Fata Morgana
rating: +15+x

I heard this low rumble, at first. I woke before dawn, per usual, and took out what I needed for the day. Picks, shovels, et cetera. You know, sir, as well as I do the standard morning sounds: blizzard winds, ration tins clinking. No consistent rumbling. So when I heard it, contending with the usual ambience, I looked around to find the source. I guessed South, approaching Beechey Island, and continued listening. The rumble grew like an encroaching train. What previously matched the environmental noises now drowned them out. I looked over to you, about to tell of the noise, when I experienced the second sign of the thing to come.

The area dimmed, the previously white mist turning a dark grey. The darkness covered us as if a Titan blew out a candle, the source of the still increasing noise obscured by the blizzard fog. I lifted myself and ran to our frigid ships. I tripped. While I wiped the snow off my face, I looked back to my origin point. The blizzard seemingly died down but the noise kept increasing in volume. I gulped when I realized the sound's identity.

Ice breaking.

A stick peaked out from the distant, dissipating fog, its length extending onward and onward as it moved. It resembled granite in composition. The stick stretched across my field of view before it finally terminated on a much, much larger body. I realized what it was.

A bowsprit. It was the bow of a boat, sir.

This boat of seeming endless length, longer than any leviathan, kraken, god, devil, tall as ten cathedrals, glided across the strait, trudging through the ice below and breaking it into chunks. I rubbed my eyes and pinched myself, to no effect. The boat moved with a swan's grace, sir. A monolith of coarse stone, same as the bowsprit, formed an effective wall in front of the strait, as if a dam constructed itself. God knows how deeper the ship goes if it pulls miracles of this kind. God knows how you didn't see-

I'm- I'm sorry, sir. I'm just… flustered, a bit…

The ship itself possessed no notable facets save featureless rock, but on top of the ship…

On top of the ship… Structures. Buildings, homes, complexes, spires. By God, I saw a city up there! From my vantage point, I saw the vague outlines of buildings, but what buildings. Churches with buttresses larger than houses, twisting columns leading nowhere, blank spheres on pedestals, pyramids with cone-crowned turrets, onion dome towers ascending to Heaven. As far as the ship stretched with its brutal barrier, the city continued with. I walked closer and shouted at the ship, if only to know its hearing prowess.

"Hey ho! Hey ho! Give me a sign!" I shouted. Predictable results.

Near my supplies, I grabbed a monocular to inspect the city. First, I saw the building materials. Coarse stone, the same as the rest of the ship. Upon closer inspection, the buildings looked connected to the ground, as if the ship formed one cohesive whole. Many of the buildings featured zero windows, as much as the ship, but those that did give an inside glimpse… blackness. Complete darkness inside the windows which, really, resembled holes better than real windows. No glass panes. Continued viewing revealed more to me than my initial glimpse. Plinths without statues or inscription, wide areas with no development, lamp posts with stone orbs instead of lights. All remained cohesive as the buildings, yet none possessed any life suitable for habitation. A dead city.

I finally saw the ship end. It terminated, appropriately, in a blunt manner. A sheer cliff of rock for the stern. I couldn't help but wonder, as the ship left and the blizzard returned to fog the air, who captained that ship, then or at any other time. I couldn't imagine who would, or who would live in that city. Then I realized.

This is why I called you here. This presents us with an opportunity. We can't leave here on the Erebus, you know we can't. That boat I saw is a harbinger. If we get on that boat, we can save ourselves. We can save our posterity. We can make that ship ours. Why, we can make that city ours! Please, sir, we don't have unlimited-

… Yes, I know, but-

You're very kind, sir. I know our predicament affects you as much as it affects me. I just know that-

But sir, look at the ice. It cracked the ice!

Oh. Understandable, sir.

No, no, I apologize to you. I just… I don't know what got a hold of me. But if it really was just…

I suppose oneiric visions open themselves up to inconsistencies like that. I apologize again.

I trust you, captain. I know we'll get out of this alive… Let me grab my supplies.

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