Dyersday Thirdweek, Fieldfire, 147/32

Awakeners came to town today. Shame. I kinda liked this place.

Ock's Fallow doesn't have a shrine or temple or whatever they call those places where they live, so we reckoned they were all busy in the big cities where the money is. Turns out they move in squads, heading from town to town, setting up for a few days at a time then packing up for the next destination. Me and Malvery went into the square this morning hunting coffee, and there they were, tents all up and ready. Spooky how they just appeared like that.

We stayed and watched for a while. All these prim and proper folks milling around the tents, going in to see the Awakeners, asking for this and that. I confess I don't get it and I've never really wanted to. All I know is they reckon they can tell your future, and if you pay them enough, they reckon they can change it. Sounds like a scam to me, but if it is, it's the best one I ever saw. Half the country believes in this Allsoul junk.

It's something to do with the last King, the crazy one that all the Dukes ganged up on when they formed the Coalition. After they slung him into one of his palaces and imprisoned him there he got to all kinds of raving, and they wrote it all down in some book, and then reasoned that since they couldn't understand him and he was obviously important then he must be a prophet. It's the old trick educated folk pull over and over: if you don't understand it, it's 'cause you're not smart enough, not that it's incomprehensible dogshit.

Crake was nervy when we told him. I wonder if it's the Awakeners that are after him? He is a daemonist, after all, and nobody would be hanging daemonists at all if the Awakeners weren't stirring them up all the time. Still, I didn't get that impression. I don't think he's scared of them; I think he hates them. And he's been making noises about moving on for a couple of days. We've been here a while now.

It's probably time to go, anyway. Malvery, Pinn and high-end booze are a dangerous combination. They get excitable, and that usually ends up involving the militia. Always better to leave before someone kicks you out.

So, I suppose we're going. No idea where to yet, but I reckon we'll know when we get there.
Kilnday Thirdweek, Fieldfire, 147/32

Quiet few days. We're flush with aerium so we sold off a bit to some desperate merchant for a good profit. Since then we've been slopping around a pretty little nook known as Ock's Fallow. Small port off the trade lanes. The folks round here are pretty respectable. Naturally, they don't like us, but I can just about bear the way they scoff into their wine glasses when we walk in. It's worth it to see them trying to shift Malvery later when he's beached and snoring on the bar.

It's nice to drop out of the race for a while, put your feet up. I reckon those days by the lake last week don't really count, 'cause we were all mad at Pinn. Not good for the blood. We're mostly over that now, although Malvery is still bullying him with a shade more enthusiasm than usual.

Not that everything's sweet, of course - it never is. Keddle is still bitching about the daemonist. He reckons we shouldn't have taken him on. They hang daemonists, so you can bet they have a dim view of those that help them out. I think he's worrying over nothing, though. It's not like he looks different from any other aristocrat. Honestly, you wouldn't know he was a daemonist at all if it weren't for the eight-foot metal golem in the hold.

Oh, yes. The golem. That's Bess. She came on board loaded in a crate. Couldn't believe my eyes when we crowbarred it open. Why our guest saw fit to call it female is beyond me - that's a woman even Pinn would balk at, and he's rutted a hound or two in his time. I don't know what lives inside that armour and I don't care to know. But those little glittery eyes behind her face-grille give me the chills.

They're an odd pair, Crake and Bess. I gave Crake the passenger's quarters, since he paid - Harkins is doubling up with Pinn - and I've barely seen him leave them. The only time is when he goes down to the hold to check on Bess. He talks to her like she's a pet or something. It's weird, but I don't see any harm in it.

Keddle's complaints gave me something to think about, though. But I reckon for now the benefits outweight the risks. For one thing, I got me a damn fine cutlass out of it. Plus, as long as we keep that golem inside and out of sight, then the Ketty Jay has just picked up one bastard of a watchdog. Crake is just as concerned as I am about being discreet- he only told me he was a daemonist 'cause it would be pretty difficult to explain Bess and the cutlass otherwise - so I've no worries on that score. And having a daemonist around might come in handy. I should ask him what he can actually do one of these days. Beyond conjuring up massive hulking armoured bodyguards, that is.

He's running from someone, there's no doubt of that, and part of the deal was that I couldn't ask him who. Still, he only paid for his passage, not my protection. If this someone catches up to us, I'm not standing in their way. And if it's the law, I can always plead ignorance. Us dumb freebooters wouldn't know a daemonist if he bit us on the nose. The golem? We thought it was just a wondrous machine. Simple folk, we.

I'll keep my eye on the situation. He's paid in advance, so kicking him off isn't a problem. If he gets to be trouble, he and his tin missy are out the cargo door.

Just to be sure, though, I'd better find out what they actually do to people caught aiding daemonists...
Flaxday Thirdweek, Fieldfire, 147/32

Yesterday was a very strange day.

