naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Greetings, gentle readers!

Last Sunday, at the behest of the department head, I made an excursion to Grant's Pass, OR where I met with a wonderful prospective donor, Miss T.

I trust that you, gentle readers, will not think less of me if I say that I am not the most sociable creature, and that I seldom enjoy the process of currying favor. Miss T., a beautiful lady of venerable years and respectable girth, very quickly put me at my ease. We spent a great deal of time discussing her twice-great grand-aunt's formidable collection of natural history items, which she has recently inherited. Understanding that such items require careful preservation, and unsure of her own ability to provide that sort of curatorship, Miss T had called the S.I.N. asking if we might be interested in acquiring it for our cryptozoological department. I went out to investigate, and indeed, found it well appointed!

Once the gloves came off, I had a wonderful time, and I was relaxing afterward with a bit of sweet tea when my hostess asked if I had any interest in examining a "genuine fake" that had been found in her great-great-grand-aunt's effects. Of course my curiosity was piqued! Miss T. disappeared into the attic and returned with a linen-wrapped bundle in a cedar box. She unveiled its contents, what appeared to be a sideshow gaff of a mummified fairy, complete with ravaged iridescent wings and wisps of hair flying away from a peeling scalp.

Favorably impressed and rather amused by this revolting display – Lady Cottington's work has always pleased me more than I care to admit – I commented on its un-lifelike but very realistic appearance.

"Aunt Ida tried to pass it off as real to the Ashmolean Museum," she said. "She went around and around with the Keeper. It was an enormous prank, of course, but one they both enjoyed immensely. He had a plaque made up for her that said 'There's no such thing as fairies.' She mounted the plaque under the display. It was a running joke between them.

"I've always wanted to know if she made it herself," Miss T. said, whereupon I offered to examine it for her. An object like that, created by a single person and then boxed up in an attic for who knows how many years, will retain strong impressions of its creator, I explained, and I would be able to tell her at once if it was her great aunt's work.

She thought this was a fine idea, so I scooped up the "fairy" in one cotton-gloved hand. I stripped the glove off the other with my teeth and carefully lay my fingers on the ghastly ribcage. I was immediately rewarded with the shock of my life. Only experience allowed me not to drop it right then and there.

"I can only presume that nobody from your great-great-grand-aunt's time until now has psychometrically examined this 'fake,'" I said. "If they had, they would almost certainly have noticed that it is quite real."

Miss T. thought I was having her on at first, and I am still not sure she believes me, but she graciously allowed me to package the fairy up and bring it back with me to the S.I.N. for further examination. I did take a few pictures, however, which I will share with you anon, along with some of the fairy's story, which I have been researching in our archives.

Anyway, I do believe that Miss T. will donate most of her collection to our good institution, and I am glad of that, for she tells me there is another 'fake' very much like this one at her brother's house in Arcadia, MO, and that he might be willing to part with it. I am eager to see if this is true and have already asked if I might be sent to obtain it!

I will certainly keep you appraised of the situation!

Curiously Yours,

– Lorelei Knightley-Someday

***

Deceased "fake" fairy
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Found in 1899 by Inamorata Hopewell-Shandy

Dead Fairy 02

More pictures can be found here! Please go look!

The Shandys were among the first of the thaumaturgical gentry to emigrate to America. The young family made its way as best it could, always dogged by chaos – that unique brand of win some/lose some referred to in witching circles as "Shandy Luck." Never wealthy, and with talents barely reliable enough to qualify them as charlatans, they roamed the East until Fate brought the Shandy family to the Midwest, and Chicago.

Vervain Shandy was a stage magician of some note. "The Grand Shandy" is best remembered for his epic rivalry with Fortinbras Hopewell, yet in the beginning, they were friends. They had attended Hamner Hall and then the Salem Institute together, and found themselves united by that sort of underdog solidarity so peculiar to educational institutions.

The Hopewell family had absolutely no documentable history of magical talent, and sat even lower in the pecking order than the Shandys. Fortinbras was a sport, a rogue talent. Some distant ancestor, name lost to years and perhaps further shadowed by illegitimacy, had been gifted, and the strains of that blood had long lay dormant, not manifesting until Fortinbras' birth.

Rather than fight over the same low rung on the social ladder, Fortinbras Hopewell and Vervain Shandy decided to ally themselves and reach higher. They worked together for years, and even the mean scraps of genuine magic they could summon between them were sufficient to distinguish them from other stage magicians of the time, whose reputations were built on jealously-guarded trickery and clever fakes.

Shandy was more powerful, but the chaotic nature of Shandy magic meant demonstrations of his power could never be entirely safe, and so Hopewell often supplied the magic while Shandy supplied the showmanship. Nevertheless, like many Shandys before him, Vervain nearly put an end to his own career on multiple occasions, whether by almost committing grievous harm to himself or by accidentally perpetrating untoward magics and transformations upon his audience. Fortunately, by the time a large audience in Philadelphia was reduced to a state of total undress and bizarre hirsutism, Hopewell was adept at undoing Shandy's handiwork, and the affected individuals were only to eager to attribute the uncanny incident to mass hypnotism.

Because the Grand Shandy's performances relied on real magic, he became even more well-known in professional circles than in public ones. His acts could not be reproduced by ordinary means, and it is an unfortunate truth that no fewer than four men died attempting to do so.

When Hopewell confessed his intent to retire into a life of stability and comfort, leaving Shandy to work alone, Shandy was crushed. Their disagreement spun out of control, and the simple holding spell that Shandy cast on the retreating Hopewell misfired tragically and, reflected back upon the caster, paralyzed Shandy from the waist down.

Obviously, the two parted ways on ill terms.

As sometimes happens with injuries dealt by magic, Shandy's body was slow to repair itself and magical interference merely exacerbated the condition. His convalescence at the fine home he'd had built just outside of Chicago was slow, and in his fallow time he undertook the study of alchemy and anatomy, seeking to cure with science what he could not cure with magic.

His researches naturally led him down the path of homonculi, golems, and other such constructs, for he believed that by learning to channel life essences into small animates, he would uncover principles that would allow him to rerout his own energies and cure himself.

Shandy's journals chronicle his extensive and unsuccessful experiments with the black hen and dunghill method of homonculus incubation, which, while ancient and reliable, proved problematic as the inevitable Shandy luck reared its head once more.

To create an homonculus, one must replace a portion of an egg's white with a quantity of human semen, seal it with wax or new parchment, and incubate it in a dunghill for thirty days. Coincidentally to this, an unfavorable conjunction of the planets caused several of Shandy's black cockerels to lay eggs. This fact remained unknown to Shandy, who used a full dozen eggs in his first experiment, of which at least five were cock's eggs.

The astute reader will no doubt recall that cock's eggs, when incubated properly, produce cockatrices. This is evidently true even if the contents of the egg have been adulterated. Said adulteration had no effect upon the resultant crop of cockatrices other than to make Shandy himself immune to their baleful gaze, though a number of barnyard animals and at least one groom were temporarily petrified.

As they cannot breed and therefore have no use for one another, cockatrices will attack one another on sight. While it is not true that a cockatrice will die if it sees itself in a mirror, it is true that a cockatrice, believing its reflection to be a rival, will attack its own reflection with such ferocity that it batters itself into senselessness.

Taking advantage of this ferocity, Shandy used a series of mirrors to lure the creatures out of the garden and indoors, and thence into an old steamer trunk. Cockatrices are formidable animals, posessed not only of a debilitating stare but also a cockerel's sharp spurs and a wickedly strong reptilian tail. Trapped, they fought with one another to the death. Shandy killed the last one himself, and confessed that the episode left him quite depressed for days.

The hen's eggs incubating nearby cracked when the cockatrices dug their way out, unfortunately, and subsequent experiments failed to yield anything resembling a human form.

Shandy left that avenue of enquiry and drew now upon a completely unrelated method of creating homonculi, one which involved mandrake roots plucked at a specific hour from the ground near a gallows. Dismissing as superstition the need for semen spilled from a hanged man and working according to his own theories, Shandy once more contributed his own materia vitae to the endeavor, fertilizing the mandrake garden himself.

He incubated the most human-shaped mandrake roots in a heated solution of blood, milk, honey, salt water, and certain alchemical essences. The results of this experiment were startlingly successful, yielding a number of small creatures which resembled nothing so much as tiny, winged humans.

When people commonly refer to fairies, they mean tiny, winged humanoid creatures full of mischief and wishes. Real fairies are great and terrible beings who do not much resemble the diminutive creatures of folklore and fairy tale, and resent the comparison. In this sense, therefore, there really is no such thing as fairies. Certain lesser nature spirits resemble "fairies," but they are made of mutable stuff and capable of taking corporeal form only briefly. Even if one captured a spirit of this type and dissected it, one would find nothing inside but thistledown or notes of music or a brief but vivid dream.

These little beings created by Shandy's experiment were real, functioning animals, and proved able to reproduce themselves in the ordinary way. While this capacity represented a prodigal alchemical success, it was problematic in other ways. The creatures bred like rabbits, quite out of control, and within a few months had overrun the hall, working their mischief incessantly, night and day. Shandy's journal from this time reads like the ramblings of a man being driven to madness by insomnia . . . which he was.

He trapped and distributed a few as curiosities to various other alchemists that he disliked, but realized quickly that he could not in good conscience sell them as pets. The little creatures were untameable, uncontrollable, and very clever. They passed knowledge from one generation to the next, and quickly learned to pick locks, set traps, and work any number of mechanical devices. Their rudimentary culture would have made a fascinating study for a thaumatozoologist, but Shandy wished only to put an end to it.

The first group was quite pretty, but inbreeding over successive generations brought about a singular unwholesomeness of countenance quite at odds with the pearlescent markings and iridescent wings. They proved to be inveterate escape artists, and they did not tolerate handling well.

Their sole redeeming feature, in Shandy's eyes, was that they were not particularly durable. Due to their small size they were not appreciably harder to kill than a rat. It is for this reason alone that Shandy Manor was not completely overrun, as every inch of it was soon baited and trapped.

Vervain Shandy did eventually marry: the dishonored daughter of Melilot Chatoyer, a French countess with whom he had been corresponding for quite some time over the matter of a certain cursed jewel. He let his futile quest for a cure fall by the wayside as he explored the wonders of a life lived with a little less bitterness.

