Capital City

New Library & Rail Tunnel in Steelhead

A week or more ago I took one of my early morning rides out of St Helens and into Steelhead proper (I was looking for a store to rent, but more of that another time) when I happened across some exciting additions to the city. First off I was very excited to see that work has started on the ambitious under sea railway tunnel to link the old 17 to the steamlands.
Steelheads New Rail Tunnel_001

I don’t know what the captain of the Clockhaven Queen thinks about  it, but I can’t imagine he’s pleased… Still, the tunnel is an architectural marvel!
Steelheads New Rail Tunnel_004

And speaking of architectural marvels I note that work has finished on the new public library.
Steelheads New Public Library_001

It’s a grand old affair and real feather in out city’s cap, but I will miss the old library and its gardens…
Steelhead Public Library Photography Exhibiton_006

Pop over to Steelhead and take a look for yourself:

p.s. I found this photo of the old train station area from December 2007 – shows how much Lunar & Tensai have developed it in three years (hat tip to Krystine Qinan and her brilliant photostream):
Steelhead Train Station and Shops

Steal Head: The Story In Full.

The great thing about multi-participant roleplay is the sheer scope & inventiveness of posts and photos that people post to their blogs. Unfortunately it can mean that it’s hard to follow the ebb and flow of the tale and sometime you can miss whole chunks. To try and address this I maintained a record of everyone’s posts and listed them in a chronological order that made sense to the tale. If you’ve never read “Steal Head” before, or are returning to re-read it, I hope this guide helps you find your way through what proved to be an amazing four months of my life 🙂


The tale begins…

All across Steelhead, people start having nightmares… ((An OOC call to join in the nightmares!))

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the first time…

A vandal paints graffiti around town

A message is revealed and the Sentinel is on the case!

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the second time…

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the third time & Capt Creighton delivers a photograph…

Steal Head Arrives in Town!

Lunar calls for an expedition to the site of the photograph.

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the fourth time & Capt Creighton delivers a photograph from the expedition…

More from around Steelhead on the spate of vicious murders! ((An OOC call to join in the murderous fun!))

Dr Beck falls to the creature and a rescue is undertaken.

The end of Steelhead’s nightmare, yet Ya Yiwama claims one final victim…

In the murky waters of Steelhead’s Shanghai port, the legacy of evil battles on…


Steal Head: The End.

All “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.

Steal Head: Chapter 7 – The Collecting Begins…

The night fog rolled in from the sea, its thick tendrils wrapping around the city until everything was hidden under a grey blanket. Most folks retreated indoors, huddled around warm fires and gathered together in rooms lit bright to ward off the darkness but some hardy souls remained, against all common sense, outside.

In Shamian, Bill Symonds was heading through the narrow guinnels and back-alleys towards the docks looking for work. The fog curled around the cannery, the men and machines inside working noisily through the night; no jobs there, not for him, not for any white fellas now the tong ran it. He walked on by, heading out to where the fishing boats landed. Whatever else he could do, he could always mend nets and ropes for the skippers. In the darkness he heard something hit the ground wetly, “‘Allo?” he called out into the mist, his voice sounding flat and far away. No one replied, just be a cat after scraps he thought and carried on to the wharf. Then another wet slap, and another, and another. Suddenly slap after slap came from behind him, or were they in front of him? He couldn’t tell, they echoed off walls, the alleys playing tricks. “Ey now, stop playing silly bugg…”
Yi Yawamas Victims_004


Archibald Tome smiled weakly as he climbed the steps of Miss Milneaux’s Poppy Emporium to feed his addiction. If mother ever found out, he thought to himself for the umpteenth time that day, she’d cut my allowance off toot sweet! So even though Belle was known for her discretion and it the Dragon Lands was quite the place for one to remain anonymous, he found himself thanking his lucky stars for the filthy weather. Breathless he reached the top of the final set of stairs and stepped out on to the Emporium’s balcony when there was a wet thud behind him. “Mi… Miss Milneaux?” he stammered, turning around, “Is that yo…”
Ya Yiwamas Victims_006


As James McLaughlin popped out of the library to fill his pipe he was surprised to find that a real pea souper had descended across the city. “Well, what a foul evening Miss Homewood,” he said the librarian as he headed out to the gardens. He made himself comfortable on the bench and tapped his pipe on the metal arm rest. A sudden sound, as if someone had dropped a large book into a puddle, caused him to turn “Hello? Miss Homewo…”
Ya Yiwamas Victims_001


