This is an archive of the rumors and other hearsay which circulate through Fallen London. You can view them on the right sidebar of the game.
[Experience everything for yourself at http://www.fallenlondon.com]
These can likely appear in any location.A banned book?
The most quickly-censored book in Fallen London was a children's book entitled 'Loste in the Myste: St Destin's Children'. Launched at nine o'clock on a Thursday, the Ministry had already banned and removed it from shelves by eight forty-five.
(Loste in the Myste?)
Flowers are hard to come by in Fallen London. Where resources are scarce, private enterprise inevitably steps in to fill the gap.
(Nothing says 'romance' like a...mushroom?)
These apples are not refreshing. But they are filling, and they will make you strong (but brittle). Avoid consuming them in precarious positions.
(The ultimate in nourishment solutions.)
"The Bazaar requires the London Magazine to change its name. The London Magazine has survived two centuries and one duel! It has published Keats, Shelley, De Quincey, Hazlitt! It will survive the translation of London to this d----d abyss, and the dictates of the Bazaar. We will continue to publish under the name, The Magazine Formerly Known As The London Magazine."
(Freedom of the press!)
The Game is played everywhere: France, Vienna, Russia, the Khanate - but especially in London. Anyone might be a player: a grocer, a tattooist, visiting nobility. Be wary. [You can meet players of the Game all around London - but particularly in Ladybones Road.]
(Few know the pieces. Fewer know the players.)
The Masters frown on the study of Horizon Glyphs. Why? What secrets are hidden in those neat pictograms?
(Egyptology is strongly discouraged.)
The wise Londoner avoids graffitti. If you read it too closely your hair might catch fire. [As you improve your Watchful, you may learn to read these burning sigils.]
(Don't look too closely.)
"I have, I fear, at last determined the cause of our poor Leopold's sad disappearance. You will recall that I sent by the Borneo a very considerable collection of [illegible] ... identified one variety as the sinister exile's rose of the Bosphorus. Sophia had long admired their colour [illegible] ... gardens here about the Government-house [illegible] ... although here they call it 'lion's rose'. Singapura is Lion City in the Sanskrit [illegible] ... There are of course no lions here, though many tigers. I would not mention this except that when I dream of Leopold, as still I often do, it has always seemed to me that there is a great cat present, the colour of sunset, which is also the colour of the roses..."
(What on earth is this on about?)
Fallen London's newspapers take pleasure in mocking the radical scientific theories of the day. They frequently publish cartoons on the subject of 'evolution'. 'If your Grandparents were Apes,' they ask the scientists, 'why are your Arms so Short?'
Before the Fall, gentlemen did not usually say 'damned'. The word is in more common use now. Given the proximity of Hell, it seems coy to treat the word with such caution.
(Standards are slipping, d--n it.)
The question is not indelicate. The Lumps are a famous - perhaps notorious - delicacy sold in the Refreshment Pavilion at Mrs Plenty's Most Distracting Carnival. Deep-fried sea-monster, they say. They are to jellied eels what a war is to a fist-fight.
An Elder Continent disease. It starts with a warming of the blood. It ends with skin dry as parchment, breath hot as fire. Don't get too close! Souls are flammable.
(Foreign travel. Dangerous, best to be avoided.)
The Department of Infernal Rarefactions has developed a technique for heating glim: producing a light of astonishing intensity, as well as, unfortunately, fumes of savage and appalling potency. Perhaps it will be a means to fumigate houses: perhaps a means for the more intrepid to light their feasts.
(Is it safe?)
The colour of forgetting, deeper and more solemn than purple. It is frequently associated with spies, and others who would prefer not to be troubled by conscience.
(What was I saying, again?)
A secret language hidden under waistcoats and dress-sleeves. Encoded messages, written on skin. [You may learn more about the Illumination in Ladybones Road.]
(It's a secret cipher. An art. Sometimes a drunken mistake.)
What we have instead of moonlight, down in the Neath: the uncertain glow from phosphorescent things in the cavern roof. Possibly jewels, possibly very large glowing insects. Frankly it'd be nicer if they were jewels.
(I can hardly see a thing.)
The notorious ballet 'The Concursion of Petals' might be a work of genius, or of madness. Its libretto embraces the lascivious: the Alignment of Roots; the Twins Engorged. Rare performances attract well-connected libertines. Most leave feeling unwell. [You can translate the Concursion of Petals using an Ornate Typewriter, purchaseable at the Bazaar.]
(Good God, what is that?)
London is home to an illicit, lucrative trade in Surface sunlight. Its quality varies, as can its effects. Be careful of sunshine laced with moonlight. [Find out more about the sunlight trade in Cut with Moonlight, purchasable on the Fate page.]
(What's in the box?)
You may have heard that milliners tend towards insanity. The hat makers of the Neath are the maddest of them all, and this is nothing to do with mercury fumes. How would you feel if your finest creations were the ones most likely to devour you?
This far underground, there are no natural lights. There are distant phosphorescent things in the roof which do for stars - they call it 'moonish light' - but they're not enough to do business by. Some places have gaslight, but it's not cheap. Chandlers - candlemakers - have learnt to use exotic materials to make candles which burn long and well. They don't always smell so very good though.
(Dark, isn't it?)
A SOOTHE & COOPER tonic for the dysphoric, despondent and depressed! Equally good for catarrh. CONVENIENT, SCIENTIFIC, INFALLIBLE! [Soothe & Cooper Long-Boxes are rare items.]
(A categorically credible cure for broken hearts!)
A few trees survive in the gloom of London, maintained at great expense by Her Majesty's Department of Parks and Game. It is not a celebrated or prestigious department, being too fond (according to the Home Office) of mushrooms. Why, then, are its keepers so feared?
(That explains the trees on the Beta map, then.)
Creatures EditWhat are the things under the City?
In no particular order, these are said to be: the first Four Cities; the Masters' summer homes; the hatcheries of the Rubbery Men; and a number of gigantic sleeping beasts which are drugged every year to prevent them awakening and destroying the Neath. These are sometimes referred to as the 'stone pigs', but that's probably some sort of mistranslation.
(It must be crowded down there.)
Is it an infernal creature? An escapee from dreams of scapeless surveillance? The pinnacle of the goat-breeder's art? Only this is certain: the Overgoat is watching. None shall escape its gaze.
They say it's not a monster at all. It's a man who dresses up as a bat. To, ah, prowl the city by night. But that would just be stupid.
(A man who dresses up as a bat? Who ever heard of such a thing?)
Bat-related studies were once the exclusive preserve of quiet researchers hiding in dark laboratory corners. Since the Fall, Chiropteromancy has become rather fashionable, and even has its own University department. Bat experts are much like their subjects, and mistrust the glare of public interest. If you address them directly, they blink and squeak and scurry away.
Birds EditWhere are all the birds?
Why do London's pet shops do such a brisk trade in songbirds? Members of the Foreign Office seem particularly keen on them. Where do they go?
(Ornithology - a curiously persistent fashion.)
The ravens down here are white, and sing like nightingales. But they do still eat carrion.
Cats EditCat-chasing? What's the problem?
Cat-chasing is more popular than ever in some quarters of the city, but the Duchess has let it be known that repeat offenders will feel her displeasure.
(Here kitty, kitty, kitty.)
Place a snake within sight of a cat, and you'll be rewarded with a vigorous hissing contest. The cat will loathe the snake, even more than they'll now loathe you.
(A hissing contest.)
Do cats really travel round the city through the postal service? What invidious scheme is this? What can the cat-posters hope to gain? What does the Duchess think?
Purportedly the cats of the city know a secret or two. The common tabbies and gingers can convey little more than gossip, the whites are deaf but keen-eyed, the greys and blacks know some real treasures. The traditional means of parting them from their secrets is to win their respect by creeping up on them. Sweeping up crowds of yowling alley mogs in a net is technically possible, but not the mark of a true knight of the streets.
(I can haz secrets?)
Rats EditRattus faber?
