-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- STOLEN STEEDS DISCOVERED, RECOVERED2
- MIRACULOUS SHED GOES UP IN FLAMES5
- ABBEY BOASTS BONANZA FOR BOTANISTS AND BIBLIOPHILES OF THE BIZARRE8
- LOCAL WIZARD GIVES DEMONSTRATION IN EXPERIMENTAL TELEPORTATION12
- INSANE ASYLUM HOSTS ART SHOW, OPEN HOUSE15
- CHA'SOLAS OBSERVATIONS MARK TURNING OF SEASON18
- PITCHFORK ENABLES TOSS-UP OVER HAY20
- NEWS IN BRIEFE22
- INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL IN LAURDIA AND THE TALLONEAN EMPIRE25
- SCIENTIFIC TRANSACTIONS40
- IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Letters, Essayes, and Opynion58
- FOR THE PUBLIC NOTICE61
- EYE ON KESSIA62
- NEWS OF THE WORLDE64
- AS EYE SEE IT66
- NOTE FROM THE EDITORS68
-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
STOLEN STEEDS DISCOVERED, RECOVERED
It has been quite some time now since a number of the King's own Horses were unlawfully liberated from the Royal Stables at Malcomb Castle and spirited away by Parties unknown, no Clue to their Whereabouts ever producing any Results in the missing Equines' recovery. The Royal Guard had perhaps relinquished all Hope of ever regaining their Charges, until quite abruptly on the Afternoon of the 3rd Daye of Ghust, a magnificent Steed with a Crown-shaped branding on the Flank appeared on the Streets of Kaezar. This particular Steed, a very fine white Gelding bearing the fierce aspect of a War-horse, was discovered in the middle of the Crossroads by a Mister Lucas Belmonte, former Mercenary and now newly recruited to the Ranks of the Imperial Guard. Junior Guardsman Belmonte, spying that distinctive Crown that marked the Destrier as one of the Royal Mounts, swiftly sent word to the Castle of the horse's Discovery, and set himself diligently to guard the beast until someone from there should arrive to reclaim it.
[ Sitting in the shadow of the clock tower to the east, a large stone building occupies the entire side of the block in this print reproduced from a camera obscura. A wooden placard is fixed to the wall in a prominent position above a bench near its door. Pockmarked with holes and loose stones from the carts and wagons that traffic to the northern, eastern, western and southern sections of Kaezar City, the cobbled road is riddled with mud and deep puddles. Also here is Junior Guardsman Lucas of the Imperial Guard (standing near a white destrier gelding) and a white destrier gelding.
Lucas is standing here with his arms folded across his chest, keeping watch over the gelding.
A caption below the illustration reads "The Vigilance of Guardsman Belmonte". ]
Unfortunately, before this ever could happen, the Horse, seeming in no small measure Skittish and liable to Roam, bolted the scene, and even upon being rediscovered with the Aid of Eye-Witness Mr. Jurion Tamerlaine, proved entirely resistant to Capture. The equine remained at large in the City until the following night, when a Reward of one Fasul was vouchsafed by the Guard to any who might aid in capturing the gelding, and the poor creature was finally lured into Custody, once again by the assistance of Mr. Tamerlaine. The horse was then safely returned to the Royal Stables, where its Condition was being monitored by Mr. Marian Quinnley to ensure that it had suffered no Harm during its Episode of unwonted Freedom.
This seemed to be the end of the affair, there being only the matter of Mr. Tamerlaine receiving his Reward for the Aid he had lent the Imperials in the Case. For this purpose, he received a Summons from the Guard informing him that he should present himself at the Imperial Keep at precisely Eight Bells past Noon on the 9th Daye of Ghust. However, this Reporter was informed by Captain Merow Ghurak that there were also some manner of Questions which the Captain wish to put to Mr. Tamerlaine, regarding the possible involvement of this latter Gentleman in the Theft itself.
As it turned out, the Suspicions of Captain Ghurak proved founded in Truth, as no sooner had Mr. Tamerlaine been escorted back into the Keep for questioning than he made full and willing Confession of all his Crimes pertaining to the Thefts from the Stables, which as it turned out included the abduction not only of the white Destrier, but also a handsome Wessumbrian sold over a yeare ago to infamous Plague-monster Gulnara Sadko, and a black Noskalvian Stallion that Mr. Tamerlaine had requested his master Trantris Esselyon should return on his behalf in good Faith, so that Mr. Tamerlaine might come entirely Clean of all his past Misdeeds in this matter. This being the case, and the Stallion being led off in the temporary Custody of Guardsman Belmonte, Mr. Tamerlaine was himself escorted to the Gaol to fulfill a sentence of Four-and-Twenty Hours, being set for release at Eight Bells on the following Daye, the 10th of Ghust, unless evidence of any further Crime should be found against him.
At the conclusion of the affair Captain Ghurak expressed his strong commendation of Junior Guardsman Belmonte for his Efforts in resolving this heretofore Intractable case, and the Eye also wishes Mr. Belmonte all future Success in his new Career.
-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
MIRACULOUS SHED GOES UP IN FLAMES
The Eye is deeply saddened to report that since the last Edition was published the newly renowned Astonishing Shed, Miracle for the Ages, and property of Mister F. T. Mitchener of Kaezar, has since seemingly had revoked its protection from the Gods themselves, and been burnt to the Ground in a terrible fiery Conflagration this Sune past.
Mister Mitchener reports that the fire began under highly Suspicious circumstances, the Weather being in one of those periods of chill Kaezarian Drizzle so unsuited to the start or spread of any kind of fire, and the Blaze seeming to have begun in the Shed itself, despite there having been nothing very Flammable within it at the time that could have been responsible for any such Disaster. The fire was discovered and the Alarum raised in the small Hours of the Morning, some time between Three and Four Bells past Midnight, but thankfully remained confined to the Shed itself, rather than spreading to the entire surrounding Neighborhood. The accounts of Mister Mitchener's immediate Neighbors agreed with this Gentleman in asserting that no other Structures nearby showed any Signs of fire nor suffered any great Harm, for which some grudging thanks must be given to that same Drizzle mentioned previously, though as can be imagined the Incident did spark great Excitement among Residents and Passers-by alike.
[ A woodblock print that breaks the text at this point shows a highly dramatic scene that may owe at least as much to the print artist's imagination as it does to actual happenstance. The illustration is dominated by an immense gout of flame that towers and rages and billows all about the scene, looking adequate to set all of Malcomb Castle itself instantaneously alight, and making one wonder how the entire city wasn't lost in this immensity of this conflagration. Figures dash about the scene, some fleeing the blaze, others appearing to run towards it for a better look, and all of them looking as if they ought to have burst into flames simply from being in the same illustration as the fire. Nearly obscured amidst the flames and smoke and darting onlookers is a small shed, which somehow manages to retain an aura of perfect immaculateness in spite of the roaring inferno that encompasses it and clearly spells its doom.
Accompanying the print is the reprehensible caption "Miraculous Shed Meets Its Match". ]
Given the peculiar fact of the Shed itself being the only Victim as well as the evident Source of the blaze, combined with that lack of readily inflammable Materials already mentioned, it can only be suspected that the fire must have been set apurpose by malicious Arsons, drawn by the newfound Notoriety of the little Structure, and belonging to that class of Persons that receive no greater pleasure from anything than the Destruction of other people's good Fortune and Happiness. All efforts of Mister Mitchener and his shed's Well-wishers to discover the perpetrator of this Vile deed have thus far borne no fruit, and it can only be assumed that the malignant Fiend remains at large, unpunished and unrepentant unless, as Mister Mitchener himself suggested, the Gods have struck the iniquitous fellow down for the Enormity of his Crimes against Shed-kind.
[ Set to one side of the text is a portrait inset featuring the visage of a middle-aged daun man dressed in a neat but rough-cut jacket and waistcoat. The tousled curls that fall across his broad brow are complemented by a magnificently bristly set of sideburns, which along with the squared-off plumpness of the face they frame give the man something of the appearance of an oversized Haertoe. Although he appears to be adopting a serious demeanor for the purposes of the photograph, his eyes look fairly to twinkle with a conspiratorial merriment, and faint crow's-feet at the corners suggest that sternness is not his customary expression.
In case there were any doubt as to the gentleman's identity, a bold caption below the portrait print reads, "MR. F.T. MITCHENER, PROPRIETOR, MIRACULOUS SHED". ]
The Public will, however, be happy to know that Mister Mitchener has gained a great many more Friends than Enemies in the course of his Fame, and that in the wake of the terrible Disaster he has found himself positively deluged with moral and material Support from the ardent Devotees of the lost Shed. This being the case, he has announced that he is now in the process of designing a much grander Edifice than the original, which will incorporate all the finest Materials and Motifs known to the Toolshed Style of Architectural Design, and on which he hopes to begin construction before the rains of Autumn set in. He has assured the Eye and its Readers that they shall be the first to receive all pertinent Details of the Project, its Plans and Progress, and that it will prove itself grander than all possible Expectations.
If any among the Eye's Readership should find themselves moved by the sad Fate of the Astonishing Shed, and be filled with a Zeal for aiding in its Resurrection, they are encouraged to send Donations and Condolences directly to Mister Mitchener through the services of Bhond's, or to leave these at the Offices of the Kaezarian Eye, for retrieval by Mister Mitchener.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
ABBEY BOASTS BONANZA FOR BOTANISTS AND BIBLIOPHILES OF THE BIZARRE
Any Person who has chanced to wander from off the paths of the idyllic Gardens of Kemstead Abbey, or to raise his head from sober Study of the many edifying Volumes contained within the Duvanaeum, and who has ventured from those peaceful Haunts into the more obscure Subterranean and Funereal Surrounds of this hallowed Institution, may have found within these areas unexpected new avenues to satisfy their most ardent Wishes for a glimpse of never-before-seen plants and books. While this Reporter is not certain of the Duration of time that has passed since the eerie Entities to be described below established their new Residencies at the Abbey, it is certain that they are of relatively Recent origins, and even more certain that the likes of them have rarely if ever been glimpsed outside the marvellous Confines of the Abbey.
The first Peculiarity to come to one's Attention while visiting the Abbey Grounds is the change in the Disposition of the Cemetery's own traditional Manifestations. Formerly those inveterate Malcontents, the gauzy Remnants, were inclined to allow themselves the Run of nearly the entire Graveyard, but for reasons known with Certainty only to themselves, they have beat a retreat to the south-western Corner of the Cemetery. Encroaching upon their former space in the centre of the Grounds are a number of Plants of some novel Kind, innocuous when only glanced at, but provoking some small unsettling Impression when one notes the malicious sharpness of their blade-like Leaves, and marks their Habit of Rustling and Shivering even in the absence of the least Breath of Air. This sense of Unease vanishes only when one takes the initiative to prod investigatively at the Plant, to be replaced by a profounder sense of Shock and Alarm as the Plant proceeds to prod right back, with much greater vigor and Vengeance.
