-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
VEIL LORD'S REIGN OF DESULTORY TERROR FINALLY ENDED
Some five Months have now passed since that fateful Daye upon which the usual brave and fool-hardy band of Adventurers made their attack upon the Obelisk and the Pale and brought down the Veil Lord Velkan, who had long held all of Kessia within the grip of his particularly horrible brand of Terror and Tedium, which grinds down the Will and Resolve of even the most steadfast Soul. But while the story may at this Date be widely known in its Generalities, yet the Particulars of the strange Climax of this Affaire have likely eluded the wider Readership, who must subsist on the meagre scraps of Rumour and rank Tale-mongering in the absence of any more reliable Source to inform them. But now the full accounting of the journey to the Pale, the meeting with the mysterious Entity known as Iantine, and the Demise of the Veil Lord Velkan himself, are hereby set down for the Edification of the Populace.
After the unexpected set-backs of the previous Months, the new Date for the Assault on the Pale had been set for the 23rd Daye of Dien, with the Participants to assemble variously at Dhond's Tower, the Obelisk Cave off Sunderland Road, or Port Keyne, as determined by their assigned Role in the Offensive. Considering the entirely unexpected Calamities of the previously designated Date, it is no Wonder that those gathered might have felt a certain sense of Doubt whether the Plan might even be successfully initiated, let alone brought to a triumphant Close. Nevertheless, a number of selfless Adventurers came forth to offer their Aid, and possibly even their very Lives, in service to their Country and the ever-pressing Salvation of the World.
Those assigned to the party traveling through Dhond's Machine to the Pale included Mages' Council Liaison Malo Haithcock, Captain Merow Ghurak of the Imperial Guard, Commander Ashinara De'Alera of the Royal Guard, First Sergeant Serinde Aronsen of the Royal Guard, Kalanin O'Deepfells, Niall Blackthorne, Miriel Re'Ghat, Anolisse Thr'eyan, Demens Urtellik, the il'lthye known only as Mr. Black, and a sylvan called Dakun. This Party made up the front-line Assault against the Veil Lord and whatever other Obstacles should strive to Hinder them in the Completion of this necessary and long-overdue Task.
Another Party also gathered at Dhond's, their primary Purpose being to oversee the Operation of the Teleportation Device and then to guard it against Retaliation from any of the Veil Lord's Minions such as might remain on Thrael, or indeed from any other unforeseen violent Incident. This Party included among their number Engineer Iiro Takala of the Peregorne Mechanists' Society, Drelk Cril'akrin of the same Society, empath Marian Quinnley, and an il'lthye called Hisoka.
The Party tasked with the purely Physical attack upon the Obelisk counted among its Ranks Captain Elli Sojourner of the Royal Guard, Sir Martaigne Shardleigh of House Pendeleu, former Royal Magus Ariano Azor'i, Akri Nagomi, and Dral Strolt.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Mister Astolpho Mandel took up his own Station at Port Keyne, deemed safely distant from any Threat of Attack, from whence he would summon back all those making the Journey to that strange and distant Pale. The Lady Melissandra Pendeleu nobly opted to accompany Mister Mandel to Port Keyne, so that he need not endure the Anxiety and Tedium of the long Vigil in Solitude.
Happily (and perhaps, by this point, miraculously), no Difficulties were encountered in the Operation of the teleportation Device, and passage through the Portal was likewise largely uneventful for most, though the Experience was not uniform for all Persons. Most described feeling no particular Sensation at all, or merely hearing some kind of Melody as they passed from one Realm to the next, whereas Commander De'Alera reported a quite different and markedly Violent experience, feeling as if he were being torn apart Piece by Piece, and was convinced that the trip alone nearly killed him. De'Alera speculated that this marked Difference in Experience might have been due to his especially strong Ties to Jakob, both from his Faith and from the fact of his carrying a holy Weapon of the God himself, as the Touch of any Thraelian God might have made travel to another Demesne, in which it had no Place or Part, significantly more Arduous.
Odd and unexpected as this experience was, the Party had hardly time to recover from their state of Bemusement before being further startled by the sudden appearance of Captain Sojourner and others of the Force that had gone to shatter the Obelisk. Being swiftly successful in their critical Venture, they had been quite shocked to find themselves swept up in the effects of the Blast from the Obelisk's Explosion, and somehow deposited upon the Platform in the midst of the Pale alongside their Comrades. Regardless of the nature of their individual Passage, upon arriving in the Veil Lord's otherworldly Realm all were uniformly presented with a most extraordinary Vista, as they found themselves standing upon a Platform, supported only by the most slender of Pillars, with nothing but Clock-work and open Air all around, a rolling gear-bounded Landscape below, and no evident means of Escape from this single lofty Spot. The only other Object of interest in the place was a Note left upon a Table, bearing the Words, "Welcome. Please enjoy your Stay."
[ This may be only a woodblock print, but still the reproduction of the view from this cruciform-shaped platform is at once claustrophobic and dizzying. Encircled on three sides by a labyrinthine array of complex mechanisms, all interconnected to create a maze-like workshop of clockwork and strange devices, the metal platform is supported by a narrow spire and separated from the bulk of the structure by a chasm of empty space. Opposite the array, the geography of this strange place is visible in a panorama below, a discordant vista of rolling shadelands dotted by strange hills and oddly-angled paths which ends at a sea of endless gears. Above, a vast bulwark of crystal and metal rises above the workshop, vanishing into a sunless expanse of sky. Rather incongruously, a burnished dyrewood table sits in the middle of the platform with a note in its center. Also captured in the picture are persons labelled variously "Elli Sojourner," "Ariano Azor'i" (inexplicably sitting), "Ashinara De'Alera," "Kalanin O'Deepfells," "Miriel Re'Ghat" (lying there like a listless lump), "Demens Urtellik", and "Dakun." This last name is punctuated with a question mark, as if whoever provided the labels was not entirely certain of the identification.
For all the oddness that it captures, the print bears the simple caption of "The Pale of the Veil Lord" and leaves it at that. ]
Dubious efforts at Hospitality aside, their stay in fact was not bound to be an especially Pleasant one, as shortly became apparent with the unexpected appearance of a Girl falling from the sunless Sky above. Fearing for her Safety, Commander De'Alera made an attempt to slow her Fall by buffering her with a Cushion of wind Magicks, but the well-meant Gesture only resulted in the young Lady's being blown off-course, and plummeting into the Teeth of the Gears churning all around, with predictably Gruesome results. Nevertheless, this turned out to be only a temporary Set-back, as the girl made a felicitously easy Recovery by simply re-constituting herself upon the meagre Sanctuary of the Platform.
The Girl then introduced herself as Iantine, that Goddess whose Nature and Intentions had been the subject of such acrimonious Speculation these last many Months. Despite many long Hours spent in such Conjecture, she was not quite what anyone had expected, evidently being possessed of little Motivation or Initiative of her own, and seeming instead to exist only to do whatever the Veil Lord might instruct her to, or to fix whatever within the Pale might have become broken.
A conversation with Iantine then followed, and also with Velkan himself, who appeared with but short Notice in an exploding Sphere of Blood. Through this Conversation it was learned that the Veil Lord had originally come from our own World, that he had somehow cut himself off from our Realm to create his Pale from the Nothing of the Void, and that the Pale had been created largely for the Purpose of preserving a Woman whom the Veil Lord loved deeply, a Sylvan by the name of Ansheael. While telling parts of this Tale, Iantine produced a sort of Scene, or Vision, in which the Adventurers could discern a Woman walking through the midst of a Garden, and this appeared to be the Ansheael in question.
As the story was related, it seems that Velkan had created Iantine herself, the Fixer of all things broken, to resurrect or preserve this Ansheael, but in the end had lacked the Power necessary to make Iantine grow to the point of sufficiently performing this Task, and it was for this Purpose that the Veil Lord had desired contact with our own World. This being no longer likely due to the Destruction of the Obelisk, Velkan then attempted to bargain with the Party, offering never to attempt to set Foot upon Thrael again in return for a sliver of Beade's own Essence. Sadly for the Veil Lord, the offer was rejected after some Debate among the members of the adventuring Party, and, turning the Holy Weaponry of Jakob upon Velkan as well as whatever other Magicks and sundry Abilities as each Person there was possessed of, they succeeded in temporarily vanquishing him.
However, it appeared certain that Iantine would only use her Powers to bring Velkan back from the Dead, thus necessitating the killing of Iantine as well, unless she might be convinced to refrain from resurrecting her Master. Towards that end the demi-Goddess was informed that this Master she served had in fact purposely broken a Person, the Royal Guard Daern, and had left that Person broken forever, which caused Iantine to become most Distraught. The Adventurers attempted to persuade her that the Veil Lord was likely to continue breaking Persons and Things, and indeed entire Worlds, if left to his own Devices, and this seemed nearly to convince her to abandon her Allegiance to him, when some one among the Party unwisely made it known that they themselves had also been responsible for Breaking and Killing, which, to say the least, did not lift the Esteem in which she held them. In fact, this unwary Disclosure caused Iantine to fly into a fervid Rage, her child-like Manner utterly dispelled by the murderous Frenzy that gripped her.
It was at this point that the form of the demi-Goddess seemed to simply dissolve, becoming an insubstantial Vapor that entered the Body of Miriel Re'Ghat, who evidently welcomed Iantine's Essence to act as that Deity's mortal Vessel. Commander De'Alera managed to strike down Miss Re'Ghat, but, as might be expected of one suffused by a Divine Force, the young Lady simply got back up again, her essence and that of the Goddess seemingly inextricably interwoven. But luckily for all those forced to occupy a narrow otherworldly Platform with her, Mister Mandel, still in Port Keyne and far removed from the Calamities of the situation, was filled with a desire to pray to Duvan and upon doing so was granted a Vision of Miss Anolisse Thr'eyan and the Thraelian Moons. Reaching for her through whatever unfathomable Distances lay between them, Mister Mandel was able to contact Miss Thr'eyan, who in turn served as the Conduit for Serene's promised Boon, and succeeded in breaking the Bond between Iantine and Miss Re'Ghat with a single Touch.
