The Architect's Essence, The Diary of Sunrise

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Undated Entry

I would now like to relate the final chapter in the life of Aeonium Haworthii. For those of you who do not wish to learn of his sad fate I suggest you bypass this section altogether by turning to page 174 and simply remember him as the man I described in my last account, an individual in possession of all of his limbs and appendages, a fine collection of seashells, a home, a wife, daughters and a prosperous career which was about to reach its pinnacle. For those of you who wish to continue down this dark and depressing road however I suggest that you surround yourself with family and spoons, hold on tightly to your snug and try to think of happier times. Also, if you are the kind of person who tends to pace when nervous or distressed, I advise that you don a pair of steel toe capped boots or slippers and clear your floor of any hard, low-lying objects which could potentially cause you a painful toe stubbing injury. I also urge you to remember that all clouds have a silver lining, even those embroiled in the most dark and ferocious of storms.

Where A.L.A.K.A INC spent a great deal of money disposing of its magical waste safely by sealing it away in mundene lined barrels, the Hocus Factory had opted for the cheaper and less consensus method of washing its magical refuse and unwanted potions into a nearby swamp known as Hobblescrutch Bog. The magical contaminants had caused all manner of strange phenomena to occur in the bog, creating such things as clouds of incandescent vapor which had the strange ability to temporarily transfigure trees and plant life into ice sculptures, cause lakes, ponds and other bodies of water to spontaneously vanish and then reappear and render large stones and boulders weightless, causing them to float and blow around upon the breeze. The magical pollution had even mutated some of the native creatures, creating grotesque and monstrous beasts which had many strange abilities including the power of invisibility, the ability to liquify themselves and the capability to sneeze rainbows and hailstones. The greatest problem however was that when rain fell upon the bog it released an abominable, toe curling stench which literally hummed. This raucous fog of stench would blow down from the bog, drift across the marshland and settle itself upon the town of Hobblescrutch with all the reek and noise of a swarm of putrid bumble bees. This unfortunate and rank manifestation would in later years lead to the bog being renamed the Noxious Bog of Hobblescrutch. One newspaper which Od had uncovered had described the smell of the humming fog as ’like the stench of week-old baby vomit which had been stirred with a liquorish stick before being spread upon a platter of rancid meat.’ Understandably this had caused a lot of bad press for the Hocus Factory, creating a scandal which had put Aeonium’s Gorgon Eye Vinegar incident to shame.

In the interests of public relations, The Hocus Factory had tried to solve the environmental issues they had caused with their waste products and had tried in vain to return the bog and its creatures to their former state.

Aeonium had followed the story of the humming fog closely and as he prepared to put the finishing touches to his Sorcerers Snuff, he had also begun work on a solution to the bog’s unbearable stench. He had realised from the efforts of The Hocus Factory clean up team that the damage they had done to the bog was irreversible and so he had decided to take a different approach to the problem. He’d known that if an employee of A.L.A.K.A managed to clean up a mess caused by the Hocus Factory then it would deal the giants of the magical industry a crushing blow and so he set out to create a meteorologically sensitive potion which would mask the horrible stench of the bog, releasing a sweet floral perfume whenever it rained. He had named the potion the ‘Hobblescrutch Petrichor Potion,’ and he had calculated that he would need twenty-five thousand gallons of the potion in order to treat the entire bog (which is roughly around one-million and nine-hundred thousand half-filled glasses if youre a positive person or one-million and nine-hundred thousand half-empty gasses if youre a pessimist.)

Aeonium had felt certain that dealing with the issues of Hobblescrutch Bog coupled with the release of his new innovation ‘Sorcerers Snuff’ could well turn the tables on the Hocus Factory and allow A.L.A.K.A INC to emerge as the new leading manufacturer of magical goods in the Known Expanse.

