Goblins & Humours

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Part One

While walking the decks early one morning, Magdalene came across a loose sheet of paper. Curious, she picked it up and noted that it may have once belonged to a bound journal. The script was clear, but the letters changed size and the lines went up and down unevenly.

The date is illegible, if that's what it was. Magdalene thought she could make out a 1 and a 0 in there - or was it a 7 and a 6?

Consumed by curiosity, she began reading.

Our vessel has been at sea for a long while now. I lost track of the date a few weeks ago when it was so cloudy and rainy that we couldn't tell when a day had passed. With all our travels, the map closet has gotten quite cramped with new maps and trade contracts. It has gotten so that I can't even sit down without crushing some important papers or another.

Luckily, I found a key the other day. I spent an entire day when I was supposed to have been alphabetizing documents searching the ship for the lock this key belonged to. (That is always the strangest task, for of course the maps are always alphabetized! All I do when they tell me do alphabetize the maps is change whether they're alphabetized by general area, or the first named place listed, or the route's destination, or the name of the mapmaker. I've run out of variations, nearly, but knowing how the maps are organized keeps me employed.

My strange systems seem to be beyond the ken of the officers. I must remember this if they threaten to drop me overboard again.) (Did I mention that the captain constantly threatens my life and limb? It's getting so that I can speak none but gibberish while in his presence. I swear the crew thinks I am possessed of some strange devil.)

(But I am not.)

(If I was, would I be able to tell? Perhaps I should speak to the doctor about this.)

It wasn't until the next night that I found the lock the key fits - another closet in the hold of the ship! There are only a few bottles shoved into the back corners and wood seems permeated with the sweet smell of rum. Maybe this cabinet is made of rum wood.

In any case, there's far less danger of me setting maps on fire with candles, and if I become thirsty I can always see what's in those bottles.

I hear footsteps. I will continue my thoughts anon.

The script ends abruptly at that point. Based on the content, Magdalene very easily guessed who the page belonged to, but she was unsure what to do with the information it contained.

Should she report the theft of the key to the Captain? Or just Mariam’s habitation of the rum cabinet (if that was, in fact, the closet she had found)? Did her loyalty to the Captain require her to report Mariam’s organizational scheming? And what about her fears of possession? She has been acting oddly of late.

Magdalene pondered these questions and more before her innate doctor-habits took over. In her cabin, she pulled a fresh sheet of paper and penned a note:

An interesting question, this, and one worth discussion. Going back centuries, men have pondered the question "does the madman know that he is mad?" Or "does the cameleopard know that his name is 'cameleopard'?" How does one know for certain? I have, in the past, designed cruel and egregious instruments to determine whether the perceptions of one person are the same as those of another. I should say that it is ultimately up to the Divine, but such an answer is never entirely satisfactory to those of us with inquiring minds.

As to the issue of possession, it is something that anyone may worry about in this time of sin and iniquity. As the body has four humors which each contribute to Life, it must therefore be concluded that minute life forms must exist in each humor that they may support the body's continued health.

For example, issues with the blood are evidence that there is an imbalance in the life forms of the blood, which I would call "haemogoblins." If the blood is too strong and hot, it means that the haemogoblins are too populous, and the cure of bloodletting lets some of the haemogoblins out, making room for the others. If a patient is weak from their blood being too thin, it is because their haemogoblins are too thin and scrawny, and must be fattened up, like the beasts of the field, on a diet of spinach and leafy green vegetables.

To diagnose demonic possession, on the other hand, one must eliminate all possibilities of an imbalance in the humors. This can be done through a thorough examination of the body, and the behavior of the individual. Various foci of divine energy may be applied--sprinkling of holy water, for example, or repeated strikings with a blessed pommel--to bring the demon to the surface. For now I prescribe another method of bringing any devils within you to the surface: ensuring that the body is a clean receptacle, white and pristine, wherein no self-respecting denizen of the underworld would care to dwell. Wash yourself thoroughly in freshly taken seawater twice a day, consume no meat, and sing hymns as you work in the map-room.

After a week of this treatment, we shall reevaluate the situation.

Magdalene folded the note, stuck it in her belt and went about her day’s work, hoping to come across Mariam.

At the bottom of a ladder Marcos sees a note, written in a calm steady hand.

Marcos picks up the note. "Now this IS a find!" he whispers.

At that moment a cry rises, "All hands on deck! Marcos! Step it up lad!"

"On my way!" he called back, "This warrants looking into…" Marcos quickly pocketed the note and went about his business.