Iantine thereupon proclaimed she would never fix a single Thing ever again, and as her purified Rage seemed practically to Condense upon the Air, the Pale itself began to become unstable. The Goddess hurled the resurrected Veil Lord from the Sky and towards the Ground so far below, and though he was heard to begin the casting of some sort of protective Spell to seal himself safely away, none could tell as he vanished whether he had been successful or not. Meantime, things having evidently coming to some kind of Resolution, whether precisely the one desired or not, the members of the Party began to be summoned back to Thrael by the faithful Mister Mandel. Commander De'Alera, being the last to be pulled back from the strange Realm, bore witness to Iantine's complete descent into Savagery, but though he dealt her a serious Wound to the Chest, yet he was unable to strike the final Blow before himself being Summoned.
And so the ultimate Fate of Iantine and the Veil remain uncertain, though with the Destruction of the Obelisk linking our two Worlds and the many Weeks of Peace that have followed that eventful night, one hopes to have heard the last of these two otherworldly Malcontents, and to be troubled by them no more. The obsidian Fragments that enabled travel to the Pale through Dhond's teleportation Machine shattered immediately upon being put to their intended Purpose, so no Means exists of returning to that strange Land, even were any Person so mad as to attempt it.
However, the extraordinary events of the night had a strange Epilogue as well. Some Dayes after the journey to the Pale, a pair of indistinguishable Objects were witnessed to fall from the Sky, seeming to come to rest far to the west. An expedition being mounted to the Mountains of Durbra'Thrum, a Woman was discovered at Aorre's Temple -- or at least the Seeming of a Woman, being as she was empty and mechanical in Manner, and its being sensed by certain Persons sensitive to such things that she was but a Shell, lacking Emotions or any true spark of Life, and even seeming to be not of our Creation at all. This Woman was Ansheael herself, evidently cast out of the Pale by a vengeful Iantine, and it was not clear exactly what ought now to be done with her. Lady Pendeleu and Commander De'Alera, who had discerned Ansheael's aberrant Nature, felt that she was in much Pain and ought simply to be killed out of Mercy, but others believed that true Mercy lay in attempting to aid the Woman and restore her to herself insofar as might be possible.
In the end, it was the wishes of the latter Party that prevailed, and Ansheal was brought to the woodland Temple of Beade, where Prayers were offered to the Goddess on behalf of that unfortunate Sylvan, with the Plea that she be restored to true and proper Life. Ultimately these Prayers were answered, as Beade in her Wisdom and Benevolence restored Ansheael's vital Essence, while to ease her Transition to a new Life, the Lady Pendeleu kindly bestowed upon her some Coin, and sent her on her way. As for the second of the two Objects seen to plummet to Thrael, its identity remains unknown, but in the Quiet that has prevailed in the Months following, one may hope that it bodes no further Ill for our Country and our World, and that this strange and epic Saga, which has defined life in Kessia for so long, has drawn finally to a Close.
-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
KAEZAR WEATHERS DISTURBINGLY QUIET DISASTER-FREE KOLBRE
Any moderately wary Person, accustomed to the usual macabre Horrors commonly visited upon Kaezar simply as a matter of Course, might have expected a disastrous and truly appalling Mylywyth these last two Yeares since the Veil was once again torn asunder during the events surrounding the Veil Lord's attempts upon our World. To the contrary, however, these Yeares have instead been characterized by a degree of Quietude unusual in Kessia during Trost's own Season, or, indeed, during any Season at all.
There is some Debate surrounding the reason for this inexplicable lack of utter Catastrophe, with some Persons claiming that the Veil, for reasons not understood, is at long last beginning to Mend itself after many long Decades, while others believe that the present Situation is in fact so Dire, and this odd Lull merely the Calm before the proverbial Storm, that the usual Spirits, Demons, and strange Aberrations are steering clear of Kaezar entirely for fear of what terrible Fate might befall them should they come within the Sphere of Kaezar's malign Influence. Whatever the explanation may be, this reporter quite regrets to say that no Spirits of any great Character made an appearance during this Mylywyth, nor did any of those encountered display anything but the usual sort of mindless Vindictiveness that one is accustomed to find in the lower types of Spirits, being driven by no great Motives of Vengeance or Honor or Bereavement, nor any nobler or more meaningful Aspiration than a desire to be as irritating to their Victims as possible.
(For a look, however, at some of the peculiar Spirituall and Daemonic Entities that have visited Kaezar in past Mylywyths, the Reader is invited to peruse our newest section, Eye on Kessia, appearing near the end of this Publication.)
Despite the evident Reluctance of most Spirits to haunt Kaezar itself, the peculiar Spectral Barge to the Ul'Mydar made its second appearance this Yeare, manifesting periodically in a great Billow of eerie Mist along the River-banks of Kaezar and Never-upon-Vinre, and thenceforth transporting itself by the Powers of some mysterious Magic to the Land of the Dead, where it would ply the dark Waters until making a soundless land-fall upon the Shores of a lonely Isle. While this Island was almost entirely taken up by a gloomy and dilapidated Village, yet there was hardly a Soul to be found upon it, with but a lone Shop-keeper vending an odd assortment of Wares from a single Shop.
[ The text here is punctuated by a print that presumably shows some part of the village mentioned above, though there's nothing to set the illustrated building apart from any number of ramshackle structures back on Thrael. Unlit and gloomy, the single-roomed building is crowded with rustic tables and heavily carved chairs. A long bar runs down one wall of the tavern, and behind it are shelves and cabinets stocked with bottles and jars. Ashes lie thick in a large fireplace at the end of the building opposite the door, and all of the narrow windows in the timber-framed walls have been boarded up from the inside. Strewn inexplicably across the floor are a roughly-carved pumpkin, a suede hunting sack, the well-gnawed remains of a black-white cookie, a single-strapped knapsack of oiled kidskin, and two wooden half casks. A very slight nymph woman is sitting atop one of the tables with a dark-colored oylet seated in a chair beside her, while a six-legged badger lies just visible in the foreground.
Neither the menagerie nor the clutter nor the presence of the decidedly not-dead nymph is explained in the picture's caption, which reads only: "Abandoned Tavern, Isle of the Dead, Ul'Mydar." ]
This reporter, however, finds the mere material Goods to be practically irrelevant in the face of the wider Interest of the place, and wonders how such a Village of the Dead came to be, whether it represents but a single former Locale from the realm of the Living or is an Assemblage of Structures from multiple ill-fated Towns, where the Souls of the other Towns-folk might be, what Function the mysterious substance known as Ectoplasm might serve to anyone and why it might be desired by the Dead, and why the Dead found it interesting to set up Shop for the Living in the first place, mysterious Ghost-goo aside. Answers to these questions are not immediately forthcoming, but nevertheless make for absorbing Contemplation.
The Shop-keepers of the Ul'Mydar were not alone in their entrepreneurial Efforts for the Season, as the annual Mylywyth Faire also made its way to Never-Upon-Vinre once again. Giacinta and her spectre-spooking Lanterns were like last Yeare not in attendance, but this may well be accounted for by the fact that the Spirits have already fled well in advance, and thus Business was likely to be poor. On the other hand, one might think the Merchant in question would have been able to Boost future Sales by claiming the truly phenomenal efficacy of her Goods this Mylywyth, and thus in fact missed a perfect business Opportunity by her absence this Yeare.
Perhaps the high point of the fall Season was the party hosted by Miss Anolisse Thr'eyan, whom our Readers may remember as the young Lady responsible for tracking down the lost Serenite Blade and restoring it to the Custody of the Black Strider himself. Miss Thr'eyan proved herself no less talented at hosting than questing, as her gathering of the 13th and 14th of Kolbre offered the Diversions of Pumpkin-carving and Tale-telling, as well as the Spectacle of numerous guests in Costume for the Season.
[ Hundreds of paper lanterns dangle from the branches of a huge elm tree in this woodcut, casting their light over an old wooden cart festooned with ribbons and laden with sumptuous seasonal victuals. Swaths of seasonal foliage ornament the tall, whitewashed fence which encloses this eastern section of the grounds of Hregn's Manor, and soft bales of hay are arranged amidst decorative piles of pumpkin and gourd, including a handful that have been carved with various designs. Also here is an assortment of people evidently lacking the strength to stand upright under their own power, including Commander Ashinara of the Royal Guard (leaning on a tawny hay bale), Mr. Black (leaning on a russet and gold draped wooden cart), Society Engineer Iiro (leaning on a tawny hay bale), Pretender Marziale, and Anolisse of House Pendeleu. ]
A wide assortment of Refreshments appropriate to the Season was provided, along with fragrantly scented Candles for each Guest to take home as a Favor. Two Contests were also offered, with Prizes given for Best Pumpkin and Best Costume, the former being won by Mister Astolpho Mandel and his interestingly impressionistic Technique, and the latter by Miss Marziale Rionen as a rather fearsome Eye-surgeon.
[ This final woodblock captures in all its dubious glory a pumpkin to which someone has evidently taken a knife, though to what precise end is not apparent at first... or, for that matter, ever. Large gnashing incisions on the front of the unfortunate gourd may suggest a certain lack of skill on the part of the carver, while something vaguely reminiscent of a face might be discernable between various slips and mistakes... or ARE they mistakes after all?? Whatever exactly the pumpkin is meant to represent is certainly left to the beholder's powers of imagination. ]
Despite the great Disappointment and Bemusement that the Kaezarian naturally feels upon not being subjected to various Gruesome sights and senseless attempts at utter Annihilation of one's Self and Country, one can but attempt to enjoy the Peace while it lasts, and wait to see what the next Yeare will bring.
-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
THE INCREDIBLY DULL MYLYWYTH SONG
Being a bit Doggerel that lives up to all interpretations of its Name, and set to the tune of "Molly Dear Maiden," lately incomprehensibly popular in certain dockside Locales.
Mylywyth, terrible ten-day of Trost,
You're not what you were in your prime --
The werewolves have wandered, the souls are all lost,
Our one solace some strange spectral slime.
Mylywyth, fortnight so fearsome and dread,
I pine for the horror of yore;
No sight now of so much as one severed head
Tumbling by in a glory of gore.
Mylywyth, two weeks so noxious and vile,
Of your old self we've got not a glimpse,
You used to be bursting with brimstone and bile
And demons devouring nymphs.
Mylywyth, holy time hellish and hexed,
What's happened to make you so meek?
One can't help but feel horrifyingly vexed
At this lack of the havoc you wreak.
Mylywyth, dearest of all dreadful days,
Please bring back your terrible reign:
There's no apparition gives greater dismay
Than this marvelous month made mundane.
