The Mysterious Note: Part 3 – New Babbage Clockhaven

Dr Ryne Beck Gravatar As the all-but-deserted Clockhaven Queen pulled in to port, I was struck by how much bigger and, if possible, even more impressive New Babbage seemed these days.

Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

Even though I had only visited once (and then all too briefly) I could recall reading a travel guide by Burro Publications in Steelhead’s library and marvelling at the city’s use of technology. True that given my childhood in what had been Manchester I had (and indeed, have!) plenty of reason to distrust and even hate technology, but as a doctor I know full well that technology is only a tool and any evil, or good for that matter, wrought by technology is in fact created by the man, or creature, utilising the technology.

I was contemplating these philosophical quandaries as I disembarked and walked along the quay. Evening was setting in and the empty streets were growing dark. I was suddenly aware of just how awfully empty the streets were. A chill wind blew between the silent buildings, a strange keening sound only just evident over the noise of the Queen mooring up. I was certain I picked up a familiar scent wafting in from the city too, a sickly sweet smell that I knew all too well. Death was in the air.

Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

The shop was on the waterfront and the note had said to look out for a console or door which would open with a voice command and grant access to the cellar. I searched high and low but could find neither – the front of the shop was simply open and given the shop’s position on the quay any cellar there was likely to be very damp indeed. The only door I could find in the shop was a curious circular affair at the back of the shop, but there was no console nearby and it opened perfectly well with only the slightest of pulls.

Steelhead: The Mysterious Note

But what a strange place to have a door for it opened, by the smell of it, into the sewers of Clockhaven. Was this the cellar door the mysterious note alluded too? If so were the sewers (wide, covered canals which took the waste of the city away into the sea and were an engineering marvel the slums of Shanghai needed desperately if the outbreak of some foul disease was to be avoided) the means of delivery for the Bing Kong? And what were they delivering that was so important? There was only one way to find out: I had to enter the sewers and see where they led and to do that I would need a boat. There was only one place in Clockhaven I knew of that supplied such a vessel and I turned on my heels and headed into the darkening night…

Steelhead: The Mysterious Note


To be continued…
All the “The Mysterious Note” posts can be read here.




  1. Excellent, more sewers! I don’t know why, but I find it fascinating when builders create spaces beneath the city. I shall have to don my oldest clothes, affix a clothespin to my nose, and go exploring!

  2. @Dio – TY mate 🙂 I *love* taking pics in SL, but I do run a fine line where their use detracts from the tale, or the telling of the tale.

    @Rhianon Aye, I love the hidden spaces under sims 🙂 I really need to explore Steelhead’s tunnels…

  3. well Hon, I can’t say as I’ve seen any indication that your pictures detract from the storytelling (in fact–I’m not sure what you really mean by that–could you elaborate?).

    I think your images do a nice job of setting the tone (like the way that last one above does–a sort of suggestion of the beginning of a journey, with elements of dread and curiosity). They also foster sense of what the settings and characters are like, helping the reader to picture the reality within which your story take splace.

    In fact, your use of illustrations has inspired me to try harder at creating my own screenshot illustrations for the Deadwood stories. The only thing I have a concern about is that my shiity screenshot skills might place a limitation on the reader’s imgination, forcing him or her to see the story unfold in their mind’s eye in way that is kind of “meh” becuase the images I forced on them are “meh.”

    Sometimes I think the diverse ways that diverse readers picture the settings and the characters in their heads is probably much more interesting and rich than what I can provide for them in my feeble attempts at illustration.

  4. Hiya Dio – TY for your kind words on my photo skills 🙂

    I think you allude to one of worries I have about adding photos to a tale – that the photo may not be good enough or may not look quite right and therefore detract (or distract) from the tale itself.

    Another worry is that the photos start to become the tale… or start to dictate the tale. With this case I very much allowed the photos to dictate the tale and it worked (it’s a long story but basically I never intended to go to New Babbage – I read the clues incorrectly and blundered off like a lemon) but in other cases it really hasn’t.

    There is also a third issue – that of photos blocking the story. It’s a fine line and in the past I’ve found that the perceived need for photos has stopped a tale moving on – I couldn’t get in-world to take the shorts, or couldn’t find just the right props or location or whatever and BOOM! the story stops dead and is very hard to restart. This is what happened to my first two tales, Backpacking Burro and The Island and really it’s only since writing Lost & Found in Steelhead (in which I used very few photos) that I’ve realised just how limiting my dependence on them had become.

    I will say about your tales, Dio, that the occasional use of one or maybe two shosts here and there has always felt like a bonus that has never distracted me from your writing. I honestly think you have a good balance as it stands and whilst I’d always love more photos, don’t ever feel your skills as a wordsmith need them 🙂

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