The rarer and cleverer of the city rats - the dangerous ones - employ their tiny hands to marvellous effect, making tools and clockwork of unparalleled precision. They use these chiefly to set cat-traps, but can sometimes be employed by humans. Formally, one of these exceptional rats is rattus faber. Informally, it is an "L.B.".
(Can you work out what L.B. stands for?)
Where will ye go, oh my bold ratty lad?
To the docks, or the Flit or the Zees?
I’m off to the larder of Sir Stanley Smyth
For to fight for the mountains of cheese!
I’m off for the gold and I'm off for the lass
Who ties pretty bows on her knees
And I’m off for the glory, I'm off for the fame
And the mountains, the mountains of cheese!
I’m called by the fife and I'm called by the drum
We'll fight for whomever we please
For devils for brass, for the Empress' coin
And for mountains, for mountains of cheese!
There's some go by cart and there's some go by ship
And some live in shroomstacks with fleas
I'll take a box, and a postbag without locks
To send me to the mountains of cheese!
(from 'Neathy Songs')
The Relickers do without the encumbrance of names, but their pets (or bodyguards or watchers, depending what you believe) enjoy the grander sort of name. Dulcibella. Charlemagne. Cordimost. Never laugh.
(What splendid names!)
The Relickers, the eyes and hands of Mr Cups, seek out scraps and sort strange gold from dross. Each keeps a rat as a... companion? Courier? Chaperone? It's hard to be sure. Be tactful.
(Who's in charge here, exactly?)
Spiders EditWhat do sorrow-spiders eat?
These little charmers sneak into the bedrooms of sleepers and bite their eyes off. They take them back to their nests and do...what? No-one's actually seen them eating the stolen eyes.
(Don't read this if you hate spiders!)
Sorrow-spiders are already repulsive. Spider-councils are what happens when sorrow-spiders go bad.
The story goes that spiders drink from your eyes while you sleep. Sorrow-spiders bite off a whole eye. They get their name from the tears that flow from the remaining eye.
(I may never sleep again.)
The Starveling Cat Edit
Starveling Kitty! Starveling Kitty! Ruled the roofs of five stolen cities!
The Starveling Cat?
the Starveling Cat! louder than a dog! taller than a rat!
The Starveling Cat?
The Starveling Cat! The Starveling Cat! Swims like a bloodfish! Tastes like a sprat!
The Starveling Cat
The Starveling Cat! The Starveling Cat! Comes for the child who acts like a brat!
the Starveling Cat
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! it knows what we think! and we don't like that!
(We certainly do not 'like that'.)
The Starveling Cat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! mangy as a goat! mad as a bat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! won't sit on a cushion! won't sit on a mat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! want to lose a hand? give the beast a pat!
The Sterveling Ket?
The Sterveling Ket! The Sterveling Ket! What did it find in the oubliette?
The Starveling Cat?
The Starveling Cat! The Starveling Cat! Wraps round your throat like a cheap cravat!
(Yes, it can haz cheeseburger. It can haz anything it wants!)
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! look what it did! to your nice new hat!
The Starveling Cat
The Starveling Cat! The Starveling Cat! Jumped down the well for a good long chat!
The Starveling Cat
The Starveling Cat! The Starveling Cat! Sits on your chest when you're sleeping flat!
The Starveling Cat?
The Starveling Cat! The Starveling Cat! Quick as a ratgun! Sharp as a gnat!
The Starveling Cat?
The Starveling Cat! The Starveling Cat! Why does it look at us like that?
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! stole your shoes! ate your cravat!
The Starveling Cat?
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! warm as a lizard! fragrant as a bat!
(Cats are meant to be cute!)
The Starveling Cat
The Starveling Cat! The Starveling Cat! Sharp as ravenglass! Blunt as a bat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat!
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! steals from your pantry! blames it on a rat!
The Starveling Cat?
the Starveling Cat! the Starveling Cat! it likes your bones! it prefers your fat!
The Starveling Cat!
"Whose name's on your collar Mr Starveling Cat?" "Come closer, my dear, if you want to read that..."
Feast of the Exceptional Rose EditWhat is the Exceptional Rose?
Scholars find the Rose a very fruitful subject. Its strength as metaphor is explanation enough of the legend, say some. See how the plant is fickle? See how the cherub looks angelic, and has a venomous bite? See how it sucks the very life from the ground! Deadliness, beauty, trickery, and jealousy are all tied up together in this one outlandish notion. Wonderful metaphor for love, you see. Other scholars, of course, believe it exists, and will show you pictures on rotting parchment to prove it.
(It's only a metaphor. It *is* only a metaphor, isn't it?)
Some say the Rose is a vicious, fanged flower that will bite anyone who gets too close. Some say it's a cherub, keeping watch over star-crossed lovers, or mischievously dooming folk to fall unrequitedly in love with unsuitable people. Some say that if you pick the bloom on the morning of the day it opens, and crystallise it in sugar, you can win the heart of anyone you feed it to. And who wouldn't want a sugared rose petal?
(Love is a many-splendoured...petalled...baby-thing.)
The Exceptional Rose is a legendary member of the vegetable kingdom. Well, maybe the animal kingdom. Science is complicated. At least we can say with reasonable certainty that it is not mineral. It is a tall creature, growing from the ground and apparently rooted to it; but it carries on top a remarkable bloom. This remains tightly in bud, except for a day in late winter, when the flower opens to reveal, nestling in gorgeous red petals, a little child’s face. It looks very darling, until it smiles.
(I don't like how it looks at me with its little eyes.)
The Exceptional Rose is said to bloom once a year, around the time of the ancient festival of Lupercalia. It has a little child’s face, plump and smiling, but it only blossoms for a day. So the Feast was fertility and death both. Well it would be. You know how these pagans are. These days, of course, it's all about Love. Fallen London forgets how the Feast was born in the hungry days at the thin tail of winter. Now Londoners send trinkets and sweetmeats to those they are courting. All this is done playfully, in affected secrecy, but sometimes hearts can really be broken. Not all the gifts are sweet ones.
(A time for love?)
What do Fallen Londoners do on the Feast of the Exceptional Rose? Fallen Londoners are truly sentimental, and nothing delights them more than romance and secrecy. At the Feast of the Exceptional Rose there are masked balls, organised by Mr Wines itself, and seething with intrigue; folk are more daring behind a mask, and some surprising intimacies occur. Smitten young men create elaborate treasure-hunts to guide their beloved to a gift of jewellery or crystallised fungus, all tied up with red ribbon. Besotted young women write riddling, anonymous messages on cards covered with painstaking découpage. Urchins sell bunches of paper violets for truly outrageous sums of money to forgetful spouses. Shop windows teem with adorable stuffed bats holding little stuffed hearts. A sizeable part of the population consume as much honey, wine, laudanum or all three as they can lay their hands on, and hide under blankets until it's all over.
(They do Valentine's differently, here.)
Snippets about people.A faceless family
Are all Snuffers really related? They have little in common - save their need for masks, and their appetite for candles. But they call themselves Cousins.
(A common ancestor?)
A Khaganian is a native of the Khanate. Londoners are most likely to encounter them - and their beverages of fermented mares' milk - in Port Carnelian, which is blessedly far away.
(Airag is an acquired taste.)
Who are the Apicius Club?
A gourmet society of quality and taste. There are three requirements for membership: an avid appetite, a fondness for the outré and a strong stomach.
(A dining club like no other.)
To gain entry to Apis Meet, you must satisfy the Gracious: in exchange for a story they will admit you to the port for a single day. Dawdlers will be politely removed.
The neddy men are the Masters' private enforcers, a shambolic freelance army of cudgel-waving thugs. Anyone can be a neddy man. All you need is a stick.
(Do you have a stick?)
Mr Cups has recruited a small army of rag-and-bone men to sort discarded treasures from simple refuse. These are the Relickers, and their rats. Bring them something strange, and perhaps they'll give you something wonderful.
(They can have whatever's down the back of the sofa.)
