Lambuzhao wrote:In my limited experience on this spinning mouldering orange, the lookingest of mirrors happen to be the funkiest.
Mirrormages are a rare breed indeed. Successful ones anyway. For the powerful initiates, the Mirrorworld is something of a playground. A strange and perilous
set of dimensions allowing the intrepid traveller to experience the most curious views. It is a world within a world and no world at all.
Such a mirrormage was Ællìs of Deresburg. A beautiful girl as a child, she concealed within a great intelligence. Which is just as well, as all the intelligence in
the world wouldn't have done a girl of her time and place much good. But Ællìs loved to read, and while her father gravio
Carlon expected she was just
looking at all the pretty pictures, she was in fact doing a most singular thing. She was educating herself.
This education stood her well, as, just shy of her fifteenth birthday (and her upcoming nuptials to the dreadful son of some horrendous gravio
Ællìs, alone in her father's library while the whole house was a hive abuzz, stood tall and proud before the great polished bronze looking glass at one end of the
And without word or glance back, she stepped into Mirrorworld.
In the quietude of the library, the only clue to be found of Ællìs's passing was a tatty old hand written and bound book, resting, as if carelessly dropped, against
the ancient oak frame of the polished bronze looking glass at one end of the long chamber.
When at last the whole manse had been turned head upon heels in search for the young bride, it was gravio
Carlon that happened to reach the far end of
the library first. There, upon the floor, he discovered a thing unremarkable to the less wise of the household. Resting against the ancient oak frame, lovingly
polished polished and lacquered by the hands of Men for a thousand years so that hardly a trace of the arcane runes could be discerned, was a book. No
strange thing to find a book in a library, but when gravio
Carlon reached down to pick it up, he knew at once the sure fate of his dear daughter, the
beautiful and graceful Ællìs.
In that moment, the gravio
seemed to age a decade. He collapsed into one of comfortably stuffed chairs, the book still held in his hand. Hand inked runes
upon smooth brown leather revealed a title to the others in the room that revealed no cause for their lord's sudden melancholy.
Through the Looking Glass: or There and Back Again, the Adventures of Elisse is the Mirror World
The sun passed overhead and went down to her abode in the West. And still the young old gravio
sat with book in hand, staring blankly into the
nothingness beyond the great polished bronze looking glass on the wall of the library. No power of wife or friend or manservant could shift him. Not even the
aroma of his favorite stew wafting up from the untouched and now cold tray set carefully on the table by the chair.
The fire in the grate burned down low, casting a baleful red glow out into the library. And the Shadowfolk danced their melancholic minuet. And still Carlon sat
in the comfortably stuffed chair with the book in hand. One can only wonder what disturbed vision he saw as he wandered through the Dreaming. It was long
indeed since he wandered in the Dreaming. In his youth, long before the title of lordship, gravio
, got attached to his name, he was just Carlon. As a
student at university, he loved to read from the collections of Old Stories in their library. With his close friends, he would dabble at making his own stories. And
he was very good at it. He used to make up little countries of Men and Daine and other weirder folks. He would give them their own languages to speak and
their own world to live upon. It's like leaping through an old looking glass
, he used to say about making such stories and about his "visits" to the fairy
lands beyond his own waking world.
The thing about leaping through the looking glass is the gravest of perils the ill prepared adventurer can find himself in is becoming lost.
And as the days passed into fortnights passed into seasons and years, gravio
Carlon became obsessed with looking glasses. He would spend hours every
day wandering through the little city of Deresburg knocking on doors, asking folk if they had ever seen a beautiful young girl flit past when no such girl was to
found in the room. Most folk slowly shook their heads, no, no they hadn't seen such a girl, lovely or homely flit past when no such girl was in the room. All the
folk of Dereburg were saddened to see their young lord looking so haggard, reduced to this strange madness.
