RolePlay onLine RPoL Logo

, welcome to The Lighthouse [Dread]

19:40, 21st May 2024 (GMT+0)

01 - The Arrival.

Posted by The LensFor group 0
The Lens
GM, 8 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Sun 24 Jan 2021
at 03:01
  • msg #1

01 - The Arrival


[music]

quote:
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

~ Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy



Mid-Afternoon Friday September 24, 1909, clear skies, calm sea. Beaufort 4 (windspeed ~9 knots); visibility good.


The notice came that Duncan Kirkness had gone mad at the Merigg post, so they sent the Yankee out. The journey up from Halifax had been a dull blur of being passed vessel to vessel and now Matthew Hall sat up front of the supply boat with his gear, wearing new boots that hardly rubbed at all and the sum total of his worldly possessions perhaps doubled by the Department of Marine and Fisheries. Seabirds occasionally floated alongside them like dainty ghosts, foam-white and briefly curious as to whether they were fishing before veering away on their own paths across the waves.

On the island itself the day had proved fair enough for everyone to settle on the shingle and wait at the low end for MacTaggart and his boat: though Kirkness had had to be confined to the cottage's upper room before Hetty had come out to Merigg at her uncle's request he seemed calm now, toying with the pebbles on the beach. The Captain sat beside Hetty, overtired from double shifts and trying not to show it, the wind quickly blowing the smoke from his pipe to a scented nothing. He'd asked her to stay on a little longer, until he had the measure of the new man at least, though Hetty knew he was less concerned with having another hand to help with daily chores than having her in sight. Home was an empty place right now and there wasn't always enough work to forget it.

Kirkness intermittently skipped stones across the water and Capt. Dowling frowned, though the force of the throwing was not suggestive of the attack the smaller man had made on the light nor himself. It was the absoloutely careless nature, heedless of what he might annoy with his pebbles. Hetty watched the Tammy Noir come in and considered what might be on board besides the newcomer - milk, perhaps; with another round of eggs that could mean pancakes for breakfast or even cocoa tonight, a moment of luxury that her uncle surely couldn't begrudge with the new man having come so far from Away, that word that encompassed the world beyond the eastern Maritimes.

At length the little vessel nudged up alongside the cobbled slipway and grumbled to silence as the water settled under her. Matt caught the boatman's nod that he should go ashore and picked up his kit to reach for the rusted rungs that would be his first contact with the island, a new job and new possibilities.
Matthew Hall
player, 2 posts
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 16:00
  • msg #2

01 - The Arrival

Matthew said a quiet word of thanks to the boatman before climbing down, genuinely appreciative for his service. Recent years had taught him many things, the ease with which people could be taken for granted among them.

He took the rusted handholds one at a time, dropping down to the stone path. He took a deep breath of the salt air and looked about the shore. An island, not altogether different from the one he had spent most of his life on. Far fewer souls that called it home, obviously. Lonelier, perhaps. Perhaps not. On Deer Island he had spent hours surrounded by others without having connection to any of them. When acknowledged, it was for his reliability, the steadfast way he performed his work. He had been more of a set of completed tasks, rather than a person.

This was likely much the same situation. Only now, he would have the chance to save his wages. To build a reputation as good worker with Marine and Fisheries. From there, he might find his way into a career at sea, the only place in the world where he had a sense of belonging.

He glanced at the shore, watched one of the thrown pebbles skip into the tide. His eyes went to the man who threw the rock, the man he sensed that he had come to replace. He wondered why the man might be leaving his post. Something, perhaps in his careless demeanor, and the stern disposition of the older man nearby, Captain Dowling no doubt, suggested that all was not well. That he was departing in some degree of disgrace, or had possibly even been dismissed.

It was none of his affair, he reminded himself as he approached the Captain, shifting the weight of his pack, moving briskly up the slipway. He was present for one reason only: to work hard and give a good account of himself. That, he felt certain, he could do.

He raised his knuckle to the brim of his cap when he reached Captain Dowling, giving a polite nod to the young woman who was with him. ”Matthew Hall, sir. Reporting for duty.”
Henrietta Dowling
player, 4 posts
Sun 31 Jan 2021
at 22:06
  • msg #3

01 - The Arrival

Hetty had a hard time figuring out what to pay attention to. Kirkness as he picked up one stone after another and threw it into the sea-- she'd given up trying to keep count-- her uncle, who was lost in his exhaustion and thoughts, or the approaching ship and the promise it held. As the wind stirred a stray hand of dark hair across her face, she raised a fine-boned yet calloused hand to impatiently brushed away. Finally her eyes settled on the approaching ship.

She wasn't necessarily a chatty sort even on what passed for a normal day and today was definitely normal. Her deep blue eyes narrowed slightly to focus in better, smooth freckled brow furrowing. Hetty rose to her feet-- anxious or anticipating? both?-- as the ship ever so slowly approached the shore. She even took a moment to brush off her clothing and tug at it a bit to make herself more marginally presentable.

Hetty unabashedly stared at Matthew as he disembarked, watching as he approached. He even acknowledged her. Before addressing her uncle! Was there a glimmer of approval in the depths of her gaze as she inclined her head towards him as regal as any lady as he started to address her uncle?
Captain Dowling
NPC, 1 post
Experienced Wickie
Mon 1 Feb 2021
at 13:47
  • msg #4

01 - The Arrival

Matt recieved a warm if noncommital "-nae bother, buddy," from the boatman as he left. The tide boomed low against the rocks further out.

Captain Dowling looked the newcomer over as though assessing him for seaworthiness or chipped paint, though he spared a glance at Hetty noticing that she was noticed. Whatever conclusions he came to on either front were opaque, but he offered a strong, rough hand over to Matthew, taking his pipe in the other. "Welcome to Merigg, Mr. Hall."

"Captain Absalom Dowling. This is my niece Henrietta. Barry, d'ye have much for us?"
he called past Matthew's head.

A distant "Aye," came from the boat. Down on the beach, Kirkness had picked himself up to leave, making some last adjustments to his pack. The Captain turned to Matthew, nodding that he might put down his gear.