The Ambassador throws magnificent balls, which are often the highlights of the social season. The competition for invitations is intense among up and coming socialites. He is particularly charming, and it seems churlish to ask him whether he's the ambassador of anywhere in particular.
(I'm sure I'll get an invite.)
A lady of style, grace and refinement, whose salons may be the best-attended in Fallen London. Just don't ask about her peculiar diet. Or her name. Or her association with the city's cats. Or her past. Actually, best not to say anything, just nod and drink her lovely tea. It is very lovely tea
(This tea had better be really good.)
Who is St Joshua?
St Joshua is the patron saint of spies. The numbers chalked in obscure corners, the strange ciphers found at the back of unpopular books: these are St Joshua's devotions. [The Midnighter, an advanced profession, practices the rites of St Joshua.]
(Those who know of him will pretend they don't.)
In his own words: 'A goden most capering! Hines the walkskies, chanter the powb raggedy men. Dab with viddlo, too, goden!' So there we have it.
(WHAT IS HE SAYING?)
Professor Stark is the co-founder of Wombwell & Stark's Travelling Menagerie. There's a reason she wears gloves, though. It's best not to shake her hand.
(The gloves are for your safety, not hers.)
The Church EditAn exclusive mass
St Dunstan’s attracts a taciturn lot. They evade questions about their midnight services; they politely deflect inquiries about their vicar. Some of them smell faintly of egg. [Chances to investigate St Dunstan's can be found in your Opportunity Deck.]
(I'm afraid you're not invited.)
Churches still hold services, London still has its bishops, the Traitor Empress is still the head of the Church of England. Theology has become more flexible, of course. People are more polite about Hell. A few of the saints seem to have had a change of name.
(A respectable sort of place, then.)
We can't get enough gas down here, see. So you know what we burn for heat? ... sinners.
(This probably isn't true.)
Clay men EditAre the Clay Men really clay?
That's a very personal question. They don't ask you if you're really meat.
(How very presumptuous!)
The Clay Men are cheap, strong, contented immigrant labour imported en masse across the Unterzee. Are they really clay? Well that's a very personal question. They don't ask you if you're really meat.
(But who makes them?)
Unfinished Men are Clay Men who lack something - sight, a voice, a hand, conscience, obedience. You can't really tell a crippled Clay Man from an Unfinished Man, except that ordinary Clay Men are never criminals. The distinction, unfortunately, often evades Constables and citizens alike.
Devils and Hell EditEleven per cent?
An otherwise tedious anarchist pamphlet gained some notoriety when it claimed that eleven per cent of the citizens of Fallen London had traded, lost or otherwise mislaid their souls. An exaggeration, certainly. But the Bazaar does not permit the publication of the real number. Look around you when you next take a seat on a crowded omnibus. The girl sitting next to you could quite easily be one of the soulless.
In simpler times, Hell would take a soul on the death of the body. Death is more complicated in Fallen London, though not unknown. So it's not terribly uncommon to meet someone who's short a soul. Some of them become mumbling, dead-eyed husks: some of them simply turn to occupations where soullessness is a professional advantage.
(I'm sure I had it a moment ago...)
Specialist surgical trusses for the soulless are sold in Fallen London. Do they work? Well, they don't return your soul. But the soulless are martyrs to bad posture. They might help with that.
(You can't go wrong with a good truss.)
Souls are traded to Hell for brass, hydrogen, devilbone, earthly delights, rare coins and other things difficult to find in a department store. Trade without a license is punishable by - well, I don't want to upset you. Nothing you'll need to worry about. After all, you wouldn't be daft enough to engage in spirifage: the unlicensed trade in souls.
(The most valuable contraband?)
The Bazaar's conveniently located for Hell, and Hell's envoys keep stalls and warehouses here. Which is great if you want to buy brass, obsidian, sulphur, hydrogen, devilbone or any of Hell's other well-known exports. Or if you want to sell souls. But you shouldn't do that.
(This sort of thing is probably frowned on.)
With so much business in Fallen London, you can't expect the inhabitants of Hell to go home at the end of every day, can you? The Brass Embassy is a cosy hell away from hell which, they say, holds the best masked balls in the city.
(Even devils have to clock off sometime.)
A spirifer, strictly, is anyone who trades in unlicensed souls. But the word usually means the villains who prey on poverty and desperation, kidnapping children to relieve them of their immortal souls, wheedling them from gin-soaked paupers or snatching them from the mouths of drowned men.
(They sound charming.)
There's a healthy export trade in souls from Fallen London to Hell. But like all trade, it's licensed and overseen by the Bazaar. Spirifers are those rogues who bypass the Bazaar to sell directly to Hell. A soul may be a final desperate payment against a bad debt; it may be gambled unwisely; or it may be tricked from its first owner.
('Souls! Get your souls here! Fresh souls!')
City of anarchists! Friend to Hell! A place where the laws of men and nature are equally forfeit!
(The Sex Pistols had it right then?)
Drownies EditWatch for the Drownies
Drownies are Fallen Londoners who think they're drowned. That is, they were drowned, but death being what it is there, they recovered. Try telling them that, though.
(Some people just won't listen.)
Drownies are, for practical purposes, walking drowned men. They shiver, they complain, they try to drag you under the Stolen River's surface and make you one of them. They are not neighbourly.
(They won't get me!)
Jack-of-Smiles EditPoor Jack's a-cold
In a city where death can be temporary, lunatic murderers are not treated with especial respect. Jack-of-Smiles is still dangerous. If he slices you into proper collops, you're not coming back. But a throat-cutting spree is not very much worse than a wasp's nest. It must be vexing for him.
(Serves him right.)
Jack-of-Smiles, Fallen London's premier lunatic murderer, has been known to hide inside snowmen until passersby come within reach. Apparently he regards this behaviour as 'merry'.
Jack-of-Smiles, Fallen London's premier lunatic murderer, has been known to hide inside snowmen until passersby come within reach. 'We award this exploit three marks of ten,' the Magazine Formerly Known As The London Magazine opines. 'Smiles' exploits increasingly tend more to the novel than the genuinely ghoulish.'
(3 out of 10 seems fair.)
False-summer sends Jack-of-Smiles, Fallen London's most prolific murderer, just that little bit more unhinged. Who can blame him? The maddening, stinging clouds of marsh-gnats, the soupy humidity, the incessant chattering of the brightly-dressed crowds thronging the tea-houses and taverns. Not to mention the extra...temptations provided for him at the edges of said crowds, where citizens may not always be strictly sober or entirely without sin.
Either he's learnt to pass from body to body, or there are dozens of him. Every so often some stout citizen puts him down, and then up he pops again, stalking the streets and alleys, murdering Fallen Londoners. Unfortunately they're already busy murdering each other for fun. It must be frustrating.
(A recurring problem.)
There is no proof for the claim that this villain transmigrates between bodies. The numerous crimson-handed murderers who have cheerfully pleaded guilty to crimes performed with his particular modus operandi are most likely lunatics, or, according to more hysterical accounts, members of the same esoteric society. These madmen have been known to commission penny-dreadfuls detailing the crimes of "Jack". Surely if anything this discredits them further.
(Madness? Conspiracy? Or possession?)
The lunatic murderer Jack-of-Smiles earnt his name by his fondness for cutting throats, but also for his humourless demeanour. He takes himself very seriously. Not everyone else does, although a certain class of newspaper reports his exploits with some enthusiasm. Don't call him 'Smiles', they say. He hates that.
(Some people will do anything to get on the front page.)
Madame Shoshana EditDo you seek to know the future?
Ask Madame Shoshana. The cards she uses are a little disturbing, but there's no doubting they get results. Just hope you don’t turn over the Blacksmith. Or the Boat. Or the Gibbet.
(Want to know the future? You sure?)
Ask Madame Shoshana to cast your horoscope. We all know those aren’t stars in the roof of the Neath, but that’s no barrier to good honest superstition. Those born under the signs of the Bat and the Lantern are particularly lucky people. Be glad, too, that you weren’t born during the month of the Hunter. That wouldn’t be a good thing. No.
