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Expedition (1/???)

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Occult

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Expedition 1.1

We disembark tomorrow, at dawn. I haven’t been able to sleep, so instead I write.

The ship is beautiful, my gear is well-enchanted, and the course is totally uncharted. It’s perfect.

I am not the first Occultist to walk this Earth, and barring exceptional or unforeseen circumstance, I won’t be the last. That said, I’ll be the first Occultist to venture into the Dead Sea. Not quite the first human, but the first in several thousand years.

There is a reason for this. The journey is fraught with innumerable perils, and I undertake this knowing it may be my last ever foray into the unknown.

The possibility remains, but I do not think it will be so. My blades are sharp, my will iron, and my resolve unshaken.

Expedition 1.2

Boarded the ship this morning. Maia insisted on coming along, and I packed accordingly. We cast off, and I couldn’t help but feel a sinking feeling. As I let go the rope, it felt like releasing a hold on my last lifeline. It soon subsided, however, and the journey began in earnest.

The ship is not made of fragile wood, not propelled by sails that blow at the whim of winds. No, my vessel is iron. As for a crew, I have the parts of the boat that require human hands operated by geists, bound to the ship and to me, by the force of my iron will.

I have named the ship the Siege Perilous. Fitting, perhaps.

I will spend much of the journey in my cabin, I think. Pier 54 is a long way away from the Sea, and much of that journey will be on mundane oceans, of no great interest to me. I’ll spend the time preparing, or simply ruminating on the days to come.

Expedition 1.3

It’s been four weeks since my last entry. Most of that time I spent preparing my equipment, performing the odd ritual, and astrally projecting back to the city.

I suppose I’ve neglected to much describe the ship. The cabin is not large, but not small either. A circular window allows me a look outside, and a small bookshelf dominates the wall opposite it. Much of its contents are books of lore from my personal library, ones I deemed essential for a months-long voyage. The collected editions of my journals, of course, as well as my Codex Seraphinius and Ur-Appendix. The remaining books are on seafaring and nautical knowledge. My bed is across from the door, with three drawers underneath for clothes. Most is mundane, but the third drawer contains my armors, robes, and a few pieces of gear that are safe to keep there.

My desk, mahogany wood, is next to the bed. I spend much of my time there, writing in this journal or reading. When the weather permits, I’ll venture onto the deck, and perform a ritual on the ship’s exterior. Mostly, I summoned bind new geists, as I have little use for anything greater on this journey.

Maia keeps me company, as I work. For a Greater Demon, she’s a surprisingly low-maintenance pet.

I don’t expect to write again until I reach the Dead Sea. I wouldn’t have written toddy, but I was struck by the impulse, and had little better to do.

I find I cannot wait much longer for the Sea.

Expedition 1.4

The Sea is nigh.

After a delay, due to a poorly-timed storm, I am close to the sea’s ‘entrance.’ Most enter purely by chance, as the entrance often varies in size and location. I, of course, intend to explore, so I’ve narrowed down the location. I’ll bring the ship through, and begin the next leg of the voyage.

The few accounts I’ve managed to scrounge up about the sea are… short. They focus on the first few days’ worth of dangers, and most end abruptly. As such, I know the details of this encounter, and the next several, but after I’ve made it a few dozen miles into the Sea I’ll be sailing blind.

The first thing each tale describes is the expanse. Black water, and thick fog. Guarding the entrance is a small fleet of ships. Always at least three, never more than ten, scaling in size to the ship entering. I don’t know how they replenish their numbers, as at least one account describes ending them, but I suspect they’re not humans.

There’s no special plan for them, only my magical might.

After that, the ‘path’ diverges, inasmuch as there is a path at all. As best I can guess, I can head one of four ways, corresponding to the cardinal directions, relative to the entrance. Different terrors will face a traveler each way.

The westerly path is the best-documented, but I shan’t go that way. The sole tale of the west path was written by the only contemporary scholar to write of the Dead Sea. It was the most recent Sorcerer Supreme, before the current one, and he survived through his arcane power.

The dangers there are beyond my ability, so I mustn’t take it. Instead, I’ll follow the southern path, the second-most documented, and try my luck with Scylla and Charybdis. Monsters from Greek myth made manifest thanks to the Sea’s raw arcane stuffs.

I’ll take Scylla over her companion, as her modus operandi involves plucking sailors from their ship, AMD I have no sailors to lose.

In two days’ time, I’ll enter the Dead Sea. The prospect is daunting, and rightly so, but I have faith I’ll prevail.

Expedition 1.5

Death! Disaster! Ruination!

---

I suppose I should explain.

The insertion went well. I entered the Sea, ascertained my direction, and prepared for the assault.

(Notation: In my earlier haste, I neglected to properly describe the Sea itself. Almost immediately upon entering, the change is visible. The sea bleeds into blackness, the sky green, and the fog gathers thick enough to obscure vision farther than a mile out. It was oddly beautiful.)

What I didn’t take into account, of course, is that the Sea is a malignant entity unto itself. Mere moments after I stepped onto the Siege’s deck, a storm began to gather. The rain assaulted me, and I was force d to erect a weak shield simply to protect myself. Not because I am too frail to withstand mere rain, but because of its qualities. I didn’t have enough time to examine it, but it seemed to me to be acidic.

The winds howled, and the ship began to rock, the waves tossing it to and fro. I stayed stable, but in the chaos I missed the arrival of the enemy. There were only two, strangely, but they did their damned work well enough. One fired a harpoon, keeping me attached to them at a distance, while the other approached to board.

My attention split, I opted to use my surroundings to my advantage. Lightning had begun to spring from the storm, and I nudged a bolt towards the ship closing in. It split apart, and I was free to deal with the other. They were out of striking range, and only going further. They pulled me, as the storm spun the ship every which way.

I was mostly occupied trying to keep the ship stable, and drifted from the position I had directional reference for. After regaining my bearings, I dispatched the enemy ship with a well-placed Lesser Balefire, and headed into the cabin to weather the storm.

My geist crew survived the encounters mostly intact, though their ectoplasmic forms began to wear under the rain. I used a minor astral projection to inhabit them, from the safety of the cabin, and kept the ship steady. The storm got worse before it got better, but at the least we didn’t capsize.

After four hours, the storm subsided. With no landmarks in sight, I had little idea where I was, and there was almost no sign there even had been a storm, save surface damage to the Siege.

I brought an enchanted telescope onto the deck, and searched for a sign to where I was. With the magnification on the telescope, I found the rift that is the entrance, in the distance. When I discovered which direction I had been blown, I was… upset.

After a few minutes of anger, I wrote the above entry. Next, I re-read all my notes about the Sea, in hopes I had more… hope, than the situation suggested.

I have been blown north.

The northward path is wholly uncharted. Based on the very preliminary reports I’ve read, there might be land there, but that’s literally all that is known to me. And land is… not good news. Land means there might be more… permanent dwellers. Not good news.

Still, I will stay the course. Though the concept of ‘sunk-cost fallacy’ is not unknown to me, I nevertheless feel I’ve invested too much time and resources to turn back now. I’ve only scratched the surface of what the Dead Sea has to offer, and if I let this… setback discourage me, I will prove myself unworthy of the title of Occultist.

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