96# The Book of Insect Hours
Illustrated, bound in layered shells, smooth to the touch.
This book has daily prayers for household use on every page. Prayers to the Titan of Swarms for the gaze of his Faceted Eye. Images show a dweller of the deeps going about their daily tasks. Spearing blind fish above the black falls. Hanging red lamps to ward off Eigengrau in the dark. Unlocking the tongue of a mage-thrall. Pausing in randomised semi-cyclic silence to listen for a subterranean attack. Each task has its appointed time and a prayer for aid.
97# Scurrilous Lies
Sculpture in stained but unbaked clay.
This hand-made caricature has silly fine cheekbones, a delicate pursed mouth, half closed eyed and a dandyish bow. The artist made it for himself, of himself. The plump roughness of the clay contrasts amusingly with the delicacy and pretension of the figure. It whispers a single scurrilous lie whenever you lean in close.
98# Skeleton Cello
Not bone, but burnt and rotted wood. And not truly a cello
The remains of this angular instrument is haunted by the ghost of the woman who played it while it burnt. No-one knows her name or why she played. For the ghost to be released, all that must be done is for the rest of the cello to burn. The music she creates is so beautiful that even the brave have been unwilling to set her free. Only the cello’s part of the concerto can be clearly heard, other unknown instruments exist only on perceptions edge. Not just the music, but the scale and arrangement is alien and totally unknown. It may come from the fractured worlds, planets trapped inside a baffling knot of space and counter-turned time whose inhabitants, though human, perceive our reality as a maddening whirl and cannot even breath out air. If so, this is the only sign of those unearthly cultures that has ever been found
99# Bridge of Birds
Fine ceramic vase.
This vase is emblazoned with a beautiful flock of coloured birds of every kind forming a bridge across a sunset sky. Occasionally, a bird will hop out of the vase, stand on its lip, look around, then disappear back inside. When you look inside, the jar is full of birds, millions of them, calmly waiting.
Once, two lovers were separated by death. They begged death to let them meet again, but were unheard. The birds of the air were so sorry for the lovers that they offered to make themselves a bridge across the sky for the lovers to walk upon. Death saw this and grew angry. He could not harm the birds, as flying between heaven and earth, they were beyond his purview. So he took all the birds in the sky and forced them into his pot. The lovers fell. The August Personage in Jade, seeing this, commanded Death to open his jar, release the birds into the sky and allow the lovers to meet once more. But when Death looked for his jar, it was gone, disappeared into the earth. So the August Personage in Jade stripped death of his robes and commanded him to dwell in darkness and silence till the bride of birds was made once more. Death searches still.
100# Axel Whiteclay Mulqueen.
Naked human male in cage.
This man has pierced his flesh with gold and silver tines from ornamental forks and combs for noble hair. He has carefully tattooed his all his accessible skin with the story of his confinement. Mulqueen is a critic, a cannibal and a criminal. (The last two are not always the same underground.) Mulqueen has really precise and insightful views on art. He can value almost anything by looking at it (though he regards people who ask for values with distain.
He can spot provenance, deduce fakes and most importantly, has a firm grasp on aesthetic worth. (Mulqueen also spots the magical qualities of items, but only as it relates to their beauty or impression, not mechanical effects.) Mulqueen wants to escape, the Civilopede will not like this. He talks sometimes of ‘Blamphin’ and ‘Bon Clerk’, apparently tow frenemys, critics like him, their locations unknown.