The Heitman Kirkland, Commander of the Rangar City Watch, has made a request for information concerning the whereabouts of a 'man-like bat or bat-like man', wanted for questioning in connection with the death of a City Watcher in Union Square last week.
No details have yet been given of the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. In a statement made two days after the event, the Heitman explained that the other members of Watcher Wendel's patrol were 'understandably shocked by their experiences' and would not be available for comment. However, Watch House sources claim that Wendel, who leaves a widow and three children, died as the result of bites received shortly after a large flying creature was seen descending from the statue of King Moritz III.
The investigation continues.
Fears are growing about the health of popular priest Medarch Ceir Lindos, savagely beaten up by mystery assailants last week. The Hierarch Chirurge's staff today announced that, although Lindos' condition had seemed to be improving until three days ago, he has undergone a severe relapse and is fading fast.
The Hierarch Duer has called for a nationwide vigil and prayer to be held tonight, a move virtually without precedent. 'Ceir Lindos is a well known figure around the city and elsewhere, an inspiring Soliloquizer and a good friend to those in need. He has prayed by others' sickbeds on countless occasions - all subjects should be prepared to do the same for him now.' King Geraint will be leading the vigil at sunset on the steps of the Legacy Palace.
The perpetrators of this outrage are still to be identified, according to the City Watch. It is believed that a gang of drunken louts were responsible, as the attack took place near the notoriously rowdy Roaring Donkey tavern.
The massive war fleet which the despotic King Geraint has been gathering in Rangar Port is ready to sail, sources report, and honest Sibutanis can only be quaking in their beds at such a prospect. The only question is where the Tyrant is going to launch his savage attack. Will he aim for the peaceful, vulnerable but poor colony of Filly? Will he go for riches and spoil and attempt to sack Up Step? Or will he dare strike at the heart of Sibutani freedom by attacking Sahela? Whichever target the filthy Pangs choose, they will meet with stern resistance from our brave boys and girls!
His Imperial Highness the Prince of Thar is pleased to announce that his condition is much improved thanks to the attentions of his physician Sieur Claudio Cannelli.
Her Imperial Highness Princess Sharia wishes to thank those who kindly sent gifts and flowers on the occasion of the coming of age of her son Palomino, Earl Snoresby, second child of the late Prince Marcus.
His Grace the Lord Golding, First Secretary for Trade, is pleased to announce the conclusion of an agreement with the Free City of Sahela regarding certain spices from Sibutani colonies in Nevatan.
The Right Honourable Sarah ffoulkes, Commissioner of the Gendarmerie, is pleased to announce the apprehension of Joan Pathway, the notorious Galenan cat burglar. At Pathway's house no less than fifty-eight cats were found in various states of health, the announcement concludes.
Rangar City Watchers are puzzled as to the motivation behind the recent break-in at Basin Place, home of the renowned Explorator Stanton Harcourt. Harcourt was away from the house during the incident, which happened in the early evening, but his associate Wittenham Clumps, the first man to set foot on the isle of Tulean, surprised the robbers and was beaten senseless for his pains.
Interviewed on his return, Stanton Harcourt was puzzled as to the motive behind the robbery. He declined to say, though, whether any objects of value had been taken. When asked to comment upon the efficiency of the City Watch, he replied that he had been out of the city recently and could not pass judgement. 'People should not spread wild rumours and make unfounded accusations.'
It is reported that Rory Harcourt, wealthy owner of lands in central Pangaturan, is missing, presumed dead. Squire Harcourt, brother of famed Explorator Stanton Harcourt, was last seen riding on the King's Highway in the direction of the village of Carnivi, where authorities are currently pursuing their investigations. The Heitman Kirkland, Commander of the Rangar City Watch, whose own estate adjoins that of the Harcourt family, is said to be taking a personal interest in the case.
The Editors are keen to encourage artistic endeavour, and to this end we are pleased to present here two compositions by a previously unpublished Rangar poet which have recently come to our attention. In the first work we find Picaro contemplating his own mortality. The reader should note his powerful use of symbols, that of the 'snake' in particular.
The second piece, in lighter mood, reflects upon the transient nature of material wealth.
The Government of Her Imperial Majesty Juliana of Lapang offers a sum of one thousand gold crowns in exchange for information leading to the apprehension of one Mollin Cant, leader of the notorious terrorist group known as 'The Inheritors' and wanted in connection with numerous crimes committed against the Empire including murder, bribery, piracy, and bringing the name of Her Imperial Majesty into disrepute. The man is armed and dangerous, and is most certainly accompanied by members of his group; he should therefore be approached with caution.
Did Saint Monksilver arrive from the West on a 'Winged Dragon'? Was the Magna Lirium Boy a mummified leprechaun? Did a giant clam abduct a Samarindan fishing vessel in 987? Just three Enigmas of the Mysterious Unknown, explanation of which has defied the finest intellects. Yet we should not dismiss such subjects on the word of those who merely command higher authority. There are stranger things in this earth than Religion or Science can explain!
Consider, for example, an event which occurred recently on the north-west coast of Yapen, where local fishermen trawling off the Cape found among their catch the body of a man. Not Unusual, you may say - but this unfortunate fellow was skewered through the heart by a giant swordfish, fully ten feet long! And though the man had surely floated many days in that deadly embrace, his body was untouched by fish and corruption alike!
