01 - The Arrival.   Posted by The Lens.Group: 0
Matthew Hall
 player, 21 posts
Sat 29 May 2021
at 18:06
Re: 01 - The Arrival
”Thank you, sir. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.” He hoped that the Captain did not interpret his words as a mere platitude, or an empty attempt to be polite. He was sincere. He was wholly grateful to be on the island and to possess gainful employment. To have a real chance at a normal existence.

The contents of the earthenware tumbler were a reminder of what he had left behind in Maine. You are not your family, he reminded himself silently, You are not possessed with a malevolent need for drink. Accepting the offered cup, he raised it to the Captain and Miss Dowling before taking a swallow of the liquor.

Setting it down, he said, ”If I may ask sir, is everything well outside?”
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 4 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Sat 29 May 2021
at 21:59
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Mostly the Captain seemed distracted, more interested in the drink than the younger man's selfconsciousness. He reflected the toast, their gestures mirror to mirror, but took what looked to be the whole measure. Matt had enough to taste grain and malting, smoke and warmth, and even that swept the back edges of his tongue hotly numb.

"Aye...aye, if you'd even be willing to cook tonight, I'll show you about the lighthouse and Hetty can go walk about as she likes,"
Captain Dowling said, coming to a decision. "All's...safe. It's all safe. Barry - the boat - well, Kirkness badly startled him, but Kirkness'll not come back. He's gone."

The way the older man's voice faded out made it seem Duncan Kirkness had gone very far away indeed. Matt realised he'd never got more than a brief impression of the man he was replacing, not really: just a chastened stance, his face turned away and his pockets full of stones.

A quiet patter-skittering from the stairs indicated the gradual descent of a seagull not currently bothered enough to fly.
Matthew Hall
 player, 22 posts
Mon 31 May 2021
at 04:13
Re: 01 - The Arrival
”Yes, sir. I’ll see to it,” Hall answered. He glanced at Miss Dowling, mindful of the fact that since Kirkness had reached the point of dismissal, both she and her uncle had likely had to take on a much greater burden of work. He couldn’t help feeling a small sense of pride at being able to alleviate some of it.

He took a second drink from the tumbler, draining it, then moved to the stores to see what he could bring together for supper. As he did, the feeling of unsettledness that he had experienced upstairs found him again. Kirkness. Questions swirled through his thoughts about his predecessor. The Captain had said that Kirkness had thought the Devil was in the lighthouse lens. Had he lost his mind? The note he had left, although cryptic, didn’t seem like the words of a sane man either. Had Kirkness come to the island with such problems, or had something here brought them into being? Although he felt he wasn’t at liberty to say as much, he had the impression that there were dangers on Merigg that neither the Captain nor Miss Dowling were willing to speak to him about.

He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The only thing he needed to concern himself with was the matter at hand; making a quality meal. Refocusing on what was before him, he resumed his search for ingredients.
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 25 posts
Wed 2 Jun 2021
at 01:46
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Hetty didn't answer her uncle at first, glancing back up the stairs thoughtfully, dark eyes gleaming. Finally she gave a nod. Yes, she thought Matthew would do as well as any and better than most so far. He was younger than most. Maybe that was the key, less time to get set in his ways and beliefs. They could grow and grow until they consumed you...

She glanced over at her uncle and sighed when he poured two drams of whiskey, not three. Hetty served herself a small cup of water. A little went down the wrong pipe, causing her to choke a bit at Matthew's question.

Not that she didn't approve of his boldness! Her eyes widened slightly when her uncle solemnly pronounced that Kirkness was gone. "I think he was gone some time ago," she mused thoughtfully. The figure who had faded into the distance was not the same one that had stepped on those shores- how long ago had it been?

