Her laugh echoes through the empty halls of this place.
The laughter has been recorded by amateur ghost hunters on several occasions. Thankfully the claims of such groups are easy to debunk, even should they chance upon a genuine supernatural event.
In 1993, local officials performed a sweep of the building. One of these officers was later evacuated, babbling nonsense. He responded well to contingency-70 and has now resumed a normal life with no memory of what he saw.
Other officers reported sightings of a woman on the upper floor of the building, shrouded in tattered cloth. There she sits rocking back and forth and laughing hysterically. Hers is truly the laughter of madness.
The woman who laughs in the dark appears only during a new moon, when the jungle-shielded building is plunged into near-absolute darkness. Thus she has obtained her name.
The Department has determined that no further action is required in regards to this entity.
“…perhaps the best known of these [deceptions] was captured on a roll of [35mm] film, in which Lewis is pictured beside Bethany Rosen, one of the many patrons of Lewis’ work. At first they are pictured wearing those rictus grins so common in old video and then Miss. Rosen disappears.
This “experiment” is difficult to verify given the limitations of the video technology of the time, but a close examination of consecutive images [frames] displays a black geometry of five sides appears where Miss Rosen is standing. In the next image she has vanished completely.
Were it not for the accounts of dozens of people who witnessed the event first-hand and claimed vehemently that they saw Miss Rosen disappear before their very eyes, we might easily discard the film as mere trickery. Even considering these accounts it is difficult to believe that Lewis was capable of causing Bethany Rosen to disappear.
Nonetheless, the trick was real enough that legal proceedings were later brought against Lewis when Miss Rosen did not reappear.”
— Rothschild’s Magic and Mischief, 1903
The best account we have of a sentient continent comes to us from that legendary adventurer, Seraphima Constance-Bay, who wrote extensively about the so-called pirate archapelago known as the Kraken.
Fleeing from Caladon during the Apollonian-Pythonite Rebellion, Seraphima and her husband sought refuge amongst that archipelago that is, in fact, the gigantic protuberances of a kraken.
This was no secret to the inhabitants of that place, who did not revere their home, but instead drove great metal burrs into the living earth, thusly antagonising the creature who had granted them refuge upon it’s back.
Proving at first difficult, scientists at the Ultraces experimented on sleeping patients in order to determine the exact moment at which a dream is conjured by the psyche. The patients were then administered three more drugs–one to establish lucidity, one to prevent panic and a third, unknown substance that the Ultraces are yet to reveal.
No longer responsive to outside stimulus, those who were able to enter the Dreamscape later described a fog or mist-like substance that clung to them when they pressed against it. Through the fog they could see images: vague shapes, whispers.
As they passed through that mist, each image formed into a different location–each familiar and yet not. These places did not resemble their real-life counterparts so much as they resembled the previous dreams of the patients.
As the length of time in the Dreamscape increased the patients became increasingly agitated and their recollections dim. One similarity stands out, however, from each patients description:
There’s something in the mist.
Few doubt the magic of a mirror for within it we see a world that is both our own and not; a reflected reality.
The world beyond the mirror is an exact replica of that which it captures, a separate reality unto itself, and shadows dwell in this liminal space.
It is possible to “fall through” mirrors and become trapped in the Empty Beyond. Such is a horror beyond measure, as one finds themselves surrounded by inky blackness except for that patch of light and space that was also part of the mirror’s reflection.
And it is true that shadow tentaculum extend from the shadows to poke and prod and cajole you into their hungering darkness.
The city is built on the side of a hill, where the streets wind back and forth in a series of winding terraces that look out upon the vast mountains and the frozen river wending between.
As the winters came and the snows fell the city became unliveable. Many froze and died.
Above it all a castle–its towers jutting from the snow.
She is walking somewhere very cold. The floor feels like ice beneath her feet. She is walking on great polished black stone, amidst black pillars.
She steps through an archway and the wind touches her face. She looks down at the ruins and she wonders.
She is standing somewhere very cold and the wind is making her colder. She would pull her black shawl more tightly about herself, but she knows it would not help. Nothing helps. For this cold is all-pervading. Absolute. Infinite.
The cold is a part of the castle itself. The cold is a part of her.
In that Molten Hells where so many innocents suffer, a man named Kuluck showed the way.
Beyond the mines and trenches he lead them, through walls of rock and fire.
His were eyes that did not see and skin that did not burn.
Kuluck formed a resistance group within the Molten Hells such that they may defend themselves against Lucifer’s demons. A gifted fighter and tactician that seemingly arose from nowhere and did not speak of his past, Kuluck forged the resistance into a sharpened point and then drove it against the very walls of Hell.
Thus were the fences ruptured and, for the first time, free passage was allowed between the Molten Realms and Purgatory.
To this day, Kuluck’s Way stands as testament to strength of will and determination of the resistance.
All that we know of the culture of that fearsome species called the Cherax comes directly from the accounts provided by Herbert Jaw, the only recorded Mind-Leaper.
Herbert Jaw could “leap” from mind to mind and thus, with human senses, observe many things that other humans cannot. Shortly after the destruction of Los Pelos, Herbert sent his mind into the ocean in an attempt to find out more about the invaders.
First he became a jellyfish. Then a fish. Then another fish. So on did Herbert send his consciousness down into the depths below. And there, in the darkness, he assumed control of the smallest of shrimp. Tiny and clawed, Herbert guided itself it towards a dark pit set into the side of an underwater cliff.
Within the Cherax den, Herbert discovered a great, terrible mass of Cherax watching another two fighting each other. As the battle played out the surrounding Cherax clicked their mandibles. The fight went on until one of the creatures was upended and there, with its underbelly exposed, had its claws torn free of its chitinous body.
We see at first only static and then flashes of color-red, green, blue. The background goes dark but the static remains. Lines roll up the screen. There is a black bar on the side and on the other side the same amount is missing.
Something appears on the television. An old lady sitting in a vibrating chair, her eyes are closed. She might as well be a vibrating corpse.
Darkness. Static. And then:
Strange geometry, a square between two spheres, appears on the screen. The lines roll and the screen flashes–red, green, blue. These colors cut through the image in waves. The square between two spheres begins to revolve.
The image fades and we are back to static.
Due to the extreme number of creatures passing back and forth between worlds, particularly after that which we call Event-X, it is virtually impossible to prevent the transit of anachronistic artefacts.
That said, as soon as one is discovered on [alt]Earth the Department attempt at least to record its existence and assess any dangers it may pose.
It is rarely necessary to remove anachronistic artefacts, particularly when they are from the past, and these assessments are usually brief.
Occasionally, however, such artefacts may cause localised disturbances–most frequently the Oz-Effect. These objects are confiscated out by the Department and stored or disposed of in line with procedures (see Storage of the Sacrosanct).
There is large black market demand for future-tech, with customers ranging from scientists to military forces and even large multinational corporations. A considerable amount of future-tech is likely already in use.