The news of New Albion has swept the town like a wild fire, consuming all whom it touches with a profound hope, a feeling that has been sorely absent for far too long. That the isle of Garnsey could, despite the horror and destruction of the recent time, birthed a new seat of power and renewed purpose, is a monument to the unfailing nature of the human spirit. Around here, backs have stiffened, eyes have brightened, and glasses have been raised. All hail New Albion, our maidenland, a bastion of courage, shining like a star through the darkest of nights.
I should mention that your name is wreathed in grateful adoration among the town council here; the information that you have conveyed to me, and thus onto Bledsoe and the others, is now seen as a vital link between the town of Greysham and the outside world. I have explained the situation in full, specifically regarding the elevation of the great Robards to position of Steward; his consolidation and leadership over the good Brotherhood; and the struggle against the small bands of partisans and resistors. Here, there is a powerful desire to aid the Steward, and Bledsoe has confided in me that there have been several militant members of the town who wish to travel to New Albion to fight on the Steward’s behalf. Would that the town could spare fishermen and their boats as transport!
Speaking of boats, while I will endeavor to keep this letter relatively short, I ought to relate to you a rather surprising and fortunate turn of events. Apparently, Bledsoe has procured a submersible for our team to command for our journey to the Isle of Skald.
Several weeks before our arrival in Greysham, it seems, a fishing trawler several nautical miles from port became lost in one of the storm squalls that plague the coast. As its dark funnel touched the sea, it swept the boat away, in a manner not unlike your descriptions of the Channel crossing.
Its captain, a simple fisherman named Gates, found himself some hundred miles south-east of Greysham and in no sight of the coast. Without maps to help him navigate back toward the coast, he naturally did whatever seaman worth his salt would do in the same situation—orient his craft always keeping the rising sun at his aft and the setting sun at the fore, heading west in the hopes of making landfall before his fresh water ran out.
Instead of land, however, Gates came upon a bowsprit sticking up over the black, churning waves. This was the tip of the Jagdschloss, a Saxonian submersible that had been, according to Bledsoe, converted into a military ship towards the end of the Blood War. As far as Bledsoe’s Encyclopaedia Albionensis could tell us (a handy tome!), the Saxonian Kaiser had ordered several of these experimental Haischiffe built in a last-ditch effort to turn the tide of the disastrous naval campaigns which ultimately resulted in Albionese victory at sea. Most of the H-boats, as our Sea-lads called them, never saw action.
When a half-dead Gates found shore, he followed it north, and returned to Greysham with word of his encounter. From there, Bledsoe was able to organize three trawlers to find the H-boat and tow it back to the port town. From the way Bledsoe described it to Thorpe, Bennington, and myself one evening over gin, he had hoped only for salvage and parts.
As he soon learned, this one seemed to have been launched relatively recently, and showed several indications of new upgrades and improved machinery on board. In fact, one particular modification seems to be designed especially for deep explorations, as a steam chamber has been converted to an extra chamber to filter and collect cold condensation. This allows the craft to sink quickly and with improved resistance to water pressure, since the chambers are situated as articulated tubes that ring the aft segment of the ship, pushing with extra force against the outside strain of the hull.
Alas, several of these tubes had ruptured, causing the boat to drift listlessly from whatever port it had originated; but the air trapped inside the craft itself counteracted its otherwise complete descent from the bottom, causing it to bob like a cork along the surface of the sea.
When the fishermen returned to Greysham with their peculiar quarry, it was decided that the H-boat would be taken to a covered dry dock north of the town, where it today awaits use. As soon as enough water could be drained from its valves and hatches, Bledsoe’s men were able to peer inside. Instead of waterlogged corpses, they found no crew whatsoever—and no maps, travel logs, or documents could be located on the ship. This caused Bledsoe and his town council to conclude that the H-boat may have been readied for an expedition at one point, but before it was set into use, it had been scuttled—but whoever attempted to scuttle the ship did not account for the amount of air trapped inside the cabin chambers.
Greysham’s best engineers and mechanics spent considerable time attempting to repair it, but as Bledsoe confessed to us, at one point or another he felt he could spend no more time on the find, since resources were already in short supply and his men were otherwise employed with trying to find ready sources of food to feed the townsfolk.
When Thorpe had begun to make cautious inquiries about passage to the Isle of Skald, it took Bledsoe only a matter of an hour to summon our team and inform us about the Jagdschloss (in this we left MacTallan out of the consultations, since his attentions have necessarily turned to the matter of obtaining whatever maps of Skald and the nearby coast are available).
Now, we wait for word from Bledsoe’s engineer Greenley, whose new orders, as of over a week ago now, are to set to working order the steam-tubes that had been damaged in the attempted scuttling of the craft. If we can make a successful test of the repairs, the four of us believe that we can take the existing troupe as well as a half-dozen or so new recruits with us to the Isle of Skald, and traverse the distance in half the time and without fear of interposing dark storms. If the test fails, then we shall have to configure another method of transport; fishing trawlers are only good for six hours at maximum, and many of them have been lost at sea due to the sudden storms.
One complication that we are confronted with is the simple fact that, unlike the Sigsbee, the Jagdschloss cannot mount a mooring tower for aeros, making it impossible that either of our two gallant flyers will be able to meet us when we are out to sea. Perhaps, if you can communicate word back to us before we set off, you might ask your friends among the Brotherhood or at the College for an idea that might allow us to make a sea rendezvous with one of the aeros. Failing that, we will have to hope that MacTallan’s maps—if he can find any of use—can be copied for Alia and Alona so that one of them can meet us when we reach the Isle.
If I can write again before we set off, I will. If I cannot, it means that Bledsoe’s engineer has been more successful than expected and we have already embarked on our mission. Indeed, if we can get this contraption seaworthy and in working order, Crane, then the idea of heading south after we complete this next leg of our expedition to join you and your loyal compatriots in New Albion may well come to joyous fruition.
Until then, please convey to Robards that we pledge our allegiance to the new country and set sail under its banners!
With greetings and regards,