The Eye encourages its Readers to submit to the Paper their own creative Endeavors, even if they are exactly as Terrible as this one, as we have been informed on numerous Occasions, that Misery loves Company.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
RESEARCH AND INNOVATION CONTINUE TO FLOURISH IN KAEZAR
In the wake of the recent Tumult surrounding the assault upon the Veil Lord and his subsequent uncertain Demise, the Mages of Kessia have taken advantage of the subsequent Lull to expand their Magickal Researches into new Realms.
As a final Event with which to close his two-yeare Tenure as Mages' Council Liaison, Mister Malo Haithcock hosted a publick Experiment on the 26th Daye of Thistle, with the intention being to explore the Bounds of the three Magical Spheres and to observe the interesting Interactions one might produce both among those Spheres, and between Magic and the purely Physical. This Experiment began with a simple every-day Object, in this case a Teacup provided by the Liaison, and to this Object each Participant was to make some kind of Alteration or Addition, whether through Magickal or Physical means, or a combination of the two. Meantime it was to be observed what Effect these produced, both individually and combined, on the Nature of the Teacup, and to attempt to transform that Object in interesting and unexpected Ways.
Though there were but a few Participants in the event, the remainder of the Populace being evidently afflicted by the deaths of close Friends and Relations, themselves stricken with Plague, or otherwise direly incapacitated such that they were irrevocably prevented from attending such a fascinating Contribution to the Realm of experimental Science, nevertheless all three Schools of Magick were put to use upon the Teacup, even extending to the mystical realm of Summoning, and finally culminating in a great deal of Excitement and the requisite small Explosion that is an essential Component of all the most interesting Experimentations.
[ This woodcut shows a close-up shot of what looks to be a perfectly normal teacup, if a perfectly normal teacup tended generally to be streaked with paint, stuck with small darts, surrounded by strange swirling auras, stuffed with a folded parchment badger in place of tea, and also happened to be possessed of a pair of spindly legs. Something else about the teacup seems slightly off, but given the large number of other things about the teacup that are glaringly, obviously off, it's hard to place exactly what this might be... until you notice that all the objects in the background of the picture are casting a shadow, while the teacup seems to be standing in a perfectly unblemished pool of light. Perhaps it's just a mistake by the woodcut artist; the gods alone know. Nevertheless, whether it's that disturbing lack of a shadow, or the angle of the picture, or the way the cup seems in some obscure way to actually be looking at the viewer, there is something about that teacup that somehow gives the impression of wanting to eat your face. ]
Other avenues of Investigation are also ongoing, with the purpose of providing practical Benefits rather than exploring more Theoretical questions. Local Vedic practitioners are pursuing new Research involving the Mindscape, that vast aetherical Dimension of people's Thoughts that overlays our quotidian physical Existence, and through which it is possible for certain Vedics to travel, moving from one well-populated Locale to another. The primary Aim of these particular Researches is to devise a means for these Vedic practitioners to also bring with them a Companion, much as Wizards are able to carry with them individual Persons as they teleport from one place to another. While this Avenue of Exploration is yet in its beginning Stages, already it is showing promising Progression, and will doubtless provide more Evidence of the steady Tread of Science in subsequent Editions of this Publication.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
LOCAL MECHANISTS INVENT MECHANICAL HORSE-GOLEM
As magickal Researches continue unabated in Kessia, neither has the Peregorne Mechanist Society been resting on its Laurels since the successful Operation of Dhond's Machine in creating a Portal to another Pale. Under the direction of Engineer Iiro Takala, local Mechanists have created a peculiar Clock-work Horse-contraption, powered by a sky-fire Topaz and composed of an immense assortment of interconnected Gears and Cables contained within a Body of steel Plates. The entire Contraption took some thirty thousand Sovereigns and two Months to build, in partnership with Instructor Ellyo from the Mechanist Society and a Laurdian Mechanist known as Ember.
[ Similar only in basic shape to a horse, even the simplest observer wouldn't mistake this clockwork simulacrum for the real thing, not even in a woodblock print like this one. The primary body is covered in heavy, segmented steel plate, staggered with long slats for ventilation, through which the occasional gear is seen through a fine mesh of steel wires. Its segmented neck ends in a very simply shaped steel horse's head with a precisely hinged jaw. A pair of lenses make up the horse's eyes, and its pointed ears have rounded tips which have been padded with a sheet of canvas. The legs of this horse are made of thick steel with light leather padding on the inside of the joints. The muscles consist of wrapped steel cable and are barely visible between the joints of the horse's legs. Its tail consists of multiple strands of heavy, flexible cable that seem to serve no purpose beyond aesthetics. Due to the low angle from which the original photograph was evidently taken, the mechanical creature looks to be looming over the viewer in a distinctly menacing way.
Despite the ominous angle, the print is labeled matter-of-factly "The Mechanical Horse Unveiled, 5th Winte 648 AoD."]
The Contraption had been given a sort of rudimentary Life-force by means of a set of Enchantments etched upon the inside of its steel Skull, whereby the Machine is instilled with certain simple Behaviors similar to those of a true Horse. These Enchantments being incapable of functioning without a source of Energy to power them, the Clock-work Beast was designed to make use of what Engineer Takala referred to as Refined Energy. In this case such referred to that mysterious Force known as Electricity, which the Reader is likely more familiar with in the form of Lightning, or the attractive Force exerted on bits of fluff or fine Particles by a piece of rubbed Amber. Takala considered this to be the most important aspect of the Contraption, as he stated that its ability to Function as planned seems to indicate that Electricity may be converted to Magic.
Mister Drelk Cril'akrin, who worked with Takala on creating the Components and assembling the Machine, stated that it had certain Advantages over a real Horse, in being Tireless and very durable. Nevertheless, Mister Cril'akrin agreed that the Machine was more of a Show-piece than a practical Device, and was not likely ever to replace the flesh-and-blood Beasts of Burden with which we are all so familiar. Mister Takala expressed a similar Opinion, asserting that Golems in general are bulky, labor-intensive, and largely unable to adapt to new or unexpected Situations.
When asked what Project the Mechanist Society might take on next, Mister Cril'akrin replied that one Possibility was the creation of Devices capable of storing large amounts of Essence without the Volatility commonly associated with high Concentrations of that Substance. Considering the number of Explosions with which Kaezar is plagued on an annual Basis, one may debatably consider a Boon to Society any Device likely to diminish the Threat of the City and all Souls within it being haphazardly exploded without Warning, and wish the Mechanists godspeed in their Researches.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
MASSIVE SKILK INVASION THWARTED, QUESTIONS STILL REMAIN
It was on a seemingly peaceful night at the very end of Plade that the stillness of the Evening was broken by the ominous scuttling Tread of countless clawed Feet making their way along the Cliff-tops of Imperial Bay. The source of the sound was not at first readily apparent to one scanning the Horizon for a glimpse of some tall armored Host of misdirected Orcs or residual Plague-beasts, but upon re-focusing one's Attention downwards, there was to be seen advancing along the path an immense Horde of those reptilian Beasts known as the Greater and Lesser Common Skilk.
To one who has never seen more than the usual handful of these Creatures as they dart harmlessly along the by-ways of the Coast, it will likely be difficult to imagine the Dread that an entire Host of Skilks may inspire as they lumber inexorably forward, looking neither to the side nor glancing back behind them as they come, but rather plodding onwards with an implacable Glint in their beady reptilian Eyes that bodes but Ill for anything stumbling into their path. And indeed, at first it was not clear what their ultimate Goal might be, or indeed what the ultimate Goal of any Skilk might be at all, given the fact that normally they seem to exist in a vague and largely Goal-free state that will be familiar to anyone who has spent much time among Skilks, Reptiles in general, or frequenters of the Crossroads.
These Skilks, however, clearly had some particular Objective in Mind, and as one observed their steady westward advance along the Cliffs, and looked down the path to see beyond them a vast Augmentation of their present numbers likewise milling their way thence, it became suddenly clear what this must be: the launching of a massive Skilkish Offense upon Kaezar itself.
[ This woodblock print shows a clifftop scene overlooking a moonlit bay. A multitude of nests are nestled into the nooks and crannies that pock the stone of the cliff, while droppings and bits of bone and feathers lie across the path. However, these minor details are eclipsed by a swarming reptilian mass consisting most clearly of a small bicolored skilk, a large bicolored skilk, a small bicolored skilk, a large bicolored skilk, a large bicolored skilk, a large bicolored skilk, a small bicolored skilk, a large bicolored skilk, and a large bicolored skilk. Disturbingly, each one of these creatures has its head turned towards the camera, such that the viewer is left with the forceful impression of dozens of staring unfathomable eyes.
The print's caption reads "March of the Skilkish Horde". ]
Lest this sound preposterous to the more cynical Reader, let him ask himself, what number and manner of strange Entities has Kaezar been invaded by in the last Yeare, or the last five, or the last Score? If he responds to this Question honestly, reflecting back upon the Plague-beasts, Veil Lords, Liches, Wrathes, Were-wolves, Skeletons, Zombies, Ghouls, Ghosts, divers other undead Horrors, Wyverns, Dragyns, Trolls, Kobolds, Ice-goblins, Veckle-kings, Shadow-creatures, mechanical Spiders, frost Spiders, Spiders of unusual Size, magickal Spider-people, and every variety of Orc known to Man, and then acknowledges to himself the thin Probability of many such of these Creatures even existing, let alone making their way directly to Kaezar, deciding upon the necessity of its Subjugation, and then putting the plan into Effect -- then surely even this most skeptical of Readers will straightaway be filled instead with the deepest Conviction of the dire Threat most lately posed to our City by the ubiquitous if heretofore innocuous Skilk.
So onward the Skilks plodded, their numbers uncountable as their scaly Forms writhed and lurched through the imperturbable moonlight. Despite the seeming Hopelessness of the Endeavor, this reporter resolved to do whatever she must to save the slumbering Denizens of Kaezar from certain Doom at the merciless Talons of the Horde. And so Wave after Wave lumbered forward and were beaten down, some toppled with a well-placed Jab to the Head, others (the smaller of the two Varieties, in any case) being dealt a swift Kick off the side of the lofty Cliffs, which, alas, did not send them plummeting to their ultimate Death as intended, but only served to further fire their Wrath, as they used their Claws with great Cleverness and Agility to pull themselves back up the Rocks once more, from which point they promptly proceeded to hurl themselves vengefully from all sides at their attacker's Throat.
