An Introduction to the Blackfang, Hunter Zaubershwert’s Temple-Ship
April 5, 2012
Ah, another post! Today is Notes From the Abyss Part II, chapter 3!
Feeling really good today, might have some leads for the Workshop too (which will affect my writing should that work out, but I’ll do my best to keep up with this no matter what happens!).
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Now, onto the story!
Jennifer got to know Hunter as I arranged to have our luggage brought on the ship. Thanks to some modern suitcase enchantments we didn’t need much in the way clothes but we did have cases upon cases of relevant materials for the spells I’d have to preform once we got there. Thanks to all of the labor and having to explore the temple-ship, I got to know the crew. I won’t belabor the details too much, since most of the crew are simple autonomous spirits that are conjured either as part of the ship’s spells or by other, higher ranking spirits in Hunter’s employ. A few are even fully cognizant spirits who just choose not to interact at all with people except Hunter, who pays them in thaums which they consume for power and sustenance.
The most important person on the crew other than Hunter is Claudius Rex. Claudius is a massive spirit of Order, one of the few spirits attached to a force that’s not simply elemental or environmental, a force unique to thinking beings, that is powerful enough to be independent of its urges. It controls the crew and ensures that schedules are kept, as well as being the chief inventory operator. Claudius is helping Hunter plot the course through the universe while ensuring that the temple-ship can feed off of natural sources of thaumaturgical energy to power its spells. Claudius has an impeccable mind for mathematics thanks to its connection to Order, and therefor reason and logic (which are philosophical subsidiaries of Order as a force). Claudius looks like an old caricature of a Roman centurion, though the proudly plumed helmet holds no face and its skin is a deep umber color, its voice craggy and sharp where the only hints of affection come in gruff acknowledgements.
Claudius’ primary partner on the ship is Shiva the Willing Servant, an independent spirit without any arcanological anchor. Shiva the Willing Servant was created by a practitioner thousands of years ago and seeks employment with powerful personalities that can use its particular specialties in domestic arts, knowledge of the natural sciences as deep as any university’s libraries, and a beautiful sense for poetry and storytelling. It’s clear that Shiva was initially intended as a companion for a scientist long ago, but where that scientist is or why Shiva is now a free spirit is a mystery that it refuses to answer. Shiva’s primary position on the ship is assisting Hunter as First Mate, monitoring the life-support and essential living systems (from the food to the plumbing), and observing the ritual stations at the heart of the ship in the Inner Cloister. Shiva’s a stately spirit, standing nearly seven feet tall with long white hair and softly tinted aquamarine skin. Choosing a more modern look that Claudius, Shiva normally floated around the ship in khakis and a light white shirt, slightly translucent, and carried a stylus that it used to correct the spell inlays in the ship.
The last important face in the ship’s crew is The Hangman’s Furnace. Unlike the rest of the spirits aboard the Blackfang, The Hangman’s Furnace does not move. It does not converse, for the most part. It does not feel, it does not need, it does not consider. It works, and is bound to work, in service of Hunter, the Blackfang, and the other spirits. The Furnace itself is a massive thing that sits at the bottom of the temple, right under the inner cloister, that eats ambient energy and transforms it into the particular thaums that the ship requires to operate and funnels them into the Helm (or the captain’s chair, if you’re being descriptive) so that the enchantments and rituals in the Cloister that power the ship can function. If the Furnace has a personality, it’s locked behind the binding spells that keep it from consuming the ship. The Blackfang, like many ships, was originally built off of an imprisoned spirit, one that had to be mollified and Sealed to prevent it from harming any more people. That spirit is The Hangman’s Furnace, a spirit that grew on Earth and appeared again on Wurthan, a world that after the Cataclysm, was settled and set up as a feudal planet by wealthy dilettantes. Before what’s known now as the Justice Wars, the Furnace had grown up around gallows in the center of the largest of the Wurthanian Noble estates, a spirit of gallows which always burned and always had bodies hanging from them. That’s why the Furnace itself looks like three bodies, hung from black iron poles and surrounded by roaring fires continually fed by blackened figures with burlap sacks tied around their heads. No one goes into the pit of the ship to look at the Furnace, no one talks to it, no one disturbs it. So long as it remains here, it is safe though. The temple-ship’s parameters prevent it from harming anyone else and the only Noble that had control over it has long since died.
To explain how safe the Blackfang is from The Hangman’s Furnace, let me explain the lay out of the ship as well as some of the mechanics of the temple-ship design. As I’ve said before, the first ships were still built aerodynamically, all long tubes with rounded ends and the like. Modern ships can be of any shape they like, which the Blackfang itself looks like a leaping wolf. It’s carved entirely obsidian, pulled from a single volcano on one of the many fire-worlds in the outer rim of the Milky Way, and is decorated with complex runes carved into the surface in intricate designs from front to back. The fore-paws of the wolf are tipped with iron claws, themselves scrawled with runes and spells that pull the ship toward its destination, and the back paws are encrusted with gold and rubies that focus thaums behind the ship as fire and force. The access to the ship is through the front, when the wolf’s mouth is open, and the gangplank is a ‘tongue’ made of carpeted ash and oak planks that clear away any problematic enchantments that would prevent the ship from functioning. If it can’t clear the enchantments away, the ship will toss you out (the tongue rolls you out in the Blackfang. Other temple-ships aren’t quite as…humane). Inside the ship, the head is Hunter’s personal room and has two ramps from the entry gangplank. Down the center of the ship after the entryway is a wide common room with barracks rooms off to either side. The rear of the ship has a wide curved ramp down to the second level of the ship as well as storage for any cargo (and enough room to store forty tons). The second level has all of the mystical equipment and cohesion spells that make the ship run. Life support rituals, food preperation rituals, spirit circles for them to rest and eat in, cleaning rituals, navigation rituals – everything exists on the second level. At the heart of it, right about where the wolf’s heart would be, is the Inner Cloister. The Cloister has three interlocking ritual circles inside of it and it’s hidden behind nine different walls of different materials. At the center of the three rituals is the Helm, a massive edifice of the Captain’s design and construction that represents the Captain’s will, control over the ship, and raw mystical power. Many Helms are thrones or seats, though occasionally they are something else. In Hunter’s case, it’s a warren, or a den, with a small huntsman’s chair inside of it. The Cloister is what processes the raw power for propelling the ship, controls its orientation in space, and maintains the cohesive environment around it that allows gravity and breathable air to continue in space. Directly below it is the Pit, which has no direct access, where the prison-spirit is locked. Where The Hangman’s Furnace is forever imprisoned. Where the dark, purple-flamed furnaces process raw thaumaturgical energy from the gathering spells outside the ship and feed what it doesn’t need into the Helm and then into the ship itself.
This is the ship we’re taking to the center of the galaxy to, hopefully, stop the thief that took one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons from the Gates vault and prevent another catastrophic war.