(Well it's better than Scorpio. Can't trust a Scorpio.)
The Neath's most mystical fortune-teller. You can tell this by the number of silk scarves she wears, and the size of her crystal ball. She can be found in a stuffy little tent tucked away behind the Hall of Mirrors at Mrs Plenty’s. The secrets of the future can be yours! For a price.
(Nothing's ever free, is it?)
The Masters of the Bazaar EditHow many names do the Masters have?
It's hard to be certain, but some have traded under more than one name. They say Mr Apples was Mr Barley once. Certainly Mr Iron used to trade as Mr Bronze. And Mr Stones was also trading as Mr Marble quite recently. Until that trouble with the tomb-colonies.
(What's in a name, anyway?)
Certain of the Masters of the Bazaar - Mr Stones, Mr Apples and Mr Wines, and possibly others - seem to have a particular contempt for Egypt and the Egyptological. Perhaps they're simply reacting to the fashion for the Pharaonic that overcame London before the Descent. But it's unusual that they should care.
(What's their problem?)
The Masters apply peculiar customs duties: to fish below a certain size, to green ribbons but not red, to speckled eggs but not plain. Perhaps their strangest tax is a heavy duty on stories of love: but it only applies to stories leaving the Neath...
(Who taxes love?)
The Masters of the Bazaar - Mr Wines, Mr Spices, Mr Veils and the rest - speak in high-pitched whispers, and under their concealing cloaks they seem winged or hunchbacked. Fallen angels, stunted pterodactyls, mobile colonies of fungus? They dismiss all personal questions with an airy wave of their gloved hands.
(What's under the cloak, Mister?)
This upstanding citizen governs commerce in food, wood and immortality. They say it's an ally of Mr Veils.
A good question. Not a wise one.
(If you find the answer to this, you'll wish you didn't know.)
Tools, printing-presses, guns, steam-engines: taxes from trade in these are payable to Mr Iron. They say it never speaks, but can write with both hands simultaneously.
Mr Veils deals with clothing and fabric, and takes a close interest in the silk-weavers of Spite. But not in any of the more dubious activities in the district of Spite! The mere suggestion is slander!
Trade in anything drinkable comes under the jurisdiction of Mr Wines. Though it can't be bothered with water. Entertainment, music and the business of the ladies of the evening are also its domain. There's supposed to be some sort of dispute about dreams.
Rubbery Men EditWho are the Rubbery Men?
The Rubbery Men are the ones who resemble squids, a little. They trade deep amber for the tiny blind fish that they eat, and for human music. They seem sad, anxious and very polite. But they are terribly menacing. Faces like squid! Occasionally one is stoned to death in an episode of civic high spirits.
(They're actually very nice. Almost certainly.)
Tomb-Colonists EditWhat are the Tomb-Colonies like?
Full of rotting men and women standing in cobwebby rooms coughing and complaining and losing track of their arguments. Or having duels every day because they've run out of other things to do.
More Mictlan than Milan. Travellers do go to see the sights, but the sights are mostly dark half-deserted plazas and unfriendly people wrapped in bandages. They have some good churches though.
(Not a great place for a holiday.)
Halfway between being a leper and being bankrupt. They're difficult, these people. You never know quite what to say to them. 'How are you?' rarely goes down well. Down here you can't really talk about the weather, either.
(Sounds like fun. Or not.)
Venderbight, their most famous tomb-colony, lies to the north. Londoners often sojourn there during periods of scandal. [If your Scandal rises too high, you may visit the Tomb-Colonies.]
(Dust and bandages.)
When you hear 'colony', think 'leper colony', not Rio. No-one goes there. Well, tomb-colonists. A few intrepid or desperate tramp-steamer captains. Particularly stupid tourists. Missionaries suffering from bomb-proof optimism.
(Wish you were here. Not really.)
The Traitor Empress EditWhat happened to the Traitor Empress' consort?
The Traitor Empress' consort became dangerously ill just before the Fall. Typhoid, apparently. It seems he's quite recovered and lives happily to this day. The air down here must have been good for his health.
(Something's going on here.)
The Traitor Empress and her consort live safely in the Shuttered Palace, in the protective custody of the Bazaar. No-one is permitted to use her name any more.
(But who did she betray? And why?)
Apparently the Empress doesn't like light. Or sudden movements, loud noises, foreigners, treason, peaches. When you're Empress, you can do this kind of thing.
(Clearly, the power's gone to her head.)
Urchins EditWho are the Fisher-Kings?
The Fisher Kings are a gang of urchins who keep to the roofs and gutters. They specialise in a particular larceny: relieving passers-by below of their fine hats and wigs by means of a line, a hook, and the deft flick of a wrist. They are a superstitious crew: you can only be a member if you bear the scar of an old wound that never fully healed, and they consider it bad luck to ever set foot upon the ground.
(So that's where my hat went...)
These two gangs of futureless urchins have been waging their ritual war over the territory between the corners of Wick Street and Hobbe Lane, and Alley Alley and Blue Ghost Street almost since the Fall. The savagery demonstrated in the conflict is the stuff of penny-dreadfuls.
(Tch. The youth of today. Yesterday. Whenever.)
A suspicious number of orphans call the tangled streets of the Fifth City home. The child-gangs that plague us include: the Fisher-Kings, the Naughts, the Crosses, the Regiment, and the Knotted Sock.
(Aw. Look at their sooty little cheeks. Hey, where'd my wallet go?)
Snippets about places.Drudgewick
Once a genteel London suburb, the island of Drudgewick retains much of its former character. Gravel is neatly raked and children are well-behaved. But why do the residents leave all those sharp stones on the village green?
(All is not as it seems...)
Mutton Island houses a small, vibrant fishing community. But you can't buy a piece of fish on the island for love nor money. Where does it all go?
(Who ate all the fish?)
is open under the patronage of the LONDON ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY to CAUTIOUS VISITORS for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. Here you may see the DEVIL-APES of FAR MANDELAY. The THING IN THE MIRROR. The CANTIGASTER'S CHILDREN. The gargantuan CAVE-SNAKE. The INHABITER OF WOLVES. The HYBRID FIEND. N.B. The MANAGEMENT RECOMMENDS that you arrange your exit WELL BEFORE CLOSING TIME.
(This sounds EDUCATIONAL. And TERRIFYING.)
"Why are London’s diplomats to Khan’s Heart so ancient? Because it takes a lifetime to bl__dy learn Hudum." - A Foreign Office 'joke'. [You may join the Foreign Office as your Persuasive reaches higher levels.]
(It takes a certain tenacity to be a diplomat.)
The Square of Lofty Words is always worth a visit. Go and throw some bread to the philosophers. They get hungry up on their tall poles. Maybe you'll even hear something useful in their elevated discourse.
Where? Oh, there? That's just the Light Factory burning down again. It does seem to ignite more often than it should, but it's London’s most eccentric candleworks. And no one important has died. [Find out more about the Light Factory in Flint, a two-part Exceptional Story purchasable in the Fate tab.]
(What caused that conflagration?)
A sinister fungal wilderness by the river. The Department of Menace Eradication subcontracts the adventurous to deal with the things that slither out of Bugsby's Marshes. An observatory atop the hill employs only blind men.
(Watchmaker's Hill: for all your fungus, monster and sinister cult needs.)
Moloch Street Underground Station is the first stop on the journey to Hell. Clathermont's Tattoo Parlour, haunt of spies, is here. Hangman's Arch can be a good place to hear gossip, and is always a good place for a hanging.
(Ladybones Road: where the fun happens.)
The ragged old market of Spite is known for its silk-weavers and its pickpockets. Blythenhale is notorious for its feral cats. Flowerdene Street is the heart of the worst rookery in Fallen London.
(Is this the bad part of town?)
A haunt of poets, prostitutes and other low types, and location of the notorious Singing Mandrake. Elderwick is famous for its booksellers. Hollow Street offers the best honey-dens in the city.