[ This print from a camera obscura shows springing forth from the ground what looks to be little more than a clump of vegetation, if a strangely sinister clump of vegetation. Growing lushly, dark-tipped blades spear upwards from a bulbous woody caudex. Short hairy roots lie half-buried in the nearby soil, entwined around a snapped-off rabu horn. Just visible between the leaves, several slender tendrils tipped with serrated spear-like points are coiled in a tight springy mass. ]
The vicious mankind-hating plant is not itself an entirely new Phenomenon to the area, as one will readily recall the even more hostile Eythels in residence at Tempest's Rest but a stone's-throw from Kemstead. Like those Eythels, the sharp-bladed Knife-grass of the Kemstead Cemetery seems to be of highly unnatural Origins and to have been created as the result of malign Experimentations, as an investigation of the Care-taker's Cottage near the cemetery Entrance immediately suggests. This reporter had noted over three Yeares ago the very strange and Suspicious assemblage of Tools, Apparatus, sinister Plantlings, and written Requests for Man-Eating Plants, such as one would not normally expect to find in the working residence of any cemetery's Care-taker, and which when taken all together seem far too unusual a set of circumstances for the appearance of the Knife-grass to be any kind of innocent Coincidence.
This reporter's Investigations were unable to shed much Light upon the exact botanical Antecedents of this pernicious plant, save that it seemed to possess characters of Grass or Sedge, yet the tough Substance of its Leaves and the decidedly Woody consistency of its base put one in mind of certain plants that one finds growing in the arid lands of the South, which seem already to possess a malicious Propensity to stab and slice at any unfortunate Traveler who must press through their midst. One may speculate that the basic inclinations of this more consciously Malevolent plant could have been most easily coaxed from a natural plant of this sort, and given the epistolary Evidence found within the Cottage mentioned above, it seems not unlikely that such could have been obtained through Correspondence with Parties in other parts of Peregorne or even Indrejan, whose more torrid Climes seem to lend themselves more readily to particularly Vengeful sorts of Vegetation.
When questioned about the peculiar Plants and about the equally peculiar Contents of her Cottage, the Care-taker herself, known as Sister Feyonna, proved Evasive, if not outright Hostile towards what she clearly perceived to be an unwarranted Intrusion into her own personal Business at the Abbey. However, this Reporter has long been of the opinion that some sort of very odd and sinister Experimentation was taking place within the Cottage given the above-mentioned contents, and thus it came as no Surprise, and rather as a Vindication of her Suspicions, that such a creature as this sneaking sharp-bladed Vegetation should finally have crept its way throughout the grassy Expanses of the Kemstead Cemetery.
The knife-like Grass is not, however, the only strange Entity to have arisen within the Abbey's vicinity in recent dayes. The dauntless subterranean Explorer will find that, hidden well beneath the Abbey's venerable Foundations, and scattered throughout the snaking Passageways of the Catacombs that riddle that space, the Phantasms that had long been the sole Residents there have received new Companionship with which to face their eternal Woe and Damnation. This has come in the form of very unusual Tomes, which the Phantasms do not carry upon their spectral Persons, as one might expect to be the case of any more typical Tome, but which rather have been imbued with a Life of their own, and bob about on the air with a sort of placid Insouciance, flipping their Pages jauntily to reveal a number of fairly Lurid lines.
[ Dangling in the air, this stocky tome in this woodcut looks to float on the gloomy air of the dark tunnel that surrounds it. Its pages have been captured in a light rustle, as if fanned by a gentle breeze, and it is quite clear that this once-scholarly item is no longer a respectable source of higher learning.
Flickering ribbons of essence hover around a stocky lavender tome.
It is surrounded by a crackling shell of elemental energy.
It is surrounded by a wall of fire.
It is surrounded by a vortex of strong wind.
It is, in short, most unusual. ]
These very peculiar Tomes are capable of casting a number of Spells, each of which seems to be preceded by a Flipping of Pages, which leads one to wonder whether those Pages are not themselves enchanted with different Spells, which the tome may then invoke at Will with a mere Flutter of its Leaves. However, if this is in fact the case, the Enchantment does not survive the Extinguishment of whatever Spark of semi-consciousness these Volumes may possess, as upon dealing a killing Blow to the things, they simply collapse upon the Floor, all external Manifestations of their Magics vanishing, and a mere Touch being enough to dissipate the entire Tome back into Essence.
The origins of these unusual Books may perhaps be discovered in a legend that is told around Kaezar and Kemstead, which this Reporter has heard from various Persons over the yeares. It is said that many Yeares ago a number of Duvanal Monks of rather imperfect Judgment availed themselves one evening of a large quantity of good Kemstead wine from the neighboring Village, which they had snuck back to the Abbey for a night of wild Revelry. Morally dubious as this act itself already was, it was nothing to what shortly transpired during the Night, as in the course of their wild Merriment the Monks managed to set the Abbey itself alight, not only taking the lives of these unvirtuous Duvanals, but, perhaps even more seriously to any committed devotee of this Deity, leading to the Destruction of numerous rare and irreplaceable Books.
It is speculated now that these unusual animated Tomes are perhaps some representation or Manifestation of the lost Books themselves, brought back to some strange Un-life in the company of the tormented Spirits of those same Monks responsible for the terrible Blaze. Others among the Duvanals wonder whether perhaps these Volumes are instead a new Apparition of the old Spectres themselves, taking on more tangible Form for some unknowable Purpose. In either case the Ramifications of this Tale, when taken into consideration with the fact of the Tomes themselves being evidently composed entirely of Essence and invoking Spells from the Arcane schools, leads one to think that this must be representative of a very peculiar phenomenon indeed: an Arcane Haunting.
Regardless of the ultimate Origins of either baleful Books or peculiar Plantlings, the Abbey is certainly well worth visiting in coming Dayes even for those Persons not naturally of a spiritual Bent.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
LOCAL WIZARD GIVES DEMONSTRATION IN DELIGHTS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS OF EXPERIMENTAL TELEPORTATION
While Mister Guillaumo LaFever, Wizard Apprentice to Mister Malo Haithcock, has remained involved in the ongoing desultory Affair of Ogremoch the Earth-Elemental (as touched upon further on in this Publication), the young Gentleman has also been quite busy with Research more directly pertaining to his own field of the Arcane. During the course of these last severall Months he has been working to devise divers Theorems to broaden the field of the Pauz Port circle of Spells, which he has adopted as one of his Specialties of study, along with the ever-popular Flam circle. Having been requested by Mister Haithcock to host a Lecture and Demonstration of his investigations thus far into this interesting Field of Study, Mister LaFever could be found doing just that at the Kiosk on the Lyceum Grounds of Kaezar, on the evening of this past 30th Daye of Dien.
The event drew a substantial Crowd for a lecture in Arcane Magicks, perhaps in no small part due to the ever-present Possibility of witnessing some horrific Calamity involving the use of experimental Teleportation techniques. However, prior to the bandying about of untried magical Methods with unknown Consequences, the Gathering was treated to a Discussion of basic Pauz Port techniques, and were prepared for the Experiment to come by a Description of the basic Spell that the new Version was supposed to modify, along with an Explanation as how to this might reasonably be expected to work. As explained by Mister LaFever, the idea was to expand the Capabilities of Teleportation to move multiple Persons at once along with the Caster, instead of being limited to the translocation of the Caster alone.
[ Raised slightly above the enclave, the large round kiosk shown in this woodblock print is composed of eight gristlestone columns that support the domed roof overhead. A polished white gristlestone rail encircles the kiosk, affording a seat to visitors, and a kirchewood podium stands near the northern side. Painted on the underside of the dome is an intricate compass rose. From this vantage point one could gaze upon the entire Lyceum grounds, but instead the focus of the scene is on a young daun man standing near the center of the kiosk. The angle at which the original photograph was taken allows an excellent view of the central figure, as well as the tops and backs of the seated audience's heads. Also visible are a well-made rubbed fir trestle table, two cast iron lanterns, a wooden easel that seems to be painted with a mysterious U-shaped line, and six carved cross frame chairs.
Visible in the scene are Malo (leaning on a railing), Thinist Miraklin (sitting on a railing), Demon Lord Astolpho of Duvan (sitting on a carved cross frame chair), Captain Merow of the Imperial Guard (sitting on a carved cross frame chair), Exquisitor Arcadia (sitting on a carved cross frame chair), Head Chirurgeon Marian (sitting on a carved cross frame chair), Lothar (sitting on a carved cross frame chair), Hellion Demens (sitting on a carved cross frame chair), Apprentice Mage Guillaumo (droning on about something), Luno (sitting), an animated silver-edged teacup (doing whatever it is a magical teacup does during a lecture), and Defender Lucas (just standing there).
Below the print a caption describes the scene as "An Introduction to Pauz Port". ].
When the Lecture drew to a close and the anticipated time for the Experiment itself was at Hand, the Audience proved, as ever, touchingly eager to lend their Assistance to Mister LaFever, which surely was representative of their Devotion to the learned pursuit of Science and the advancement of Knowledge, rather than from any vulgar Desire for Sensation or Glory. Nearly everyone in attendance expressing a wish to be included in the Experiment, Mister LaFever gathered them all around him, uttered the phrase "Via Pauz Port Omn Bin Mar Ul" and waited with breathless Anticipation along with his Assistants for Space to bend miraculously about them. Space, however, demonstrated no such Eagerness to aid Mister LaFever, and all stayed put exactly where they had been, even when a second Attempt was made involving only Mister LaFever and Mister Haithcock alone, and at last the Wizard was forced to the Conclusion that Space and the Arcane were going to require some additional amount of Persuasion before they might be inclined to co-operate with his Wishes.
This publication expects to provide in future Editions more Details concerning Mister LaFever's investigations, from that Gentleman's own Hand, which we advise our Readers to anticipate with Interest.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
INSANE ASYLUM HOSTS ART SHOW, OPEN HOUSE
In case any Person has ever desired to peer through a Picture-window onto the queer Lives and mysterious Thoughts of the Mad-man and -woman, they must have been well pleased to receive such an Opportunity as presented itself on this past 24th Daye of Raine, when the doors of Reklar's Insane Asylum were opened to the Public for an Art-Show and Tour. Conceived of and conducted by Head Keeper Mrs. Vivien Faelian herself, the show featured a number of peculiar, disturbing, and certainly Novel works of Art created by the Asylum's own Residents, coaxed from their very own disordered Minds. Canvases, panels, and even poetic Works were all displayed for the pleasure of the Guests, who found the entire experience both fascinating and Sobering at once.