Seven years had passed, and still gravio
Carlon was as obsessed as ever with mirrors and looking glasses and shards of ice and drops of water and
parvioptics and magnifiers of all sorts. The once tidy library became a veritable cabinet of curiosities, stuffed with old cracked mirrors and bent, tarnished
looking glasses. Books full of notes, carefully detailing what had been seen in the looking glasses of the little grafdom
of Lewes. Usually the notation was
"nothing seen of interest". But there was the occasional notation of "saw something strange flit by" or "thought I caught sight of a pretty blue kilted wrap, and
does tha think poor ould I can afford a pretty blue kilted wrap?". These gave him hope that, somewhere in that strange other world, his beloved Ællìs still
walked and lived. For was not his Ællìs wearing her favorite sky blue sarong hitched up on her waist that morning that was to be her wedding morning?
Hope that she might yet come back.
At the end of the seventh year, the Bishop and the Council met to determine the status of their gravio
and his ability to continue on as lord of Deresburg.
As the testimony was given, time and again, the stories of how the raggedy Carlon could be seen poking about peering intently into anything shiny and
reflective, like some mesmerised raven, or else scribbling nonsense in his notebooks, unable any longer to distinguish truth from the kind-hearted fibs some
people told about a pretty girl in a blue wrap hitched up at the waist that they had thought they saw in some looking glass. So, upon the New Year, the younger
Carlon was invested with full authority as gravio
while the elder Carlon never seemed to mind.
Seven more years passed. Outside the dark walls of the library, the Sun made her daily course across the heavens and the little grafdom
prospered under the wisely ruling hand of her young lord. Within, the library was filled now not only with odd curiosities, but with paintings and sketches.
Always of young girls. Often wearing blue sarongs hitched up at the waist. One girl at least was always seen in each picture, a tall and slender girl, her body
white, her hair dark like a raven, her eyes a deep purple. Ællìs. Others may have been childhood friends, now long married and become mothers of their own
children. The other girls often smiled in the pictures. The black haired girl always gazed out from the picture directly at the one looking in. The library had
become more and more a memorial to the lost and now mostly forgotten Ællìs. That is to say, the girl was mostly forgotten, but not the story about the girl.
For, as often happens when people go missing under strange and slightly suspicious circumstances, stories get told. And often times they get told wrong. But at
least the memory of the person concerned is propagated. In the strange case of missing Ællìs, it wasn't so much her story that got told again and again as the
story of a curious book about a girl called Elisse that got remembered.
It was the curious tale of a young girl who had passed through a marvellous gate of some kind into a hidden land and there had all kinds of strange and
perilous adventures. Until she came home again. The story eventually got stolen and written down by some thieving would-be saga teller and he became a
wealthy and well respected author, while the story's true author remained an ignominious character in his own tale. And therein lies one of the greatest perils
of leaping through the looking glass in search of adventure or in search of escape from one's life: following the lead of a beautiful heroine upon her fictional
Even now, after all these years, Carlon had truly grown old. No longer the happy young student at university entertaining his friends with wild tales of Faerie,
no longer the happily doting father, no longer really in full control of his own wandering mind, he sat more and more frequently in the old comfortably stuffed
chair at the far end of the library, surrounded by mirrors and paintings of young blue sarong wearing Ællìs and mirrored images of young blue sarong wearing
Ællìs stretching into the endless depths of that world that is no world at all. For, at the end of his days, Carlon came to learn the peril of Faerie, not so much of
getting in and not getting out again. But of leading his beloved to the gates of that land and all but pushing her across the threshold without giving her any kind
"Ællìs! My little Ællìs!" he cried out to the great polished bronze looking glass. He didn't hear the door open quietly or the silent footfalls behind him. "I
wronged thee twice, Ællìs. First, in letting you read these books on your own and without the guidance of a wiser head. The worlds contained here in this
library are worlds of wonder and adventure, but also of gravest danger! Also, the world I was thrusting you into, with your marriage to gravio
Whatsisname's idiot son! Huhh!" Carlon sniffed derisively. "Knucklehead that one. I left you entirely unprepared for that world, too."