We've picked up two new passengers. One is a daemonist, of all things. The other... well, I don't know what the other one is. I wonder if I should have allowed them on board, but they seem pretty quiet so far. Still, they paid passage for a year. A year. What was I thinking?

Oh yes. I was thinking that I'm now the proud owner of the finest damn cutlass in Vardia.

We finally made it to the cheerily named Cloud Cradle Heights after our extended layover by Lake Elden, only to find that I'd missed my contact by a day and he'd buggered off elsewhere without leaving word. So that was my infallible money-making scheme shot to shit. I won't bore you with the details, Log. Suffice to say it was brilliant and we'll leave it at that.

So while we're kicking around aimlessly in the dock wondering what to do next, this milky-looking fellow named Grayther Crake comes up to me. I make him as a down-on-his-luck aristocrat: he's shabby and smells like he hasn't bathed for a while, but he's still got the accent and a poncey way of putting things. He says he wants to get out of Cloud Cradle Heights, right now. That's no surprise - Cloud Cradle Heights isn't as pretty as it sounds, and he wouldn't be the first man on the run I've helped out, for the right price. The surprise is, he says he wants to book passage on the Ketty Jay for a year.

I ask him why. He says he wants to keep on the move. Do we keep on the move? I tell him we've been kicked out of half the ports in Vardia so we don't have much choice. I ask him what he's running from. He says part of the deal is that I don't ask.

Fine with me. Allsoul knows we've got enough secrets on this craft, and we don't ask questions about the past. So I ask him what he's paying with.

'This,' he says, and he holds out a cutlass. 'It's the only thing I have left.'

Now this is one lovely cutlass. I've never been much of a swordsman, and I don't know blades, but this is a work of art. Still, it's probably not worth a year of this bloke's company, so I kind of curl my lip.

'That?' I say.

Then he tells me that this isn't just an ordinary cutlass. He puts it in my hand and tells me to pick the best swordfighter from my crew. Nobody's any good with swords, so I pick Pinn because he's the one I'd most like to stab right now. Crake gives him an iron bar - no swords handy - and tells him to try and hit me.

Pinn obligingly does so. The cutlass sort of leaps into the parry, carrying my hand with it. Pinn tries again - I parry again. It's not even me that's doing it, it's the blade. I swear it's possessed. After a couple more times, I sort of accidentally-on-purpose jab Pinn in the arm with it. It's a beautiful thrust, just goes in far enough to hurt like hell but not enough to cause any damage. Don't want to give him an excuse not to fly - if he wasn't such a damn fine pilot, he'd be totally useless.

Of course Pinn wails like he's being murdered and Malvery drags him off to the infirmary to put some antiseptic on the cut. I make some practice swipes with the cutlass. By now I've worked out that Crake is either a daemonist or he stole this from someone who was. Turns out it's the first one.

'That sword in return for our passage,' he says. 'One year. We go where you go. We won't be any trouble.'

I'm so full of visions of swashbuckling my way into the boudoirs of various ladies that I almost miss the plural. 'Our passage?'

Well, I couldn't really say no. I really wanted that cutlass. I thought I might sell it, but I'd only waste the money. I reckon I'll keep hold of this. It's nice to have something that's not broken, dirty, patched-together or similar. Just one fine thing.

Harkins and Keddle were uneasy about having a daemonist on board. Harkins doesn't like strangers and Keddle is just a moaning so-and-so. I think he's secretly an Awakener or something - there's just a shiftiness about him that gets my back up. Thing is, the luck I have with navigators, I'm not about to go looking for a new one. Keddle might be mediocre at his job, but at least he's stuck with us so far.

Hand is cramping now. I'll tell you about Bess later. That's its (her?) name. Bess.

I really think I'm gonna live to regret letting those two on board.
Scaleday Thirdweek, Fieldfire, 147/32

Well, he came back, and quite a tale of heroism and gallantry he brought with him. The story of a plucky young pilot, eager to please his captain by returning with the necessary parts to get the Ketty Jay airborne again. A worthy quest tragically interrupted by some ruffians who mugged him and left him for dead in an alley. Robbed of all but a few shillies, unwilling to return and face the shame of failure, he gambled his last coins and won. Riding his luck, he won again. What followed was a frankly amazing display of skill that ended in our hero making all his money back, enough to buy the necessary components for his captain and save the day. On the way he won the affection of an improbably busty beauty who indulged his every sordid whim (said whims were described in gloating detail later to his crewmates).

Malvery listened to Pinn's entire story with admirable patience and then punched him.

