"Father Eli, please, you must tell me what has become of Susan! I've treated her for months, and she was showing such improvement too! How can it be that she was taken away?!" The priest in charge of Efalla's ward looked up from his chart dispassionately: "She has been discharged. Much improved, just like you say." Efalla protested vehemently: "But Father, this is not so! I have seen her be taken to the basement!" Eli's eyes narrowed. "You are mistaken, Sister Efalla. You must have seen another patient being taken there." "I know Susan, Father, I was by her bedside for months and months! Two guards took her there, sleeping, or put to sleep!" "Enough! You will speak of this no further. Susan Kelsterborough was discharged yesterday and that is that. Good day!"
Ludwig! oh, Ludwig, if only this note shall reach thou!
i had to pay off one of the guards to get it smuggled out of the asylum and i fear i hast been played for an blinking idiot. Yet, i had to adventure it! The fog, Ludwig! it is terrible! it comes almost every day and night, and there are things inside it, shadows of horrid creatures! there is naughty magic afoot in this phony holy place! the walls, they shake at night and people howl like animals! the shadows are alive. The shadows, Ludwig. They do lack me. Gears save me, they do lack mine soul. Save me Ludwig! get me aroint from hither, i pray of thou! anywhere yet Dunhearst...Clarence
Dunhearst... How to describe such an ambiguous place? On first thought, one might think that Cromwell would be an excellent location for a sanatorium: So close to the Iron Belt the climate ought to be warm and sunny with the ocean breeze's curative properties always close-by. An island of priests and nuns, caring for the souls of the lost and remembering the fallen among well-tended graves that speckle gentle hillocks.However, if you ever went to Cromwell yourself, you'd know that it is a cold and dank place, despite its location... The magical icy winds2
Dearest Ester, I hope this letter finds you well on Zuidshaven, and that our nephews are flourishing. The incident aboard the Halibut has left its marks on my mind, I know that now, but I already feel the curative power of this place. Oh, the cold fog that rolls so often over these gentle hills may seem foreboding at times, and I shudder when I glimpse it unexpectedly, thinking back at the white haze that overtook the ship on that fateful day, but the nuns are taking good care of me and a safe and warm place under the protection of the Church has granted me some much needed reprieve. Father Lorentz has been speaking with me daily, trying to help me get past the dread of Absethoshekla's horrid calliope. He believes I am ready to speak with other survivors of animancy attacks soon, and I am positive I will make a swift recovery. I long to see you again, dearest Ester. Yours and only yours, Frederick
Cromwell is a mid-sized island, which used to belong to the United Ocean Belt Technocracy before the Great War3and was populated by a small number of shipwright families. It was annihilated during the Age of Heroes when the invading forces of Svalbrynd razed the island in a bloody and brief onslaught. After the war was over, the technocrats of Guantil-ya left the Ocean Belt, jumping their great city of Borealis to the South Pole, effectively dissolving the United Ocean Belt Technocracy, since they were the leading force of the coalition. While the remaining large members were forming the Commonwealth of Corsia, the island of Cromwell was left to itself, and a group of Church of Pure Souls missionaries took up living there like hermit crabs. There they erected a sizable graveyard for the families that were lost during the war, which they would tend throughout the centuries to come. With the formation of the Commonwealth of Corsia, the island was signed over to the Church as a gift, a decision with wide reaching consequences, as during the early centuries of the Age of Gears and Elements, the church used Cromwell as a base to build and operate the Salvation Navy, which is now a major player on the Ocean Belt.
Off to DunhearstSince the rise of the Church, churches across the Corsic Ocean have offered sanctuary and healing to the mentally ill, and, despite the nature of the institution, those entrusted with the care of such patients have actually received increasingly progressive medical training, sometimes even advancing the medical frontier in the area of mental illness themselves. While the churches are always open to those who need help, there are a couple of dedicated sanatoriums: Elderbreast, Kratostat, Hindlhelm, Ostraxa, and Dunhearst. They are where wealthier clients are sent, those whose coffers can aid the Church in their many enterprises, and the most esteemed and expensive of the five is Dunhearst on Cromwell. Those sent there can expect the best of care within the walls of an ancient church manor. However, some patients have reported witnessing odd shadows on the walls, and happenings not easily explained or put into words: priests and nuns behaving secretively from time to time and certain parts of the manor being strictly off limits for all but a handful of personnel. Yet rumors such as this are easily discredited by the Church, who point quietly towards the agitated and confused mental state of their patients.
Northern Cromwell Built in
482 GE Owner
The Church of Pure Souls Current Administrator
Father Talos Moothersmall
Appointed to his position at Dunhearst in 1658 GE, Moothersmall was a cardinal in the Holy City on Sternsmooth but made powerful enemies high up in the church hierarchy. Only the significant influence of the Moothersmall family on Sternsmooth could save him from a far steeper fall, ensuring his installment at Dunhearst in a cushy position as head administrator.
A Blighted HistoryThere have been dark decades, and even centuries, during the Church's history where victims of spellblight would not just be shunned but hunted. The Missionary Fleet and occasionally even Black Priests would go from island to island to collect blighters and sentence them to death or worse. Church strongholds such as Cromwell had so-called Blightwitch Towers into which blighters were tossed before their final trials. The door of such a tower would be opened and blighters as well as other offenders would be tossed in for a tenday, just to be expelled from the island or hanged afterwards. During the tenday, they'd hunger on the dirt floor while living in their own filth. To make sure their suffering would be prolonged as much as possible, a bucket of water would be hoisted down into their fetid dungeon every three days. Their screams and moans would echo off the walls of the tower in a haunting cacophony, and Blightwitch Towers remaining across the Corsic Ocean, such as the one on Graanshoof, are often believed to be haunted by the souls of the blighters that had died within.