"Here's your first task, Mr. Hall - up in yon boatshed's a barrow, and I'd thank ye t' bring it down to us. Hetty-" he didn't need to explain further to his niece, replacing his pipe in his mouth and pulling an all-weather notebook from his jacket: she was to take a primary inventory of what was coming in, to be inked in the ledgers later.
Matthew Hall
player, 3 posts
Fri 5 Feb 2021
at 01:43
  • msg #5

01 - The Arrival

Hall nodded at the Captain and his niece when the lighthouse keeper introduced them both. His gaze moved to Henrietta, thinking he perceived a hint of a pleased expression on the girl’s face, but he did not allow the look to linger, uncertain of his place, and mindful that the Captain was likely protective of the young woman, especially from those he regarded as strangers.

”Yes, sir,” he answered, moving quickly to fulfill Captain Dowling’s request. As he walked, he stole a glance at the lighthouse, suddenly curious about the age of the structure, and how long people had lived on the island, maintaining the light, and keeping watch for ships that drew too close to the shoreline. His thoughts drifted again to the young man who had been throwing the pebbles into the sea, wondering what might have transpired that would lead him to depart his life here, or be forced away from it. Had the solitude overwhelmed him?

He stepped inside the gloom of the shed, taking only a moment to survey the interior before retrieving the barrow and returning to the Captain.
The Lens
GM, 13 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Sun 7 Feb 2021
at 01:56
  • msg #6

01 - The Arrival

The lighthouse loomed up over Matthew as he climbed the little strip of track to the boatshed, almost as though it was a thing in motion: a taut limb hauling the island upward of its own volition. For a moment, midstep as though his foot were lifted from the earth by vast upheaval, he could imagine the island's gradient as a tilting raised by the light and about to flip over and plunge into the sea. All the same, his new boot returned to the ground the next instant and the lighthouse remained rearing high.

Pausing to look at it from the boatshed door, Matt noticed that despite the well-maintained paint and roughly contemporary look of the lighthouse itself, the foundations had the blocky, unlovely look of eighteenth-century military work. The left-hand platform he took to be the foghorn might at one point have been a gun emplacement against either the French or his own ancestors, no matter how foolhardy a raider would have to be to brave the north shoals there. Setting his hand on the boatshed doorway and stepping in to see the big salt-scarred tarred timbers overhead it seemed the buildings might be contemporary: perhaps some miserable redcoats had huddled here, made a hearth where now the dory lay on trestles and dripped saltwater on an earthen floor. More likely it had been locals, maybe half of them with a brownish cast and a quarter redheaded, deep voices cursing at the biting cold as they piled timber to feed the beacon's fire.

The floor was paved now and the one high window even glazed, the shed equipped with ropes in various states of antiquity, a small stack of creels awaiting repair; glass floats; a folded canvas and tin bucket part-full of tar; a few varnish tins, an old tin bath a man would have to fold to fit in hung to the wall; a set of marlinspikes and sundries bagged in oilcloth hung on a nail and, as advertised, an old wooden barrow to his immediate left. Matt felt the heft of the thing and managed to wheel it out without knocking anything over, letting the lighthouse loom as it would at his back.





Whilst Hall toiled up towards the sky and came down with a barrow, Hetty helped with the unloading of goods. At least, she was helping in the counting before Barry Macmorran hefted things over to her uncle. [Language unknown: "Urhi, lat, iv...om os en onetse?"]

From up on the boat, Hetty could confirm they did have butter and even a dreaded tin of beef extract she hoped would be used for stock or offered for Hall's drinking rather than proffered at her for supposed vigour and strength. She watched one of the big seagulls skim swiftly across the sky and returned her attention to the others as the conversation turned to Kirkness, who was currently drawing slowly nearer the boat: [Language unknown: "...onesi ortainome ai n ove, one yin, pr ounthoday wiul n alho un ai sa roweicthai eenromtra ndtore tear eauonelat a loecneth n terit. Mi e ic conha ac ll Yankee pre, hisenc'earard ckpo str?"]

Macmorran handed down a sack of flour. [Language unknown: "O, ce trprma haes ek ee i o i to, ineiourut, n ectomeate u t maast pl usutwint."]

[Language unknown: "Hmph. Wi hoicfi uswa vorate-oreant, tha nttin con p the ess lo."] Kirkness was considering a couple of cobbles he'd picked up, seemingly picking a favourite as souvenir.

[Language unknown: "We, ecev. Romundkorvorrut ekusmo o e we Ec ineainous thaicaven erol ounderica sa oerreahas"]

[Language unknown: "er as elncan,"] Hetty's uncle broke in, not looking at her but making the point all the same.

[Language unknown: "Lant, foolur ingblesomman tintwhfiac ic alion, allsantio osdi ckro,"] Barry remonstrated, though there was humour in his voice knowing exactly who was trying to warn Hetty, of all creatures.

Captain Dowling gave a small grunt under a sack of coal passed to him. [Language unknown: "Es, Ll ereouthis ieusos sta ure enc hi stive ilmo om era,"] he allowed. [Language unknown: "Atetioent bleti ndan ilngha"]






Matt caught the Captain switching back from Gaelic for propriety and his comfort as the barrow's wheel rumbled on the slipway. "-of wickie they've sent, and it'll be good to have a sane and sober man for all I can't be seeing to myself. Ahoy Mister Hall - you can pack your gear in first, one of these coal sacks and the foodstuffs." He helped Hetty back to the slipway and stood aside a moment, smoking.

"Speaking o' which, Mister Hall - are you anything of a cook?"
Henrietta Dowling
player, 6 posts
Mon 15 Feb 2021
at 01:51
  • msg #7

01 - The Arrival

Henrietta happily helped with the counting and unloading. Whatever other faults she had, she was not one to shirk responsibility. She took her duties quite seriously. Much could depend on the inventory and her accuracy would insure they would be able to order necessary supplies in a timely fashion and the budget didn't suffer.

She didn't pause in her work but she did spare her uncle a glance at something he said. She turned to Barry and rolled her eyes good-naturedly at him. For a moment she turned to look in Kirkness's direction, a thoughtful frown on his face.

Not everyone could stand under the demands the lighthouse placed on them. It could be grueling, mostly thankless work. Oh, but how she loved the wind and the sea, the crashing of the waves accompanied by the cries of the seabirds...

She blinked and drew her thoughts back to the present. Hetty cast a side-long glance at her uncle when he asked Matt if he could cook. Though to be fair, her cooking was... passable at best. There were always so much better, more interesting things to be doing than standing by the stove and she resented the notion that it was her responsibility simply because she was a woman.