[ A series of woodblock prints following the text appears to showcase a sampling of the artistic works just mentioned. ]
[ In the center of this print is a single handprint made when the artist slammed a paint-smeared palm into the wood with such force as to splatter the pigment a good distance from the point of impact. This single gesture was repeated over and over again, layering shade upon shade until the panel cracked from the blows. The order of the hues appears random, although the artist favored bold contrasts between bright and dark, smearing one into another without care for what preceded them. ]
[ In this print, rich oils create the face of a light-furred cat with perfectly round, saucer-sized eyes, far too large than they could ever be in nature. Behind the cat's head, flowerlike shapes of both light and dark hues bloom in lush profusion, as if the animal is sitting in a room with exceptionally gaudy wallpaper. Obviously untutored, the artist must have either had firsthand experience with cats or spent a great deal of time practicing their depictions, as the details of the cat aside from its eyes are true to life, but the composition, shading, and proportions of the rest of the piece are very primitive. ]
[ A simple depiction of stick figures on a pastel landscape fills this print, with small smiling people standing hand-in-hand amidst lumpy bushes beneath a dark sky spiked with impending rain. At first glance, the watercolor scene appears perfectly ordinary, if skewed in proportion and childlike in perspective. After a longer viewing, it becomes clear that the figures are actually falling down out of rolling clouds towards the dark grass below, though their shallow, fixed smiles remain the same from any vantage point. ]
[ A long and narrow print, the painting reproduced here depicts a blurred figure leaning into the frame, its features distorted as if seen through clear but rippling water. The suggestion of a stone ceiling is evident behind the figure, and if the viewer is meant to be underwater and looking up towards the light, the rim of what might be a well, cistern, or tank create a claustrophobic oval frame within the painting's real, rectangular frame of rough wood. Long gashes and ragged punctures are reproduced in the print, marring the image of the canvas and suggesting it has barely survived rough handling. ]
[ On a ground of white, black letters of varying size have been painted across this small canvas, each obsessively formed and exactly placed to cover the whole painting without any wasted space. Somewhat difficult to read, owing to the strange flourishes used for serifs and the artist's habit of inconsistently reversing and superimposing letters upon one another, the phrase, "I AM NOT INSANE" has been patiently spelled out over and over again. The effect is that of a weird mandala, as words expand and contract in size to create an angular, mesmerizing pattern. ]
In addition to allowing the Viewing of these various creative Endeavors, the event included a large selection of Wine and Cheese, fit to rival the Board of any more conventional art Showing, and a walking Tour of the Asylum itself, complete with Demonstrations of the various pieces of Equipment used to treat the Inmates. Some number of the Inmates themselves were readily on Hand also to be viewed by the Visitors, being free to wander about through the inner Chamber rather than all being confined to Cells or Rooms, though the Guests were warned by Mrs. Faelian not to interact with them, and in fact it was reported that these Patients had little to say or do, save to beg Mrs. Faelian not to allow them to be used in the equipment Demonstrations, which pleas one may only conclude went unheeded. At the end of the Evening the Attendees departed the Asylum with any of the Artworks that they had seen fit to purchase, with the Proceeds from the sales presumably going towards the continued Upkeep of the Asylum.
This Art-show seems also to coincide with the Resignation of the position of Head Keeper by Mrs. Faelian herself, as word has it that she preferred to relinquish the Authority of this Asylum to resume Duties with the lately-returned Esselyon household instead. Mister Dalanoth Ithiel, a channeler lately of Xullab, as well as the infamous former Adminstrator to the Asylum, the Abbot Grimnir Otrygg, both advanced their own Names for consideration to assume that post following Mrs. Faelian's departure; however, Doctor Melark has expressed that he plans to turn the position over to his Nephew instead, so that any other Persons with an interest in the Asylum may only be considered Consultants. Aside from a reported focus on the practice of Modern Medicine, whatever precisely that may entail, the future of the Asylum in Mrs. Faelian's wake may only be wondered at.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
CHA'SOLAS OBSERVATIONS MARK TURNING OF SEASON
As is so often the case, our City appears to have achieved a quite Depopulated state during these Summer Months, as the more Boisterous elements of Kaezarian society seem to have arrived at the opposite Decision from the sedentary Royal Court, and taken themselves with all unseemly Haste out of the City and to parts Unknown. However, this did not prevent those remaining in Town from ceremoniously honoring Jakob on the 21st Daye of Deatre, that date well known to all in Peregorne as the Holy-day of Cha'Solas.
As in the previous Yeare, Dame Elli Sojourner led the Devotions to Kaezar's patron Deity with elegant Simplicity, undaunted (again as in the previous Yeare) by the evening's steady Rain. In attendance was a small but attentive Crowd, numbering among them such familiar Faces as Miss Aurorah Moonsong, and Misters Miraklin Reliandrill, Darthorien Aldaelon, and Marian Quinnley. Meeting on the Heights of Jakob's Temple and proceeding thence downward to Malcomb Castle, Dame Sojourner explained that they were all to perform the Ritual known to Lightbringers and other Faithful of Jakob as Setting the Watch, for which the shelter of the Castle's private Chapel would be needed.
Upon gaining the Warmth and Dry of the little Chapel, the Dame proclaimed ceremonially that all those present had come as Seekers, to set the Watch, and to end the longest daye of the yeare with Joy and Praise to Jakob. Giving to each person there a Gem or Coin, Dame Sojourner instructed them to pass that small Token over the Flame of the Candles there, which symbolized the renewing powers of Solas, while holding in their Minds a Blessing which they desired for the Yeare to come. Once each had completed this gesture, the Dame invited them to bow their Heads as she gave the following Prayer:
Though Solas is now below the horizon, Jakob, we still feel your Light. Cast your Light until we feel no more Fear, only Strength and Courage. We ask your Blessings and protection on our King. He is truly your Servant and our example. Give King Vek victory over all his enemies, and honor him in Battle during this time of War. You are at the Pinnacle of your power this Daye: show him your Favor. With this changing of the Season, let our Sorrows be lifted. The long dark Night has ended. Amen.
On drawing the Prayer to its Close, Dame Sojourner told the Gathering that the last thing to do, to be true to the Watch and to gain the Blessings they had wished for, was to leap directly over the Flame of one of those same Candles, a feat which each Person performed with Alacrity and perhaps no small measure of Gratitude for its not being the Bonfire which the Dame had informed them was usually the centre of the Ceremony on a more dry and seasonable Cha'Solas than this one. Wishing additional Blessings on one another as the ritual drew to a close, the Crowd soon dispersed onto the Castle grounds and off into the new Summer's night.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
PITCHFORK ENABLES TOSS-UP OVER HAY
The Haying Season has come to Peregorne, bringing with it Hazards beyond those of losing a Finger or two to the Scythe, or the necessity of navigating narrow Escapes from Mobs of vengeful Rabu roaming the meadows. Two gentlemen of the Kessian country-side came most violently to Blows earlier in Dien over the matter of which Party was to retain the Services of an itinerant Band of Tainish Harvesters, whose skills at their trade were coveted to the point of Mister Wilter Hardwycke, proprietor of a small Croft not far off the Trade-route, receiving several grievous Woundes to his Person by a wrathfully wielded Pitch-fork.
Mister Morris Trabbs, pitch-fork Wielder, was happy enough to recount his Version of the Event, which he seemed to think entirely justified the Extremity of his actions, and which was generally in Agreement with the story provided by Neighbors who witnessed it. According to Mister Trabbs, it was the case that Mister Hardwycke had hired on the Tainish band for only three-and-a-half Dayes' worth of Work, and its being now on the fourth Daye and no sign to be seen of the Tain men being let go to labour in other Fields, this violated a Pact made by the Agriculturalists in the surrounding area to equitably share the Services of these hard-working Sylvan fellows.
Mister Hardwycke then evidently replied that its having rained a full Daye during his scheduled harvesting time, it was only Just that he should retain the Tains for an additional daye, on account of only actually having been able to make use of them on one Daye. Mister Trabbs then made his Retort that no such extenuating circumstances had been allowed for in the Agreement, and that in any case it had only rained for three-quarters of the Daye referred to, and that Mister Hardwycke had wanted to make up his lost Time then he ought to have acquired a student Wizardling or a Hedge-witch to produce Mage-lights by which the Tains could harvest into the night. Mister Hardwycke's Ire being now thoroughly provoked, he was inspired to make an injudicious response comparing Mister Trabb's Wife to the aforementioned Hedge-witch, and it was at this point that the Assault on Mister Hardwycke's Person began.
Despite Mister Hardwycke's being much at the Disadvantage in this Set-to, he put up such valiant Resistance that it seemed he might fight unto the Death and even bring Mister Trabbs along with him, and indeed the conclusion to this Altercation came only when a Gharkin house-wife from the neighboring Farmstead was able forcibly to Wrest the Pitch-fork from Mister Trabbs' grasp, leaving Mister Hardwycke with numerous Gashes upon Shoulder and Fore-arms, with even one shallow Gouge cut above the poor man's Eye, though he was perhaps fortunate to have received no Worse. He is, however, reported to have made a full Recovery thanks to the efforts of local Healers, and even to have returned to his Croft shortly thereafter to supervise the remaining Scything, which was accomplished and the Tains sent on before the end of the Daye. Mister Trabbs, charged with Aggravated Assault, by all accounts remains Unrepentant, and whiled away his Dayes in a Cell recounting to his Gaolers thrilling Battles once waged against mobs of corn-pilfering Veckles, and the time in which he fought literally Tooth and Nail with a Rabu over a kidney-pie and won.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
NEWS IN BRIEFE
Dame Sojourner has expressed herself Puzzled this yeare at the Court's declining to make its usual move from Malcomb Castle in Kaezar to Never-Upon-Vinre's Summer Palace for the Season. According to Dame Sojourner, it is much in the usual way for the Court to spend at the very least one month in the Summer-time, and often the entire Season, enjoying the fresh Breezes and slightly less Insalubrious air of Never, but this Yeare it has evidently been the decision of the Court to forego this pleasure.
She could offer no specific reason for this, though the Dame did concede that in two of the last Ten yeares, it had been the case that the Court had maintained its residence in Kaezar through the Summer months, the reason for this assumed to be the presence of various Threats to the City. Given the vicious Warfare presently taking place all along the western Borders of Peregorne, it may be conjectured that the Regent feels it more appropriate to remain in the Capital City at such a perilous Time, unless it is instead the case that he is simply not partial to Bridges.
~ * ~
On the morning of the Seventeenth Daye of Dien, a delivery Team carrying a load bound for Tugnar's Green-grocer became frightened when it encountered what was described as an immense Beetle on the High Terrace just off Jikel McVahl Circle. Being badly Spooked by this apparently unaccustomed Sight, the horses broke and ran, pulling the wagon after them and scattering an Orchard's worth of Plums, Drells, and Apple-barrels in its wake. The team ran north up Armyre's Walk, east past the Silver Plum, and north to the Intersection with Frothen Road, where it collided with a small Chaise coming from one of the nearby Manors. The shafts of both Conveyances were snapped as Persons and Goods alike were overturned into the Lane, but neither Drivers nor Horses sustained any great Injury. The driver of the Delivery-wagon laid the Blame for the Incident on "those Hooligan students from the Lyceum" summoning up "all Kinds of infernal Critters."
~ * ~
Oversized Beetles, it seems, are not the only Threat presently posed to the equine Residents of Kaezar, and those Persons who have long been accustomed to keep their Mounts within the heretofore peaceful Confines of the Town Green Paddock might do well to keep a wary Eye on their Steeds after a gruesome Incident this past Sune. On the 20th Daye of the month, Miss Aurorah Moonsong discovered laid out upon the paddock Grass the grisly Remains of a horse, presumably one among the many commonly put up there, but this one significantly the worse for Wear in comparison to its Fellows. This poor creature was not merely dead, but had been quite gruesomely Savaged, its Corpse torn and bloody as if ripped apart by some fierce Beast.
It must be noted with some Concern that some Persons have been also inclined to use the Paddock as a Kennel for their Wolf-hounds and other Canines of notable size, but nevertheless Witnesses to the scene were generally of the Opinion that the Brutality visited upon the unfortunate horse must be the work of some other, unknown Entity, as the horse had been ripped apart, but no bit of it consumed, nor was a trace of Gore to be found on any of the dogs there, nor had there been any bloody Paw-prints tracked around the Scene that anyone had noticed. There had, however, been tracks of some other kind, which none could identify, leading out onto the Green, but whether these had anything to do with the gruesome Condition of the horse seemed unclear, and no further information to lift the Veil of Darkness from this mystery has been produced.