[ Fallen pine needles blanket the narrow path that skirts a cluster of sandstone boulders in this woodcut of a small evergreen grove. Lush grass grows right up to the trunks of slender pines and sturdy kirches, which thrust upward between scattered boulders. Nodding wildflowers cluster near the scarred trunk of a large pine, all of which are nearly obscured by the corpses of a small bicolored skilk, a small bicolored skilk, a large bicolored skilk, a large bicolored skilk, a large bicolored skilk, a small bicolored skilk, and a large bicolored skilk.
The caption for this print reads, "The First Wave Lies Vanquished, Pitiful in Defeat." ]
At last it became painfully clear that it would be impossible to stop the Skilks here on their native Turf, and that they must needs be routed at the mighty Gates of Kaezar itself, where the lone Defender would at least have the Walls to guard her Back and could thereby make a decisive Stand, or else fall valiantly in Defeat, obstinate to the Last. However, an unexpected Surprise greeted her upon her arrival there as, in the midst of her Reconnaissance of the East Gate, she stumbled upon a small group of Skilks secreted within one of the Tourney-ground's Tents. These belonging to the smaller Variety of Skilk, and the Lesser Skilk being, as everyone knows, the more clever and Subtle of the two, it was instantly Apparent that this gathering, or Cabal, represented in fact the sinister Master-minds of the Skilkish Horde.
[ This next print pictures the interior of a spacious tent, lit eerily by a low burning torch slid into a wrought iron bracket on the tent's center support beam. Dark wood timbers frame out the inside of the spacious tent, while a hanging flap to the east marks the exit. A scratched square table and two chairs sit in one corner while a dusty wooden platform, likely used as a cot, lurks in another. You see three chocolate doughnuts. Also here is a small bicolored skilk, a small bicolored skilk, a small bicolored skilk, and, yes, a small bicolored skilk.
This print bears the surely not overly melodramatic label "The Skilkish Cabal Plots the Downfall of All Civilization." ]
But howsoever persistently this humble reporter questioned the Skilks found assembled there, they refused all answer as to their past Origins or present Demands, or as to what Grievances might have provoked their unprecedented Hostilities, and finally, Violence sadly proving the only Resort in dealing with such an intransigent Foe, she reluctantly sent them to their Deaths. This, at it happened, proved to be the Cue for all the Skilks swarming the Walls outside the Tent to fall into a scurrying Frenzy, no doubt sent into a Panic by the Demise of their erstwhile Leaders. And so it proved but short work to rout the rapidly shattering Fragments of the great Horde, and despatch all that chose valorously to fight to the Death rather than flee.
However, as many Questions remain as have been answered -- nay, in fact the Answers are virtually in a state of non-existence, while the Questions are as Legion as the Skilks themselves. One must wonder, first of all, why and how such an enormous Number of these Creatures managed to come into being in the first place. One might conjecture that, due to some Confluence of factors unknowable to the outside Observer, the Skilks have seen an unnatural increase in their Numbers in the last severall Months, perhaps fuelled by the plentiful Rains of the preceeding Yeare. Yet this fails to explain why the Beasts appeared in no greater Quantities than usual in the Monthes prior to this, only now having suddenly organized themselves into a massive Horde of unprecedented Voracity, bent on destroying the whole of Civilization as we know it.
Have the Creatures seen their food supply fail due to the Cessation of the Rains, and banded together in mass Exodus in search of greener Pastures? Or have they perhaps been driven from their ancestral Skilkish Home-lands by some terrible marauding Foe, and are now bent upon inflicting their Vengeance upon the ever-hapless Denizens of Kaezar, or perhaps even driving them from the City entirely as the Beasts seek to impose their own Dominion upon the land in recompense for those they have been forced to vacate? In spite of the valiant efforts of Reportage, the Skilks declined to respond to the Eye's inquiry in this matter, unless the hissing of Tongues and hurling of noxious substances were to be taken as a Response, and this reporter is simply uninitiated in the finer points of the Skilkish conversational Repertoire, which is, sadly, a possibility not to be dismissed out of Hand.
Truly, the details of the strange Affaire may never be known, and the Means and Motives of the Great Skilkish Horde may remain obscured forever, a mystery for the Ages.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
NEWS IN BRIEFE
On the evening of the 11th Daye of Plade, reports were brought to the Silver Tankard of a mysterious Trail of Doughnuts leading across Town and onto the Grounds of Malcomb Castle. Upon hearing word of this, Captain Elli Sojourner of the Royal Guard, accompanied by her Commander Ashinara De'Alera, made their way across town to investigate the peculiar Phenomenon.
Surely enough, following the lead of the Doughnuts brought them through the Castle Gates and up to the Door leading to the private Apartments of the King himself, where the pastry Trail appeared to vanish. Captain Sojourner and Commander De'Alera concluded that the only likely source of the Doughnuts was from the Mess-hall of the Royal Guards' own Garrison, where they are readily available to any Person desiring them, for only a nominal Fee. However, no one seemed to recall any particularly suspicious Party purchasing the Doughnuts from them, and there were no Tracks or other helpful Signs to suggest the Identity of the Perpetrator.
Since no additional Threats to the Castle or its Court were detected, it was concluded that the Incident was likely nothing but a Prank, with no further intentions of great Maliciousness. However, the Castle has been put on Alert in case the Perpetrator should return, or Threats of a more Serious nature are detected.
Early in the morning of the 2nd Daye of Winte, a Disturbance was reported outside the Silver Plum by the Proprietor of the Establishment and a number of startled Guests. This Disturbance was said to have begun shortly before the Tolling of the first Bell, and consisted of an enormous Racket of Whirs, Screeches, and ear-splitting Explosions, sounding, in the words of one Guest, as if "an invading Army of Vashans had set off that Country's entire Supply of Fire-works" right outside the Windows of the Plum.
In the general state of Pandaemonium inspired by the Noise and the initial Confusion as to the exact Source of the Cacophony, which seemed to crash and echo chaotically throughout the Building, and amidst the confused Cries of "Fire!" and "Murder!" and "The Vashans are coming!" and "The Vashans are already here, run for your Lives!", it was several minutes before anyone rushed out the front Doors to investigate the Scene directly outside. Here were discovered the burned-out Husks of numerous varieties of Fire-works, along with a Match-stub and several blackened sections of Grass where the Devices had evidently been set off with no regard whatsoever for the painstaking Labors of the Grounds-crew. No other Clews could be discovered as to the Identities of the Perpetrators, who seemed to have fled the Scene immediately upon having exhausted their store of Explosives.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
AN INTERVIEW WITH ELLI SOJOURNER
In this Edition the Eye speaks with Captain Elli Sojourner, a veteran member of the Royal Guard who has served King Vek with unsurpassed Dedication these many Years. This interview took place on the 11th Daye of Plade, with the Venue being divided between the Silver Tankard and Captain Sojourner's office, on account of the Interview being interrupted in the middle by the peculiar Doughnut Interlude related in the previous Section.
[ The text is followed by a competent but uninspired woodblock print of a Kivian woman, presumably the subject of the interview. In her early thirties, the woman has an athletic figure. Worn in a shining mass of soft curls, which fall to her narrow waist, her hair forms a wispy bang across her brow and frames her nose, which could only be called average. A ring of darker color accents her eyes, and her face is characterized by a full mouth. Encircling her wrist like a bracelet is a tattoo of a stylized Indrejan key design, and she is clad in a damask plate harness (sans helm), along with all the trappings of the Royal Guard. ]
The Kaezarian Eye: You've made Kaezar your home for over a decade now. When did you first become a guard?
Elli Sojourner: I joined the Imperial guard not long after arriving in the city.
Eye: You were with the Imperials first, then? Was that before the Royal Guard even existed?
Sojourner: Aye, I was in the Imperials for two years.
Eye: What made you want to join the Imperials in the first place?
Sojourner: I have three brothers. Never known anything but blades. The Imperials were recruiting heavily in those days, and I could swing a blade. The Talone were stirring a lot of trouble, so we did fight a lot of orcs.
Eye: Was this before Megrym was around to stir them up?
Sojourner: Aye, it was before the usurper.
Eye: So you served with the Imperials for two years. Why did you end up leaving the service of the Emperor?
Sojourner: It was a very fateful day in Never. I was assigned to help protect a young prince -- several of us were, actually. Sadly, there was an attempt on his life.
Eye: By whom?
Sojourner: Two crazed citizens.
Eye: How typical.
Sojourner: We were able to fight them off. The Prince was saved, but realized he wanted more protectors. I had taken a vow to the Empire, so I hesitated to join the new royal corps. But then the Prince was to be wed to a princess from Vash, Gohime. It was a bizarre time -- Vash was taking over most of Kaezar's port. We thought it would be war, hence the arranged marriage to try to keep the peace.
Eye: I suppose a strategic alliance would make sense under the circumstances.
Sojourner: The Prince was new to the throne, Talone were everywhere, and the usurper still roaming. What enemy wouldn't try to take advantage? So the Prince agreed to the wedding.
Eye: But as I recall, the thing went terribly awry. As usual for Kessia.
Sojourner: A facet of Taqe was involved, aye. The princess was kidnapped. I was accused of killing a Vashan general -- one of the Princess's guardians. The Deceiver was at work, trying to cause a war. But the Prince saved my life. They were about to haul me off to a Vashan prison, but he wouldn't let them take me. Eventually we freed the princess and I was proven innocent of the murder. But her mind was gone, the poor soul. She had been driven insane by the facet. The wedding was called off and she returned to Vash. Thankfully, war was averted.
Eye: Miraculously, I would say.
Sojourner: Aye, Jakob's hand was with us. I owed the King my life. So the choice to join his guard was no longer difficult.
Eye: I can certainly see now why you've always felt such a strong sense of duty and devotion towards the King.
Sojourner: I learned what a special man he was during that time.
Eye: I remember the times when he used to actually come down to the muck of the Crossroads.
Sojourner: Aye, that's where I met him first, actually. I was patrolling one night and saw a cloaked man near the Crossroads. There had been some recent murders, so I assumed it might be the murderer. I grabbed him from behind and held a knife to his throat... Not the best way to meet royalty. I could have killed him.