"Anything else I can help with?" she asked, her voice low and pleasantly husky, as she stepped downwind from the smoke.
The Lens
GM, 17 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Fri 19 Feb 2021
at 14:15
  • msg #8

01 - The Arrival

Duncan Kirkness seemed to have narrowed his choices, but his pensive look had changed when he'd noticed Hetty's attention: he looked wary to the brink of being afraid, as though she might sieze the beach cobbles from his hands and strike him staggering. He flinched a deferential smile and looked out to sea.

A couple of seals were bobbing in the surf near the far end of the bay, likely this year's youngsters indulging their curiousity. His pack already settled on his back, Kirkness slipped the long dark cobble in his left hand into his coat pocket with a soft click. He was looking at the pale round rock taking up his right hand with concentrated nervous intensity when Hetty's uncle gave his reply:

"Let's see what Mr. Hall can get on the barrow, then we'll pick up what's left and get him introduced to the place - leave the other sack of coal t'me, mind, and you two can go up ahead, I've a few last things t'settle here."
He frowned at Kirkness, who wouldn't look at him.
Matthew Hall
player, 7 posts
Thu 25 Feb 2021
at 03:21
  • msg #9

01 - The Arrival

As he had taken in the lighthouse itself, along with the shed, Hall found his restless thoughts swimming with more questions, curiosities that would likely never find answers. Although the military origins of the tower stirred speculation about what manner of threat prompted the emplacement, and whether the anticipated danger had ever truly materialized, it was the shed that momentarily stole his attention completely.

Beyond the salt caked structure itself, and the stories it had likely borne witness to, Hall found his gaze lingering on the objects collected within it; the creels, bath, and floats. Each one had a tale to tell; a narrative of how it had come to be here. Strangely, for a moment, he found his thoughts drawn to his home on Deer Island, the collection of trinkets from the shipyards and docks that he had kept in his drafty room as a boy, the building blocks of dreams of the sea, his escape from the suffocating melancholy that his family had become.

He blinked, forcing himself back to the present. There was no time for dawdling. He had a job. A lone chance to show himself worthy of something better.

He made haste with the barrow. Not running, but making for the unloaded supplies at a brisk pace. He caught of the language the Captain and the boatman were speaking, the lilt in some of the words providing him an educated guess as to its origin. When Dowling gave his instructions, Hall moved quickly to comply, putting in his own pack before adding one of the sacks of coal and the foodstuffs. He strove to arrange things efficiently, adding as much to the barrow as he safely could.

The Captain’s question took him slightly off guard. Answering honestly, he said, ”A fair one, sir. Had to learn on my own. Picked up some things from a few ship’s cooks back home. I had good reason to improve my skills. I had to eat whatever I was able to put together.”

From the corner of his eye, he noticed the man with the pebbles again, his nervous demeanor sending a brief whisper of unsettledness winding through Hall’s chest.
Henrietta Dowling
player, 9 posts
Sun 28 Feb 2021
at 23:21
  • msg #10

01 - The Arrival

Hetty nodded at her uncle and silently helped to load the barrow. It was best to keep her hands busy. Her fingers were itchy. Would she have the chance to get a memento of sorts from Kirkness? Maybe one of those pebbles.

No, no time. There were supplies to unload and put away, inventory to complete. She smiled to herself when Matthew declared himself to be a fair cook. Better than her, probably! Her meals were edible and that was probably the best anyone would be able to say about it.

Hetty nodded in satisfaction at the barrow when it was as full as it could be. She spent a few moments arranging things in her arms so she could take as much as possible with her. The fewer trips they would have to take, the better. The sooner everything was unloaded the sooner she could slip away...
Captain Dowling
NPC, 2 posts
Experienced Wickie
Sun 28 Feb 2021
at 23:54
  • msg #11

01 - The Arrival

All but a couple of boxes and the other coal sack fitted nicely on the barrow, making of the old implement a squeaky cornucopia of assurance against hunger. Captain Dowling gave a grunt of what might have been sympathy or bemusement at Matt's frankness.

"Well, you'll not have to be down cracking the limpets here," he assured Matt, then brightened. "Good t'hear, though, good to hear - poor Hetty's been stuck with all the galley shifts this past week and the best you'll get from me is beans n' bacon, sometimes bacon and beans. Still, 'twill keep a buddy filled out."

At this point he was distracted by some movement of the man beyond Matt. "Kirkness, will you stop being so rabbity! Took against the island, said the Devil was in the lens and tried to break my head and now you're set to be shot of us all you're havering at the shoreline! Get on the boat!"

Kirkness mutely gripped the pebble he had - small, smooth and red like a coin, the round white rock set down when choosing it, perhaps, or stashed away - and slunk rapidly past those on the slipway. He passed close to Matthew but turned his face away as though there might be something terrible passed on in his look. He made some vague sound to the boatman and settled in where Matt had sat, toying with the small stone in his hands. The captain narrowed his eyes at the man but turned to his charges seeing that all was well.

"All right, you two get on for the house, I'll be up presently," he said, motioning that they could head away from the shore. "Hetty, if you'd show him where things go and where to stow himself, that's fine."
Matthew Hall
player, 9 posts
Fri 5 Mar 2021
at 17:47
  • msg #12

01 - The Arrival

Hall smiled and nodded at the Captain’s talk of the cooking arrangements, pleased by the thought of being able to take some of the burden of the chore away from him and Miss Dowling. When he had finally obtained some degree of mastery in the kitchen, he had found that the process of preparing a meal became something of a calming ritual, a space where he could escape the frequent storms that rolled across his meager existence on Deer Island. Of his skills, he was certain. As he’d told the Captain, he had been the one of the primary recipients of his efforts, good and bad.

The Captain’s words to Kirkness gave Hall pause. The man had tried to attack Captain Dowling? Had he truly believed what the Captain had said about the lighthouse lens? Hall frowned, careful to keep his attention on the items in the barrow. More than one sailor of his acquaintance had told him that loneliness had the power to drive a person mad. Had Kirkness fallen victim to it? Hall had kept company with his own thoughts for so long that being around others for a long period of time seemed almost novel. But not everyone could be so comfortable with isolation.