The thoughtfulness didn't go away when he mentioned she'd have some time to wander and explore that evening. "I'd rather help Mr. Hall and accompany you, if that's all right," she said. "Depending on the hour, perhaps I can show him a bit more of the island when we're through." Somehow Hetty didn't quite fancy being alone. While her tone was light enough, her uncle might be able to pick up on the lines of tension in the set of her shoulders as it traveled up her neck and to her jaw.
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 5 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Tue 8 Jun 2021
at 21:33
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Captain Dowling slid a glance across to Hetty at those words, concern written in his features that perhaps she had guessed what had passed out beyond the shoal, shocking enough to draw so loud and startled a cry from Barry's throat. Something he'd sent them onward not to see.

"You can do that if you're minded, sure," he agreed slowly. "Mister Hall, can Hetty be a help to you, or should we leave the kitchen? I''ll take you about whilst it's set fixing, if that suits," he added, toying thoughtfully with the bottle.

Matt found most of the things he'd brought in where he'd left them, and determined the crate of ash held miraculous eggs, speckled and tan and weighty in the hand. Pest pattered into the doorway and announced herself loudly, drowning out Captain Dowling's objections though they were expressed forcefully enough.

"-get that bir-"

*SKI SKI SKÉAAAAAAAA* *SKÉAAAAAAAAAAAA* *SKI SKI SKI!*

                          " -chen!"


Knowing she was far harder to catch that way, Pest ran under the table at the first potentially-putting-outside movement towards her.
Matthew Hall
 player, 23 posts
Mon 14 Jun 2021
at 00:50
Re: 01 - The Arrival
An Irish mash, Hall thought as he looked over the stores. Something straightforward to make and nicely filling. And I could add some fried ham and greens. Nodding in silent agreement with his own thoughts, he located the potatoes and retrieved several.

Setting them on the counter, he filled a pot with water from the settling tub, then refilled the tub with the reddish colored water from the tap. He set the pot to boil, but not before he took a bowl of water from it and started cleaning the potatoes. Once he was satisfied that they were scrubbed properly, he set to peeling them. A smile crept onto his face, the tasks bringing with them a sense of familiarity and comfort.

As he set the peelings aside, intent on saving them, he occasionally scanned the room, wary of where Pest might have disappeared to, certain that the bird would be very interested in any activity in the kitchen.
Pest
 NPC, 7 posts
 Tame Seagull
Wed 23 Jun 2021
at 13:57
Re: 01 - The Arrival
The seagull in question had certainly been leading the others a merry dance whilst Matt was occupied - his glances back showed mostly the humans bustling about trying to herd the seagull into the open or tempt her out with biscuit, and at one point he heard a little pause in the rapid patter of webby feet that made Hetty exclaim something almost a curse, which probably meant she would have to fetch a rag to clean bird poop off the floor. Following this deduction, it would seem logical that the soft upward rush of wingbeats was Pest escaping to the top of the shelves during the distraction, and the subsequent ceilingward yelling a diatribe on why seagulls absoloutely should be allowed in kitchens, thank you very much.

It was therefore something of a surprise when Matt had turned around to check up on a pause in screeching (if not the captain's grumbling), failed to locate the bird, and then turned back to find her directly at his left elbow.

*SKÉAA!* Pest exclaimed, and ran off to the other end of the stove with a potato peeling. The seagull made two concerted attempts at swallowing the object before realising it wasn't particularly good, or maybe even food, and spitting it out again. Pest proceeded to perch on the edge of the stove and give Matt a look of outright betrayal for daring to feed her such things.
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 26 posts
Sat 26 Jun 2021
at 21:48
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Hetty's unreadable gaze met her uncle's for a moment before she glanced back at Matt. Her uncle's question gave her the perfect excuse to look away, neither confirming nor denying if she actually had guessed at what had transpired. "Yes, I'd be--"

Once again she winced at Pest's intrusion and hurried to try and catch her. The last thing her uncle needed was Pest living up to her name! And the last thing she wanted to do was clean up after the bird. Hetty grabbed the nearest edible thing and offered it to the bird. "That's right, silly thing, you don't want that, you want this," she cajoled, backing towards the window. The pitch of her voice had increased slightly in her desperation to prevent the bird from doing further damage.