(When we hit Veilgarden, it stays hit.)
The manager of the Hotel offers free rooms to guests of particular note or interest. He irritably denies the suggestion that he might be 'collecting' them.
(What qualifies as 'of note or interest', exactly?)
This is where the trading steamer fleets come in from the lands across the Unterzee, the sunless sea of the Bazaar. Mr Fires, who governs trade in coal, keeps its office here among the warehouses and rowdy dockside pubs.
(Wolfstack Docks: for people who treat bar-fights as a hobby.)
Here, those with revolutionary ideals gather to distribute pamphlets and deliver searing polemic. Ignore the shouting for a moment. Look to the softer-voiced bystanders, with their plain clothes and bright eyes. These are the ones who choose the guilty, make the bombs, set the fires...
(Why can't they just rant on Facebook, like everyone else?)
Fallen London's MOST POPULAR MUSIC-HALL presents a NEW EXTRAVAGANZA of ENTERTAINMENT each and every night!
A pillar stands on the stone quay, there. Scraps of paper are stuffed into its cracks. The escaped, the unjudged and the exiled brave the ice to reach it. Why? [When you're sufficiently advanced, you can purchase a ship at Wolfstack Docks.]
(Cold and hungry.)
A bad altitude. The Flit is where you go when you're no longer welcome at ground level. Or if you really rate a good view from your window.
(The Flit. High. Serene. Dangerous.)
The second of Feducci's illegal fighting rings is the Ring of Roses. The loser is the first to make a sound. A chuckle or a cheer counts just as much as a grunt of pain or effort.
(Shh. Don't make a sound.)
The Bazaar stole London three decades ago. Of course only anarchists and revolutionaries say "stole" any more. Everyone who matters has grown to know and love the status quo. It's quiet down here. All those jewels and mushrooms and all that black water. What could be better?
(It's a home away from home.)
Letters in and out of the city are routinely read. But one does not often intimately search a gentleman, and never a lady. So, the rumour has it, Clathermont and his three glum-faced tattooists - triplets, who some say are his daughters - although some hint at a more intimate relationship - hm - where was I? Ah yes. The rumour has it, spies come to Clathermont's to have messages tattooed in less public areas of their skin. This has, of course, been responsible for a scandalous vogue for secret tattoos.
(Spies hiding messages in tattoos?)
Fallen London: once capital of the British Empire, now home of the Bazaar. Deep. Dark. Expensive. Marvellous. Here you can find everything from immortality to unnervingly good mushroom wine.
(Deep. Dark. Marvellous. And home.)
Bugsby's Marshes lie south of Watchmaker's Hill. It's a popular spot for hunting, lepidoptery and the disposal of corpses. [Bugsby's Marshes may be found by travelling to Watchmaker's Hill.]
(A jolly spot for a picnic, provided you're fond of spiders.)
The Stolen River that flows into the Unterzee - the one they used to call the Thames - passes through Hell. That's one reason why you see so many of the dead at the Bazaar. Which in turn is one reason why being dead round here is an inconvenience, not a disaster.
(How do you steal a river?)
The streets of London were bent into a labyrinth with the Bazaar at the labyrinth's heart. Finding your way around can be troublesome. Pre-Bazaar maps can be surprisingly useful, but they're contraband. Don't be caught with one.
(What are they trying to hide?)
The Bazaar EditThe Bazaar - does it need a gender?
The Bazaar is traditionally spoken of as if it's a single living thing. Women call it 'he'; men call it 'she'. The Masters of the Bazaar style themselves 'Mr', but no-one seems to think they're actually men.
(How do you address a sentient shopping mall? Politely, I guess.)
Residents have been known to say 'since the Fall', to mean, not the Biblical Fall, but the Descent of London. Well enough. But what do they mean by 'since the Bazaar was between stars'?
The Bazaar is located at the heart of Fallen London, in the Neath, a cavern of impossible size, by the Unterzee, a tremendous saltwater lake. They say it's the skull of some defunct pagan god. That doesn't sound very likely. Although it would explain the dreams.
(Who wouldn't want to live here?)
The Bazaar has many doors. Copper, ivory, glass, ormolu, steel. If you must go in, choose your entrance carefully. [You can access the Bazaar by tapping the Echoes icon at the bottom of the app or clicking the Bazaar tab in the browser game.]
(It's not a question of which is safe. It's which is least dangerous.)
The Forgotten Quarter EditHow do you get out of the Forgotten Quarter?
You can generally find your way out of the Forgotten Quarter. It's just difficult to remember afterwards how you did it.
(How do you forget an entire city district?)
The Quarter is the last remnant of the Fourth City, which the Bazaar acquired five hundred years ago. Statues of warrior-kings line silent avenues. A fountain shaped like a silver tree stands before a ruined palace at its heart.
(Ancient. Haunted. Beautiful.)
The House of Chimes EditWhat is the House of Chimes?
The House of Chimes is an exceptional place for Exceptional people. Mr Chimes guards the door closely. He has particular standards.
(Why is Big Ben in the river?)
In an old tower, there is a stopped clock. Within the clock there is a Bell. The Bell is not to be named. Those who feast beneath it, in the House of Chimes, are not to be denied.
Mrs. Plenty's Carnival EditWHAT LIES...BENEATH THE NEATH?
At MRS PLENTY'S CARNIVAL, ENJOY a DIVERTING EDUCATIONAL AND THRILLING RIDE into the CHASMIC ABYSMS of SUB-SUBTERRANEAN TROGLODYTRY! SEE the FOSSILS OF the ELDER PAST! ENJOY our PAINSTAKING RECREATION of the HELLS OF ANTIQUITY! (REFUNDS NOT AVAILABLE in case of UNWISE DEATH.)
(Thrills, spills and fossils.)
Is it Mr Mirrors itself? Surely not. No Master would lower itself to become a carnival showman. But it is a sinister place. And it surely can't turn a profit.
(Don't look at your reflection.)
New Newgate Prison EditWhat is New Newgate Prison?
The prison is carved into the body of an immense stalactite, clinging to the roof of the Bazaar's cavern. Escape-proof? We'll see about that.
(It will not hold me.)
They built the Fifth City's prison in a stalactite the size of a fair-sized village. Food and prisoners come and go from the city far below in a dirigible. Any corpses reckoned beyond recovery are weighted with dripstone and allowed to plummet into the Unterzee, far below.
(I think I've been naughty. Send help.)
New Newgate Prison uses a vast number of candles. It is rumoured that prisoners who can arrange for candles to be delivered can gain privileges or even an early release. It's almost as if they eat the things.
(*Eating* them? Surely not.)
The other cities EditLook: an eye.
The city around the Bazaar is called the Fifth City because, they say, it's not the first the Bazaar chose as a home. You can still turn up bricks from the older cities, now and then. Look: here's one marked with an eye.
(But what happened to the cities that were here before?)
Only two things are known to remain of the First City: the name, the Crossroads Shaded By Cedars, and the saying: even the First City was young when Babylon fell.
(The oldest secret?)
Never mention the Second City to the Masters of the Bazaar. Mr Wines will look at you narrowly and give you its worst vintage. Mr Cups will fly into a rage. Mr Veils will harangue you for your discourtesy. Mr Iron will say nothing, only write down your name with its left hand.
(A touchy subject.)
No-one talks much about the cities that preceded London. The Third City seems to have been acquired a thousand years ago. It had five wells, they say. And the weather was better.
(Why don't people talk about this?)
Who carves horse-head amulets out of bone? Whoever lived in the Fourth City. If all the Fourth City amulets on sale are real, they must really have liked horses.
(Who doesn't like horses?)
The Parlour of Virtue EditScarlet stockings?
Like all great cities, Fallen London has its ladies of negotiable virtue. The ones who work for Mr Wines wear stockings of an extraordinary, vibrant, almost addictive scarlet. There are jokes about men who pay more to spend time in the company of the stockings than their wearers. It is possible not all of these are jokes.
