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The Lovers is the collective name for the two otherwise unnamed male and female rulers of Garwater riding, and by extension the rulers of Armada.


Prior to The Scar[]

Both of the Lovers were press-ganged into Armada early in their respective lives, around 25-30 years prior to 1779. The male Lover was originally a young fisherman from the northern Shards who was picked up by a Garwater scout after rowing too far from his island and being carried by the wind. The boy proved to be remarkably bright and within three years had become the leader of Garwater.

The female Lover arrived on Armada "less than three quartos" after the boy became Garwater's leader, when an Armadan ironclad intercepted a sloop sailing from Perrick Nigh to Myrshock. The sloop belonged to a noble family from Figh Vadiso: a father, mother, and daughter traveling with their retainers. While the family was likely killed or left adrift at sea, the servants were taken into Armada.

The male fell in love with the one of the servants after she impressed him with her lack of fear. For a while, the male treated her as a concubine, a position which the female welcomed and through which returned his attentions. After a while, the male fell in love with her, and, in the tradition of his home island, he cut her face after sex to mark her as his property. To his surprise, after she calmly accepted the scar he gave her, she cut him back with an identical scar, marking them as one.

Somewhere during this time period, Uther Doul also arrives alone in the pirate-city, apparently looking for a master to sell his services to, and is quickly snapped up by the Lovers as their bodyguard. However, they soon discover just how well-studied and -traveled Doul is, and he is the one to introduce them to the concepts of "possibility mining" and the secrets of the Ghosthead Empire. Doul's arcane "Possible Sword" is the seed that plants the idea of something greater. The subject becomes the female Lover's obsession, and the male is only too happy to indulge her. In secret, the trio begins the first steps in the project to raise the Avanc, and traverse the Scar itself.

Events of The Scar[]

Now uncontested as the rulers of Garwater Riding (and implicitly Armada itself), the Lovers cement their reign with the daring theft of a New Crobuzon deep-sea drilling platform, the Sorghum. This theft takes place perhaps only days before the Terpsichoria passes through the sea lane where NC's other platforms are stationed. It is proposed by the Lovers as a means of powering energy-hungry Armada without having to resort to stealing fuel, although their true motives so far remain opaque to most of the population. By this time, their Avanc project team has expanded to include numerous researchers and thaumaturges, but also Tintinnabulum and his crew of seasoned monster hunters.

The taking of the Terpsichoria appears to be no more than another good day's work for the pirates of Armada, but derails the plans of Bellis Coldwine and Johannes Tearfly. The ship's passenger manifest had come into the Lovers' hands via collaborators in Iron Bay, and with a greater understanding of their subject, they tasked Doul with securing Tearfly. With their control of Garwater unquestioned, they could easily assign the anthropologist to the Avanc team during the normal process of press-ganging. The Lovers maintain a policy of studied secrecy that trickles out into the general populace of Armada, prompting Bellis and Fennec to begin hunting for information. A silent understanding starts to build -- the Lovers have something planned, and it's not just more efficient piracy.

The project continues, and the Lovers set the city's engineers to restoring the enormous chains dangling from the underside of Armada's flagships. Even Tanner Sack joins the dive team, and has himself remade more extensively to better suit amphibious work. Around this time, Tintinnabulum passes Bellis a list of authors and books to keep an eye out for, in her new capacity as librarian in Grand Gears Library. She gets her next glimpse of the Lovers at Shaddler riding's glad' circus, when she attends with Fennec to learn more about the city's leadership.

Not long after, Bellis enacts the plan concocted with Fennec, and brings herself to the attention of the Lovers with the damaged Aum text Shekel discovered by accident. With Johannes making an impassioned case on for an expedition to the island of Anophelii, the Avanc project has its way forward. By now, the Lovers have already announced the object of the ritual to diffuse tension among Armadans.

The female Lover leads the away mission, taking Bellis, Johannes, Doul, Tanner, and Hedrigall, as well as a security detail of mainly Cactacae and Scabmettlers. The journey to the island takes a few days, during which Bellis learns of the Lovers from Doul, while the Lover herself remains aloof from the rest of the crew. Upon their landing on Machinery Beach, the crew is approached by Nurjhitt Sengka, the quick-tempered captain of the Tetneghi Dustheart, whose job it is to maintain quarantine on the island. The Lover tries to placate Sengka, but when diplomacy gets her nowhere, she calls upon Doul. The bodyguard disarms Sengka with no apparent effort, and the Lover proposes once again that they find a way to coexist in the island.

The next week on the island is hugely productive for the Lovers' plan. Not only do they find Aum himself, alive and well, but Bellis is able to communicate with him, and spends most of her time translating classified information passed between Aum, the Lover, and the research team. After all appears to be in order, the Armadan party leaves the island with Aum accompanying them, in spite of any objection raised by Captain Sengka. It doesn't take much longer for the Avanc's summoning to begin, since the Lovers' dive teams have more or less restored the massive bridle, and the Sorghum's refinery has stocked plenty of rockmilk and oil for the second phase of the plan.

