It brings my heart joy to see so many helping hands come together for a common cause. Even if, perhaps, the motivations between individual actions may not be the purest, if perhaps most have acted for what others may perceive as the wrong reasons, even then, the result remains the same. Community, support, love.
In the matters of the Bazaar, of course, one should always look to love.
It makes me ask myself what more could be done. How far should help reach. Where the tendrils of love might reach with their tender grip. Spread too wide, too thin, and you may not grasp anything. Focus too small, and, well – what help is it to the world, even if you help one who means the world to you?
It is difficult to know what is right. We are all merely blindly cruising through the forest, doing our damnedest to stay on the right path. All the paths, they come and go, they pass us by and criss-cross with the one we are walking on. We look out for ourselves, for each other – and, perhaps, sometimes, for others more than for ourselves. We are so keen on keeping at the right path, sometimes we forget to keep the road clear for those behind us.
I wish I knew what to do. With time, perhaps, I will be able to see more clearly.
Art of London
Sunset Beyond Liyue
“Parabola shifts. Alignments crumble. London enters the fray. Too far in to turn back. An invitation therefore. To one who has wandered deep in Parabola. War comes. Will you take up arms?”
The howling words of the storm die down, satisfied upon hearing the message it delivered. A deluge of rainwater falls from the black clouds as it passes over one final time. One final clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, and it is gone.
A man watches the storm disappear. His hair is a stark white despite the youthfulness of his face. His clothes are dark three-piece suit. Despite the amount of rain, he is free of water. Keen eyes shine under the light of the false-sun, one eye Cosmogone, one eye Viric.
Reinol von Lorica nods to himself. He turns his back to the wilderness, where untamed dangers and unseen wonders lurked, and looked at what many Londoners now call their base camp.
His, of course, is far more than any simple ‘camp’. A wall of briar surrounds the outside of it, their spikes and thorns made of emerald and dripping with poison. A retinue of ushabti-knights stand guard, spears in stone hands. Three minotaurs, menacingly march on a patrol around the walls, further reinforcing the base.
He enters the base through an opening in the wall, ignoring the stony gazes of his guards. And when he steps past the border, it is as if he walked right back into the Parabolan wilderness.
An entire forest stretches out before him, trees larger and greater than those on the Surface completely fill the area. Each one is trapped in a perpetual state of autumnal equinox. Leaves of green and red and yellow fall from branches that never stop run out of them. Silver framed mirrors are attached to the trunks, each one showing a vision of a different place across the Neath. Each one is large and hollow enough to act as a small house of sorts.
There are no humans staffing his base. Only more ushabti-knights. Seventy-seven of them in total act as the base’s guard and staff.
He simply doesn’t trust his fellows enough to do things right.
“Certainly wouldn’t hurt to try,” a man says from behind him.
The rustle and crackle of leaves as they are trampled by dozens of stone feet echoes throughout the silent forest. When Reinol turns back to look, it is to see a long necked fellow surrounded by several ushabti-knights, all of them pointing weapons at him.
“Greetings,” the Ophidian Gentleman says, smiling widely at him, “I see that you have been…invited, to represent your dear city in this war. Frankly. I’m surprised you have, considering your allegiances, but I’m happy nonetheless. We all are, rather.”
Reinol waves his hand. The ushabti-knights lower their weapons and step back. There is no need for tension among allies after all, “it is to be expected. No one in London is more suitable for this than I,” even his neutral tone could not hide his arrogance.
A chuckle. The Ophidian Gentleman gestures for Reinol to follow him as he walks deeper into the base. Reinol does so, treating the man as an equal.
“The Fingerkings will not be able to lend you their direct support,” he says, “as you represent not they, but London. However, allying with them is well within your boundaries,” the subtle hint is clear for the both of them.
“I suppose I will have to raise my own army then,” Reinol muses aloud.
“Indeed. Fortunately for us however, the mercenary companies and independent fighters of Parabola are numerous. They will gladly come to your aid, provided you meet their expectations. And of course, you will have to consider logistics and munitions,” is the reply he gets.
“How troublesome,” he says, before shaking his head. Then, he considers something for a moment, “I suppose I will need a place to conduct the war from? Perhaps a grand a pavilion from where I may lead?”
The Ophidian Gentleman claps his hands in delight, “good! You’re picking up on the matter! We’ll get started on those later. For now, let’s deal with the small things such as this now, eh?”
“Yes,” Reinol dryly states, “the small things.”
Both men pause at a large clearing in the forest. The two share a glance before Reinol breaks the silence, “will you at least work with me on this?”
“But of course,” is his reply, followed by a sharp smile.
As one the two raise their hands to the sky. The earth trembles. Parabolan birds and other fauna nestling in the streets look on, startled. A warbler begins to debate whether this is the end or a beginning.
From the ground, the boughs of a tree arise, followed by a trunk and the branches that accompany it. But this tree is different from the others. It is far larger, easily dwarfing those of the mystical redwoods of the Americas in height and width. Its bark is stark white and its leave are a deathly pale silver. Dozens upon dozens of mirrors hang on bark and branch, reflecting the light of the Parabolan Sun.
The inside is hollow, like all of the trees, and the space is enough to house an entire cathedral. It is sparsely decorated, with various mirrors lining the inside to use for long range communication. Various glass gazettes line the wooden walls. A round table is set directly in the centre, where they may all gather. The interior still changes, warping from more natural designs to those more man-made, as if undecided on what it should look like.
