On New London and Its Inhabitants
The City of New London is all Tesla’s fault. If his experiment had not broken the walls between Victorian London and Fairyland, New London would not be here at all, and Fairyland would not be in jeopardy. The tear in the fabric of space and time brought things from every era of London—Vauxhall Gardens, the Tower, Nonesuch House—before the door between the worlds slammed shut forever.
New London, then, is a curious blend of old and new, its names forgotten and twisted. Situated across rolling hills (or are they hills?), New London is bisected by the River Vaunting on its way to the Winedark Sea. The Night Emporium spans the River, offering a variety of comestibles and victuals for the enjoyment of all. The City is divided into three distinct districts—Uptown, which surrounds the Imperial dwelling on Tower Hill, Midtown, which includes the University of New London and the Museum of Unnatural History, and Lowtown, which is home to gin joints, the main City Refinery, and other things darker and more unpleasant including the clandestine dealings of the hexshops.
Shrouded in the green miasma belched from the Refineries, the City is protected (mostly) from the outside world via a Great Wall, which the Emperor built to keep New London free from magical incursion. After 500 years of exploitation, the descendants of Tesla have learned how to turn magical energy into power, using a substance called myth. Just as Old London relied on coal and gas, New London relies on myth. It’s in everything from lanterns to sealing wax. It powers machines. It provides heat and light. It even makes fabric more durable and beautiful.
But all that power and convenience comes at a terrible price. For Fairyland is a world made of magic, and when that magic is gone, something must take its place.
On The Tinkers
The New Londoners are not the only inhabitants of Fairyland. A people the Victorians unkindly refer to as the Tinkers for their almost-magical ability to fix and build things have already experienced the rise and fall of their own civilization. Descended from Chinese people who were welcomed eons ago into Fairyland by its creatures, the Tinkers eke out a meager existence in the derelict trainyards outside of New London.
Speaking Chinese and living in clans, the Tinkers protect Fairyland’s most precious asset—the beasts the New Londoners refer to as Greater Unnaturals, i.e. mythical creatures whose power enriches and protects the lands in which they live.
The Tinkers outside of New London serve the Manticore, an ancient being whose power nurtures the Forest in which they live. The Manticore is particularly sought after for she bears a potent magic in the Heart of All Matter, which is rumored to have been stolen from His Most Scientific Majesty the Emperor of New London. Creatures like the Manticore were once found in abundance, but no more.
On Travel in the Known Realms
At the opening of The Unnaturalists, threats to New London come from without and within and travel is heavily restricted. Outside the City walls, the Creeping Waste draws ever nearer, destroying everything in its path. The result of a magical experiment gone wrong in the fabled city of Euclidea, the Creeping Waste has cut a black swath across the Euclidean Plain, annihilating the rail system and cutting off the capital of New London from other major cities like Scientia to the northwest.
However, travel can still be accomplished (most of the time) by air or sea via myth-powered engines. For more on travel in the Known Realms, see A Young Lady’s Guide to Conducting Herself While Abroad.
Errata: Scientia is located to the Northwest, not simply West. Our cartographer is occasionally plagued with directional challenges.
Most New Londoners follow the Doctrine of Logic as put forth by the Church of Science and Technology. In this belief, the Ineffable Watchmaker is the Supreme Unknowable Deity, whose sign is a winged clock. The Watchmaker works through His instruments, the great scientists of Europe, who are worshipped as saints—Saint Newton, Saint Darwin, Saint Pasteur—while artisans and poets are seen as demons. Saint Tesla is a particular favorite, as he is the founder of the New Creation. Each New Londoner is believed to be born under the sign of a Patron, and the varying characteristics attributed to each Patron are used by match-makers and other business interests to read the ethereal predictions of the Universe. Believers in the Church of Science and Technology whisper the Boolean Doctrine or the Litany of Evolution to comfort themselves against the terrors that lurk in the night.
The Holy Scientific Bible, penned by the first Emperor, is the sacred book of the Church. Festivals of the Saints are held at various times of year that involve mumming, masques, and devotions to the various shrines. Magic and magical use is strictly forbidden by the Church, except where it is sanctioned by the Emperor.
