|I read my son's erratic letters with increasing dismay|
My son, who must remain nameless with the distant hope that some shred or vestige of his soul, mind and body may recovered from the wilderness, graduated from a respectable thaumaturgical institute of higher learning two years ago. While not the most puissant of warlock, 'Chauncy' was a young man with possibility before him, educated and prepared for a life of gentlemanly contemplation. However due to unforeseen circumstances and youthful abandon Chauncy wasted his inheritance (a bequest from his dear Mother's family - I myself would never have supported such youthful folly) but like youth everywhere resolved with the innocence of inexperience to find a new fortune in the great lands to the East. At first, duped by those peddlers of stories and false promises about the wealth of the frontier, I supported this venture and sent the young man on his way, hopeful that if nothing else he would learn that whatever it lacks in excitement, the life of an associate sorcerer-jobber makes up for with respectability, safety and a lack of excitement.
At first Chauncy seemed to be doing well, growing in his trade, and earning some money through the recovery of ancient artifacts. I had my concerns that he had fallen in with a rough crowd of gamblers, low class ruffians and journalists, but I set my fears aside with manly fortitude and the hope that the strong moral training I had gifted Chauncy would carry him through. Yet it was not to be. The letters stopped (shortly after I was compelled out of paternal duty to provide a note for 10,000 GP to support a now abandoned business scheme) but have resumed again after a break of some months. I cannot say I am happy with the results, and fear I have lost Chauncy. My own simple words as gentleman of respectable leisure cannot give proper credence to the irrationality that the wilds have forced into my son's gentle soul, so I have excerpted select passages here for reader to draw his own conclusions about the threat the wilderness poses to men of refinement and education, a threat of maddness and destruction.
First Chauncy's encounters with the bizarre and savage natives of the land, and the ever present danger of inter-species admixture boggles the mind and threatens our people in that desolate land...
Cloud Folk are much like us, and much different. Their names you would think vulgar, when rendered into our tongue, and their customs crude, yet they at least possess the same two arms, two eyes and two legs that humanity does. They may in fact be humans, though for many generations they have plied their junks across the skies of Wampus, developing a unique nomadic culture and living a life amongst the celestial wonders. That is not to say they are too unappealing, though the drooping mustaches of their men can be said to be comical, the bride in the recent wedding we attended, a princess 'Elegant' certainly appeared almost indistinguishable from many fine specimens of young womanhood that grace the West's great cities. The same cannot be said for her unwanted husband, a prince-ling of the volcano men who appeared as if carved from basalt and filled with magma, or her people's enemies - the prehistorical "Shockodiles". I will admit rescuing Elegant from the ill seeming marriage crossed my mind, and a such a thing could have been accomplished in the confused aftermath of a battle with shockodile raiders, but the Cloud People, for all their strange ways are worthy of respect and their customs must be honored.
Worse Still is the barbarity of the ground dwelling inhabitants.
The hunters were bestial in form, but men all the same, low sloping foreheads, long ape like arms and great quantities of course body hair, they lacked the noble build of the Cloud Rabbits, but still they were men enough by the standards of Wampus, and the same could not be said for the fell beast that was their enemy.
Even the 'friendly' savages of Wampus are dangerous and worship diabolical entities, yet their ways seductive to young men. Additionally it appears that the savages use of dangerous intoxicants is a potent lure.
After wandering through the Walking Totem, I have a respect for the Cloud Rabbit Shaman and the risks they must take, hard choices they make and bravery all must have to lead the spiritual life of their great tribe. They do not shirk from the magical dangers they must endure for their people. The look on the face of the young Shaman when we returned sign that his master had died at the very threshold of receiving the Totem's wisdom and boons, was of sadness, but it was also of resolve. I am sure that as soon as his studies are finished the young man will attempt the ordeal himself. He will climb into the mouth of the great totem, witness the allegorical battle between wooden beast and have the sagacity to restrain his impulse to join it. He will carefully walk the magical and mysterious jungle above, avoiding its traps and respecting the fierce guardians of the pyramid within. To escape this unwholesome environment the pyramid demands that the petitioner solve puzzles before transporting him to its final chamber, a room whose only challenge is to overcome the fear of the unknown and eat a mystical wafer in the shape of an owl. Beyond that the shaman will surely have visions, just as I did, embracing the spirits of Wampus in their animal glory and communing with them.
Beyond these less than desirable natives, even the 'civilized' folk of Wampus County appear a dubious collection of murdering louts and fallen women.
I worry sometimes about my companion and former employee, Ms. Cobweb, I don't fully know her story, though she was one of my saviors. She thinks of death so often and speaks of it with such unabashed lust. Her comings and goings from the house that we have made our base of operations is increasingly erratic and she smiles in a disturbing, maybe sadistic manner when she discusses meeting her former 'guru' the ghost Phineas Gristle. Whatever has made her this way, I do not know, the events of the past year are enough lay bare a person's true nature and I fear Cobwebs is a dark and cruel one. I depend on her blade to guard my back, but I cannot say that there will not be a time when she will plunge it into the same - likely petting my head with sisterly affection and telling me how lucky I am to be with Death as I expire.
I don't know what the mouse god wants with Peppermint, the man is a mad desperado, but I do know that the dungeons of the Sugar Fairy Queen are no place I'd ever put even my worst enemy. While the walls may be hard candy, I am assured that in addition to being rock hard it is of the foulest and most unwholesome flavors: swamp water, burning coals, rat droppings, and horehound for example. the prisoner is free now, undoubtedly he will return to his life of wild crime with the same glee as he snapped the neck of the Sugarlander Officer and disemboweled his two companions - but if if the peaceable and meek mouse god wants him I cannot second guess a deity.
Speaking of Strange Beings, Wampus appears a land where consorting with otherworldly beings in the pursuit of new untested sorcery is both possible and unregulated.
The Slyph was beautiful: lithe, quick, exotic and wise. I did not know that my researches into the voltatic crocodile would take me to her, but I cannot say I am unhappy. Perhaps the spell's make up is less stable that what I would expect from a tried and refined product of the academy, but I believe that the beautiful creature gave me the formula as best she understands these things, so natural to her, and that it will be of deadly use in the struggle against the insects. More important meeting her gave me a sorely needed reason to live beyond the struggle itself. The insects must be crushed, even those that writhe in my veins.
Gentlemen, fathers and guardians - hear my call, do not let your young men seek fortune East beyond the rivers, warn them away from Wampus, because whatever their quality it will degrade them, bring infamy upon your house and shame on your family's name. Allow my sacrifice to take the place of yours, progress must be served by youth, but here at home is best - not under the wide skies of Wampus, where even the gentle moon is an unblinking eye of depraved evil.
Donations to the "The Gentleman's Society for the Recovery and Rehabilitation of Wayward Youth" may be sent directly to the address below and will be used to support this Father and others like him in the recovery and rehabilitation of children lost to the lures of the uncivilized East.