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Voyage of the Empress

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Thursday Morning, 9:15 AM.
June 15th, 1892
Boston Harbor

The Dragon Empress brooded in the number 6 pier, its once majestic twin smoke stacks now festooned with an aggregation of soot and seagull droppings. The once lusterous white paint of the superstructure and railings was stained with the ochre stains of rust as the metal slowly yielded to the urgent demand of corrosion. Particularly large rust stains streaked from the anchor ports, giving the ship the appearance of a tattered and filthy weeping statue.

In the next peir the Gunnarson unloaded its cargo of fuel coal into the bunkers aboard the Dragon Empress. A platoon of greasy faced dockmen sweated under the surprisingly hot New England sun. Each grunted as they worked to move the fuel into the ship. Chang Wei Saisong observed the men as they loaded his ship. The asian man smoothed the lapels of his sombre suit, thinking of California where such menial labor was the sole domain of his asiatic kin. It was quite a thing to see immigrant Irishmen with their flame red hair, and pale skinned Germans, Austrians, and Dutchmen working in such conditions. The coal would be loaded completely in another 14 hours. The main cargo was already loaded.

He felt the manifest folded in his pocket. 22 tons of raw textile materials from South Carolina, 130 tons of American grain, and 3,000 tons of refined steel, quite a load for the old liner, but the holds were sound, despite the poor appearance of the ship. He thought of the crate...and quickly banished it from his memory. There were plenty of strange characters who bought passage across the Atlantic for the bottom of the barrel costs he offered. Thieves, murderers, occultists and other rogue personages sought the low cost and no questions tickets that he had.

According to the manifest, there were going to be 119 guests, not including the 48 crewmen who signed on for the crossing. He was vexed that aside from three asians who had come with him across the country, he couldnt keep a steady crew on the ship, the sailors always looked for other ships, better ships, newer ships. Even the American Navy was causing him to loose men as quickly as he could get them. He looked down to see some of the workers pausing with their shovels to lean against the crates.

"Hey! you lazy, get to work or all fired!" Chang shouted after looking at his pocket watch.

'Henri Lamorak'...that will do for this voyage Pinky thought, as he watched the workers heaving crate after crate unto this seeming behemoth of a ship. He liked the name he had chosen. Something from some book about knights. He breathed in the salty air, and glanced away from the Dragon Empress momentarily. His sharp blue eyes searched the docks for Mr. Brandford, that sap of a banker, Henri had now befriended. One could always use a friend on board to lend credibility to my latest character, he mused, and its not like the banker was bad company. He was a pleasant enough chap actually, even if Pinky didnt swallow his "woe is me" tale of bankruptcy. Bankers had money, was as simple as that.

Not seeing the frumpy man among the throng of people, he returned to staring at the ship he was soon to board. Ok...lets get this straight now, he addressed himself silently once again. Your father was French, your mother American, but with dutch blood in her veins. Yes, that will suffice. She was sick with the Consumption now, poor mammy, taking the vapors in Amsterdam. Perfect! who could resist a loyal son returning to see his mother for perhaps the last time. A true tear-jerker. If only her humble, but loyal son had the finances for that operation and hospital stay *sigh*. Yes that will do quite nicely.

He absent-mindedly stuck his hand inside his pocket and began fingering the small ivory curiosity he always carried with him, ever since that mad-eyed taxidermist dropped it in the street while running from someone and babbling incoherently. The item looked like the tip of some animals horn, spiralling and yellowish from age. Unicorn horn, he liked to imagine, although the old timer at the museum identified it as a shard of Arabian Ibex horn, whatever the hell that was. All Pinky cared about, was that it brought him luck.

He glanced around again, watching the people make their way to and fro. He spied a group of probable passengers, some ladies with dainty sun umbrellas who were speaking with someone who surely must have been part of the crew. Time to make friends, Pinky thought, and strolled in their direction. Oh and there he was! Mr. Frederick Brandford himself, looking all green and pasty. No doubt still suffering from all that whiskey he quaffed the previous night.

You've come a long way from Five-Points New York, Pinky told himself, as he gracefully chose the right type of walk for Henri. Lets see what the Atlantic and the Old World has to offer!

Henri heard a good deal of commotion, followed by a flustered series of apologies being offered. A rather good looking and obviously New Englander couple was coming up the pier leading what looked like a pait of black horses with large floppy ears, massive dogs of some sort. "Apologies, my sincereist apologies!" the man said as one of the tops toppled a stack of coiled rope to see what it was obviosuly hiding. "Pardon me!" he all but shouted as the duo of beasts decided to move on to the next interesting thing on the pier.

"They are really quite harmless," the woman said to Henri as her husband fought with the leashes as the dogs discovered a strange and exciting new scent a few feet behind them. "They are Newfoundlands, and there arent too many ships that would let us bring them with us." She said.

"Quite right, those that would wanted them crated. That's no way for a bog to travel, a week locked in a wooden box." The husband said. "The name is Peter Zimmerman, and this is my wife Estelle." he extended his no-leash hand to shake with Henri.

Ria Hawk:
Ellie looked around the squalid little pier in distaste.  Normally, she wouldn't be seen dead in such a place, but the Empress was all she could afford.  Hopefully, none of her clients would be around to see her, and no one she considered socially important would recognize her.  That would be humiliating.  At least, if worst came to worst, she could easily come up with an excuse for being on this dingy ship that didn't reveal her financial situation.
And anyway, she'd be making a new start in Europe; it was really for the best.  Her nerves hadn't been any good since that dreadful episode in Arkham when she'd suddenly gone into screaming hysterics on the street for no readily discernable reason.  She really had no idea why; she'd passed that house several times before, and lent no credence to the stories of it being haunted.  At least the incident had only helped her reputation.
The commotion caused by the couple and their massive dogs attracted her notice.  She was standing quite close to them, and the other man the dog's owner had introduced himself to.  She glanced at the two huge dogs, and pulled her skirt away before they could tread mud on it.  "Please restrain your dogs, sir.  I cannot abide it when I am jumped upon."  She spoke with a vague, affected accent that was hard to place.

"They are really very sweet, and dont mean any harm, they are just overly rambunctious," Estelle apologized for her dogs as poor Peter tried to keep the dogs from bounding up on the strangely accented woman. "Your accent is peculiar, do you happen to be from Innsmouth? I hope you dont mind me asking, but my great aunt lived there for a while and she gathered up a rather similar accent herself. Poor dear she passed away just about six months ago." Estelle realized that she had not given the woman a chance to speak back. "I'm sorry, I do have a tendency to just carry on and on when I am nervous..." She stopped as the two newfies stopped gamboling around and started to growl deep in their large chests.

"I hope you can keep you dogs on leash..." a strangely pale asian main said. He seemed rather tall and had odd features as if he were off mixed birth. "Please, board the ship as soon as possible!" He said, scratching at his ear.


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