Very little was heard from Shandy's little fairies for a long time, until the birth of Vervain and Melilot's first child, Inamorata Rue, whereupon they discovered that a house booby-trapped for fairies was antithetical to the well-being of a small human. Many of the protections were removed, and the population surged again, with Shandy Manor becoming almost unliveable for certain parts of the late spring and early summer.

One would think that a child would delight in the presence of such creatures, and make companions of them, but neither child nor creatures desired this, and they were as at odds as the housecat with its house-mice. The creatures tormented little Inamorata, and, never a sentimental child, she killed them in progressively more inventive ways.

In her adulthood, Inamorata live-trapped these creatures, euthanized them, and carefully aged them in her attic. She would then pose them and mount them, sometimes adding tiny artifacts in addition to the jewelry they sometimes made for themselves. Their flesh proved quite durable and slow to decompose, eminently suitable for this purpose.

Her income from these "genuine fakes" was considerable, and kept Shandy Manor from being seized by debtors for over a decade after her mother died, leaving her with very little in the way of income.

The Shandy house unfortunately passed out of the family sometime in 1932 and it is not known whether Vervain's little creatures still live there in any number. Their natural lifespan is unknown.

Still, the fact that the old Shandy house has changed hands twenty-seven times does make one wonder.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Greetings, gentle readers!

Last Sunday, at the behest of the department head, I made an excursion to Grant's Pass, OR where I met with a wonderful prospective donor, Miss T.

I trust that you, gentle readers, will not think less of me if I say that I am not the most sociable creature, and that I seldom enjoy the process of currying favor. Miss T., a beautiful lady of venerable years and respectable girth, very quickly put me at my ease. We spent a great deal of time discussing her twice-great grand-aunt's formidable collection of natural history items, which she has recently inherited. Understanding that such items require careful preservation, and unsure of her own ability to provide that sort of curatorship, Miss T had called the S.I.N. asking if we might be interested in acquiring it for our cryptozoological department. I went out to investigate, and indeed, found it well appointed!

Once the gloves came off, I had a wonderful time, and I was relaxing afterward with a bit of sweet tea when my hostess asked if I had any interest in examining a "genuine fake" that had been found in her great-great-grand-aunt's effects. Of course my curiosity was piqued! Miss T. disappeared into the attic and returned with a linen-wrapped bundle in a cedar box. She unveiled its contents, what appeared to be a sideshow gaff of a mummified fairy, complete with ravaged iridescent wings and wisps of hair flying away from a peeling scalp.

Favorably impressed and rather amused by this revolting display – Lady Cottington's work has always pleased me more than I care to admit – I commented on its un-lifelike but very realistic appearance.

"Aunt Ida tried to pass it off as real to the Ashmolean Museum," she said. "She went around and around with the Keeper. It was an enormous prank, of course, but one they both enjoyed immensely. He had a plaque made up for her that said 'There's no such thing as fairies.' She mounted the plaque under the display. It was a running joke between them.

"I've always wanted to know if she made it herself," Miss T. said, whereupon I offered to examine it for her. An object like that, created by a single person and then boxed up in an attic for who knows how many years, will retain strong impressions of its creator, I explained, and I would be able to tell her at once if it was her great aunt's work.

She thought this was a fine idea, so I scooped up the "fairy" in one cotton-gloved hand. I stripped the glove off the other with my teeth and carefully lay my fingers on the ghastly ribcage. I was immediately rewarded with the shock of my life. Only experience allowed me not to drop it right then and there.

"I can only presume that nobody from your great-great-grand-aunt's time until now has psychometrically examined this 'fake,'" I said. "If they had, they would almost certainly have noticed that it is quite real."

Miss T. thought I was having her on at first, and I am still not sure she believes me, but she graciously allowed me to package the fairy up and bring it back with me to the S.I.N. for further examination. I did take a few pictures, however, which I will share with you anon, along with some of the fairy's story, which I have been researching in our archives.

Anyway, I do believe that Miss T. will donate most of her collection to our good institution, and I am glad of that, for she tells me there is another 'fake' very much like this one at her brother's house in Arcadia, MO, and that he might be willing to part with it. I am eager to see if this is true and have already asked if I might be sent to obtain it!

I will certainly keep you appraised of the situation!

Curiously Yours,

– Lorelei Knightley-Someday

***

Deceased "fake" fairy
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Found in 1899 by Inamorata Hopewell-Shandy

Dead Fairy 02

More pictures can be found here! Please go look!

The Shandys were among the first of the thaumaturgical gentry to emigrate to America. The young family made its way as best it could, always dogged by chaos – that unique brand of win some/lose some referred to in witching circles as "Shandy Luck." Never wealthy, and with talents barely reliable enough to qualify them as charlatans, they roamed the East until Fate brought the Shandy family to the Midwest, and Chicago.

Vervain Shandy was a stage magician of some note. "The Grand Shandy" is best remembered for his epic rivalry with Fortinbras Hopewell, yet in the beginning, they were friends. They had attended Hamner Hall and then the Salem Institute together, and found themselves united by that sort of underdog solidarity so peculiar to educational institutions.

The Hopewell family had absolutely no documentable history of magical talent, and sat even lower in the pecking order than the Shandys. Fortinbras was a sport, a rogue talent. Some distant ancestor, name lost to years and perhaps further shadowed by illegitimacy, had been gifted, and the strains of that blood had long lay dormant, not manifesting until Fortinbras' birth.

Rather than fight over the same low rung on the social ladder, Fortinbras Hopewell and Vervain Shandy decided to ally themselves and reach higher. They worked together for years, and even the mean scraps of genuine magic they could summon between them were sufficient to distinguish them from other stage magicians of the time, whose reputations were built on jealously-guarded trickery and clever fakes.

Shandy was more powerful, but the chaotic nature of Shandy magic meant demonstrations of his power could never be entirely safe, and so Hopewell often supplied the magic while Shandy supplied the showmanship. Nevertheless, like many Shandys before him, Vervain nearly put an end to his own career on multiple occasions, whether by almost committing grievous harm to himself or by accidentally perpetrating untoward magics and transformations upon his audience. Fortunately, by the time a large audience in Philadelphia was reduced to a state of total undress and bizarre hirsutism, Hopewell was adept at undoing Shandy's handiwork, and the affected individuals were only to eager to attribute the uncanny incident to mass hypnotism.

Because the Grand Shandy's performances relied on real magic, he became even more well-known in professional circles than in public ones. His acts could not be reproduced by ordinary means, and it is an unfortunate truth that no fewer than four men died attempting to do so.

When Hopewell confessed his intent to retire into a life of stability and comfort, leaving Shandy to work alone, Shandy was crushed. Their disagreement spun out of control, and the simple holding spell that Shandy cast on the retreating Hopewell misfired tragically and, reflected back upon the caster, paralyzed Shandy from the waist down.

Obviously, the two parted ways on ill terms.

As sometimes happens with injuries dealt by magic, Shandy's body was slow to repair itself and magical interference merely exacerbated the condition. His convalescence at the fine home he'd had built just outside of Chicago was slow, and in his fallow time he undertook the study of alchemy and anatomy, seeking to cure with science what he could not cure with magic.

His researches naturally led him down the path of homonculi, golems, and other such constructs, for he believed that by learning to channel life essences into small animates, he would uncover principles that would allow him to rerout his own energies and cure himself.

Shandy's journals chronicle his extensive and unsuccessful experiments with the black hen and dunghill method of homonculus incubation, which, while ancient and reliable, proved problematic as the inevitable Shandy luck reared its head once more.

To create an homonculus, one must replace a portion of an egg's white with a quantity of human semen, seal it with wax or new parchment, and incubate it in a dunghill for thirty days. Coincidentally to this, an unfavorable conjunction of the planets caused several of Shandy's black cockerels to lay eggs. This fact remained unknown to Shandy, who used a full dozen eggs in his first experiment, of which at least five were cock's eggs.

The astute reader will no doubt recall that cock's eggs, when incubated properly, produce cockatrices. This is evidently true even if the contents of the egg have been adulterated. Said adulteration had no effect upon the resultant crop of cockatrices other than to make Shandy himself immune to their baleful gaze, though a number of barnyard animals and at least one groom were temporarily petrified.

As they cannot breed and therefore have no use for one another, cockatrices will attack one another on sight. While it is not true that a cockatrice will die if it sees itself in a mirror, it is true that a cockatrice, believing its reflection to be a rival, will attack its own reflection with such ferocity that it batters itself into senselessness.

Taking advantage of this ferocity, Shandy used a series of mirrors to lure the creatures out of the garden and indoors, and thence into an old steamer trunk. Cockatrices are formidable animals, posessed not only of a debilitating stare but also a cockerel's sharp spurs and a wickedly strong reptilian tail. Trapped, they fought with one another to the death. Shandy killed the last one himself, and confessed that the episode left him quite depressed for days.

The hen's eggs incubating nearby cracked when the cockatrices dug their way out, unfortunately, and subsequent experiments failed to yield anything resembling a human form.

Shandy left that avenue of enquiry and drew now upon a completely unrelated method of creating homonculi, one which involved mandrake roots plucked at a specific hour from the ground near a gallows. Dismissing as superstition the need for semen spilled from a hanged man and working according to his own theories, Shandy once more contributed his own materia vitae to the endeavor, fertilizing the mandrake garden himself.

He incubated the most human-shaped mandrake roots in a heated solution of blood, milk, honey, salt water, and certain alchemical essences. The results of this experiment were startlingly successful, yielding a number of small creatures which resembled nothing so much as tiny, winged humans.

When people commonly refer to fairies, they mean tiny, winged humanoid creatures full of mischief and wishes. Real fairies are great and terrible beings who do not much resemble the diminutive creatures of folklore and fairy tale, and resent the comparison. In this sense, therefore, there really is no such thing as fairies. Certain lesser nature spirits resemble "fairies," but they are made of mutable stuff and capable of taking corporeal form only briefly. Even if one captured a spirit of this type and dissected it, one would find nothing inside but thistledown or notes of music or a brief but vivid dream.

These little beings created by Shandy's experiment were real, functioning animals, and proved able to reproduce themselves in the ordinary way. While this capacity represented a prodigal alchemical success, it was problematic in other ways. The creatures bred like rabbits, quite out of control, and within a few months had overrun the hall, working their mischief incessantly, night and day. Shandy's journal from this time reads like the ramblings of a man being driven to madness by insomnia . . . which he was.

