The Urchin and the Noman
by R. J. Frogvarian
The urchin stood knees-deep in lacre. He was covered head to toe in soot after his daring intrusion through the chimney. The winds of the unterzee howled around his golden hair. Distant snores of great stone boars. He took a deep breath, one filled with salt and thunder. A blade ran across his palm; a droplet of blood in the vastness of white. In a wicked metamorphosis, from the lacre rose a replica of the boy – the urchin’s noman.
The two smiled at each other, pure white eyes facing eyes filled with stormy skies. Hand in hand, they ascended back to the Neath’s streets.
The first one came in the deep night. The day had been filled with conversation and play, joys interrupted with a heavy knock on wood. The two figures inside froze and turned. Looming in the entrance of the humble rooftop hideout stood a tall cloaked figure. From underneath the hood peered two glowing eyes, darting between the two boys inside. With a heavy cough it cleared its throat; the air was filled with a heavy, intoxicating smell.
“You have caused quite a stir. There is now interest, yes. Consider this a simple warning.”
It stood there only a few moments more, and then, just as fast as it had come, it was gone.
There was more tension on the third day, yes, though smiles were still exchanged. Despite the cold of the roof (and the cold of the noman’s body) the two felt quite warm. Yet, as they had feared, another knock interrupted their conversation.
The figure spoke, in a tipsy tone of voice.
“I am not one to dissuade from pleasure. There is a certain… quality we desire in a story. With a little nudge…”
With that, it was gone, and in its wake only wine and questions.
There is much that a bottle of Greyfields will do to the mind. Neither of the boys had noticed the light reflected from the next figure’s robes. There was much blushing and holding of hands. Hot breath on breath and a single tear shed. The two danced – if it can be called dance – around a candle, enjoying the company to the fullest.
This visitor did not speak a word, only observed, took notes, and left quite soon.
All revels have their price. As usual, it was a headache. Still, the two remained in each other’s arms, and talked. When the next visitor arrived it was polite enough not to knock.
“Some are pleased with the two of you. Some doubt the value. It is clear that there will be consequences. Simply put, there are secrets that are beyond normal value. I would advise you to consider.”
As it had departed, the two sat in a stir. In each other’s embrace, they pondered of what their bond might reveal.
“Most unscrupulous! So preposteriting in nature! Bards have never sung such spurnous tales as this – the bond of man and no man! Or… boy and no boy! The pellucidious depth of feeling, we are quite impressed. Yet salacity rises to the surface! Commingling of despicablenesses brings to us the impenetrablest of choices. To go down in the books, to be told and untold for ages to come. To thwart such wiles of secret unearthing, we musn’t fall into complicitude, no, to be eternally so vigilant is our predicament!
“Be warned, you in fatuation, for there are prices to be paid… for knowledge! Now, though, for me to abscond.“
Art of London
Sun-Filled Stories, Chapter Two
by Cassius Mortemer
The Author followed the Devil down Blackfinger Street, past the Bridge Without and countless stalls of all sorts of wonders he has never seen before.
“Is that a… what is that?” The Author asked. The Devil followed his gaze.
“What? The whirring contraption?”
The Author’s eyes seemed to sparkle with curiosity. The Devil was smiling, despite himself. He made sure to hide it as soon as he realized he had it. The Author, despite the Devil’s low-effort attempt of restraining him via hand-holding, was absorbed in his surroundings. Pointing out curios and oddities, asking about things he’s never seen before… The Devil found it increasingly difficult to focus on his own problems.
“You live in Veilgarden, don’t you?” the Devil asked while the Author was fawning over some wines. The Author looked at him, seeming a little dazed. As if his mind took a moment to catch up with his words.
“What..? Oh! Yes, Veilgarden. Are you taking me home?”
“Yes. Well. Just somewhere not here.”
“What’s wrong with your home?”
“I don’t want you there.”
The Author gave him that look again – an offended pout with brows furrowed together – and the Devil still didn’t feel like explaining to him how that wasn’t meant as an insult.
“Yours is just… easier,” he muttered after a little while. The Author didn’t say anything. The Devil was biting his lip again, fangs digging into his skin this time. He knew exactly what was happening. It was completely normal for a devil. It’s their nature.
“Deep breaths, don’t fall in love…” he said. He could almost feel those spires looming over him, watching him. Could almost feel the crowd pressing closer, threatening to keep him here forever.
The Devil pulled out his handkerchief and covered his mouth and nose. The Bazaar Side-Streets were packed with brilliant souls, and he could smell each and every one of them. It’s too much. Other devils don’t go through this, of course. Other devils don’t get overwhelmed by the very thing they should be yearning for.
Just a little bit more, he promised himself. Veilgarden isn’t that far…
They squeezed past a particularly dense crowd and the Devil held his breath. He doesn’t know why he’s so sensitive to souls, or why no one else wasn’t. He doesn’t-
“Are you alright?” the Author asked. The Devil shook his head, stifling a sneeze. The Author pulled his hand free from the Devil’s, earning him an annoyed scowl. As if he would disappear the moment he lets go.
“What are you…?”
“What’s wrong?” the Author said, “Is something bothering you?”
The Author eyes the handkerchief still pressed against the Devil’s face. The Devil shook his head again and grabbed his hand.
The Devil’s head was pounding by now. There’s just too many of them. He surges onwards without any mind to direction. Eventually he became aware of the Author pulling him forward, instead of the other way around. He didn’t even try focussing on his surroundings anymore.
It’s just too much for him…
by Idelia Lockwood
News of Art, Art of News
All-Bird Review – Halmet
As false snow falls and covers the roofs above, we turn our heads to a humble stage on a humble town square…
The Bard’s great tale of a Danish prince is one oft replayed and rewritten, perhaps in an attempt to bring modern audiences to enjoy the classics. While the All-Bird Theater Troupe does not present any special story gimmicks, it does, of course, bring its own novelty to the table.
Returning now are the two stars, the raven and the dove of Ravemeo and Dovette fame, in the roles of Hamlet and Ophelia respectively. We must say, the two do have a rather pleasant chemistry (and a knack for tragedies).
The dove did not excel so well in the portrayal of Ophelia’s madness, coming out more as a mild hysteria, though such state was, of course, short-lived for the character.
Hamlet himself did a fantastic job, even through the caws and cawks, the magnificent soliloquies were as heart-wrenching as always.
A quite exciting appearance was of Halmet’s father – for the role of the ghost, the production had managed to secure an albino raven – and even a (perhaps) real bird skull for poor Yorick. The rest of the cast was exquisite, of course.
The technical side of this play was rather simple, as the others in this Christmas trio had been. For a rather wonderful effect, the production claims to have used lacre of all things to produce non-lethal smoke. Such a secret, we are sure, will soon get patented.
All in all, we had immensely enjoyed this production of Hamlet, and have it on good word that it will continue playing for the subsequent couple of weeks before (for now) retiring.
That, of course, concludes the trio of plays by the All-Bird Theater Troupe for this festive season. We hope you you, just as we, have enjoyed it immensely.
We wish you pleasant a holiday season, London, and many sleepful, snow-covered nights to come.
The Starveling Interview – A Rare Occasion Of Feline Insight
by Rubbered Ginny
One of our top reporters has recently decided to perform quite the feat. Indeed, the Starveling Cat, a menacing companion indeed, had been interviewed! Quite thoroughly, might we add. Do find this journalistic gem on pages 7-14.
Ask Mother Goose
Dear Mother Goose,
It was not me! It was the devilry! The Prophessed that spoke to me!
I am afraid the decision is not up to me. Though, if it were, I am afraid I would not have mercy.