Journal of Virginia Hyde

2nd June (continued)

I have had little opportunity for writing my Journal today. We are 'shipwrecked' on the shore of Albania, where the Ottoman Empire is nominally ruling but local law is apparently in the hands of bandits.

It was necessary to abandon the damaged steel Kraken on the rocky beach, with the Graf and his seamen secured in their cabins. No doubt they will escape in a while and will probably be able to signal to one of their Ornithopters but we should be well away by then. We have taken all the firearms we could find, trading a few with the local peasants in exchange for a donkey to carry the food and water we a likely to need on our trek to civilisation - if that term can be properly applied to the southern fringes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We made fairly good progress through rough country in the cool of the evening and camped out under the stars just before dark. The scent of the scrubby herb bushes was very pleasing to me.

3rd June

We started early, following our plan to travel in the cooler parts of the day and rest in the heat, but had hardly started when I heard the sound of horses' hooves approaching rapidly from the south. We had sufficient warning to take up a defensive position. Four colourfully garbed bandits were upon us, brandishing guns and shouting. Count Z realised quite quickly that they were shouting in what was probably modern Greek. By concentrating and ignoring most of the consonants, it was possible to gather that the message concerned the wish of the local ruler to see us in his home to the south. Lady H declined politely on behalf of us all and intimidated them sufficiently with her firm and icy stare that they withdrew.

We assumed they would be back so set off with some haste. We pressed on until it grew close to noon and oppressively warm. We had hardly taken shelter when Lady H spotted a large be-weaponed man watching us from a ridge. An exchange of fire followed. It was most fortunate that we had acquired the three carbines from the Kraken as they had a good range and Lady H proved a splendid shot with one. However, he was no bad shot himself and wounded both Count Z and Count Carrera. I watched through my spy glass, determined that it was not the leader of the gang and was glad to see him ride away after being wounded. We moved to a better vantage point, kept watch and tended the injured. Another bandit tried to take us by surprise but I saw him coming and Lady H got a good shot at him.

When it was cooler and the light was beginning to fade, we set off again, taking minor tracks as long as they headed north and skirting around any goatherds or habitation. It was slow going. Eventually we could see that the land ahead was lower and flatter, and more cultivated. Before we could commence the descent we noticed a sizable band of horsemen advancing rapidly towards us. We made use of some rocks and bush to take cover. I warned the others that I intended to stir up an earthquake to throw the bandits off their horses and scare them away. All the others had to do was hold them off with gunfire until I had gathered the necessary magical energies. Alas, it was very hard in that place to find the right form of energy. By the time I was able to release the energy through the earth and cause it to quake, bullets were flying all around. I gathered afterwards that Lady H and Count Z were sure they had shot down the leader. The other men had tried to rush us in their over-excited fury but had been terrified by the arrival of an Ornithopter which circled once overhead and then sped away south. I would have been grateful to the pilot of that craft except that Lady H had had a good look through her spyglass and is convinced it was no other than Mlle Lumiere!

I hardly noticed the machine myself because at the same moment I released the magical power. I was considerably shaken myself as it appeared to me that a massive figure of rock loomed out of the earth and was about to speak angrily to me but subsided again before it could utter a word. I will have to take more care to avoid Harmonics but the urgency of our situation had forced me to incorporate magical energies of the Material and Emotional types.

Again we had to bind wounds and then made our way slowly onwards. We have reached a small coastal village where there is an inn of a poor sort which is quite adequate for our immediate needs. We found people who understood some Italian and Croatian and reported the bandits.

4th June

Whilst taking the morning air by the harbour, we were pleased to see a familiar sight - Captain Flack and the battered steamer 'Jubilee Osprey'. He was more than willing to give us passage up the coast into Austro-Hungarian territory but was unable to take us all the way to Trieste. He is sure we can pick up the coastal steamer service from the next port, however, and be in Trieste in two days. He reported that the Ottoman navy has been very active along the Albanian coast during recent months and had a tale of pirates and bandits attacking a little way down the coast. I fear this story might have grown out of our shipwreck so said nothing.

Before retiring, I have written a Letter to Herr Wittgenstein who I think may be interested to know about the Prussian Graf, his base of operations and the steel Kraken. I will send it off tomorrow via Vienna. Di Carni is not to continue north with us tomorrow but will take passage directly across the Adriatic. Count Z also leaves us here, to pay a visit to his Estates which apparently lie eastwards somewhere not far from here. Lady H and I plan to spend some time working on those punch cards and our memories of the device that reads them with a good coastal chart to try and work out how the system operates and where the island is that the Kraken was headed for.