Most Orderlies do not wish to know the details of their former existences, finding it an uncomfortable notion. Od however, as is often the case with him, was the exception. With the help of Script, Od has investigated his previous life, hoping to find the answer to why The Architect had created him from such a mishmash of limbs and imbued him with such a strange mix of abilities and burdens. He was relentless in his investigation and had even donned a suit of armour in order to enter The Hall of Recorded Happenings in the Pheonixhelm Region, an entire building crammed with birth certificates, death certificates, wedding certificates and a plethora of other deadly documentation. After a full week Od had emerged from The Hall of Recorded Happenings both unscathed and with the answers he sought. The following is the sad tale which Od unearthed. It is the tale of a man named Aeonium Haworthii, a man whose scars stayed with him even into his next life.
The tale of Aeonium’s life is a terrible one. It had begun badly, had picked up midway through and then had ended tragically and though Aeonium had found many years of happiness, peace and success in the eye of his stormy life, the tempest of his eventual fate had destroyed all which he’d built and accomplished but as Od will tell you, all storms come to an end and all clouds have a silver lining. (Though Ink may tell you that Cloud most definitely does not have a silver lining. He’s checked.)
Aeonium had spent the first seven years of his life in the care of Spikleton and Porridge Orphanage in the Sanintale Region after he had been found abandoned in the doorway of a mystical emporium on the 16th Palleet 2376. He had been only days old and all he’d had with him had been a swaddling blanket and a jar containing the teeth of a pig which was believed to have been an improvised rattle.
Aeonium had been given his name by Spikleton and Porridge’s superintendent, an aging brownie by the name of Artemisia Vulgaris who though strict and unforgiving to the orphans in his charge had insisted upon being called Mr Art. As well as running the orphanage Mr Art had also owned a chimney sweeping business in the nearby town of Syrupsands and due to Aeonium’s unusually small stature he’d often forced him up the narrow chimneys to sweep them clean.
One day Mr Art had been summoned to Rickets Hall, the home of the Lord and Lady of Hobblescrutch. Rickets Hall was a grand and luxurious mansion which had boasted fine hand woven Charloovian rugs, dapple equipped syphon chandeliers and intricately tapestried walls, just the sort of decadent surroundings which Mr Art believed he deserved. The Lord and Lady had required Mr Art to sweep the chimney of their lavish sitting room whilst they were out hunting jackalopes in the nearby woods. Naturally Mr Art had wanted to impress such prestigious customers and he had taken Aeonium with him to help hasten the job along. It had been an especially hot summers day and in the days that followed local newspapers which covered the coming calamity had reported that The young apprentice sweep had been suffering with a terrible summer cold. Understandably Aeonium had loathed Mr Art and the work he forced him to do and on the day in question Aeonium had chosen to defy his superintendent master. He had climbed into the large fireplace of Rickets Hall’s sitting room and had shimmied up the flue, finding it much more spacious than the narrow chimneys of the costal cottages he was used to. The chimney had also been one of the dirtiest he’d ever encountered, and he had soon been black with soot and grime. Halfway up the chimney Aeonium had found a ledge in the brickwork and he had seated himself upon it, having no intention to sweep the chimney at all.
Mr Art had reportedly been quite incensed by Aeonium’s defiance and had given him two choices; he either came down the chimney and received the beating he deserved or a fire would be lit beneath him to smoke him out and he would receive the beating anyway.
Hours had passed and still Aeonium had refused to move from his sooty perch. Enraged and fearful of what the Lord and Lady would say when they returned to not only find their chimney un-swept but also blocked by a child, Mr Art had followed through with his threat and had lit a small fire in the hearth. The chimney had soon filled with heat and smoke and, already hindered by his summer cold, Aeonium had found himself unable to breath.
In the sitting room below, a servant of the Lord and Lady who had been present at the time reported that several loud sneezes had issued from the fireplace before a sooty figure had fallen into the fire and rolled onto the fireside rug. Mr Art had allegedly hauled the figure to its feet and had struck it around the face, a blow which had knocked its head from its shoulders. Believing that Mr Art had inadvertently decapitated the child he’d been attempting to extract from the chimney the servant had ran screaming from the sitting room. It is not clear exactly what had next occurred in the sitting room of the Lord and Lady of Hobblescrutch as the only potential witness, Mr Art, never left the room alive. All that is known is that a series of what were described as ‘deafening sneezes’ had shaken Rickets Hall down to its very foundations before the entire property had become overrun by hordes of dark child-like creatures which had appeared to be nothing more than animated soot.
The soot children had run riot around Rickets Manor and the surrounding estate, trampling the fine hand woven Charloovian rugs, swinging from the syphon chandeliers and running sooty fingers over the tapestried walls. They had not however caused anyone else any harm, Mr Art being their only victim. The coroner who had examined Mr Art’s body following the incident had reported that he had died of suffocation, his lungs, nasal cavity and stomach packed with compressed soot.