Taking a firm hold on the barrow’s handles, he moved to follow Miss Dowling to the lighthouse.
Henrietta Dowling
player, 11 posts
Sun 7 Mar 2021
at 16:56
  • msg #13

01 - The Arrival

When her uncle addressed Matt, Hetty turned to look at Kirkness. She watched as he continued to fidget. Her normally smooth brow furrowed and she drew her lips together as she unconsciously clutched her burden closer. What had happened? Had he recognized whatever it was when it was happening? Could he find his way back from wherever it had driven him? How?

She shivered, hoping that neither man would notice it. The thought of being relieved of her duties in the kitchen banished the shadows Kirkness left with his departure. She looked away from the boat, determined not to glance back.

"Aye," she agreed. She turned around and started walking towards the house, setting a brisk pace. "So, were you given your choice of post?" she asked. The question had been on the tip of her tongue. It was the same one she'd asked Kirkness when he arrived. Matt seemed healthy enough and possessed of his faculties. What would drive a man with prospects-- or so she imagined-- to choose the life of a wickie, let alone come here?
Matthew Hall
player, 10 posts
Mon 15 Mar 2021
at 02:19
  • msg #14

01 - The Arrival

Hall nodded at Miss Dowling’s question, keeping much of his attention on the barrow as he spoke, not wanting to allow it to become unbalanced. “Yes, ma’am. Those at Marine and Fisheries, they told me that there was more than one post to be had.” He paused, then added, ”But they made it plain that Merigg Island was the one most in need of help.”

He continued, unable to refrain from being open and honest, despite how plainly his words spoke to his poor station. ”I was raised in Maine, ma’am. Worked in the docks and the shipyards there since I was of age. I knew quite a number of folk who had the sea as their trade. Had I remained, it might have been that one of them that knew me would have given me a post aboard ship.”

“But...it was important that I go. Find my own way in the world. So, when I was told of this island, I thought it a good opportunity. A blessing, really. I want to give a good account of myself here, ma’am. Show that I’m someone who can be relied upon.”


He gripped the right barrow handle tighter, keeping it steady as it rolled over a slanting rock. Realizing that he had said more than he should have, he felt his cheeks flush, self consciousness thickening his chest and throat.

Finding his voice again, he asked, ”If it isn’t too forward of me to ask, Miss Dowling, how long have you and the Captain been stationed here?”
The Lens
GM, 24 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Tue 16 Mar 2021
at 00:01
  • msg #15

01 - The Arrival

The wind caught at Matt's hatbrim and flapped the edges of Hetty's dress as they ascended the well-packed path to the lighthouse, shivering the short heath plants that clung close to the island's rusty saltstained soil. The barrow trundled its way over sandy substrate trodden to the texture of concrete, occasionally squeaking a slight protest when pushed over a larger rock.

Gulls mewed and whistled idle quarrels at each other around the rim of the island, always at least in sight when their calls faded from the foreground. The boat purred away. Hetty had raised her head and even parted her lips to speak when there came a sharp and distant cry, not quite a bird's: startlement and even horror marked that tone.

"Hoi!"

The cry was not from the lighthouse, nor the land. Captain Dowling drew the eye on the path behind, just level with the boat shed as he came up: he looked back up at them from where he'd whirled to look behind and motioned them on. His voice carried sharp with absoloute command. "Keep on! Keep on and don't come out of the cottage 'til I'm with ye both!"

Out on the sea, the white wake of the boat showed its circling around the deep beyond the edge of the east shoals. The Captain pointed them onward without compromise, as though to save their lives in a storm that could not be seen.
Henrietta Dowling
player, 12 posts
Sun 21 Mar 2021
at 18:34
  • msg #16

01 - The Arrival

Hetty's eyes were slightly wide. She hadn't expected quite so much information all at once! Not that she minded at all. It was just surprising. Maybe it shouldn't have been. He'd be spending a lot of time there. By the time most left, they had few, if any, secrets left. It was hard not to grow close to people you spent so much time around.

She had indeed opened her mouth to respond when the shout came. If possible, her eyes grew even wider for a moment. She looked down quickly as she formulated a response. You didn't ask questions in a place like this, not at first anyway. You waited until after things had settled to find out.

Calm, that was trick. Maybe if she didn't react, Matt would stay calm too and not wonder too much. "Do as he says," she said, her voice firm but quiet and steady. She picked up the pace just a bit as she headed towards the cabin. And she resisted the urge to look back.

"I've been here my whole life," she said, in an attempt to distract him. "He's been here going on a month now." Dare she tell him just why he'd been transferred there? Not quite yet, she decided. Not with that word that was more of a sound with its currents of surprise and fear and confusion still eddying in the air.
Matthew Hall
player, 11 posts
Thu 25 Mar 2021
at 21:33
  • msg #17

01 - The Arrival

Although the mystery of the distant noise, the sound without any apparent origin, aroused Hall’s curiosity, he found his attention centered on Miss Dowling’s firm instructions. He knew, with certainty, that it was wise to do as she and the Captain urged. Even so, he felt, deep within him, a sudden unsettledness, the same emotion that visited him on Deer Island when he had seen the blue air east of the shore grow dark with circling storm clouds, the grim promise of an approaching nor’easter. The feeling was one of vulnerability, of powerlessness in the face of forces much greater than himself.

He blinked, refocusing on the barrow and the need to keep it steady. As he did, her words registered on him. All of her life? He had thought that his existence off of the coast of Maine had offered hardships, but here...dwelling on this island, in such isolation, had to be far more difficult.

He looked ahead to the cottage, his pace having quickened, urged by the Captain’s words, and their tone. ”I would imagine that you were glad to have the Captain, someone from your family, be able to join you here,” he offered, steering the barrow to the right onto a flat stretch of ground, free of loose stones.
The Lens
GM, 25 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Sat 27 Mar 2021
at 01:52
  • msg #18

01 - The Arrival

The barrow trundled along just as it would on the mainland, its weight gently but insistently pushing back against Matt's wrists as the incline grew. The birds cried and the sea boomed and the head keeper was silent, fallen away behind them. The two went on climbing up into the lighthouse's lee and did not look back.