"She's in a state today it seems," she said apologetically as she looked at her uncle. Hetty let out a little huff. This wasn't at all the impression she'd hoped to make...
Matthew Hall
 player, 24 posts
Mon 5 Jul 2021
at 17:11
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Hall watched Miss Dowling’s efforts to steer Pest away from the kitchen, genuinely appreciative for her help, but sensitive to the fact that the seagull was causing her some embarrassment in front of the Captain.

Taking the opportunity of Pest’s momentary distraction, Hall checked the heat of the stove, then ventured back to the stores, Retrieving some apples, along with any onions or leeks that he could find, he returned to the kitchen. Certain that the fruit would attract Pest’s interest, he started work on the apples first, peeling them as efficiently as he could manage.

Even as he worked, his thoughts drifted back to Kirkness. ”I think he was gone some time ago.” What did Miss Dowling mean? What precisely had happened to his predecessor? Understanding that had taken on a sudden urgency, an importance that seemed unwise to ignore.
Pest
 NPC, 8 posts
 Tame Seagull
Mon 12 Jul 2021
at 06:38
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Pest was reasonably interested in the wafer of stockfish fin grabbed by Hetty, following along to whistle-plead for it with great persistence. Just as Matt dropped his first peeled apple into the vinegar water and Hetty was about to scoop the seagull up to throw both bird and scrap outside, however, the room became suddenly darker in a flickering of shadow. Looking up, Matt found a herring gull flapping heavily to avoid collision with the window, its big white body blocking the light. Pest shrieked and dived to the floor behind Hetty's ankles to yell at the intruder from a safer position, whilst the bigger gull took another moment to stare with blank seagull hostility, possibly at its own reflection.

"Away with ye," the Captain commanded, tapping the window at its level with a wooden spoon: the visitor wheeled away with a flickering of light and sunbright wings.
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 30 posts
Tue 13 Jul 2021
at 01:58
Re: 01 - The Arrival
It was at least working! The lines in Hetty's body eased as she continued to croon at Pest, urging her closer and closer... Almost... This was going--

Hetty gave a little cry of surprise along with Pest, goosebumps pricking across her skin in the wake of the sudden chill she felt. The way the bigger bird had blocked the light wouldn't have really bothered her on a normal day. But it wasn't an ordinary day.

She quickly leaned down to pick up Pest and hold her close. To prevent her from escaping or for comfort, was hard to say. "I'm sorry," she murmured. To the bird, to Matthew, to her uncle? For a moment she stood there, hair falling across her face as she looked at the bird in her arms. "I'm sorry..." With that she moved towards the door again, more reluctant than she had ever been to get the bird outside.
Matthew Hall
 player, 25 posts
Sat 17 Jul 2021
at 22:48
Re: 01 - The Arrival
The sudden appearance of the shadow in the window prompted Hall to back up a pair of steps, his eyes widening, an apple and a paring knife gripped tightly in each of his hands. He let out a shuddering breath as he recognized the herring gull’s form, watching mutely as the Captain ordered the creature away.

He blinked, a momentary hesitation keeping him from immediately returning to his chore. It was merely a gull, nothing more, he reasoned. When he’d worked in the shipyard, there had been plenty of occasions when one of the birds narrowly missed colliding with him in its eagerness to scavenge something. So why had this one’s appearance filled him with such trepidation? It had seemed, somehow, more like a shape, something reaching forward out of the dark, than just a simple seagull.

Was he letting the questions surrounding Kirkness to cause his imagination to run away with him? He shook his head, as if to clear it, and moved to return to the counter when he heard Miss Dowling quietly apologizing. Setting the knife and apple down, he turned and approached her, mindful that Pest had no trust in him at all. ”Ma’am? Are you alright?”
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 31 posts
Sun 25 Jul 2021
at 03:12
Re: 01 - The Arrival
She slowed her pace, hoping she would be told that Pest could stay in. The thought of what that larger bird could do to Pest... "Yes, just concerned that Pest won't be if I put her outside just yet with that bigger bird," she said, pitching her voice just loud enough that her uncle would be able to hear. Hetty continued to hold and stroke Pest, doing her best to keep her calm.

