Fl#04: Mushroom Men

Beware you mushroom gatherers

Whose food in woodland grows

Beware the fungus watchers

When crossing rotten groves

 

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The mushroom men have seen you

That fact you must assume

So take your feast and quickly leave

The watchers in the gloom

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And draw across your curtains

When you are home tonight

Don’t look outside until the dawn-

For mushrooms fear the light.


Jesper’s note: So says the poem- and the mushroom men have been known to follow home those who harvest the fungi they watch over in woodland areas. However, there is no evidence that they ‘fear the light’- they are simply nocturnal.

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Archive#21: Posters

Clearing out the archives, I found a few posters that might be of interest.

BE FAIRIE AWARE
An official poster produced by the SFI in the early 2000s as part of a government campaign.
repot copy
Keeley’s homemade sign that goes up without fail every late spring. Heed its warning!
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Pre-seaflower poster I picked up at a sale a few years ago. This was made in the 90s, when there was a fad amongst teens to try out some necromancy rituals for a fun night out. Necromancy: not even once.

F#23: Wyrm Hatchlings

Wyrm Hatchlings (Northen European Wyrm) 

Dragon species

When we got the call about an ‘infestation of worms’, we might have reacted a mite too hastily with our stock (polite!) ‘we are a research institute, not Revery Pest Control’ response.




After the miscommunication was cleared up, we arrived at a small garden in the suburbs- only to find these week-old specimens of the European small wyrm causing havoc and destruction in their pursuit of a Sunday dinner.

These dragons are rarely found in built up areas (and almost never in the south of England) and there was no sign of the parent wyrm, who normally feeds young in the nest until they are a month old. It seemed as if the babies had been fending for themselves for a few days- feeding on insects and tearing up the garden in the process.



After a short (but chaotic) pursuit, Evelyn and I caught all three at the same time and took them back to the institute.


They have settled down in the break room in Keeley’s hat, whilst we contact the South West Dragon Centre to see if they have a spare pen…

F#22: Hearth Sprite

Hearth Sprite

Chaotic Elemental

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The hearth sprite is a familiar and well-loved figure, present in many homes. Drawn in the flickering of a fire, the warmth of a stove or just a trace of coal dust; the sprite is easy to attract.

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Having done so, many people follow the tradition of bottling a sprite, and keeping it on the mantle for good luck and prosperity.

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As long as you feed it with a pinch of coal dust every day, the sprite seems content to live in the jar. (Should its glow start to dim, it should be released immediately.)

F#21: The Guardian of Wistmans Wood

The Guardian of Wistmans Wood

Fae

Warning: Treat with caution, watch what you say and check any wording in a written or verbal contract carefully.

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There are places where the skin between worlds is thin. You feel a tingle along your spine, a prickling of your skin and a tang in the air, like the taste of ozone before a storm.

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It is in these places that you’ll find such peculiar beings as the Guardian of Wistmans Wood: cloven feet, horns, a cape and a goatlike face- it’s no wonder people talk of devils and wild hunts in this part of Dartmoor.

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The guardian lives in a cave beneath the roots of a contorted oak. When we arrived he didn’t come out straight away, but i could see the glint of his eyes inside the dark crevice.

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‘I know you’re there,’ I said.

There was a rustling, then a low croaking laugh. He stepped out into the light.

‘Greetings, Bartholomew.’ His eyes flicked over Jesper and Thursday behind me, but other than that he didn’t acknowledge them.

‘Wistman.’ Those eyes make me uneasy.

‘How’s that soul of yours?’ He said slyly.

‘That’s not why we’re here-’

‘Ah yes, we have a contract to renew.’

And contracts with faeries are almost always sealed with blood.

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Archive19: Blood Donation

A photo diary entry by Thursday Madaki

So, when I joined the SFI no one mentioned the ritual blood-letting. And, since then, it’s only been mentioned in passing- until the other day, when Evelyn said it was time to renew the Whistman contract.

Bartholomew groaned.

‘I’d send someone else,’ Evelyn said, looking unusually sly, ‘but you haven’t left the archives for days and you need the exercise.’

‘Also the guardian will only deal with me.’

‘That too.’

I interrupted then-

‘What contract?’

Instead of answering my question, Evelyn spoke to Bartholomew.

‘You should take her along.’

I hate it when they do that, like I’m the kid in a group of adults. I mean- I am, technically. But I hate being talked about like I’m not there.

Bartholomew was pulling a face like he was going to say no, so I spoke before he could.

‘I’d love to go!’

 

If only someone had mentioned it would involve hiking, and creepy blood drinking goat fairies.

 

Wistmans wood is only half an hour of walking from the main road, but that’s half an hour too much for my liking. I’m not really the biggest fan of the great outdoors, although I can appreciate Dartmoor’s weird brand of bleak beauty.

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The drive to get there had been long, made longer by the fact that Jesper listens to recordings of scientific lectures whilst he drives.

Bartholomew and I played i-spy, but he said I cheated when ‘something beginning with A. M.’ turned out to be ‘abject misery’ because it was on HIS face and therefore he couldn’t spy it.

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The reason we were driving all this way, then walking over uneven, ankle-twisting moorland, was because in the in the middle of nowhere is the kind of place you find a faerie who goes on vicious murdering rampages if you don’t check in on him every once in awhile.

The first contract was made in 2001, after a farmer who walked in the wood came home to find his sheep gone without a trace. Hikers were poked with invisible pins, and a young couple who carved their names into a tree drowned mysteriously in a shallow pool.

Evelyn, just starting out at Seaflower back then, tracked down the creature responsible, and made a deal. A deal that we were now heading out to reinforce.

The woods were beautiful and completely surreal. The entire floor was made up of huge rocks you had to climb and hop between, the trees were dripping with garlands of moss and lichen.

I barked my shins several times as Jesper led the scramble to the far side of the woods, where we stopped before a small cave formed under rocks and tree roots.

Bartholomew took something from his bag, unwrapping it and lying it on the ground. It was a athame- a ritual knife used in witchcraft.

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‘I know you’re there,’ Bartholomew said.

I saw something move in the depths of the dark crevice. Light glinted on a pair of eyes, staring straight back at us.

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To be continued in Sunday’s creature post! Please don’t hate me.

F#20: Hekbune

Hekbune- Filauny Male

Fae


For the past couple of days Percy, our resident manticore, has been very interested in the little courtyard garden at the back of the institute. It took us humans a while to catch on- we were being watched.


This is our second encounter with a member of the reclusive filauny species, and after a patient couple of hours of Evelyn and I sitting outside and trying not to look threatening, he finally came out from behind the plant pots.



He introduced himself as Hekbune, still clutching a tiny slate knife and shaking a bit, and said he’d come to thank us for offering assistance to his little sister on her pilgrimage.

So we offered him a cup of tea, and got him to put down the knife (Jesper also offered him a piece of that shortbread Mrs T makes for him and he uses as a doorstop. Jesper is no longer allowed at diplomatic meetings).


We asked Hekbune to tell us more about his people, but he was unconvinced.

However, he said, he would talk to his elders and see what they thought about us meeting them.

He did say that Minluth had been successful on her journey, and is now a fully-fledged clan member.



We offered him a tour of the institute, and he seemed intrigued- but when we took him to the archives he didn’t even make it across the threshold before he backed out, his hands shaking, muttering about ancient evil.

Looks like the archives could do with another cleansing ritual…

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