With the city's thaumaturges summoning fulmen in the midst of a storm, the tumultuous ritual nearly causes severe damage to the city, but succeeds. The Lovers point the Avanc towards the Hidden Ocean, ready to tackle many thousands of miles of open water, to a destination that still remains a secret. The progress of the new city is still slow, but steady and much faster than before, until the arrival of the New Crobuzon navy and the events of the one-day war. The Lovers join in the fighting with the rest of Armada, one taking to the air among the fleet of aerostats while the other leads anti-boarding parties.

After Armada claims a costly victory, the ruling council of the city has lost some of its number, including members of the Curhouse council and Jhour's queen, leaving the Lovers' hold on power all but absolute. This grip on the city is put to the test as the question arises of what to do with captured Crobuzoners from the battle; the Lovers propose to cast the new arrivals out in a slow execution at sea, channeling the rage felt among the populace. However, the idea is not met with the approval they expect, as Armada has only become the power it is through press-ganging the defeated, without prejudice. The cry for acceptance grows, overruling the female Lover's case with the force of the vox populi.

Soon after, the Lovers receive word of Bellis' confession through Doul, and the new ruling council convenes to decide the fate of Bellis and Tanner. Afterward, the matter is suppressed, and the course of the Lovers' plan remains the same. While Bellis spends her days recovering from her flogging, the Lovers finally drop the pretense of secrecy and make their case to Armada: they mean to travel to the Scar. With the fervor of her case, and the prospect of Armada claiming true power on the seas, there are few remaining who still object. Any who still do, like the Brucolac, are treated as simply being stubborn or unreasonable. At last, the course is clear, and all seem equal to the adventure proposed.

Now traveling across the Hidden Ocean to the Scar, Armada starts to notice odd things happening that have no apparent cause; teacups break and unbreak, visions of people and things come in and out of sight, cards change their suit before players' eyes. There is a shudder in the loyalties of Garwater citizens when they find that Hedrigall appears to have cut the Arrogance free and flown away, by way of silent objection. When foul-smelling slicks of pus begin to appear on the water, and the Avanc slows, the Lovers order Johannes, Aum, and a small crew to dive via bathysphere, in the hope they can diagnose the great creature's illness.

During this procedure, the Brucolac launches his attempted vampir mutiny on Garwater, and it is only the timely intervention of Doul that saves the Lovers from a death at the hands of the ab-dead ruler of Dryfall. The Lovers respond with the crucifixion of the Brucolac to the top of the Grand Easterly, and any vampir left aboard go into hiding. To the rest of Dryfall, the Lovers announce an amnesty, not wishing to rule by a climate of fear and retribution. They also announce, as the strange days pass, that they are drawing closer to the Scar.

Things go awry for them again with the "reappearance" of Hedrigall, who washes up on a raft with all the signs of being lost at sea. His heart-wrenching confusion at seeing Armadans alive, after he "watched [them] all die," prompts the Lovers to take him below decks to avoid a panic. Instead, Bellis takes her revenge on them by leading the outraged Tanner to her secret listening spot below the Lovers' cabin. Together, the Lovers, Doul, and the secret listeners hear the harrowing account of Hedrigall, telling of a different course of events after entering the Hidden Ocean. Unwilling to let go of her dream, the Lover rages at Hedrigall, and eventually anyone who thinks he might be right, and she issues an order to bury the story. This is, of course, pointless, as Tanner has already related the whole thing to a waiting crowd of Armadans by the time the Lovers emerge to give their version.

The Lovers' penchant for secrecy proves their undoing, as Tanner berates them for lying and manipulating all of Armada for a goal they have no concrete information about. Even the Lover himself caves to the facts, and pleads with the Lover not to lead them on a doomed errand. He admits to everyone that they don't know what they'll find. Something between them shatters in a moment, and she prays for the gods to "rot and fuck you dead," completely in the grip of her all-consuming quest. The Lovers are no more, just a scarred man and woman, and the Avanc turns from their course, back toward familiar waters.

The female Lover remains set on her goal, and leaves the city alone, in a ship outfitted with special equipment now unlikely to do any good. The male Lover remains on board, still nominally in control of Garwater, but listless and barely more than a mouthpiece for directions given by Uther Doul. By his order, or Doul's, Armada returns to its usual pirate existence, and Bellis Coldwine is finally allowed to return home.

Characters in The Scar
Main characters

Bellis Coldwine · Brucolac · Tanner Sack · Uther Doul · Silas Fennec · Shekel · The Lovers · Johannes Tearfly

Minor characters

Carrianne · Myzovic · Cumbershum · Hedrigall · Krüach Aum · Meriope