...The bottle-battle, Tears un-numbered,

Poorness, Nothing, Waste encumbered...

Chained you are unto a barstool,

The mountain calling, it calls your name,

Nothing ventured, nothing lost,

Losing all you have this game...

"Skunked"

If ever in your wildest nightmares -- er, dreams -- you should encounter a bottle similar to the one on the left, I advise you to waste no time whatsoever in leaving the area where you found it. Should this prove impossible, then rest assured that the bottle in question was sent for you, and you alone -- and when it is time, there is but ONE thing left for you to do.

In the old and dead tongue called Latin, this action was named 'Hic Bibitur'. If I recall correctly, it means 'Drink up'.

It is the same way with the series of books that shall begin showing here. My hope is that they may one day be published, and thereby, I might be able to pay my debts -- and, perchance, earn a living. I've lived far too long on borrowed time and sweat as it is, and that by necessity.

Click on the chapter headings to read the chapter in question. The beginnings of each chapter reside nearby, so as to give you something of a taste regarding the world you are about to enter.

"Enter this realm at your own risk. 'Taint nothing trivial here - 'less you call the rape of your soul trivial."


Book one: The beginning.


Chapter 1 In the beginning was the bottle Fall was the chilling time, with the heat of summer leaving like an accursed thief, and the rain foretelling its coming descent by the sullen gray roiled clouds overhead and marbled dampness of the pavement below.

Where I worked, however, was always chilling in its labyrinthine ways, and once my meeting had finished, I hurried...

Chapter 2: A strange and new land I awoke from a sound sleep refreshed and relaxed. I first noticed the cold I felt, and then the fact that I was not in a bed...

Chapter 3: A strange and new land, continued. As we walked further toward the end of town, I discerned a lack of people in the houses I was passing. Faintly on the gentle wind, I could smell an accumulation of horses, and a few minutes later, I could see them -- all of them clustered in a huge yard in front of an even larger single-story building set by itself at the end of town.

Chapter 4: Witches? I hope not... I had been afraid to go to church in that old hell, for fear of rejection. Here, so far, that manifestation of hatred had been absent, and there were a pair of people who seemed to like me. The next morning -- Sunday -- I had but two sets of clothing, one of which was in tatters, and another which fit badly...

Chapter 5: Witches? I hope not... (continued) Anna went inside with the meat once we were home, and while Hans and I brought in the wood, I noticed the 'herb garden' had been cleared off and laid with stones.

''Did that place once have, uh, herbs?'' I asked.

Chapter 6: Witches? I hope not... (part c) I had no idea as to how to respond to Albrecht, both as to his apparent knowledge and his seeming attitude, and my feeling 'lost' was such that I felt as if I no longer knew how to speak...

Chapter 7: Ain't no place like a hole in the ground... This time of dreaming took over after a period of unconsciousness...

Chapter 8: Ain't no place like a hole in the ground... (continued) Georg did not show the next morning, and while I worked on the now 'usual' things - there was a definite pattern to what I did, at least at the start of the day - Johannes spoke of what Georg was doing.

Chapter 9: Ain't no place like a hole in the ground... (part c) I continued gnawing stick after stick of meat, and as I did, I again wondered how much Anna had put in the bag.

Chapter 10: Do they have coal mines up here? At dinner that night, the 'soup' was unusually tasty, and as I finished a second helping, I asked, ''why was that one piece of salt meat as large as it was?''

Chapter 11: Do they have coal mines up here? continued. We stopped at the first town on our route home to service the buggy, and while I wondered about grain, the steadily dropping sun made for wonderment, so much so that before I got in the buggy after the first stop, I took out the needle and adjusted the thread.

Chapter 12:The little shop of strangeness... Hans had the buggy ready to travel but a short time later...

Chapter 13: Construction Function 'Construction' commenced after getting the dishes done, and here, I was astonished...

Chapter 14: Construction Function, continued. Again, I wondered as to where Georg was...

Chapter 15: Where the problem's a nail, one wants a hammer I thought to feel the nail-sack carefully, and found there to be a few nails remaining in it. I picked out one of the odd things - mottled blue-black finish, roughly square cross-section, slightly tapering to the blunt-seeming point, and a lumpy head - and tried bending it.

It bent in my fingers as if made of tin.

Chapter 16: Evil never sleeps. Dinnertimes normally made for earnest devouring of food intermingled with talk, but in this instance, the order was reversed.

Chapter 17: Cough Medicine, Gun Barrels, Hair-Cutting, and... Ouch! The thrashing of the dream communicated into wakeful screaming, and when I came to myself I heard steps coming up the hall at a dead run. I was afraid I would be cut to pieces, or shot with one of those...

"Are you all right?'' yelled an anguished voice. It was the voice of the sacrifice calling faintly, that person who had died unmourned and unmissed. She had come back to haunt me.

Dim echoes in my minds of the chants, the suffocating datramonium fumes, the murdering...

''Augh!'' I shrieked. "Help! They want to kill us all!''

"Now who is this they?'' asked the voice of seeming reason.

"The witches!'' I screamed. "They went hunting, and killed dozens because of their inclination of the moment.''

Chapter 18: Cough Medicine, Gun Barrels, Hair-Cutting, and... Ouch! continued After the second batch of mash was dribbling 'firewater' into the charcoal, Ithought to ask a question about Geneva. I had already suppressed a desire to 'chant' the doggerel speaking of being 'overly dry'.

"How does one make Geneva here?" I asked, as I recalled Paul speaking of the stuff that first night.

''The most common way,'' said Hans, ''needs a jug, a funnel, a clean pot or bucket, a clean cloth to strain it, and then the berries and herbs.''

Chapter 19: Cough Medicine, Gun Barrels, Hair-Cutting, and... Ouch! (part 3) Anna was waiting in the kitchen, and as the two of us set our lanterns down, she asked, "what happened?"

"He was right," said Hans, "and we got there none too soon. That witch showed after we fetched out the first of those things, and then he rigged the front door and we went out into the back area of the place."

Chapter 20: Black-Cap gets his gun. Once inside, I laid out the rifle on the workbench, and began to clean it thoroughly. I soon had Hans watching me, and as I slipped off the three barrel bands, he whistled again.

"That is a lot faster than with those pins," he said. "Now how does the lock come off?"

Chapter 21: Festival Week I came to myself walking with two beings at my sides, with one of them holding my arm as if guiding the blind.

Chapter 22: For the love of Pork. The leather and its stitching continued until dinner...

Chapter 23: Festival Week, part two. Within the next hour, three more semi-familiar faces showed...

Chapter 24: 'Tis time... After dinner, I ran the extractor for its 'maidenrun'. I noted two things: Firstly, it confined the odors astonishingly well. I did not get the dry heaves...

Chapter 25: Invasion :After a bath, I wandered to my bench, and when Anna finally showed - she came in through the front door, with a sizable cloth bag - I thought to ask if she'd used the sled.


Book Two: "Now what do I do..?"


"Inhale the fumes of burning double-base,

Play with your burning propulsion,

Gone in a flash of flying lead,

Heated and molten in anger's fire...

"The way of Night."

Chapter 1: Strange and Beautiful Visitors A faint aroma, one that reeked of peace, seemed to suffuse the air around me upon awakening.

Chapter 2: Beards, smells, and masonry. After dinner, however, I felt especially tired, and I asked for a small cup of beer.

Chapter 3: What was that place called? The 'third ditch' - I knew nothing about the first and second ditches - was where I had taken my stand...

Chapter 4: Strange, beautiful... What? I vaguely recalled the taste of the widow's tincture, only this was vastly stronger, and when I looked at Hans through bleary eyes, I asked, "what was that I just drank?"

Chapter 5: Forhard, Huargh! I went home early that day - at the same time as the others - and once home, bathed, and in clean clothing...

You know what the term 'big house' means in prisoner slang..? Don't you? As in 'this is a prison'? Well, maybe it is, and maybe not, but it ain't some place you want to go unarmed. Just warning you.

Chapter 6: The Big House, part 1. Anna helped me with a few more drops of the tincture, and as the sense of calm clearheadedness increased,

Chapter 7: The Big House, part 2. Hans looked at me, then at the road again before asking, "what did it look like, then?"

Chapter 8: The Big House, part 3. The instructor uncorked the jug, and within seconds, the reek of distillate...

Chapter 9: The Big House, part 4 The next morning, I arrived at the house proper about an hour after true sunrise...

Chapter 10: The Big House, part 5. The rest of the class came in minutes later, and as I stood thinking, I noticed that several of them seemed to have faint chalk-marks on their clothing.

Chapter 11: The Big House, part 6. The two wicker baskets in the corner of the basement were topped by a thick bundle of what seemed at first to be rags, and as I knelt to feel the bundle, I asked, "why would I want the sword of a witch?"

Comment: no, you do not want a cursed sword, especially when it's not nearly as good as the ones you will shortly make. Witches, however, will think such blades cursed indeed. Hint, hint...

Chapter 12: The Big House, part 7. Hans continued east, and I looked toward the north, as I recalled the location of Mandelbrot's.

Chapter 13: The Big House, part 8. I finished the sword by bedtime.

Oh, my. What a MESS you have made. You might think you have a cursed sword now. Diced witch, anyone?

Chapter 14: The Big House, part 9. "One of you, go fetch someone to clean him up," said the king.

Edged weapon combat tends to be very bloody. This instance is no exception

Chapter 15: The Big House, part 10. "Th-that's..." Gabriel nearly choked on his tongue.

Chapter 16: The Big House, part 11: Koenraad's Head. I suspected the party had been planned at some length, for within minutes of our arrival, a pie showed.