"Been quite a bit of excitement today for us all," she said, voice ringing with false brightness. "I'll keep Pest with me a bit, let her calm down, and then get her outside. I'll help as best I can in the kitchen," she said to Matt. Still holding the young bird, she brushed past Matt towards the kitchen as if it was all settled. As if everything was fine.
The Lens
 GM, 40 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Mon 26 Jul 2021
at 00:38
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Hetty's remarks were partly delivered over the loud protests of Pest: whenever the seagull considered herself to be pointed towards the door a great deal of yelling and ineffectual peddling of the air ensued.

"Come now, that wasn't a meirleach, just one of the herring-birds. She'll not be better off for you coddling her soft," the Captain said, though Matt noticed he seemed to have got hold of another dram in the interval. The older man didn't press the point, however, and Matt found himself peeling apples and potatoes with faint bewilderment as Hetty washed down the scrawny leeks with that strange blood-tinted water, a somewhat grumpy seagull on her shoulder.

Apples duly sunk in vingegar water and potatoes on the boil, the odd little party shook off the quiet and made for the lighthouse: out of the lee of the house Matt was immediately and literally struck by the wind and Pest took off to float, seemingly just for the easy pleasure of it, looking weightless beyond the flutter of Hetty's clothing. The Captain forged on ahead as they passed up the shadow of the tower amongst the muted rush of the surf and cries of many birds, the door seeming to open almost of some joint accord as he stepped up on the old stone threshold. He looked back at them and seemed pleased enough, or at least saw nothing he didn't like.

Inside was another sudden quiet, cool and still yet not lightless, since the rounded whitewashed surface of the walls gave back every scrap of day that met them. There were pegs here for lamps and hard-weather gear, large boxes for storage of various tarps, hooks, sledges and sundries, and otherise a sense of neatness and ordered peace. A gap in the storage beneath the stairs indicated the presence of another door, which Captain Dowling went and stood in the middle of the floor to indicate.

"Here's where you can get to the foghorn from inside. We'll take a look at 'er on the way down. Your duty lies upward, mostly, so let's take a look up there."


Their steps echoed as they began the climb, as though a whisper of all the boots that had passed that way before went with them. Pest let Hetty carry her in her arms, perhaps sensing she needed it, giving the ascent a strange ceremonial solemnity.

Halfway up was another floor, the majority partitioned off by a thick curtain hung on a line overhead. It seemed darker here, one window of the paired set being behind the obstacle.

"Hetty's room," the Captain explained, and knocked at the curtain like a door, producing a jingling of unseen bells from some string on the other side. The echoes skittered up and down the stone walls, sharp as thrown glass. "That's knocking, so don't go and stumble into her soft wall when you go down."

He looked to Hetty in case there was anything she'd like to add on the subject, it being clear enough that any intrusion desired or otherwise would not be quiet. The light reaching down from above sifted golden over the upward stair.
Matthew Hall
 player, 28 posts
Mon 2 Aug 2021
at 03:47
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Although his concern over Miss Dowling’s sudden fright didn’t abate, even with her reassurances, Hall gave himself back to the task of cooking, his concentration focused on peeling the remaining apples and potatoes.

When the group entered the lighthouse, Hall felt an odd hush overtake him, a sudden instinct to remain quiet within the aged structure. Almost as though the place was deserving of a certain reverence…or fearful respect. He spoke little, only enough to make certain that the Captain knew that he was paying close attention to his explanations. When the group paused at Miss Dowling’s room, after admiring the cleverness of the bells, Hall found his attention momentarily drawn upward, to the glow of the light from above.
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 34 posts
Fri 6 Aug 2021
at 03:13
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Henrietta just glared at her uncle and held Pest a little tighter, perhaps a bit too tightly for the young bird's comfort. Who was he to say? Who was he to know? Who was she to know? She let out her breath when her uncle didn't press. Turning to Matt she gave him a falsely bright smile that was meant to reassure as Pest settled on her shoulder.