The idea of Sorcerers’ Snuff had been massive news amongst the magical community. Aeonium claimed to have accomplish something which no other magical practitioner in all of history had done. He had discovered a way to grant magical powers, all be it temporarily, to any living individual whether they were born with fey blood or not. The mechanism used to administer the magic was ingenious and many newspapers who must have researched Aeonium’s childhood had reported that Aeonium had likely been inspired by an event in his childhood where he had become trapped in the sooty chimney of the Lord and Lady of Hobblescrutch, a statement which I find completely plausible.

The Sorcerers’ Snuff was in fact nothing more than magically altered soot which had been infused with a top-secret blend of herbs and subjected to a series of long, laborious, tong-twisting incantations. Aeonium claimed that just a pinch of the resulting product, when inhaled up the nostrils, would cause a fit of sneezing and grant anyone a full six hours of magical ability.

I have often mused that at this point in his life Aeonium must have felt that his moment had come and that he truly was about to change his stars and the Expanse forever. Sadly, fate had other plans in store for Aeonium’s stars.

On the 16th Palleet 2413, thirty-seven years to the day since Aeonium had been found on the doorstep of a mystical emporium with nothing but a swaddling blanket and a jar of pig’s teeth, a terrible explosion had torn through the magical innovations department of A.L.A.K.A INC killing six and seriously injuring twenty-five. The blast had occurred in Aeonium’s personal magical laboratory and the official statement made on the cause of the explosion was that an overloaded syphon orb had ruptured and detonated a batch of volatile potions in a nearby cabinet. Many conspiracy theorists however believe that the blast was a work of industrial sabotage by the Hocus Factory, a cleverly orchestrated ‘accident’ designed to prevent the release of Aeonium’s Sorcerers’ Snuff and also his intended treatment of Hobblescrutch Bog. Rather conveniently all of Aeonium’s sample potions, herbal recipes and incantations had been destroyed in a small fire which had allegedly started in the aftermath of the explosion.

I’m not sure if this is fortunate or not but Aeonium was not amongst the dead. He did however suffer some horrendous injuries from the blast and was found by rescue workers lying in a pool of spilled potions and blood, his torn clothes and skin saturated by them. Aeonium was taken to the magical accident and emergency department of the Great Infirmary along with six other critically injured A.L.A.K.A employees. He was treated by a witch doctor who had managed to repair his body with a series of healing spells but unfortunately, like Hobblescrutch Bog, the potions which saturated him had altered him forever and mere days after the accident he had begun to exhibit some very strange symptoms. The first recorded phenomena surrounding Aeonium had involved a vase of yellow chrysanthemums which had been a gift form a grief stricken Paeonia. The vase of chrysanthemums which had been sitting at Aeonium’s bedside had inexplicably flushed blue overnight, dyed by some unknown force. Over the next week many other yellow objects on Aeonium’s ward had been affected by the same strange power, all of them turning a pretty shade of sky blue. Custard, rubber ducks, bananas, unbrushed teeth and even the hair of a blond nurse all underwent the same transformation.

Aeonium had also begun to complain that the bright lights of his ward were keeping him awake at night and some medical records written by one of his nurses stated that and I quote, ’Each night all syphon orbs were extinguished and all curtains were drawn.’ The nurse goes on to say that the light Aeonium was complaining about was not emanating from the ward itself but rather from Aeonium’s eyes, as if, and again I quote, A lit candle burned behind his eyes, its radiance shining through his eyelids even during sleep.

A later report states that Aeonium exuded a pleasant aroma whenever it rained, an effect believed to have been caused by contact with his own Petrichor Potion.