Sometime later Lord and Lady Hobblescrutch had returned with the macabre spoils of their hunt to find their home in chaos. Naturally they had been both outraged at the state of their fine hand woven Charloovian rugs, their dapple equipped syphon chandeliers and their intricately tapestried walls and they had sought out Mr Art to demand an explanation and compensation for the damage being wrought upon their decadent home. Upon finding Mr Arts cadaver with its bulging eyes, bloated stomach and terrified expression however their outrage had quickly dissolved into horror and by means of a memorandum crystal they had contacted a local coven of witches who had called themselves The Court of Thimbles, begging for their help. The Court of Thimbles would later merge with The Ladies of Rain, a coven from the Chaarn Region, amalgamating their expertise and resources to become The Wiccawar Sisters, a group who would dedicate themselves to the capture of magically inclined criminals and the containment of dangerous and illegal spells. Although it was early days for The Court of Thimbles their benevolence had shone and they had come to the Lord and Ladies aid.
At the time the High Priestess of the Court of Thimbles had been a lady minotaur by the name of Brassica Alba. Brassica had a human husband who had taken her hoof in marriage shortly after the ban on interspecies wedlock was lifted. She was a formidable, outspoken and kind-hearted woman who had a natural gift for magic and an incomparable knowledge of magical practices. She had led a group of ten witches to Rickets Manor where they had encountered the cavorting soot children. Shortly after questioning the servant who had been present during Mr Art’s attempts to extract Aeonium from the chimney Brassica had told her fellow witches that they should not focus their attention on the soot children, telling them that instead they should find Aeonium as she believed he was the cause of the disturbance, and if she was correct, he was also in grave danger.
Brassica had theorised quite correctly that Aeonium had possessed a latent magical gift, one which had been awakened when he’d been faced with Mr Art’s threats and the inescapable position which he had found himself in. She had been further convinced of this by the servants claim that she had heard a loud sneeze before the first soot child had emerged from the fireplace, stating that most children born with fey blood often discovered their powers whilst sneezing, inadvertently conjuring handkerchiefs, expelling fire from their nostrils and in some cases, accidentally carving the words ‘Bless me’ into their parents’ chests using psychokinetic energy. Brassica had claimed that Aeonium had managed to accomplish a rather difficult and dangerous magical feat, seemingly giving life to an inanimate substance. Life however is not a gift which magic can grant, being a miracle only obtainable through the Architect’s gift of sexual reproduction. In order to animate such a large group of soot children Brassica had surmised that Aeonium would have had to have shared his soul amongst them, a procedure which was both illegal and highly dangerous. If they did not find him soon, she felt certain that he and the soot children who shared his essence would almost certainly die. It was quickly established that Aeonium was no longer up the chimney and it was supposed that he had made his escape during the soot childrens’ invasion. The problem had been that finding a soot covered child who is hiding amongst a group of soot children it not the easiest job in the Expanse, a situation which brings to mind the phrase ‘like trying to find a needle in a haystack’.
The search had gone on late into the evening and though the soot children remained at large their bodies had begun to deteriorate, crumbling and eroding in the light of the setting sun, a sign which Brassica had feared exhibited Aeonium’s weakening strength. Their weathered forms however had made it much easier to spot Aeonium and eventually Brassica herself had found him, lying unconscious in the Lord and Lady’s soiled bed. She had quickly performed a counter spell to break the connection between Aeonium and the soot children to relieve the stress they posed to his weakening soul. The effect of the counter spell had been effective and instantaneous and every soot child on the Rickets Estate had promptly exploded, putting the finishing touches to Lord and Lady Hobblescrutchs’ new grimy décor.
By means of a spatial rend emitter (a new and largely untested form of magical transport) Brassica had transported Aeonium straight onto the magical ailments ward of the Great Infirmary.
Aeonium had quickly been hooked up to a cocktail of intravenous potions which had helped repair and settle what the doctors had described in lemans terms as ‘a dislocated soul.’ Aeonium had not regained consciousness for five full days, enough time for Brassica to look into Aeonium’s past and start the adoption process. Brassica and her husband had always dreamed of having a child but unfortunately due to their sexually incompatible species the Architect’s gift of sexual reproduction was not open to them. Brassica had seen in Aeonium not only a son but a prodigy, someone with great untampered power which, if not properly channeled could cause harm to himself and to others. She had believed however that if tutored correctly Aeonium would learn to wield his gift and potentially grow up to be someone of importance, an individual who could change the Expanse for the better. I’m am sorry to report however that though Aeonium had come close to fulfilling Brassica’s expectations his destiny was taken from him upon the threshold of triumph.
I do not wish to depress you any further with the tale of woe which Od unearthed amongst the dusty and diabolical shelves of the Hall of Recorded Happenings and so I will pick up our tale at a later juncture. In the meantime, I suggest that you consume a copious amount of biscuits, keep a spoon to hand at all times, avoid any encounters with unprepared onions and remember that every cloud has a silver lining.