Hope everyone had a good halloween!
‘Beep’ Domesticated Manticore Mardyakhor Mansueti
There are many reasons why people might rehome a manticore bred by Eliza Knights-Herbert of 23 Rose Street, Revery. Most of these reasons relate back to their finicky personailities, or the ability to dissolve things just by looking at them.
Beep, however, was left with us at the institute because she is blind. Her previous family were displeased with her lack of laser vision, and feared she would no longer be an effective burgalar deterrent- a legitimate concern.
Luckily, Beep has found a new forever home, and will only be staying with us briefly before travelling to Gloucestershire- our resident manticore Percy will miss her.
Wyrm Hatchlings (Northen European Wyrm)
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.
‘Whatever you do,’ Lesley said, announcing her presence in Evelyn’s office doorway, ‘don’t touch Jesper’s sample jars. He damn near tore my ears off.’
‘So that’s what the racket was about.’ Evelyn looked up from her desk for the first time in what felt like hours, and was possibly even longer. She had to blink a few times before Lesley came into focus.
‘What a mess.’
Was she talking about Jesper? The mutating moth corpses? The undercurrent of tension? The political fallout from their open day disaster?
Maybe it was just the state of her desk.
Lesley cleared a space amongst the scattered papers and receipts, and gently plonked a steaming mug of coffee down in it.
‘You need a fuel break,’ she said. ‘Did you even go home last night?’
‘Vale is putting us through the ringer over this,’ Evelyn said, neatly sidestepping the fact that yeah okay, she slept in her office. ‘He wants to get us shut down. He might even succeed.’
‘Pfff,’ Lesley snorted. ‘He’s tried before.’
‘Yeah well, the mysterious disappearance of our guy full of moths might just cinch it for him. They don’t believe he even existed. Without a body…’
She ducked too late as Lesley cuffed her cheek with a gentle hand.
‘Chin up Evie. Henry Vale might be holding your soul hostage, but we’ve got his balls in a vice. If he gets us shut down, he’s got to foot the bill for his own occult special unit. And that means less money to slip into his own pocket.’
From upstairs came the sound of raised voices. Lesley rolled her eyes.
‘Damage control to the first floor,’ she said into an imaginary walkie-talkie. ‘Seriously, love. We’ll be okay.’
Evelyn hoped she was right.
As she did every year, Evelyn spent most of open day waiting for something to go wrong.
The flow of people coming through the doors was steady, but not overwhelming. Evelyn had done her welcome talk, and lead two of the hourly tours. She’d made a hundred teas and coffees, nipped out to the bakery next door to replenish the biscuits, and so far had only had to apologise to one visitor for Jesper’s… abrupt demeanour.
Ruffled feathers had been soothed, and Evelyn was feeling rather good about it all.
It was then she noticed the smell.
‘Oh my- Lesley, do you smell that?’ It snagged on the back of her tongue, she fought back a cough. On second thoughts, it was less of a smell and more of a hand shoving something rotting down her throat and squirting lemon juice in her eyes for good measure.
Around her, other people started coughing.
Lesley grabbed her shoulder.
‘Get’emout,’ she told evelyn between hacking coughs. Out of the corner of her eye, Evelyn saw that Thursday was already herding visitors to the front door.
‘The others,’ Evelyn said. ‘Jesper. Barty—‘ as she spoke, she heard footsteps on the stairs, then Jesper appeared in the doorway, shirt pulled up over his mouth and looking more pissed off than usual.
Keeley should be out in the greenhouse, and she’d hopefully have the good sense to stay there. Which just left Bartholomew, who… was currently running the feeding demo in the archives.
‘The cellar!’ she said to Lesley, who nodded and as one they pushed through the panicking bottleneck of people to the stairwell.
As they went down, the smell got worse. Like old blood, curdled milk and piss and… superglue.
Trust her little brother to end up in the middle of the chaos. Typical Barty.
Lesley came to an abrupt stop at the bottom of the stairs. In the poor light, Evelyn thought at first that the archive door was shut. But no, it looked wrong- like it was rippling, heaving, wriggling.
She switched on the light, and it caught silver on a thousand twitching wings.
The doorway was full of moths.
Name: Minluth, Filauny child
Description: Small grey-furred humanoid with powerful hind legs; solid blue eyes; face markings: intentional, possibly traditional (some sort of dye?).
(Note on the name Filauny- we couldn’t ascertain if this was the name of her species, or just of her people/family group. One and the same? Are there others?)
I try to keep these entries purely factual, but today I’ll have to descend into anecdote. I apologise.
We came across the filauny child Minluth in our own back garden/courtyard at the seaflower institue when she tried to use it as a short cut. We were outside, making the most of a rare dry day, when the small figure scrambled down the fence.
Needless to say, she was not expecting a curious party of researchers; just as we were not expecting a small intelligent humanoid no one had ever heard of.
At first we weren’t sure if she could speak english, though she seemed to understand it. Turned out she was just shy; and after Thursday offered her a piece of chocolate the pair of them got quite chatty.
A forest dwelling species of intelligent small humanoids, we gather that the Filauny are proud hunters and have a complex societal structure and culture- more than could be learned in such a short, chance meeting.
Minluth is ten years old, and seems to be taking part in a coming of age ritual, wherein she carries three vials from her home settlement across the countryside to a sacred location. One contains soil from the forest, one an assortment of seeds, and the third water. Once she reaches the sacred place, she tells us, she must plant the seeds with the water and soil, then fill her three bottles with sap tapped from a particular tree. She then makes the return journey and, if she survives, becomes an adult.
She’s not allowed to ask for help on the journey, but is allowed to accept if it is offered to her freely and without prompting. Until the chocolate we gave her, she said, she hadn’t eaten for three days.
She had to leave and continue her task, much to my disappointment, but told us that her people live in deep woodland east of here. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll visit and learn more?