He trapped and distributed a few as curiosities to various other alchemists that he disliked, but realized quickly that he could not in good conscience sell them as pets. The little creatures were untameable, uncontrollable, and very clever. They passed knowledge from one generation to the next, and quickly learned to pick locks, set traps, and work any number of mechanical devices. Their rudimentary culture would have made a fascinating study for a thaumatozoologist, but Shandy wished only to put an end to it.

The first group was quite pretty, but inbreeding over successive generations brought about a singular unwholesomeness of countenance quite at odds with the pearlescent markings and iridescent wings. They proved to be inveterate escape artists, and they did not tolerate handling well.

Their sole redeeming feature, in Shandy's eyes, was that they were not particularly durable. Due to their small size they were not appreciably harder to kill than a rat. It is for this reason alone that Shandy Manor was not completely overrun, as every inch of it was soon baited and trapped.

Vervain Shandy did eventually marry: the dishonored daughter of Melilot Chatoyer, a French countess with whom he had been corresponding for quite some time over the matter of a certain cursed jewel. He let his futile quest for a cure fall by the wayside as he explored the wonders of a life lived with a little less bitterness.

Very little was heard from Shandy's little fairies for a long time, until the birth of Vervain and Melilot's first child, Inamorata Rue, whereupon they discovered that a house booby-trapped for fairies was antithetical to the well-being of a small human. Many of the protections were removed, and the population surged again, with Shandy Manor becoming almost unliveable for certain parts of the late spring and early summer.

One would think that a child would delight in the presence of such creatures, and make companions of them, but neither child nor creatures desired this, and they were as at odds as the housecat with its house-mice. The creatures tormented little Inamorata, and, never a sentimental child, she killed them in progressively more inventive ways.

In her adulthood, Inamorata live-trapped these creatures, euthanized them, and carefully aged them in her attic. She would then pose them and mount them, sometimes adding tiny artifacts in addition to the jewelry they sometimes made for themselves. Their flesh proved quite durable and slow to decompose, eminently suitable for this purpose.

Her income from these "genuine fakes" was considerable, and kept Shandy Manor from being seized by debtors for over a decade after her mother died, leaving her with very little in the way of income.

The Shandy house unfortunately passed out of the family sometime in 1932 and it is not known whether Vervain's little creatures still live there in any number. Their natural lifespan is unknown.

Still, the fact that the old Shandy house has changed hands twenty-seven times does make one wonder.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Greetings, gentle readers!

The past weeks have been very busy in the Department of Curiosities here at the Salem Institute Northwest, and between transferring our entire anthropodermic book collection to more thaumaturgically impenetrable quarters and a personal trip to Prague to catalog, package, and send back to the S.I.N. a famed and recently deceased Thuringian warlock's effects, I was not able to finish this report in a timely fashion.

I apologize for my tardiness, and crave your forgiveness.

In my few short months with the Salem Institute Northwest, I have handled 600,000-year-old yet undeniably human remains, shards of a diamond synthesized from the ashes of a nephilim, books of eldritch magic tattooed upon still-living skin, and the os penis of a fratricidal lycanthrope, and yet it is this item, to all outward appearances a simple chunk of igneous rock, that has most haunted me these past few weeks.

It is not a dramatic tale, fraught with terror and death. It is a quieter tale, very human and full of terrible ironies. I hope that you will soon understand just why it has captured my sympathy.

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday

***

"Imponderable" fluid
Boston, Massachusetts, America
Manifested in 1882 by Reginald Bardstone

Spot the Imponderable

Only one of these items is an imponderable fluid.

And what, you ask, is an imponderable fluid?

Imponderables are imaginary or theoretical substances that are not discernible to science as it currently exists. They represent important landmarks in humanity's quest to understand the universe, each superseding each like mile markers as science replaces the obsolete with the fashionable.

Over the centuries, some of these have been thoroughly explained into nonexistence, while others have been defined, explored, and accepted - and stripped of their imponderable status. Despite these extinctions, new imponderables are imagined – almost imagined – as old ones are discredited.

Caloric potential and frigoric potential have been debunked and replaced by our modern understanding of combustion and thermodynamics, yet it is now laughable to think that electricity was once believed to be an imponderable – an intangible, self-repelling substance, neither gas nor liquid, which flowed from areas of great concentration to least.

Some of the most long-lasting and persistent imponderables have been replaced with ideas hardly less far-fetched and mysterious; the theory of phlogiston has been disproven, along with the existence of aether* – both luminiferous and gravitational. Modern science has replaced the quintessence of the outer spheres with dark matter and dark energy, both of which are excellent candidates for imponderable status.

"Imponderable," of course, does not mean that one literally cannot think about a thing. Even to name something as imponderable would force a true imponderable out of existence. "Imponderable" simply means that the substance is not fully understood. The word is a placeholder for the concept of total mystery, much as imponderable substances themselves are placeholders for all that exists in nature that we cannot understand.

Nevertheless, and somewhat ironically, belief in a truly imponderable substance has persisted. Scientists have sought it for centuries, believing that in such mysterious stuffs lie the keys to Creation itself.

One such scientist was Reginald Bardstone. He was a great student of the imponderable, and was likewise fascinated with teleportation and transmutation. He studied the theories of Manifestation – of thinking something into being – quite intently. He became convinced that the secrets of the universe itself were held within that nameless potential, that something which is nothing less than the imponderable itself. He was convinced that this potential could be manipulated and controlled.

Despite the fact that ideas are inherently hostile to the existence of the imponderable, he nevertheless had several. He believed that the unknowable element existed and that it pervaded all of creation, being present in the air and in fire and in the very matter of our bodies. He believed that it could be precipitated into a visible form, much the same way as visible salt crystals can be precipiatated from a transparent saline solution. The imperceptible could, he thought, be rendered perceptible in a high enough concentration. The obvious absurdity of this endeavor did not apparently trouble him, and he set about trying to prove his theory.

The environment would have to be as free of everything besides the imponderable as he could make it; free of air, free of humidity, free of sound waves. The containing vessel must also be kept out of sight, for anyone seeing it might wonder what was in it, thus rendering the substance ponderable once more.

He sealed a heavy glass vacuum jar, labeled it, and placed it into a specially-made soundproof safe concealed in the wall of his study. He placed a bookcase over it, and promptly tried to forget about it.

While he never, that anyone has been able to determine, checked the contents of the safe, after several years he apparently became convinced that even the casual curiosity of others regarding his work was interfering with the precipitation of the imponderable.

To avoid the question "What are you working on?" he retired from scientific work, only to discover an equally loaded question: "Why did you retire?" He could give no answer, and even to his wife he said only that his work was done, that he wanted no more to do with science. He barred all scientific discussion in his presence, and devoted himself to the arts. Painting and poetry became his new work. He was resoundingly terrible, but he spoke of very little else. He spent much of his savings traveling with his family, and spent very little time at home, even in his latter years.

It was an idyllic life in many ways, but he was not happy. The experiment caused him considerable emotional strain, even after his retirement. He could not speak to colleagues about his project (who would doubtless have thought him mad in any case). He could not write about it in his journals, which contain no reference to the experiment or his thoughts on it. His ever more eccentric behavior alienated many friends, and occupied his peers with gossip; his old work was almost completely forgotten. His final project remained a total secret, even from his wife and children.

We do not know how successful he was at forgetting the imponderable. He may have succeeded for years at a time, but they were years that could be undone in a moment by the most fleeting of thoughts.

Even on his deathbed he made no explicit mention of his greatest experiment. Nearing his final hour, he become agitated and begged his wife to bring him a book he said had fallen behind the bookcase. He must have known she would find the safe, perhaps hoped she would look inside and, because she did not expect to see it, would finally apprehend the imponderable.

She obediently went to fetch the book, but was too late. Mr. Bardstone breathed his last. At that exact moment, she heard a loud crack from behind the bookcase. Further investigation revealed the plastered-up alcove and its mysterious contents. The sealed jar labeled "imponderable fluid" had split quite in two, and a curious rock now sat among the shards.

His wife was a scientist herself, and immediately understood that something extraordinary had occurred. The rock was removed for further testing and has been the subject of much debate ever since. Science cannot explain it. A small chip was removed for in-depth testing by the British Museum in the early 1930s, and the rock itself was positively identified as obsidian with quartz and iron inclusions, yet this obviously cannot be so. It is doubtful that the volcanic conditions necessary for the formation of obsidian were to be found in Bardstone's study.

This particular imponderable is unique in that, while it is clearly not imponderable, it was brought into existence by not pondering it. In fact, it came into creation at the very moment the only person who had known about its nonexistence departed this life.

The fact that it has remained in a stable state for such a long time has caused many to doubt that it is a true imponderable. Some believe that Mrs. Bardstone faked the event, lying about it to gain esteem among her peers or, more charitably, to provide some closure to her husband's sad and restless quest for a thing he must have known he would never himself behold.

Some assert that since matter cannot be created from nothing, it must have come from somewhere, and that the only thing that needs to be explained is how and why the object appeared where it did.

Others state that Bardstone was correct in his theory and that it coalesced from an undetectable but very real quantum substance, and that its form is ultimately irrelevant for it was imponderable at one time.

At last this question can be partially resolved.

Ms. Bardstone was most certainly not a liar. A psychometric examination of this rock revealed a disturbing lack of history. Even a rock freshly-hewn from its bed and with no human associations gives an impression of age, of time, of the forces of nature that formed it and surrounded it. This rock reveals much about the years since its formation, but on the years prior to 1882, it is completely silent. I can only compare it to the deadness of modern plastics.

The whole tale is a bizarre thing, a sort of parable of reification-in-reverse, of the power of the mind to create a thing not by behaving as though it were real, but by not thinking about it at all. In the end, the most important thing about it is not its formerly imponderable status, but the moment it ceased to be imponderable.

Like humanity itself, its origins are surrounded in mystery and the true cause of its genesis is unknowable. It stands seventy-two millmeters high, a monument to the tremendous power of human imagination and willpower.

We are deeply grateful to the Bardstone estate for the opportunity to examine this exceptional item.

* The non-existence of which, it must be noted, did not prevent Captain Rogue of the Phlogiston Daredevil from venturing forth into the Aetherium.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Greetings, gentle readers!

The past weeks have been very busy in the Department of Curiosities here at the Salem Institute Northwest, and between transferring our entire anthropodermic book collection to more thaumaturgically impenetrable quarters and a personal trip to Prague to catalog, package, and send back to the S.I.N. a famed and recently deceased Thuringian warlock's effects, I was not able to finish this report in a timely fashion.

I apologize for my tardiness, and crave your forgiveness.