With perhaps a bit more vigor than was strictly necessary, she set to scrubbing the leeks. Her brow furrowing in concentration and she started a bit when she realized that it was time to move on to the lighthouse. She fell into step behind Matthew and her uncle.

She paused for a second to watch Pest catch the current and smiled proudly. Hetty worried less and less as Pest continued to grow. But she wouldn't ever completely stop worrying. What did she see up there? What mysteries was the bird privy to but unable to express?

Hetty accepted Pest into her arms. When he pointed out what was her room, she merely looked at Matt. The expression on her face was unreadable. Before it could become uncomfortable, she looked back down at Pest, admiring the way the golden light played across the bird's feathers.
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 6 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Sun 8 Aug 2021
at 00:01
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Respecting Hetty's right to her room and to leave it as messy as she wished, the Captain merely looked up the stairs and gestured the new man onwards, making no particular sign that she should follow. Pest had closed her eyes for now, content with the warm spot.

Those ascending wound their way into the sky past further windows, shadow to brightness and back again. Just as the steps might have become too many, they came up into another room, somewhat smaller than that at the tower's base and considerably lower in ceiling. It was furnished with a writing-desk on which sat a large ledger, a chair with a Hudson Bay blanket folded on it, a lamp, an object like a milk churn, and finally a basket.

"Right," Captain Dowling said, going over to pat the ledger, "-this is kept updated with ships due by and the conditions of your watch. You record whether y'see the ship making good time and passing that night, or if she comes by early or late, or if you see a ship and don't recognise 'er. Any other events of note are best recorded, too, but I'd appreciate if you didn't take to writing hallucinations." He didn't say 'like Kirkness', but glanced out of the window by the desk, watching the white birds float above the bluegreen sea.

He nodded to the lamp. "That's the only flame allowed up here save a pipe if y'have it and the Light itself up above here. No cigarettes, cigars, candles, gas stoves - you'll want one, believe me, but you make do with the blanket and do it sparingly, lest you fall asleep. Better to walk about once in a while, take a better look from the other window. Remember, there's men out there on the sea, and women and children too some nights, and it's our purpose and duty to keep them from the dark deeps, as much as it's the duty of their ship or their skipper. It's a worthy job, not an easy one."

Matt felt himself studied, at that, the Captain looking to read some trace of his reasons in his face. For some reason the Light's presence overhead made him want to get on and behold it, as though the whole tower might be a trick if he did not.
Matthew Hall
 player, 29 posts
Sun 8 Aug 2021
at 14:39
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Hall regarded the desk and ledger, momentarily touched by curiosity over its contents. What was it that Kirkness had believed that he had seen, out on the dark waves? He tried to imagine the man up here, struggling with the terror that had seized him. The night floors. What had he meant?

Refocusing on the task he was being entrusted with, Hall cleared his throat. ”I lived off of the coast of Maine, on Deer Island, Sir. Spent most of my life there. I can recall seeing three shipwrecks in all of that time. Vessels that found the rocks that hid beneath the water to the west. The sea was greedy. In each case, the ships were close enough that men from town could venture out to help. They always managed to rescue some, but never all of them. There were always those that were lost to the waves.”

He looked back at Dowling. ”I don’t want to see any suffer such a fate on my watch, Sir. I want them to find their way back home.”

Home. The word felt hollow to him now, but he knew that for most, it was a source of great comfort. One of the things that they valued most. Unbidden, his attention briefly went to the golden light again. Up close, he found it impossible not to be awed by its strength and reach.
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 7 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Sun 15 Aug 2021
at 23:24
Re: 01 - The Arrival
"Mm. Well, she takes what she takes. We help those souls not strike water in the first place." Captain Dowling looked towards the upward stair as he said it, not at the water.