Two weeks after the accident Aeonium began to exhibit symptoms which were much more worrying than magically dying yellow objects blue, having luminous eyeballs and smelling like roses on rainy days. Quite disturbingly parts of Aeonium’s body had begun to vanish, not as if they’d been torn off, leaving large, gaping wounds but rather as if they’d never been part of his body at all, smooth seamless skin denying their existence. The doctor’s records state that the first appendage Aeonium lost was not an appendage at all but rather an orifice, one of his nostrils which had completely healed over during the night. Next went one of his ears, then an eye, then all fingers on his left hand, which were closely followed by the hand and arm itself. Around this time Aeonium had displayed difficulty breathing, a symptom which doctors had attributed to a vanished lung. Next went his right foot and leg, a portion of his reproductive organs and half of his teeth. One doctor also noticed that his chest had collapsed on one side, a sign that half of his ribs had also abandoned him. It seemed that whatever magic was now ravaging Aeonium’s body destroyed symmetry of any sort, literally causing it to cease to exist. Aeonium was now half the man he used to be in body at least. His spirit however remained and he was reported to have urged visiting colleagues to continue his work, telling them to go ahead with the release of Sorcerers’ Snuff and to use his Hobblescrutch Petrichor Potion to solve the issues of Hobblescrutch bog. It is my belief that none of them had the heart too tell him that all his work had been destroyed.

The cruelty of the magic which had infected Aeonium seemed to know no bounds however and it had begun to affect his possessions with the same anti-symmetrical power. Firstly, one of Aeonium’s slippers had vanished from the ward and quite annoyingly it had been the slipper which fitted Aeonium’s remaining foot. Next went an arm and a lens from his glasses and bizarrely one of the letters, an i, had vanished from Aeonium’s name which was written on a chalk board above his bed, changing his name from Aeonium Haworthii to Aeonium Haworthi, a small and easily correctible problem which the nurses tried to rectify on several occasions. Unfortunately, no matter how many times the i was replaced it simply would not stay, fading away within a matter of minutes.

Eventually the influence of Aeonium’s anti-symmetry curse escaped the Great Infirmary altogether and had invaded his home, stealing away half of his seashell collection, table legs, windows, candles and chimney pots. As I said previously the Architect gifting Aeonium with twin daughters makes me wonder if He possesses a conscience at all.

I find the telling of the next part of Aeonium’s tale far too painful to describe in detail so I will simply say that on some gloomy morning three weeks after the accident Paeonia had awoken to find one empty bed in her daughters’ twin bedroom. Understandably grief of his lost daughter had taken Aeonium’s mind and had truly made him half the man he used to be. Though he’d searched, following Aeonium’s admission into Hush Prairie Asylum, Od had found no other documentation mentioning Paeonia Lactiflora or her remaining daughter Tiarella Cordifolia.

Aeonium had spent the next sixty-six years locked away in Hush Prairie, becoming the asylums oldest patient, being 103 years old when Mount Bedlam had erupted and given him a new life. It is thought that his extreme longevity was yet another side effect of the A.L.A.K.A explosion.

Based on the facts of Aeonium’s life which Od has uncovered he has concluded that his current gifts and burdens are a continuation of the effects caused by Aeonium’s potion bath. I can only assume that the magics which had contaminated Aeonium had stained him down to his very soul, magics so strong that even the Architect himself could not undo them. It is my belief that whilst crafting a new body around Aeonium’s soul the Architect had been hampered by the anti-symmetry curse and had been forced to improvise, solving the problem by creating a body that was symmetry free.

Od also still smells like roses when it rains, a phenomenon which you may remember me encountering whilst we were sheltering from the Battle of the Land and Sky in the gloomy chambers of Bedlam. He has also retained a mystical dying effect on all things yellow. For this reason, you will scarcely find a single yellow item in Mount Bedlam which is not in fact blue. This has been a particular problem for Pitterpat whose art studio does not and cannot house any form of yellow stationary or paint, a fact which has caused him much frustration and artistic angst, forcing him to paint azure sunflowers, navy canaries, black and blue striped bumble bees and cold, sapphire sunrises. The only magical symptom of Aeonium’s which I haven’t seen Od exhibit is the strange luminous eyes reported by the nurse. I can only assume that the particular curse or charm which had caused the phenomena had been localised to his eyes only and was lost when Aeonium’s remaining eye was replaced by Od’s disproportionate goggles.

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