In my few short months with the Salem Institute Northwest, I have handled 600,000-year-old yet undeniably human remains, shards of a diamond synthesized from the ashes of a nephilim, books of eldritch magic tattooed upon still-living skin, and the os penis of a fratricidal lycanthrope, and yet it is this item, to all outward appearances a simple chunk of igneous rock, that has most haunted me these past few weeks.

It is not a dramatic tale, fraught with terror and death. It is a quieter tale, very human and full of terrible ironies. I hope that you will soon understand just why it has captured my sympathy.

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday

***

"Imponderable" fluid
Boston, Massachusetts, America
Manifested in 1882 by Reginald Bardstone

Spot the Imponderable

Only one of these items is an imponderable fluid.

And what, you ask, is an imponderable fluid?

Imponderables are imaginary or theoretical substances that are not discernible to science as it currently exists. They represent important landmarks in humanity's quest to understand the universe, each superseding each like mile markers as science replaces the obsolete with the fashionable.

Over the centuries, some of these have been thoroughly explained into nonexistence, while others have been defined, explored, and accepted - and stripped of their imponderable status. Despite these extinctions, new imponderables are imagined – almost imagined – as old ones are discredited.

Caloric potential and frigoric potential have been debunked and replaced by our modern understanding of combustion and thermodynamics, yet it is now laughable to think that electricity was once believed to be an imponderable – an intangible, self-repelling substance, neither gas nor liquid, which flowed from areas of great concentration to least.

Some of the most long-lasting and persistent imponderables have been replaced with ideas hardly less far-fetched and mysterious; the theory of phlogiston has been disproven, along with the existence of aether* – both luminiferous and gravitational. Modern science has replaced the quintessence of the outer spheres with dark matter and dark energy, both of which are excellent candidates for imponderable status.

"Imponderable," of course, does not mean that one literally cannot think about a thing. Even to name something as imponderable would force a true imponderable out of existence. "Imponderable" simply means that the substance is not fully understood. The word is a placeholder for the concept of total mystery, much as imponderable substances themselves are placeholders for all that exists in nature that we cannot understand.

Nevertheless, and somewhat ironically, belief in a truly imponderable substance has persisted. Scientists have sought it for centuries, believing that in such mysterious stuffs lie the keys to Creation itself.

One such scientist was Reginald Bardstone. He was a great student of the imponderable, and was likewise fascinated with teleportation and transmutation. He studied the theories of Manifestation – of thinking something into being – quite intently. He became convinced that the secrets of the universe itself were held within that nameless potential, that something which is nothing less than the imponderable itself. He was convinced that this potential could be manipulated and controlled.

Despite the fact that ideas are inherently hostile to the existence of the imponderable, he nevertheless had several. He believed that the unknowable element existed and that it pervaded all of creation, being present in the air and in fire and in the very matter of our bodies. He believed that it could be precipitated into a visible form, much the same way as visible salt crystals can be precipiatated from a transparent saline solution. The imperceptible could, he thought, be rendered perceptible in a high enough concentration. The obvious absurdity of this endeavor did not apparently trouble him, and he set about trying to prove his theory.

The environment would have to be as free of everything besides the imponderable as he could make it; free of air, free of humidity, free of sound waves. The containing vessel must also be kept out of sight, for anyone seeing it might wonder what was in it, thus rendering the substance ponderable once more.

He sealed a heavy glass vacuum jar, labeled it, and placed it into a specially-made soundproof safe concealed in the wall of his study. He placed a bookcase over it, and promptly tried to forget about it.

While he never, that anyone has been able to determine, checked the contents of the safe, after several years he apparently became convinced that even the casual curiosity of others regarding his work was interfering with the precipitation of the imponderable.

To avoid the question "What are you working on?" he retired from scientific work, only to discover an equally loaded question: "Why did you retire?" He could give no answer, and even to his wife he said only that his work was done, that he wanted no more to do with science. He barred all scientific discussion in his presence, and devoted himself to the arts. Painting and poetry became his new work. He was resoundingly terrible, but he spoke of very little else. He spent much of his savings traveling with his family, and spent very little time at home, even in his latter years.

It was an idyllic life in many ways, but he was not happy. The experiment caused him considerable emotional strain, even after his retirement. He could not speak to colleagues about his project (who would doubtless have thought him mad in any case). He could not write about it in his journals, which contain no reference to the experiment or his thoughts on it. His ever more eccentric behavior alienated many friends, and occupied his peers with gossip; his old work was almost completely forgotten. His final project remained a total secret, even from his wife and children.

We do not know how successful he was at forgetting the imponderable. He may have succeeded for years at a time, but they were years that could be undone in a moment by the most fleeting of thoughts.

Even on his deathbed he made no explicit mention of his greatest experiment. Nearing his final hour, he become agitated and begged his wife to bring him a book he said had fallen behind the bookcase. He must have known she would find the safe, perhaps hoped she would look inside and, because she did not expect to see it, would finally apprehend the imponderable.

She obediently went to fetch the book, but was too late. Mr. Bardstone breathed his last. At that exact moment, she heard a loud crack from behind the bookcase. Further investigation revealed the plastered-up alcove and its mysterious contents. The sealed jar labeled "imponderable fluid" had split quite in two, and a curious rock now sat among the shards.

His wife was a scientist herself, and immediately understood that something extraordinary had occurred. The rock was removed for further testing and has been the subject of much debate ever since. Science cannot explain it. A small chip was removed for in-depth testing by the British Museum in the early 1930s, and the rock itself was positively identified as obsidian with quartz and iron inclusions, yet this obviously cannot be so. It is doubtful that the volcanic conditions necessary for the formation of obsidian were to be found in Bardstone's study.

This particular imponderable is unique in that, while it is clearly not imponderable, it was brought into existence by not pondering it. In fact, it came into creation at the very moment the only person who had known about its nonexistence departed this life.

The fact that it has remained in a stable state for such a long time has caused many to doubt that it is a true imponderable. Some believe that Mrs. Bardstone faked the event, lying about it to gain esteem among her peers or, more charitably, to provide some closure to her husband's sad and restless quest for a thing he must have known he would never himself behold.

Some assert that since matter cannot be created from nothing, it must have come from somewhere, and that the only thing that needs to be explained is how and why the object appeared where it did.

Others state that Bardstone was correct in his theory and that it coalesced from an undetectable but very real quantum substance, and that its form is ultimately irrelavant for it was imponderable at one time.

At last this question can be partially resolved.

Ms. Bardstone was most certainly not a liar. A psychometric examination of this rock revealed a disturbing lack of history. Even a rock freshly-hewn from its bed and with no human associations gives an impression of age, of time, of the forces of nature that formed it and surrounded it. This rock reveals much about the years since its formation, but on the years prior to 1882, it is completely silent. I can only compare it to the deadness of modern plastics.

The whole tale is a bizarre thing, a sort of parable of reification-in-reverse, of the power of the mind to create a thing not by behaving as though it were real, but by not thinking about it at all. In the end, the most important thing about it is not its formerly imponderable status, but the moment it ceased to be imponderable.

Like humanity itself, its origins are surrounded in mystery and the true cause of its genesis is unknowable. It stands seventy-two millmeters high, a monument to the tremendous power of human imagination and willpower.

We are deeply grateful to the Bardstone estate for the opportunity to examine this exceptional item.

* The non-existence of which, it must be noted, did not prevent Captain Rogue of the Phlogiston Daredevil from venturing forth into the Aetherium.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Gentle readers!

I apologize for monopolizing your time yet again, but there is a postscript to the story of Lucien and Severin St. Noir which, after submitting my initial account, I felt warranted attention.

It is not, perhaps, accurate or fair to say that we know nothing of why Lucien hesitated long enough to be shot, and it is not fair to imply that Lucien and Severin were the only players in the story, even if they were at the forefront of their own familial drama. There was another.

The belief that the Beast of Gévaudan was female is, in fact, well-established in the region, and has always been part of la Bête's mythology. The astute reader has probably already thought to wonder whether Severin's memoirs or the impressions derived from the artefact itself have provided any insight into this rumor.

They have, and it was remiss of me not to address it.

The first Beast, the one killed and taken to Versaille by François Antoine, had left behind a mate. One boy even saw her peering in through his cottage window, bloody-jowled, with rows of 'buttons' down her breast that the hunters surely should have recognized as nipples. This was the female Beast, rumored, feared, but never caught.

Lucien initally presented himself as a naturalist and assisted the King's hunter in tracking the marauding wolf. He sought to conquer his own monster by destroying the Beast, and for a time he succeeded. There was a gap in the killings after the first beast was killed, yet Lucien was there, roaming those desolate and beautiful hills. He would, perhaps, have effected a recovery – most melancholic lycanthropes, if provided with room enough and time enough, eventually do – but for one detail: the she-wolf.

Lucien, of course, encountered her and loved her. In due course she became pregnant. With his love of the she-wolf he forsook his human shape entirely, forgot his former humanity.

An animal may be forgiven for killing men. A wolf cannot choose to be moral or cruel, its actions cannot condemn or redeem it. It exists beyond the scope of human morality. Not so for the melancholic lycanthrope. However horrifying the affliction, however disabling the transformations, however maddening the pain, the melancholic werewolf is, at his heart, a human being capable of overcoming the misfortune of the curse set upon him. It is not easy, but it is possible.

Lucien became a wolf, and in doing the things that wolves do in innocence he damned himself to lose that which had once made him human . . . yet that does not mean that he became a monster. There is much that wolves and men share, and among the many ferocious impressions I derived from the artefact was woven a single strong thread of care. He cared for his wolf-wife, cared for his family, cared for his wolf-children. And he feared for them. It was love, or as close as an animal can come to it.

He knew that Severin was aware of his presence in the valley, and was equally aware that Severin would not allow the hunters to leave until they had finished their task . Lucien delighted in toying with the hunters but the longer they remained, the greater the risk to his family.

We can't know what he thought in his last hours with whatever semblance of human reason was left to him. It is, however, my belief that he made a noble choice, a sacrifice of sorts. The hunters took him, and they left.

But what of the female who had hunted and killed alongside him? Why did she stop her murdering? Where did she go, and what became of her young? Was she an ordinary but monstrously large she-wolf? Was she a lycanthrope, and if so, was she from Gévaudan itself or was she an exile, like Lucien? Who was she, in her human identity? Ultimately, that is perhaps the most disturbing thing about this episode. Lucien did not know these things, so neither can we.

