Baron Furkza's Museum of Mysteries

About halfway between the bazaar and the River Gate, at the corner Market Street and Apothecary Row stands a large, two-story concrete building hung with gaudily-painted (and frequently changed) signs featuring strange creatures, human oddities, and rare treasures. Most of these signs include written descriptions for the literate: "Examine the horrifying Troll!"; "Thrill to the shocking contortions of Ionia the Snake Girl "; "Feel the strength of a real Zeldarian Steel !" A sign above the door identifies the place as "Baron Furkza's  Museum of Mysteries," and a helpful doorman stands by to cheerfully usher in those willing to part with a few coins.   Inside, both floors are packed with display cases, shelving units and floor displays featuring a wide variety of wonders. There are also a number of curtained off rooms that contain special (and often live) exhibits that are so shocking and amazing that the management cannot in good conscience display them openly to the general public. They can, however, allow discerning visitors (such as yourself) a glimpse of these wonders for just a few additional coins. In addition to the exhibit rooms, the museum contains a small theater where various performances and demonstrations take place (again, for just a few extra coins). The exhibits can be broadly divided into three main categories:
  • Monsters & Exotic Creatures: Or more precisely, monster corpses, usually either stuffed or suspended in jars of preservative fluid. Some of these (especially the real animals) are authentic. Most are failed chimerists'  experiments, clever works of taxidermy, or realistically-rendered representations.
  • Human Oddities: This category includes bearded ladies, tiny men and women, and lobster boys as well as geeks, fire eaters, and other sideshow performers. The unusual traits of these performers are often genuine, but the same can rarely be said of the stories told to explain them.
  • Historical and Cultural Artifacts: The purported artifacts in the museum range from the legendary ("The real Tolva's Veil!") to the mundane (a wine glass from which The Eternal Empress  once drank). Nearly all of them are cheap fakes or common items from faraway cultures presented as far more exotic than they really are.
The museum is open year-round except for a few weeks during the cold season after the Baron (who unsurprisingly holds no such title) returns from the touring circuit with a new crop of exhibits. The first few weeks after the museum re-opens with the new exhibits on display is its busiest time of the year. Even the (many) skeptics who recognize and loudly decry the trickery of "Furkza the Swindler," usually stop by for a visit, if only so they can properly debunk the latest batch of hokum.

Cover image: Cabinet of Curiosities by Georg Hainz


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