Silene’s journal

12th June

Managed to reach an accord with local rebel group. Don’t think I made a great first impression. Too long playing the bureaucrat. Had to reveal my allegiance to Titania. It is a relief to say the truth, but I have perhaps forever lost the trust of Lacrimosa and Petra.

I want to strangle Rana.

Rebel group is split into nonmagical wing and a druidic wing—seeds thaumaturge privileges? Leveret is an arrogant maniac, but terrifyingly powerful. Even Petra might struggle to match. But the revival of ‘druid’ magic is very promising. Do not underestimate them.

They agreed to deploy us to Ambrose’s mansion to attempt to fight the fungus. Promised we would return for judgement.

I blew it with Rana. Ranted and raved like a loon—Lacrimosa had to intervene. Shameful.

Made contact with Constance Beaumont. Airheaded, but seems to be unharmed and good at heart. Ward of Duke Ambrose, who has welcomed us for now. For now, keep alive. Seems to have some sort of fetish for priests.

Estate guarded by some sort of water monster. We could have destroyed it, but Constance intervened. Startling display of power to own such a creature. Did not think Duke was a thaumaturge.

Entire estate is shielded by some sort of barrier against the otherwordly. Poor Ambition cannot enter.

The gifts I have been given by Titania are growing in power. All of us seem to be stronger than we were at the outset of this expedition. I have become very attached to this little company, and I shall be sorry when we must pass ways. If nothing else, I must make sure we all survive the expedition.

Rana has been cooperating, thank the Parallelogram. Very suspicious—they have the killing instinct of an assassin. Do not know why that would come up playing Safe Harbour. Revolutionary connections obviously go deeper than I ever suspected—trying to blackmail would likely go very badly. Do not be fooled by naive persona!

Petra is really coming into their own—kind-hearted and talented at this strange art. Clearly shaken by the meeting with the rebel band—obvious history with Leveret. Leveret seems to retain more memories of the prior age, but I have every confidence that Petra will surpass her in time. It is astonishing luck to have met them. Praise and encouragement v important—clearly a drought of it in the age before.

Lacrimosa is holding up well in the face of walking dead and otherworldly incursion. Fear I have forever lost her trust by revealing truth of allegiance to Titania. Can only hope to prove a worthy leader. And take an interest in all those saints. I think she is perhaps the one true believer in the whole empire.

13th June

Evidence mounting that Duke Ambrose and his associates imprisoned a fey entity at great expense. Identity of the fairy not yet known. Ask Titania when opportunity presents.

Relationship with wizard named Edmund. Real identity of Hohenheim??

Not a revelation I expected from this journey!!!!

‘Old Gate’ showing signs of corruption. Possibly ultimate source of fungus? Someone here observed it over many years, corruption is spreading, seems to go back to the dawn of the Empire.

Investigation of Ambrose’s staff proved fruitful. Has somehow been draining them, like a rag-novel ‘vampir’. Intervened to protect Jimothy, the stable-boy. Jimothy receiving visions of another world.

No harm must come to this boy.

Other known staff: ‘butler’ (seems to be more of a valet), maid Mrs Mumps, groundskeeper. Butler definitely compromised. Nature of other ‘staff’ witnessed on grounds unclear—fungal manifestation? Is Ambrose in league with the fungus?

Spectral hounds known to patrol grounds at certain times.

Planning to access Edmund’s study. Duke obviously suspicious—overplayed my hand. Unclear what resources he has. Supremely valuable magical artefact used as a coat rack—intended to intimidate? But I must press on. Too close to the truth.

14th June

We have entered another world and killed Duke Ambrose and most of his agents.

Aurelia Tourmeline and Heshka were his prisoners. Somehow saved nearly everyone, despite appalling strategic mistakes on my part.

Constance Beaumont lost her soul in the passage between worlds, but her body yet lives, so perhaps we can still save her.

Fungal disease outbreak destroyed Scrumpsport. About a third of the city now shelter with the rebels. Empire fled.

write more when rested.

Discovered by agents of Oberon. They infiltrated my dream. Attempted to buy me out—accused Titania of creating the world of shadow, and threatened to hunt me if I refused. Good of them to give me a warning!

Suspect they are not telling the full story. I demanded a day to consider.

It is past time I got some real answers from Titania.

How to entrap Oberon’s messenger…?

15th June

So much has happened since last I could write in this journal. Since we are for now in a place of safety, I must recount what has happened at length. For we have made many disturbing discoveries.

The trap-door in Edmund’s study passed into another world. It appears to be a shadowy echo of the sins and traumas of the regular, material one. A massive, literal scar in the land marks the place where Edmund blasted the prior rebellion to ashes. To touch it is to see the last visions of the dying.

Aurelia said it was the shadow of the Parallelogram. If true, not just thaumaturgy but the whole Geometric Era was architected by this man Edmund.

Damn it all. To have worked so hard to rise in the ranks of the pet project of some jumped-up tinpot wizard. How embarassing. None of it matters! The truth is to be found in the other worlds, where Hohenheim gained his power. If we are to surpass him, we must know the truth.

Our shadows attempted to persuade us to defect. The negotiation was weak and unconvincing—just vague promises of power, and no attempt to hide the obvious truth that I would be enslaved. It appears this entity manifests in shadows rather than darkness. The boundary between light and dark must be crucial, somehow.

Witnessed the device in which the fey was imprisoned. A startingly elaborate construction. Presently used by Ambrose for more mortal prisoners. Victims of the Duke also disposed of in this other world. Not just the vast majority of his staff but also many travellers have fallen victim.

