Journal of Virginia Hyde

1st June

So good to be walking again. I accompanied Lady H to the shop of a local Craftsman where were obtained several potentially useful Items. Myself, I purchased a long, strong steel hatpin which is robust enough to come in for several other more useful applications. I also obtained a small kit for providing Illumination which is concealed within the case of a serviceable Watch, and a magnifying lens within a Brooch. We went on to a Coffee House where, by arrangement, we met Count Z. Much surprised to be greeted by Count Carrera. He reported that his Airship was repaired and his brother was in custody in Vienna. Lady H introduced Count C to Count Z and the conversation between the Gentlemen turned to competitive Name-dropping and fencing with Property for a while. Count C repeated his invitation to us to enjoy a dayís flight in his Airship, and included Count Z in the offer.

When we accepted, Carrera said we would be flying out over the Adriatic to look for any sign of his friend, Leonardo di Carni whose yacht, La Bella Figura, was missing at sea. I proposed an early start on the morrow to make best use of the daylight and went off to ask at the harbour about the Weather reports. There has been no word of bad weather so we should find Carreraís friend is safe.

2nd June

Made a good, early start from a field just outside town. There being no plant life up here, I took an interest in the Engine and saw how Count C has made improvements to increase the Craftís speed and efficiency. Lady H studied the Charts and Count Z seemed absorbed in the view. We travelled on so for several hours before Count Z reported something on the surface below. Count C was puzzled as it looked like rocks below the water where none ought to be. We went lower and put a weighted Rope over the side. I was holding the end of this when suddenly two huge Tentacles reached up out of the Sea and tried to grasp our Gondola. The creature looked like some sort of giant Squid. Lady H took the controls of the Airship and managed to hold it steady but the Tentacles took a Firm Grip. Count Z drew his Rapier and slashed at one, to discover it was of Metal. We were being inexorably drawn down towards the Water. I loaded my gun and pushed it firmly in my belt beneath my coat and them took up an improvised Club, meaning to beat off the Tentacles but by now we were almost in the water.

Now I could see clearly that this was a Submarine vessel large enough to hold several People or a lot of Machinery, and the cleverly articulated tentacles were arranged around one end of the Compartment, in which a hatch was opening. Two Thugs with guns emerged, swiftly followed by a German who urged us, in heavily-accented Italian, to Surrender. He was fairly Gentlemanly about it, saying he needed to hold us Prisoner temporarily but his two men kept their Guns pointing at us. Our Captor introduced himself as Graf Dagobert von Susselheim - we did not favour him with our names. He made us drop all visible Weapons and leave our bags with him, and also confiscated Count Zís cane, despite his insistence that he needed it to walk with.

We were herded below decks and locked up, Lady H and I in one cabin, hastily vacated by some sailors. I hate being locked in, and it didnít take me long to pick the Lock, though I relocked the door until we could devise a Plan. We had caught sight of eight men who were presumably the crew. Count Cís friend, Di Carni, was here as a Prisoner also; the two were locked in a cabin together close by. I was glad I had managed to resist handing over my coat despite the warmth inside the Submarine, as I still had the concealed Gun and now looked for a chance to use it. To reduce the risk of it being Found, I tucked it inside the leg of my underclothes and took off the Coat. Soon the Graf came to our Cabin. He returned our bags, with apologies to Lady H that he could not yet return her Pistol. I was glad to see all my belongings were present and intact. He invited us then to take a tour of what he called ĎThe Steel Krakení, which he seems very Proud of.

We took the opportunity to learn as much as we could of the Vessel and its Machinery. The Graf was eager to describe and explain its working, assuming we did not understand. It operated on Electrical power from large Batteries which would be Charged by running a Coal fired Steam Engine when the Vessel was on the surface. The Underwater Navigational Control System was a fascinating application of a Babbage Engine controlled by commands on a series of Cards, which I was not permitted to touch. The Tentacle control mechanism was very complex but I noticed that it incorporated some of the Linkages which M. Matinage had invented and Mlle. Lumiere had stolen! We were soon locked in the cabin again and I acquainted Lady H with this last information.

Time passed very slowly. We heard noises from outside the Cabin which suggested that Count Z was being given the Tour not long after us, but mostly we could just hear the Throbbing of the machinery. A meal was handed to us; we slept; then another meal. Eventually the Graf came to our door again, told us it was around mid-day and invited us to join him up on deck for Lunch. There was a small, swarthy man there too whom I had not Noticed before. I was so Glad to escape that Cabin. The Vessel had been halted on the surface not far from the coast and a table had been laid for Luncheon on the small, flat deck area on to of the Submarine. The meal was quite adequate and the fresh air was very welcome. The swarthy man looked highly disapproving of the food and the wine - I deduced he was an Ottoman. The Graf drank more wine than seemed sensible to me but not enough to give us an advantage. He proposed a toast to the Kraken Fleet and The Empire. His two armed men were alert throughout the meal and consequently it was impossible to relax. However, I kept an eye on them and bided my time. I had an Idea which I wished to pass to either Lady H or Count Z but could get a private Word with neither. I noticed that Count Z made great play if lameness and made sure he always had a Chair to lean heavily against, which I new was just Play-acting.

The meal was over and the Graf was enjoying yet another refill of wine when I realised I had to take my chance. I waited until the Graf was opposite me, on the other side of the Table, and his armed Guards were fairly close to Count Z and Lady H and pushed hard on the Table. I was gratified to see the Graf sliding towards the Water. Count Z grasped the situation at once and swung his Chair at one Guard. Lady H sprang at the other, attempting to take him by surprise and get his Gun, but he was too strong. I Lifted my Petticoats to retrieve my own Gun, which took rather longer than I had anticipated. By the time I had it in my hand, Count Z had sent one Guard into the water and had knocked out the other. I was just too late to stop the Ottoman who disappeared down the hatch, yelling in what I presumed to be Turkish. Lady H had retrieved the gun from the unconscious Guard and pointed it at the Graf who was swimming close to the deck now, warning him sternly. Swiftly as we could, Lady H, then I went through the hatch. Count Z followed, less quickly, and secured the hatch behind him.

Lady H intimidated the helmsman and, via Count Zís fluent German, we were able to issue orders. I watched to make sure he used the Controls only to do what we requested. Lady H went o look for the other Sailors and I heard a Gunshot but she was not hurt, and just one of them was. They locked themselves in the Cabins, which was quite convenient. Count Z took care of the Turk, tying him up, ignoring his claim to a commission from the Ottoman Government ,and obtained his gun, then retrieved his Cane from the Graveís Cabin along with Lady Hís own weapon. The Italians were then released from their Cabin. There were no charts on board, so it seemed the only way to discover the Destination of the Vessel, and the Graveís home port was to collect up the navigation control cards, taking care to keep them in Order, and take them away to be Examined so I put them in my Haversack.

The Graf was by now beating on the hatchway so we ordered the helmsman to take the vessel lower to shake him off, so we could then resurface and open the hatch to see if we could find out where we were without his being there. Lady H and Count C went up and could see three men in the water, swimming towards the Kraken. Not far away there was an Island with much Steam or Smoke rising from it, and an Ornithopter circled above us. Keeping guns pointed at them, we allowed the three swimmers on board and took them below and locked them up then took the Craft down and headed North. The frightened Helmsman told us that the Batteries were low and the stock of Coal was poor as the Vessel was only equipped to return to Base on the Island. By mid-afternoon we were forced to the Surface and made some headway under Steam power, looking along the coast for a harbour. We were obliged to come ashore on a Beach which we took to be probably in Croatia.