Eye: But evidently you didn't.
Sojourner: He said that Jakob stayed my hand. I still had no idea who he was -- he only said he was a merchant's son. I used to see him often in the temple after that. This was before he was restored to power. It was many months before I learned who he really was... Lords, that was quite a shock.
Eye: I can imagine.
Eye: So you've been with the Royals ever since then, and have no doubt seen any number of additional horrifying things. Is there any time that stands out as one of the darkest you've ever experienced?
Sojourner: Aye, with the Royals ever since, about nine years. ( The interviewee here appeared quite stymied by the necessity of choosing a particular dark time to elaborate upon. )
Eye: I know, there have been so many it's probably hard to pick just one.
Sojourner: Sadly, that is true. But the darkest day was during the war with the zu'wrathe. I was told the King was dead.
Eye: That's right, he was struck down with a curse, or an unnatural illness, or something like that.
Sojourner: Aye, most likely a curse. But Jakob saved his life; he was brought back from the edge. Then there were many dark times beyond the war with the wrathe.
Eye: How did you keep from losing hope in such a terrible time as that? Some people were near to despair in those days.
Sojourner: I lost hope many times. That was the nature of the wrathe. He would not stop physical or mental attacks. But although Jakob was weakened, and under attack, we still saw glimpses of hope.
( It was at this point that a mysterious doughnut-related crisis reared its ugly head, and the interview was put aside for the purpose of tracking down the perpetrator of the sinister pastry prank. No trace of the (ir)responsible party being found, the interview was adjourned to the privacy of the office of the Captain of the Royal Guards. )
Sojourner: Have to leave something unknown so they'll buy the paper.
Eye: There's not much news since the last one, so they'll need all the motivating they can get.
Sojourner: Aye, was a very quiet Vos.
Eye: It *was* quiet -- much moreso than in years past. What is the strangest thing that's ever happened during Mylywyth, that you've witnessed?
Sojourner: Ghosts of all kinds... It was heartbreaking one year.
( Here the other party to the interview jumped into the conversation to make his own contribution on the topic at hand. )
Ashinara De'Alera: I'd have to go with the creepy doll you had.
Sojourner: Oh lords, don't remind me.
Eye: What? A creepy doll?
Sojourner: It was possessed.
Eye: This is something the world certainly needs to know more about. When was this?
Sojourner: It would come to life.
De'Alera: [helpfully] And shapeshift.
Eye: How have I not heard about this before!
Sojourner: I didn't sleep in my inn room for months. It would crawl under the bed.
Eye: Wait, wait... where did it come from? What did it look like? What happened to it?
Sojourner: This was a Vos during the wrathe war.
De'Alera: I only saw it once. It looked like Baigan, except meaner, and it tried to stab me.
Sojourner: Aye, it would try to kill people. The Baigan version was the most terrifying.
Eye: That does sound horrifying, yes.
Sojourner: It would change its face. I always assumed it was the wrathe. He played many games of the mind. Last time I saw that doll... it crawled under my bed at the Silver Plum and never came out. I don't sleep there much still.
Eye: I always knew there was a very good reason I didn't keep rooms at the Plum.
Sojourner: Another Vos I saw King Vek's father -- the ghost of Cedric, Jakob rest him. I had met him once in life, before he was poisoned, so I knew it was him. It was so sad.
Eye: Was his ghost angry? Sad? Vengeful?
Sojourner: Sad... Trapped, he was still searching for his lost queen.
Eye: Did her ghost ever appear as well, that you know of?
Sojourner: No. Though for years we often heard faint crying -- definitely a woman. And it was always near the red tower.
Eye: Is that where she died?
Sojourner: No one knows what happened to her. She simply disappeared, when Vek was very young.
Eye: And no one has any idea of her fate?
Sojourner: Nothing that could ever be proven. Some said she ran off to another country. But I don't believe she would ever have willingly left her child. From what the King has told me of her, she was a very loving mother.
Eye: And what would she have gained from fleeing to another country in the first place?
Sojourner: Aye, that is the question. There was never a ransom. So people dropped the idea it was an enemy state.
Eye: And no one ever heard so much as a hint of the queen again?
Sojourner: No clues at all. She had been gone for many years, long before I came into the Royal guard.
Eye: How utterly mysterious. What a tragic tale the life of the royal family is. I wonder if all kingdoms have such sad goings-on. It always seems to be something.
Eye: Do you ever feel discouraged sometimes that no matter how many dire calamities you save Peregorne from, it always seems to wind up plunged right back into disaster a few months later?
Sojourner: I have never saved Kessia from anything. What is the old saying... 'May you live in interesting times'? That can be a blessing and a curse.
Eye: Well, you've certainly played your part, along with any number of other people.
Sojourner: To answer your question, I think Jakob leads me where I need to be. That is the sum of who I am.
Eye: Your faith in Jakob is very important to you, isn't it?
Sojourner: It is everything.
De'Alera: Elli is one of the staunchest champions of Jakob that I know.
Sojourner: The King is the staunchest.
Eye: Were you raised with that faith, or was it something that grew in you over time?
Sojourner: The King taught me. Back in the days he was wearing that cloak, still hidden. I would find him in the temple very frequently.
Eye: Ah. The 'merchant's son.'
Sojourner: Aye, I didn't know who he was. But he taught me about Jakob. He still teaches me.
Eye: He sounds as if he's been a great inspiration to you in all your time here.
Sojourner: And that is why I will protect him as long as I have breath...
Eye: What do you think about last year's blow-up between Lord Esselyon and the Imperials? Some people thought the Regent had it coming, but others believed he was doing the right thing for the country. Do you think the King made the proper response to the situation?
Sojourner: The King showed him much patience. He tried to help him understand; he forgave him. But the Lord still betrayed his trust. The King gave the proper response. We are stronger with Penthras. I have always believed the King is correct in this. Lord Esselyon could have been his right hand.
Eye: The King showed Esselyon rather more leniency than any number of other monarchs would have, I dare say.
Sojourner: That is one of the King's gifts: he sees what people can become. He truly tries to nurture all those around him. I know it saddened the King to have to move against Lord Esselyon, but it was the right thing.
De'Alera: He went too far. He attacked the King. Even then the King tried to give him a way out, but he refused to see reason.
Sojourner: Power is a dangerous thing.
Eye: All right, I suppose I've kept you long enough for one night. Two last short questions! One, if you could change one thing about Kaezar, what would it be? And two, what advice would you have for some poor lost soul newly arrived to Kaezar?
Sojourner: I truly can't think of anything I would change about Kaezar. I love it down to the mud. The people always manage to find a way to work together, despite very different faiths.
Eye: Gods only know how it all manages to work out in the end.
Sojourner: Aye, but it always does. We find a way. For the new soul... I'd say to spend time learning and listening. That's what I did. I read all the histories, listened to the guards, listened until I found people I knew I could trust. I learned so much from Captain Nicholi. Everyone should find someone to trust and learn from. That is I what I did, work hard and learn. Listen well... and don't assume everyone wearing a cloak is a murderer.
Eye: Or that anyone not wearing a cloak isn't one.
De'Alera: But suspect them of it.
Sojourner: Thank you for making the interview painless. I hope I gave you one thing that won't put people to sleep.
Eye: I wouldn't worry if I were you. The only difficulty will be keeping them awake until they get to the interview.
Sojourner: I didn't even tell you about the time we stuffed Ash into the King's clothes as a decoy...
Eye: Well, it's not too late!
De'Alera: You didn't even want to do that, or the King.
Sojourner: I had to convince the King. He didn't want anyone being his decoy.
Eye: What did he need a decoy for in the first place?
Sojourner: We had good intelligence an attack was coming. And sure enough, they tried to kill him -- well, Ash.
De'Alera: I got some pretty nasty bruises on the head, but it wasn't too bad.
Eye: We all know that your skull is your most invulnerable point anyway.
Sojourner: We had a decoy for the Queen of Nelwyn as well. They attacked in Kem. The Queen was so thankful for our protections. She gave me a most interesting gift. Beautiful engraved hairsticks -- with deadly needles inside. And now I can be armed even in a gown. She was not without a sense of humor.
Eye: You need a biographer to take down all these stories and put them in a book.
Sojourner: And I didn't mention the baby dragyn...
Eye: I was going to ask about the dragyn!
Sojourner: It was small, cute, and purple. What's a girl to do... I started petting it after it hatched.
Eye: Well, naturally.
Sojourner: It thought I was its mother, and so it followed me around like a pup.
Eye: Where did it come from?
Elli: We never knew. I just stumbled upon the clutch of eggs, and that one hatched while I was there. We became bonded. The bloody things grow fast! [The Priestess] Xelian was able to communicate with the mother. The little purple taught me dyari -- it is their language. I speak it perfectly still.
Eye: Dyari is originally the language of dragyns?
Sojourner: Aye, they use the elder tongue. I went with the dragyn once to the timestream.
Eye: What exactly is the timestream?
Sojourner: I don't know how to explain it. It was a place of light, energy... magic.
De'Alera: Basically the dragyns lived in something called the timestream, where they could travel back and forth pretty much whenever they wanted. It was also life for them.
Sojourner: Xelian eventually convinced the mother to leave the area. It was too dangerous for us all. The little purple dragyn turned adult. They all grow into a metallic color -- he turned silver. And I'm so original, I named it... Silver.
Eye: Aha. Yes, I remember you referring to it by that name before.
Sojourner: He taught me to fly. Yes, you heard me right. It's not something you can believe unless you see it. And no, I can't anymore since he's gone. Now you will publish that I'm insane. But honestly, there were witnesses.
Eye: Not at all. In Kaezar, being insane is commonplace, and only being in your right mind counts as news.
Sojourner: So true.
Eye: Besides, it's Kaezar. If anything can happen, it probably will.
Sojourner: So if I ever drop dead... that means Silver has died. And he will do the same when I pass.
Eye: How does that work?
Sojourner: The bond can never be broken, or so Xelian said. She learned it from the mother.
Eye: Aren't dragyns supposed to live for hundreds or thousands of years? Does this mean it's going to have a daun-sized lifespan now?
Sojourner: Aye. But anything is possible... I pray Jakob will show it mercy. Silver made that choice for me. He could have taken another metallic form when he turned into an adult. But I would have died. It was an act of sacrifice.
Eye: Why? What difference does the type of metal make?