Again, it is my opinion that she was something more than a wolf. If not a human in a wolf's shape, perhaps the offpsring of a union between werewolf and human. A true animal would not have abandoned established territory but would have remained. She had ceased preying upon humans with the death of her first mate, true, but had resumed when Lucien became her mate and, himself, spiraled into inhuman bloodthirst.

Wolves are intelligent enough not to hunt prey the pack is not strong enough to take, but they will resume once they have become strong enough again, even if only one wolf has ever hunted that game. Alone she would not have risked hunting humans, but it is likely that she would have resumed once her offspring, very nearly adults at the time of Lucien's death, had grown. History does not record continued attacks in Gévaudan, however.

I have spoken to an expert on lycanthropy, Tasha Voiescu, herself a melancholic lycanthrope, and she agrees that my theory is plausible: Lucien's death likely woke in his mate some slumbering spark of humanity. Understanding Lucien's death for the sacrifice it was, she took her family and ventured away. Not because she cared for humans or believed what she had done to be wrong, but because she understood, as Lucien had, that she could not safely remain in Gévaudan. She left the Margeride Mountains and lived out her fierce life somewhere else.

I also wish to make note of the artefact's label, which clearly depicts an empizzled werewolf in a half-bestial form, yet which declares the specimen to be H. lycanthropus gallicus, the greater Gallic werewolf. While both melancholic and hereditary lycanthropes have bacula when in lupine form, almost all hereditary werewolves lack the ability to assume a half-bestial shape. Lucien St. Noir was a melancholic werewolf, and it is the melancholic werewolf that most often assumes a semi-human form.

It is this historian's opinion that the bottle, while colorfully embellished, was improperly labeled in an attempt to direct suspicion away from his family. For all that werewolves are people too, very few ordinary humans would be likely to ask after the human identity of a hereditary lycanthrope. Popular prejudice declares that hereditary werewolves were never people to begin with – a bigoted view that I do not and never shall share, and which I trust that my gentle readers also eschew.

The public perception of melancholic lycanthropia being what it is, had the bottle been properly labeled, the question of the werewolf's human identity would have been raised, and Severin St. Noir would doubtless have been pressed to answer questions to which he would rather not reveal the answer.

I hope this satisfies any questions that may have arisen.

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Gentle readers!

I apologize for monopolizing your time yet again, but there is a postscript to the story of Lucien and Severin St. Noir which, after submitting my initial account, I felt warranted attention.

It is not, perhaps, accurate or fair to say that we know nothing of why Lucien hesitated long enough to be shot, and it is not fair to imply that Lucien and Severin were the only players in the story, even if they were at the forefront of their own familial drama. There was another.

The belief that the Beast of Gévaudan was female is, in fact, well-established in the region, and has always been part of la Bête's mythology. The astute reader has probably already thought to wonder whether Severin's memoirs or the impressions derived from the artefact itself have provided any insight into this rumor.

They have, and it was remiss of me not to address it.

The first Beast, the one killed and taken to Versaille by François Antoine, had left behind a mate. One boy even saw her peering in through his cottage window, bloody-jowled, with rows of 'buttons' down her breast that the hunters surely should have recognized as nipples. This was the female Beast, rumored, feared, but never caught.

Lucien initally presented himself as a naturalist and assisted the King's hunter in tracking the marauding wolf. He sought to conquer his own monster by destroying the Beast, and for a time he succeeded. There was a gap in the killings after the first beast was killed, yet Lucien was there, roaming those desolate and beautiful hills. He would, perhaps, have effected a recovery – most melancholic lycanthropes, if provided with room enough and time enough, eventually do – but for one detail: the she-wolf.

Lucien, of course, encountered her and loved her. In due course she became pregnant. With his love of the she-wolf he forsook his human shape entirely, forgot his former humanity.

An animal may be forgiven for killing men. A wolf cannot choose to be moral or cruel, its actions cannot condemn or redeem it. It exists beyond the scope of human morality. Not so for the melancholic lycanthrope. However horrifying the affliction, however disabling the transformations, however maddening the pain, the melancholic werewolf is, at his heart, a human being capable of overcoming the misfortune of the curse set upon him. It is not easy, but it is possible.

Lucien became a wolf, and in doing the things that wolves do in innocence he damned himself to lose that which had once made him human . . . yet that does not mean that he became a monster. There is much that wolves and men share, and among the many ferocious impressions I derived from the artefact was woven a single strong thread of care. He cared for his wolf-wife, cared for his family, cared for his wolf-children. And he feared for them. It was love, or as close as an animal can come to it.

He knew that Severin was aware of his presence in the valley, and was equally aware that Severin would not allow the hunters to leave until they had finished their task . Lucien delighted in toying with the hunters but the longer they remained, the greater the risk to his family.

We can't know what he thought in his last hours with whatever semblance of human reason was left to him. It is, however, my belief that he made a noble choice, a sacrifice of sorts. The hunters took him, and they left.

But what of the female who had hunted and killed alongside him? Why did she stop her murdering? Where did she go, and what became of her young? Was she an ordinary but monstrously large she-wolf? Was she a lycanthrope, and if so, was she from Gévaudan itself or was she an exile, like Lucien? Who was she, in her human identity? Ultimately, that is perhaps the most disturbing thing about this episode. Lucien did not know these things, so neither can we.

Again, it is my opinion that she was something more than a wolf. If not a human in a wolf's shape, perhaps the offpsring of a union between werewolf and human. A true animal would not have abandoned established territory but would have remained. She had ceased preying upon humans with the death of her first mate, true, but had resumed when Lucien became her mate and, himself, spiraled into inhuman bloodthirst.

Wolves are intelligent enough not to hunt prey the pack is not strong enough to take, but they will resume once they have become strong enough again, even if only one wolf has ever hunted that game. Alone she would not have risked hunting humans, but it is likely that she would have resumed once her offspring, very nearly adults at the time of Lucien's death, had grown. History does not record continued attacks in Gévaudan, however.

I have spoken to an expert on lycanthropy, Tasha Voiescu, herself a melancholic lycanthrope, and she agrees that my theory is plausible: Lucien's death likely woke in his mate some slumbering spark of humanity. Understanding Lucien's death for the sacrifice it was, she took her family and ventured away. Not because she cared for humans or believed what she had done to be wrong, but because she understood, as Lucien had, that she could not safely remain in Gévaudan. She left the Margeride Mountains and lived out her fierce life somewhere else.

I also wish to make note of the artefact's label, which clearly depicts an empizzled werewolf in a half-bestial form, yet which declares the specimen to be H. lycanthropus gallicus, the greater Gallic werewolf. While both melancholic and hereditary lycanthropes have bacula when in lupine form, almost all hereditary werewolves lack the ability to assume a half-bestial shape. Lucien St. Noir was a melancholic werewolf, and it is the melancholic werewolf that most often assumes a semi-human form.

It is this historian's opinion that the bottle, while colorfully embellished, was improperly labeled in an attempt to direct suspicion away from his family. For all that werewolves are people too, very few ordinary humans would be likely to ask after the human identity of a hereditary lycanthrope. Popular prejudice declares that hereditary werewolves were never people to begin with – a bigoted view that I do not and never shall share, and which I trust that my gentle readers also eschew.

The public perception of melancholic lycanthropia being what it is, had the bottle been properly labeled, the question of the werewolf's human identity would have been raised, and Severin St. Noir would doubtless have been pressed to answer questions to which he would rather not reveal the answer.

I hope this satisfies any questions that may have arisen.

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Greetings, gentle readers!

The mystery of la Bête du Gévaudan has remained unsolved for centuries, the truth held captive in the keepsakes and writings of Severin St. Noir, a key player unknown to popular history but now in part revealed to you through this item. The tale it tells is one of pathos and sorrow and terrible wildness, a tale at once repugnant to the human soul and deeply tragic.

When I examined it in a retrocognitive trance this artefact divulged a number of surprising secrets, some of which I cannot in good conscience share. The heiress of the St. Noir legacy is unavailable for comment, and her offspring are too far below the age of majority to offer any moral guidance. I therefore have confined my enquiry to events surrounding this particular trophy and have omitted the more personal details until such time as an adult member of the family can speak for them. I trust my gentle readers will forgive my circumspection. Given the unbearably intimate and deeply disturbing nature of the impressions, reproducing them for public titillation would only be ghoulish, anyway.

There will come a time when I, or the St. Noir family, shall step forward and tell the rest of Severin's story, but for now we must be content to hear a tale that began in 1764, high in the Margeride Mountains. . . .

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday

***

Werewolf baculum
Gévaudan, France
Collected in 1767 by Severin St. Noir

Werewolf Baculum 01

Many innocent wolves were slain in the hunt for the Beasts of Gévaudan. The King dispatched his Lieutenant of the Hunt, François Antoine, to destroy the beast before the panic could spread. Lucien St. Noir, a mysterious 'naturalist' who came to Gévaudan in the spring of 1765, offered his assistance to Antoine, and in September of 1765 the two men spearheaded a massive hunt that ended with the death of an enormous wolf. It was identified by its scars as the Beast.

Antoine returned to Versailles with the corpse and received a rich reward. Lucien St. Noir remained in the province to make a study of the wildlife, but vanished in November while riding back to town in the early twilight.

Despite the destruction of the first Beast, killings began again in December and continued unabated for two years, casting a pall of terror over the beautiful province. In the summer of 1767, the bloodshed reached its peak. A hunter working under the obvious nom du chasse 'Pierre Louvart' arrived and announced his intention to track down and kill the marauding Beast. He was a louvretiere, a hunter who specialized in the destruction of wolves, and he offered his services to the stricken province.

As Lucien St. Noir had befriended François Antoine, Louvart befriended a local hunter named Jean Chastel. The two of them tracked the Beast for weeks. It remained always one step ahead, possessed of a preturnatural intelligence and an apparent enjoyment of human suffering. Despite widespread fear and superstition, despite the uncanny circumstances of many of the deaths, despite the fact that the Beast seemed to have a very human lust for vengeance, Louvart insisted that the Beast was merely an animal and that the reports of it walking upon two legs were but fantasies born of quite-understandable fear.

The deaths continued, the tide of blood unstanchable. Over a hundred died, most children and women. Chastel and Louvart redoubled their efforts. Still the Beast ravened and slew. It bypassed animal carcasses in favor of human prey. It ignored bait and poison, but would lay in wait for the hunters who would inevitably return to the traps. It tore the heads from its victims. It outran every pack of hounds set against it, and dogs eventually refused to track it at all.