Hetty led the new man along the more trodden path to the back door, the wind suddenly quiet and the air warm as they passed into shelter between the building and the ancient drystone wall of the kailyard. Leaning back a moment, Matt could see straggled onions, beans, cabbage and kail, a haphazard tangling of carrot and potato foliage and a tall stem of parsley long bolted and gone to seed. The little garden looked like it was caught in the act of trying to heave itself out of the earth and disperse, leaves scarred with the salt that could not always be kept out. Hetty let them in through the lockless door, balancing the tins and crate of eggs against her body, and they passed across the threshold.

There was a moment of near-darkness and blinking adjustment. Hetty walked on, knowing where the kitchen table was, whilst Matt looked about him grasping what was easily grabbed from the barrow. Although the largest window dead ahead and the one surely somewhere to his left had their broad sills angled to spread the light into the room, the thickness of the walls made them more like bright islands in a shady place, or lanterns hung above a twilight sea. The flags were cool and sturdy and worn smooth. The place smelled of salt and pipe tobacco, stockfish, stone and stove.

It took Matt a moment to place the source of a vague sensation of disorientation until he realised he could feel through his feet more than observe with his eyes that everything in the place was slightly canted: either stone had weathered and rotted or earthen foundations settled over generations on the northward side. More unsettling was that there was a decent-sized freestanding bath with an underslung brazier sat in the gloomy scullery area to his right which seemed full of rusty reddish fluid.

Besides storing a washtub-and-mangle, it looked like the niche also served for a pantry, with shelves of stacked tins, earthenware jars and preserves. Ahead was the kitchen proper, looking very neat if sparse and aslant. Someone who knew what they were doing could eat well and be comfortable here, for sure.
Henrietta Dowling
player, 13 posts
Sat 3 Apr 2021
at 18:39
  • msg #19

01 - The Arrival

There was a long pause before Hetty responded. "I am," she admitted. She pursed her lips. Did she tell him why Captain Dowling had come to the island? Not yet, she decided. Maybe later. Especially after that troubling cry and the orders that followed. No sense in adding to the strangeness of the day.

Hetty opened the door and began to put things away. The place was surprisingly orderly and about as clean as it could be. "There's a kettle of water there if you want a drink," she said, gesturing with a free hand. "And you're welcome to heat the water and bathe, but mind you scrub the tub and refill afterwards."

"What can you tell me about Maine?" she asked as she continued to put things away, occasionally make a note in her little book.
Matthew Hall
player, 12 posts
Thu 8 Apr 2021
at 17:33
  • msg #20

01 - The Arrival

“Thank you, ma’am. I’ll make certain keep it clean and filled after use,” he answered. He glanced at the kettle, but made no move to take any water. He would later, his mouth dry from the sea air. But for now, his mind was preoccupied with gaining a firm grasp on this place that was to be his workplace, and his home. He looked about, briefly taking in the space around him, before making himself available to move any of the large items in the barrow to wherever Miss Dowling directed.

”Where I lived in Maine, ma’am, everything was about the sea. Everyone on the island made their living from it in one way or another. Deer Island had its beautiful places, to be sure, but in the winter it is always bitterly cold there. There were a number of good people that made it their home. Many that treated me with kindness when I was very young.”
The Lens
GM, 27 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Thu 8 Apr 2021
at 21:28
  • msg #21

01 - The Arrival

Being told to leave the coal in the barrow, Matt had hefted in the flour sack and milk churn, a package that might be meat and rattling sacks of beans both coffee and otherwise. He was finally sliding a jar of preserved lemons onto the scarred wood of the kitchen table as he finished his report of Maine, and stepping back to shut the door when there came a violent tapping at the back window.

*TONK* *T-TONK TONK!*
Matthew Hall
player, 13 posts
Sat 10 Apr 2021
at 00:28
  • msg #22

01 - The Arrival

Hall frowned. He looked at the door that he and Miss Dowling had entered from, then turned his attention to the window in the back. Wouldn’t the Captain have come in through the same door they had used? And it didn’t stand to reason that he had reached the lighthouse so quickly. Hall had seen no one else, and barren Merigg Island was not rife with spots where an errant soul might conceal themselves.

Feeling a quiver of uncertainty in his stomach, he started toward the rear window. Keeping his voice level, he asked, ”Miss Dowling, was there someone else here on the island?”
Henrietta Dowling
player, 14 posts
Thu 15 Apr 2021
at 03:06
  • msg #23

01 - The Arrival

Hetty gave a firm nod of approval as she looked at him appraisingly. He wasn't green to the life at least. Though she doubted he'd ever had a posting quite like this one. And the timing of everything was very coincidental. That was all it could be, right?

She was about to respond when there was a tapping at the window. She knew that tapping all too well. Rolling her eyes, she gave a heavy sigh, though it wasn't directed at Matt. Even though she uttered a word in Gaelic that would have turned most sailor's ears red, she was reaching into a open tin of biscuits to break off a couple pieces. She offered one to Matt as she moved past him to open the window.

"Prepare to meet the most unrelenting, noisy, bothersome creature on the island," she warned. Despite that, there was a degree of fondness in her voice as she began to open the window. "Hush, Pest! The ship just came in today with new supplies and hopefully a new friend, surely your bottomless stomach can wait!"

The window opened to reveal... a young blackheaded gull. Hetty stretched her palm out with the bit of biscuit. "This is Pest. Yes, that's her name. Pest, this is Mr. Matthew Hall. He's got something for you too but mind you be neat!"
Pest
NPC, 1 post
Tame Seagull
Thu 15 Apr 2021
at 06:07
  • msg #24

01 - The Arrival

A few more urgent taps and a flailing flutter of fawn-flecked white heralded the morsel being plucked off Hetty's hand as soon as one Miss Pestilence could squeeze under the sash. *SKÉA-SKÉA-SKÉA-hanomnom-SKÉA!*

It was debatable as to whether the food even touched the sides of Pest's still fledgling-orange mouth before the pretty double-handful of bird had beat the air and all comers to alight on Hetty's shoulder. Her webbed feet, slightly ridiculous in context, slithered and slid on the cloth, but she found balance with a quiet *kiiii-kiiiiihh* to Hetty to prove she was clearly a poor lost baby bird no-one had ever loved or fed in her life, certainly not this morning. She folded her wings to give Matt the typical thuggish stare of seagulls. If her light little body contained a soul lost at sea, it could be assumed it was that of a very hungry person.