What actually happened was this: Pinn arrived in Aulenfay with some money in his pocket. Within a few hours he'd spent a sizable fraction of that money on booze and whores. The next morning he presumably did some maths and realised he couldn't afford the stuff he'd been sent for. I don't know how he made up the difference and I don't want to know - he probably just stole it - but at least he got the right parts, which is no small feat for someone who is regularly outsmarted by his own shoes.

It's just exhausting listening to Pinn sometimes. Having spent the previous half hour describing all the things he'd done to his imaginary goddess - actually a ropey old slut with gout - he went into a lament for the sweetheart he left back home, declared that he hated himself for giving in to his manly urges, and then tried to drink himself into a stupor. Malvery snatched the bottle and downed it in front of him just to spite the kid.

Pinn moaning pathetically as I write this. Silo fixing the engine. I can't be bothered any more...

Queensday Middleweek, Fieldfire 147/32

It appears the cautiously optimistic tone of my last entry was misplaced. We had a fine old night on the grog by the lakeside. Silo came out and sat with us. He drinks hard as Malvery but he doesn't get any more conversational. Doesn't seem to affect him at all, in fact. Anyway, weather was scorching the next morning, everyone staggering about squinting, all of that. I had a feeling like a vicious dwarf kicking me steadily in the brain, but there's a kind of triumph to it. This feeling like you've survived. You know you're alive, even if you don't much want to be.

That was when we found out the Ketty Jay was broken.

Silo reckoned it was something to do with the heat. Something wasn't venting out properly, I don't much care, but whatever it was, something melted the something something all over the something and the upshot was we needed some new connectors that Silo didn't have. I raged a bit about carrying spares before he pointed out that we were using the spares and he'd asked me three times in the last three ports to buy some more. Can't say I remember but Silo doesn't lie so I suppose he's right.

Pinn volunteered to fly over to Aulenfay in the Skylance and pick up the bits. That kid's dumb as a raisin loaf but Harkins wouldn't go - he doesn't much like crowds and he started up with a panic attack the moment I suggested it. So I said fine, Pinn could go, and gave him a bit of money.

Three days later, we're getting pretty bored by this lake, I can tell you. Pinn better be dead, because if he's not and he's stupid enough to come back without the best damn excuse in Vardia, Malvery is going to rip a new arse in his face.

Kilnday Middleweek, Fieldfire 147/32

The great outdoors. I'm on a hillside west of Aulenfay with Lake Elmen glittering in that yellowy-setty-sun kind of glow. There's all these bright isnects around and Malv is starting up a fire even though we don't need one cause it's really nice out. Bit cooked from being out in the sun and probably shouldn't have started drinking quite so early but hey. New destnation tomorrow. Where, you ask, little Captain's Log?

Wouldn't you like to know?

Right, well you can probably tell that I'm not dead since I'm wirting this. In fact it all went pretty swimmingly, truth to tell. Everybody still here, no need to go trawling for replacements. I hate taking on new crew, I worked bloody hard to get those ones. It's not easy finding men who'll work for what I pay 'em, hahaha.

So this is what happened. Yesterday we met Gotch and his thugs in the port like we agreed, and they brought a canister of aerium and even rolled it on board for us which was pretty nice. Then they all piled into some junker and we were supposed to follow them in the Ketty Jay, Pinn and Harkins flying cover in the Skylance and the Firecrow. Plan was that we set down someway from the bad lot's hideout - which was out of town a way - and then we plough in there guns blazing and hpefully catch em on the hop. So there's twenty of us, or therabouts, me and the crew included. Not Silo though, they got all funny about having a Murthian with em. Silo couldn't care less so he stayed in the engine room which is practically where he lives anyway.

We set down, we creep up to the hideout, so far so good. Then we get there and alarm bells start ringing, cause there's something like thirty buildings there, I mean it's a whole little town. I say why don't we just fly in and machine gun the shit out of it but Gotch doesn't like that, he says they might get away. But I saw it on his face that he knew he'd screwed up but he couldn't go back without looking like a coward. Bad information, tut tut. You'd think he'd learn.

Well, someone sees us then cause to be honest we werne't hiding very well. Someone's clanging a bell, people start coming out, and already I can see there's twenty of them and half of them are still probably inside. Doesn't stop Gotch. He's all flush with the element of surprise. He jumps to his feet. 'Get em boys!' I jump up and go 'Come on, men!' or something, then all his men go charging down the hill and all my crew run the other way cause we're not stupid. We could still hear em shooting in the distance by the time we made it back to the craft and got out of there. Dunno what happened to Gotch but I reckon he'll need more than a tin ear this time.

I have a keen sense of things sometimes. Instinct, if you like. I'm good at picking sides. And one look at that lot flooding out of those buildings told me I was on the wrong one. There's gonna be a changing of the guard in Craven's Nook, if it hasn't happened already. Gotch is out. Someone I dont know is in.

