(Excerpt from the travel journal of a whaler in his final years)
A Gaffer's Tale, Vol 2: Or, A Gaffer's Final Passage
After more than a quarter of a century, I am done with whaling, too broken to continue. I've seen all corners of the Isles and made more coin that most men see in a lifetime. But it's all gone. I've lived through an Emperor and watched his daughter take the throne, fair young Empress she was, but slain so young. Everything beautiful comes to die. I've eaten in every port of the known world and sailed in the loneliest waters you could imagine. I've seen the cliffs around Pandyssia. Even the best of it doesn't give me an ounce of joy. The years come back across my dreams as a line of butchered bodies; long, sleek and singing among the waves under the moonlight, only to be speared by ugly, weather-scarred men who'd knife each other for a good pair of boots.
Each year I had less time to come home. My tongue forgot the language of small chatter and those who lived in the cities thought me odd. My sister Nina hardly knew what to say to me during our visits. When she lost her business to the Lord Regent's crooked barrister I was a hundred miles east of Morley, gaff-hand frozen from the sleet as we tracked the first bull whale we'd seen in months. I helped her as much as I could, but Nina died in the early days of the plague. None of it mattered. If I'm jaded and bitter, it's because this industry has taken away my dreams. The world has beaten me.