*SKÉA!* she announced.
Matthew Hall
player, 14 posts
Thu 22 Apr 2021
at 01:59
  • msg #25

01 - The Arrival

Hall couldn’t help but smile. He’d been long accustomed to the presence of gulls, especially when he worked in the shipyards, but he couldn’t recall encountering one quite as bold as Pest. He’d certainly never witnessed a seagull perch on someone’s shoulder before.

He took an instant liking to the bird.

Approaching the gull, he offered her the piece of biscuit Miss Dowling had provided. ”A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Pest.”
Pest
NPC, 2 posts
Tame Seagull
Thu 22 Apr 2021
at 19:18
  • msg #26

01 - The Arrival

Pest looked at Matthew, then at the proffered food, then gave a twitch of her wings like a hefty longshoreman adjusting a coat to intimidate a challenger. She looked at him again, looked at the food, then feinted right, snatched and gobbled down the morsel before the man could even think about flinching from that beak near his fingers.

*hgnomnom*

Eyeing him for a bit to see no more food was immediately on offer, Pest fluffed and shook herself out and delved under her breastfeathers for some errant scrap of down, the picture of serenity. The little gull smoothed herself down, quiet and soft as a dove until Hetty next drew a breath to speak.

*SKÉA-SKÉA-SKÉAAAAAAAUUUU!* Pest announced, and launched herself to go patter around the table and see if anything was for her, i.e. not tinned, nailed down or otherwise guarded and seagull-proof.
Henrietta Dowling
player, 18 posts
Sun 25 Apr 2021
at 17:12
  • msg #27

01 - The Arrival

Hetty drew her in breath and was about to say something before Pest's raucous cry, so close to her ear, made her flinch from the sheer volume. Her uncle would not be happy if he knew she'd let the bird in. Again. But he would never have to know, right?


"You say that now," Hetty said wryly. Even so, she was breaking off another piece of biscuit and handed half to Matt idly. She turned to watch the young bird patter across the table. "She's loud and gets into everything, especially if she thinks there's food involved, and won't stop hassling you for it. Even if you just fed her."

Hetty gave a long suffering sigh. "I couldn't just leave her to get eaten though," she admitted softly. "And truly I have no regrets about it. Despite the fuss" For all the noise and bother, Pest made an excellent confidant.
Pest
NPC, 3 posts
Tame Seagull
Mon 26 Apr 2021
at 16:02
  • msg #28

01 - The Arrival

Pest, who could probably catch the sound of a breaking biscuit in a force 9 gale, left off picking at string and tin lids to patter at speed to the corner of the table nearest Hetty. She hunched herself low and tipped her beak up to indicate that was where the food should go, please please pretty please.

*kii...kii...kiiii...kiiii*
Matthew Hall
player, 15 posts
Fri 30 Apr 2021
at 15:06
  • msg #29

01 - The Arrival

Hall offered the piece of biscuit Miss Dowling had given him to the murmuring bird. Not knowing Miss Dowling well, he felt that he couldn’t express how much he empathized with her decision to rescue Pest. His own experiences had made him acutely mindful of how important animal companions were, having rescued a pair of stray dogs when he lived on Deer Island, the first when he was just a boy. Squall and Conch had been more than pets, they had been dear friends. Sometimes, along with prayer, they had been his only hedge against loneliness.

He glanced around the room, suddenly struck by the realization that this would serve as his home, quite possibly for a very long time. He found the thought oddly difficult to process. In his last years on Deer Island, he had begun to feel strangely disconnected from the world around him; pressed into the role of an observer with nowhere to belong. This vacant rock, at least for now, seemed to deepen that perception. Perhaps it was normal. Something that many who were forced to wander contended with for a time before they found a genuine home. It might be that his waited for him out on the water.

His attention returned to the seagull. ”I’m glad that you saved her,” he said. He glanced up at the ceiling. “I assume I’ll bunk where Mr. Kirkness was staying. I’m sorry he left, even though it proved an opportunity for me. I know it must be difficult to lose someone who had learned their job well, who was practiced in their duties.”
This message was last edited by the player at 15:44, Fri 30 Apr 2021.
Henrietta Dowling
player, 19 posts
Sun 2 May 2021
at 19:47
  • msg #30

Re: 01 - The Arrival

Henrietta dropped the pieces of biscuit down that gaping mouth with practiced precision. When Matthew said he was glad that she had saved her, she smiled as she continued to watch the little bird. "Thank you. So am, I really," she said. "But she can never know that I said that!"

Pest's visit was well-timed. The little bird made a welcome distraction from wondering and worrying about what was going on on the shore. Was her uncle all right? She raised a hand to smooth her hair, a seemingly idle gesture that served to cover her face as the smile faded and her brow furrowed.

"Wasn't right for him," she said with a shrug. "This kind of life, this place, not right for many. What makes you right for it?" she asked as she started to move around the table, occasionally dropping a piece of biscuit so that Pest would follow her closer to Matt where he too could feed the eternally hungry bird.
Pest
NPC, 4 posts
Tame Seagull
Mon 3 May 2021
at 01:27
  • msg #31

Re: 01 - The Arrival

Pest was briefly distracted by the offer of food from Matt, but snapped back to begging attention as soon as Hetty's hand hovered over her. The food vanished into what might as well be a bottomless pit as soon as her beak could catch it.

She hop-scuttle-fluttered over the things on the table with alarcity as Hetty led her, darting skillfully after each morsel and pattering to a halt under Matt's hand, still a bit unsure about the new human. She eyed him warily, then eyed the food, then of a sudden launched herself at Matt's face in a flurry of pale limbs and pointed beak.

Before his instinctive flinch had completed Matt felt his fingers relieved of their biscuit; the strong light sliding of a whitish feather arced across his cheek and just a moment of contact struck, the bird pushing off his shoulder to switch direction and vanish onto one of the higher shelves in the alcove. To vanish, at least, precisely as long as it would take to swallow a fragment of biscuit, since after that a little fawn-and-white head poked out from around a can of stock powder to peer at the room from her advantagious position and declare:

*SKI-SKIÁAAAR!*

The seagull cocked her head a moment, then settled to simply looking pleased with herself for this great feat of daring. Although the room was not excessively large or particularly airy, Matt's sea-kit of belongings - few, but his - seemed very small nestled against the table leg.
Matthew Hall
player, 16 posts
Mon 3 May 2021
at 20:32
  • msg #32

Re: 01 - The Arrival

Hall blinked, briefly peering up at Pest on her newfound perch. ”She certainly doesn’t lack for boldness, does she?”