~ * ~
Devotees of the humble Bumbleberry should take Note of the fact that Bumbleberry's Teahouse, that fanciful but oft-forgotten Establishment of Never-Upon-Vinre these last eight Yeares, has closed up shop in that City and moved its Operations to the congenial Hamlet of Briarbrook. The shop is still run by Proprietress Mistress Lundley with her original Staff, and can be found serving the same Menu with which longtime Patrons are familiar, with the exceptions of Vinre Tea and Port-wine. It may be found in its new Location in a quaint two-storey building by the Stream on the south side of the Town, waiting to welcome Customers both new and old through its Door.
~ * ~
Little progress has been seen in the matter of the Carhadras Castle Elemental, which remains in sole and unchallenged Occupancy of that Citadel a full Yeare after it was first discovered. Thankfully the Earth Elemental seems to possess the Patience of the Stones themselves in carrying out its undoubted sinister Schemes to annihilate all of Kessia, and no additional Weakening has been observed of the Bonds that hold it fast within the Castle, so far as anyone who has remembered the Elemental's presence far enough to look can tell.
However, Apprentice-Wizard Mister Guillaumo LaFever continues his investigations into the matter, and is presently working with Mister Astolpho Mandel, Emissary of Duvan, to devise a new plan whereby direct Communications with the Elemental may be established. This plan, should it come to pass as presently outlined, shall involve inducing the spirit of Ogremoch to possess some other Person, thereby allowing it to communicate through this mortal Medium all its Desires, Disappointments, and Demands to its audience. This being very clearly the sort of thrilling Opportunity at which any true-blooded Kessian Resident leaps, Miss Amira bin Kirane has happily offered her Person as the Vessel of Exchange in the Experiment, in hopes of one daye learning what may be done to resolve the critical Dilemma before all Participants shall die of old Age rather than malign Elemental Destruction.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
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 Eighth: Shelter From the Storm -- A Menagerie on the Ceiling -- The Undying Nightmare -- A Song May Be Worth More Than a Sword.. -- .. And a Pebble May Be Worth More Than a Jewel -- No Great Tale, This -- The Way Down the Mountain -- A Passage Becomes a Picture -- Fin
The first half of the night in our comparatively cozy cave beneath the mountain peak flowed by peacefully enough, untroubled by the strange energies that had wrapped themselves around the pinnacle, or even by a chill breath of the wind that had begun once more to gust beyond the mouth of the cave. Mister Haithcock and I had first occupied ourselves with exploring the passageways that branched off the antechamber of the cavern, which had not taken a very great deal of our time as there were only three of them, and none of them of any great length.
At first it seemed our investigations of the whole space would prove entirely disappointing, for the tunnels were only a tumble of rocks seemingly fallen in sheets from the low ceilings at some point in the distant past, and now broken into chunks large and small upon the floor that was nearly concealed beneath their chaotic mass. But then, as we neared the very back of the widest tunnel and the roof of the cavern began to lower further still, there sprang out of the flickering mage-lit shadows a particularly mischievous low-hanging projection which dropped itself down out of the darkness and struck Mister Haithcock right in the forehead.
I, of course, had walked right under the projection with no notice of it at all, and was at that moment engaged in battering my knee very soundly upon an upwardly-angled rock slab instead, so it took me a moment to hear Mister Haithcock's cursing over the sound of my own and come to investigate the source of his particular complaints. As I annoyed him to no end by attempting an exploration of his injury rather than leaving him peacefully to die of concussion, I was surprised to come away with a thin residue of some chalky reddish-orange substance on my fingers, which was certainly nothing like blood unless Mister Haithcock had actually been a terra-cotta golem masquerading all this time as human, which in view of the copious amount of blood and bruising I had seen him capable of managing before and his less than biddable nature, seemed unlikely. So I turned my gaze heavenward, not in despair of my companion and his surly rejection of all my most disinterested ministrations, but to study the arc of stone that rose but a short ways above our heads.
It was difficult at first to discern anything by the ever-helpful but lurid glow of Mister Haithcock's mage-light, but as my eyes adjusted to the green-tinged play of shadow above us I could finally distinguish upon the smooth ceiling a series of wonderful paintings. These were nothing like the eerie staring figures of the troglodytes' caverns some days before, but of an entirely more raw, and I suppose one would say primitive sort, though indeed there was nothing crude or inaccurate in the execution of their multifarious subjects. As if the roof of the cave were actually a window penetrating through the rock to look straight into the heavens above, flying creatures of all kinds covered the broad expanse of stone -- hawks, doves, kites, bats, larks, gryphons, hippogryphs, and many more entirely unfamiliar, but all cavorting, frolicking, frisking, gliding, gyring, capering, lofting, lunging across the stone; an entire aerial menagerie just barely frozen in paint.
I was especially charmed to notice that the artists, whoever they might have been, had not restricted themselves solely to the larger beasts of the animal kingdom, but had included a vibrant scattering of beetles, butterflies, bees, and others among the more colorful members of the insect family; even a nomadic tribe of spiders soared along on sails of silk, navigating their way gracefully through the eclectic whirl of images around them. Of course, given the wondrous variety of such life to be found in Laurdia, it must have been a glaring omission had the artists chosen not to paint them in after all, but the meticulous detail and, dare I say it, the diminutive personalities that shone through in the details of each tiny creature, suggested an unusual fondness for these smallest and most overlooked and unappreciated of animals.
In light of our discoveries at the end of the one tunnel, we made a more careful inspection of the other two passages, revealing a further extravagance of paintings wherever the stone ceiling remained unbroken, and all displaying the same remarkable subject matter. After this we returned to the front chamber through which we had entered, where we had taken rather careless note of a singular projection thrusting up from the floor just off the center of the chamber, which we had assumed to be only one of those broken-off and worn stalagmites one commonly finds in caves, and worthy of little attention. However, the fact of there being only the one of them and so nearly centered in the room seemed suspicious now that we had found evidence of a mortal presence in the tunnels, and so we subjected it to closer scrutiny as we limped our way back to the larger cavern. It would be agreeable to say that a more meticulous inspection offered a brilliant and stunning flash of insight, as the rock with its knobs and crevices and the play of light and shadow across it assumed form before our eyes and became now instantly recognizable as the figure of a woman, or a beetle, or a carven font, or any other revelation made strikingly clear, but alas, this was not the case; it still bore a most striking resemblance to a randomly-shaped blob of rock, and in the end the only conclusion we could reach was that this upright prominence of stone was as mysteriously ambiguous as nearly everything else we had encountered in Laurdia up to this time.
All possibilities for exploration now exhausted and its having gotten very late, Mister Haithcock and I retreated to the farther end of the smallest passage to bed down in relative comfort for the remainder of the night. This particular tunnel hardly qualified for the name, its being little more than an extended alcove and a little bit cramped, but it possessed the advantage of having its roof intact, and consequently its floor entirely free of chunks of smashed cave-ceiling, and at least as measured against the snow-laden and flux-charged atmosphere outside on the peak, it was a perfect paradise. I found that in the perfect pitchy blackness left by the mage-light's extinguishment my hard-won pebble from that morning had made the mystical metamorphosis back into the magical object of softly angled planes and runic depressions that I had so coveted, and as I turned it meditatively about in my hand, I drifted off into a dream of larks and swifts and golden-winged dragynflies that soared in painted glory over my head and whirled around me to do the bidding of the arcane pebble-master.
I do not know how far the night had advanced by the point at which -- something -- changed. Neither Mister Haithcock nor myself being very proficient sleepers, my pleasant dream had long dispersed and we had both of us been awake for some time, but the passage of minutes or hours in that impenetrable darkness was impossible to judge and had something of that same eternal quality of crossing the barren ashy plain of the day before, except deeper and more primordial, like the deep hush of the Void at the birth of Thrael itself. It is, however, quite true and not a flourish of melodrama at all that the atmosphere of the cave had at some point undergone a subtle yet very definite change, one that you could not quite put a finger upon, but which was despite this, or perhaps even because of it, distinctly ominous. It was very much like the strange feeling one gets upon realizing that there is someone unseen in the room with them.
Of course, it was not truly an unthought-of possibility that however lifeless the peak seemed to be, some animal managing to eke out an existence even in this hostile zone might make its home in what might be the only source of shelter for many leagues around. But in some manner that I cannot account for at all, it was obvious from the start that this was no simple cave-bear stumbling in out of the cold, nor was it even some stray orc of a particularly adventurous bent that had chanced to find itself on the mountain in the depths of this stormy night. In fact, there was no sensation I can possibly liken it to save for that which runs thick through a nightmare -- the oppressive sense of being watched, being pursued, being, in fact, utterly doomed to horror endless and agonizing, and what I can otherwise only very tritely describe as the sensation of Evil, which may in fact only describe something too alien for our comprehension, and in its alienness utterly opposed.
It is difficult to say whether Mister Haithcock felt this with the same acuteness as I did, but for several moments we lay frozen, listening, though in fact there had been no noise out of the ordinary for a rocky cave of moderate size, through whose passages one could hear the distant moan of the wind. Nevertheless, there was certainly something in the larger chamber from which our own cozy little passage branched off, and if nothing else was, it was clear that lying on the ground in the attitude of stiffened corpses was not going to prevent our becoming that very thing, and so we rolled ourselves upright as quickly yet as noiselessly as possible, and Mister Haithcock lit once again one of his mage-lights. And at the far edge of what we could make out, dim and full of shifting shadows that made discernment doubly difficult, we found ourselves looking at, most definitely and beyond any reasonable doubt -- something.
What was Something? In that first wavering glimpse, with our vision still obscured by the sudden transition between perfect darkness and imperfect light, it was impossible to say -- there was in fact little more than an impression of yellowing bone and dark hollows and a loosely articulated jumble still mostly hidden in the dimness. But then as we watched, the thing not so much stepped, as -shifted- forward from out of the deeper shadows at the farther side of the main chamber of the cave, and we could see that it was some kind of skeletal creature, and by skeletal I do not mean merely thin to the point of death, but actually well beyond that point and out the other side. It was a skeleton, and it was alive, and it was looking directly at us with the deep gaping sockets of its eyes.
Of course, once again this description does the thing no justice, the same way that describing a nightmare to someone the following day sounds merely cliched and silly, even to one's own ears, for the images and events of the nightmare are nothing without the sensations that accompany them. So I will leave off even trying, and merely give the clinical description that the Thing was, or formerly had been if it had in fact ever been a living thing at all, a four-legged creature whose back rose to about the height of my own chest, whose posture and slightly elongated skull suggested a vaguely canine form, but which lacked anything but the stub of a skeletal tail. As it advanced upon us, however, it did not move like any living thing I have ever borne witness to, canine or otherwise. Listing first one way, then the next, it put one leg after another in an odd motion that fell somewhere between hitch and lurch, but despite the awkward appearance of its locomotion, it covered the ground between us with a disconcerting speed that almost gave one the feeling that instead of actually advancing, it was instead somehow pulling the rest of the world towards it. But whatever the thing was, and however it accomplished its motion, it clearly had its sights set upon us, and the next uncomfortable feeling one got was that somehow it had sensed our presence from some impossibly remote distance, and had been in the process of coming towards us, or pulling us towards it, for at least the whole night, and that now that it had gotten here it was going to do whatever it wanted, and that we were probably not going to like it.