Sojourner: Each is different with its bond. It never should have bonded with me. The bond would not have harmed another dragyn. Xelian would know the why of it. She said its only choice to keep me alive was silver, and so that's what he did.
Eye: It's an amazing story.
Sojourner: It seemed more like a dream. The mother killed so many. It was taking people's life force, people's days -- they would age ten years in a second.
Sojourner: She was pissed -- thought we had stolen and killed her babies. She either fried you to a crisp, or stole decades. She killed Xelian on the beach... I still can't go out there without thinking about it.
Eye: Yes. You need a book. I appreciate your taking... well, this entire evening, as it turns out... to speak with me.
Sojourner: It's been my pleasure.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
THE CRITICAL EYE: Reviews of Culture and the Arts
Acting Manager's Note: The wayward Critics having yet to meander their hapless Way back to the Offices of the Eye, and the Monkeys mentioned in the last Edition being too tiresomely similar in their mode of Expression to those long-lost Writers, the Eye decided to take the issue of Culture straight to the common Man on the Street, and put to him the Question: What do you think about the state of Culture in Kessia these Dayes?
~ * ~
Mr. N.B.: I think it all depends on the brambles. If there's not one about, then, well, we're likely all on the road to perdition. Honestly, you can't swing a cat without you hitting a re'har or a vulfen... But there's not a bramble to be found.
Eye: Are you saying that re'hari and vulfen have a lowering effect on culture?
Mr. N.B.: No, but there's naught that elevates it like a bramble. With the possible exception of an elpa.
Eye: And what do you find that the elpas bring to the table in matters of culture?
Mr. N.B.: A difference in perspective.
Eye: Hmm... yes, their worldview does involve a great deal more looking upward than that of most people.
Mr. D.C.: The difference would be quite acute.
Mr. N.B.: There's nothing cute about an elpa.
Miss P.A.: I liked all the royal bards. I wisht they hadn't of gone away. They was all real pretty ladies. Specially the last one.
Eye: The last one was a gentleman.
Miss P.A.: Oh.
Mr. W.B.: Well! It's about time someone asked that question, and took a good hard look at the state of the world these days. Culture! Pah! Iffin you ask me, and of course you just did, the world could do with a heap more dancing. Real dancing, I mean, the kind what good sensible country folk been doing since the days of our most distant forebears. Now I don't know as I quite hold with that gharkin fellow of yourn what thought we should have more dances like the Imperial Captain, but on tother hand a man can't rightly object to a good foot-stamping whirl of a dance stead of -- what did that fellow call 'em? -- them prancing ninny dances what one sees nowadays, as is just meant for people to show off their fancy dresses and fop-coats and what passes for fashion nowadays. "Fashion"! Don't even get me started on fashion! Iffin you ask me --
Eye: Hm. If you could hold that thought, please?
Mr. D.U.: There's culture in Kessia?
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
THE WELL-DRESSED KESSIAN - Conversations on Fashion and Style
The Eye is sorry, if not entirely overcome with Astonishment, to report that our Fashion Correspondent has gone the way of nearly every other Employee of this Publication and vanished without a Trace, nor so much as a single apologetic Word to the Manager. Given the lack of additional Persons clamoring to fill his Spot, the Eye has allowed the fittingly-named Mr. Blunt to continue his Tirade on the current state of Kessian Culture to encompass the vast number of Failings in the world of Fashion.
~ * ~
The State of Fashion Today, as seen by Mr. William H. Blunt, Honest Tradesman of Kaezar
Fashion, you say? I is right glad you asked. Now I been reading this here publication for years, and I ain't never seed anything so hoity-toity as this here fashion column of yourn. What right, I ask you, what bloody goddamned business, does folks have prancing around telling the rest of us what clothes to pull over our heads in the morning? If you ask me, folks should keep their fancy opinions to themselves and mind their own business.
I been doing just that for the last forty years, so don't you be giving me no pot-and-kettle nonsense. I just got myself fed up with the state of affairs in this city what used to be filled with hard-working, Jakob-fearing folks like myself that didn't spend all day worriting themselves sick about which cuff-link to wear to their fish-egg and lobster-leg Fasulstag dinner, and afeared to death they might end up wearing the Runesday afternoon tea-and-crumpets cuff-link instead.
You'd think folks would be too busy earning an honest living and trying to keep themselves from winding up in an orc's cook-pot to trouble themselves with such tomfoolery, and I dare say most folks in this city is doing just that. The trouble as I see it is with these damned layabout adventurer types what you see slouching about in the streets and public houses all hours of the day and night. These folk ain't never done a day's honest work in their lives, but somehow they's built up this giant bloody fortune they ain't smart enough to know what to do with, on account of having no notion of business or industry or anything else a sensible fellow might put his mind and money to.
(A funny thing about that too, I'd like to add -- them folk claim they get all this "loot" from all them orcs and veckles and other critters as pester our roads and woods and back-alleyways, and is doing the rest of us a service by getting rid of them. But has anyone ever seed a single veckle less waving their broken bottles around in the dump, or walked through Rolf's Marsh and thought, "Jakob's Blessing, but ain't it a mighty fine orc-free day today!" All of which I bring up to say, that it makes a body sore suspicious concerning what these adventurers is actually up to, and whether there ain't some mighty shady dealings going round what ain't come out into the light of day yet. But I was talking about fashion.)
What I say is, if the mood takes me to go out my door in only a waistcoat and shirtsleeves, who the bloody hell is going to stop me? Maybe them lily-white gentlemen needs to keep themselves all cosseted up in half a dozen layers so's they don't catch a case of the sniffles every time a breeze blows off the bay, but us as actually work for a living can't always be having to deal with lace cuffs and flapping coat-tails as we shoe horses or haul crates or otherways go about town pursuing an honest livelihood. As a matter of fact, I ain't no great believer in waistcoats either -- thems is for barristers and bankers and tother crawling critters of Thrael, on account of how they need something to protect their bellies as they slither about. Give me a simple tunic or gard-corps any day of the week.
As for the way womenfolk go around these days -- well, I tell you straight out it is a disgrace to our entire country. Whatever happened to the good old humble kirtle, I ask you? What happened to the modest caul what to gather a woman's tumbling locks in, or the veil to screen a fair maiden's face and keep covered them tempting lips what has been the downfall of many of a poor honest fellow? Some days a fellow walks by the Crossroads and can't tell the difference between the regular daytime ladies and the ones of the night, iffin you catch my meaning. It's a sad state of affairs, and I tell you it just twists my gut to think what a pass we've come to.
I ain't saying as we ain't still got more humble men and modest women than some harum-scarum country like Quesalia or, gods forbid, them degenerate Indrejani what used to wear nothing but a bed-sheet and now has gone plum tother way by piling on the silk and lace and frippery 'til they look like some jabbering flock of tarted-up layla birds rather than proper men and women. All I'm saying is that this land of ours is headed straight for the bowels of Ul'Mydar, Veil Lords or no Veil Lords, iffin we don't all stop filling our heads and wardrobes with nonsense and start living up to the fine example of our good Jakob-fearing forebears instead. Thank you.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN LAURDIA AND THE TALLONEAN EMPIRE
~*~ Being an Account of the Journey to the Hostile Frontier of Civilized Lands,
~*~ And Beyond it into the Very Heart of Orcish Savagery;
~*~ Describing Also the Extraordinary Sights, Remarkable Creatures,
~*~ And Unusual Encounters Had Therein.
Part the First: Departure -- Rock Creek -- On the Wessumbrian Border -- Alfred Goes Missing -- A Scientific Experiment and an Unexpected Encounter -- A Skirmish with the Talone
It having been mutually agreed upon that a change in scenery would be a welcome thing after the trying and tedious business with the Veil Lord, we resolved to take a trip to the wild hinterlands of Laurdia for the purposes of exploration both in the geographical and intellectual realms, and for the sheer thrill of adventure that traveling in a poorly known and perilous country brings.
My companion in this venture was none other than noted Vedic Malo Haithcock who, nearing the end of his Term as Liaison to the Council of Mages, and having just been instrumental in the most recent Saving of the World, felt as I did that some entirely different sort of adventure would prove greatly beneficial, both to our frame of mind and to the world of Science. And so we set off on the 26th of Ghust, making our way gradually southwest to the Laurdian border, with nothing but our own feet to bear us hence, and no more supplies than we could carry upon our backs.
It was a warm day when we started, and the road a baked dirt track that seemed to lack the initiative to meander off in exploration of anything more interesting than the arrow-straight borders and hedge-rows of the farms it passed. By ten bells even the exuberant field-sparrows had settled down to an intermittent desultory trilling, their thin chorus accompanied only by the strident voices of the cicadas perched unseen in the top of each widely-scattered tree. Eventually the late afternoon sun began sinking towards the horizon, but this seemed only to mellow and liquefy the heat of the day, the muggy air clinging to skin and clothing alike and allowing the beaten powder of the road to cling to both in turn. As a consequence, it was with some relief that we stopped in the shade alongside a deep and stony-bottomed stream, known somewhat unimaginatively to the locals as Rock Creek.
(It is an interesting fact I have noted in my travels, that people tend to display an extraordinary dearth of creativity in their naming of certain features of the landscape, particularly running bodies of water, with there being such an abundance of Rock Creeks, Sand Creeks, Mud Creeks, Spring Creeks, and the like, and with some of these creeks being labeled "Sand" at one point, and "Rock" several miles further along, that one begins to be quite convinced they would not have been able to muddy the waters, as it were, any further had they simply left every single name at "Creek.")
Inadequacies of nomenclature aside, this creek presents a very pleasing aspect, particularly after a long dusty journey through seemingly endless pastures and crop-fields. Numerous tall oaks and willows spread their branches over the water, and the deep fissures in the bark of the former seem to be favored by a type of small black beetle that sits in the crevices with numerous others of its kind, apparently enjoying the society of its fellows. These beetles in turn are voraciously devoured by lizards that likewise make their home in the trees, and which are so sure of foot that they can cling to a perfectly smooth vertical surface such as the lens of a camera obscura, entirely foiling the attempt to capture an adequate likeness.