He didn’t require any time to find an answer to Miss Dowling’s question. He knew it without the need for soul searching. ”It doesn’t bother me to be alone. I suppose it’s fair to say that I’ve spent a good portion of my life, maybe even the majority of it, by myself. Somewhere along the way I became mostly numb to loneliness.”

His gaze returned to his sea-kit. There was so little to it. Not even enough for someone to suspect his ghost was afoot, were he to suddenly vanish. But surely it was the same for many whose livelihood came from the water; to leave little to no marks behind them.

”Would you mind if I had a look at my quarters, ma’am?” he asked. As he did, his attention drifted to the door where they had entered, becoming suddenly mindful of Captain Dowling’s continued absence. ”Unless...you think the Captain might need some assistance?”
Henrietta Dowling
player, 21 posts
Thu 13 May 2021
at 00:48
  • msg #33

Re: 01 - The Arrival

"Whatever else she lacks- restraint, self-sufficiency, brains-" though actually Hetty felt Pest was quite smart as far as birds went but she'd never tell the thing that- "-boldness is certainly not it. May it serve her well." Hetty watched the bird, turning her head slightly to look at Matt as he answered quickly.

"Who said it's about being lonely?" Though for many that would be a chink in the armor that undid them. She looked about to say something else when she paused at about the same time Pest found a new perch to enjoy the spoils of her "hunt." Her eyes rolled upwards and her lips drew together slightly.

"He might but orders are orders," she said idly, mind clearly wherever her gaze was. "I'll show you quarters and then if you'd kindly come with me upstairs?" She turned her gaze to him, assessing once again. Hadn't he heard it too?
The Lens
GM, 31 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Thu 13 May 2021
at 23:53
  • msg #34

Re: 01 - The Arrival

To Matt, the cottage made the noises such a dwelling might be expected to make as Hetty's gaze finally let him be and turned to the inward door: the sounds of wind against glass and wall and roof, more a texture of silence than something heard; the minute muffled crack of upstairs floorboards settling how they would with the day's humidity; a clock ticking in the parlour as they passed into the hall and the sighing creak of old stairs. The whisper of Pest's wings might be unexpected, but it soon ceased as the bird ghosted past Matt's ear to land on Hetty's upraised wrist like a noble falcon and hop from there to her shoulder.

She faced backwards and watched the newcomer with blockheaded seagull confidence as Hetty led upstairs, swaying slightly with the young woman's movements until some small noise caught her attention upstairs. Pest launched herself up and around to vanish into the room above: there was a scuffling and a shrill *SKI-SKIÁAAAR!!* shortly followed by a vexed *SKI-SKI-SKI!*




The humans came up to see the top room quiet, a few dust motes drifting in the sun streaming in from small high windows set into the roof. The near bed set against the left-hand wall was stripped, new linens on the foot where Hetty had placed them this morning, and beyond it was the sound of seagull feet somewhere on the floor out of sight and then a chest of drawers with washbasin, flannel and jug perched on top, effectively dividing the space. Beyond those, a made-up bed with a rumpled nightgown shoved under the pillow sat nestled into the corner of the right and far walls, an empty glass catching the light on the bedside cabinet that separated the bed from a large ironbound chest.

Each bed had a rather faded little rag rug to its effects, and there was a hint of a chair behind the drawers. In the free space at the far end, a mobile made from driftwood, string and beach oddments swung slowly, showing the sun its collection of  holed shells and pale feathers, tied seaglass and delicate bone.
Matthew Hall
player, 17 posts
Fri 14 May 2021
at 01:25
  • msg #35

Re: 01 - The Arrival

”Marine and Fisheries...well, they somewhat blunt about the job, ma’am. Told me that I’d be performing most of my duties alone,” Hall answered, ”It’s one reason I didn’t hesitate when it was offered. I knew that I was accustomed to such.”

He looked back at the entrance with a frown, unable to rid himself of nagging concern for the Captain. What had that sound been? And why had it inspired such sudden caution? Was there something here to fear?

He returned his attention to Miss Dowling. She was correct. Orders were to be followed. Of those here, he was the least experienced. Practically, he knew very little of the island’s hardships. It was his place to prove himself reliable, and to obey. Not to ask questions.

”Yes, ma’am. Thank you,” he replied, moving to follow her.


He couldn’t help but be amusedly distracted by Pest as they ascended, firmly convinced that the bird regarded herself as the queen of the lighthouse.

In the top room, he found his eyes briefly drawn to the mobile, momentarily transfixed by its slow movement, wondering at the story behind the collection of objects that comprised it. From the mobile, his gaze shifted upward to the high windows and the sunlight that they admitted.

He stepped over to the unmade bed and looked about, feeling an immediate gratitude. He had imagined far less than this and had been entirely content with what he had pictured. ”It’s very generous, ma’am,” he told Miss Dowling, ”I’ll make certain to keep it tidy. You have my word.”
Pest
NPC, 5 posts
Tame Seagull
Sat 15 May 2021
at 22:09
  • msg #36

Re: 01 - The Arrival

Leaning to set his kit down near the head of the bed, Matt could see Pest's feathers settling down to a smooth outline. Whatever bug or settling sound that had riled her seemed to have slipped under the skirting or into some other miniscule gap, since the seagull was standing to attention pointed at blank wall.
Pest gave a full-body bird shrug and fluttered onto the bed to inspect it and generally get in Matt's way, in case anything he was doing might involve food. She flared off and pretended to be minding her own buisness for all of a few seconds whenever Matt's hands moved sharply or he looked at her too long, giving him suspicious looks to remind him he was a New Thing and she didn't trust him yet.
Henrietta Dowling
player, 23 posts
Sun 16 May 2021
at 22:44
  • msg #37

Re: 01 - The Arrival


Hetty watched Matt as he took in the surroundings. It warmed her that the mobile caught his attention. She'd made it so long ago! She wished she'd gotten to tell her mom that she was glad she had kept it around after all and hadn't changed a thing about it. For a moment she too appeared transfixed by her creation. A series of memories played themselves in her mind from where she'd found each of the pieces. There was evident thoughtfulness and fondness in the piece.