Across the bay, Henry Wilson-Smythe was hurrying through the fog towards home having been kept late at the office. His footsteps echoed eerily across the water, coming back at him with a short delay to sound as if he were being followed. He felt a cold chill down his spine as a sudden splash behind him stopped him in his tracks. All was quiet, only his own breathing breaking the silence until a wet slap followed by another and another started coming towards him through the mist. “I say, anyone ther…”
Ya Yiwamas Victims_008


“Ey now, stop playing silly bugg…” A flash of teeth and Bill’s body fell to the ground, a jet of blood erupting from the stump of neck where, until mere seconds before, his head had been…
Yi Yawamas Victims_005


“Mi… Miss Milneaux? Is that yo…” Claws slashed through the fog and a fountain of gore shot across the balcony as Archibald’s headless corpse fell backwards…
Ya Yiwamas Victims_007


“Hello? Miss Homewo…” Arms like knotted steel twisted and pulled until, with a wet crack, James McLauglin’s head was torn from his shoulders…
Yi Yawamas Victims_002


“I say, anyone ther…” A huge, wet paw enveloped Henry’s face, his eyes barely had time to widen in fear before his head was torn from his shoulders and his ruined body crumpled to the floor…
Ya Yiwamas Victims_009

The collecting had begun.


To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
2) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.


Steal Head: Chapter 2 – A Letter To The Town Council…

Dear Estemeed Members of the Town Council,

It is with some degree of alarm that I find myself writing to you with warning of what I fear may be the initial stages of an outbreak of mass-hysteria amongst the population of the whole city and possibly its wider environs!

As you will be aware I recently returned from my trip (upon Official City Matters) to New Babbage and it was whilst I was steaming back aboard the Clockhaven Queen that I had what can only be described as a nightmare. Now whilst I would be the first to dismiss the use of a ‘bad dream’ as a symptom were it to fall from the lips of any but the youngest visitor to my surgery (which remains, by the by, in dire need of running water I feel duty bound to add at this point), even I have to sit up and take notice when not one, not two, but many people from all over the city are reporting they too are having dreams of a very similar nature and theme: to wit, the losing of one’s head!

Now if these shared dreams are being caused by an outbreak of mass-hysteria, then I am so far at a loss as to what is causing the actual outbreak. Be it some strange air that has fallen across the city, or a foreign body that has somehow insinuated itself into the food or water we share I simply do not know. I am, of course, tracing and tracking each case but I urge you to ask the population as a whole to report any such dreams to me, along with any other activities or events of a similarly strange nature, so I can build as complete a picture as possible. Only through rigorous scientific exploration will the cause of these most disturbing of dreams be uncovered and I for one shall not rest until I have an answer.

Yours in endeavour,
Rynhold Beck (Dr.)
13 to 14 Shamian Alley,
Shanghai, Stlhd.

p.s. You will be pleased to hear that my trip to New Babbage went smoothly. Well, as smoothly as any trip to New Babbage can go. Is it me or are the people there of a very peculiar bent? In truth, they all seem a little… Mad Hatter if you ask me.

p.p.s. Would you also be so good as to thank the kind and anonymous donor of my new microscope for me?

p.p.p.s. I nearly forgot. Please direct anyone with a dream to share to send their written description or sketch to the Ning and mark their correspondence with the tag “Steal Head” so I can sort through it easier.


To be continued…

All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.

Steal Head: Chapter 1 – All young gentle dreams drowning…

The Queen steamed through the afternoon and evening, her engines driving me inexorably towards my adopted home and away from New Babbage, city of sooty intrigue and shrouded nobility. As the paddles pulled me to Steelhead, I dozed in my chair and mulled over the fate of my recent ward now in the stern grip of Madam Justice. The past weeks working at the hospital with Dr Mason and Director Harvey had aroused within me a curious mix of emotions that, as I journeyed back to my single, lonely room in the stinking slums of Shanghai, I found exhausted me to examine.