It was at a small inn-post nearby that we managed to procure the services of a hippogryph for the remainder of the journey between this spot, located about half the distance from Never-Upon-Vinre to Merishae, and the border with Laurdia -- though it was a flight that seemed doubly long due to the cramped nature of the howdah atop the beast's back, crammed to bursting as it was with a large shipment of supplies bound like us for the military encampents of the Wessumbrian marchlands. Even so, I considered it vastly preferable to even a single hour's more of traveling through the midst of monotonous fields of corn, wheat, and barley, which we could now watch sweep by beneath the hippogryph with pleasing speed, the patches of deep greens and golds giving the appearance of a vast patchwork quilt spread across the gently rolling land, before giving way to lofty mountains, then more endless fields and plains.
The fortification at which we eventually arrived being perennially short-handed, it seemed a reasonable thing to offer our services for the day, in whatever capacity might be desired. The orcs harrying the border had once again been stepping up their efforts, and it was anticipated that they would make another full assault upon the walls before the week was out. I left my companion to a review of the fort's magickal defenses and absorbed myself in more mundane affairs, namely assisting with the inspection and distribution of the supplies that had made the most recent leg of our trip such a trial.
However, I was interrupted in this task by the plaintive cries of the fort commander's daughter, who could not have been above seven years of age and was most distraught over the loss of someone by the name of Alfie or Alfred. This Alfred, as it turned out, was a Murkhese puppy (Alfred, of course, being the inituitive sort of name for any creature of Murkhish origins) that had been procured some weeks ago from an itinerant peddlar, and which had been utterly doted on by the girl until the creature had gone missing the previous night. It was difficult to maintain a sense of perfect disinterest in the fate either of the dog or the girl, as the former, if it had strayed from the fort, was liable to end up spitted over an orc's campfire; while the latter, if not facing a destiny as dire as all that, was certainly in a state of quite discomfiting distress.
And so it was that not a quarter of an hour hence I found myself slipping out a small postern gate in quest of an unobtrusive animal at large in a broad landscape, and whose bones were quite possibly being used as toothpicks at that exact moment. I did not trouble Mister Haithcock over this trifling matter, as I could not help but feel the least bit of suspicion that my companion would unfairly find the loss of a small fluffy puppy insufficient reason to venture beyond the safety of palisade walls in hostile orc-infested country, at least not if there were better things to do already.
In any case, this seemed to me the ideal occasion for experimention with certain properties of sound and bardic magic that I had been mulling over some weeks before. It is well known that certain races and animals are capable of hearing sounds beyond the range of what others can discern; for instance, elpa may detect by use of their antennae exceedingly subtle vibrations that entirely escape the awareness of the average daun. More significantly in this instance, it is postulated that even the ears of the humble canine may pick up noises belonging to a certain obscure pitch, when its master hears naught but silence. What, I thought, might one not accomplish by projecting sounds of a certain very high or very low pitch, using certain bardic techniques to produce the sound and heighten its allure? Besides, it seemed like slightly less folly to tromp about bellowing in an undetectable pitch rather than in one that an orc would immediately hear and come running towards with upraised battle-axe.
I decided to start with a very low pitch and work upwards, but I soon gave up the lower range when it produced no more discernable response than a certain unsettling increase in the number of frogs hopping through the grass in my vicinity, and the surfacing of a rather dazed-looking mole. The upper ranges seemed more encouraging in any case, as vulfen report being able to hear very high noises, and I thought it not unlikely that dogs and vulfen might have similar capacities for hearing. Of course, even putting bardic magic to use in the production of the sound it was difficult to tell whether I was creating any effect at all, but after several minutes I finally succeeded in provoking a response. However, it was not quite the response I intended -- or rather, it was, but not in the ideally desired target. For all at once there was a great roar of noise from one nearby copse, then from another, and another, as out of their depths hurtled a truly impressive number of wargs, their equally impressive jaws held wide open as they bayed for the blood of their quarry, which, it naturally turned out, was myself.
Unfortunately, by this point I was some distance from the fort, as one can imagine from the presence of these unmolested clumps of trees and shrubbery that would never have been allowed any closer to the walls, and whose absence for the next several hundred yards between myself and those walls I now found extremely regrettable. For the briefest of moments my head was filled with the foolish if pleasingly glorious notion of standing my ground and battling the wargs from the low rise on which I stood, and going out in a great blaze of glory that would be sung about by bards for the next thousand years. However, I decided that I did not really care enough for bards to go around simply handing them such blatant opportunities for future terrible compositions, and so I decided that my next experiment was to discover exactly how far a daun might be able to run at top speed before being overtaken by ravening wargs -- though it seemed regrettably possible that the very next experiment after that would be to discover just how fast an entire human being might be devoured alive by those same ravening wargs.
I did at least have the advantage of a good head start on the wargs, who were also at first hindered by the efforts of a number of angry-looking orcs to get them under some semblance of control again. However, this evidently proving more trouble than it was worth, the orcs seemed to decide that the loss of their cover meant that they might as well go ahead and launch right that very instant whatever offensive they had been in the process of planning, the end result of this being that not only was I being pursued by ravening wargs but that the wargs themselves were closely followed by a raging band of extremely put-out Talone orcs.
What the defenders atop the palisade walls thought of this impromptu pageant suddenly playing out on the plain before them I cannot surely say. Whether their shouts were ones of encouragement or otherwise was likewise impossible to determine, but had they been uttered with the greatest goodwill in the world, the fact of the matter remained that I was rapidly running up against the base of a fairly tall and gateless expanse of wall, and no one seemed to have conveniently on hand a length of rope to let down. I was never more thankful than at this moment to have spent countless hours of my life scaling cliffs and buildings and garden walls and other similarly vertical surfaces, for with one great bound and a somewhat graceless scrabble I managed to begin the ascent up the rough log sides of the fort, though not, unfortunately, without the leading warg taking a great bound of its own and attempting to make off with my leg as a memento of its exertions.
Nevertheless, we desert nomads being made of stern stuff, I managed to at least partially foil the warg's efforts at trophy-taking and haul myself up to the edge of the parapet, where I was greeted by what looked to be the rather incredulous scowl of Mister Haithcock, and found myself pulled the rest of the way over the top of the palisade by a pair of strong arms. These did not, of course, belong to Mister Haithcock, who was forthwith busily involved in doing whatever it is that illusionists do to make wargs feel regret for attempting to devour people's traveling companions, and seems to involve a great deal of blood and noise, but belonged rather to a longer-armed gharkin who proceeded to regard me with some measure of disgust. Exactly what measure I failed to gauge precisely, as there was a certain short period of lost consciousness that ended with my coming to my senses in the fort's infirmary, with the sole of my newly-repaired foot being licked by what seemed at first to be a small bedraggled mop, but actually turned out to be the missing Alfred.
It was in fact this remarkable bedraggled-mop resemblance that had apparently been responsible for the dog's going missing in the first place, as the excited little girl sat by my aching head and regaled me with the tale of how, about a half hour after my departure, a great whining and scratching was suddenly heard emanating from a broom closet within the commander's residence (why anyone on a remote frontier fort should have a broom closet in the first place is beyond me, let alone one containing enough mops along with the brooms to obscure even a smallish dog, but evidently obscure frontier fortifications have standards of cleanliness incomprehensible to the uninitiated). In any case, it turned out that the unfortunate Alfred's notions of adventure extended no further than the shadowy depths of such closets and that whoever had last been responsible for the brooms had simply shut the creature in unawares, thus dooming my entire perilous sojourn beyond the walls to utter irrelevance. However, I consoled myself with the conjecture that the dog must have been thrown into such a state of excitement by the sound of my bardic experiment, thus rendering the entire experience a triumph for Science if not for good sense.
A short while afterwards I also learned that the orcs had been beaten back with great success, since they evidently had been forced to show their hand earlier than planned and thus had launched their attack prior to the arrival of their entire force. Moreover, they evidently had not counted on the presence of an irate illusionist in the defenders' midst, nor had the leader of the assault, on having followed my own illustrious example by miraculously managing to scale the walls, been prepared to receive a well-flung teacup directly to the face, which evidently went so entirely contrary to his expectations regarding the proper conduct of frontier warfare that he promptly toppled back off the parapet again, and into the not overly discriminating jaws of the remaining wargs.
And so Mister Haithcock and I were dined well that evening, and could retire for the night with the knowledge that the world, or at least one tiny corner of it, had been saved again.
... TO BE CONTINUED IN SUBSEQUENT EDITIONS.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
NEWS OF THE WORLDE
By Minerva Sartchilde, Owner and Chief Editor
The predicted increase in coffee prices hath been to some degree offset by the breaking of the Zigurandi drought by thee combined efforts of Naroumbi weather-mages, which thys reporter personally witnessed converging upon Dongola thys past Kolbre. Tho' happy news for thee devotees of the brewe, thys reporter is pleased to reporte a few new imports from Tahin'a and thee Otieno Territorie of Rhe'Yubla haf made an appearance in the inventorie of local Kaezarian merchants.
Closer to home, thys reporter hath heard tell of strange happenings in Lisselione, where an Enclave of Boggans haf declared its independence from Sault-Vencion and enlisted (or coerced) thee assystance of Nocker mechanists in deploying many strange and lethal Devices in enforcyng theire territorial clayms, which when last detayled consisted of "the Rue de Bijoux-en-Sotier from the bakery to the barricade at Rue Slater, and also the carriage house upon the Place du Fousseret." As of yet no offycial statement haf been given, but a buska seller upon thee aforementyoned corner of Fousseret Street was hearde to remark that the "rats will soon be driven back into their holes."
A coalition of hussars and Imperial forces are continuing to clash with orcish clans on the Wessumbrian border, the most recent skirmish provoked when a savage band of warg riders raided and sacked the holdings of Baron Frederick Augustus Adolphus, murdering hys family, burning all in their path and making away with not only hys substantial collectione of armes and armore, but thee entire contents of hys wine cellars, which they consumed and despoyled upon their march from towne to towne.
A remarkable shaking of thee grounde hath occurred in thee Kuthgardian lands of Hersu Mineyi, in thee far east of the Empire of the Mordesan Horde. Travelers report the vibratyon of the land produced an awefulle noise as of distant thundyr, and shook down innumerable trees in the foothyls of the Moravich Range, many of these washing down thee Moravich River and so into the Sea of Bucerazh, while sulfurous vapor exuded from great numbyrs of fissures which opened up in thee ground, while many small lakes higher up in thee peaks had their beds lowered to such a degree that they haf spilled down into thee lower valleys, causing many mudslides and other such disasteres. But these lands being mostly untenanted, there was no greate losse of lyfe, tho it was claymed by those in Gesta that the quaking was the fault of Broc-Caillean come forth from Xhjet'dum, having deeply tunneled in thee range beyond their own lands, and some few of that reclusive folke haf been driven from thee city in peril of their own lyves.
