Steam and Shadows and Dragons
My name is Ignace and I’ve been asked by a dear old friend to write a document for some of her, ahem, associates to inform and enlighten them as to the nature of our world and what has come before. I believe in the power of history; that knowledge of such things can help one avoid the pitfalls of the present and make better choices for the future. No matter if you find yourself in agreement with me or not please read this document and learn from it what you may. There is no other time but the present to correct for the past.
I think perhaps it is best to start with The Great Exhibition. In 1851 the Queens Consort, Prince Albert, joined together with several other like minded men and sought to amaze the world with an exhibition. This event would mark the British Empire as the premier modern nation and show the brighter future that would come with the development of technology and the sciences. The display was held in what would be called The Crystal Palace, the same that now sits in Sydenham in the south end of London. The presentations would run for six months and many amazing things were for all to see. The process of cloth manufacturing from plant to shirt, the process of steel manufacturing, the telegraph, photography, and devices for the pursuit of science in all it’s myriad shapes and forms. It was a bold and exciting venture and few could turn away.
Also on display at the Exhibition would be the first of what we would come to know as elves and dwarves. The first generation of their kind were put on display, poked, prodded, and studied for their strange characteristics. At first it was merely the young, born strange and fey not a one of them were over the age of eighteen at the Exhibitions opening. Over the next two years we would see both the young and old change into these metahumans. Though to call such creatures human stresses the word.
Several years later, during the winter of 1856, Goblins would be born of men as hundreds of thousands of people across the world were changed into the kind of things that had only been known in fairy tales and stories. It was referred to by the learned as Goblinization and by the not so learned as the Goblin-making. These poor souls were damned and so took the forms of their damnation. They became the trolls, orcs, and goblins of a toothless grandmothers tales.
It was around this time that the first vague reports came of shadows that moved. The very prospect seemed preposterous until Lord Melbourne made his famous demonstration of occult powers by attempting to usurp the throne from Her Royal Majesty Queen Victoria. It was at this time that Prince Albert demonstrated powers of his own and slew Melbourne in a pyrotechnic display of arcane powers on the very steps of Buckingham Palace. Though the Prince has taken to avoiding public appearances every Londoner remembers very well those events and there are many who ask if he doesn’t hold HRM Queen Victoria in thrall with his strange powers.
This public and dramatic demonstration proved beyond a doubt that the occult held sway in our modern world. Suddenly well reasoned, educated, and intelligent people engaged in all sorts of alchemical pursuits. Many going so far as to make public any occult allegiances they may have had at the time. Self proclaimed chaos magicians, shamans of the city, druids, and alchemists would sit shoulder to shoulder in Sunday Mass humbly mouthing their prayers and singing the hymns. Of course few of these charlatans actually possessed any of these powers over nature and even fewer would actually stoop to such hypocrisy as attending church. To this day the relationship between the Church and the magicians of our shadowed world is complex and strange. Few things remain simple in this time.
The battle between the Royal Consort and Lord Melbourne; the Goblin change; these were only the beginning. At this time London, The Empire, and the world would realize that the world had changed forever. Dunkelzhan; The Great Old Wyrm; would alight on London Tower and roar out his triumphant return to the world for all the city to hear. It is rumored that he was not the first of the dragons on Earth, stories from the lands of the Cathay tell of another dragon appearing before the Old Wyrm. Though it is perhaps a wise decision to not mention this in the Old Wyrm’s presence. 1855 was a busy year for the supernatural and the occult, but also in the sciences as Henry Bessemer unveiled the blast furnace which finally allowed for the mass production of quality steel. The Industrial Revolution had truly come upon us all. God save us.
The next two years saw peace at home but turmoil abroad as a number of Indian army units and civilian militia mutinied in India. The suppression was swift and efficient.