Like all great cities, Fallen London has its ladies of negotiable virtue. The wiser ones work for Mr Wines. In return, Mr Wines provides them with scarlet stockings, to ensure they won't be troubled by over-zealous constables. Of course anyone can buy scarlet stockings, but the bright dyes Mr Wines uses are a colour found nowhere else. Their origin is a closely guarded secret.
There are many ladies of negotiable virtue in Fallen London, but Sinning Jenny is certainly the most notorious. She is said to have strangled quite a senior devil with a pair of scarlet stockings, a gift from Mr Wines. Although there seems to be some confusion about whether this was in fact a paid service.
(Probably not the sort of girl you could take home to your parents.)
The Parlour is Mr Wines' most notorious establishment for sating the appetites of flesh. The place is well regarded, although it is still scandalous to be caught visiting. The Parlour caters to those of very particular appetites: many wealthy potential customers have been turned away with very little in the way of explanation.
(How intriguingly scandalous...)
Port Carnelian EditPort Carnelian: London's first Unterzee colony
On good days, Port Carnelian is menaced by the Presbyterate. On bad days, by the Foreign Office. [Port Carnelian may be accessed by pursuing a career in the Foreign Office.]
(A home away from home?)
Port Carnelian, London's last colony, shares its borders with the Resplendent Court of the Wakeful Eye. Trespassers may be devoured. [You will be able travel to Port Carnelian by advancing your Persuasive career.]
(Do not trespass in the Fungal Jungle.)
Tourists visit ancient caves, eat unusual sea-creatures, enjoy the balmy weather and quaff drinks that aren't made of mushrooms at all.
(Drinks that aren't made of mushrooms? Nonsense!)
The University EditAcademic rivalry
Fallen London's two colleges, Benthic and Summerset, enjoy a healthy rivalry. They play team sports with each other. They play pranks on each other. On certain days of the year, they play trumpets and French horns at each other.
(Like the Oxford-Cambridge boat race. But with trumpets.)
Society has been gripped by the new scientific theories emerging from the University since the Fall. Did Man fall from the Grace of God, as the Church teaches? Or did he descend from apes, as some radical scholars propose? Visitors to the Labyrinth of Tigers ponder this question whilst gazing into faces that seem at once so alike and so unlike their own.
(From apes or angels?)
You can study many things at the University of London. The Department of Cryptozoology studies the small, hidden creatures of the Neath. Creatures that have never been seen, but almost certainly exist. Under the right circumstances. Hopefully. Otherwise, the Department might lose its budget.
(Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they aren't there!)
Zee EditThe utter loneliness of the light-buoy
Observe the zee-mark buoy that indicates the channel's edge. Listen to its mournful toll: the bell is the tongue of the waves! And consider the lives of the phosphorescent beetle-colonies that serve to light them. They live and die as inhabitants of sovereign nations. Do they conduct wars of territorial aggression, these buoy-beetles?
(How lonely are they?)
Perhaps you will encounter the colossal Black Mountain! Perhaps you will meet mermen and sirens and lotus-eaters! Perhaps you will spend the whole voyage confined to your cabin with zee-sickness!
Oh gather round me bully boys
And I'll zing you a zong
Of the windless waveless sunless Zee
Where the mouldy drownies throng
Here's to the girls of Mr Veils
Here's to their golden locks
Here's to a fight in the moonish light
Under the Wolfstack docks.
Some dream of sun and rain and sky
And the true wind in their zails
Us Neathy tars won’t swap the stars
For the girls of Mr Veils!
(from 'Neathy Songs')
What lurks on the darkened shores of the Unterzee? Hermit crabs that could eat a man whole? Oysters crafting pearls the size of goose-eggs? Anemones that love to close their vivid fronds around the throats of shipwrecked zailors?
What lurks in the depths of the vast Unterzee? Snakes the width of tree-trunks? Sea-snails with shells as large as townhouses? Seahorses that a person could saddle and ride?
(The only way to travel.)
What lurks in the depths of the vast Unterzee? Spiky sea-urchins, each quill carrying enough venom to murder a city? Giant flatworms that sparkle with blue electricity? Shoals of tiny, luminous, man-eating fish?
(Not a place to go skinny-dipping, then?)
Other things Edit
The Correspondence EditWhat is the Correspondence?
They say it's a gate that opens in the stalactites behind Wolfstack Docks. They say you can see it in Mrs Plenty's mirrors. They say it's the only sure way to tell the weight of your soul.
(Whatever it is, it sounds jolly useful.)
They say it's a series of confidential negotiations between the Masters and a devil of some note. They say it comprises the billets-doux written by Jack-of-Smiles to the Traitor Empress. They say it's the letter the Pope wrote, the one without which Rome would have been the Fourth City. They say if you read it your eyes boil and your hair turns the white of old ice. They say it's written on slate in the blood of poisoned bats.
(They obviously say a lot of things...)
They say it's the key that opens Mr Stones' vaults. They say it's concealed in Mr Pages' library. They say it's the only way down here you can ever see starlight.
(Will we ever know the truth?)
They say it's the language the bats speak. They say the Snuffer wrote it on the outside walls of New Newgate. They say the Topsy King learnt it, and that's why you can never understand a bloody word he says.
(But what does it Correspond to?)
They say it's the letters that Helen wrote to Menelaus in the years of her imprisonment. They say it's the letters Raffles wrote about the Cat that never were published. They say it's the last accounts of the last days of the Third City, strung in beads on cord in a code no-one living understands...
(Menelaus? Raffles? The Third City? What on earth?)
They say it's the map that connects every glimmer of moonish light to a star. They say it's the key that unlocks the secrets of bat-flights. They say it's a trap that someone found inscribed on a wall in the First City, and if you decode its complicated patterns you inevitably decide you're God, to the considerable detriment of your social life.
(We will find out the truth.)
They say it's the mathematics of Hell. They say it's the geography of Time. They say it was invented wholesale by a honey-sipper sitting giggling in a cramped and filthy room on Hollow Street, and it's been driving gullible scholars insane ever since.
(One of these things sounds more likely than the others.)
They say it's the only map of all the Unterzee, scratched on the keystone of the Neath. They say it predicts every price change in the Bazaar for the next hundred years. They say it's a script that you cannot write and live. They say every piece of deep amber has a fragment of the Correspondence at its heart.
(Is it magic? Is it a lie?)
They say only the Brass Embassy knows.
(Who's brave enough to ask?)
Death EditHow should you dispose of an aunt?
'Even Death is no deterrent to the determined aunt. The best defence is distraction: the more exotic and perilous, the better.' - from the anonymously published 'Troubles With my Aunt'.
(There's only so many times you can go to one aunt's funeral.)
Death in the Fifth City isn't necessarily the end. If you're stabbed or shot, someone may come along and sew you back together soon enough. If you're drowned, you'll wake with a hangover. If you die of old age or disease, or if you're hacked to pieces, it's a more serious matter. But in any case, once you die and return to life down here, you'll never be permitted to return to the surface...unless you're one of the few who find a way to immortality.
(Don't try this at home.)
Death is not always permanent in Fallen London. This gives rise to a peculiar overlap between the funeral parlour and the sanatorium.
Death is not always permanent in Fallen London. This has caused the quiet and unacknowledged revision of certain passages in the bibles of the City's churches.
(A sensitive matter.)
Death is not always permanent in Fallen London. This permits the practice of the violent but strangely boyish game of murderous gentlemen's tag called the Game of Knife-and-Candle.
(Knife-and-Candle? It sounds *fantastically* dangerous.)
Death is not always permanent in Fallen London. Old age and disease still take their toll, but a small stabbing or shooting can often be mended with an apology and some deft needlework. Of course this amnesty from death does not extend to the surface. Once you've been shot, you're down here for ever. Unless you have a rare flask of Hesperidean Cider, perhaps.
(I'll have a pint of this, please.)
Honey EditWhat is prisoner's honey?
from the Natural History of Pliny the Elder: "... there is another kind of honey; its effect is attributed to the flowers called exile's rose, which are found in sacred places from Pontus to Baetica. One who consumes these flowers departs and does not return."