Here, we see the inside of the fabled Swartsburg. Trouble is, one, this ain't no fable, and two, here, we cause trouble, confusion - and act like a wild Head-Hunter and take a certain witch's HEAD. Trouble, eh?

Try more like "a walk on the Wild side."

Chapter 17: The Big House, part 12. I continued on with Koenraad's head through the trees at a steady trot, not stopping until I had passed the Oestwaag and left it several hundred yards in the rear.

Chapter 18: The Big House, part 13. "They'll start working on that new forge tomorrow, and I needto..." The recollection of the effects of trowels upon my mind was enough to induce a headache, and I began moaning.

Chapter 19: The Big House, part 14 Georg left for elsewhere minutes later, and I followed him out of the shop shortly thereafter once I had fitted the handle fully. Once home, I sharpened the scraper, then began using it.

Chapter 20: The Big House, part 15. That evening, I fitted up the remaining lock to the fowling piece, and as I stoned and polished the bearing surfaces, I found I had something of an audience - in addition to three sets of revolver parts.

Chapter 21: The Big House, part 16: A nocturnal tour of Norden As I began servicing the engine - it needed its lubricant drained and refilled once disconnected, as well as 'dosing' here and there - I heard faint screams on the wind, followed by occasional gunshots. The booms of muskets seemed a counterpoint to all that I was doing, even if none of them were particularly close.

Oh, my. Norden. No, it isn't from the Kalevala. Never read that piece of literature, and at the time I wrote this, I'd never read about it, either.

Even if Ultima Thule could pass for a character out of it, based on what little I've read about the Finnish national epic since writing this part.

What comes next, though - hang onto your hair. It's going to get Hairy .

Chapter22: The Big House, part 17. "That's..."

I abruptly awoke from slumber to see darkness still outside the room, and with a squirming bladder. I went downstairs, used the privy, and then saw the low-burning wax candle stub in one of the small lanterns.

Chapter 23: The Big House, part 17 - continued Now was the moment, I realized, and I slowly stood up from my chair. I walked to the left of the table, then slowly walked up the aisle between the backs of the chairs to my right and the wall to my left.

Chapter 24: The end of the beginning Our long trip of six stories with three limp-as-wet-dishrag stretcher-born men made for my stumbling on thestairs and falling face-down to the floor on more than one landing.

A faster mode of travel ensues here. Trouble is, this is a Big Black One

Chapter 25: The end of the beginning, continued The spurts of dung did not cease, even as the mule occasionally assayed galloping, and its brief grunting spurts of a hundred yards or so seemed to recall the tale I recalled reading - as the lethargy of the mule vanished then, and its speed, while not that of a comet, was enough to make for a wide berth on my part and mumbling on the part of the hostler.

Chapter 26: The end of the beginning, part C "That's as good as anything I've heard yet for ones this bad, short of having them gone over by a wheelwright," said the farmer.

Chapter 27: The end of the beginning, part D Throughout that day, I labored steadily upon buggy parts, and by noon, I had both of the arbor shanks and the cutter ready to harden. As I ran the bellows, I wondered for a moment if I would use the pieces again; and when I saw a shadow in the doorway, I nearly fell down.


Book Three: The Pendant


"Oh, to live another planet,

Where the sun is burned to blackness,

Not to see the light of darkness,

Never seeing another face.

For the eyes are framed with sorrow,

And the lips grin with hatred,

And the teeth are bared in loathing,

Forget the saving thought of grace."

"Another time, another place, another world."

Chapter 1: The road more traveled. I packed away the fryers and 'dutch oven' in my 'bag of tricks', and went home without my apron.

Chapter 2: The road more traveled, part b. The morning dawned early, and my awakening preceded it.

Chapter 3: The road more traveled, part c. Our pace remained the same boredom-inducing walk as the sun slowly slid to the east for what seemed an eon, and only when we came upon the long narrow fields that surrounded a town did I 'wake up' and come to myself.

Chapter 4: The road more traveled, part d. As we headed south, I wiped my eyes with a small rag,and drained my mug of cider. I had filled the water bottle, and munched some more dried meat.

Time to get medieval regarding punishing people. Ever hear of 'drawing and quartering'? This goes a bit further, at least regarding 'talk' of the matter. Note: I got this out of a book few think to look in for such material, but it is mentioned in there. It's a parable about a certain king and what he did with those who did not wish him to be king over them.

Note: the protagonist actually has done this before with a certain evil witch, as in "cut to pieces, bagged up, hung, labeled, and his head spiked on a pole. Take it down before it falls of its own accord, those doing so get the exact same treatment." (which actually happens)

That's called an object lesson, with the witch being the object and his dismembered body and the placard being the lesson. Smelly, gross, and effective. Get used to that last word. EFFECTIVE

Chapter 5: The road more traveled, part e. A 'flagon' was passed to me, and I grasped it carefully with one hand while praying silently that it 'become more desirable'. Those were close to my exact words,

So wine tastes horrible here, too. In fact, it tastes like Rocket fuel.

Chapter 6: The road more traveled, part f. Resumption of travel minus the marmot made for wonderingon my part, for 'breakfast' had not been secured.

It gets really weird here. Sticking a key in someone's head?

Chapter 7: The road more traveled, part g. I now had a quandary, so much so that I stood and left Kees where he lay 'inert' in the dirt.

Chapter 8: The road more traveled, part h. The next town announced itself by another bluish-gray cloud of burning charcoal,

You thought it was weird before? Hah! It gets Weirder yet

Chapter 9: The road more traveled, part i. As Hendrik put up the three weapons, the men began to mill around slowly,

Chapter 10: The road more traveled, part j. The comments I heard did not make for calm,

Very trippy here. A witch dead for a generation's time, and he's still out in the hall rubbing his sword with accursed 'red tallow', feeding his blade with blood. No, no Michael Moorcock here. I'd not read about that blond fellow with the accursed sword when I wrote this portion. Besides, what I know about swords having curses on them goes back a lot further.

It goes about a talk I had with 'Norman' - a fellow from Hawaii who looked a little like Bruce Lee and could definitely do Bruce Lee moves in real life - as in he was trained from the time he was a toddler in oriental Martial Arts and had a high-ranking black belt in something. It was high up enough that there was a lot of spiritual stuff involved, including the drinking of blood . I know, as I helped out with the, uh, exorcism . Nasty bit of business, and Norman was tasting blood in his mouth afterward.

After nineteen months in that environment, I do not need to see the Exorcist. I lived in a real-life version thereof, complete with people getting tossed, getting chased by spooks while cleaning a church, smelling pipes when no one was smoking - oh, and doing some more exorcisms. Blaine didn't much care for his when I spoke of his father's 'brass idol'. Blaine's father was an engineer.

You'll hear more about 'BLAINE' later. He tends to do engineering things, including TRAINS . Watch out for those Blaine-engineered trains. They tend to go off the rails.

Chapter 11: The road more traveled, part k. Our slow walk back to the room had all three of us lost in our own thoughts,

Chapter 12: The road more traveled, part l. Bedtime approached quickly once we had finished eating,

Oh, no. First, you get to see Rachel, aka 'Auntie Rachel, mother of wolves'. Then, you get to see the last of the Pendants . It has your name on it. It was meant for you, and you alone .

Chapter 13: The road more traveled, part m. The first intimation of change as per attitudes came when we reached the 'gateway' to the plateau.

Chapter 14: The road more traveled, part n. The creature was finished regarding its spicing, and as it was smeared heavily with a grainy whitish substance,

Chapter 15: The road more traveled, part o. With another helping of meat and flatbreads, I began to slow down enough with eating to notice something other than what I was eating.

Down at the sunken MILL? That happens next. Is it real, or is it fatigue?

Chapter 16: The road more traveled, part p. Our packing continued, and as each man's load finished up, it went out into the buggies.

Chapter 17: The road more traveled, part q. I awoke with a sudden start to look up at cold white stars amid a bone-chilling black night.

Chapter 18: The road more traveled, part r. At the next stop for water, a postal buggy rolled past at a trot, and once out of the woodlot's shade, I began looking ahead closely for one of the mentioned turnoffs. I could feel a pair of such roads but a short distance ahead, and with the passing minutes, I noted more and more the warmth, the humidity, and the aspect of industry. That had increased steadily with our travel south, and the sounds of labor came from every farmstead that we passed.

Expect more weirdness here. It never stops getting weirder. Is it weird enough for me?

No, it ain't. It ain't never too weird for me. I myself am WEIRD.

Chapter 19: The road more traveled, part s. A doorway stood but feet away, and from within its dim outlines I heard voices,

Chapter 20: The road more traveled, part t. Bagging up all of our purchases made for three heavy-laden horses,

Chapter 21: The road more traveled, part u. Our trip to the High Way was relatively uneventful, save for two massive flights of quolls winging overhead as they poured forth deafening cries.

Chapter 22: The road more traveled, part v. The jug had a light mottled blue background, and inch-tall purplish-red letters of strange shape, with smaller green letters underneath the main inscription.

Chapter 23: The road more traveled, part w. The waiter's return some twenty minutes later with the first of our dishes surprised me, both at the quick service and also the nature of the food itself. This last was ample as to quantity, plain as to palate, and overall, quite edible. After half of a bowl of soup, I asked as to the nature of the meat.

Chapter 24: The road more traveled, part x. As I resumed looking at Brumm's corpse,

Chapter 25: The road more traveled, part y: the death of Sam Brumm and its repercussions. I took a fresh dose of the tincture before we resumed travel, and I found myself feeling as if impaired to no small degree.

Chapter 26: The road more traveled, part z: it gets smoky and really dangerous. I noticed it was midmorning when we resumed southbound travel. To left and right were more 'estates' similar to the one at which we stopped, with the largest of all such labeled as 'Blomfels'.