The shadows and magic have become perhaps the greatest change to our world in this modern century. The realization that not only are the primitives of the African continent and the Eastern lands correct in their assumption of the existence of spirits and rituals that can affect and change the world but that they are also some of the most accomplished practitioners of these arts is unsettling for a civilized man. The power to mold the stuff of reality itself with but a thought terrifies and entrances equally men and women and has created strange interplays of power amongst all the nations. Below I will attempt to demonstrate the differences in how certain nations handle the existence of sorcerers and magicians, and how these people in turn deal with the world around them.
The United Kingdom is, as always, a nation divided concerning magicians. While it is certainly very fashionable to either know or be involved with a magician in certain upper circles it also considered rude to make public spectacle of this connection. The rich and noble approach magic almost pragmatically, considering it simply another power for them to harness in maintaining their grip of control on the Empire and her peoples. That is why it is common to hear a noble condemn the use of magic amongst the lower class in the same breath as extolling the virtues of his wonderfully talented cousin who can summon spirits of fire to dance for them at an upcoming garden party. Now this isn’t to say the upper class does not suffer from the same wariness of magic and shadow that the lower class does. Simply that they would never admit as such, not even in their innermost thoughts. They are more likely to express jealousy and covet this power were it not under their command. The lower class is quite the opposite, fearing and shunning magic as a standard. The Church of England has never enjoyed such perfect attendance from the lower class as it has these past thirty years as the lower class seek any protection they can find from the shadows. Even, ironically, using supposed charms, potions, and signs of warding against magic; turning to the occult in defense against the occult. A hard working dock worker may on the same Sunday attend church seeking blessings of protection against villainous magic and after the sermon marched to the nearest corner witch and purchase a rooster foot charm against the “evil eye”.
The official stance of the Royal Family and Parliament is to treat magic like a kitchen knife; a tool that can be very useful in the right hands and very dangerous in the wrong. Considering [[Prince Albert: Prince Alberts]] well known use and affiliation with the occult it is not surprising to see the halls of power remain non-confrontational concerning the practice of the arcane within our Empires borders. There is however, a stigma against some of the more remote frontiers of the Empire and the peoples there using magic and shadows. The belief being they may use these eldritch powers against the Empire in bids to usurp the proper Order of things. The frontiers of the Empire are very remote from London and any process of control enacted is slow to reach the frontiers.
Most of mainland Europe follows this with a few exceptions. In Spain for example, long a refuge of Catholics and Muslims alike, it is not fashionable at all to be involved or connected to magic of any kind and many magicians have fled the country to the much greener pastures of France and England. Italy is the same, the Catholic Church having denounced all magic and some say the venerable organization may be re-igniting the Inquisition against the “witches” and “heretics” who play with powers beyond their ken. Though many rumors persist of the Church and the some of the newly anointed Inquisitors possessing strange powers of their own the Church has vehemently denied such accusations. Pope Leo XIII has regularly led sermons concerning the heretical seed that magic produces and how it is growing like creeper vine across Europe from sources foreign and domestic. His stance has struck many as strange for a man who resurrected the study of Thomas Aquinas in Catholicism, opened many of the Vaticans secret vaults to the study of researchers and historians, supports the development of the French Republic, and has repaired relations with many nations around the world between the Catholic church and their respective governments. He is known as an intellectual and a fine diplomat and wordsmith. However he is also dogmatic in his adherence to scripture and it’s importance to the everyday living of good Catholics. While his arguments remain cool and reasoned in regards to magic and the shadows, they certainly do not lack for passion.