"Aye. Your brother Carlon, him I educated well. Everyone thinks I'm mad as a hatter, and I suppose in some way I must be. I know well enough he has replaced
me, and I am proud on account of his steady hand at the helm. But you, on your account I am most ashamed, dear Ællìs! I know you carried with you
Through the Looking Glass
. Perhaps you thought it was a book of magic? There are enough books of magic here in the library, and I can tell that your
gentle hands have thumbed through them and your steady gaze has read their words. But, alas, this was not one of them! It seems certain to me you have
followed after your heroine into a world that never was! Alas for me that I had not even taught you the difference between worlds that are and worlds that are
not! I am now left wanhopeful of your return. For how can you return to me from a place that was never, is not now and never shall be until the end of All That
whummpf --- whummpf
A low, vibrating thumping sound filled the library. Carlon, now standing before the great bronze looking glass,
paused his confession to his daughter. The sound seemed far off. Probably that blasted new cook destroying the ancient copper kettles with that new-fangled
cookery. He reached out his fingers, stretched them up to the polished ancient oak of the frame. Brushed them over runes only barely discernible to all but the
From Here to Nowhere the strong may pass with ease; from Truth to Falsehood the wise may swiftly go; from Pariyestan to Mortal Lands, few come again
unchanged and many not at all!
The elder Carlon stood before the great bronze looking glass, an ancient treasure of his clan's House for a thousand years, and wept. Had not Ællìs passed
through with ease, as the strong might? Could she come back again from that distant Pariyestan?
whummpf --- whummpf
The low, vibrating thumping sound was clearly coming from the wall behind the library. No, it couldn't be cook.
The only rooms on the far side of this wall were some disused mathoms. Carlon carefully knocked upon the ancient wood paneling of the wall to the side of the
looking glass. Carlon stepped back in fright! The knock was answered --- slowly: klock --- klock
He knocked again, closer to the frame, and the answering knocks came closer too and louder!
And then his world exploded.
With a whoosh of sound and light roaring into the library like a storm gale, Carlon was thrown down to the wood floor. All the mirrors in the room were
pulverised, and a fine mist of sand settled into tiny dunes here and there around the room. Papers scattered and the few candles that were lit to illuminate the
gloom were instantly extinguished. Only the low fire on the grate remained alight, and its baleful red glow energised the view into the ancient looking glass.
The entire wall began to vibrate, and the looking glass itself began to quake and if a whole world were being shaken asunder. Great thumps and drumps could
he heard now, as if some great ettin were banging on the walls of the house, seeking to get inside!
At last, a horrible screeching sound could be heard --- the tearing of ancient metal. A hand appeared! Thrust as if from Nowhere at all. A small hand upon a
long, slender arm. The flesh was pale. The hand waved about in the air, uncertain what it should be doing. Another thump and another screech as ancient metal
was torn. A knee appeared! Also slender, it was covered with a tattered and faded blue sarong, and along with the knee, a slender white leg and graceful bare
foot. Both were scarred, surely having walked many strange and perilous lands! The hand and arm pressed ever further into the air, and part of a white fleshed
shoulder and chest came through. The hand clenched and a muffled groaning could only just barely be heard.
Suddenly, a face appeared in the bronze! It did not punch through, but every detail was pressed into the metal as if by the hands of a skilled bronzesmith. The
slender hand and foot flailed helplessly, the face a grimace of agony and suffering. The frame and looking glass shuddered as forces unseen battled beyond the
veil. And then, the moaning stopped, the grimace faded and the face became peaceful and beautiful again. The hand and foot fell limp and dead. Blood trickled
along the slender toes. Dripped on to the ancient oak of the frame. Congealed in its crevices.
The foot was drawn back beyond. The chest and shoulder and arm disappeared. Only a swatch of faded blue cloth was left in the rent bronze.
The ancient bronze looking glass faded, instantly turning the green of a thousand years. It's once smooth surface torn, its surface impressed from behind with
the beautiful form of a tall, slender girl as if trying to get out.
For mirrormages are a rare breed indeed. Successful ones anyway. For the powerful initiates, the Mirrorworld is something of a playground. A strange and
perilous set of dimensions allowing the intrepid traveller to experience the most curious views. It is a world within a world and no world at all. Yet for the
uninitiated, Mirrorworld is a place of terror and, at the last, the place of torment and death.
Such a mirrormage was Ællìs of Deresburg. For many years she flitted from mirror to mirror on some adventure known only to herself. Until at last, the
adventure caught up with her, just as she was opening the gates into some half remembered place that she had not seen in ages. That place she could now
never return to.