The Mornings After

The first salon was a qualified success, I do believe. Considering its spontaneous occurrence and that I was more than a little manic to be back in the Neath, it was well attended and quite diverting. I credit much of this to the guests, and the “Shroomgria,” (ETA: this term was coined by the linguistically adroit Dr. Mason) which was a hit. By the time I closed my doors behind the last of the guests I was exhausted and slept dreamlessly, for the first time since shortly after I arrived here months ago.

Yesterday, inspired by the artistic landscaping I’d done for the Duchess, I planted a tiny mushroom garden on my balcony. Strictly ornamental, of course, nothing medicinal or mind-altering at all (well, I think not, anyway). It’s simply a way to have something lovely to enjoy close at hand, reminiscent of the lovely wildflowers I enjoyed during my recent expedition to the surface.

In other news, I took dear Theodor’s instructions to heart about that silly counterfeit head of St. John the Baptist and placed it by my bed as I slept. I awoke with the knowledge of yet one more thing I probably did not wish to know as well as that ravenous hunger that one only gets from nightmares in this place. The last two times I have come away with this voracious appetite I’ve sought the remedy right away. This time I believe I shall live with it awhile and see where it goes. If any of my, erm, delicious friends would care to share their experiences with me, I would appreciate it greatly.

In the meantime my adventures in learning about the Correspondence Stones continue. After the blood running from my eyes ruined three good blouses, I decided to seek out some expert help. The first antiquarian who thought to decipher them exploded in flames right before my eyes — whyever he thought sleeping with them on his chest qualified as a “good idea” I cannot begin to say — but I have found another who also seems quite enthusiastic about the process. It is an intellectually fatiguing study, one that is assisted by the smooth, ordered, crystalline beauty of a good chess game and the liberal application of laudanum before bed. I hope to have some kind of breakthrough with the Stones before my “day” here is done.

Many thanks to all of you who’ve indulged my most recent chess-playing spree. The insights I’ve obtained have been well-employed, I assure you!



  1. Theodor said,

    July 14, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I will insist on this much. If the laudanum takes its toll on you — as I know it has on me — then I offer to come and tend to you for as long as it takes to restore you to health. And for as long as you would deem appropriate, of course.

    As for my own experience … I had a dream of the surface, the dream after which you and Henrik assured me of your friendship, and in it I was preparing for a journey. I was as hungry in that dream as I have been awake, and I believe that was what spurred me to search for the name — search for the name and go North. Later the opportunity came to me to sketch a symbol of what I now believe to be the Correspondence and … all else has been conjecture. It is quite maddening; I feel more and more starved for answers, but the search is almost impossible for me. It may progress more easily for you.

  2. cl0ckw0rks said,

    July 14, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    My dear Theodor,

    Your offer is unexpectedly kind. Indeed I have never known you to be quite so forceful about any matter. It is an attractive change for you, one I shall happily encourage with my acceptance. I’ll set up the chessboard and make sure I have a plentiful supply of tea for the duration, shall I?

    As for the research… your experiences as relayed here have been helpful indeed. I encourage you, in all care and concern not to let this line of inquiry permanently damage your health — mental or physical. Not only would such an eventuality impede your ability to continue your research, it would also grieve Henrik, Narciso and myself most terribly, I’m sure. Indeed I know you have Henrik’s constant friendship in your life and can only imagine how comforting it must be, but if there is ever a time you feel compelled to seek out another ear in which to unburden yourself of that which troubles you, I hope your steps will lead you to my door.

    It is always open for you.

  3. Theodor said,

    July 15, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Dear Merri,

    It did not occur to me until later that one should not demand entrance into a lady’s home, least of all when she would be indisposed to visitors … It vexes me, yet I find I cannot regret it. Perhaps it is because you were so gracious in welcoming me. And I do hope to have been of some assistance.

    But you’ve given me much to think on. In truth, I am concerned constantly with the health of others: in Henrik’s case, it makes me impatient that he should so cavalier with regard to his safety, and in yours, it seems I quite ignore propriety. When it is my own health, however, I forget myself, and do not notice the effects until I cannot sleep for fear of meeting my reflection and cannot move for fear that one last injury will end me. It is appalling hypocrisy, and I should redress it … but rather than berate myself, I should consider your offer, made as it is in friendship and sympathy. I am grateful and … if you do not think my troubles would contribute too much to your own … would be grateful to take it.

    My thanks,

    • cl0ckw0rks said,

      July 15, 2010 at 11:27 am

      Theodor, we are friends. I hope we are. Perhaps it is only a reflection on my upbringing, but I have always regarded friends to have more “privileges of intimacy” than acquaintances do. The requirements of friendship demand it and so, if you see me prepared to debark upon a course that might bring (or has brought) me to harm I should hope you would come to my aid — even as I should expect the privilege of coming to yours.

      I am certain Henrik feels the same, and perhaps even more deeply than I.

      As for your request I shall attend to it as soon as I can make my way to your rooms, rest assured. And, should all else fail — I’ll bring enough laudanum for us both!

      Your friend always-

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