The jolt of the steamer’s engine going into reverse woke me from a deep slumber, the Queen was pulling into a fog-bound Steelhead and I groggily gathered my belongings and prepared to disembark. A short while later I was gazing out across the mist-shrouded bay as the pride of New Babbage’s fleet sailed away.
Headless Ryne_003

Night had fallen and the chill air was thick and grey, the city as cold and quiet as the grave. Not a soul did I see as I passed through the empty streets, only the occasional street lamp to ward off the dread fog. The alleyways and cut-throughs seemed even more unfriendly and loathsome as the think night fog swirled in them. More than once I found myself glancing over my shoulder convinced I was being watched…
Headless Ryne_004

The approach to the slums of Shamian Alley took me through the deserted heart of the city. Nary a light did I see in any windows, no footsteps or voices did I hear. It was as if the entire population of the city had simply vanished leaving behind the shell of their lives to be filled by this accursed fog.
Headless Ryne_012

The closer I got to home, the stronger the feeling I was being watched became. Each window was a black eye watching my every move, every doorway and alley a shadowed threat of ambush.
Headless Ryne_009 Headless Ryne_010

Until at last, and with no small measure of relief, I climbed the rickety steps up to my darkened room and unlocked the door. The fog curled around me and seeped into the room, its tendrils only vanishing once I closed the door, severing them from the night outside. The room was as I had left it before my sudden departure, newspaper and books lay where they left them, half-drunk tea growing mould in my mug. I threw my hat over to the table and shrugged off my winter coat, the chill of the night not quite surpassing the cold sweat the eeriness of the deserted, foggy city streets had sent down my back. I was tired and I needed bed. I walked over to the night stand to see what water remained in the jug and that’s when I saw it…
Headless Ryne_002b

In horror, unable to comprehend what I saw, my hands reached for my face, desperately groping in fear of what I would, or rather would not, find…
Headless Ryne_005

I stared at my reflection in the small mirror. My reflection, I realised with the hand of dread terror around my heart, was missing my head!
Headless Ryne_001

With a start I awoke, sitting in my chair aboard the Clockhaven Queen as she steamed towards Steelhead. My hands shot upwards and I almost cried out with joy as I found my head exactly where it should be. It had been a dream, just a dream…


A few hours later, as the sun set across a bustling and decidedly fog-free city, I stared out to sea, at the wake of the departing steamer, and shivered as I tried my damnedest to put the terrible nightmare out of my mind. I had patients and a practice to get back to, I didn’t have time for silly dreams…
Back in Steelhead_001


To be continued…

All my “Steal Head” posts can be read here and all my “Snatched From Steelhead” posts can be read on my blog here.

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Steal Head’s first appearance was recorded by Nurse Lucy Tornado here.


Mr Creighton’s Air Tours of Steelhead and Environs.

Way back in mid May I dropped by my surgery in Shamian Alley and bumped into a most charming new resident of our fair city (by which I mean Steelhead, obviously), one Mr Paul Creighton.
Meeting Paul Creighton_001

Mr Creighton was in the process of moving into the city (at the time I met him he was looking at a plot in Shanghai, but by June he had settled in Port Harbour, very close to where the old Mason lab blew up) and was planning to give air tours of the surrounding countryside and city blocks to anyone interested. I was honoured to be offered a test flight in his airship and we had a grand time touring all six Steelhead regions (although I’ll confess to boring him rigid with my history of the city and endless list of who lived where and what buildings used to be there and what places blew up or burnt down or were attacked by demons and blew up before burning down, etc.). I was having a terrible time staying in-world that weekend but I managed to hold on long enough to get a few snapshots and I present them below. In the meantime, should anyone be interested in contacting Paul about a tour (or attending one of his weekly flying tea parties) please do drop him a line and tell him Dr Beck sent you 🙂 You can also find him on the Steelhead Ning where his is part of the Airship group. Now, what about these pictures I hear you cry…

This is Paul’s smaller airship (pictures of his larger one, his luxury yacht Heimdall, to follow in another post)
Paul's Airship_001

Heading out over the slums…
Paul's Airship_002

And away from the poverty…
Paul's Airship_004

Through the city…
Paul's Airship_007

Past Nish’s Butterfly House to be
Paul's Airship_010

Past Mt Hood and towards St Helens…
Paul's Airship_011

And over some ugly old shack I think I’ve seen before 😉
Paul's Airship_012

Before landing in the Shanghai plot he was considering making his own at the time.
Paul's Airship_014

Time for tea!

