Charles Fall is the second son of Admiral and Lady Fall. He has recently been deployed to fight in the war against the enemies of the Empire, along with his older brother Thomas. Charles' favourite thing to do is write; he spends much of his time writing to his sweetheart, Miss Violet Edwards, and he would love to be a great novelist one day.
Count K. Prochazka spent a youth barely surviving upon the streets of Prague. He took solace in reading novels, and was regularly caught attempting to steal from bookshops and the Prague library. Falling upon particularly hard times one Winter night, he was forced to burn the one novel he had kept with him throughout his childhood and adolescence. The story was of the golem created by Rabbi Loew. After inhaling the smoke released by burning this book, Prochazka found himself immersed in a hallucination in which he rode the Golem to kill its creator and then throw itself into the Vlatava. This phantasm was directly tainted with images, characters and events released from the novel. Over the next few years Prochazka experimented with various other books, experiencing trips through many different novels. Recurring in these visions were characters giving thanks for finally being released from their bonds of the text. Prochazka became obsessed with freeing words from their imprisonment in ink and paper and would spend almost every moment in the hyperreal world of his trances. While beginning with a virtuous heart, these trips began to overlap with reality, and Prochazka found it more difficult to separate the real world from that of his visions. He lives with an addiction that must be fed, but each feeding drags him further away from the world of the real and into the murky depths upon the edges of our world.
Lady Marie Ashley does not care for a lot of things. Her estranged family, her husband, society life, decorum. Though maybe she lies about the husband. He’s 20 years older than her, but Marie isn’t the kind of woman he wanted to marry. She refuses to be ordered around. The lack of love from her husband has meant that she looks elsewhere for love, mainly in the arms of others. She’s very good at finding men, and leaving men, though it’s more of a hobby than a passion. The one man she can’t control is the Scribblespectre and he has subsequently become an obsession. She loves her two sons, but she is not a natural mother which is why she has engaged Violet Edwards as a governess. Her brother Robert was the only person she ever knew how to truely love, and he died when she was 15. She left home at 16, and is now a Lady. Marie knows how to look after herself, but society around her doesn't like that. The horizon seems blue through the London smog, but Lady Marie is trapped. A caged bird waiting to break free.
I am The Entomologist. I live alone in a secret place beneath the city of London. I rarely come to the surface; the polluted skies, the smog-ridden alleyways, the trivial conversations, the toxic characters that lurk around every corner - these are just some of the things that drive me away from the world above. Instead of wasting my breaths on interactions with humankind and the noisy, ugly industrial landscape it has crafted, I spend most of my hours in the insect kingdom, away from the cacophony of society. I speak with these creatures, and they speak with me. Some share their wildest dreams and stories for me to record, and others their darkest secrets. Some of them sacrifice their own bodies for my research, while others battle one another to their deaths just to entertain me. Those in the world above may regard me as mad, but they do not understand insects as I understand them. They have been deafened by the clanks and clunks of machinery and blinded by the venomous wisps of smoke that slither around London’s streets. They haven’t seen these miniature angels as I have, enlarged to the size of mountains through the powers of the microscope. One day soon I will return the surface, however. I need to face what I regard as repulsive. And sometimes, I feel as if I love the darkness of the outside world as much as I hate it. There is a strange beauty to what is rotten, to what is rusty and decaying. One could even say that the cut-throat world of the humans in the upper world mirrors the universe of insects I am immersed in, though it is a poor reflection…One day I will return. Perhaps I will find someone new to join the thousands that live with me here. We are all getting hungry for some fresh flesh.
Miss Violet Edwards is the only daughter of an Anglican pastor. Her mother was a ‘fallen woman’ who disappeared when Violet was a very small child. If you ask Vi about her she will tell you about the Russian poet, the French actress, the Spanish Contessa, the Italian dancer, or some other exotic goddess. She will never tell you which one of these is actually her mother. Perhaps she doesn’t know herself. What is certain is that she has grown up in the shadow of this mysterious woman, and has subsequently become something of a shadow herself. Violet is simultaneously fascinated and terrified by the possibility of becoming like her mother, and feels constantly torn between the more liberal, rebellious aspects of her nature and the desire to please those around her. She works as a Governess for Lady Marie Ashley, while anxiously awaiting news from abroad, where her fiancé, Charles Fall, is at war. She adores Henry and Edward, Lady Marie’s sons, and hopes to mould them into strong, educated, and, above all, contented young men. She is incredibly interested in politics, and also in literature, and adores the novels of the Bronte sisters, although with a somewhat guilty pleasure, as she knows she shouldn’t really be reading them.
Saviya is known by humans and birds alike as a travelling book-peddler of old and foreign literature. She wears a ring in which lines of poetry appear at sunrise. She is greatly wishing to meet Lady October, Mistress of the Occult but as yet only her pet raven has been to the Lady’s abode. Saviya is in possession of a fantastic manuscript entitled Rhythms of the Orient which she would like Lady October to read. Within the fragile pages are lines of poetry which Saviya wants interpreted by the Lady. Her chances of meeting her are slight, as Crenshaw her raven returns only with a ribbon of luminous essence. Then one night a mysterious traveller stops at Saviya’s caravan for brandy and Saviya gives him a pipe of hickory wood she has carved. He tells her many tales of people he has met on his travels. It is first the next day Saviya realizes that he has met with Lady October at a séance. She wants to send Crenshaw after the traveller, but the bird has already disappeared......
Some people believe in The Scribble Spectre. Some do not. It depends who you ask.
Some believe him to be a legend, others a bed-time story in which he appears before evil men to show them a piece of what hell has in store for them. Some believe him to be a sentry of the devil, others a messiah of hope in a decaying world. Some have learnt of his origins, and of his beliefs, and though there are few who would speak of it, those that do talk highly of him. It is whispered that he has not the luxury of friends, others that he has allies down many a secret road. It depends who you ask.
Some say he is a creature out of his time, appalled by the sins of man. There are those that say he was insane before he even arrived. His followers, of which there are a growing number, say he writes and draws and leaves messages for them on deserted streets or in their favourite books. This had led some to speculate that he is mute. A great number say this is ridiculous, that they have heard him screaming to stand and deliver and give the highwayman their dirty lives. They said he told them they would be free. That they would be kind, and selfless, and brave. He told them that he would make them love again. Some say these are all lies. It depends who you ask.
Lady October: Mistress of the Occult is a cartomancer, able to divine the future from her deck of inevitable tarot cards. Not much is known about her, for she is intensely private and does not much enjoy the company of others. It is believed though, that her skin is as pale as smoke and that she smells almost imperceptibly of evenings in late autumn.
Some people believe that those who go to have their cards read, never speak again of what Lady October has divined for them; but this can neither be confirmed or denied.
One day, you will look into your mirror and see a strange, perspicacious softness pass across your countenance. The habitual cessation that follows will make you think about your own life, your future - your death. Then, in that moment, you will know that she is waiting for you.