"A wee nip of spirits now and then...well, it's not code, and if I find you up here drunk I will kick you all the way to the bottom, but I'll look the other way to it. You'll think coffee, but by the end of your shift what with the come-down and the distraction of needing to piss I'll say you'd regret it, but you're welcome to try."


He took to the stair and the slowly dipping sun made him gold, too, until he moved through the floor's shadow and up into the light. Above, it was as though the short flight of spiralled metal steps ascended into heaven with a cap screwed on, nothing but bright sky and sea and the routes of white birds across the blue.

"Winch for the rotary," Captain Dowling said, patting the same. "Gets wound and stopped up here every morning, set going at light-up. We're a three-one flash at sixteen seconds repeat, and you can check or time that from the watch room whenever you feel like. Now, the lens..."

He ascended to its level and waited for Hall to join him, almost floating against the view of mostly sea. "Fourth order Fresnel, near new with some modern modifications I don't claim to follow. Don't look at 'er lit, even with the goggles down by." He continued to gesture at the array, which was easily the size of Matt's whole torso.

"The light itself swings out here, clicks back nicely. You check the matches in the brass case each night, and there's spares down by the winch anyway. Every morning - and I mean t'give you first shift this week at least, see how you take to it - you come up here with a bucket of wash and preferably some start on breakfast for me and we clean the lens down. Even a fleck of dust can mess up the timing of the flash, set just wrong. She's a masterpiece of an instrument."

"After that we both go about the catwalk and take the salt off the windows - 'less it's a gale, in which case we do that last thing. Then we go down for breakfast and annoy Hetty by waking her up if she isn't in passing, 'less it's Sunday. I plan to sit with you through your shift tonight to ease you into things and make sure there's no question I've forgot, though I might doze some seeing as I've been working double. Is there anything I've missed?"

Matthew Hall
 player, 30 posts
Wed 18 Aug 2021
at 22:05
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Hall could not help but be momentarily entranced by the precision of great light’s operation. It truly was remarkable, every bit as carefully crafted as the ships he had been fascinated with since boyhood.

”No, sir. You’ve been very thorough,” Hall answered honestly, ”I appreciate you spending my first shift with me, Captain. I expect I’ll take to it easily enough. I’ve never needed much sleep. Not since I was a boy. I’m hopeful that staying up into the night won’t prove too difficult.”

He gazed out through the windows at the rocks and the sea. ”It is beautiful up here,” he added simply.
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 8 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Sun 22 Aug 2021
at 21:39
Re: 01 - The Arrival


"Staying up and staying alert," Captain Dowling said, but his tone had no doubt in it, more a declaration of what it was they did. He took a moment to look out at the sea and the pale transient lace from the breakers over the shoals with Matt, the quiet lying sunwarmed and comfortable between them.

"Aye," he conceeded. "Aye. Well, those tatties should be about boilt by now, eh? You'll see this all in action soon enough."

He motioned that Hetty and Matt should make their way down. Matt noticed that Pest seemed to be asleep in Hetty's arms, or at least at rest and calm enough to keep her eyes contented-shut.


[[Gave Hetty's player fair warning and determined where she was by Magic 8-Ball. I hope she's away settling into a house.]]

Matthew Hall
 player, 31 posts
Wed 8 Sep 2021
at 16:11
Re: 01 - The Arrival


Hall gave the space one last look before he moved to follow the Captain, idly wondering how many hours of his life would be lived within it, keeping vigil on the restless sea. He grinned at the sight of Pest sleeping, silently amazed by the trust that the bird invested in Miss Dowling.