Chapter 27: The road more traveled, part z-1. There were fewer people laying prostrate than there had been prior,

Oh, my. We do have trouble. Keep reading. This will give you an education regarding Witches of the worst stripe.

Chapter 28: The fifth kingdom's mess. I came slowly from around the corner, heart in mouth and rifle in my hands.

Chapter 29: The fifth kingdom's mess, part b. Morning arrived with the smell of cooking food and an omnipresent sensation of warmth and moisture.

Chapter 30: The fifth kingdom's mess, part c. "We'll need to have people ready to deal with the witches and pigs we flush, then,"

Warning: one really nasty witch coming up. He loses his head, though.

Chapter 31: The fifth kingdom's mess, part d. I had to carry half of the traps, and the woman carried the other four

Chapter 32: The fifth kingdom's mess, part e. The narrowness of the river's passage - perhaps twenty feet wide at the most, with most sections half that - and its tall brushy banks seemed to provide a haven of peace amid the sounds and smells of the city.

Chapter 33: The fifth kingdom's mess, part f. Of a sudden, a long-drawn mournful howling split the night air, and gunshots roared their challenges skyward.

Chapter 34: The fifth kingdom's mess, part g. Awakening was slow amid yawns and other strange noises that took nearly a minute to recognize as the sounds of escaping gas.

Chapter 35: The fifth kingdom's mess, part h. Liza left her laundry to its steaming once she'd spoken to the two other women, and once out of the 'laundry area', she vanished as if made of vapor and smoke.

Chapter 36: The fifth kingdom's mess, part i. Liza and the cooks plied me with more than merely beer once I'd staggered to the kitchen.

This would have done Xenophon proud. Getting home in front of a Great-Find-Crush-Kill (the rough translation of 'Grossfahndung' when spoken in Underworld German) when you have every witch able to do that business engaged in trying to find and kill you isn't easy.

Chapter 37: The road's ending... I was followed outside, and while Jaak followed me readily, the other horses seemed a trifle disinclined to leave their 'refuge'.

Chapter 38: The road's ending, part b. The bottom of the current ravine seemed to stretch on for what seemed an age

Chapter 39: The road's ending, part c. After the horses drank their fill, I continued boiling and cooling water

Chapter 40: The road's ending, part d. I fell asleep once I'd eaten, and when I awoke it was nearly dark. For some peculiar reason, Lys awoke within seconds after I had done so, and softly called, "Gisela. It is time."

Chapter 41 The road's ending, part e. : A glance upward spoke of a moon just east of zenith, and when I looked beneath where I sat, I saw definite traces of a 'deserted road'.

Here lies the end of one road, and the beginning of another.

Warning: graphic violence follows. Things get very messy.

You have been warned. Read at your own peril.

Book Four: They call that place an Abbey, and they say it's filled with monsters


"I could smell that stogie,

Coming down the hall,

Bomb me back to the stone age,

Knock me up against the wall,

Hit my desk like a stick of bombs,

Wind blows my papers around.

Chill of Ice, A Daytime nightmare,

The ghost of Curtis Lemay,

The Ghost of Curtis Lemay."

"The Ghost of Curtis LeMay"

If we are going to have a future worth living in, sometimes we have to walk in hell first. You have been warned again. Tread carefully here.

Chapter 1: Nightmare convoy - or is it only a night-time sojourn into hell? While we were within easy distance of home, there was still travel that needed us doing it; and with each mile upon our current road, I noticed my fatigue more and more. Drinking beer helped but little, even when I could recall the need to do so; and when the High Way itself came closer, I wondered if it were going to sweep over us like a tidal wave and then crush us down into darkness.

Chapter 2: They call that place an Abbey, and it's said to be filled with Monsters... Her giggling, however, was shortlived, for seconds later, Anna came out of the cloud to land on the floor facedown with a muffled thud. She looked up, then around with blind-seeming eyes, then somehow rolled out of the way on the floor just in time to be nearly hit by Hans as he fell like a wayward bomb.

Chapter 3: They call that place an Abbey, and it's said to be filled with Monsters... part b Andreas stopped at the second doorway on his right, then moved aside its yellow-striped gray cloth. His lantern raised above his head for a moment as he set it onto a stand, then once he turned around, he led us toward a workbench on the left wall nearest to where we stood.

Chapter 4: They call that place an Abbey, and it's said to be filled with Monsters... part c Dinner concluded some few minutes later, and once the dishes were soaking, I thought to look at the 'pile' in the parlor between visits to the privy - which again, at least at first, I had to share with Sarah.

Chapter 5:Another stinky witch. On the other side of my 'favorite' anvil, Hans was standing and staring at what looked like the ruins of an 'idol' distillery, and as I knelt down to look at the dented and torn metal, he began muttering.

Chapter 6: Spying out the Swartsburg The yawning segued to a desire to sleep, and while upstairs lying upon my bed, a vague plan seemed to hatch in my mind as to what I needed to do.

Chapter 7: A Realm in Flames I had had sufficient of witches for the evening, so much so that I remounted as soon as I could do so with the though of returning the way I came. I felt an 'itch', however; one that spoke of that being 'the expected thing', and I doubled back upon hearing something that I wondered greatly about.

Chapter 8: It is nice to have a home. The noise of the Swartsburg continued to beat upon my body as I jogged amid the cattle-herd, and as I passed the inner wall of the northwest gate itself, 'scales' seemed to fall from my ears and my hearing returned amid a steady high-pitched squalling chorus.

Chapter 9: "Wake up!" As the minutes and miles passed, however, I wondered just what I needed to learn from the charred and smoking wasteland that had appeared with such stunning suddenness. This state of mind persisted as we went across fields and around woodlots, and the constant muttering of gunfire from all points of the compass seemed a harbinger of a long-awaited and longer-planned war. I felt a town some distance to the east and north, and thought to ask about it.

Chapter 10:In Circled Fire... The first of the townspeople showed about an hour after I had found the first of the 'medals' within the shop. The last medal - an old-looking piece that actually glowed slightly - was buried next to an anvil-stump with the ground carefully brushed around so as to not show digging; I had needed to find it by feel. I was rooting it out with my knife when the shadow of a man showed itself in the doorway, and I was glad Hans was near the front of the shop so as to give me 'cover' while I first uncovered and then retrieved the too-obvious fetish. It felt horrible to touch, and I was glad for a pair of tongs so as to handle its too-potent evil.

Chapter 11:Getting the Fear I resumed my exploration of the house after the end of my shift once I had 'given my charge' to the two men taking over. Sarah had left about an hour before the end of my shift with the promise to find a suitable bludgeon for rats, while Mathias wobbled off to the refectory in a state of complete exhaustion at the end of our time. Between being new to the job and being around two of the archest 'old hares' - he called Sarah that once, and her glare only cemented his opinion of her - he had yet encountered, I could well comprehend his fatigue.

Chapter 12:Deep Dark Plotted Plans Our road joined another as the remains of the town hove into view among the gathering dusk, and as Maarten's house showed, I turned to see a horse and rider 'trotting' toward us from the south. It was Gabriel, and when he came even with the two of us, Sarah said sharply, "now you know the why of that message."

Chapter 13:In Circled Fire...Part two. I continued grinding and 'sifting' for perhaps half an hour, during which time Hans and Sarah continued to arrange the 'equipment' in a definite orderly fashion, such that the 'steps' of the process were becoming obvious to me and the 'product' would move in a line from start to finish, while each step would use its singularly dedicated tools. My 'ground glass' - I was surprised at the small amount actually needed; Hans said I did enough for a year's worth of thimbles - went in a bandage tin tied with dark brown string so as to identify it, and as I went upstairs to gather my things for the afternoon's ride, I noticed I needed to hurry.

Chapter 14: "This is not the privy..." The noise and confusion that grew rapidly spoke of a now-awakened house, and as the three of us slowly stood - I was not the only one face-down upon the floor; Sarah and Andreas had followed my example - I could see doorways opening and lights appearing in darkened 'hollows' both ahead and behind.

Chapter 15:"More Fetishes. Lovely." In my dreams - they were most uneasy, almost as if I were visiting Franz' world of overly large garbage bugs and assaying becoming one, there to die due to an infection caused by an angrily-tossed apple - I 'acquired' some intimations regarding exploring the lately-vacated house; and when I awoke, I was softly speaking words which I did not understand.

Chapter 16: "Nitro..?" While Hans ground up a supply of the bark, Anna made ready for an extended stay at the king's house; and when both of them left in the buggy, the irons went with them. Somehow, I had the impression that their stay would not be overly long.

Chapter 17: "Nitro..?" continued. Hans took up both mortar and pestle when I finished, and within moments, the soft moans subsided into silence. As I looked around for what I might need to make 'nitro', Hans came back down.

Chapter 18:"Nitro..?" part C I came home about an hour before lunch, and at the table while eating, I was stifling yawns. Accordingly, I went up to bed afterward; and when I came down the stairs., the odor of 'dinner' said I'd slept the afternoon away, and sundown wasn't far off. Dinner was 'soon'.

Chapter 19:"That is not Vlai..." I strained the sawdust out of the murky 'mud' that had accumulated, and as I swirled it in a crock with rain-water, I noted its near-snowy color. Two rinsings, both of which went in the container having the lye and 'mud' mixture, and I noted the following:

Chapter 20: A Riveting business Dinner came later than usual that night, and Hans ran no less than three 'full-sized' batches of 'motor oil'.

Chapter 21:A Riveting business - continued. Our visitor was Gilbertus, and while I wondered if he was staying the night, Hans soon corrected my wondering by saying he would be sleeping on the couch. He was rubbing his posterior more than a little.

