Arcanum 1780: A New World

From the Journal of Oliver Thackery - The Royal College

In which our noble protagonist takes to the skies for the first time in years, in hopes of securing the magical artefact they have been entrusted with.

August 13th 1780, Taunton, Mass.

It is at times like these when I remember the decisions that led me to join the Royal Rangers rather than the cavalry detachment. Horses and I, much like gunpowder and fire, are seldom good to mix together. It seems the same is true for Espinosa – the poor beast threw a shoe, and it’s hard enough to handle them when everything seems to be going right. We had both set ourselves to walking when Captain Crispin Uphold came upon us – I thought it an ambush, given the cargo we hold, but was pleased and surprised when it was friend, not foe.

August 13th 1780, Boston, Mass, and elsewhere in the skies over New Britain.

The remainder of the journey home was without incident, though my feet are sorer than they ever have been. To lay eyes on the H.M.S. Dryad must be like when Cy comes home to his darling. She’s a beautiful creature, as they always are, and the thought of taking to the sky again fills me with such hope and thrill as ever I have felt.

Our first morning aloft, the crew spotted two skysail, down below, waging combat against each other. It has been… a long time since I was last engaged in combat from the skies – it happened a few times when I was with the Rangers, but rare. Firing at distance is a risky proposition, and my shot was close to its mark, but off just enough to be without effect. It would seem that Espinosa and some other source caused significant damage to the pirate’s ship, and sent the whole thing into gravity’s clutches, but not before Miriam took a clean shot through their helmsman’s neck. I’ve made some great shots in my day, but the luck of my friend knows no bounds.

On the horizon, now, a bastion of all the good that the Ur has brought us – The Royal College, a place of learning, wonder, where ideas can almost be seen to float through the air of their own bidding.

August 15th 1780, The Royal College, Mass.

The first sight when we arrived at The Royal College, as impressive as the architecture is, was a surprise – as impressive as the gear carried by the College Guard Regiment is, the sight of the Grand Wizard and Magister, Lord Benjamin Franklin, a personage until recently I had only seen from afar. To say the paintings do not do his raw intellect justice is a gross understatement, the likes of which I do not have the eloquence nor language to do justice. I am glad to see the back of that cursed violin. It feels as though here is as safe as it ever will be. This place is filled with marvel beyond compare or comprehension. Were it within my power and reach, I would sorely love to fit my home with some of these very same amenities – the heating and the lighting are so soothing and comforting, it is a shame they are out of reach… for now.

To think that we will be guests of the college for a full week – a treat I had not been expecting, and hardly something to decline, even if the cost was steep. To gaze into the mirror in that hall, and confront the truth of ourselves, it is no small thing. That Will-Miriam still sees herself as Miriam, a pirate queen, is a refreshing turn from the thing I saw when I looked in the mirror. I knew that the curse was bad, but I did not quite know the extent until I saw it with my own eyes. To think that I might have once looked younger than even I do now, and would still if I had run a bit faster, a bit longer, on The Cold Night.

It would seem that I am not the only one here who carries these selfsame unseen and unknown secrets – the spirits that haunt the Spaniard seem to run deeper than most. An owl with a human face seems to signify something that I can’t quite lay a finger on. And our Griffin, perhaps carries more twist than most – his reflection carries with it a pain I cannot adequately convey through pen.

August 25th 1780, The Royal College, Mass.

This has been the most relaxing stint of time in recent memory – would that more time could be spent like this, although the trappings of the rooms here leave some comforts of home to be sorely desired. That our leisurely meal was interrupted by an upstart student who can’t watch his feet. It soon became clear that perhaps his feet were not the problem, but rather one of his classmates with some loose fingers. It reminded me of the time we spent at meals in the army – there was always some jokester playing silly on some of the lads, though the real humor came from when we pulled one over on those above us, but those were riskier plays. Espinosa extended a kind offer, to enchant a bullet for when it feels most needed – I could hardly turn down such an offer. Nor could I turn down the cocoa and charming company of the high society women that frequent this place – perhaps the Royal College is not so stuffy after all. A whirlwind of comedy left me struck down to the floor – a flirtatious message in a cup, meant for our Will, but drank by our Espinosa, a illicit meeting in the library, coupled with a direct invitation to an evening at the Albus Auditorium for comedy – I think I need a few drinks before all this comes to pass.

August 25th 1780, The Royal College, Mass.

The Lucky Fingers Bar – I’ve lost my fair share of cash at this establishment, but nothing more than I haven’t won back in Boston proper – a minor setback, brought with it a fair number of entertaining evenings. It’s a place with charm coming out of its pores, if you don’t mind the horrendous smell of the tannery, the unsavory clientele, the ratting, the rutting, and those who cheat at dice and cards. But I’d consider it to be part of the backbone of culture in this place, for it cates to the base needs of those who study here. I think I may have encountered a pickpocket whilst inside – despite winning more games than I felt I lost, I seem to have parted with more than my intended wager. We encountered the youths from earlier, and it seems they have a hound in the ratting – I suspected something was afoot when they put down a large sum on their pooch, out of sorts with the type of bets we’d seen here previous. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I gained a whole bit of cash betting on the greed of youth.

The library is an impressively styled and lavish affair, and leaves me wishing that I cared more for study. That I had more time, for study. If I knew more, perhaps I would have been less stymied by the fact that our dear Griffin was in fact the familiar to our young Cole. A more welcome surprise I cannot imagine – though it shall take a bit of adjustment to make myself used to the fact that our newest companion is in actual fact, a verbose feline.

August 25th 1780, The Royal College, Mass.

The Royal College Library – a place of research, and in my case, idle curiosity about the type of affair our dear Espinosa was about to find himself embroiled in. In waiting for the meeting to get underway, I stumbled across a memoir written by my old commanding officer – it seemed harmless at first, but then, as I continued to turn the pages, the memories came flying back to me. To think that the madman actually wrote about the events of The Cold Night – for others to read. You may find its retelling in these pages, my dear journal, but hardly are you meant for the consumption of others.

The true marvel today was not the mischief at the library, wherein I suspect the meeting with our Spaniard was a cover for something more nefarious afoot. Nay, the true marvel was the shoppe of D’Urberville, purveyor of magicks potent and portable – he fitted us with kit such like I had never seen, including a rifle that may yet surpass the finery of my own Orenda. Though I do have my misgivings about how a small cat can maneuver a crossbow – seems as though Cole has significantly more surprises for us than I thought.

August 25th 1780, The Royal College, Mass.

From once place to another, we are constantly on the move through the confines of the College, but it seems that our time here draws to an unfortunate close – there has been a theft at the College, and we have been asked to safekeep the item’s creator and fetch him home again – some sort of para-archaeologist, Sir Hayward Moon. He’s off galivanting around British Honduras, seeking some fabled White City, seeking some connection to some ‘otherwhere’, a concept which is alien to me, I will admit.

That he has a six month head start on us and is as yet-undetectable by magical means does not bode well, but perhaps he is an absent-minded sort, or the Ur-Ice in the area is complicating things. Despite it all, we will aboard the HMS Dryad and make haste down to Belize City of Honduras, and see if we can uncover his trail from there. It has been many years since I last set foot in the jungle, and I doubt it has grown kinder since. I must needs prepare myself and my companions for this journey – it will be quite the endeavor, and no mistake, this may be the trip I fear. The journey there should be long enough to train my mind and body, I hope. This is a secret mission that the Spanish must not uncover, for New Spain is abutted to Honduras in a way such that all there may be compromised – it is for us to pose as Archaeologists and no more.