[Author's note: Kathy had originally planned a series of entries on a trip through the Sansara continent. This turned out to be too dull for words, as most of the continent appeared to be empty. Knowing that if life gives you lemons, and all that, we decided to spice it up a bit. A very small bit. This was written on the fly, with a minimum of editing and, as you'll see, a minimum of plot. - RJ]
Shame is an underrated emotion. All through the summer Kathy Jameson had had a romance with young Viscount _____. Perhaps too young, in retrospect, as his father, when the affair was found out, was none too understanding, and the young man sulked away his broken heart. Kathy was too old and too seasoned for broken hearts, but she did feel the shame. In the confessional, the priest, a young man whose otherwise-handsome face was marred by a great scar from his mouth to his left ear, suggested that a change of scenery might be advantageous, to provide a spiritual cleansing. A long journey away from Caledon had the added advantage of allowing the Earl to regain his temper, as the priest had heard her life was about to become more adventuresome than she enjoyed.
He further suggested a trip that could be profitable for Kathy and possibly win back the good graces of the Earl - or, at least, prevent him from becoming an implacable enemy for the rest of her time in Caledon. On the Mainland, in the very center of the old continent, was a prize of great value, or so rumor had it. If Kathy could bring the prize back to the Earl... The priest left the rest unsaid. She nodded, though she realized he could not see her. They completed the ritual, in which she agreed to say various prayers in atonement for sins she would doubtless repeat, he absolved her, and she left. She packed the cargo hold of her airship with provisions sufficient for a lengthy journey. I hugged her tightly - my sister, my protector, my friend, flawed but loved nonetheless - and bade her a speedy return.
From the Journal of Katherine M. Jameson:
I landed the airship at the very edge of the continent, in the shadow of a lighthouse. Though it was still summer in Caledon, the frozen ground and icy waters of the continent made for a very different climate. I shivered in the thin skirt and blouse I had worn, buttoning up my pilot's jacket in an effort to stay warm.
Oddly, the entire area seemed to consist of rental properties: small chalets, larger stone structures, glass-walled marvels. I would have thought the Lindens would have chosen to fortify this sea approach to their continent; they must have better defenses elsewhere.
After exploring the deserted properties, I returned to the airship. I flew north and quickly encountered one of the defenses I recalled from my previous visits to the Mainland: the ban line. My craft slammed into one of these barriers, a red "No Entry" flashing on my display a fraction of a second before impact. I was strapped in tightly but, even so, I was whipsawed first one way and then the other. The nose of the airship crumpled against the barrier, a spray of sparks emitting from the instrument panel before it went dark and the ship dropped from the sky.
Fortunately, I had not gained much altitude, so the drop was not fatal. Still, I was knocked unconscious by the impact. When I came to, the sky had darkened. I hit the release mechanism and the straps loosened. I found myself bruised but otherwise unharmed. I struggled out of the pilot's seat and crawled through the broken top of the airship, then scampered to the ground, wincing as I put weight on my bruised right leg. The ship lay in ruins. I cursed the Lindens and their ban lines.
Packing a leather carry-all with some essentials (a few changes of clothing, makeup, hairbrush, and, of course, a flask), I set out to the north to find civilization. As it was getting dark and colder, I thought my first order of business should be to find shelter for the evening. I stopped at a large castle, which was the Sekret Workshop of one Ann O'Toole. I knocked politely, but no one appeared to be home, so I entered, raided the pantry, and fell into a deep sleep until morning.