Before it could actually do this, however, Mister Haithcock sent forth a mind-blast of such impressive force as to slam it back against that odd-shaped protrusion of rock that marked the center of the chamber, and the creature collapsed in a soft sandpapery rustle that was unnervingly like a sigh.
For several moments we simply stood there and looked at it; myself, at least, feeling somewhat stunned. But before either of us could move towards it to subject it to closer inspection -- it suddenly stood there upright and whole again. I do not mean this at all to say that we watched it stir, and raise its head, and scramble to its feet once more; no, simply that it was collapsed upon the cavern floor in one moment, and in the next, literally in the space between one eyeblink and another, it was standing as if nothing had ever happened to it at all. And as it stood there upright as if it had always been so, I could feel, most horribly, the full force of the thing's regard, as if we had only just now gotten its whole and implacable notice, and I have never felt anything so cold and inhuman and utterly Other as that stare.
But it did not merely stare for long, and the situation then became, for the second time in as many days, a pitched battle for our lives. One could only be grateful that there was only one of it, and not an entire swarm of them as with the orcs, but in fact neither my companion nor I were much inclined towards any sense of gratitude at the time, as this creature by itself seemed well set to be the end of us. No matter how many times Mister Haithcock pummeled it, slammed it, and knocked it about, that many times the thing raised itself back up again, and indeed it seemed to do it with greater alacrity each time. My own atonal shrieking at it seemed to produce even less of an effect, merely causing it to twitch as if it were being gently tickled with a feather, which would have been extremely insulting if I had had any more time to feel insulted than I did grateful. It seemed to be a battle of attrition in which the end could come only when one opponent at last wore down the other, and under the circumstances the winner seemed not likely to be Mister Haithcock and myself.
Finally in despair and perhaps a sudden transitory flash of common sense, I remembered to take the time to sing my spellsongs in hopes of at least aiding Mister Haithcock's slightly less futile efforts. The notes of my spells echoed in the reverberant acoustic space of the cavern as I sang them into being, and I could feel that greater sense of poise and concentration and confidence with which they bolster their hearers. And then something very peculiar happened. The creature, in the midst of the echoes of these purely inoffensive melodies, shivered, and I can only say whispered, very eerily, like the wind rifling through a pile of dead leaves. It halted its efforts against Mister Haithcock -- and then it -shifted- to face me. My eyes met the infinite gaping holes of its sockets, and I froze.
As swiftly as that it lunged at me, and I took a step backward, a step so small and slow and surely nothing near enough, abruptly feeling as I did as if I were smothered in gelid air like any true nightmare, and it is certain that the thing would have had me if that one retreating step had not landed my foot on something that rolled unsteadily beneath my weight, and sent me toppling sharply over backwards. The details of the dreadful creature in that moment were imprinted on my consciousness then and perhaps forever -- the thin gape of darkness in the fissures split between the plates in the muzzle, the shriveled curl of skin clinging still to the edges of the eye sockets, scraps of sinew mummified and unraveling, little pores and pocks in the bone filled with grime and yellowed dust, and a horrible sweetened musty odor reeking off it as from the depths of an ancient ossuary. The edges of its teeth -clacked- against my arm with a sharp shock of staggering cold, which was followed almost immediately by the clack of my own teeth being rattled in my skull as my head hit the floor of the cavern.
This blow itself had its advantages, however, as instead of knocking out of my head what few thoughts I might have been having, the painful jolt seemed to clear my mind of the smothering pall of horror that I realized I must have been under since my first glimpse of the creature. Unfortunately, on one's back on the floor beneath the gaping jaws of an undead being of pure Evil is not really the most favorable place to receive a revelation, and I had no time to do anything at all to defend myself -- save to open my mouth and sing. I could not claim now to know exactly what note I produced, fuelled by what reserves of will and desperation, at what precise pitch and force, but whatever it was it must have been inspired by vedic foresight or the gods themselves, for as I directed that note at it, the thing stopped short in the execution of its next assault and myself, and.. shuddered.
I write "shuddered," but again this is only a bare approximation of the actual phenomenon, as everything relating to this creature of nightmare seems designed not only for the inspiration of pure horror but to stymie the descriptive powers of even the most determined writer of travel accounts. Nevertheless, I will say that it shuddered -- or did it? -- because it was more as if the air around it shuddered, or the entire thin envelope of reality around it, and watching it one felt one's eyes being turned practically crossways, and at the same time I could feel a corresponding pressure on my ears, as if the creature itself were echoing back some strange vibration in its agonies. The entire effect was so bizarre, and so wrenching to the senses, that I certainly expected this to be the end of it all one way or another, either the creature falling to pieces or everything else around it doing so instead, but as I broke off my note in the wake of the awful sensation, the creature's whole form twitched, and then it appeared quite unfazed once more. This was not, as one may imagine, among my more hopeful moments.
The account I have just given of this sequence of events might seem to imply that my traveling companion was simply standing off to one side casually watching me be murdered, but in truth all of this happened so rapidly that up until this point there was no time for any kind of reaction. Despite all hopelessness I opened my mouth to sing the note again --
the creature began a forward shambling lunge again --
the noise --
the shuddering --
the sense that everything everywhere was going to shudder inside out and to pieces --
the halt of the creature even as it still toppled towards me with jaws agape --
the sudden shattering of the thing into all the components of its skeleton as Mister Haithcock's fist struck it right at the base of the skull, and the entire chamber resounded with a -THUD- that pounded through the inside of my head and my stomach and my bones like a blow from reality itself.
I do not know exactly what happened after this, except that I continued to maintain that note with all the desperation of near-death, and that Mister Haithcock, either taking no chances or exacting his vengeance, slammed the dead or nearly dead or undead creature with all the considerable force of his mind and fists for some time longer, by which point whatever state of not-quite-life the thing had existed in was moot, as its body was now in countless fragments all across the room and clearly not getting back up again this time.
Even so -- I will admit it readily -- fear still thrummed through me like the dying echo of the creature's own shudder; and even with having watched the thing drop, and seeing what remained of it finally stay as motionless as any truly dead thing, still my heart was pounding and I felt chilled through to the core, in a way that even the silent snow-cloud of the pinnacle had been unable to achieve. I could still feel the cold clack of its teeth against the skin of my arm, which burned with a cold as icy as the heart of the Void, and this very physical sensation, combined with the thought of what a real bite might have done, was enough to keep anyone shivering straight through the fiery heart of Rummur itself. Under these circumstance I did not object as I might have on other occasions to the loan of Mister Haithcock's coat, whose smell of sweat and blood and Laurdian dust was reassuringly warm and real, in the wake of that cold nightmare of death.
It is a fact that to this day, however, there remains a small patch of skin approximately two inches forward of my elbow, looking no different in any wise from the skin around it, where even if it is stuck with a pin, I feel nothing at all, nor can anything induce it to bleed.
As the Reader may imagine, Mister Haithcock and I passed the remainder of the night in an unsettled and excessively vigilant state not much conducive to peaceful slumber. But at long last the obscurity of the cavern began very slightly to lessen as the pale glow of dawn seeped in past the tumble of boulders that marked the entrance to the cave, and we stiffly roused ourselves from the hard floor to make an inspection of the main chamber by the dim light of a new day. I had wondered through the sleepless hours of the night what exactly it had been that I had slipped on that had most probably saved my life, since the larger room with its unruptured ceiling had a very smooth and dusty floor almost entirely free of debris, especially in the vicinity of our pristine little alcove. So while Mister Haithcock investigated the pulverized remnants of the horrible creature, I began an investigation of my own. As I combed the floor with my gaze in search of the source of salvation, finally a faint familiar glimmer to one side caught my eye, and picking it up there it was -- my saviour was none other than my knobbly Laurdian pebble.
Every great tale should end on an act of grand heroism beyond mere survival, whether in glorious victory or vainglorious defeat, and leave the reader with the satisfying sensation that -this- was what it was all leading up to all along, and could not possibly have ended in any other way, nor could any other sequence of events have been so satisfying. Alas for the inconsiderate vagaries of reality! for this tale does nothing of the sort. But as the reader has now been warned against possessing any such grand expectations, armored against the stings of disappointment, we may safely proceed to the end of our story.
Emerging from the cave showed that the day had broken clear and fair, the dawn sky showing no hint of the atmospheric turmoil of the previous night, and though the air at this great height carried a chill crispness, it bore no traces of that strange electric pulse that had so unexpectedly descended upon us before. The panorama, though entirely changed in character from yesterday evening, was no less stunning now, for one could truly see the land spread out in all directions -- the sheeny blue and green surface of alpine lakes, the labyrinthine expanse of endless mountains and ridges and boulders and ravines all jumbled together in chaos, and the dark smoke and darker holes in the sides of distant peaks that must have been the terrible mines and cities of the Talone Empire. Feeling still at least a mild nagging sense of unease at the thing in the cave, however (or I did at any rate; Mister Haithcock displaying instead a completely unreasoning and irritating forgetfulness of it), after some short time we were sated on views and began the climb back down to the prosaic earth.
The descent from the lofty peak of the mountain was performed in relative uneventfulness, certainly when compared against the events of the night, or perhaps the greater part of the rest of the journey, though if there is any person in the world who thinks that going down a mountain is the proverbial walk in the park compared to the trip up, then this person has clearly never done anything involving mountains except perhaps gaze languidly upon them from a distance. The way down was in fact just as winding as the way up, the landscape just as obscured by cliffs and ridges on either side, the views just as deceptive where there were any, and the path even the victor when it came to protrusions of rock that thrust themselves out of the ground just far enough to jar one's toes against. These distractions and obstructions being what they were, it was consequently a great surprise when we came around a sudden opening between two mule-eared spires and found stretched out in front of us a vast plain of purest sparkling white.
This great expanse was of course a salt-plain, common also to certain regions of Ziguran where lofty peaks, much like the range we had just passed over, descend into a sort of flat droughty basin. Here the clouds, stingy though they generally are, do with vanishing rarity pour out a brief punishing deluge upon the flatlands, the results of which may remain in pools and even whole lakes (though they seldom surpass a few feet in depth), but most of which soon dissipates back into the air and leaves behind a stunning expanse of salt. This particular salt-plain, though wedged into what must be considered a mere sliver of a valley in relation to the many leagues of mountains that lay clearly on the other side of it, nevertheless had considerable enough width to it that crossing it even under the best of conditions was likely to take a good two days; and as for its length, from our view it was limitless.
As with the barren dust-plain behind us, there was no way around, only an uncertain trek forwards -- and uncertain it would truly be, for there was no guarantee of anything like the "best of conditions" mentioned above, and in fact these same sorts of places in Ziguran very often feature, amidst the sparkle and the crisp geometry of the cracked surface, the scattered mummified remains of men and beasts that have become bogged down in the grasping mire that often lurks just below the surface. Besides which, before leaving on this mad adventure, we had allocated hardly over a week's time for the journey -- a week to be crammed full to bursting with exotic sights and perilous encounters and the strangest and most memorable experiences that this land had to offer -- and on this bright afternoon beneath the pure blue cloud-feathered sky, we realized that we had reached our limits in time as well as in space. Though the land, the potential, the promise of this wilderness still stretched out before us, mere promise it would remain: no longer a passage to progress through, but merely a picture to look at: the way before us was closed.
We surveyed that scene for some time longer, admired its depth, its color, the broad strokes of cloud on sky, of white salt across parched brown rock, the rippled effect of heat smearing the far unreachable horizon, and then with the rub of a talisman -- it was gone.