France has been rocked by political change for most of the current century. After almost being the sole European power in the early years of the century under Napoleon the Congress of Vienna after his 1815 defeat undid much of what he had accomplished. It put the French aristocracy back in power and paved the way for 15 years of relative stability. However in 1830 the draconian measures of Charles X set off another Revolution in Paris leading to his abdication and the ascension of Louis Phillippe. Louis claimed to be a great many things to be elected to the constitutional monarchy but his actions spoke otherwise. His empowerment of the clergy and the rich led to yet another Revolution in 1848. The first truly democratic election took place and Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of that storied figure, won with vague promises of Liberal government. Once in power however the Liberal government became the new French empire as Louis became Emperor Napoleon III. He would eventually be overthrown after more than twenty years of imperialist government favoring the church and the consolidation of power into his own hands by the North German Confederation in 1870. While he was busy being detained the third French Republic came into being and managed not only an election but also achieve many of the goals from the previous two Revolutions. The birth of the Republic gave a home to many a disenchanted writer or mocked poet. The nation has also become a haven of freedom for magicians and their ilk creating a vibrant community of practitioners. However, the politics of the Republic and it’s welcoming of magicians still makes for bloody and dangerous conflict just below the surface. Many is the up and coming merchant family that uses personal magicians against their rivals. There are stories of great spirits battling on the Rue de Triumph, at the feet of the Arc, or even along the glittering stretches of the market district. While the cosmopolitan nature of the city creates an entrancing aura of lights and love and music and wine. This same nature has lent itself to warring merchants, criminal organizations, and larger company interests all across the city of lights. The elves have found swift acceptance into upper class society in France while the goblins and dwarves have been push as far from view as possible, in some parts of Paris even required to travel only underground during the day or not to leave their homes at while the sun stands in the sky. A rumble of resentment is swiftly growing among the goblins and dwarves of Paris and is growing steadily. A second revolution is whispered about in the squalid homes of these downtrodden souls. Though for just as many rumors of rebellion there are silent masses that accept their role.
The German Empire is relatively new on the political stage as a united nation but their 1870 defeat of the French army and their burgeoning international ties of trade and diplomacy make them a nation not to be discounted or ignored. The Empire also has one of the largest populations of Goblins in the world. So much so that they are often used in the military whole sale as shock troops with specialized equipment. The Goblin Shockers started as a rabble, a collection of goblins conscripts with little training. It was their successes in the battles with the French that elevated their value in the eyes of the German leadership. They received more extensive training and specialist weaponry in the form of the Thunder Hammers. Now they are considered one of the most elite cadres of heavy shock infantry in all of Europe. Despite this apparent acceptance goblins are still very much second class citizens with no voting rights or ability to own land or businesses. The practicing magicians fall in much the same category; if they are employed by the military then they enjoy certain privileges including higher pay than they could get anywhere else and more respect. The Krieg-magiers or war mages also stand as an elite within the German Empires armed forces. Outside of the army magicians make a living selling charms and potions or minor magical services. They must remain unnoticed in the Germanic nations where magic is not illegal but is frowned upon unless in service to the Empire. Excessive displays of power have triggered inquests and witch hunts among the citizenry or worse yet full military police actions to detain and prosecute the magician(s) responsible.
Locations of London
Mile End Old Town
Victoria born May 24
Jules Gabriel Verne born February 8 in Nantes, France.
Slavery is banned in British colonies
Victoria succeeds her Uncle William IV at age 18 on June 20
Dickens Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist are published
Dickens Nicholas Nickleby published
Dickens Old Curiosity Shop published
Dickens A Christmas Carol published
Dickens Dombey & Son published
Emily Brontes Wuthering Heights published
Charlotte Brontes Jane Eyre published
Marx and Engles Communist Manifesto published, shocks the civilized world.
Dickens David Copperfield published
Cornelius LeMont develops the first steam & shade stone powered arm to replace the one lost by his brother fighting under Napoleon. The device is heavy and clumsy and noisy. It works perfectly. C. LeMont immediately seeks to patent and develop the technology, revealing to no one, not even his brother, the source of the shade stone.
Dickens begins his Household Words periodical
The Great Exhibition begins, generally considered the beginning of the modern age or as some of the dramatic call it, The Age of Shadows. Cornelius LeMonts steam limbs are put on display for the first time to the general public and change the world.
Dickens Bleak House published
Livingstone discovers Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
Using the debut at the Great Exhibition to his advantage Mr. LeMont seeks investors to increase his production and development schedules, eventually founding the LeMont Steam Limb & Trading Consortium.