Kirkness’ note still burrowed into a corner of his consciousness. The Night Floors. What did the man mean? Try as he might, Hall couldn’t simply dismiss the words as the mere ramblings of one who had gone mad. There was the ring of truth within them, the meaning of which entirely eluded him. The fact that Kirkness had felt it important to warn his successor hung in his thoughts like a dead weight.

Supper, he reminded himself. Focus on the task that is at hand. He descended the stairs, his concentration given over to finishing a warm, palatable meal.
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 36 posts
Sun 19 Sep 2021
at 19:55
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Hetty let the two men head up the stairs, standing at the bottom of the staircase towards where they'd disappeared. The light shone on her face. What would someone looking at it see, she wondered? What shadows played across her features? Were they pleasing, unsettling, both? What did Matthew think of them in the normal light.

Such thoughts were there and gone quickly. She was much more interested in the winds that danced with her across the islands and the waves that sometimes carried her as gently as her mother had when she was a babe. She headed down the stairs and out the bottom of the tower. "Come on, Pest," she said, "I've got things to do, time you were off for the evening."

She tried to urge the bird to take wing. Few things gave her as much pleasure as seeing the young bird in the air, knowing that she had helped make that possible. At least this time her efforts to save something hadn't been in vain. Already her arms ached in anticipation of Pest's absence. What if one day she took wing and never came back?
Pest
 NPC, 9 posts
 Tame Seagull
Sun 19 Sep 2021
at 22:04
Re: 01 - The Arrival
Pest gave a very big yawn at being taken outside and jostled. Hetty felt the seagull tense as she lowered her arms to throw her upward; with the rush of momentum Pestilence took to the air as naturally as another part of the gesture. It was as though some part of Hetty's touch went up with her, the gull's white wheeling upward taking her reach right up into the blue.

Hetty watched the bird spiral up, around the lighthouse, and into a diving rush of other black-headed gulls, a rising wave of sandpipers and a trio of Iceland gulls that swooped for late shoreline pickings, soon to roost. A herring gull drifted over at a level angle, heeding neither the land nor any creature standing two-legged and clothed thereon any more than the vast sea might heed the shore. The breeze found its way to wind cold around Hetty's neck, plucking at her hair, and she had a sudden want to be inside.
The Lens
 GM, 47 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Sun 19 Sep 2021
at 22:04
Re: 01 - The Arrival


As promised, Captain Dowling opened the inside door to the forghorn to show Matt its operation on way down: beyond a wall thicker than Matt's whole length was a simple steam engine with various levers to check, interrupt or alter the sequence of bellowing at need. It looked much like Matt imagined the boiler room of a steamer to be, only with walls of brick the same old-blood red as the rest of the island's runnels of water or bog, not steel. A metal stair could be seen heading upward in the far distance of that cramped nest of industrial tangling, presumably access to the top and the horn itself.

"Walls're as thick ay the way around, so that y'might stoke and not go deaf," Captain Dowling told Hall, and he let the dark door snick shut. Hetty was standing outside looking to the deepening blue of the sky, her clothing rippling bright around the strong breadth of her back and gentle flare of her hips in the lighthouse's shadow, the wind catching and toying with her hair. A flicker of a frown crossed her uncle's brow before she tossed them a glance and flitted back to the cottage like a pretty ghost.

The fireside scent was bulked with welcome starch when they dived back into the sudden dark of the cottage, and soon was spiked with apple, then mouth-wateringly thick with fried fat and leek and kale, and then the pure comfort smell of butter in a mash. Matt even found some ancient nutmeg to add in with the pepper, which did things to the flavour the Dowlings had not thought possible from a pinch of spice once grace was murmured and the transfer of food from plate to mouth began. The sudden quiet in the kitchen made Matt faintly nervous until he realised the others were transfixed by the rare quality of the meal; Hetty had no clear memory of the last time she'd tasted something so good.

The quiet settled comfortably, warmed through by the blocky presence of the stove and the wholesome weight of warmth from eating. At length Captain Dowling put down his fork, his plate clean save for a few swirls of grease. "Ye did well, lad, at that."