I shall not try the Reader's patience with additional details of talismans, teleportation, less eventful barge rides than the first, or endless views of endless plains from endless hours by hippogryph, let alone any description of the sensations of seeing the stolid grey walls of Kaezar rising into the stolid grey skies at the end of it all. I shall leave him instead with the scene painted above, and with a last lingering memory of a vast plain, a lofty range, tinted buttes and muddy rivers, orcish hordes, reclusive cave-dwellers, hostile insects, knobbly rocks and lush waving grasses, a limitless vibrant expanse of the freest, the wildest, the remotest, the most mysterious land of Laurdia.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
Accounts of Research Undertaken
For the Advancement of Knowledge in Kessia
~ * ~
THEORETICAL APPLICATIONS OF BARDIC MAGIC
Being the Second Part of a Treatise
Exploring the Bardic School of Vedic Magics,
As Propounded By Siovanhe Haithcock
~ An Introduction to the Theoretical Applications of Bardic Magic ~
Part One of this treatise dealt with the circles of bardic magic and underlying theory. This part deals with the development of new applications, as grounded in the theoretical principles previously discussed.
NOVEL APPLICATIONS OF VIA IRA ZEM
Via Ira Zem spells use raw sound, and produce a purely physical effect on a target. Uniformly destructive or hostile, they primarily manipulate pitch and loudness (or force). Possible abilities are based on the exploitation of natural resonances.
~ On the Use of Natural Resonances ~
Every thing of form and substance, and even the spheres themselves, has a certain pitch at which its constituent particles naturally vibrate. The utility lies in producing a sound at that pitch, causing the thing to vibrate with still greater vigour, to the point at which it utterly destabilizes. This has no doubt been observed by many who have witnessed the shattering of a crystal goblet by voice alone.
It should be possible to shatter any material form, provided one can determine its natural resonance, and produce the corresponding sound. In practice, many factors prevent this being so easily accomplished, if at all. The natural voice has severe limitations, even if trained in producing and sustaining the pitch necessary. However, I have shattered substances possessing significantly greater resistance to the technique than crystal. Glass, ice, porcelain, and even stone are vulnerable when voice is augmented by vedic will. However, a slab of ice is very different than a crystal goblet, despite superficial similarities. Unique internal properties come into play, along with characters such as shape, size, and thickness.
A form may also crack rather than shatter; whether this is purposely accomplished is a matter of will rather than pitch. The same pitch will always break a substance when it matches the natural resonance, while all other pitches fail. It will not necessarily produce the same type or pattern of breakage, however. Beyond exertion of will, cracking versus shattering has to do with the varying characteristics of targets -- natural flaws and other differences. Pre-existing weaknesses affect the speed and manner with which the substance cracks, and whether it cracks or shatters, but often these are not visually detectable prior to the attempt. However, with minute attention it is possible to sense them when directing the naturally resonant tone at that substance.
Many variables need to be taken into account: shape, substance, will, pitch, and loudness are just a few. I have exploited natural resonances to break apart specimens of each substance mentioned above, and even shattered, in a careful and controlled manner, a sizeable slab of enchanted ice that proved impervious to all other physical or magickal assaults, freeing from its depths a living being entirely unscathed by the procedure. So despite the complexities, these effects must be within reach of any bard of sufficient training and will.
~ Practical Applications of Natural Resonances ~
Chief among possible applications is in an offensive capacity, targeting portions of the body and causing the constituent particles to vibrate so strongly that they force themselves violently apart. Different portions of the anatomy will have varying natural resonances depending upon internal makeup. With enough skill and sufficient voice and willpower, it may be possible to set the particles of an entire living being into agitation at once, thus blowing that being into bits.
There are less violent applications: Obstructions may be cleared, unwanted structures demolished, and smaller objects disposed of, whether by one bard alone, or a chorus of them. Many substances and forms that may be difficult, impracticable, or impossible to break by physical means alone may be assaulted by the vedically enhanced voice, or may be broken with greater precision and care than by using other magical or mechanical means.
~ Other Uses of Sound Acting on the Particular Level ~
There is at least one other potential technique that acts at the level of constituent particles, but which requires substantially less finesse: causing a target to combust.
The effect is different, but the basic technique the same; using voice and will to vibrate particles in a specific manner. It has been recently suggested by natural philosophers that heat is motion, and greater motion indicates or causes greater heat. If so, then setting the particles of an object into vigorous enough motion should create heat sufficient to induce combustion; and since this degree of excitement would be more uniform throughout and among bodies, then any such sound could be used not only to ignite the whole of one target, but several targets simultaneously.
~ Uses of Sound Acting on the Holistic Level ~
There are additional uses of Ira Zem principles that act upon a whole entity. Many are ultimately related to the natural resonances of different parts of the body, but cause various minor to serious derangements of functioning. All are produced by extremely low pitches, some felt as vibration rather than heard as sound, so it may be that the natural resonances of mortal anatomy are largely low-pitched. Uses of higher pitches are better known and utilized (as in Shriek of the Gryphon) but the potential of low pitches has been overlooked.
Most of these I have hit upon through my own explorations, especially as a result of devising a novel system of bardic enchanting (to be discussed in Part Three). I have had the mixed privilege of exposing myself to numerous effects, and so a number of these I have already experienced as reality.
However, further experimentation is necessary to discover the exact pitch and loudness needed to consistently produce the effects, what the strength and duration of these may be induced to be, under which circumstances and upon which targets they may be most effective, etcetera.
AUDITORY IMPAIRMENT -- Due to the way low-pitched sounds act on the ears, it can become difficult to properly distinguish ambient sounds while exposed to these pitches. It may be possible to inflict the inability to understand speech, either that of other people or of oneself, by vibrating the eardrums such that it interferes with the perception of the pitches at which most speech occurs.
VISUAL HALLUCINATIONS -- These appear as amorphous grey patches in the centre of one's view, flashes of colour, and mild distortion of the field of vision. The sound, a very low pitch, can be barely felt in one's eyeballs and may also cause them to twitch, vibrating them to negatively affect their ability to perceive their surroundings.
NAUSEA, LOSS of BALANCE -- A certain pitch may cause dizziness, leading to nausea, and eventually causing the target to lose balance. With minor alterations in pitch the effects may bypass dizziness and lead directly to nausea. The pitch is a very low one, felt in one's eardrums more than heard.
INTENSE PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT, INTERNAL HEMORRHAGING -- Hemorrhaging is eventually produced from sustained exposure to a specific pitch. This effect as originally experienced, produced by mis-enchantment, was happily only mildly damaging. However, if produced with all the effort of will and voice behind it, it could be potent, whether by degree of disruption or extending the effect indefinitely, or some combination of those two.
DERANGEMENT OF THE HEART, LUNGS, AND OTHER ORGANS -- The rhythm of both lungs and heart are thrown off by a steady pulse of sound, such that they are at the mercy, and in some sense under the control of, the resonant pitch. This technique could be developed to an extent that the target's lungs, heart, and other organs would cease to function, causing the body gradually to shut down.
TERROR -- Similar to Song of the Willow, this would inspire a certain emotional state, but by means of sound unperceived by the ear, acting more on physiology than conscious thought. Pure unreasoning terror would be a reflexive reaction to the physiological sensation that usually accompanies terror, and which low pulses of sound may produce; i.e., shortness of breath and strenuous or irregular heartbeat. Such a wrenching, reasonless feeling of fear would put the target in a state of panic, likely causing it to flee.
NOVEL APPLICATIONS OF SPELLSONGS
Bardic magic may serve to revitalise mind and body and foster creativity. Nearly all spellsongs that presently exist have a defensive or offensive capability, while more utilitarian applications have remained largely unexplored. However, the potential uses must be far more diverse, given the diversity of emotional states through which the mind may pass.
I will very briefly introduce a number of possible applications, organized according to the circle with which they might be most naturally associated. Development will lie in discovering which strains of music are most ideally suited to creating the desired effect, analyzing them to determine which of the fundamental characters of music are most responsible for that effect, and then composing a melody incorporating all the characteristics deemed most essential, while keeping it simple enough for easy learning and repetition. Finally the melody must be accurately recorded, and as the bard learns the spell, performs it accurately, and applies his will, the effect will be duplicated and magnified many times over.
~ Applications of Via Vas Zem ~
Via Vas Zem is MUSICAL, its acting force MENTAL, its target SENTIENT, its effects INTERNAL and SUSTAINED, and its purposes BENIGN. The hypothetical applications that follow share these essential traits.
RESTORATION OF VIGOUR -- Certain kinds of music have a calming effect on the mind, with corresponding benefit to the body. Music may play a role in soothing a patient and speeding the healing process. Bardic spellsong might thus play a role in restoring health and vigour, in combat or convalescence.
TRUE SLEEPING SPELLS -- A spellsong similar and perhaps complementary to the restorative one would lull the listener beyond tranquillity and into sleep. While the Ira Zem Song of Stunning may render a person unconscious, the effects are short, and fundamentally aggressive. Where health or peace of mind are paramount, a less forceful method might prove as effective, especially if the target is receptive to it.
CLARITY OF MIND -- Other kinds of music may be soothing, in that they help clear the mind. A spellsong that could induce clarity of mind and purpose might aid in creativity or focus, from performing, to crafting, to devising magical theorems, and even to teaching and learning.
AIDS TO CONCENTRATION & EFFICIENCY -- Many Sunjo agriculturalists and craftsman labour to the rhythms of certain prescribed melodies, and it is widely stated that they are vastly more productive and efficient as a result. Working to a rhythm attuned to the task, the workers perform each motion in an economical manner by which one leads smoothly into the next, until the melody is completed and the round of motion and gesture required begin again. Such a melody could be adapted to a cyclical spellsong, fuelled by vedic power to enhance the smoothness, enjoyment, and efficiency with which any craftsman or labourer performs his work.
~ Applications of Via Min Zem ~
Via Min Zem is MUSICAL, its acting force MENTAL, its target ENVIRONMENTAL, its effects EXTERNAL and SUSTAINED, and its purposes BENIGN. The spells primarily act upon the immediate environment or on inanimate objects, often by harmonising with the Weave, or resonating with the essence flows in one's surroundings.
However, Min Zem is a somewhat problematic circle, as Dance of the Sprite and Song of Sonic Weapon respectively more naturally belongs to Vas Zem, or merits a separate circle of its own. The potential applications in this section align with the basic properties of the circle as outlined above.
SONG OF KENNING -- Song of Kenning can discern limited magical properties within an object. Typically the magics must be stored within the object for the user to invoke, as in various scrolls and amulets. However, a wide variety of magical attributes escape notice. Focused upon a patently magical object, such as an animated teacup or a fragment of the Tes'ah Stone, it reveals nothing of these things' nature or purpose, nor would an item enchanted with any kind of flare give any indication of the latent magics within.
It is useless in detecting environmental effects, or in discerning concentrations of magical energy, such as a confluence of ley lines. Nor is it any use in discerning mundane attributes of an object -- details of its creator, its origins, its history, other non-magical properties, etcetera. Either it was originally designed as the simplest of cantrips, meant to teach novice bards the use of spellsongs and the basic properties of different magical objects, or else it was once designed to be of far greater use, but never developed to its full potential or has declined in potency over time.