The Crimean War starts raging as Russia lays claim to certain territories in the Ottoman Empire. France and England rush to their ‘allies’ defense and push the Russians back to Sevastopol, a Russian naval base on the Crimean Peninsula.
Dickens Hard Times published
The Crimean War rages on as the Russians capture a causeway affording them superior positions for artillery, it is generally agreed this single act will prolong the conflict. The Light Brigade, a light calvary unit, charges the position to retake it, less than a third of the Brigade survive. A young woman named Florence Nightingale arrives and begins the profession of nursing, standardizing procedures, equipment, and methodologies.
Dunkelzhan lands on the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster construction site (future home of Big Ben) and roars his returns at exactly twelve noon. He then joins the royal family for tea and negotiations concerning his ancient claims to lands in the British Isles. When later interviewed the Great Old Wyrm would claim HRM Queen Victoria to be, “quite possibly the noblest and absolutely most willful mortal being I have ever become acquainted with.”
Dickens Little Dorrit published
The First Goblinization; in little more than a week hundreds of thousands of previously normal people change into the first of the Goblins; Orcs and Trolls, violence and reactionary hate and anger and fear are the order of the day. The rioting, violence, and looting were on a scale that none had seen before. Entire neighborhoods were set aflame as many rebelled against the changes wrought upon us. Many thought the end times had come and those days were the last they would have on Earth. It would take weeks and months to calm the populace, recreate something akin to normalcy, and determine the nature of these newly changed people. It is said that thousands of Goblins died in 1856 the shock and reaction was so great to their appearance. The existence of the Goblins is something that much of the world is still learning to live with.
The Crimean War ends after two years of hard fighting; the Goblin Days force the various armies to turn their attention home to maintain public order.
Henry Bessemer invents the blast furnace allowing for the mass production of high quality steel. Previously the production of steel had been limited to small batches by master craftsman, with this new technology the Industrialization of the Empire would well and truly begin.
LeMont immediately contracts Bessemer to provide the technological expertise to accelerate his own steam limb production. This combines with the large amount of wounded returning from the Crimean War to make LeMont and his consortium some of the richest and most powerful men in the world.
Suppression of the Indian mutiny as several brigades of sepoys, Muslim and Hindu soldiers recruited to police and patrol the colony of India by the East India Trading Company, rose up against said Company.
At this time the first military use of the shadows, or magic, was reported in both the Sepoy Mutiny and by the American Indians as they fought to reclaim much of their land from the United States.
Deciding that the East India Trading Company was too unpopular and too greedy to effectively govern the Indian colony HRM Queen Victoria became the governing head of the colony and effectively cut the East India Trading Company from complete autonomy with a single move. It is said that the Company has never forgiven this slight and this act lead directly to their making connections and doing business with many governments over the following years, effectively becoming a Company without a home nation.
First woman admitted to Royal Academies
Darwins Origins of the Species published, an addendum is attached informing readers that he would release a revised edition after research into the nature of Goblins and the other odd creatures that had appeared in the world over the past decade.
Dickens Tale of Two Cities published
Dunkelzhan publishes A Magical Primer & Study Guide Begins teaching a select few magic at Oxford.
Dickens Great Expectations published
The American Civil War starts just prior to Abraham Lincoln taking office as the President of the United States. Magicians are used on both sides of the conflict and many tribes of American Indians are recruited to assist both the North and South with promises of returned land rights.
Prince Albert slays Lord Melbourne on the 14th of December. Not only does this confirm the existence of supernatural powers and occult practices to the world but immediately establishes Prince Albert as a powerful practitioner, even moving the Great Old Wyrm to mention that the “sneaky German must be very skilled to have hid so well from my eyes”. Dunkelzhan training of magicians at Oxford is revealed after which the Great Old Wyrm immediately stops teaching and withdraws to his estates.