Chapter 22: My name is not Finnegan... That night was a late one, and in the morning, faint creaking noises within my mind seemed to mingle with the scrapings of trowels and other matters involving bricklaying coming faintly from the south. Hans was missing when I tried to find him, and as I went for a second circling of house and property, Anna intercepted me.

Chapter 23: My name is not Finnegan... continued. My awakening in the morning was late enough that after I'd done my business in the privy and gotten some beer, I thought, "oh, no! I need to leave right now so as to make it to the house?"

Chapter 24: The sun rose at midnight.. We kept a late night that night, with Hans going upstairs while we loaded the remaining two jugs, then he returned once the fumes had cleared out to help with tying on the dynamite. Again, Sarah and I had to hold the stuff in place while our hands became tormentingly sticky from the tarry string Hans used with such abandon, and again, Hans seemed to not mind.

Chapter 25: Under Siege "It's in the book, "I said mildly. "Now what Maarten said was how we needed to be toward those who have declared themselves the enemies of God and by extension, the enemies of those of us who call God our friend and helper. Correct?"

Chapter 26: Under Siege, continued Dinner was a silent matter, even with five people eating slower than usually, and as the dishes piled in the soaking bucket, I wondered if I would ever see mealtimes quite the same way again. The parlor, however, was a scene replete with danger, for there, all the members of the household were checking their weapons. Tam's weapon surprised me, for his 'musket' was not merely modified to take 'thimbles', but its form was such that I was looking at what I normally used in a new light.

Chapter 27: The long-awaited aftermath. Again, the question remained, even as the black winds of a blazing holocaust seemed to flow over us and shut out all light for a slow count of three. They passed, and then, I once more asked: "Where am I" "This is Kokenstraat," said a voice to my right that took nearly two seconds to recognize as that of Hans. "I never ran that far that fast before, and then this big wind picks me up so that I fly like a bird."

Chapter 28: A new beginning (or so it seems) That night's sleep - Anna had urged the pain tincture upon me after hearing my moaning as I moved with slow and aching steps up the stairs, but Hans spoke of me making a mess in my bed if that was done - was as lacking in dreams as the afternoon's nap had been filled with them; and when I creaked and moaned down the stairs in the dawn's early light, I wondered if today would have my regular work.

Chapter 29: Frankij Lives. That day passed in a blur of hard sweating labor, for with both bronze and iron castings, I could actually begin 'machining' - though hammer-and-chisel labor, followed by files, and in some cases, reamers and drills made for long-suppressed longings for machinery. I hoped to begin work on a lathe soon, a real example, not the 'ultra-precise toy' I currently used, and with each chisel stroke and file cut - that Great Bastard File was earning its keep now - I kept my eye upon the main issue.

Chapter 30: Frankij Lives, continued. I left the shop a bit early compared to my usual 'an hour or more after sundown' leaving time, my shoulder laden fully with a weighty bag of tricks, and once bathed, I set up at my workbench. There, I would not merely be turning parts on the lathe, but also making tools; and then, as a break from those close-working endeavors, I would be dismantling, measuring, and reassembling the engine. I was suspecting the dirty atmosphere of the shop was not a suitable environment for a piece of 'precision equipment', and after dinner, when I began dismantling the engine to check certain fits, I was astonished at the dirt present as I cleaned out of the thing. The parts and tools were ready for heat-treating, thankfully. I would not be able to do that much more that evening, given the engine's need for total disassembly and cleaning.

Chapter 31: "When it drips, it pours iron" Our 'last mile' finished, and while Hans 'backed and filled' so as to get into the buggy-way, I dismounted and went to the front door. I tapped twice, and stood there waiting until someone came: Sarah. I had a question, and it recurred to me as I came inside to lay my things on the couch.

Chapter 32: Something Wicked this way Comes... I was deep into work on the liniment distillery when a shadow came behind me, and for a moment, as I emerged from the concentration needed to rivet the cap of the thing, I wondered if I was being visited by 'The Sand-Man'. I turned around, slowly, achingly - and there saw Sarah, satchel in hand and that one ledger out and open.

Chapter 33: Something Wicked this way Comes... continued I sprinted to the end of the hall, then my shoes fought for traction on the slick floor as I slid sideways halfway to the opposite wall of the main area while heading toward the south stairwell. This time of day had full lighting for the regions in use, which meant a wall of flickering candles shedding light upon me as I ran down the middle of the now terrifyingly-wide main 'court' or whatever it was actually called. I turned, then came to the foot of the stairs while still sliding sideways, then somehow gathered myself and leaped.

NOW IT GETS MESSY

Chapter 34: Something Wicked this way Comes... part three More, I knew that the eight traitors that the corpse-washer had named were not the only ones. There were more of such people, and they were on the premises as well. I heard steps, these coming softly from out in the hall; then a faint tapping at the door. I myself - I would not let Hendrik risk his life by answering the door now; the only people who were up to that task were those willing to kill whoever they saw in front of them without the slightest hesitation - went to the door, and I opened it a crack, sword in hand and full-ready to run amok and kill whoever or whatever was outside the door.

Yep. Reckon that's a messy business when your 'Kill-Switch' is engaged.

Chapter 35: Something Wicked this way Comes... part four We came back into the trees, and as I found a narrow disused track leading through the bunched tree-trunks, I heard whispers about how I was now taking trails.

Chapter 36: Now it can be told... The smell of burning flesh rapidly became more than either Sarah or I could endure, and as we made ready to leave the town by the way we had come, I could plainly see stoops that were once barren of all save dim-burning candle-lanterns now becoming crowded with gawking people. I did not wish to remain in the area, and the fact that the traitors would no longer endanger people's lives sufficed for me - or so I thought as we went down the road at a fast but prudent speed. For some reason, however, less than a minute after leaving the yard of the town's Public House, I turned around. We were easily far enough to be hidden from view, or so I thought.

Chapter 37: "Now it can be told, part two." "That finally brings me to the last portion," said Hendrik. "Rachel is up here in the area, but she is currently hidden somewhere in Ploetzee, which is about the safest place for someone like her in the first kingdom right now. Where you live now, however, is quite crowded, if my informants have not exaggerated matters."

Chapter 38: Deep and dark-laid plans I had the beginning of the 'dead sixth' to myself, and as I paced the floor of the main corridor just off of the king's hallway, I noted the truly dead aspect of the place. Before, it had been much more 'alive', but by killing off the traitors, and then shooting that one particular 'General', I had accomplished something that I had no idea existed.

"The place is genuinely quiet now," I thought.

Chapter 39: What is this road called? The remaining dregs of the 'fish emulsion' went in the pot with the fifth and final addition of boiled distillate, then with frequent stirring, the other ingredients went in one by one. The new measurer proved its worth here, as did the new funnel; and once the pot was starting to cook over a turned-downheating lamp - Hans was listening carefully to everything I said about his 'new' process, so much so that I wondered just how long he'd retained that witch-thinking that was supposedly so common to chemists. The answer I got startled me.

Chapter 40: What is this road called? continued. I came to the shop and began molding in the light of the titanium lantern once I'd gotten a forge started, and by the time the others began filtering in about half an hour after dawn, I'd molded not merely the lathe parts we had patterns for - the bed, the carriage, and the bottom portions of both headstock and tailstock - but also, I'd done up several more molds for camp-ovens. Among those molds, however, here and there, I'd put an occasional 'Finnegan bomb' casting, these using a new and somewhat larger pattern; and when the others came in the shop to do their usual 'morning routine', I kept doing those bomb-casings and their tight-packed green-sand cores when and where I could find room for them in the flasks.

Chapter 41: What is this road called? part three. While I wondered if Hans and Anna had eaten, I soon found that not merely had they not done so, but that one of the things that had come back with them from the Public House was a fresh crock of herring. That being the quickest and easiest 'edible' meal at this time of year, they had gotten some; and within minutes, we had a crowded table and a profound aroma of salted and smoked fish in the air. Again, I noted a difference in taste compared to what I recalled of these fish.

Things get a bit interesting here. Note that the term 'invest' as used here is not the type one does with stocks, bonds, and securities. It has an entirely different meaning, that being 'taking' a place. As in killing whatever is lurking inside of it in the process, and in this instance, dealing with a lot of spirits.

Chapter 42: Investing the Abbey, part one. Roos showed up but ten minutes or so later, and while the two buggies came into the yard of the Public House, I took one of the still-lit lanterns in hand and rode to the shop at Jaak's 'walk'. I suspected he needed time to cool down, and once in the shop's yard, I slid off and went straight to the door while he commenced drinking at the shop's long watering trough. I left the doors wide, thinking he might follow me, and as I used the small lantern - I was glad for its brightness, now, as it helped me find the casting flasks by seeing them rather than tripping over them - I wondered which of them had those smaller castings. There were a lot of those wooden 'boxes' sitting in the rear yard; and while none of them were 'smoking warm', the air still felt a good deal warmer in the yard than out in the fields and forests.

Chapter 43: Investing the Abbey, part two Going up the back way meant for two side-by-side at a time up those zigzag stairs, and I paused to go to the privy as we came to the juncture of the hallways on the ground floor. I listened for an instant just before turning right, and heard soft snoring. The sound and the rhythm were those of Gabriel.

Chapter 44: Investing the Abbey, part three So much remained to do, and that in so little time, that I wondered if I would have time to get a nap; or so I thought as the four of us went down into the basement after dinner had been 'downed' and the dishes put to soak. The glue was still more or less warm, so much so that once I showed how to 'fit' the dowels, it took but minutes to put them in the remaining bombs. I then riveted Sarah's scabbard, only in her case, I did not merely rivet the back-strap on for her belt; I put rivets in a number of key places, all the while seeing odd expressions play across her features. She seemed to be wondering what, exactly, I was trying to do.