More newes from the Islande of Vash doth continue to provoke interest, with reportes of signyficant crop losses and widespread hardshyp resulting in an increase in banditry in the Nagosan countrysyde. Ambassador Suwa denyes reportes of rioting in Asahai and reassured thys reporter that tho thee harvests were "somewhat affected by the rains," thee timely intervention of agricultural ministers of the Exalted Son of Heaven and thee tyreless laboring of affected farmers in thee region haf ensured that all shortages haf been avoided, the "disturbances" in Asahai being merely garbled reportys of especially devout prayer at thee harvest festival that season. In related newes, Dhansang traders report a suprysing increase in mining activity in Kamalo, with a reduction in timber exportes from Tanshui.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
EYE ON KESSIA
Views of Our Fair Province
Through the Lens of a Camera-Obscura
~ Ghosts of Mylywyths Past ~
[ In this first of a series of woodblock prints, a low black iron gate separates a huge mausoleum to the north from the rest of the cemetery. Smooth gray granite columns extend the length of the high open archway, leading inside the elegantly impressive tomb. Long stone planters hold perfectly tended flowers and beautiful carved scrollwork adorns the entrance. A bit to the west of the path, a low stone wall graces the end of the cemetery grounds and to the northwest, a wooden bridge spans a graceful reflecting pond. Also in the scene are a ghost wolf, a sylvan helpfully labeled as "Ashinara De'Alera" (kneeling rather familiarly near the ghost wolf), a red-haired sylvan woman labeled as "Loerya Ellyllon," yet another sylvan labeled "Reluvan Ra'Leld," and last but not least a fluffy badger with his own label proclaiming him "Toodles".
The picture bears only the notation of: "Kemstead Cemetary, 21st Kolbre 642 AoD" ]
[ The first woodblock is followed by what appears to be a close-up shot of the ghost wolf from the preceding picture. Transparent, the ghost wolf is approximately two feet tall at the shoulder, and it is covered with fur that has been given a glowing effect by the addition of a wavery outline surrounding its form. Its four legs are well muscled, making it appear capable of moving with power, grace, and speed despite its expired state. The teeth of the creature look sharper and more deadly than they did in life and its pupil-less eyes seem also to glow with an inner intelligence. ]
[ The huge manifestation in this woodcut appears to be cloaked in a dark shroud. Its face covered by the wrapping, all that can be seen of the creature is its long sharp fangs that hang dripping over the cowl of the robe and talon-like fingers that look as if they have repeatedly been clenched and opened again, leaving long rents in its own palms.
Side-by-side with this print is one of another, equally grotesque and generally unidentifiable entity. In form, the whatever-it-is appears vaguely humanoid in that it stands on two legs and has two long sinewy arms, depending from hulking shoulders. The legs are the limbs of a bull, and its arms are wreathed in what appear to be licking tongues of light and shadow. Vaguely wedge-shaped with wide-spreading char-black horns, the massive head is set with eyes like embers that appear to gleam balefully in the otherwise formless face.
By this point in the paper you have definitely gotten the feeling that whoever was responsible for labeling the prints was feeling extremely uninspired, as the picture of these bizarre entities bears nothing more sensational or explicative than the caption "Demonic Apparitions, 25th Kolbre 644." ]
[ What appears to have once been the size of a large daun, the skeleton in this print is clad in a blood-stained burial shroud charmingly accessorized by a deteriorating lionskin mantle, the beast's head still attached and its rotting mane draped over his chest. Hollow sockets are all that remains of the eyes, and decaying flesh clings to the bleached bones of his body. Shreds of tissue still cling to the upper lip, which is pulled up into a sneer, exposing broken stained teeth, and his nose has long worn away into two blackened nares. Strands of hair are still held in a top-knot on the top of his skull.
Like the preceding pictures, this one is simply labeled, reading only: "Barthelgrimm the Conqueror, Vos'Siddix, 644 AoD." ]
Do you have a Photograph that you wish to share with your fellow Readers? Submit one to the offices of the Kaezarian Eye, along with a brief Explanation of the Shot, and our talented woodcut Artists will turn it into a Print for the next Edition of the News! All Photographs shall be returned as promptly as the Creative Process permits.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
AS EYE SEE IT
By Auntie Anony
Hello Hello Hello - Hafe you hearde!
So much to Tell!
Aunty hears the devout Ashinara De'Alera has become a Lightbringer in all but name! How exciting. She knows King Vek will be almost as proud of him as Aunty is. He's come a long way since Aunty first laid eyes on him, and is looking fitter and cuter than ever. Aunty wonders if Verger Ramona's vows will be enough to keep her eyes on the relics and not on Ash's attributes.
Aunty's a leeeeeeetle worried about Engineer Takala lately. Mechanical pens are one thing, but a mechanical horse? What about all those poor sweaty stableboys who'll be out of work? Maybe the streets will be cleaner... but talking about streets, here's a juicy tidbit! Shhhh! Aunty hears from the most inside of inside sources that a certain stubborn rockheaded dwarf might just have his roads paved whether he likes it or not, if His Majesty has anything to say about it. Aunty would have paved the streets with her own dainty hands, if a million sovereigns were on the line! She does wonder what happened to all that money though.
And whatever happened to our Royal Bard? Aunty was so excited at the wonderful Masque last year to see the fabulous entertainments arranged by our very own Lady Pendeleu, and now she has to wonder if there will even BE a dance this spring? The horror! Aunty's absolute most favorite soiree of the year, in danger of falling by the wayside. She only hopes some dashing bard will leap at the chance to fill Melissandra's slippers -- but not literally! Especially since Lady Re'har from you-know-where (with a habit of coughing up rocks) is busy filling the dancing slippers of another renowned former Royal Bard, if what they say in the Smoking Room is true and Lady Fireworks has really been seen catting around with a former Royal Magus in the wee hours of the morning.
Speaking of former Royal Whatevers! And you didn't hear this from Aunty, my dears, but a little bird told another little bird a certain reporter whose last name might rhyme with Singalong has been stepping out with that oft-jilted and always bruised Master Haithcock. What does that boy do in his free time? Is he wrestling nasty beasts in the Cat's Paw for money? Aunty has no idea, but she's dying to know.
She also wants to know allll about the oh-so-mysterious Mister Black and his mysterious air of mystery. Calling the nymph with the starry tattoos! Write Aunty a letter and tell her everything, dearie. And tell Miss Anolisse to send Aunty a note from Indrejan, after that comely young architect of hers has finished squiring her around. But wait, did he leave without her? Or did she jilt him for the handsomely moustached Carabello who's been catching all her snowballs lately? Aunty wants to roll in the snow with him too. Yum yum yum!
Until next issue, Auntie sees all and tells moste!
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
@@@@@ WANTED @@@@@ - Men and Women of the Empire in good standing with the law who are interested in serving their fellow Citizenry by joining the ranks of the Imperial Guard. All applicants must be at least 16 years of age, not have any major crimes on the record within the last two years, and be willing to swear their allegiance to His Imperial Majesty.
- policing the cities and kingdoms of the Empire and upholding its Laws and Ordinances
- defending its Officials, and
- defending its Lands and Holdings against all enemies, both Foreign and Domestic.
A 5000 Sovereign signing bonus is authorized, and a generous monthly stipend included. All applicants should either leave notice at the Imperial Keep, or contact one of the 8th Regiment's officers directly.
WANTED: Able bodied, discreet individuals willing to travel. Expenses paid. Fee negotiable. Interested parties should contact Niall Blackthorne.
Locks opened fer cheep! Approved by the Society fer prevention of Cruelty ta Veckles! Ratsi's Lock Shop, Greys Ramble, City of Kaezar
ADVENTURERS WANTED: For hazardous Journey, no Wages, bitter Cold, constant Danger, and the ever present threat of Explosions. Able-bodiedness useful, Discretion Superfluous. Honor and Recognition in case of success, at least among a small Cadre of eccentric Individuals with no actual influence throughout wider Society. Contact Ashinara De'Alera prior to the 5th of Morde and mention the ICE CASTLE EXPEDITION.
The Silver Plum is actively interviewing for the job of Porter. Must be Strong of Body and Mind. Discreet and Respectful. Able to lift Heavy items as well as Patrol Hallways, insuring safety of Guests. See Horace, Silver Plum, Arymre Way, Kaezar.
LOST: One Lior sylvani man, red-haired and blue-eyed, with a soft coat of variously colored silk, changed frequently, and often containing drells in the pockets. Answers to the name of "Curan." May also respond to the sound of plaintive neeping. Did not come home one week to purchase more clothing during the faire, and the worst is feared. If you have any information as to his present whereabouts, please contact the oylets of Kessia c/o the sable golden-eyed oylet of Briarbrook. A handsome reward is promised for the safe return of our beloved pet.
EYES PRESERVED * VISION GUARDED * BLINDNESS PREVENTED * In Cooperation with Local Empaths and Glassworks * The Royal Scrivener Fills All Your Spectacle Needs * APERTURE SPECTACLES * BOW SPECTACLES * TINTED SPECTACLES * MONOCLES
Against all Odds and in the face of utter implacable Indifference on all sides, the Kaezarian Eye is still seeking talented, inquisitive, and DEDICATED writers! The Eye currently has Openings for General Reporters, as well as positions of a more Specialized nature, including Food Critic, Astrologer, and Interviewer. Any Person hired by the Eye must be willing and able to produce at least one Article per Edition, and will receive a generous Salary from the timely completion of their Duties. All Persons interested in Applying for these positions, or having ideas for other Topics on which they might wish to write, are encouraged to speak with Siovanhe Starsong, acting manager, who will likely promptly expire on the spot from a surfeit of sheer Astonishment.
Morde Edition, Age Of Dreams, 649
NOTE FROM THE EDITORS:
Thanke you for purchasing, or Otherwyse obtaining, our newspaper.
Until the streets of Kaezar are paved, May the Publick Be Wary.
Minerva Sartchilde, Owner and Chief Editor.
Siovanhe Starsong, Head Reporter and Acting Manager.