The most delightful secret of Fallen London: a substance which physically transports you to a dream. It is gathered by bees from the black roses which grow here. There is another kind of underground rose from which honey may be made, but that's rather less safe.
(Illegal honey. Who'd have thought it?)
The most delightful secret of Fallen London: a substance which physically transports you to a dream. Usually a very pleasant dream. But watch out for red honey.
Something to do with prisoner's honey? Whatever it is, it's forbidden to buy or sell it in a city where very little is outright forbidden. Even the sale of souls is licensed.
(Why would this be outlawed?)
Seasons in the Neath EditFalse-summer
The Neath has no sunshine. None of the trappings of the seasons. Still it becomes hotter sometimes, more humid. A volcano beneath the Unterzee that releases bubbles of hot, sulphurous gas, like gargantuan belches from a sleeping giant? Actual gargantuan belches from an actual sleeping giant? Convection currents created by the migratory flight patterns of bats? Whatever the reason for these hot spells, they make the chiller fogs of the Neath a distant, pleasant memory.
The Neath's roughly-annual false-summer brings with it many inconveniences, not the least of which is the proliferation of damp, warm fog. It blows in off the Unterzee, when the breeze is in the right direction. Finding yourself out in it is akin to trying to walk through a hot, wet blanket. One that has recently been used to dry a hot, wet dog.
(Come on in. The fog's lovely and warm.)
How does one manage a thing that is so patently not snow, and yet so resembles it? Does one leave it hygienically inside quotes? 'Snow'? Does one shrug and regard it as a blessing from the Bazaar? Does one lock one's doors and windows and hide quaking below stairs, while the servants build the fire high and stuff the window-cracks with rags?
(It's fine as long as you STAY INDOORS.)
How is it that snow falls in the Neath? It doesn't taste exactly like frozen water. Whey, perhaps. Or saltier. Tears? Or is the sea leaking from the world above?
(A Christmas miracle?)
It must be, in part at least, frozen water: when it melts, it refreezes as black ice. Tiny, desperate fish and insects can be seen frozen in the ice, no larger than a fingernail, eyes distorted with fear.
In December, enterprising urchins sell bags of snow in Big King Square, even as the stuff lies in drifts around them. Ask them what's wrong with the snow on the ground, and they shrug. 'Pick it up if yer like,' they confide. 'Most of it's probably safe.'
(Maybe I'll just leave it there...)
The Neath's annual snowfall has been studied. The learned men of the Department of Chiropterochronometry have attempted to incorporate it into their theories of bat rotation. The microscope that was used still exists. It can be seen in the Museum of Mistakes to this very day. The brass is horribly corroded, but the lenses are essentially intact.
(If it melted the brass, it probably wasn't snow.)
There's a zee-captain down at Wolfstack Docks who claims you can render Neath-snow into white glim on any kitchen stove. I have tried it. I have a pan of goo to show for it. Three of my cats tasted the goo when I left it unobserved a moment too long. The one that lives is locked in the cellar now. I do not expect I will ever dare to release it. I have developed a dislike of zee-captains.
The snow that falls in the Neath every December is something of a mystery. Condensation from the cavern's roof, the sloughed chitin of enormous insects, or the dandruff of a tonsorially careless God? In any case, catching snowflakes on your tongue is probably a bad idea.
(Ew! Ew! You got it in your mouth!)
The snow that falls in the Neath is used to make snowballs, to roll snowmen, and to torment the kind of children who are always tormented at school. This may be safe. There may be no ill effects from handling the stuff that, in the Neath, they affectionately describe as 'snow.'
(Just because they call it 'snow' doesn't make it snow.)
Spore-fever. False-summer would not be the same without it. All of Fallen London is stricken, at once: sneezing, wheezing, eyes streaming. Handkerchiefs are brandished; eyes are concealed behind smoked glass pince-nez; F.F. Gebrandt sells out of remedies, whether they are intended for spore-fever or not. A city is united in self-pity. There are real cures, but their side-effects are nastier than the symptoms.
(Better pack the extra hankies.)
How to relieve the tedium of the warm season, when condensation drips from the roof of the cavern like a monsoon of stagnant sweat, and Fallen London smells as fresh as a week-old corpse? L.B.s can be paid to attach fans to bonnets. Pomander traders make their fortunes. But the best way of all to cool down is with a delicious fungal ice-cream. Urchin entrepreneurs with handcarts can supply everything from toadstool sorbet to frozen puffball creams. Where do they get the ice to keep their wares cold? Trust your correspondent when I assure you you do not wish to know.
(Mm. Fungal ice-cream. Mmmm.)
Nasty, shimmering patches of air float along the streets in the false summers of the Neath. Strange lights sometimes dance in attendance. Far-off places can be glimpsed. Don't walk through these. There are worse places than Fallen London.
(Mind your step!)
The UniversityEditThe University.
Are you one of the soulless? Never fear. You are still welcome at Benthic College.
Are you one of the soulless? Then you won't be welcome at Summerset College.
The refectory of Benthic College is known as Duellers' Hall. The story goes that a soulless revolutionary, furious at his exclusion from Summerset's tutorials, fought the Professor of Subterranean Divinity for the right to set up his own lecture programme. Both parties suffered minor punctures, but the idea refused to die and Benthic was founded soon afterwards.
The University of London has a large department dedicated to Tonsorial Alchemy. It’s a relentlessly dull subject, but the tea and biscuits are among the University's best.
(As long as there's tea and biscuits.)
What do they study at the Department of Antiquarian Esquivalience? Sadly, it would go against their very ethos to explain it to you unless you already know.
You can learn many things at the University of London. Do you have a burning desire to study palaeomycology? Fossilised fungi can tell us so very much about the natural history of the Neath.
(A vital academic subject.)
Omnes adsint, quamvis dementi, quamvis nefasti
Benthic College is more given to innovation, and less to tradition, than Summerset. As the motto says, all are welcome here. The demonic, the soulless, the radical, even the poor.
(The best days of your life. Probably.)
At Summerset College, everything is cushioned by wealth and privilege. The college is sturdily buttressed inside and out; stone arches support the weight of the Chapel roof, and complex bureaucratic mechanisms support the blissful indolence of the senior faculty.
(Privilege? Bureaucracy? Indolence? In academia? Surely not.)
What's it like at Benthic College?
Eager young radicals throng the halls. Students flaunt their tolerance and diversity; friendships with devils are highly prized. Revolutionaries infest the eaves. The soul trade thrives.
What's it like at Benthic College?
It's very relaxed. Students aren't forced to wear ridiculous gowns to breakfast. But it can be tiring, espousing the correct opinions all day.
(I've always heard how standards are slipping in academia.)
What's Summerset College like?
A place of indolent privilege. Minor nobles rub shoulders with the black-gowned children of clergy, parliamentarians and lawyers in its peaceful quadrangles.
(A bit of indolent privilege never hurt anyone.)
What's Summerset College like?
Summerset is best known for its great feasts; Students are treated to roast swans every Sunday, imported from the surface at mind-boggling expense. They don't actually taste very nice, but no-one would be so vulgar as to say so.
(Do you have that with chips?)
Benthic's Principal is kindly, but strict. She's fiercely academic and expects similar dedication from her staff and students. Close friends say she is prone to fits of nervous affliction.
Watch out for Summerset's Provost. He's the one with the moustache. The dangerously charming, extremely good-looking one with the moustache.
(It's like the moustache follows you around the room.)
These only appear at Mahogany Hall.Parlour magic?
Fallen Londoners are agog for spiritualism. Mediums hold seances nightly, claiming to be able to put guests in touch with lost loved ones on the Surface. Bells ring, glasses rattle, unearthly groans issue from spirit cabinets. It's all thoroughly thrilling.
(I hear a voice from the other side...)