Chapter 45: Investing the Abbey, part four Hearing about a bird that tasted like tar and burned like a smoky torch was a sufficient distraction that I did not notice the Abbey when it first hove into sight. It was still miles away when Sarah spoke of it.

Chapter 46: Investing the Abbey, part five I suspected that Katje speaking of rats being a primer was indeed the truth, for when I next examined a hollow under the workbench, I found not merely three mummified dead rats, but also the well-gnawed body of a spider; and when I looked up, I noted Sarah holding her rat-club as if she expected to use it. I was more than a little surprised when something 'leaped' at her from seeming nowhere and she swung on the thing - which sent it flying my way. I dodged it as the stunned rat flew head-over-paintbrush tail in my direction to bounce on the bench-top and then slide off to hit the floor with a thud.

God help you if you ever see one of THESE things!

Chapter 47: Investing the Abbey: The end of Iggy The first part of the 'true prize' that showed was a glossy stippled gray-blotched black piece of 'plastic', then as I continued digging into the sawdust with my awl, I noted its outline. It was far too familiar to be a coincidence.

Uh-Oh. A huge DESMOND. A big CURSED desmond. Nothing works on it, 'cept one person's tricks. He got the Mojo Hand.

Chapter 48: Investing the Abbey: Desmond Alley. While the others were indeed messy, Sarah led me to that one office. There, I was surprised to find not merely those things that I had seen before, but also a small wooden bucket and a jug padded well with rags nestled inside it.

Chapter 49: Investing the Abbey: "This is a Tosser!" Sarah and I did not have to wait long: by the time we had bathed, our first changes of clothing had dried, and with those on and the privy dug in a different spot - its new site needed rearranging two of the buggies, which I did readily - the first of our escapees began returning. All of them had strange and unreadable expressions upon their faces.

Chapter 50: Investing the Abbey: Fire and Explosions As I looked Gabriel over, Karl, Sepp, and Maarten came out of the two offices nearest where he had dove for the floor, and Karl began walking slowly down the hall toward where the pistol had finally landed. I could hear him counting, this slow and hesitant as he moved around over a fairly sizable area of hallway; then as I looked over Gabriel's back - there was a fresh rip in the cloth of what he was wearing, but otherwise, he seemed unhurt - Karl yelled.

Chapter 51: Investing the Abbey, part ten Our path outside was a lengthy one, one of coughing, spitting, retching, and occasional dripping of blood. While Sarah had indeed sliced on several people = including Katje, surprisingly; she had a slice in her cleaning suit nearly a foot long that was edged with blood - she had been surprisingly 'gentle' in her cutting, so much so that when I saw the bloody rent in Gabriel's trousers she had made, I muttered, "that's about as bad as what happened to Lukas down in the fifth kingdom house."

Chapter 52: Investing the Abbey: "It is not widdershins." The first sign of the trouble mentioned was a vaguely sulfurous scent in the air, then as I passed a cross-passage, I noted what looked like the feeble glow of low-burning embers. I came to a stop, then without thinking I stepped on something that gave out a feeble screech. Backing away, I knelt down, and squeaked, "a spider, though... What happened to its legs?"

Chapter 53: Investing the Abbey: Into the light from a forest of night. The ground floor still arrived none-too-soon, and once arrived there, I had to set down my own burdens and rest for a short time. The intimation I felt, however, was that we needed to go to that large room now known as 'The Upper Alley' to unburden ourselves, and as I led the group out of the maze of hallways, there were comments about how 'clean' the place was now compared to our first times of walking inside it.

Chapter 54: Investing the Abbey: Into the light from a forest of night, continued. The moans I made soon drew Hans, followed by Anna, and while I tried to cover myself up with what soap-suds that I had managed to create on short notice using the Fell's soap Karl had brought, I found that my arms were solid black and blue all over - while the rest of me was not much better for appearances. I had not seen this before, not once, not ever; and where I was not bruised, I was either cut or I had severe abrasions.

Chapter 55: Investing the Abbey: "Such Treasures these, that..." Perched upon the couch was a near-cubical cage of soldered brass wires nearly two feet tall and the same for width, with a covering of torn-up worn-out rags covering its bottom and a thick and well-clawed wooden 'dowel' setting in holders that were roughly in the middle of the cage. This dowel had a singular occupant: a bird of such brilliantly yellow plumage that it seemed a small and immobile feathered sun. I almost wished I had dark goggles like I used to have, that I could more closely view a bird seemingly made of molten and sparkling gold. It made for a strange word, one which was a tongue-knotting convulsion in the language of the area's common speech.

"That thing's got to be fluorescent yellow!" I gasped.

Chapter 56: Investing the Abbey: "Such Treasures these, that..." continued. The next shelves showed things other than 'glossy advertisements', which seemed surprising to me, at least until I found under the flung-aside dusty cloth - a cloth that went to rags as I flung it, and it landed in unraveled threads growing dusty upon the filthy floor - a number of things, these individually wrapped in their own armors of rags. These, unlike the covering sheets, had a much-different appearance - one that looked as if generations of moths had seen them as choice meals.

Chapter 57: Investing the Abbey: "Such Treasures these, that..." part C What Sarah had been removing from its 'hiding place' was yet a mystery, even after shining my lantern's light down into the darkness to the right of the typing table. I reached down after handing her my lantern, and felt the cold chill of metal, then somehow, my groping fingers found a fold-down carrying handle, grasped it - and then lifted the thing up and out to set it down with a clank and a soft groan of pain.

Yep, one o' these things here. One nasty Compression-ignition engine, complete with a total absence of any muffling. It's a fetish, and when you run one of these, you need to be a strong witch, know the correct chants, their proper order - and, above all: you must chant like you mean it, which means absolute maximum volume. Got it? You must yell at this thing the entire time it is operating or else it will blow you to bits, as it runs by spirits more than all else!

Chapter 58: Investing the Abbey: The advent of the Hand-Howitzer. The third rumbling scream of metal dragging on the rough floor of the spade-filled room was both longer in duration and worse for noise compared to both of the first two times, and when I had removed that third box and was returning, this to either be scattered by mines or retrieve something we could really use, I wondered as to how to actually open the three sizable and sturdy metal boxes. They reminded me more than a little of some ammunition cans I had once used for toolboxes long ago, though these containers were both heavier by far and significantly larger.

It's got that name for a reason - chiefly as these are large pistols with very substantial recoil. So they weigh nearly three pounds each. They will still make your hands go numb if you fire them.

Chapter 59: Investing the Abbey: Now we have rockets Rat number two, once it had been 'admired' briefly as it lay bleeding, needed another four men to drag it to the steps, where the first group helped get it out of the place; and then, it was the turn of the monstrous animal Sarah had shot repeatedly. Her hands were not sore now, even if my arms felt sore enough for me to rub them carefully; and when I noted the still-cocked weapons Katje had laid on the floor with a rag beneath them, I showed Sarah how to make them safe: remove the magazine, work the slide - I caught the ejected round both times, which surprised me more than a little - and then check the chamber while holding the slide open against the surprisingly strong recoil spring. Only then did I 'dry-fire' the weapon, and after topping up its magazine, I reinserted it into the butt of the pistol.

Chapter 60: Investing the Abbey: Now we have rockets, continued. A brief check of the rocket showed it to be indeed solidly 'together', and I wondered as to what lay under the small black cap at the tip of the warhead. Sepp cautioned me, however, saying, "there are these things that come out when you unscrew that cap there, and they are hard to put back up so you can get the cap on."

Chapter 61: Investing the Abbey: "What? A radio?" With a jug of beer handy - Katje was keeping the others busy somewhere nearby, as I could hear her voice clearly amid faint complaints of fatigue and other matters - the three of us took the last of our loads to the northeast corner of 'The Upper Alley', that being the place where I had previously spread out those 'waterproof cloths'. My old groundsheet, as well as my 'new' one, were both dirty and had 'loot' on them; and I wanted to learn firsthand of the wear-resistant aspect of these articles of cloth. While I knew there were more cloths like this in some other locations on the premises, I thought it best to learn of their toughness and ability to endure 'real use' with what Sarah most likely thought of as 'Tossers' and 'Rag-Stock'.

Chapter 62: Investing the Abbey: "Behind door number five, we have..." With aches legion and scarce-stifled groans, we returned to the long-room, dodging wheelbarrows and their rumbling like as we went to the room furthest to the east. This was the realm yet of darkness, with dust still piled thickly in many places; and our path to this door was the furthest yet from the outer door. No persons, save for Sarah and myself, had gone down this way yet, for the floor showed in its thick and colorful dusting of ashes mingled with streaks of rust two sets of bootprints, one large, and one small; and both of these boots showed hobnails, these still sharp, still pointed, and very numerous.

Chapter 63: Investing the Abbey: "Behind door number five, we have..." continued I got the beer spoken of, even though my curiosity would not wait past the middle of the second cup in spite of forcing the stuff down against a protesting stomach; for I had not merely questions about quolls, trees, and bags - I had a question about the intended uses of these two weapons. I received the second question's answer first.

Chapter 64: Investing the Abbey: the last of the rooms' treasures The bags, thankfully, were not as a rule tied with 'grandmother's' knots, and therefore those that were tied that way received attention from Karl or Sepp. The only person who needed 'help' with the rest of them - as well as one of my 'spare' awls - was Maarten; and with the passing of the minutes while we unloaded these various satchels, their contents became obvious:

Ammunition tins, these of brass or what might be unusually thick gold-toned 'brushed' aluminum, depending upon their shape - with the brass ones being round, as a rule, and the 'aluminum' ones square with rounded corners. All of them were covered in string-tied rags, and every single example's cloth covering was greasy enough to be altogether unpleasant for me to touch.