Broadmoor Lunatic Asylum for the Criminally Insane opens and is almost immediately filled to capacity
Dr. Renfield, the director of the Asylum, publishes his book Broadmoor Monsters at the end of the year proving Vampirism a real and contractible disease. As panic and fear grip the city of London, Scotland Yard uses steam limb enhanced constables to scourge the infected from their hiding places in the city. The Iron Yard teams remain a part of the city’s law enforcement to this day. They’re considered a necessity in handling the more ‘unnatural’ criminals in the city.
Dickens Our Mutual Friend published
Dr. Renfield contracts Vampirism and after rampaging through the Asylum is burned out by law enforcement. He’s not been seen since.
Founding of the Salvation Army by William Booth
National Association for Women’s Suffrage formed in Manchester, England.
Lewis Carrolls Alice in Wonderland published, many magicians claim it an accurate account of an Astral journey
Second Reform Act extending voting rights to tax-paying human males of the urban working class passes Parliament
Disraeli becomes Prime Minister, he becomes increasingly unpopular and is defeated in election several months later.
A mass public execution is interrupted as Ghouls come out of the crowd and steal the condemned, it becomes the last public execution in the British Isles
The last ship leaves with criminals bound for Australia, criminals are increasingly put to work in mining operations and factories or become conscripts in the Empires armed forces
Ferdinand de Lesseps builds Suez Canal on the backs of Goblins and steam limb enhanced workers; also known to be the first industrial use of summoned entities to assist in the construction
Education Act requires primary education until age 11 though a penny per day fee applies
Married Womens Property Act gives women the right to earn and keep money for their own use
Institutionalization of photographing prisoners
First publication of the Encyclopedia Britannica
Disraeli becomes Prime Minister against predictions to the contrary
First intelligible telephone communication by Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell
Disraeli buys the Empires controlling interest in the Suez Canal, adding it to his personal holdings
HRM Queen Victoria named Empress of India
A young red headed midget named Luke Reirdan develops first primitive wireless control systems in a tenement building while working as a butcher in a pork slaughterhouse and whole seller.
Telephones become available, mostly for the wealthy they will eventually trickle down to public houses but not into peoples homes, telegraph and letter will still remain the predominant methods of communication.
Phonograph invented by Thomas Edison
First electric street lamp in London, immediately followed by dozens more, usually only to be found in the richer districts.
First professional message delivery service using spirits opens in London, Brambley’s Guaranteed Parcel & Message Delivery Services is burned down by protesting Puritans for doing the “Devil’s work” and “corrupting” the city of London
Edison invents the lightbulb
First telephone directory issued in England, it is a decidedly light weight book
First electric lights using light bulbs in the home
First electric power station opened at Goldalming in England
Luke Reirdan takes a young Nikola Tesla under his wing and together they found the Reirdan & Tesla Electrical Manufacturing Company and immediately patent hundreds of technologies under the company
Expansion of Married Women’s Property Act allowing women to act as business partners to their spouses and own the inherited property of a deceased spouse
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island published
Reirdan and Tesla develop electrical systems for Airships reducing the weight and size of the controls a great deal and consequently start developing an airship construction and design arm to their company
Reirdan and Tesla take Reirdans wireless technology to a new level with the development of analytical machines, a terminal with type keyboards and paper read outs are wirelessly connected to larger analytical machines with automated paper punch card storage system. The development is hailed as one of the great achievements of the modern age.
Third Reform Act extending voting rights to agricultural workers; again goblins are excluded
Completion of the revised version of the Bible
Karl Benz invents the first internal combustion automobile, the engine is incorporated into airship design and within the year almost every nation in Europe is fielding powerful airship navies, air power becomes more pre-eminent among modern military minds
Found of the Men’s and Women’s Club
Antole Baju’s journal Le Decadent published
Golden Jubilee, a celebration of 50 years of HRM Queen Victoria’s Reign on the 20 June
Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes story to be published
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