This other world is a clear echo of the material one—the metaphor of a shadow is very apt. Geography corresponds closely, but it is rendered strange and horrible. Toxic fungus, grasping hands and strange beasts abound. There is no light. To merely exist there is draining. Aurelia and Heshka were at death’s door when we found them. Had we been slower to act they would certainly be dead.

Attempts at analysis from within cause psychic pain! As a natural philosopher, it offends me.

Our attempt to stealthily bypass the Duke’s agents and escape was unsuccessful. In fact, we blundered right into the man. He challenged Lacrimosa to a duel, the butler holding Heshka as a hostage. We complied, hoping to use his honourable scruples against him. Lacrimosa resorted to magic when the fight got desperate. By some miracle Heshka was not killed. After that, things got very un-Geometric.

This hostage-taking tactic is a vulnerability I would like to resolve. Unfortunately, when we encountered the Duke, our resources were very depleted, and we had no means to protect Heshka. We entered the battle on his terms. That we prevailed, that we all survived, is astonishing.

Lacrimosa’s heroism was exemplary. Truly stern stuff. She faced down an immortal swordsman hundreds years her senior, and held her own. However, eventually she called upon magic and set the Duke’s library on fire. Priceless knowledge of the fey and other worlds was destroyed, but it cannot be helped. Perhaps the fire will prevent the duke from re-forming.

The Duke’s butler, to my surprise, appears to be an agent of Oberon. For reasons unclear, he quickly retreated after fighting broke out. I suspect this is how Oberon became aware of our involvement. It is unfortunate that we could not kill him too, but the priority had to be rescuing the prisoners.

To my utter shame, the Duke was able to ensorcel me and violate my mind with nothing but a glance. Once again, my arrogance came close to destroying me I fantasised that I was using the Duke; the opposite plainly true. Ironically, it is only my deficiencies as a commander that contained this disaster. My stupefied attempts to put an end to the fight proved fruitless, and my companions far more resistant to the Duke’s gaze.

I cannot ever allow this to happen again. I must learn how to guard my mind. I feel as if I was raped. A puppet for the pleasure of that rancid, aristocratic corpse. Yes sir. As you will sir. Let me betray them for you, sir. No, no, it would be my pleasure!

I am revolted to think I used similar magics so freely on others, for such small reasons.

Rana struck the final blow. They revealed powers heretofore unseen, though of what nature I cannot fathom. I did not have the chance to observe closely, since the Duke all but tore my throat out, and only the swift intervention of Lacrimosa and Petra saved me from death. What is Rana??

In our escape, the teleporting hounds made another appearance. The beasts seem to belong the Duke, and they gave pursuit. Petra’s druidic magic confounded the trail. Truly, I have come to rely on having a druid at my side.

It became apparent that while we who passed the threshold were fully, body-and-soul, within the other world, Jimothy and Mrs. Mumps experienced a more partial existence, their souls pulled from their bodies into the shadow. Heretical perhaps but unmistakably true. Mercifully, once removed to safety, their souls are returning without obvious incident. Would that the same could be true for Constance Beaumont.

Remarkably, we were able to make it to the Old Gate without major losses, by the river. At the gate, we witnessed agents of Oberon equipped with strange armour that seemed to protect them from the debilitating effects of the other world. The Gate itself proved surprisingly hazardous, and it is here that Constance suffered her affliction. The fault is once again mine: I attempted to scout forwards, but took too long in returning to report on the dangers.

I must find out as much as possible about these other-world gates. So far we have discovered a one-way gate within the Duke’s manse, and of course the Old Gate itself. There must be others. Titania’s cloak will reveal them to me. How many other worlds exist? I now know of three: the land of the fey, which has leaked into the Duke’s orchard; the land of shadows, our present vexation; ‘Annwn’, the land of animal gods, whence comes the power of druids. Surely there are many more, places where Edmund, Ambrose and Heshka’s mother once walked.

Since leaving the other world I have been afflicted with a strange sight. I can witness places where it is leaking into our world, wiping away life. It is a disturbing thing, but perhaps it may one day be to our advantage.

We can’t celebrate our victory. We reunited with the rebels and learned of the catastrophe at Scrumpsport. It seems that an infectious variant of the fungus has broken out, rapidly turning people into mindless un-dead. The druids have proven indispensable, providing safe passage and feeding the refugees with the ‘good-berries’. I will credit Leveret this much: she has not shirked from doing all in her considerable power to help with the rescue efforts, at great personal cost. The rebels seem to have the logistics of evacuation in hand for now, but it is clear their resources cannot stretch to sheltering the entire population of Scrumpsport. The Imperial garrison proved worse than useless, fleeing with all the ships and leaving the population to their fate.

If we are able to stop the infection at its source, their abject cowardice may prove to be a boon. It will be long remembered, as will the heroism of the rescuers. If we can fortify Scrumpsport against thaumaturgical attack, it could become the first free city of the new Republic. Ambrose was a terrible administrator, but geographically it is well placed to be a true hub of trade. The empire is stretched thin by the war against the rebel dukes—it will be some time before they could move against us.

Of course, Edmund could lay waste to a city in a day with ease! We are not in a strong position, for all the secrets we now know.

Our task in this mess will be to attack the fungus at its source, to save the whole city. We know a little more now than we did before our battle with Ambrose, and I believe we alone have any hope of accomplishing this. A worthy adventure for this company!

But so many mysteries remain. To simply destroy the fungus is not enough.

Somehow, we are charged with destroying a world.

The Matter of the Fey

Silene’s notes on the Fey court and its history may be read here.