The three primary figures in the extant tales of The Unnaturalists and The Tinker King are:
Vespa Nyx – Daughter of Malcolm Nyx, Head of the Museum of Unnatural History, Vespa’s greatest desire is to be the First (well, the Second) female Pedant in history and continue working with the collections at the Museum. Her specialty is in identifying, cataloguing, and mounting sylphids for display. Little does she realize that the weight of her unknown origins will soon catch up with her and leave her squarely in the middle of a dangerous plot to alter the very fabric of New London society.
Syrus Reed – A young Tinker of the Reed clan, Syrus inadvertently triggers the chain of events to follow when he steals a small charm from Vespa during a standard Tinker raid at the edge of the Forest. He becomes even more deeply entangled when he frees a Harpy being taken to the City Refinery. His grandmother has told him he is meant for great things, but at the outset of The Unnaturalists, he cannot see how that might be.
Hal Lumin (aka Bayne Grimgorn) – The University’s newest Pedant, Hal Lumin is hiding an uncomfortable secret. Two uncomfortable secrets, actually. For not only is he a member of the magical society of the Architects of Athena, he is also Heir to the vast estates of Grimgorn, the second most powerful family in the Empire and hereditary owners of the City of Scientia. On a mission to uncover corruption and betrayal within the Architects, Bayne stumbles upon Vespa in the Museum and his purpose becomes much more dangerous and deadly.
Lucifera (Lucy) Fear Virulen – Lucy Virulen, scion of a Noble if Fallen House, has her cap set for the perfect match, and when she learns that Vespa just might have the power to help seal the deal, she enlists her aid (i.e. blackmails her) into making it so.
Granny (Nainai) Reed – Nainai Reed is the matriarch of the Tinkers and has more than a little of her own magic up her sleeve when it comes to the foretelling of things.
Malcolm Nyx – Vespa’s father and Head of the Museum of Unnatural History, Malcolm Nyx is a renowned Unnaturalist and Scientist of the Highest Order in his own right.
Araminta Nyx – Sister to Malcolm and Vespa’s aunt, Aunt Minta is practically the only mother Vespa has ever known.
Truffler – Bonded to Syrus, this hairy hob is so named for his excellent ability at sniffing out truffles, one of the many ways Tinkers make their living.
Piskel – A sylphid reanimated by Vespa’s power and not entirely happy with her job at the Museum, Piskel was collected on a western expedition by Pedant Simian and brought for cataloging to the Museum.
There are several terms particular to New London that the reader may find useful to know. Most of them deal with magical technologies or beings.
Evered vs. nevered – Something that has been evered is always on, always available, always open—an everlantern, for instance. Something that has been nevered is always closed, locked, and unavailable. Most things that are nevered have painful curses set into them and require special keys or incantations to open them.
Nulling goggles – Goggles worn in the presence of the Creeping Waste or dark magic
Sylphids – Small fairies such as sprites, sylphs, or pixies
Unnaturals (Greater and Lesser) – Heretofore thought of as mythical creatures, Unnaturals are any creature not of mere biological or fleshly origin. The Greater Unnaturals are the most ancient and powerful and usually guard a territory that both enriches and is enriched by their magic, like the Manticore with Virulen Forest. They are wily and difficult to kill and usually feared by mortals. Lesser Unnaturals are smaller and less powerful, like pixies, hobs, nereids, and so on. See also Elementals.
Unnaturalist – one who studies Unnatural Things
Elementals – The proper and more respectful name for Unnaturals.
Myth – A substance derived from the Refineries and usually delivered in bricks for heating. It is is also used to enrich food, reinforce cloth, and so on. Mythgas can also be used to light lanterns and power ships.
Architects of Athena – a secret society of warlocks charged by Athena (the first known witch and princess royal of the Empire) with building a society wherein humans and Elementals can live together harmoniously. They are also sworn to identify, protect, and train witches, should they run across them. At the time of The Unnaturalists, a witch has not been seen since Athena—at least that the histories record.