One of the things I miss about England, even the nightmare my England had become before I slipped between worlds and found myself in Steelhead, is tea. Proper tea from the Empire’s slopes of Assam or Ceylon, strong and the colour of honeyed oak with boiling water poured over the leaves and allowed to stew for at least three minutes with the milk poured in afterwards, always afterwards, never before.

When I washed up here, and I mean that quite literally, I was staggered by the kindness of the Steelhead community for taking me in, but over the months I’ve lived here, slowly becoming part of that community, there’s been one thing I’ve missed more than anything (well, almost anything but this is a light-hearted missive after all) and that is tea. A cuppa. A brew. Char. Ye Gods! For all their invention and creative prowess, these colonials have no idea about making decent tea – but then what do you expect from a nation inclined to throw perfectly good tea into harbours, eh?

Yet no desert is without an oasis or two and Steelhead’s own tea-Sharara has one rather amazing watering hole in the form of Miss Softpaw Sommer‘s Tea Gardens in the Capital City. It’s quite a cycle for me, but entirely worth it because if there is one thing Miss Softpaw knows it’s how to make a bloody good pot of tea! Add to that the amazing and ever-changing nature of her gardens and I challenge anyone to find a place more suited to enjoying heaven’s own drink! Pop over here ( and see for yourself…

Time for tea_001

Time for tea_002

Steelhead Public Library’s Photography Exhibition

In between running up posters protesting about New Babbage’s illegal acts in Steelhead and brooding over the Tong bastards who broke into my surgery, I decided to take a trip over to the public library in Capital City and conduct some research into the fever that was spreading through the northern slums.
Steelhead Public Library Photography Exhibiton_006

When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see that the library patrons had organised an exhibition on the history of that most wonderous of inventions, photography!
Steelhead Public Library Photography Exhibiton_005

Almost the whole of the lower floor had been given over to informative displays and examples showing the evolution of this exciting science…
Steelhead Public Library Photography Exhibiton_001

Steelhead Public Library Photography Exhibiton_002 Steelhead Public Library Photography Exhibiton_004

Steelhead Public Library Photography Exhibiton_003

I recommend you head over to the library and take in this superb display – you can find it in Capital City here.

Steelhead: The Trouble With Wishes…

I was a-wandering through Steelhead’s Capital City region last night heading for the library where I understand a new exhibit is about to open on the history and development of photography (more about that in a post to follow, no doubt) when I bumped into, indeed all but tripped over!, a small purple saber-toothed kitty cat in a natty black hat. Living in Steelhead one becomes somewhat blasse about odd sights, but this one certainly took me by surprise, especially when said kitty spoke to me in the distinctive & delightful brogue of the Jager-kind.
Valdyr Dreamscape_001

Valdyr Dreamscape_002 Valdyr Dreamscape_003

Valdyr Dreamscape_005

It turned out that this wee purple creature is none other than Europa Embassy guard & new Boomtown tavern owner Vladyr Dreamscape and she has found herself in this unfortunate state after dabbling in the wishes game. She was granted three of the slippery little devils by Eugenia Burton, Steelhead’s resident fae & one-time-farmer-now-half-sunken-houseboat-dwelling-Herr-Baron-chasing-wish-giver. Miss Burton’s heart is as big as Steelhead, but ever since that dreadful business in Babbage her powers have seemed a little… flakey and poor Vladyr did not chose her words carefully enough when she spent her first two wishes on her desire to shapeshift. Now she is stuck as a Jager-cat until she can devise words clever enough to pin the third wish down and not only return to Jager-form, but also retain her heart’s desire; the ability to change her form at will. It’s a tough task and I wish her well – myself and Keli McBride tried to help but I fear it was beyond us. I did suggest she contact Miss Fuschia Begonia in Caledon but I hear she is trapped in forn parts by some form of volcanic eruption near the roof of the world that has grounded all air-ship services. I also suggested she try The Scientist in Babbage, but I regretted doing that as soon as the words had left my lips as I hear he is even more unstable than usual at the moment.
Keli McBride_001

Da Tiny Kitteh Jager_001 Da Tiny Kitteh Jager_002

If you or anyone you know has any experience of Djini law, wish-negotiation or shapeshifting, please could you contact Miss Vladyr Dreamscape via telegram to Steelhead or the Steelhead Ning