This shall be his pavilion. This shall be where he and his generals shall command and win the war.
“Well,” the Ophidian Gentleman states, hardly even winded from the effort, “I haven’t done that in awhile. What fun.”
“Indeed,” Reinol replies, trying to hide his tiredness, “now then. I suppose we spread the word? The Cats and Chessboard must know who I am. And then I suppose, it is time to raise the banner.”
“You’re asking me?” He says, a brow quirked in amusement.
“Of course,” is the cool reply, “you are my advisor, are you not?”
At this, the Ophidian Gentleman only laughs. Indeed, he would be Reinol’s advisor for this, as he has been instructed to be by the Fingerkings. As his laughter dies down, he gives a look at his fellow servant, “one last thing, before we get to the more weightier tasks; I am obliged to ask whether you are to act upon Parabola and shape it to your liking or if you desire to let the Is-Not act upon you and take it on its terms…but we already have our answer, don’t we?”
For the first time in this conversation, Reinol’s lips quirks into a smile that does not reach his cold eyes, “Indeed.”
The Cosmogone Sun continues to shine down upon his base camp as the stormy clouds finally clear, the false light dancing across the leaves of a forest grown by himself.
News of Art, Art of News
Grand Clearing Out – The Disaster And The Aftermath
To a keen-eyed reader, the events described within this report will not be the most novel. Indeed, those observant amongst us have surely noticed London having nearly been swallowed, sunken into the ground again like all those years ago. Truly, the most astute of citizens have seen the numerous holes, felt the earthquakes, observed buildings crumbling underneath their own weight as their foundations gave way to emptiness.
Mr. Chimes’ Grand Clearing Out had all of London positively mad for amatuer archaeology and mining expeditions. Most misfortunately, all the digging had seemed to awaken something beneath the Neath’s floor. The ground stirred, quite dangerously, bringing rumblings and earthquakes to the whole of London. Even weeks after this disaster, it is unclear what exactly had transpired and why.
It is easy to presume that, perhaps, this was a dastardly plot by the Masters. After all, it was the call-to-action of one Mr. Chimes that had brought this upon us. However, it is important to remember that there would be little to no benefit for the governing entities if London were to be swallowed whole. Moreover, we have it from reputable sources that the Masters have been seen building and operating a machine of unknown purpose, the activation of which was soon followed by the end of the disaster.
Another minor event, perhaps unrelated to the overall ongoings, were the visions many Londoners had. Strange daydreams, unknown feelings the likes of which could be attributed to that or another neighbour. No authorities were attempted to be reached regarding this phenomenon.
While we at the Gazette are not fast to jump to conclusions as to the origins of this disaster, we also lack any further theories on them. Moreover, we are not a sensationalist paper and much rather take our time with the facts and silver linings.
Despite such a time of utter distress, it was quite a sight to behold all of London come together. Citizens quick on their feet (and with safety equipment at hand) were there to help those caught in sinkholes, underneath rubble, and in other precarious positions. Rumours (or perhaps gentle brags) speak of upstanding citizens helping the Masters with their miraculous machine. Even now, although the worst is over, we all come together to give a helping hand and rebuild, brick by brick, post by post.
Such a sight can bring a joyful tear to anyone’s eye. Neighbours, coming together to help the community. Together, facing never before seen adversity, odds greater than any individual, and overcoming it to emerge victorious at the top. More than anything, it makes us proud.
In the end, perhaps, the events following the Grand Clearing Out could not have been avoided. In the end, perhaps, all our warnings would not had been for anything.
In the end, perhaps, the future looks bright.
Stay safe, London.
Viscountess’s Disappearance – Station Of Lord Mayor Abolished?
This year, one may notice a glaring absence of Lord Mayor at the Fruits of the Zee festival. Indeed, one may observe a total lack of an ongoing election in the months prior. Furthermore, it seems that the latest Lord Mayor, the Viscountess of the Viric Jungle, has gone missing as well. There have been no official statements or updates on this situation, however it appears that this venerated post will no longer seek occupance.
The days of the Lord Mayoral office (or any mayoral office altogether) in London are, perhaps, over. The station had been abolished, with no one but bureaucrats left to take care of any official proceedings. This had all happened without much notice or fanfare amidst the joy and chaos of the Grand Clearing Out. Mass apathy, after all, is the insidious killer of politics.
As previously mentioned, the last Lord Mayor, the Viscountess, is nowhere to be seen. Furthermore, no Masters could have been reached for an appropriate comment. Our office was graced by a single letter:
“Dearest [REDACTED], it would be most benefactitious for all involved if your veneretabloid would resist the temptilitation of reaching out in the matters of [REDACTED].
Next time, bring [REDACTED] to [REDACTED].”
Needless to say, while we will miss the tribulations of an election season, the political discussion and ongoings in London will not be stopped. While our Lord Mayor may be gone, and perhaps never replaced, it is important to look at other officials with similar scrutiny, and cast our votes in whatever local election may come next.
Ask Mother Goose
Dear Mother Goose,
In the pursual of my happiness, so many blockades appear. How can one flourish when the world demands their head on a stake?
Not all the world is brimstone and fire. Sometimes it may look like it, as our skin burns and unforgiving hands feed the flames. We need to be vigilant, patient, and seek those hands that want to help us, to embrace us, to pull us out of this hell. Only together, with those that love us, can we flourish.