A batch of smaller - perhaps the length of my outstretched hand for their upper diameter, and an inch smaller for their bottoms, with the shape being somewhat squatter than the 'pots' which went to those mess-kits I now made in batches of five to eight - hand-raised tinned copper pots, these sized such that they nested one inside another with a thin layer of grease-suffused rags for padding and with greasy brass bails that somehow didn't get in the way of one another. I wondered as to the why of 'grease' on copper and tin until I thought to wipe the grease off a small area with a rag still damp with the Rooster totem's gun-lubricant, and then noted 'new' copper and bright shiny tin. The bails had but slight corrosion, and most of that wiped off readily when I tried one of the rags padding the whole nest of five pots.

Chapter 65: To Arms... To Arms... What are these things? The bird had thus far been silent in Maarten's hands, and indeed, the nature of this unnaturally tall arch-roofed down-sloping hallway with its close-seeming walls of reddish-brown brick and tan mortar made for an awful silence, save among those not overawed by it. My mind was upon traps, even if the gritty floor beneath my boots seemed to lack them utterly; and my hand was reaching for the key to make certain of its continued presence. While I could speak to this door, using the key was both easier and wiser, for the key required no effort upon my part, and that one witch had had a hand in rigging this place.

Chapter 66: To Arms... To Arms... What are these things? part B Leaving the aborted tunnel behind, we now continued on toward the east. My small 'music box' received a consultation from time to time; here, we found more of those dust mounds. Two more of those 'good' Tosser pistols showed, as well as a blackened 'poke-knife' of a type that Sarah recognized from a tapestry. She said it wasn't a fetish - Rachel had picked up one like it on the trip south, and had written about it on that one tapestry she'd bathed for - and while it wasn't quite as good as a Vrijlaand blade, it had proved itself a decent knife on the rest of the trip, according to Sarah.

Chapter 67: The final problems... I began to consult the first sheaf of papers, now looking for field telephones - and while I did not find those listed as being in the room, I did find two bins filled with packaged sharpening stones. Fetching one of the bins having them showed the contents of each cloth package to be five in number, with two stones closely resembling those in the medical chest at home and the other three of progressively coarser grits. All of them, however, were both accurately-dimensioned and without chips, and one package went in my possible bag, while Sepp and Sarah each selected another - or so I thought until Karl bagged up two more.

Chapter 68: Into the maze of darkness. Sarah's notes, when she read them to me as I went into what once had been a maze and was now a collection of tall stacks of boxed materials that I seemed to implicitly know where much of what we needed could be found, this while blindfolded, made less and less sense as I heard her read it. I was homing in upon first those boxes of 'Tosser' pistols the witches had been rifling, and when I came to the first of those dust-mounds I had pointed out, I consulted the marks I had made on the map.

Chapter 69: The maze, while less dark, is still very much a mystery. In traveling clockwise around first the remainder of the north wall and then the west wall of this huge room and picking up that which we had earlier put against the walls, we not only put piles of 'loot' on all of the carts being towed, but I learned another matter, even as I now needed to clear a path through the jagged-edged tungsten shot that had been scattered all over the floor. I was really wanting a broom of some kind in places where the shot impeded our travel, and more than once, I halted the column to look - fruitlessly - for just such an implement. Only when we were past the last of the guns and coming upon the first of the long rows of bolted-together cabinets, these mostly closed and locked, did I think to look once more.

Time for some machine-gun work - with a weird broom, no less. Best move over, Rover, and let Jimi take over. Need music? Put on "Are you Experienced?" That's the soundtrack to this stuff.

Chapter 70: Loading up... Sepp was as good as his word, as he had been cooking up something on that stove as we talked. What Sarah had brought me had been cooking on another stove entirely, and while the 'porridge' she brought - sweetened heavily with honey - was both tasty and helping, Sepp's 'masterpiece' helped even more. I soon found out what Sarah had been using, that being one of those small pots we'd found earlier and one of those pocket-sized stoves.

Chapter 71: Loading up, continued. > Once the gloves were in place - they had surprisingly intricate labyrinth-type seals hidden under the places where they laced onto the arms of the suit - Sarah put my 'faceplate' in, and Katje put on my boots. I was feeling 'warmer' and 'healthier' by the minute, and within a few minutes, I asked, my voice now surprisingly tinny and quiet-sounding, "how do I eat in this?"

Chapter 72: Loading Up, Part three. "I think that to be our answer, then," said Sarah. "I did not do that while I was escaping from the second kingdom, at least until I was up in this area, as the second kingdom and the southern third of the first seldom leaves a field its corners for wayfarers, and the only thievery allowed in most areas is that of witches."

Chapter 73: Loading Up, Part four. Sepp had been busy during this time of speech, and as we turned to go to our next stop, he showed me something else, this with a clearly-visible grin. The roughly-spherical screw-and-nail studded item seemed an enigma, at least at first, as I could see a whitish ball of that less-smelly explosive at its center.

Thunder-eggs, anyone?

Chapter 74: Loading Up, Part five. "And I'm wanting some tactile labels so I don't get confused with this thing," I muttered - though I could tell those were just up ahead in one of the pallets. "Shouldn't that be, uh, tactical?"

Chapter 75: Loading Up, Part six. Sarah had put her pistols back in her pockets, and as we finished gathering up such materials as looked likely from the area, I led along the aisle somewhat further. I could feel another matter, this being something we needed badly; and when I turned to the right, I knew what came next after what these next things were.

Chapter 76: "Are we finished loading yet?" "I hope so..." "There are a lot of dead witches, aren't there?" I asked as the last of the thundering cannon-volleys subsided into the still-ongoing spattering crackles of musket fire. The entire 'quarter' or whatever this region was called was now 'turning out', this for hunting down the sooted-up and blood-dripping survivors of the huge swarm of witches that had so suddenly burst forth from an 'unknown' source.

Chapter 77: "Are we finished loading yet?" "I hope so..." part 2 It took perhaps another ten to twelve minutes for me to go through perhaps another eight of the smaller pistols, and when I learned just how many of them I had done, I gasped.

Chapter 78: "Are we finished loading yet?" "I hope so..." part 3 "More corpse-boxes," murmured Sarah. "I do not see any of these that look to be opened. Do you?"

Chapter 79: That one special alcove > Our trip back to where the others had remained at their labors was sufficiently slow that I wondered if we would ever get there, for Sarah became lost more than once and I needed to guide her nearly the whole distance. In the process, however, I made further notes as to matters pertinent to our future upon the three pages of the map; and now and then, when it was possible to merely follow behind Sarah - not often; she was too heavily 'burdened' to use a compass, and we were far enough from the lights for my eyes to be the only ones to see them - I looked at the single larger 'cannon' round I had retained. It made me wonder about that short piece of belted ammunition that had turned up weeks ago, and more...

Chapter 80: Noise? You Call this Noise? I had more than just stair-climbing to do, I learned: the others, for the most-part, had stacked bags along the outer width of the staircase when they could not carry them forward fast enough. Sepp was still ahead of me, passing bags to someone else, who was most-likely Katje if I went by the occasional plainly-audible sneezes. I wondered just how much work she'd be good for, at least until I came to the bottom boundary of Sepp's 'stashed' bags and began handing them up to Sepp, this now with no running on his part.

Chapter 81: Noise? You Call this Noise? (part two) > Another shapee, then a third one; and here, space beckoned, wide-open space that had me searching with the 'torch' so as to find the wall and stay the specified distance from it, this so as to stay clear of trouble. I could tell there were other carts full of rubbish in the area, and my thinking was that said rubbish needed to find other places to roost in, like the jugs of wine and strong drink the escaping witches were fortifying themselves with; a drunken state so needed by these terrified people, as they dealt with the terror of night-flight against an oncoming army of hardened thugs at their backs and a waiting assortment of nearly-as-hardened assailants at every direction of the compass.

Here ends the longest book (thus far) of the series. I doubt there will be more books of such length, but I have been wrong before. I hope that you enjoyed its' nightmarish aspects, as those are but a harbinger of that which awaits you, the reader.

This book here, though...

It deals with sailing, thugs, an Island of people more dead than alive, more thugs, strange people, mind-reading hardware - "the transducer shows presence... You have level five aquisition..." more thugs, really nasty thugs, irate pirates, blue-suited thugs that would make any sane man wish they were bad police, and thugs that belong in a trio of truly evil movies. Oh, and an Idol . Must watch oneself around animated idols run by mind-reading computers.

It just might blow your mind - unless the drips take it first.

"Erect your fences, barbéd wire,

Watch-towers with their guns,

Secret! Scream your loudest!

Information, on the run;

Money! You must have it,

While you deny your help to others,

All the while, erect your style,

As the debts upon you pile,

Erect the fencing walls of lies,

Lie within the crushing fist.

"The Crushing Fist"

Book Five: Sea, Shore... And an Island.


Chapter 1: Nightmare convoy - or is it only a night-time sojourn into hell? The silvery third-kingdom lantern, turned down, had provided our light while Maarten had spoken the blessing over the Abbey, tearing it away from its former dedication to Brimstone; and now, we would return to our labors. Our small column - nearly a dozen, actually - came into that huge room we knew as 'The Upper Alley', and Sarah pulled upon my 'suite' near where my shirt would normally be, this while we still were in the relative darkness behind a thick column at the rear of the room.