Making the sign of the Wheel before them, the fisherfolk hastened home to deposit their find in the local Playhouse, whence the Prompter retired to his Dressing Room to prepare a Performance of Rest. But that is not the end of the tale (remember: the Unusual never ceases to surprise). For when the Prompter returned to the Stage in his Costumes, the body, swordfish and all, was gone! And though the Playhouse stands in the centre of the village, not a soul saw the monstrosity depart...
In my next column: Did an Ancient Lapangi poet describe 'modern' surgical techniques? And what is the purpose of the Glowing Blue Man sighted recently travelling from Pell Enna to Rangar?
Wentworth Island, half way between Lapang proper and Rast, was well known to the ancient Lapangi under the name of Tanis. Ferelius, in his 'Life of Aramethes', writes of an expedition the natural philosopher made to the island to improve his collection of rare bracket fungi. At that time Tanis was notable mainly for its colonies of skua, which viciously attacked the unfortunate Aramethes as he made his way up the stony beach. Ferelius surmises that the birds were trying to protect their eggs, which they lay among the pebbles of the beach, not having proper nests as we understand them.
On the partition of the Lapangi Empire, Tanis seems to have fallen to the lot of the Duchy of Ribero, which may have initiated its use as a prison: it was at this time that the island came by its current name, possibly in honour of an early confinee or governor. The bleakness of the land (only three trees grow on the whole island) and its distance from centres of population made it ideal for this purpose, and this is why the modern Empire has kept the facility in (infrequent) use.
The prisoners currently on Wentworth Island are in the main Kendists, followers of the outlawed Galenan political thinker and atheist Karl Kendles. These dangerous seditionaries were found to be plotting the overthrow of our system of government and its replacement with a dictatorship of the peasantry. Three and one half dozen of the rebels were consigned to lifelong exile on Wentworth Island in the third year of Her Imperial Majesty's glorious reign: in her maganimity the Empress spared the lives of those who would have done her mischief, but ensured that they would be located where they could cause no further damage to the body politick of Lapang. Ships en route from Galena or Ribero to the provinces of the north occasionally stop off at Wentworth Island, to leave meagre provisions: this also provides an opportunity for their passengers to marvel at the deservedly piteous state of the prisoners, and ruminate on the fate that awaits those who seek to oppose the natural order of society.
Yes! Another Strange Column in a matter of mere days since the last. As we approach the end of the century, and the Wheel turns another remorseless cycle to enter the Era of the Thurbo, we observers of the Strange can expect to see many more events inexplicable by so-called rational means.
Today I learn of a Ghost Ship which entered Gelt Town in northern Yapen. It appeared as a fishing smack of antique Pangaturese design, the sails rotted at the yards, the rudder swinging aimlessly as though no human force directed it. Nervous townsfolk plucked up the courage to board the vessel after it had stood but an hour in the harbour, only to find it completely deserted! Not only that, but at least two of the sturdy peasants were prepared to swear that they had seen an eerie blue glow pulsating around the after companion-way.
According to my sources the dread vessel remains in Gelt Town's docks as I write. Owing to the blockade of Pangaturan your fearless correspondent may not be able to visit the site himself before whoever (or WHATever!) steers the Ghost Ship drives it forth on the next leg of its curious voyage. You may rest assured, though, that readers of Unusual magazine will never be kept in the dark!
Remember our maxim - the future's bright, the future's STRANGE.
While touring through the pleasant uplands of northern Salemi Province in my youth, I came upon a strange curiosity firmly associated in the local mind with the great and good Saint Montgolfo. Known as Montgolfo's Ring, it is a large granite outcrop shaped like the letter O, perhaps six feet tall and the same across, standing proud at the top of the hill on which the Introspectory of St Montgolfo is located. I paused to ask the learned Introspectors what was the tale of this prodigy of nature, and was fortunate enough to be indulged by the learned Fra Cherubio (no longer with us, alas, but on a greater Stage).
When the wind blows from the north through the Ring, Fra Cherubio informed me, it makes an eerie whistling noise. Local legends say that once upon a time, before anyone lived in the land, the valley was inhabited by a race of heroes who one day walked into the Ring and disappeared; the legend also says that if the land is ever threatened, the heroes will reappear through the Ring.
In 'historical times' Saint Montgolfo is said to have defeated a fearsome beast that came out of the Ring. His cast it into the earth, where presumably it bides its time, waiting for the right stars, in the guise of Ol' Garvey. It was this act which led to the establishment of the Introspectory in his name, although of course the good Saint was already widely known for his earlier works.
In more recent times, Montgolfo's Ring has become a focus for 'harmless' village superstition: newly-weds step through the Ring to ensure health, wealth, happiness and fertility; each year, the first of the harvest is ceremoniously carried through it; it is said that if a young girl peers into it at midnight on the 4th of Paopi, the air within the Ring will become as a mirror and she will see her future reflected in it! A most useful piece of masonry, indeed.
The Introspectors, of course, frown on all this idle flummery. Fra Cherubio, frowning, expatiated on the stubborn tendency of the simple peasant folk to attach foolish superstitions to what should be venerated as a holy object, the scene of the Saint's triumph.
On passing on to Salemi itself, though, I was told by the learned Director Carol Pentangeli that some doubt is now cast on the tale of Saint Montgolfo vanquishing the great beast. It seems as though the Saint's actual deed may have been to drive out some evil and blasphemous cult that was oppressing the peasants, this being represented in allegorical form as vanquishing the monster.
Here in Galena we believe ourselves modern, intelligent and advanced in matters of faith. How near, though, is the superstition of our ancestors!
Acknowledgements: Wendy Anne Prosser, Melanie Dymond Harper
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