Still, I reckoned that coming away with single canister of aerium wasn't exactly fair. I mean, thanks to Gotch we could've all been killed. So we flew back to his little hideout, since just about all his men were off fighting or dead, and we robbed the rest of the arium and a bunch more besides. There were couple of guards, but we had more 'n a couple of shotguns. Anyway, they were nice enough about it once I said they could have what we didn't take.

After that I reckoned it wasn't smart to be around Craven's Nook for a while so we headed off and fetched up here. Breeze off the lake is nice. Might go to Aulenfay later, find a game of Rake. Oh, wait, I can't, I forgot. We made a plan, that's right. I'm tapping my nose with my free hand but I suppose you can't tell cause you're a book.

Okay, enough. Tonight we're having a celebration. Me, Malvery, Pinn, Harkins, Keddle. Maybe Silo will come out, not that he'll actually say anything. Even Slag might come and watch, but he won't come past the cargo ramp. Fourteen years he's never been off that ship, not since he was a teeny kitten. He can beat the crap out of rats the size of your arm but he's scared blind of the sky.

Fourteen years? Damn, shouldn't he be dead soon? That's one old cat.
Millersday Middleweek, Fieldfire, 147/32

Seems I overestimated my old friend's gratitude. Turns out Edley Gotch doesn't think he owes me a favour after all. In fact, he's actually pretty mad at me. Apparently the information I gave him last time we met - information given freely and out of the goodness of my heart, I might add - wasn't quite as accurate as I'd thought. I'd neglected to inform him about the armed guards swarming all over the warehouse he wanted to rob. Not my fault; I told him everything I knew. Can't help it if he wants to base his shabby little criminal empire on semi-reliable hearsay, can I?

Anyway, he wasn't best pleased about having to replace two of his men and one of his ears (the latter with a pretty fetching tin substitute). I suspect if the Doc hadn't been with me, I'd be missing a few exterior organs myself right now. But people don't like to mess with Malvery. Something in his manner, I suppose. You just can't be sure about a man who laughs that loud and that often. He sort of makes you feel like he knows something you don't.

A swift bit of smoothing-over later, and we had ourselves a deal, though not as favourable as I'd like, given the circumstances. He has four canisters for me - and believe me I'm gonna test them this time - but first he needs some help with a little problem he's got. Edley Gotch has some competition in town, and he's looking to drive the new gang out. Needs a few extra guns. That's where we come in.

Between you and me, Log, I don't like gunfights. They carry a high risk of making me dead. So I told him half up front, and he laughed, and then Malvery laughed and Gotch went a bit pale and offered one up front and three after. We shook on that.

The crew were suitably unenthusiastic, except for Pinn, who's too dumb to be scared of getting shot. The situation's not ideal, I'll admit, but we need the aerium or we're not flying anywhere. And I'm damned if I'll rot in Craven's Nook too much longer. This place stinks in the heat. I want to get up north where the temperature is suitable for humans.

The crew like to bitch, but they'll warm to the plan once they're drunk. I know I will.

Flaxday Middleweek, Fieldfire, 147/32

Midsummer. It's bloody hot. The days are far too long, the Ketty Jay is like an oven, and I think the ship's cat has melted. Pinn has been pining all day for his sweetheart and I can only ignore him for so long before I have to shoot him. I don't even have any Shine to take to edge off, since I just found out yesterday that my dealer has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The folks in the pub gave me a bunch of different stories as to why, but they all agreed that he isn't likely to emerge again, unless it's in bite-size pieces. So for lack of any other damn thing to do, I hereby make my first entry into the Captain's log. I, Darian Frey, proud owner and captain of the Ketty Jay, do put pen to paper. Only took me fourteen years to get round to it.

We're low on aerium. Again. The stuff I bought last month was depleted; it's not giving out the lift that it should. It's already been through two or three engines before it got to mine. No way to prove it, of course, except that I know my craft and she's flying like a leprous cow at the moment. Some days I get sick of this cut-price, breadline shit. We nearly blew up last winter 'cause some bastard sold Silo a faulty prothane injector. Just once it'd be nice to buy something with a guarantee, something proper, from a Guild-approved shop. Just once it'd be nice not to have to haggle and threaten and promise just to get what I need.

We've put down in Craven's Nook for a few days so we can see what's what. We don't have the money for straight-up aerium but I know a guy who owes me a favour. Maybe he can put me on to something. Either that or we whore out Pinn and Harkins for some dodgy small-scale courier work. Their aircraft are still running fine, being as fighters hardly use any aerium at all and they're still on the old supply. Harkins is still fretting, of course, but when isn't he?

Either way, we'd better hope that any job we get is local. We're on our last half-canister of aerium, and I don't want to leave us dry. No aerium, no take-off. And you never know when you're gonna have to run.