"You two will need to cloak up," said Willem. "I can feel some witches about, and not all of 'em is trying to leave. Some o' those fools are trying to sneak into the camp so as to cause trouble."

Chapter 2: "Is it daylight yet?" "No." The lights drew steadily closer, and for some reason, I looked toward the west. Today had been another one of those 'extended' days, and tonight, I hoped, would be equally extended. I was tired, yet more work would need doing before I slept, and for some odd reason, I was glad I had given Sarah the shotgun.

There were some creatures of an edible nature - birds, to be exact - that at this stage of their development did not know if it was day or night. It made for a most-uncomfortable reminder, one of a supposed nightmare put to music, and such thinking jolted me.

Chapter 3: Quoll-and-potato soup, and other medicines most peculiar "That, and we must make up the sleeping medicine," said Sarah. "Let me fetch a vial of ink and the shaved quill I use, and my current ledger, and you can take dictation."

Chapter 4: "Is it daylight yet?" "No." (continued) As was usual for me, I filled up quickly; and while Anna took longer to eat than I did, she finished quickly also. She then went upstairs with what looked like one of the smaller pots, then as I began to put my mask back on, she came down the stairs and said, "she's asleep."

Chapter 5: A multitude of surprises After I finished the rifles, I then began to use my awl to put oil to the pistols. After dosing each weapon, I prayed silently, rag in hand, and then began wiping them. For some peculiar reason, I was finding so much dirt and grime showing on each pistol when I wiped it that by the time I had gotten each of the pistols 'clean', I had a rag so filthy that Anna needed to fetch me a clean one when I took up another pistol. The dirtied rag went into the now-sizable pile I had made cleaning the rifles of the others.

Chapter 6: The Big Gun I could now clearly feel the press of time, even with nothing to tell its passing present, and minutes later, I finished rubbing Sarah's head. She then went upstairs and came down with some obviously 'new' stockings, and put them on, this with a degree of care that astonished me.

Chapter 7: We shall work as we are able, and labor as we ought... I lifted up the rifle from the cloth spread under it as one last concussion seemed to slap me from the right, and I turned toward the source of it to see Sarah. She was holding that one rifle I had used earlier in the evening, and she seemed to be muttering about strange sights. How I knew this beyond seeing her lips move was a minor miracle, as I now noticed not merely the weight of the rifle, but also, the smoldering aura of fire seeming to have spread itself abroad in the land.

Chapter 8: I needed that dose Anna must have heard Sarah's talk about dosing me before anything, as she first 'dosed' me with a sudden quickness that prevented me from objecting in the slightest, then but an instant later, she was plying me with beer. Again, this was to get what she had dosed me with 'down' and 'doing its work' quicker, and as I got up shakily, this after two full cups of beer, she looked at the jug.

Chapter 9: "Is it a night yet?" Anna 'vanished', while I resumed my seat after putting out the brass rivet wires and that one file I used for 'finishing off' the rivets, as well as the washers and punches I would need for the handle's rivet-wires. My 'riveting' hammer, I laid out, all of this in order, then as I went back to the table to resume drawing, I saw an obvious-looking bag.

Chapter 10: I guess this is a night, for tomorrow, we must labor... I came to myself, a 'cold one' in my hand, shaking and shuddering on a stool, the sticky taste of honey about my mouth, and Anna standing next to me, her head slowly shaking as she surveyed first the mess upon our battle-scarred table, and then, her chalk-white hands slowly turning the pages of my ledger.

Chapter 11: Ride like the wind... Awakening was slow, painful, and I stifled a groan upon moving my legs, but the hustle and bustle below me spoke of me being the last to waken. I was soon apprised of my misjudgment when I actually came down the stairs.

Chapter 12: "When it rains, it rains hard." We assumed a meandering single-file path as we came closer to the gate, and seeing me in greens caused both of the 'armed' guards to raise the gate without comment. Trying to imitate someone like me, someone riding 'a big black one' without harness or saddle, tall, broad-shouldered, long dark hair...

Chapter 13: In the king's chambers, they gather... "This is no feast! This is trouble!" "Did I know the war-cries of Veldters, I would scream them right now," said Sarah, as she fetched the smallest jug I had ever seen - or so I thought until I noticed that it was one we had 'looted' from the Abbey, and was not of ceramic, but plastic. Its seeming 'handle' was a wide leather strap, and its cover, a carefully-sewn cloth portion, one made with blackened brass grommets laced with some of that thin 'rope' knotted at the free ends. The whole ensemble looked well made, well-thought-out, and very secure both from a retention standpoint, and probable 'observation' aspect.

Chapter 14: A time of sorrow and lamentation The time of nightmare did not descend as I had feared, at least it had not done so yet. Hendrik again shook his head, this showing a seeming obliviousness that I thought more a matter of 'he has had far too much to hear in far too short a time' than all else. I then learned he had gotten something out of the matter, as he went over to that one lectern with its dangling boarded sides and its numerous riveted padlocks dangling from a multitude of hasps.

Chapter 15: A greater woe... I found that while I needed to occasionally ask Sarah to look at 'tailor's markings' when I found something that I reckoned an alien language - one which required both an alien mind and alien anatomy to speak and comprehend - I also learned quickly that I seemed to know more about these trousers than the rest of those gathered in the room otherwise. Within perhaps two minutes, I had not merely given a description of everything I had found that I could 'decipher', but also had finished examining the trousers. The next was the turn of the 'shirt', and here, matters became 'revolting'.

Chapter 16: "I see that toe..." I set my buckets down at the bottom of the stairs on the second floor, this some four or five feet out. I could really feel the need to hurry, so much so that I was about to start back up the stairs when Sarah came with her two. She set them down beside me, then said, "best that you stay and guard matters. The three of us can get those carts readily."

Chapter 17: Es Dié da Muerté, Cabroni! Saluté! The clock now roosted in my ears, but after perhaps four ticks, I suddenly knew it was 'time', I removed my hand from the pendant. The cloud came up away from us with a roar and we found ourselves somewhere on a grass-filled downslope, a steady mutter and rumble somewhere to our rear, while the light of early morning washed over us from the west. I turned around, there to see a sea of fire billowing thick black smoke and terrible red, yellow, green, and orange flames, and as I watched, a series of muffled booming noises tossed huge chunks of metal out of the fire to land with terrible clanging noises on the soot-blanketed road some distance to our rear.

Today you die, you witches - you and your smelly town, it's going to hell, and you all will go with it.

Chapter 18: This is the kingdom house proper... We had barely managed a hundred feet further from the house and were moving as fast as we could among running mobs of street-repairers when the witch-house exploded so hard that everyone present - ourselves included - was pelted with showers of coins. I personally was clouted with no less than five gold monster coins, while the yells of Sarah, Annistæ, and Deborah were a near-constant refrain until we had gotten out of the beaten zone of that mess. I was rubbing my head a great deal, and when I looked in my lap, I gasped.

Chapter 19: Boom-times have come again The door worked for Annistæ, much as I suspected it might, but when it clicked open easily for Sarah, I said, "no time like the present. Deborah, show Sarah where that lock needs oil, and I'll dose the hinges with my oil-vial and an awl."

Chapter 20: The road to Ploetzee I had never been to this town named Ploetzee, even if I had heard a great deal about it from either people who had lived there, or those who had visited it; and once we'd left the 'dread zone' behind - our systematic reduction of that eight-house stretch had been watched by a great many citizens, who had stayed out of our way while we were doing business; now, the booms of muskets seemed to follow intermittently in our wake as we left the edges of the town - I felt it wise to reload our magazines and make our weapons safe once we'd gone half a mile further, past the damage done by the witches when they had initially attempted to rebuild the Swartsburg.

Chapter 21: The land of the ever-blooming Krokus... Rachel walked up the corridor, then over to the counter, where I recalled we were due to receive two jugs of beer. While she spoke of the mess to the publican - who did not seem surprised; she spoke of one of the town's residents shooting someone by 'sound' with his roer during the first part of the night and then having a portion of his stoop scattered by a bomb of some kind - Sarah and I each had not merely refills of our cups ready, but also two cold jugs of beer. I knew that Sarah would be glad for the jugs, but once she'd put them in the buggy, she mentioned where we needed to go next. She then showed me the piece of paper hiding underneath her jug with a map drawn on it.

Chapter 22: Our first ride up a horse-driven elevator... The others now came out of the room, their faces creased by grins amid the shades of laughter, and I thought to ask about any other 'rooms' off of this main one this location might have. The man surprised me.

Chapter 23: A long trip 'cross country'. This time of harnessing horses went surprisingly fast - my hands were learning their business - and not two minutes later, we were traveling north along the wharf. The amount of wharf-work was surprising, and while every person present that I could see was armed with at least a revolver, to my surprise, I saw first one cannon, then another, and three men standing by them. They were sited on a stone-topped rise to our left with a smoothly graded path leading up to it, and sited so as to fire more or less 'downstream' at a raking angle. The platform was rimmed in front and to the sides, for secure footing.

Chapter 24: Polly... Esther? "I think those cows are about due for milking," said Sarah. "I can hear them clearly calling to be milked."

Chapter 25: The Kingdom of Boom As I rode east, this at a sedate-seeming pace, a pace that matched that of those to each side of me, I could feel the state of the town's houses and shops. Right now, the aspect of industry in the general area was such that the only people in most of the houses were women and perhaps one or two children, these last either busy helping their mothers or too young to do much beyond cause their mothers grief in one way or another. I could feel a number of infants in the town - easily five or more - but for some reason, even if these children were lively enough, I could not hear any crying.

Chapter 26: The Kingdom of Boom: tanning birds? However, I soon learned I was not done in that room, even if I was done with the 'ticker'. I soon found myself dealing with not merely some batteries that had severe levels of corrosion, but also a rather neglected line-shaft turned Heinrich generator.