On the nineteeth of June, 1767, the Beast caught Jean Chastel's hunting party off-guard, before the battue had commenced. Jean Chastel was kneeling, reading from the Bible. The Beast emerged from the trees and stood staring as Chastel calmly finished his prayer, raised his rifle, and shot it dead with a silver bullet.

Dead, the Beast proved - to nobody's surprise - to be a wolf of monstrous size. When its stomach was opened, human remains were found inside.

Chastel was celebrated as a hero. 'Pierre Louvart' vanished, taking his story – and certain trophies – with him. The predations ceased.

It was not until the Salem Institute came into possession of a certain memoir that Pierre Louvart was discovered to be Severin St. Noir, the brother of Lucien St. Noir.

Severin's memoir told a dire tale. The two louvretieres were attacked by a mad wolf while baiting a trap, and Lucien contracted that mystical contagion known as melancholic lycanthropia. The lust for human flesh this kindled in him was too much for the injured man to resist, and in the grip of lycanthropic fugue Lucien slaughtered the St. Noir family and left Severin for dead.

Having heard of the Beast, Lucien traveled to Gevaudan hoping that his own continuing misdeeds would be blamed upon the beast and that he, himself, might go unremarked and unpunished. And, indeed, Lucien's ruse worked – for a time.

Severin had survived the attack, and Lucien could not long escape his attention. Horrified, Severin vowed to destroy his brother.

The final hunt ended on that June morning with Jean Chastel kneeling in the leaves, a prayer on his lips. Severin, behind Chastel, stood as the Beast approached and revealed himself to his brother. The Beast froze for one moment too long.

What caused the Beast to hesitate? Why, after so long, did it allow itself to be slain so easily?

Despite what popular literature will tell you, the psychic energy released upon death does not create more vivid psychometric impressions. On the contrary, it washes out images or feelings, and seldom is there much for the retrocognitive to examine. Attempting to do so is quite unpleasant, in point of fact. Retrieving impressions from animal remains is chancy as well, and by the end Lucien was more animal than man.

The last few hours, even days, of Lucien's life are lost to us. We do not know what he may have thought, felt, feared, discovered, decided. He was shot. The hunters left. The killings ceased. That is all we know.

Severin's memoir describes the Beast's murders in horrific detail, but does not reveal his thoughts on the Beast's death. We do not know if he felt sorrow or relief, whether he mourned his brother, or had already grieved him, along with his destroyed family. We can only guess at the anger which led Severin to strip the corpse of trophies - of which, ironically, only this baculum now remains. It disturbs our modern sensibilities to think that he carried about these pieces of his own brother, but Severin was a brutal man doing a brutal job in a very different time, a man driven by rage and sorrow and his own inner demons. We must not judge him too harshly.

Severin St. Noir went on to become a great hunter of rogue beasts, werewolves in particular, and later wrote La chasse au loup-garou, still considered by louvretiers to be the foremost treatise on werewolf hunting.

It is to be noted that Severin never traveled without a certain silver flask from which he took regular draughts. While one cannot blame a man with so disturbing a past for developing a taste for liquor, it is known that Severin drank only from his own flask and eschewed all other alcohol entirely.

When questioned by a close acquaintance he once claimed that it was an herbal preparation meant to keep the pain of old wounds at bay.

For his sake, we may hope that it did.

The St. Noir papers entered the archives here at the Salem Institute Northwest through the Miracle Island Historical Trust. The donor, Mr. John Donovan, graciously confirmed that the artefact – which should never have been sold – was, indeed, the very one that had come into his possession when he assumed custody of Sibylla St. Noir's personal effects on the occasion of her disappearance into the caves beneath Medmenham Abbey.

We are indebted to Master Donovan, and to his minor wards, Saturnalia and Samhain, who provided this historian with much delight on the afternoon of March the twenty-third.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Greetings, gentle readers!

The mystery of la Bête du Gévaudan has remained unsolved for centuries, the truth held captive in the keepsakes and writings of Severin St. Noir, a key player unknown to popular history but now in part revealed to you through this item. The tale it tells is one of pathos and sorrow and terrible wildness, a tale at once repugnant to the human soul and deeply tragic.

When I examined it in a retrocognitive trance this artefact divulged a number of surprising secrets, some of which I cannot in good conscience share. The heiress of the St. Noir legacy is unavailable for comment, and her offspring are too far below the age of majority to offer any moral guidance. I therefore have confined my enquiry to events surrounding this particular trophy and have omitted the more personal details until such time as an adult member of the family can speak for them. I trust my gentle readers will forgive my circumspection. Given the unbearably intimate and deeply disturbing nature of the impressions, reproducing them for public titillation would only be ghoulish, anyway.

There will come a time when I, or the St. Noir family, shall step forward and tell the rest of Severin's story, but for now we must be content to hear a tale that began in 1764, high in the Margeride Mountains. . . .

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday

***

Werewolf baculum
Gévaudan, France
Collected in 1767 by Severin St. Noir

Werewolf Baculum 01

Many innocent wolves were slain in the hunt for the Beasts of Gévaudan. The King dispatched his Lieutenant of the Hunt, François Antoine, to destroy the beast before the panic could spread. Lucien St. Noir, a mysterious 'naturalist' who came to Gévaudan in the spring of 1765, offered his assistance to Antoine, and in September of 1765 the two men spearheaded a massive hunt that ended with the death of an enormous wolf. It was identified by its scars as the Beast.

Antoine returned to Versailles with the corpse and received a rich reward. Lucien St. Noir remained in the province to make a study of the wildlife, but vanished in November while riding back to town in the early twilight.

Despite the destruction of the first Beast, killings began again in December and continued unabated for two years, casting a pall of terror over the beautiful province. In the summer of 1767, the bloodshed reached its peak. A hunter working under the obvious nom du chasse 'Pierre Louvart' arrived and announced his intention to track down and kill the marauding Beast. He was a louvretiere, a hunter who specialized in the destruction of wolves, and he offered his services to the stricken province.

As Lucien St. Noir had befriended François Antoine, Louvart befriended a local hunter named Jean Chastel. The two of them tracked the Beast for weeks. It remained always one step ahead, possessed of a preturnatural intelligence and an apparent enjoyment of human suffering. Despite widespread fear and superstition, despite the uncanny circumstances of many of the deaths, despite the fact that the Beast seemed to have a very human lust for vengeance, Louvart insisted that the Beast was merely an animal and that the reports of it walking upon two legs were but fantasies born of quite-understandable fear.

The deaths continued, the tide of blood unstanchable. Over a hundred died, most children and women. Chastel and Louvart redoubled their efforts. Still the Beast ravened and slew. It bypassed animal carcasses in favor of human prey. It ignored bait and poison, but would lay in wait for the hunters who would inevitably return to the traps. It tore the heads from its victims. It outran every pack of hounds set against it, and dogs eventually refused to track it at all.

On the nineteeth of June, 1767, the Beast caught Jean Chastel's hunting party off-guard, before the battue had commenced. Jean Chastel was kneeling, reading from the Bible. The Beast emerged from the trees and stood staring as Chastel calmly finished his prayer, raised his rifle, and shot it dead with a silver bullet.

Dead, the Beast proved - to nobody's surprise - to be a wolf of monstrous size. When its stomach was opened, human remains were found inside.

Chastel was celebrated as a hero. 'Pierre Louvart' vanished, taking his story – and certain trophies – with him. The predations ceased.

It was not until the Salem Institute came into possession of a certain memoir that Pierre Louvart was discovered to be Severin St. Noir, the brother of Lucien St. Noir.

Severin's memoir told a dire tale. The two louvretieres were attacked by a mad wolf while baiting a trap, and Lucien contracted that mystical contagion known as melancholic lycanthropia. The lust for human flesh this kindled in him was too much for the injured man to resist, and in the grip of lycanthropic fugue Lucien slaughtered the St. Noir family and left Severin for dead.

Having heard of the Beast, Lucien traveled to Gevaudan hoping that his own continuing misdeeds would be blamed upon the beast and that he, himself, might go unremarked and unpunished. And, indeed, Lucien's ruse worked – for a time.

Severin had survived the attack, and Lucien could not long escape his attention. Horrified, Severin vowed to destroy his brother.

The final hunt ended on that June morning with Jean Chastel kneeling in the leaves, a prayer on his lips. Severin, behind Chastel, stood as the Beast approached and revealed himself to his brother. The Beast froze for one moment too long.

What caused the Beast to hesitate? Why, after so long, did it allow itself to be slain so easily?

Despite what popular literature will tell you, the psychic energy released upon death does not create more vivid psychometric impressions. On the contrary, it washes out images or feelings, and seldom is there much for the retrocognitive to examine. Attempting to do so is quite unpleasant, in point of fact. Retrieving impressions from animal remains is chancy as well, and by the end Lucien was more animal than man.

The last few hours, even days, of Lucien's life are lost to us. We do not know what he may have thought, felt, feared, discovered, decided. He was shot. The hunters left. The killings ceased. That is all we know.

Severin's memoir describes the Beast's murders in horrific detail, but does not reveal his thoughts on the Beast's death. We do not know if he felt sorrow or relief, whether he mourned his brother, or had already grieved him, along with his destroyed family. We can only guess at the anger which led Severin to strip the corpse of trophies - of which, ironically, only this baculum now remains. It disturbs our modern sensibilities to think that he carried about these pieces of his own brother, but Severin was a brutal man doing a brutal job in a very different time, a man driven by rage and sorrow and his own inner demons. We must not judge him too harshly.

Severin St. Noir went on to become a great hunter of rogue beasts, werewolves in particular, and later wrote La chasse au loup-garou, still considered by louvretiers to be the foremost treatise on werewolf hunting.

It is to be noted that Severin never traveled without a certain silver flask from which he took regular draughts. While one cannot blame a man with so disturbing a past for developing a taste for liquor, it is known that Severin drank only from his own flask and eschewed all other alcohol entirely.

When questioned by a close acquaintance he once claimed that it was an herbal preparation meant to keep the pain of old wounds at bay.

For his sake, we may hope that it did.

The St. Noir papers entered the archives here at the Salem Institute Northwest through the Miracle Island Historical Trust. The donor, Mr. John Donovan, graciously confirmed that the artefact – which should never have been sold – was, indeed, the very one that had come into his possession when he assumed custody of Sibylla St. Noir's personal effects on the occasion of her disappearance into the caves beneath Medmenham Abbey.

