that long a trip -- maybe a week, if the wind is against them, which it likely will be at this point in the year.

Work is also continuing on the fort atop the mountain, which Duncan has taken to calling the Griffon's Nest after its high vantage point and the Imperial Crest. Already, the staircase is surrounded with thick stone walls, and a small armory has been constructed. A small workshop, mess, kitchen, and storage rooms are also being built on what will be the first floor of the fort.

Top of the Great Staircase.png
With the ship finished, though, the fort does not need to be totally complete before we can start building some other homes and and warehouses between the mountain and the harbor building. A few people have been talking about trying to start businesses, but right now, it would be hard to have much to trade. Cooperation needs to be our rule of the day, at least for now -- if Captain Nichols can bring back some supplies, and maybe some more settlers to help with the labor, we may be able to start getting somewhere!

25 August 319

Mr. Fellows has finished work on a blast furnace at the fort, using an ingenious system of bellows and pumps to feed a roaring coal-fired blaze. It's location, in the center of the workshop/mess area and right under the floor of what will be the main barracks, should do a lot to help keep the fort warm during the colder nights, especially up here atop the mountain. A shunt, lined with a special glazed glass, allows him to vent most of the heat outside when it is warmer, but it can still get quite toasty when the furnace is running!

Forge at the Fort.png
Most of the stone we've been quarrying has been going into building the fort, but several foundations are being built for new buildings out front as well. I suspect within a few weeks there will be at least two or three apartment buildings for a number of the colonist families; Mr. Shackleton is helping to build up a supply of planks for everyone to use, and I can already see that many people are beginning to offer to share the work of constructing each others' homes and even businesses, as premature as I thought that sounded in my previous entry.

The last few days have been feeling rather out of sorts; I have been growing tired by mid-afternoon and my appetite has been nearly nonexistent. I could barely stomach the small plate of pork and vegetables for dinner tonight, and I fear I might be coming down with a fever. Duncan has noticed, I can tell, but I haven't said anything yet; I do not want to start a panic, after all, not now. But I have been excusing myself to my books and trying to sleep apart from the others, just to limit their exposure. We cannot afford to have sickness breaking out among the colony, not with no real doctor -- and me the only thing remotely close to one -- and with so much work still to go.

3 October 319

I have been remiss in recording the last five weeks, but the illness of which I spoke of in my last entry was worse than I thought. By the morning after writing that, I could barely move, and I found myself nearly unable to keep any food down. My body was burning with fever, and a few of the childless women helped get me into a cold bath of water that morning. Since then, I have spent most of the time lying in bed or immersed in similar baths, being fed thin soup or porridge just to keep my strength up.

I am not sure what sort of malady struck me; without any sort of physician's reference I am afraid my knowledge of disease is much more limited than a real doctor's would no doubt be. Thankfully, however, no one else seems to have caught it from me, which is even more mysterious, as I don't think I had been anywhere or eaten anything that different from anyone else here at the camp.

While I have been sick, however, the rest of the camp has not dawdled, and I cannot believe the changes that have happened over the last month. Captain Nichols is nearly finished gathering his supplies and plans to depart in the next few days; meanwhile, walked out to the deck on the mountain today for the first time in many weeks and looked out over what is a small, growing town below the mountain. Several apartment buildings have been erected, and the Teasdales have built a new inn close to the docks, where many of the future crew for the Revenant are staying while they make the ship ready for departure.

Sunset Over the Revenant.png
I am looking forward to an early night; hopefully, by morning, I will feel myself again, and the last vestiges of this long illness will be swept away. Duncan and I, who have only been able to exchange look from across the room during my convalescence, as I forbade him from coming near me -- the colony could not afford his loss -- plan to watch the sunrise from the roof of the harbor building, to see it rise over the mountain.

The Griffon's Nest at Sunrise.png

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This page contains a single entry by Chas Blackwell published on March 11, 2011 7:00 PM.

The Log of Amelia Primrose: Part 8 was the previous entry in this blog.

Reflections on FanFest 2011 is the next entry in this blog.

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