"Ay there, Marcos! Don’t stay up too late, yer burnin’ through candles faster than we can buy them."

"Of course, Jamie. I will to bed soon." Marcos watched and waited until the deckmaster had left, fished the note from his pocket and began to read.

Upon finishing the note he let it fall to the ground. Sweat began to break on his head, his sides and all over. His knees began to shake from fear. "Goblins in the body? Why then we should all be driven mad!" Marcos rushed below decks to the brig. With a fury, he took a fresh piece of paper and began to write as fast as his pen would allow.

...terrible invasion that should leave the ship and all of its crew in dire straits! There must be a way out! There must be a way off this ship before they all turn mad! I fear at most for the Captain, for he would be the first target if I had the same desires. For now I must do all I can to resist and to prevent this terrible event to occur. Preparations must be made. All the weapons should be secured and a check of each crewman on the ship must be done. It seems likely that Doctor should make the check… Unless the doctor has already fallen…

There should be a way to tell them apart, some way to tell the infected from the normal. Let us see. A man is in the right when he walks upright. He speaks clearly and does not mince words. He does not saw at the sky with his hands, nor does he posses foul oeders as though he were in drink. I am certain that there must be a way, but who to trust? Of all the saints I pray that there can be some safe measure. I will to sing my loyalty. I will purge all that will cause harm to myself and others. I will endeavor to find the conspirators and drive them out less the whole ship be taken.

The candle fades and I must away, howe’er who will I trust? Anyway I must to the maproom to pray.

Marcos places the page in his pocket before lying down to sleep.

As the sun’s light slowly wanes to the west, Captain Lot stepped out of his cabin, stretching and admiring his beautiful ship. CRUNCH. Lot froze and picked up his boot.

"Paper?" he thinks, noticing the writing. "What in the world is this?"

He begins reading the Doctor’s note on possession and insanity, wondering who on the ship it could be for…

Mariam spent the day quite busy finding all kinds of interesting baubles to decorate her new, spacious, sweetly-scented rum wood cabinet. Captain Lot had a very shiny favor dangling from his belt that she quickly pocketed when he was occupied. Why, while baubling that very afternoon she’d noticed the other crew members leaving precious items just sitting on a table when they turned away!

She’d pocketed those as well.

Once the sun went down it was really quite hard to see what was shiny and beautiful and what was not, so Mariam retired to her closet for the night to begin finding places to keep her new baubles and toys.

She passed by Marcos in the brig, noting how very like a hunting dog he slept, all curled up against the door, one hand partially covering a slip of paper sticking out of his pocket.

"Hm," Mariam thought. "I didn’t know he could write. He must’ve stolen something."

She reached through the bars, grabbed the suspicious paper and paused to make sure Marcos was still sleeping soundly before continuing on her way.

The next morning, Captain Lot notices that Marcos is acting very oddly. Stammering, gesturing wildly, looking about warily, and jumping at shadows.

Marcos is standing in the middle of the deck, talking to himself when the Captain walks by. In mid-stride, he strikes Marcos in the forehead with the pommel of his sword. Marcos falls to the deck.

"Well, that's one..." mutters the Captain. He makes a sign of the cross above the pommel of his sword, replaces it in his scabbard and continues on.

"I am sure Marcos will wake in a little while," he tells Jamie.

Mina, standing nearby doing her morning exercises, notes to the watching crew, "Indeed, a textbook case of demonic possession attended to neatly by the captain. The sword, with its hilt forming the shape of a cross, is a natural holy weapon for use in dealing with unclean spirits. Just throw a bucket or five of nice, cold seawater over the powder monkey, and he'll be good as new."

Once the Captain left his quarters, Mariam sauntered in and dropped the note found in Marcos' pocket in the pocket of the Captain's coat, picking up a very pretty hand cannon on her way out.

Later that day, Captain Lot called the crew together and issued a directive:

"In light of certain news, all members of the crew are hereby ordered to consult the Doctor in regards to a physical and mental inspections to ensure to their mental, physical, and spritual well-being. Also, I will be taking time to discuss with the doctor and others, the best way to bless and fetish our pommels for future use in rooting out evil spirits as they may occur. Rest assured, steps are being taken to insure the well-being of this crew. I urge everyone to co-operate. I know the doctor's test may not be plesant, but they are for you're own good. Any resistance shall be taken as a sign of infection and will be dealt with promptly. Again, please comply, it is for your own good."