The Sad Tale of Shiveringhope: A Penny Dreadful Tale for All Hallows’ Eve
Written by Scurrilous Typing-Rogue Mr. Vining with Salacious and Naughty Illustrations of Phantasmal Horror by Mr. Baumgart.
The problem started with the mineshaft.
Problems often do. You take a perfectly good colony like Shiveringhope, once the pride of the seas, and you plunk a bloody great mine on it. Whose fool idea was that? Well, that’s a good question.
Perhaps, it was the fault of Lord Palmerstoke, who, recently scoffed at by the Royal Society, vowed that – before the year was out – a giant, earth-shattering drill would be deployed to probe the earth’s bounties. A drill with a bit made of purest, finest, cavorite, capable of breaking through the earth. A drill with gears made of finest copper and brass, a drill with a giant steaming pipe of steam steaming all over the blasted place. A drill that was so powerful, it could bore into the very Crust of the Earth itself. Never mind that cavorite was, technically speaking, lighter than air, and such a drill would have to be tethered to the earth with a collection of very large anchors. Never mind that brass was a stupid and useless metal for making gears out of. Science would have a way, and besides which – surely, it was the sight of the thing, its massive drill straining underneath the enormous pile of redundant, useless and largely decorative cogs attached to its side, that would make the earth shriek in terror.
Perhaps it was the fault of the Empire Times. Day after day, it bemoaned the state of Industry. Industry, it seemed, was insufficient. Perfectly good labourers standing idle, while the rich loamy veins of earth beneath our feet fail to yield up nature’s glorious bounties – and it was all the fault of the Whig party. One thing led to another, and a very large crate marked “SCIENCE. PROBABLY DANGEROUS. BUT VERY SCIENTIFIC. YES.” in bright red paint showed up at the shipping docks of Shiveringhope, containing a terrifying thing known only as the Crustborer. When it was unpacked by cheap, shoddy labourers under the gaze of a watchful Overseer, passing ladies were known to look at it and swoon, so powerful was its aura of unmitigated phallic majesty.