She didn't respond to his comment. It wasn't about the loneliness. Every wickie's lot was a lonely one. She watched as Pest fluttered about. She didn't want to alarm Matt but she couldn't get the sound she'd heard. Combined with the captain's order and the departure and arrival....

Hetty watched Pest as she stared at the wall and frowned but she too seemed to relax. Maybe whatever it was was gone? A rodent or something or just the natural shifting and settling of things. "Thought I'd heard something coming up here," she admitted. "May have been the wind or something. But glad all is in order! We work hard to keep it that way," she said proudly.

She raised a hand to brush it through her hair as she surveyed the room. "Do you need anything to make it more comfortable for you here?"
Matthew Hall
player, 18 posts
Sun 23 May 2021
at 02:07
  • msg #38

Re: 01 - The Arrival

”No, ma’am. Nothing,” he answered, a earnest smile overtaking his features, ”It’s really very nice. Honestly far nicer than what I’ve grown accustomed to.”

His eyes narrowed as something on the bed caught his attention. A scrap of paper...or something wrapped in paper, stuck between the mattress and bed frame. Kneeling, he tried to tug it free without damaging it, mindful of the mistrustful seagull who continued to monitor his every move. As he did, he spoke again, ”If I may ask, Miss Dowling, did you build the mobile? It’s lovely. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.”
The Lens
GM, 32 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Sun 23 May 2021
at 13:57
  • msg #39

Re: 01 - The Arrival

Pest came and observed Matt's efforts for a bit, just in case they turned out to produce food. Hetty hadn't noticed anything in the area holding Matt's interest when setting out the new linens after Kirkness was taken down to head towards the shore; perhaps Matt setting his kit down had jostled it from somewhere.
Matthew Hall
player, 19 posts
Sun 23 May 2021
at 16:50
  • msg #40

Re: 01 - The Arrival

Hall gazed silently at the key that had fallen from the folded note into his palm. With his thumb, he rubbed its smooth dark surface. The key to here from the night floors. The note’s words brought a surge of questions to his mind. Their meaning eluded him, but carried with it a vague, unmistakable dread. His stomach fluttered, a jolt of the instinct that had steered him away from treacherous stretches of shore and from sailors whose drink had tipped them towards violence. A recognition of danger. The warm feeling of having found a welcoming home faded suddenly, a Fata Morgana, a passing image seen one moment then gone the next.

And who was she? And why, as he was unmarried, would she seek to drown him?

Frowning, he slipped both key and note into his pocket.
Noises off
Sun 23 May 2021
at 17:28
  • msg #41

Re: 01 - The Arrival


Downstairs, there came the muffled thump of the kitchen door closing, more felt than heard. The mobile swung, gently, glass winking in the light.
Henrietta Dowling
player, 24 posts
Sun 23 May 2021
at 23:13
  • msg #42

Re: 01 - The Arrival

He had a rather endearing smile and was so earnest! It was refreshing. She shifted a bit as he moved towards the bed to set his stuff down. Her glittering eyes were fixed on his bag before he complimented her mobile. Wait, had he just--? Something must have just jostled out of his bag or something.

Or could it be--? But how? It made no sense. There, a natural thing to look away and focus on that... "Thank you! And yes, I did make that," she declared. There was more than a hint of pride in her voice and she even stood up a bit straighter. "All with things I found on this is-"

Her shoulders relaxed. That had to be her uncle coming in! "That must be my uncle, perhaps now we can see about helping!" she said brightly as she practically dashed down the stairs. She had shut the door behind them firmly enough right?
Pest
NPC, 6 posts
Tame Seagull
Sun 23 May 2021
at 23:54
  • msg #43

Re: 01 - The Arrival

*SKI-SKI-SKI-SKIÁAAAR!* Pest joined in beside Matt, since loudness seemed to be the fashion. *SKI-SKI-SSKIÁAAAAAAR!*

She looked at the newcomer and spread her wings a bit, unsure whether to leave Matt and any hypothetical biscuits he might have in his kit behind her.
Captain Dowling
NPC, 3 posts
Experienced Wickie
Sun 23 May 2021
at 23:55
  • msg #44

Re: 01 - The Arrival


Downstairs, Captain Dowling acknowledged Hetty bowling into the kitchen whilst he was reaching up to the nook beside the chimney with a nod and a questioning reach to shift the kettle on if she wanted once he'd brought the bottle down. His eyes narrowed at the muffled sound of a seagull in the house but he didn't even try to remonstrate, his manner unusually withdrawn and flat. Hetty had never seen her uncle shaken, but this was close.

He set the bottle of peatreek down on the table, taking off the meat to set it away. [Language unknown: "K stitictiothu es iv onpand?"] he asked.
Matthew Hall
player, 20 posts
Mon 24 May 2021
at 00:39
  • msg #45

Re: 01 - The Arrival

Patting his pocket to ensure the key was secure, Hall moved to follow Miss Dowling downstairs. His strange discovery made him feel a sudden relief at the Captain’s return, his uncertainty about what he had heard outside deepening. Pushing his errant thoughts aside, he took the stairs quickly, making ready to assist in whatever capacity was required.
The Lens
GM, 33 posts
Thy focus of
the Light
Tue 25 May 2021
at 12:45
  • msg #46

Re: 01 - The Arrival

Captain Dowling looked up at Matt's clattering descent, meeting his gaze when he entered. He nodded to the new man in passing and on second thought fetched out another earthenware tumbler from the sideboard beside the door, setting both out on the table. He poured out two measures and drew in a breath that took in the normality of the kitchen as much as the aroma of the liquor.

"Welcome to the Merigg post, Mr. Hall," he said over Pest being declarative elsewhere in the house, gesturing that Matt should take the closer dram. "-may it prove to your liking."
Matthew Hall
player, 21 posts
Sat 29 May 2021
at 18:06
  • msg #47

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
  • msg #48

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
  • msg #49

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
  • msg #50

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
  • msg #51

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
  • msg #52

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
  • msg #53

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
  • msg #54

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
  • msg #55

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
  • msg #56

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
  • msg #57

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
  • msg #58

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
  • msg #59

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
  • msg #60

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
  • msg #61

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
  • msg #62

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
  • msg #63

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
  • msg #64

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
  • msg #65

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
  • msg #66

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
  • msg #67

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
  • msg #68

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
  • msg #69

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
  • msg #70

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
  • msg #71

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."
Sign In