Sunken Treasures

The rising waters came a hundred different ways, the rain fell for months washing ways roads and flooding valleys, the seas rose along the coasts and the rivers flooded inland. But it also cam suddenly in some places and gradually in others, some cities disappeared beneath the waves in a single night and others were only surrendered gradually as one dike after another slowly failed. The Civil War also confused matters, in some parts of the city fighting and the plague means that there was no-one left alive to loot the towns and estates of the nobles before they were flooded.

For these reasons and more many treasures lie beneath the waves and many of the ships that cast their lines into the Archipelago’s waters are not searching for fish. There are a variety of magical means of locating treasure (the lodestone spell of the conjuror being one example) and of exploring the watery depths from the submersibles and bathyspheres of the inventors to the use of friendly spirits by witches. However, treasure hunting is a dangerous profession and the easy spoils (if not the most valuable treasures) have been recovered already. Fewer big discoveries are made each year though a handful of men and women become immensely rich from their searching every season.

The treasure hunters of Albion are loosely affiliated with the Venerable Order, and the wealthier members frequently buy memberships in the Order in order to acquire a little extra respectability. Similarly many captains of the Order looking for money to repair their ships will find it on the bottom of the sea.


Many of the treasure-hunters ships roam alone, setting their courses on the basis of old maps, rumours and the hunches of their captains. Experienced captains become adept at recognising when a storm may have stirred the silt and uncovered new treasures even in areas which may have been searched before.

The majority of treasure-seekers however base themselves above one of the sunken cities where the richest pickings are likely to be found and where the location can be established with certainty. Once London was the largest and most prosperous of Albion’s city, now it supports the largest community of treasure hunters. At least a dozen ships set their anchors above it now, often specialising in recovering wealth from a particular quarter or particular trade within the city. (The alchemist-captain Dickens of the Snowbird specialises in underwater explosives to unlock the vaults of old banks and forgotten merchant-venturers.) Only a fraction of the vast city has been looted so far, and many of the most precious items are buried beneath buildings destroyed in the Civil War. Reliable information about where to search can be extremely valuable.

The ruins of London are also dangerous. The most obvious danger exists in Southwark, the quarter once home to the majority of the city’s alchemists. Neither Catholic rebels nor Royalists made significant attacks on the alchemists workshops, after all they were there to win a war not martyr themselves by messing with such volatile magic. But the floodwaters had no such wisdom and the sea around Southwark is full of deadly leaking effluvia. The poisoned, and sometimes corrosive, waters are dangerous but the things that have grown in them are worse. Even skilled alchemists can make mistakes when they reshape animals and plants and none of the changes in Southwark are deliberate. The result is a crazy ever-shifting ecosystem of monsters; enormous hybrids of shark and octopus bigger than any boat may erupt from the water one day and drag three boats and their crews beneath the waves and then… nothing. Months without incident before it is found that the barnacles on the hulls of several ships have suddenly shot bolts through the timbers and filled the hold with poison gas.

Stranger tales are sometimes told by drunken treasure seekers who have actually walked through the sunken streets or heard reports from spirits or demons they have despatched, of humanoid shapes glimpsed behind windows and of lights seen in the less damaged buildings.

Sample Treasures

In the taverns and brothels frequented by the treasure-hunters there are a few tall tales of almost mythical treasures that are always retold.

The Blade for the Star of Morning

The Lord-General Edward de Vries famously wielded a flaming sword during the Civil War, it and his black armour were recognised wherever he went. Scholars know however that on occasion he used another sword, most famously with his battle against the demon Moloch though it is also rumoured that he held it against the doom that befell Daresbury. Those who saw it describe it as a nightmarish monstrosity of strange protusions and strangely organic and bony growths. A strange ghostly ichor seemed to sluggishly ooze up and down the blade and through the protusions and bony holds. Whatever the nature of the weapon it is clearly made with the mightiest of magic and would command an immense price from the right alchemist or sorcerer. Speculation places it somewhere on the Earl’s flooded estates in Hertfordshire.

The Franzberg Bunker

The first question a listener always asks upon hearing the rumours about the location of a lost cache of Franzberg devices is: why? Why would anyone wish to deliberately seek out the inventions of that madman? The crazed inventors devices were generally immensely destructive however, and often innocuous in appearance. The combination is valuable, especially if the buyer knows the item is a Franzberg but the recipient does not. A cunning woman could make a fortune by slowly selling such items.

Since the Duke of Somerset had custody of Hans Franzberg during his most productive years, it seems likely that the bunker is hidden somewhere within that county.

sunken_treasure.txt · Last modified: 2007/09/30 23:32 by ivan