Diary Excerpt from Captain Canute Glasikis, July 28, 1855
July 28, 1855
We are certainly making progress. There’s no denying that, try though some naysayers will (talking to you, Jeremiath. And, if I am talking to you, what in the holy hell are you doing reading my journal?). The chaplain’s been keeping logs and she estimates we’ve come upwards of 15 miles. Which doesn’t seem like all that much when I write it out but, holy shit, these 15 miles have been, in the wise words of Cadmus, freaking epic, man. Death, dismemberment, desertions, all the d-words you care to use: we’ve hit them. Hit them and run through the resulting fireball like something out of a movie. Except that by this point, everyone has gotten pretty damned crispy. Metaphorical smoke is rising from our hair and our skins are pink and smeared with char.
Lucky thing is, we have yet to lose a crew member. Jeremiath, of course, has come close. Seriously, passing out in the direct path of the ship? Not cool. Not even remotely. (And, parenthetically, what on earth is happening with my language these days? It’s as if the tongues of the crew are seeping into my brain and twisting my words. I mean, not cool? When have I ever said a thing like that? Or, for that matter, when did I get in the habit of asking myself rhetorical questions? Oh, my head.) Back to the point, Jeremiath is lucky to not be squashed into a thin paste.
And speaking of which, we lost three more recruits today, all squashed. Which sounds flippant, I know, but recruits come and recruits go, in an assortment of shapes, some of which are two dimensional and oozing fluids. I cannot say I have gotten to know any of them – I utterly lack the chaplain’s gift for language, and my “conversations” have been limited to things along the line of, “pass the vodka” and “oh my god watch out for the bow!” The latter of these is something I would do well to learn to say in another language or three, if I want to keep the body count manageable.
Still, none of us have died, and that has a certain niceness to it. And, since the country is teeming with deserters, most of them starving, we have no shortage of bodies willing to sign on for eye gouging danger, in return for some of Sincerity’s stew and all the vodka and/or Rot they can put away. So we are, it seems, in good shape. Cadmus took a jaunt about yesterday, scouting out the land (he brought Preston along, which is cute – hulking Preston tagging along with a scrawny kid), and he thinks we may be about 20 miles shy of Svestapol. He’s also of the impression that the war out there is getting a lot closer. Thus far, our only real experience of it has been torn landscape and bodies, some living. But we hear gunfire in the distance most every night now (don’t get me started on what that’s doing to our sleep – if Juniper wakes the camp up with night terrors one more time . . .) and today we heard the ominous thunking of something big and unpleasant. Not sure what exactly will happen if we Haul ourselves into a battle, but I can’t imagine a happy ending.
Morale, oddly enough, seems to be improving. The combination of steady progress and strong drink has a salutatory effect on the spirit, it seems. We work hard all day and drink hard all night. Some of us combine the two. The only one I truly worry about is poor Anteas. I am beginning to think he will never truly recover. Always babbling about someone crying and cheese and sometimes squirrels. Perhaps it means something. Or perhaps his mind is just flat out fucking gone. Hard to say, but it is the one thing out there that truly saddens me. He was never a friend, but he was always Anteas, I’d come to count on that, more than I’d thought possible. I miss his Anteasness and I hope he comes back. I don’t expect he will.