We are indebted to Master Donovan, and to his minor wards, Saturnalia and Samhain, who provided this historian with much delight on the afternoon of March the twenty-third.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Greetings, gentle readers!

For my first few forays into the fantastic – oh, dear, that was unintentional and I apologize – I have agreed to share the history of a few select objects currently owned by our kind hostess.

Part of my work, when I am not documenting the collections here in the cloistered halls of the Salem Institute Northwest, is sorting through records of sales in an effort to identify and reclaim articles erroneously identified as "spurious" yet which are, in fact, genuine.

The following glass jar of bones is one such item, and I can attest that it is as genuine as it comes.

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday

***

Thuringian werewolf knuckles
H. lycanthropus hercynus
Our Lady of the Snows Shrine
Northanger Abbey
Thüringer Wald
Collected in 1887 by Harlock Winter

Wolf Knuckles 03

These small bones were taken from the shrine of Our Lady of the Snows just outside Northanger Abbey* in Thuringia. This shrine's strange history begins in 1563 on the hill of Tierschatten.

Sudden snows delayed a young man as he traveled through the Thüringer Wald. Caught in the growing storm, he tried to take shelter in a nearby cave only to run afoul of the group of bandits already camped there. After beating the traveler soundly, they threw him into the snow, where he swiftly lost consciousness.

Two weeks later, the melting snows exposed the cave mouth as well as the bodies of the bandits, scattered across the hillside.

The traveler was found unharmed within the cave, neither starving nor dehydrated, his wounds completely healed. He was delerious, however, and in his ravings he claimed that the Virgin Mary had appeared and led him to the cave where she nursed him in turns with an enormous white she-wolf. These claims were dismissed as febrile ramblings, though no other theory was put forth to explain not only his unlikely survival but his apparent excellent health. He eventually denied any memory of his time in the cave, but not before the story had spread widely.

The Baroness Karza Vormera, at the baronial seat of Nagelfar, was a pious woman. She interviewed the traveler extensively in private, after which she caused a shrine to be raised on the hillside near the cave, believing it to have been the site of a holy visitation. Others witnessed the Virgin's appearance, always in winter. She was said to favor orphans, the lost, the indigent, and the starving.

In time, an abbey followed. Due to its remote and forbidding location deep within the Thüringer Wald, Tierschatten Abbey became a popular destination for the "undesirable" daughters of noble lines – those prey to congenital madnesses, those who had dishonored themselves or their families, those whose passions had spiraled out of control, or those who were simply unwanted.

As time passed the Vormera line daughtered out and the abbey lost much of its support, falling into further disfavor due to its unsavory associations with madness and tragedy. The half-abandoned buildings and derelict shrine acquired a sinister reputation.

Some chance merging of climate, diet, and company worked strange changes upon the abbey's residents. Those who could be retrieved were often much changed in their appearance and behavior upon their retrieval, and not often for the better. Girls sent to the abbey could not always be identified after a few winters, if they could be found at all.

Eventually, the shunned abbey fell into total disrepair.

With the arrival of the powerful Northanger family to the valley and the re-establishment of Nagelfar as a seat of power, the abbey prospered anew. Restored and rededicated as Northanger Abbey, it received a steady stream of foreign girls seeking asylum, and for several generations enjoyed a renaissance as a site of pilgrimage and sanctuary.

After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, Thuringia turned upon itself in a self-destructive frenzy. During this time of terror and bloodshed the valley remained dark and serene, and none who entered with malicious intent remained. Troublemakers were lured from the path and found days later, dead of terrible wounds, or strangling, or apparent fear. All were buried in Northanger Abbey's lichyard, and those travelers brave enough or desperate enough to dare the abbey's hospitality reported that a pack of monstrous, milk-white wolves haunted the graves, perhaps denning in the surrounding rocky hills.

Some chance of the wind in the eaves and across the chimney-tops caused the most unearthly screaming and howling to echo through the wing formerly reserved for madwomen, which acquired a reputation for being haunted. Others pointed to the well-maintained bars on the windows and reinforced doors, and speculated that, though closed to travelers, it might still be in use.

In truth, those who stayed at the abbey rarely had cause to complain about the hospitality. It was inhabited solely by women devoted to the service of God, who ministered to all travelers with gentleness and kindness. Where the abbey acquired the funds to stay in such good repair was a mystery.

The shrine remained in the hills, protecting its secret, and was relatively undisturbed until Ansgard Northanger, a distant scion of the Northanger line, returned to Nagelfar and the historical seat of the Northanger line after the death of Baron Waltraud Northangar.

Hearing the rumors about the abbey, the new baron decided to investigate, and dug a bit too far. Ansgard found that the abbey, long a seat of worship and good duties, had been turned into the most depraved sort of brothel. In the abbey's superstition-haunted cloisters, the inbred descendants of long-forgotten noble families entertained travelers for a fee. Some who visited did not return, and the valley was still noted for its mysterious disappearances.

Repelled by what he had found and convinced that the whores were hiding evidence of muder in the abbey's depths, Ansgard enlisted the aid of supernaturalist and witch hunter Harlock Winter, airship-born man of no country, who was at that time searching in Thuringia for the flying ancestral castle of his line.

Winter infiltrated the abbey and discovered layer on layer of depravity. The prostitutes were a sacred order of heretic nuns who dedicated their carnal delights to their holy wolf-virgin. Idolatrous, they worshipped the white wolf of legend who had succored that traveler long ago. They also revered and fed the wolves, which went out into the woods at their command to destroy any who had earned their wrath – those who threatened the valley and its people. Without Northanger rule, they had become self-appointed protectors of the valley.

Partway through Winter's investigation, a captain under Ansgard Northanger's command attempted violence on one of the whores. He was summarily cast out of the abbey and onto the dark road, where he and his men were attacked by wolves. Their bodies would never have been found, their fate never known, but Winter himself interrupted them at their feast and drove them off.

In the wake of this horror, and against the advice of Winter, Ansgard ordered the abbey closed and imprisoned all of the whores. The whores escaped in the night, leaving no sign of their passing. A wolf hunt provoked the outrage of the local wolf pack, and retribution was swift and terrible, coming in one night of fire and thunder and flashing jaws. Ansgard himself was savagely bitten and left raving in a fever. His household was scattered, those who remained to fight were slaughtered.

Harlock Winter, having rightly divined the wolves' true nature as a pack of lycanthropes, shot and wounded the pack leader, and followed the fleeing pack to the lich-yard. Winter broke into the abandoned abbey and found his way down to the cave that had sheltered that nameless traveler, and to the original shrine, built on and built over for hundreds of years.

What he found in the shrine defied explanation or description. An ossuary, comprised of the bones of women and of beasts laid alongside one another. Some of the human forms were twisted with the most disturbing degenerations. The bones of the wolves were unusually large.

Injured, furious, the pack leader confronted Winter in the shrine. After a long standoff, an angry mob arrived to burn the abbey down. Winter refused to take advantage of the distraction and passed up the shot that would have ended the she-wolf's life. He put his gun down and allowed her to escape.

Believing – rightly so – that the wolf pack would not return to the ravaged abbey, Winter took a few of the bones as proof of his story and left before the flames caused the collapse of the abbey buildings and sealed the entrance to the shrine forever.

These bones – to all appearances ordinary wolf knucklebones – along with many other artifacts were passed on to Winter's traveling companion, Alastor Fell, upon Winter's death in 1824. Fell's collection of oddities, including these bones, was recently placed with the Salem Institute of Metaphysical and Esoteric Studies Northwest by William Fell and the Miracle Island Historical Trust.

My gratitude goes to Mordred Fell, who donated documents out of his own private library, giving ironclad proof of provenance. In the wake of this generosity, my psychometric assessment is presented as a formality only.

* Not to be confused with Jane Austen's fictional Northanger Abbey. -- Ed.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
Greetings, gentle readers!

For my first few forays into the fantastic – oh, dear, that was unintentional and I apologize – I have agreed to share the history of a few select objects currently owned by our kind hostess.

Part of my work, when I am not documenting the collections here in the cloistered halls of the Salem Institute Northwest, is sorting through records of sales in an effort to identify and reclaim articles erroneously identified as "spurious" yet which are, in fact, genuine.

The following glass jar of bones is one such item, and I can attest that it is as genuine as it comes.

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday

***

Thuringian werewolf knuckles
H. lycanthropus hercynus
Our Lady of the Snows Shrine
Northanger Abbey
Thüringer Wald
Collected in 1887 by Harlock Winter

Wolf Knuckles 03

These small bones were taken from the shrine of Our Lady of the Snows just outside Northanger Abbey* in Thuringia. This shrine's strange history begins in 1563 on the hill of Tierschatten.

Sudden snows delayed a young man as he traveled through the Thüringer Wald. Caught in the growing storm, he tried to take shelter in a nearby cave only to run afoul of the group of bandits already camped there. After beating the traveler soundly, they threw him into the snow, where he swiftly lost consciousness.

Two weeks later, the melting snows exposed the cave mouth as well as the bodies of the bandits, scattered across the hillside.

The traveler was found unharmed within the cave, neither starving nor dehydrated, his wounds completely healed. He was delerious, however, and in his ravings he claimed that the Virgin Mary had appeared and led him to the cave where she nursed him in turns with an enormous white she-wolf. These claims were dismissed as febrile ramblings, though no other theory was put forth to explain not only his unlikely survival but his apparent excellent health. He eventually denied any memory of his time in the cave, but not before the story had spread widely.

The Baroness Karza Vormera, at the baronial seat of Nagelfar, was a pious woman. She interviewed the traveler extensively in private, after which she caused a shrine to be raised on the hillside near the cave, believing it to have been the site of a holy visitation. Others witnessed the Virgin's appearance, always in winter. She was said to favor orphans, the lost, the indigent, and the starving.

In time, an abbey followed. Due to its remote and forbidding location deep within the Thüringer Wald, Tierschatten Abbey became a popular destination for the "undesirable" daughters of noble lines – those prey to congenital madnesses, those who had dishonored themselves or their families, those whose passions had spiraled out of control, or those who were simply unwanted.

As time passed the Vormera line daughtered out and the abbey lost much of its support, falling into further disfavor due to its unsavory associations with madness and tragedy. The half-abandoned buildings and derelict shrine acquired a sinister reputation.

Some chance merging of climate, diet, and company worked strange changes upon the abbey's residents. Those who could be retrieved were often much changed in their appearance and behavior upon their retrieval, and not often for the better. Girls sent to the abbey could not always be identified after a few winters, if they could be found at all.