In any case Song of Kenning has great potential which is utterly squandered. The present incarnation is so weak that its response to essence within an object can only be identified where substantial quantities of essence are involved; the specific arrangement of essence is very precise and orderly and thus, like crystal, resonant to the harmonies of the spell; or the essence is confined to a very small area, which is to say an object of no great size.
It may be possible to increase the spell's utility by amplifying its force, adapting the melody to be more evocative of mysteries and secrets and their revelation, and adjusting its resonances to better harmonise with the Weave. With careful revision, it may not only expose "deep" or innate magical properties inherent in an object, large or small, living or inanimate, but also discover magical attributes (such as the presence of ley lines) belonging to one's surroundings.
A companion spell might interact with subtle properties of the object beyond the purely magical. This spell might exert a simultaneous effect on the bard's mind to draw up information long relegated to back corners of memory, or make him more receptive to small details of the object, helping him identify and interpret it.
OTHER APPLICATIONS OF WEAVE HARMONICS -- The spellsongs of Min Zem suggest that music and the Weave are sensitive to one another and capable of harmonising to either impede or facilitate flows of essence. As Song of Renewal allows essence to flow more easily to the bard, a more advanced version might facilitate the flows of essence through an entire small area. This could make it easier both to draw on surrounding essence and to arrange it in the manner of one's choosing, thereby enhancing the ability of persons in the area to imbue objects with flares or other enchantments.
MUSICAL MOCKERY & ENTHRALLMENT -- The bard might devise melodies that would affect another creature's disposition towards him. This would be interesting and novel in that it would influence another being's perception of the bard, or change the local reality surrounding him, rather than altering the emotional state of a target (either the bard himself or his companions) as the Vas Zem spellsongs do.
In the case of hostile targets one might weave about himself a taunting melody that would prove infuriating beyond all reason. The bard could then attract the attention of various targets, one by one, provoking in each an overwhelming compulsion to attack him. This could prove useful when accompanying a weaker individual through hostile territory, or in deflecting attention from an ally under siege from multiple foes.
Using the same basic technique, the bard might create such an irresistible melody that any given creature would be persuaded to follow him loyally about. This would be most effective upon simple or docile creatures. Anyone familiar with tales of singers and musicians enthralling hearers and leading them to fates merry or malignant may wonder whether this is a once common but long-lost ability.
FISH ATTRACTION -- Fish respond quite readily to sounds, and even music, loud enough to penetrate the water. I have had some success using singing to draw the attention and curiosity of a fish inside a fishbowl, and in getting it to approach the side of the bowl or the surface of the water, depending on where the fish perceives the sound to be originating. If this effect can be duplicated in an open-water setting, it might prove useful to the bardic angler.
IN ADVOCACY OF A NEW CIRCLE OF SONIC SPELLS
In Part One I noted the peculiar nature of Song of Sonic Weapon, currently under the aegis of Via Min Zem. Distinct from the other spells in this circle, Sonic Weapon uses raw sound rather than lyrical music to create an effect, but unlike Via Ira Zem it is non-hostile and acts on the environment. A new spell circle might make use of these peculiarities. This circle might be known as something like Via Mar Zem, reflecting the relatively lasting nature of the effects.
It would make use of UNMUSICAL sound, its acting force would be SONIC, its target ENVIRONMENTAL, its effects EXTERNAL and SUSTAINED, and its purposes either BENIGN or HOSTILE.
SONIC OBJECTS -- The principles of Sonic Weapon may be expanded to produce any number of small and simple objects. I have created, with only minor alterations to this spell, small spheres of sonic energy resembling a marble in form and size. This was done by singing the single pure tone of Sonic Weapon, but using a flick of the fingers against porcelain, in place of snapping. By experimenting with different combinations of gestures and sounds, the way is opened for the creation of different forms of diverse utilitarian and artistic value.
SONIC TRAPS & ALARMS -- It is possible to create lasting forms of sonic energy. A weave of sound extending through a given locale, when passed through by a form of sufficient bulk, would trigger a vibration which the bard would be sensible to within a given distance. It might also utilize the principles of Ira Zem and assault the invader, either stunning or injuring him. The Ira Zem spell Resonance, which binds sonic energy to an object to sporadically trigger a harmful effect upon contact, suggests that such would be possible; and in fact Resonance might be more naturally grouped with this proposed circle than Ira Zem, which otherwise acts directly upon a living foe.
SOUND CANCELLATION EFFECTS -- Song of Silence, from Ira Zem, uses opposed resonances targeted at a foe to cancel out the sounds uttered by it. This might be expanded upon to create a sustained effect in the environment, enveloping the bard in a shield of sound. This would negate all words spoken by the bard or those immediately around him, preventing others from overhearing his speech.
Another application would be the same sort of envelope, but tuned to a different set of pitches such that it would cancel out or absorb the sounds an individual makes while in motion, allowing him or those immediately around him to move in near silence.
SONIC SANCTUARIES -- Low, monotonous background noise may calm the psyche; a weaving of monotonous and soothing sound in a small area would reduce the aggression and initiative of all save the bard or his companions.
PURE VEDIC EFFECTS
The bard is the only purely vedic specialist in all fields of magic; it seems not unreasonable to expect bards to more fully develop their vedic abilities. Such will be founded upon creativity and imagination, and rely upon those two characters along with willpower.
ATTUNED SENSES -- By modifying meditative techniques favoured by some vedics, enhanced sensitivity to sound as well as details of form, colour, and other meaningful components of the environment would augment observation. This could have applications as varied as discerning nuances in the attitudes and responses of an audience, to detecting pickpockets or other stealthy assailants, and enhancing the ability to pick locks.
AUGMENTATION -- Any bard ought to be well-versed in lore and legend, familiar with tales featuring weapons and other objects made with surpassing skill or imbued with great power. Using this knowledge combined with vedic will, the bard might convince reality that an object numbers among the legendary, thereby enhancing its effectiveness.
CONCEALMENT -- The bard might figuratively paint himself into the background of any scene. This would involve exerting a subtle effect on the minds of others to convince them he is not worthy of notice, allowing him to hide in plain sight.
VEDIC ARTISTRY -- Given that the techniques of Vas Thespis allow the bard to create paint and vellum from essence, both to some degree dynamic and alterable, the next step would be paintings and sculptures. Such might allow the bard to vedically create entire paintings upon "canvases" of their own devising.
These need not be static and unchangeable like a traditional painting; instead they might be suffused with subtle motion such that the waves of a painted ocean would ceaselessly roll, the branches of a tree sway in the wind, or small details appear and vanish with each look. With sufficient training and will the bard might bypass the need for a camera obscura by taking images perceived by the eye and re-imagining them faithfully onto ethereal paper.
With further honing of the technique, aided by Kenzian syllables, a bard might bring into being three-dimensional sculptures of much greater complexity.
TELEPORTATION -- I propose that the bard create in his mind the image of a place, in all accuracy and detail possible; not just an image, but a mental -experience- including sights, sounds, smells, textures, and divers other sensations that make a place uniquely itself. This will need to be a place with which the bard is so deeply familiar that all these sensations will be etched indelibly into his consciousness, and called up with (no small amount of) active concentration.
As the bard calls up this image, he must simultaneously exert upon local reality the BELIEF that he is IN that place. If his will and belief are strong enough, and the mind-image convincing enough, then local reality may be persuaded to reject the bard's presence, and remove him from it. As the bard continues to exert will and imagination and project his imagined reality, he may then find himself shunted off to that exact locale.
This would have limitations and dangers. First, it is highly unlikely that a bard could teleport about with the freedom and flexibility of a wizard or illusionist, as this would require impossible mastery of detail over limitless locations; the bard would be restricted to locales possessing special meaning and familiarity. Secondly there is the difficulty of disabusing reality of the conviction of one's existence in a particular spot. Finally, even if this were accomplished, the bard might find himself rejected into the void, or destroyed by reality outright.
Likely there are other difficulties I have not yet thought of and which more experienced vedics may point out as obvious. Even so, I feel this is worthy to pursue.
~ * ~
These are the smallest handful of possible applications using the basic principles of bardic magic, and beyond a doubt merely scratches the surface of what bards may be capable of.
[ A note in slightly smaller print at the bottom of the page reads: "The author of this Treatise would like to particularly thank Mr. Malo Haithcock for the proof and abridgment of the text, the latter of which the Reader ought likewise to feel singularly grateful for." ]
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Letters, Essayes, and Opynion
~ Heard About Town ~
JT: You missed the veckle rodeo. I cannot adequately describe it because apparently everybody missed it, and it was for veckles alone. But! There was one.
ES: The first day I saw the King praying in here the walls were bleeding. This little chapel has been through so much.
AI: After the wedding we plan to go to Isola to visit my son for a bit. It's almost his birthday.
LB: I want to get into people's faces. Get them to know mine, have them know that I will be around for a while. I am pure business.
LM: I'm just praticing my alchemy with eberk elixir. I can make it, but it's not so good... it's not even good... well, let's say it'll have to improve to call itself horrible.
~ Weather Almanack ~
The weather held quite Fair and fine through the end of Spring and into the Summer, punctuated at intervals by those nourishing Showers that serve to quench the thirst of Crops and Pasture-lands alike. As a consequence the hay harvest has been pronounced a great success this yeare, the Hay-fields growing lushly with an abundance of the best kinds of grasses with which to keep the farmers' Livestock in good health through the bare Winter months.
The well-timed rains have proven quite beneficial to the entire Country-side, being neither too heavy to swamp the roots of the Crops, nor so sparse that they find themselves shriveling beneath the hot Sunshine. Anyone who has kept his eye on the fields while making his way along the Trade Route or traveling south along the Trenkin Trail has no doubt marked with much satisfaction the tall Stalks of Corn waving their deep green leaves in the light Summer breeze, and the fat Kernels looking nearly ready to burst beneath their caps of glistening silken Tassels.
As the yeare has slid lazily through Dien and into Ghust, the damp heavy air from the Sea has wrapped the city of Kaezar and its environs in a smothering Embrace, such that one could hardly be any more thoroughly soaked by walking straight into the Ocean. This stifling Atmosphere is perhaps partly responsible for many Residents of Kaezar temporarily relocating themselves elsewhere, presumably to parts further inland where it does not feel so much as if one is perpetually trying to draw in Breath through a sodden wool Blanket.
The City by the Sea
There is a city by the sea, a place long tormented by the evils of the world. People flock to it, perhaps out of false hope for what it could be, or desperation encompassing their own situation. Maybe the city is actually a beacon of good in the world and they are drawn to that. It's hard to say for sure, but regardless of the whys of it the city sees darkness wash against the shores as often as the waves of the sea. The effect of this (as near as I can tell) is that the people become so used to tragedy that they cannot imagine or even cope with a world without it. The darkness validates their light - and they do not see that every time it washes in the light gets just a little bit dimmer.
As the years turn by the people of the city by the sea lose their awe of the wonders of the world. They have seen far greater, they say, as they carve that wonder back down to the earth until it passes from the land. Unnoticed and forgotten. As the years turn by they lose their fear of the unknown, and their lives are overtaken by rash action and bold catastrophe and the darkness grows in the echoes of their deeds. And they are unaware. As the years turn by they lose their empathy for fellow man, and march callously by with blinded eye past the suffering of others, and pay no mind to the world outside their walls and the horrors that befall other peoples of other lands. It is not their problem.
