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Jul 9, 2021

This episode carries content warnings for insects and the insect infestation of a human, the depiction of a supernaturally bubbling and oil-like skin, and a mention of blood.

To say that this particular story starts off in a strange way would be the underselling of a lifetime. But that’s how things are sometimes. Sometimes, in pursuit of a missing eggsac--which we know isn’t even in this direction--an unlikely trio sets off towards an abandoned town, and on the way finds themselves at the wrong end of blade and riddle. Yet by the end of it all, in stories like this, they find themselves confronted with horrors physical and existential. So it goes in Sangfielle. So it goes.

Today on Sangfielle: What Happened at Bell Metal Station

The Almanac of the Heartland Rider

Places

Sapodilla: One of, if not the, largest city inside of the walls of Concentus. Sapodilla rests on the western shore of the vast lake that takes up much of southeastern Sangfielle, and prizes itself as the rare hub of culture in the bloodfields. In recent years, the powerful witch hunting organization called the Glim Macula has grown in power there, owing to the city’s focus on furthering “civilization.”

The Waterlogged Kingdom: At least that’s what we’re calling it for now. Deep under the water, an empress waits. There’s been debate: Did they turn the wood from her sunken ship into a palace for her? Build castles out of the lake sand? Maybe they never stopped marching, and they’re down there right now, just going round in circles. An likely area of inquiry, for certain.

Facts and Figures

Chantilly Scathe (she/her): The signs and barkers rarely say her name alone. She ain’t Chantilly, or even Ms. Scathe, she’s always “Ms. Chantilly Scathe and Her Shackled Engine.” Don’t let her showmanship and ringmaster garb fool you though: She seems to have done what no Shape Knight could: Make a train of the Shape, The Grand Cormorant Limited, her very own pet.

Phendleton (they/them) and Brace (he/him): Representatives of the so-called True Loyalists of the Sunken Empress. What makes them “true loyalists”? Well, if we knew that, things would be a lot simpler, wouldn’t they?

The Sunken Empress Altapasqua (she/her): Around fifty years after the panic set in, Altapasqua told her people she would ride across this cursed land and purge it of its disease and danger. She only made it about three fourths of the way. And well, it’s as expected. She was down there ever since. 

Agdeline (she/her), Ettel (he/him), and Larch (he/him): This devil, drakkan, and human trio once spent time mining in the hills of Blackwick. In recent times, they’ve found that poorly armed travelers make for better prospecting. Sometimes called “the Toll Collectors.”

Katonya (she/her): A cleaver near the end of her career, Katonya’s body bears all the marks of years in service to the Heartland. Loyal to those who employ her, and a walking catastrophe to those she opposes.

Organizations

The Bell Metal Band: Of all the Shape Knight gangs, the Bell Metal Band might be the most curious (in both meanings of the word). From their tall station at the intersection of two major Shape lines, the Bell Metal Band tries to yank away whatever train parts they can safely reach for study and, frankly, for fun. In the recent days, though, they’ve come under some sort of trouble and have put out a call for help.

The Shape Knights: It took people with clear minds, great ingenuity, and implacable spirit to face down and defeat one of the living trains of Sangfielle. In the time since, they’ve crafted armor from their slain foe, and with that have come to be experts of all things train. They herd, they breach, they redirect. But they haven’t yet killed a second.

Cleavers: Given how loose and fluid this collection of monster hunters, mystery solvers, and naturalists is, it’s hard to call them “an organization.” But when the central belief system of a group is that everything is ever in flux, well, give them the credit of applying that particular ontology to themselves, and take them at their word.

Hosted by Austin Walker (@austin_walker)

Featuring Art Martinez-Tebbel (@atebbel), Jack de Quidt (@notquitereal), and Keith J Carberry 

Produced by Ali Acampora and Austin Walker

Music by Jack de Quidt (available on bandcamp)

Text by Austin Walker

Cover Art by Craig Sheldon (@shoddyrobot)