Chapter 27: The Kingdom of Boom: that fellow was stranger than anyone Once in Willem's supply-room - where I had not noticed much earlier, due to the need of thumping a fool-hen and then being deafened twice, first when I saw the bird's nest turned into kindling, then afterward as I saw Sarah blow feathers off of a just-kicked tumbling bird in some fashion - I now understood a great deal more. Over in the corners of this room lay numbers of kegs, and Willem identified those.

Chapter 28: "Homeward bound, and free of... What?" Our pace seemed inhumanly slow once on this southbound road, so much so that I wondered just how far it was to the Abbey; and only when it seemed an age had past, one of those times that seemingly was far too long to be measured in years, did the place truly heave itself into sight. The horses were about due for dosing with grain and water, and while the two men worked on feeding the two animals who had been pulling and then putting into harness that pair that had been following on leads, I went over each hoof of the five horses with my hoof-pick, twenty hooves in all, then made sure each of them got his fill of water. Once back under way, however, I realized the truth of the matter.

Chapter 29: Hah! It's Georg! Hans returned with Georg not five minutes after I had spoken of the matter, though what Georg was carrying with him when he came down the steps gave me the strangest idea imaginable. He was carrying that 'twelve-bore' Remington, and my immediate response was to put a shell in it - and have him try firing it.

Chapter 30: Waldhuis gets hornets With the candle-wax being stirred slowly and Paul cutting off pieces of beeswax and the other waxes with his knife and then stirring the inner pot of the 'double-boiler' regularly, I was wondering what Georg could do, now that he had run out of ready-to-melt tin pieces. I suspected he would keep what lead alloy he had mixed up and hot and then transfer it to Hans' lead-pot as needed, but after filling that 'full', he pigged the remaining amount of lead alloy and turned off the heating lamp under his 'full-sized' pot. He then looked at me.

Chapter 31: Waldhuis gets hornets, continued As if Esther had been calling Hans to hurry, he arrived out of breath not two minutes later, and what he had was not a just-cleaned bucket full of beer and another jug in his hand; he had those, and a thick strap about his shoulder with two more jugs of beer, for a total of four. He spoke of a Public House beginning to become busy, but also of Georg laying down three large silver pieces on the counter and asking for a table with a view of the door, saying he was waiting for someone of dire importance, and more, that he would need to leave upon the instant when that person showed. Hence, he was paying in advance, and more, enough to secure a 'prime' seat in the bargain.

Chapter 32: Our next day Dawn arrived far too soon, and when I took off my sleeping goggles, I remembered to bag them in my 'travel bag'. A glance at my brass clipboard, however, showed not two sheets of paper present, but five; and all of them writ in a surprisingly legible hand. I had no idea how this had happened, but I could feel someone coming.

Chapter 33: Class is in session As I ate, I noted that Karl and Sepp needed to leave their plates frequently at a run, and I thought to ask Annistæ about the matter.

Chapter 34: In Hendrik's Office On the way to Hendrik's office - it would indeed be a crowded office, as while most were going for their 'real' breakfasts, I, Esther, Paul, Willem, Sarah, Annistæ, Deborah, Hans, and Anna - would be 'taking our meals' in there. I quietly asked Deborah regarding this mould as to just who made it.

Chapter 35: "Just like at the west school..." The number of cleaners present upon the floor was several less than I recalled seeing, and when I asked as to why, I heard that two more had fallen dead. They'd been decapitated upon the spot, their heads interred upon one side of the manure-pile and their naked bodies upon the other side; and when I heard what had happened to those who had died, I was stunned.

Chapter 36: Getting packed, all right. Setting out to find such a room took time and effort, and while the others 'fanned out', I and Sarah worked on sewing up scabbards for knives and swords. We now had to make one for Gabriel, his such that he could either wear the thing on his belt or concealed beneath his 'burn-clothing', and while Sarah spent a certain amount of time sewing up the scabbards, and I did some time on riveting up the riveted portions of Gabriel's scabbard, we both spent time altering that one burn-garment she'd somehow 'requisitioned'. I had some odd ideas as to how to cut the thing, chiefly as allowing extra room in the shoulders and waist.

Chapter 37: Smoked wheels, an assassin, witch-trouble, and now this. The buggy itself was a bit of an astonishment, for while it was a commonplace buggy, and also very old, it looked to have been fairly well-maintained. A glance at its frame, this while kneeling, told me one reason as to why.

Chapter 38: We are sent to packing. In the ensuing hours - the bulk of that first list I had supplied had long been deciphered, though Deborah was still thumping people on occasion; she had developed a liking to one of those long green clubs, and getting her to part with it was no small amount of trouble. I had to tell her that we would try to return with more of them, or failing that, she could ask Lukas to secure one for her. As if I had asked for that man himself, he suddenly showed in our 'secure-room's' doorway, his aspect wobbly, and his voice indicating he'd driven from the 'leaden fields' to the house as if out of his mind and the hellhounds hot on his trail.

Chapter 39: New clothing, eh? Annistæ came back a short time later, only instead of her 'makeshift' clothing, she now had the full suite: clothing much like Anna's, save cut to fit her; her laboratory coat, this altered to fit better; some clothing in a bag, which proved to be something similar to overalls; and then finally, a cleaning apron, one similar to what I had seen Esther wear when I first saw her. Deborah's clothing was done similarly, but when I looked Annistæ in the clear bright light of 'the white room', I saw the following.

Chapter 40: Slice! With the missive inked and put upon a sand-filled 'plate' under a heating lamp turned down low so as to dry thoroughly in a minimum of time, Sarah and I were escorted out by Maria. I could tell she would most likely have new clothing within short order, that or have her current clothing altered for 'discrete carry' of weapons of one kind or another.

Chapter 41: Slice! Continued. Since I had now relearned certain matters regarding 'overwhelming odds' and 'how to think on one's feet while making consistently decent or better decisions', I now had to retrieve my sword, then go try out Gabriel's sword. It also helped that now, there were no 'Spooks' handy in the region, and my suspicion - softly spoken to Annistæ - was that the nonsense done in the last few days had disturbed them enough that they had decided to play games in their former 'playground'.

Chapter 42: Full steam ahead, and straight on until morning... Or something like that. While I had never run up a 'complex' coal-fired powerplant before, this one seemed easy enough, even though about half way through the process of doing so Deborah found what looked like a rather unusual 'book-rack', this arranged so that one could leaf through the thing and learn whatever there was to know about this intricate assemblage of machinery.

Chapter 43: Such noise this thing makes! The sensation both physical and mental I had regarding 'food' grew rapidly greater, both as to my need to eat and also feeling faint in mind and body, and I was having trouble moving the needle into the cloth Sarah had laid out for me when suddenly an odor of such profound potency took over my mind that I dropped everything and 'attacked' the source of this wondrous smell. It was swimming before my eyes, and I felt as if I were a hungry Iron-Head trout and this was my customary food. I bit into hungrily, and that without hesitation, once the thing was within reach.

Chapter 44: The last night, er, nightmare. Deborah then looked up from where she was gnawing on a toasted slab of bread covered with cherry jam, and saw the fume hood nearest where we were sitting drawing the worst of the saw-fumes steadily upward, and as I saw the smoke in the entire center area steadily clearing, I knew one particular issue with such saws.

Chapter 45: A fate worse than death... As I finished my bath, I noted not merely a substantial degree of warmth present in the general area, but also, a great many hanging sheets, two of which surrounded me and the other two walls forming my cubicle being of well-laid masonry. The non-flickering light, I now noticed, was provided by one of those lanterns we had located earlier, and while the thing wasn't turned up terribly high - a faint odor, with light worthy of a small candelabra running good wax candles, or perhaps four or five good student's lanterns - it wasn't smoking at all.

Chapter 46: The boat. "And what are these fish called?" asked Deborah. "Are they named oil-fish?"

Chapter 47: Full fathom five, deep water Once out of the chute, however, the boat slowed, and I found that the smallest movement of the tiller, this of laminated blackwood and a whitish wood nearly as hard, both coated with obvious wood-treatment and then wrapped in the gripping place with a thin species of that silvery gray rope, caused the boat to respond smartly and with vigor. It needed a gentle hand, and as I moved into the 'channel', I said, "Sarah, we don't need to take soundings. I can see the channel, just like I have, uh, this weird way of telling its depth. I'm keeping to the deeper place, as up ahead is that one crossing, one where the witches liked to cross in the past and will try more in the weeks and months to come."

Chapter 48: The thousand islands I soon found that while this boat tacked readily, upon passing to the north of one island - small, heavily wooded, tall trees, dark green due to a dense growth of brush below the start of the foliage of the trees - that the wind on the west sides of these places tended to be strong enough to build up a fairly impressive level of speed quickly. More importantly, the boat 'coasted' well enough that if I picked my route carefully between them, I could weave the craft between the closer-together ones such that by the time it had slowed to a near-standstill, I was able to catch another 'blast' of wind = and rocket ahead for another mile or two, and then coast into the west side of another.

Chapter 49: Cold Harbor, or 'how I wish this were Gettysburg, but it isn't'. The coast now had a straight run, such that here, I sighted on a point perhaps eight miles ahead in the darkness and ran with canted sail so as to catch the wind, our speed now perhaps forty miles an hour. I could see the beacon fire to the south now with naked eye, though it drew closer with what seemed agonizing slowness.

note that book five has some months to go before it finishes. This is but the first of five portions. Hopefully, this portion, as it lays the groundwork, will not 'grow' as much. After this part, further 'growth' will most likely be significantly less, at least for the next two sections.

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