A small dyke island at the northern tip of the Hooper Chain. ~ 122 Words
Famous Patients and Unusual Cases
The Peculiar Case of Emily Pallard
There once was a little girl named Emily, who wasn't right with the world...This sentence marks the beginning of the tale of Emily Pallard, a fairy tale told to children all across the Corsic Ocean. It speaks of a girl who had vivid and magical dreams ever since she had learned to walk. Dreams so vivid that they became real. She dreamt of fabulous creatures and lustrous lands, and made such things no one could fathom, or so the story goes. One day, she had a nightmare and made a great, dark forest appear, in which she lost her parents. With three imaginary friends - a very long moth, a golden cricket with a beard, and a talking fish that could swim only inside wood - Emily braved the dark forest full of monsters. There, deep inside its dusky heart, she found a great gate; a gate behind which, so the Magus of the Whizzvaldia Pools had promised, her parents were waiting for her. And when she opened that gate, she awoke and realized that she had been very sick and now for the first time awoke. Her dreams had never been real, but her parents were there and holding her hands, and she was happy. Or so the story goes... The real story of Emily Pallard is somewhat darker than its fairy tale counterpart. In the 720s GE, the little girl was admitted to Dunhearst by her wealthy merchant parents, who were at their wits' end. Emily had manifested incredible magic at a young age, making temporarily real the various things she pictured in her mind. At first, the learned mages that had come to inspect her ability had concluded that she was creating illusions, tricks of the light, but all too soon they would realize the terrible reality of Emily's creations, for one of her nightmares, a mawed monstrosity she called the Snarglesnatcher, ate one of the mages whole.
Emily Pallard and one of her creations.
From the Archives: The Survivors of the Constante
1214 GE, Dunhearst Another group of castaways picked up off the coast of Graanshof. These are in worse shape than the rest. All victims of the Dark One. Like the Vinclav of yore, this vile animancy has turned gear-fearing men into abominations, their souls stripped bare, their hair white with the blight, and their eyes as bright and blue as witches... Woe to them who suffered such[...] [...]thereafter... It is all we can do to tend to their trauma, but what of their souls? The sisters rightly fear to be near them, for are they not lesser creatures now?[...] [...]But such is the grimest of duties of servants of the Great Clockwork such as us. And no fault should be sought with the victims in this matter.
The Fall of Dahlia
In 1002 GE, one of the most famous psychiatric cases of Aqualonian history made its way to the Dunhearst Sanatorium. Among all mages on Aqualon, five hold a most special place: The Keepers of the Elements. These mighty souls are reincarnated over and over and each one commands one of the magical elements, Water, Fire, Lightning, Wind, and Earth, completely. Though the Church frowns heavily upon the use of magic, they revere the Keepers, whose special place among the Great Clockwork's plan has been recognized by the Great Prophet Yilik himself, and is therefore gospel truth to the Church of Pure Souls. Indeed, not merely the Church, but all people of Aqualon recognize the power and import of these mighty Keepers.
The Dunhearst Horror
Animancy is an unusual variety of clockwork magic where souls are used as a raw material to create magic items, prolong lives, and unlock unusual powers. While this type of magic has its place in certain cultures, especially those of the Nordmen in the form of Kaltani druids and Druith Schamani, the kind of animancy more commonly found on the Ocean Belt is, well, focused on using the souls of other people, which is frowned upon, illegal in most societies, and also viciously persecuted by the Church of Pure Souls.
In the year 1420 GE, a dark and rather dubious chapter of Cromwellian history took place: An incident that would later become known as the Dunhearst Horror. After continued accusations and inquires filed by the widow of the late Joshua Canterberry, Marry Louise Canterberry, with the Commonwealth of Corsia authorities on Zuidshaven, the CC itself launched an investigation into Dunhearst. Rumors had been growing more and more worrying that dark machinations were afoot in Dunhearst, some claiming that unsavory experiments were undertaken with patients, others that blighters were secretly carted to the asylum to be studied and dissected, and yet others that an animantic cult was hiding under the guise of the Church's benevolence.The CC officials put little stock in these rumors, but did seek to close the matter quickly and descretely so a lid could be put on them. Too busied with pirate activity at the time, they outsourced the investigation to the Survey Corps of the Hank & Jordan & Tenzer corporation, which had some experience with matters of that kind, and an investigator accompanied by two licensed HJT Ferries5
From Old Tim's One Hundred Facts about Aqualon, Revised Edition
Honored Cardinal Alastor, I humbly beg your forgiveness for taking up some of your important time, but I feel I must speak up before it is too late. Perhaps, in your grace, you recall me from the days of our joint studies at the theological faculty of the Hespera Nêra College, where we shared several classes. It is because of my past memories of your character and your current position in the church that I write to you: One week ago, an investigator of the HJT company along with two Ferry mages arrived on Cromwell to investigate dark rumors surrounding Dunhearst where I currently work as a nurse. Dark things happened during these investigations, unspeakable things that shook me to my very core! And despite the death of both Ferries and a patient of mine, now it is all to be written off as an accident I am told. Cardinal, this is not so! The administrator and the fathers under his charge are hiding something, I have known so for some time. I do not know what it is but fear the worst, and now with so much death staining our place of healing, I fear for the safety of our vulnerable patients. Please, I beg of you, use your influence to launch a church inquiry so that the truth may out! With grave anticipation and greatest worry,
Sister Josephine Theresa Montoya