Eventually, the shunned abbey fell into total disrepair.

With the arrival of the powerful Northanger family to the valley and the re-establishment of Nagelfar as a seat of power, the abbey prospered anew. Restored and rededicated as Northanger Abbey, it received a steady stream of foreign girls seeking asylum, and for several generations enjoyed a renaissance as a site of pilgrimage and sanctuary.

After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, Thuringia turned upon itself in a self-destructive frenzy. During this time of terror and bloodshed the valley remained dark and serene, and none who entered with malicious intent remained. Troublemakers were lured from the path and found days later, dead of terrible wounds, or strangling, or apparent fear. All were buried in Northanger Abbey's lichyard, and those travelers brave enough or desperate enough to dare the abbey's hospitality reported that a pack of monstrous, milk-white wolves haunted the graves, perhaps denning in the surrounding rocky hills.

Some chance of the wind in the eaves and across the chimney-tops caused the most unearthly screaming and howling to echo through the wing formerly reserved for madwomen, which acquired a reputation for being haunted. Others pointed to the well-maintained bars on the windows and reinforced doors, and speculated that, though closed to travelers, it might still be in use.

In truth, those who stayed at the abbey rarely had cause to complain about the hospitality. It was inhabited solely by women devoted to the service of God, who ministered to all travelers with gentleness and kindness. Where the abbey acquired the funds to stay in such good repair was a mystery.

The shrine remained in the hills, protecting its secret, and was relatively undisturbed until Ansgard Northanger, a distant scion of the Northanger line, returned to Nagelfar and the historical seat of the Northanger line after the death of Baron Waltraud Northangar.

Hearing the rumors about the abbey, the new baron decided to investigate, and dug a bit too far. Ansgard found that the abbey, long a seat of worship and good duties, had been turned into the most depraved sort of brothel. In the abbey's superstition-haunted cloisters, the inbred descendants of long-forgotten noble families entertained travelers for a fee. Some who visited did not return, and the valley was still noted for its mysterious disappearances.

Repelled by what he had found and convinced that the whores were hiding evidence of muder in the abbey's depths, Ansgard enlisted the aid of supernaturalist and witch hunter Harlock Winter, airship-born man of no country, who was at that time searching in Thuringia for the flying ancestral castle of his line.

Winter infiltrated the abbey and discovered layer on layer of depravity. The prostitutes were a sacred order of heretic nuns who dedicated their carnal delights to their holy wolf-virgin. Idolatrous, they worshipped the white wolf of legend who had succored that traveler long ago. They also revered and fed the wolves, which went out into the woods at their command to destroy any who had earned their wrath – those who threatened the valley and its people. Without Northanger rule, they had become self-appointed protectors of the valley.

Partway through Winter's investigation, a captain under Ansgard Northanger's command attempted violence on one of the whores. He was summarily cast out of the abbey and onto the dark road, where he and his men were attacked by wolves. Their bodies would never have been found, their fate never known, but Winter himself interrupted them at their feast and drove them off.

In the wake of this horror, and against the advice of Winter, Ansgard ordered the abbey closed and imprisoned all of the whores. The whores escaped in the night, leaving no sign of their passing. A wolf hunt provoked the outrage of the local wolf pack, and retribution was swift and terrible, coming in one night of fire and thunder and flashing jaws. Ansgard himself was savagely bitten and left raving in a fever. His household was scattered, those who remained to fight were slaughtered.

Harlock Winter, having rightly divined the wolves' true nature as a pack of lycanthropes, shot and wounded the pack leader, and followed the fleeing pack to the lich-yard. Winter broke into the abandoned abbey and found his way down to the cave that had sheltered that nameless traveler, and to the original shrine, built on and built over for hundreds of years.

What he found in the shrine defied explanation or description. An ossuary, comprised of the bones of women and of beasts laid alongside one another. Some of the human forms were twisted with the most disturbing degenerations. The bones of the wolves were unusually large.

Injured, furious, the pack leader confronted Winter in the shrine. After a long standoff, an angry mob arrived to burn the abbey down. Winter refused to take advantage of the distraction and passed up the shot that would have ended the she-wolf's life. He put his gun down and allowed her to escape.

Believing – rightly so – that the wolf pack would not return to the ravaged abbey, Winter took a few of the bones as proof of his story and left before the flames caused the collapse of the abbey buildings and sealed the entrance to the shrine forever.

These bones – to all appearances ordinary wolf knucklebones – along with many other artifacts were passed on to Winter's traveling companion, Alastor Fell, upon Winter's death in 1824. Fell's collection of oddities, including these bones, was recently placed with the Salem Institute of Metaphysical and Esoteric Studies Northwest by William Fell and the Miracle Island Historical Trust.

My gratitude goes to Mordred Fell, who donated documents out of his own private library, giving ironclad proof of provenance. In the wake of this generosity, my psychometric assessment is presented as a formality only.

* Not to be confused with Jane Austen's fictional Northanger Abbey. -- Ed.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
After receiving a strange letter -- mis-addressed to the actual Morningstar Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, and delivered via a really confused flying stoat -- I struck up a correspondence with the odd but extraordinary young woman who had written it. There was a lot of back-and-forth, and after talking for a while about her work and her philosophy I decided I wanted to share it with you, too. I made her an offer, and she accepted on Saturday morning, which means I will have an intermittent journaling partner.

By way of introduction, I think I should let her speak for herself:

Greetings, gentle readers!

My name is Lorelei Knightley-Someday, and I am a tactile retrocognitive psychometrist and antiquities scholar.

The Salem Institute of Metaphysical and Esoteric Studies recently transferred me to the Department of Curiosities in the Northwest branch so that I might use my special talents to help authenticate and catalog objects whose provenance is in dispute.

The world is a much stranger place than most of us are led to believe. We are told that many wonderful and terrible things are fiction, or are outright impossibilities. An entire secret history exists, diligently hidden from the public by powerful and mysterious organizations like The Brotherhood and Department L. At one time this obfuscation may have been, as claimed, for the public's own good, but over time the lies have grown and secrecy has become an end in its own right: a secrecy no longer meant to protect, but maintained simply to grant elite status to those who know the truth.

History belongs to the world. Those who lived it and those who died to make it, those people whose very existence was hidden from the world shaped by their adventures and disasters great and small, deserve more from us than silence. They deserve truth. It is long past time we delivered it.

Through the clouded lens of my gift I am capable of perceiving much that would otherwise be lost. By uniting objects and documentation with an account of my retrocognitive impressions, I unite fact with artefact and restore some measure of truth to these otherwise apocryphal tales.

Believing that I might herein find an audience receptive to my discoveries, the owner of this ether-space has graciously asked me to share my findings with you. As I sort through the contested collections, I shall reveal the stories behind select objects both arcane and mundane. These small brushstrokes will, I hope, paint a more vivid portrait of our hidden history than that which is widely believed. I look forward to exploring with all of you.

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday


I hope y'all will welcome her warmly. She says she'll try to provide updates about once a week, but she's busy a lot, and as computers were "formally confirmed in 2004 by the D-BARD to have been invented by a greater Duke of Hell" and as her job description strictly forbids prolonged contact with the diabolical, she must first write everything out by hand and then bribe a weasel or feral cat to deliver it. (The traditional mail is similarly "inimical and brimstone-fouled.") Given that, and the time it takes to transcribe the material on my end, it may not be regular. I hope, though, it will be eagerly anticipated.

The first packet was brought in last night. Sif promptly assaulted the huge mouse which brought it in and chased it under the refrigerator. It's really early right now, and I need to go to bed, so I will finish transcribing it and post it this afternoon. Just thought I'd give you a heads-up.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Enochian Keyboard)
After receiving a strange letter -- mis-addressed to the actual Morningstar Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, and delivered via a really confused flying stoat -- I struck up a correspondence with the odd but extraordinary young woman who had written it. There was a lot of back-and-forth, and after talking for a while about her work and her philosophy I decided I wanted to share it with you, too. I made her an offer, and she accepted on Saturday morning, which means I will have an intermittent journaling partner.

By way of introduction, I think I should let her speak for herself:

Greetings, gentle readers!

My name is Lorelei Knightley-Someday, and I am a tactile retrocognitive psychometrist and antiquities scholar.

The Salem Institute of Metaphysical and Esoteric Studies recently transferred me to the Department of Curiosities in the Northwest branch so that I might use my special talents to help authenticate and catalog objects whose provenance is in dispute.

The world is a much stranger place than most of us are led to believe. We are told that many wonderful and terrible things are fiction, or are outright impossibilities. An entire secret history exists, diligently hidden from the public by powerful and mysterious organizations like The Brotherhood and Department L. At one time this obfuscation may have been, as claimed, for the public's own good, but over time the lies have grown and secrecy has become an end in its own right: a secrecy no longer meant to protect, but maintained simply to grant elite status to those who know the truth.

History belongs to the world. Those who lived it and those who died to make it, those people whose very existence was hidden from the world shaped by their adventures and disasters great and small, deserve more from us than silence. They deserve truth. It is long past time we delivered it.

Through the clouded lens of my gift I am capable of perceiving much that would otherwise be lost. By uniting objects and documentation with an account of my retrocognitive impressions, I unite fact with artefact and restore some measure of truth to these otherwise apocryphal tales.

Believing that I might herein find an audience receptive to my discoveries, the owner of this ether-space has graciously asked me to share my findings with you. As I sort through the contested collections, I shall reveal the stories behind select objects both arcane and mundane. These small brushstrokes will, I hope, paint a more vivid portrait of our hidden history than that which is widely believed. I look forward to exploring with all of you.

Curiously yours,

Lorelei Knightley-Someday


I hope y'all will welcome her warmly. She says she'll try to provide updates about once a week, but she's busy a lot, and as computers were "formally confirmed in 2004 by the D-BARD to have been invented by a greater Duke of Hell" and as her job description strictly forbids prolonged contact with the diabolical, she must first write everything out by hand and then bribe a weasel or feral cat to deliver it. (The traditional mail is similarly "inimical and brimstone-fouled.") Given that, and the time it takes to transcribe the material on my end, it may not be regular. I hope, though, it will be eagerly anticipated.

The first packet was brought in last night. Sif promptly assaulted the huge mouse which brought it in and chased it under the refrigerator. It's really early right now, and I need to go to bed, so I will finish transcribing it and post it this afternoon. Just thought I'd give you a heads-up.

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naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
naamah_darling

March 2017

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