The year is 1885. It is the forty-eighth year of Queen Victoria's reign and the British Empire rules over nearly one out of every four people on Earth. The farthest corners of the world are being explored and civilized. Science and industry seek to bend nature to man's will. Indeed, a new age of reason and order is upon us.
Yet despite the inevitable progress of the industrial age, or perhaps because of it, something strange is in the air. Interest in the supernatural is higher than ever. People disappear in London's pea soup fogs. Reports of inexplicable events arrive from the exotic extents of the empire. The middle and upper classes hold seances and practice spirit photography. Mesmerists put on exhibitions. Even within England itself, the old religion still has its adherents. While learned men will tell you that these stories are nothing but superstitious babbling, the truth is that they're whispered about even in the halls of the Royal Society and the corridors of Parliament.