Ordinary citizens take a great interest in Science. Ladies tie their hats with scarves to ward against bat guano, and set forth to the far corners of the city, in search of geology. One wonders what would happen, should they actually find any.
(It's just a fad. It'll pass.)
A new science that unlocks the secrets of the Correspondence? A sinister cult religion? A highly efficient mechanism for separating fools from their money?
From the FAR CLIMES of the ORIENT, the WORLD-FAMOUS and most EXOTIC KASHMIRI PRINCESS!
(You don't get a lot of Kashmiri Princesses, these days.)
What's on at Mahogany Hall?
ASTOUNDING FEATS of ILLUSION and ESCAPOLOGY! Fallen London's most EXQUISITE CORPS de BALLET!
What's on at Mahogany Hall?
MUSICAL MIXTURES of POPULAR and FOLK songs! NEW and EXTENSIVE SCENERY! MAGIC and ILLUSIONS!
(Take in a show?)
What's on at Mahogany Hall?
The FAMED and MOST HISTORICAL DEVILS' ORCHESTRA! SERIO-COMIC songs of QUALITY! SENSATIONAL TABLEAUX!
(I love a good tableaux.)
What's on at Mahogany Hall?
The most DARING and SPECTACULAR AERIAL ACROBATICS! You will NOT BELIEVE your OWN EYES!
(See them fly!)
What's on at Mahogany Hall?
The most WONDROUS and ASTONISHING MAGIC LANTERN show by Messrs GASPARD and PHILIDORI!
(The things they can do nowadays!)
These only appear at Wolfstack Docks.A Stone Tentacle-Key?
No one in London knows where this key is. Or at least, no one who knows is telling. And anyway, this doesn't stop them talking. They say that the one man who knew where it was just vanished one night, along with his boat. They say he was probably eaten by a zee-monster. They say that pirates might have scuppered him out of spite. Some of them say he had already hidden the key before he died. One or two of them say that he sold it to a mad king in Polythreme who gave it to his youngest daughter for safekeeping before being eaten by a Stone Pig. It's probably safe to discount those ones.
(Where there's a mysterious key, there's a mysterious-er door...)
On rare days, an impossible tempest sweeps out of the Elder Continent: a wild wind carrying the scent of boiling honey and a storm of molten wax. Ships that fall prey to the Wax-Wind float like filthy icebergs in the Unterzee, their crews confined in wax, mouths fixed in endless screams.
(Who comes up with this stuff?)
Polythreme is a city where some principle in the water or earth - they say - makes everything live. This makes it a hellish place. Candles scream as they burn. Furniture is enslaved wood. Buildings are hollow shells of misery. The Clay Men are sold by Polythreme - or perhaps they escape.
(Never go there.)
A tall tale told by zailors. They say it's a place of unearthly delights, glimpsed only by the boldest and drunkest of zee-men. They say that the beauty of the place has struck men blind. They say it's where the Fiddler's Fluke came from...
(Unearthly delights? Yes, please.)
Beware the strange little islands that speckle the Unterzee. Beware the dread fog and the terrible zee-monsters!
(I'm sure they're just stories.)
The neddy men are, effectively, a private police force for the Masters. They report to Mr Fires at Wolfstack Docks, and spend much of their time walloping unruly dockers. "Unruly" in this case meaning "having the impertinence to demand a day's pay for a day's work".
(Oo. Bit political.)
That vast continent to the South with a glowing mountain at its heart - where the Presbyter has ruled for a thousand years - is older by far than any of London's civilisations. Which is embarrassing.
(What makes the mountain glow?)
The Bazaar has outposts all over the Neath. Some are opulent palaces; others simple shacks by the side of the road. One or two on the Carnelian Coast are camel-trains that move from port to port to trade with merchant steamers.
(Home away from home.)
Everything's alive there, or so the story goes. Coal burns with a long low moan, steel is forged under protest, new-minted coins still shriek with pain and horror. It sounds a horribly callous place. Not to mention remarkably noisy.
(A land of horror.)
A rambling country house, perched on cliff-tops of a half-drowned Unterzee island. The gardens are beautifully tended. Nobody talks about the strange light that shines from the coast at night.
(A spooky house on top of a hill? Hey! Let's go in!)
The Shuttered PalaceEditHow does one enter the House of Chimes?
Mr Chimes allows entry only to those of very particular trades or natures. It might deny a marquis a seat, unless the marquis has a club foot. It might slam the door in the face of the most noted actress, unless she is named for a particular saint.
(Tch. Bouncers, eh?)
The Forgotten QuarterEditWhat occurs in the House of Chimes?
Feasts. Stories. Exchanges of secrets so fierce they burn the lips. The wooing of owls and the cosseting of cats.
(Don't tell anyone I told you)
Come to Mutton Island! Enjoy traditional folk music and lively dancing! Visitors are advised not to stare too closely into the heart of the bonfire.
(Those quaint islanders with their folksy ways...)
Travellers tell of strange tribes and incomprehensible religions, carnivorous flora, pygmy elephants and giant mice. But no-one believes travellers' tales, do they?
(Everyone wants a pygmy elephant, surely?)
Zailors will cross themselves and spit into the fire. Vast schools of fungal whale-things, they say, and islands populated by giants. These zailors have almost certainly never seen the Archipelago.
(Who doesn't love a good sea-story?)
Confirm locationEditGood business, great businessman
Murgatroyd is one of the Neath's more successful entrepreneurs. London shop-shelves are stacked with his fungal tea, his fungal crackers, his fungal beer.
(He made his fortune in mushrooms - it's all in the marketing.)
The language of the Clay Men - a tongue of thick, earthy syllables, like boots wading through sucking mud. Unsuitable for polite parties. [You can learn more about the Clay Men on Ladybones Road.]
(Like gargling gravel.)
Travellers tell of wingless birds and snakes with legs. Wells that yield only sand. Tribes of blue people and towers of salt. But no one believes travellers' tales, do they?
(It's probably nonsense. Pay no mind.)
Hallowmas is one of London's older festivals. Londoners don masks - owl, bear, bat, skull - and trade confessions. Some secrets are buried. Some escape.
(An owl mask. A gown of white. Tell me, what have you done?)
If you have to ask... you'll never find the way. Unless you're abducted, stuffed in a bag, dragged to a certain listing tower and fed roast duck until you beg for mercy. Or for more.
(All part of a good night out.)
Is it, in fact, one of the Masters of the Bazaar? Is it Mr Iron or Mr Pages trading under another name? Or is it a bold rascal pretending to be an unknown Master?
(Or is it Old Man Withers, owner of the local amusement park?)
Some say a coven of witches. Some say a community of cats. Some say the island is haunted by the spirits of disgruntled vicars.
(How *does* one disgruntle a vicar?)
What lurks in the depths of the vast Unterzee? Tentacled beasts with no eyes and too many teeth? Jellyfish the size of ladies' parasols, floating like ghosts and trailing deadly, whip-like cilia? Things that are mostly made of beak?
(Here's a wildlife documentary waiting to happen.)
These either no longer exist, or, more likely, only appear in a specific location.
Divination and chiropteromancy
Astrology without stars? The movements of bats up in the far reaches of the cavern roof are mysterious, but seasonal patterns can be observed. There is a shape often seen in winter that looks just like a sleeping cat; one in spring that could be a lovers' embrace. Of course, Madame Shoshana and her ilk do not rely solely on these signs when foretelling the future; but chiropteromancy is one of the less messy means.
Where is the Carnelian Coast?
The Carnelian Coast marks the edge of the vast and mysterious Elder Continent, far across the Unterzee. Some travellers call it a Neathy paradise. Others decline to comment.
Fallen London folklore has it that a race of giant, intelligent rodents infest Winewound Heath, living in a honeycomb of underground tunnels. This legend arose when an inebriated young lady caught sight of a Rattus Faber family out on a picnic.
Winewound Heath lies at the farthest edge of Fallen London, where the city becomes the Southern Archipelago. No one has accurately described the topology of the heath, because it's always covered in fog that's thick enough to carry in a bucket.