December 19, 2013 § 1 Comment
Whilst many Citizens never leave their Borough, let alone pass beyond the common environment of stone and brick, a not insignificant number gird themselves and press out into the oft-unknown lands of the Suburbs. It is to these doughty adventurers that we dedicate this meagre work – nought more than a collection of their experiences – and to whom we offer thanks in the name of those brothers of Science; Knowledge and Exploration.
Many Citizens will be aware of the area known by most as the Fen and its reputation as a mist-shrouded place of sickness and isolation is not unfounded; the creatures known as Fen Dogs stalk this land and even more fantastical entities – various species of carnivorous tree, bloated King Leeches and the ghastly, howling Katterjack – are said to lurk in the furthest reaches of the Far Fen. Yet, for all its reputation, The Fen has been travelled and, to a degree, mapped. The few landmarks that exist on the undulating moorland serve to direct those wise in its ways and it is these that we will discuss in this work. The silent lake of Glassmere, looming Pinstack, the stone pillars of the Fat Man and his Son; these and many more are elucidated, often with fine prints, in the opening section of this compendium.
The latter part of the work concerns itself with those far less visited areas beyond the hinterland of the Fen; the Sleeping Cliffs, the Scatter, Aden’s Height and the Glimmersee. Whilst far less information exists for these places, some no more than names, their peculiar features make even the most vague impression of great importance. The Author notes that this section also contains a number of fictional works that relate to the locations in question. Some readers may bemoan this recourse to tall tales and hearsay but it is the Author’s most humble opinion that the greatest works of fiction can, in hindsight, be proven to contain grains of a higher truth.
N.B: The Author and Publisher, in this Second & Re-Authorised Edition, are bound by both Honour and Law to make warning to any Dear Reader who may take this work as an exhortation to transgress the boundaries of the City and adventure into the realms beyond. Paying only a small amount of attention to the tales of those who return from these places, let alone the lingering silence of those who do not, should prove sufficient to dissuade any neophyte wanderer and restrict them to the less perilous environs of the City Library.
An excerpt from the introduction to ‘Without Within: Journeys Beyond The Four Walls‘ by Leonora DeVere
There lies, far East, a nameless fen/didst Man last tread I know not when/but beasts there are/and worse by far/things that yearn for foreign stars/things as shy from mortal ken/but dance and howl on the nameless fen…
H. Devlin Weard (attrib.)
(Fen vista by kind courtesy of edgeplorer and occasional oculist, Capt. Oaklaw)
March 14, 2013 § 2 Comments
A blackbird howls out through the night and here I am, waiting. There’s a faint hissing, like rain on a fire, as a soft blanket of snow starts to fall. The soil hardens, cracking. Cold seeps down to the roots. Walls close in. I hear children cry out from their beds, feel parents prickle with worry. There’s a storm close by.
Somewhere in the Fen, on a low hill next to a brackish pool, there is a cluster of wooden staves driven deep into the earth. Each is crowned with a human skull, held tight by twine and leather. Snow collects in their eye sockets. Ice hangs down from their jaws. Tattered ribbons flutter and crack. When the wind blows cold and fierce, sharp with dust from the Sleeping Cliffs, they sing out their ancient lament.
Long, bass moans. High, keening wails. The hollow voice of the unquiet dead.
No living thing can suffer to hear them, it is said, and even the proudly fearless Grimmelkin mark warnings in their hunters’ language of scratches and scent. A few creatures stray here, unwise or unthinking, hoping to find shelter in the lee of the hill. Their bones lie scattered around, shifting sometimes into strange patterns. Even in the far-off City, barely visible but for a faint smudge of colour on the horizon, restless citizens mutter of dark dreams, hobgoblins lurk under children’s beds and a certain few take up their knives. Against themselves. Against others.
I know these things, when few others do.
I have been there.
I am there now.
I am singing.
Artist’s impression reproduced courtesy Mr P. Warwick Wilson,
Department of Anthrochology, Constant University
March 11, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’ve never left the City. Not really. Nobody that I know of has ever left the City. It’s not like you can’t go, there’s nothing to stop you, but…well, it’s just that nobody ever does. I sometimes wonder if there’s anything else outside the City. I walked for a whole day once, down past Riddle’s Bed and over the Choke out into the Fen but you could still see buildings and smoke rising up all around. When it’s foggy you can go there and it feels like there’s nobody else left alive but then I worry about Fen Dogs so I don’t stay there for that long.
It’s cloudy today. Might rain later. I don’t mind the rain, really, I like the way it sounds on the ground. I might go to Riddle’s Bed before it starts, though. I like to go there and read the writing on the stones. It’s like the stones are there just to remember the people who’ve died even if no one else does. I try to remember as many names as I can, just to help the stones. Pieter Garman, that’s one. I don’t go there at night, though. I don’t like to think of all those people lying under the ground. I sometimes wonder if they wake up at night. We live above ground and sleep at night so if they’re below ground they might just sleep in the day, mightn’t they?
They might. I don’t like to risk it.