The Journal of the Second Chaplain, TD+15 | loci.theduereturn.com
  








  









  
    

The Journal of the Second Chaplain, TD+15

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It is as I thought, the players noticed not a thing, so engrossed were they in their play. When I entered the Captain’s chambers all were entranced by some telling of Bernadoni. I must admit that I too was temporarily lost in his words and images. The second shift (can it have been only 30 minutes later?) woke me from his spell and I exited to the deck. The site which greeted my eyes was not the city I had glimpsed on my way in, but a colorful plain punctuated by equally colorful trees.
***
I have decided to explore this world and collected supplies enough for four days. EDITH is to accompany me, as everyone else is occupied with playing or observing the games. Because I fear another abrupt shift, we will use some spare rigging to tether ourselves to the ship. I have found plentiful miles of a thin rope, so we will not be limited in the range of our explorations.
***
It is evening and we have set up camp after walking what must have been several miles this afternoon. We have so far seen nothing apart from the trees I first observed from the ship. Upon closer inspection, however, the colorful plain is actually quite barren and the trees skeletal. Their bark is colorful, but they are utterly without foliage. I wonder if this is a dormant ‘winter’ state and whether they might bloom again.
***
We reached the end of our rope around midday and set up camp. After lunching we conducted separate explorations in the vicinity of our campsite. One benefit of the open landscape is that it affords a clear view across a significant distance, and neither of us had any trouble finding our way back to camp. EDITH observed several small buds on one of the trees, though from her description it appears that they were frozen in that state, not developing along the path to blooming. Could these trees be fossils?
It has been decided that tomorrow we will split ways to cover more ground in the hopes of finding supplies of some kind. EDITH will travel clockwise, and I counterclockwise at the full extension of our tethers, thus drawing a circumference around the ship. We will continue along these paths for one full day, then use the lines to draw ourselves directly back in to the Due Return meeting the onboard the following evening (that of the fourth day since setting out).
***
I have been walking alone for half a day now, and the weight of my aloneness in this desolate place sits heavily upon me. I came across some of the buds observed by EDITH yesterday and decided to collect a sample to bring back to the ship for analysis. This proved more difficult than anticipated. The buds appeared quite delicate and I thought it a simple matter to snap one carefully from the branch, but it would not yield to my hands. Eventually, by use of a pocket-knife and my metal canteen as a hammer I was able to work one loose. I should like to collect several more specimens if I am able to find and free them.
***
Night. The darkness makes my solitude deeper still. I had not realized how much having the company of another sentient being (even an inorganic one) supported my own feelings of aliveness. And now the lack of life around me sucks my own life from me. I have found no water, neither living plant nor animal, even the ground is uniform and lifeless. There is nothing but these damned skeletons as far as the eye can see. It is with much anticipation that I make my way back tomorrow to the Due Return.
***
I slept little and set off early, making my way as fast as my legs would carry me, pausing only briefly to eat, rest, and collect a few additional samples. I arrived at the ship mid-afternoon and waited several hours with no sign of EDITH. As night fell I began to worry and decided to gather in her tether. The line was heavy and my worry deepened exponentially. My arms grew weary as I hauled in the miles of rope to find EDITH, somehow deactivated, with a small, pulsing, ball-like object lodged between her teeth. Oh, EDITH! Why am I writing this? I must go tell the captain! Is there yet a captain?