And so it goes, their lives move on as people come and soon are gone. The whys and should wes and what ifs pass fewer lips, and the march continues into the abyss. But with each new face, fresh and fair there is the chance to change their way. What will they do?
-----------====================THE KAEZARIAN EYE====================-----------
Ghust Edition, Age Of Dreams, 651
FOR THE PUBLIC NOTICE
~ * ~
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, most particularly Interviewer, Special Events Reporter, and Astrologer, in addition to offering Apprenticeships to those desirous of learning the newspaperman's Trade. 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, if such Persons in fact exist anywhere at all upon the whole of Thrael, which seems increasingly unlikely, are encouraged to speak with Siovanhe Haithcock, acting manager, or to write her at her offices with the Eye.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
EYE ON KESSIA
Views of Our Fair Province
Through the Lens of a Camera-Obscura
[ The narrow structures that line this full-page image of Pudding Row are pressed tightly together, well-maintained and spotless, except for one which has a small splash of mud on its pristine lime-washed exterior. Even the cobblestones have been swept free of debris and on the side of the walk, only one small puddle mars the brick border. Against this immaculate backdrop an enormous Fenji riding beetle looms grandly, looking by comparison with Salle, the sable mule, to be about the size of a pony. Master Theurgist Astolpho of Duvan stands to one side of the massive insect, absorbed in benign observation.
A short caption below the print reads "Mister Mandel and the Beetle, Ghust 650 AoD." ]
[ Staring out from the page with unseeing eyes is the marble statue of a huge man, reproduced majestically here in this large print from a camera obscura. Richly garbed, the fur on the man's houppelande seems almost real, as does his short, forked beard, and there is something powerful and commanding about his demeanor. Jauntily placed upon his head, a tilted tam makes him appear more approachable, yet maintains his natural dignity.
A caption below the illustration proclaims the subject of print and statue to be "KING IONE NUND III". ]
The Nund dynasty of kings first came to the throne in the Age of Chaos, shortly after the the great Battle of Helasfume in which Nund I's renowned contemporary, Lord Kenton McVahl, was killed leading a heroic rout of the orcish Horde. Nund III was a king from the early period of the Age of Dreams, and is best known for dissolving the Kellish Church of the Barony of Thresh in the year 100, this church being responsible for an attempt to revive the horrific Wyrd that contrived at the destruction of all artifacts and knowledge from the magical Age of Wonders. Nund III died without producing an heir, leading to the assumption of the throne of Kessia by the McVahl line in 108 AoD.
The photograph reproduced here shows the statue of King Nund III that may be viewed in Kaezar at the center of Memorial Circle.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
NEWS OF THE WORLDE
By Minerva Sartchilde, Owner and Chief Editor
Thee Civil War in Vash doth grind to a stalemate, wyth the supporters of Lady Gohime firmly ensconced in thee south and thee Divine Emperor Tenma Genki's forces having taken back the city of Nakayuro in Deatre of this Yeare. It is nowe confirmed that thee Indrejani enclave in thee city of Sagawashii hath been given formal recognition by thee Lady Gohime and will serve as thee major port for the Southern reaches of the Island of Vash for all those engaging in Trayde and Travel. Representatives of thee Divine Emperor denounce the Indrejani incursion, citing thee military nature of thee fortifycations and the unwanted onslaughte of foreign Influence into the Vashan Empire during thys period of Criminal Rebellione and Banditry. It is likewyse rumored that privateer ships flying Indrejani colors haf fired upon and boarded Peregornian vessels travelyng to the Port of Koje, arresting Kessians found therein and Imprysoning them in their purpose-built prison in Sagawashii. Thee Senate in d'Anjour officially denies any such Rumores, citing thee long and Peaceful Friendship between the Kivian Imperiam and their own Democracy, and blaymes unsanctioned acts of Piracy for thee reported encounters.
Closer to Home, thys reporter haf learned just before going to Presse that despite the dreadfyl summer heat and nearly continuous rains, thee Imperial Army haf made a triumphant effort and successfully pushed back thee main force of thee Talone almost to the borders of Laurdia, resulting in what an Officer of thys reportyr's acquaintance hath called "Space to Breathe for a Tyme, until Mylywyth Rouse them up Again." It is with trepidation that thys reporter must also relate the wholly unconfirmed rumor that His Imperial Majesty Anthemian the Just did suffere an Extremely Minor Wound in thee course of this Action and haf taken advantage of thee Lull in thee campaign to Retire back to Penthras, along with His Royal Majesty King Vek, Queen Victaea of Nellwyn, King Ualraig MacMihail of Wessumbria, and King Tegro Farquartz of Mennailecht, there to make Council as to how best to Press the Final Assault upon the vile Empire of thee Talone. Queen Dussona Griadaur of Baetana, Queen Brianag Hargisdaur of thee Bristeach Isles and King Tyl'angan MacForend of Malakvia haf also been called to attendance in Penthras, as well as King Byren Sorrenson of Kitzkannaugh, now that Queen Hilma haf recovered from her most difficult confinement following thee byrth of their fourth childe.
In lighter newes, an Olifaunt, or "elephant" in thee newe forme, haf been sworn in to be a witnesse for the Defense in a notorious capital cayse brought before thee highest Court in d'Anjour. The Olifaunt, named Fanchon, is thee owned property of one Senator Lefebrvre du Comtois, and is proposed to have been present at thee Fatal Events of the night wherein the noted Artiste Jean L'Heuvre of Coueraux-sous-hie, a guest at thee Senator's estate, did strike and Mortally Wounde a groomsman after a Serious Quarrel as he departed thee grounds after a soiree. As thee beaste in question was knowne to bear thee Artiste an Unusual Malice and had, on a previous Occasyone, attempted to Crush the Artiste beneathe its Mighty Feete, the Defense haf claimed the Animal is responsyble for thee Murder and L'Heuvre merely had thee good Fortune to Move in tyme to save his own self, resultyng in the untimely Demise of the groom. Tho it was thought to be a Delaying Tactic at beste, thee Courte admitted thee witness and forced thee Prosecutor to hire, at great expense, a reputed handler of thee beasts all the way from distant Talimpur, who claymed also to be able to form a Vedic Link wyth olifaunts under his Charge, and ultimately denyed Fanchon's culpability in thee matter. Fanchon himself did not Testify directly but instead spent thee duration of his tyme in thee Dock removyng and replacing the Chief Magistrate's Wigge. As of this wryting, thys Reporter had not yet been informed as to thee Final Outcome of thee Case.
Finally, a cargo consysting of eighty-four tonnes of live rabu haf been shipwrecked upon thee coast near Arnoi, in the Kaltic Sea in Noskalv. En route from Coen to Broda in Velga, and thereby meant for slaughter and purchase by representatives of thee subterranean enclaves of Daes'Gadalva, thee vessel unfortunately foundered upon its travel through the Straites of Umafjord, and was forced onto the rocks outside Arnoi, releasyng its Cargo into thee Sea, there presumably to Drown. Alas for thee Arnoi, a goodly number of Rabu did Survive the wreck and haf now become a Plague upon the island, breedyng without check upon their Numberes and consuming vast quantities of Forage and thee smaller native wildlyfe, as well as passing various Diseases to thee inhabitants therein. Whethyr this spells Disaster or Unexpected Boon for thee island is yet to be seen, as despyte their Rude and Aggressive nature, thee Rabu could certainly prove to be a Useful source of Food in thee coming Winter months.
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
AS EYE SEE IT
By Aunty Anony
Hello Hello Hello - Hafe you hearde!
So much to Tell!
Aunty was thrilled beyond words to hear all about the long-anticipated wedding of Mister Dalanoth Ithiel and Miss Aurorah Moonsong in the Great Hall of the Murkhish Embassy on the 8th of Ghust. Aunty's soooo jealous she couldn't attend in person, but her little birds delivered, as always! The bride was a vision in an ensemble of white cloth-of-gold and scarlet chiffon, and the groom stunned all in his suit of cobalt and onyx duvetyn. None of Aunty's sources knew what to expect for a traditional Murkhish wedding, and surely the rumors of sugar and honey are exaggerated, but Dame Elli was a fetchingly begowned guide for the proceedings and all the guests were well-educated in every step of the affair. As the ceremony concluded the well-wishers bestowed kisses on bride and groom and showered them with rose petals. The buffet afterwards was magnificent and the triple-layer cake, kindly provided by Head Chirurgeon Marian Quinnley of the Kessian Medical Society, was truly a wonder to behold. Aunty wishes the happy couple all her best, and years of wedded bliss too.
Now, Aunty wonders what it is about Sir Ashinara's sister that has the men throwing themselves at her feet. Is it her frosty Muir temperament? Her hoard of rare gems? Aunty doesn't know, but she'll have to ask Mister Urtellik--newly released from the asylum and sober again--or maybe that new Muir in town, Mister Vanatheil, what it is they see in the girl--she'd ask Mister Lothar, but the raven-haired half-Tain's been dumped on his poor hinder by the lovely girl and she keeps giving him the cold but friendly shoulder.
Speaking of love triangles Aunty wished she had a chance to ask Miss Beckah Lotheniel what she was doing fishing alone on the wharf at midnight while her husband Mister Azor'i and Lady Miriel were arm-in-arm all over town! Aunty would assume the obvious if Mister Azor'i didn't keep telling us that Miss Lotheniel was out of the country. Has she been kidnapped again? Is she wandering the states in a befuddled daze of midnight fishery? Aunty thinks the Guard should look into it.
It's good to see Lady Miriel has rebounded from her affair with that animal Bariinco, though Aunty wonders why Lord Esselyon didn't whack the beast with his cane after Bariinco smashed his fist into the Lady's face. Lord Esselyon is notorious for overlooking the bad habits of his household, especially those of the infamous convict Jurion Tamerlaine, who was recently imprisoned (again!) for stealing His Majesty's horses right out of their stables. Aunty heard he later "apologized" to Captain Merow Ghurak, who probably wishes he stayed out at the front instead of having to deal with this lifelong criminal.
Aunty has been following the adventures of the lovely Miss Solenne and her two compatriots, the surly Kivian gentleman Weston and the taciturn Carabello known as Damathius. A commotion in the Inn at Kem resulted when Mrs. Etami's parrot flew into the dining room and assaulted a Tesugan man who had come in unnoticed by everybody present, but Mister Yun later admitted to having a room upstairs and was probably just looking for some dinner. Aunty hopes the startling encounter explains Miss Solenne's rude habit of excusing herself and her friends and hurrying them away on urgent errands whenever any other person comes up to socialize with them. Aunty's little birdies chirped a naughty song about the sound of crockery shattering along with Miss Solenne shouting in rage about Mister Weston's plans to marry her, so maybe it's Mister Weston who really wants to be known for his rude behavior? Especially after he directed a barrage of vicious remarks about "spider-eating stiff-haired hut dwellers" to a Sunjo girl he'd only met after she made the unfortunate choice to walk into Breen's for a pint and a bite to eat. Aunty wonders if they might all be happier if they found a few new friends.
Until next issue, Aunty sees all and tells moste!
Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
@@@@@ 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.
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Ghust Edition, Age of Dreams, 651
NOTE FROM THE EDITORS:
Thanke you for purchasing, or Otherwyse obtaining, our newspaper.
Until the Streets of Kaezar are paved in Seige Gold, May the Publick Be Wary.
Minerva Sartchilde, Owner and Chief Editor.
Siovanhe Haithcock, Head Reporter and Acting Manager.