I sit down for another day’s clerical work at Glover & Glover. I curl my hands into the usual shapes, and begin.
I wonder whatever became of the evidence that weary detective was gathering about my extracurricular proclivities. When I’m not at work, a small group of … let’s call them “friends”… and I enjoy delving into the invisible arts. They are a diversion, one which makes wonderful inspiration for my paintings, a mere dalliance with which to stave off my restlessness, the ever-present ennui of our modern age, I’m afraid, and we all need our little hobbies. But despite the purity of my intentions — I seek only enlightenment, to pierce the veil and see the truth! — there have been some unintended consequences.
I achieved my present position thanks to one such lucky (but quite accidental, I assure you!) occurrence. My previous supervisor, one Mr. Alden, was a most exacting man. A most unpleasant man. He often forced me to work extra hours, and would dock my pay at the slightest whiff of offense to his sensibilities, which were vast and vague and prone to slight. One day, I took ill and was unable to come to the office, and he threatened to fire me. I need this job, you understand. I have a great love of ancient and rare books, treasure troves of knowledge which have prices commensurate to their benefit in my studies. And my paintings, you see. The pigments I use can be so expensive. I could no longer tolerate Mr. Alden and his meddling. And just at that moment, when I neared the breaking point (quite separately from my own affairs, you understand), one of my friends in the Mirror of Glory (our little society of friends, had I not mentioned the name? a silly contrivance) informed me that Mr. Alden had in fact gone missing.
Yes, quite unfortunate. But (as it happens) most convenient for my own advancement at the firm. And so certain individuals, such as our aforementioned weary detective (stout fellow, brave fellow, and only doing his job don’t you know) somehow got it into their heads that I was to blame! For, you see, I won’t deny that I benefited from poor Mr. Alden’s demise- er, disappearance. But I was not personally involved, perish the thought.
I do wonder whatever became of that detective, in the end. I haven’t heard from him in quite some time. And I wonder if we were able to… I wonder what happened to that file he was putting together. Scraps and intuitions, this and that… Such a small thing, but even if he was drastically and utterly mistaken as to my true intentions and activities (good fellow, naive fellow), such a file could be dangerous in the wrong hands. It could have survived him… I mean, it could still be floating around for another investigator to seize upon and get the wrong idea about my friends and I.
We are involved in nothing untoward, rest assured. We converse, we study, we work, the same as any upright citizen, such as yourself. But we also dream, and we know that some dreams are real. That there are Ways by which one can approach the truth in the dark of sleep. We use our reason, our passion, our funds, and sometimes even sacrifice our health in pursuit of the ultimate truth, because we know of no other goal which is as worthy of that sacrifice. If our rites seem macabre, well, sometimes the truth is unpleasant. That does not make it less true.
Ah! But my musings — and my shift at Glover & Glover — must end. I have other business to attend to, now. Pressing matters, involving a certain scrap of lore that a colleague in the invisible arts wishes elucidated and elaborated upon in writing. For my work, the good doctor has promised a substantial sum of a currency traded in the odd corners of our fair city, invisible places that meeker women than myself dare not tread. I shan’t speak of it further.
Nor will I expound upon the lore itself. For to speak of the Lantern, of the Unmerciful Mantra, is to invite those dreams which brook no escape and no quarter. It is to breach the Stag Door and be counted among the Know. It is to approach the Manse, and breach its walls (though it has no walls).
Although, say there, friend… do I detect an air of intrigue about you? Are you also a practitioner of the invisible arts? Do you dream, as we do? I don’t suppose you’d like to attend a small gathering tonight, a dinner with some of my friends and I? We can speak more of these matters then, if you like. We could use some help, actually, with a practical matter: an expedition to a hidden place. Danger and glory, and truths to be revealed by the turn of the cards!
What say you? Will you join us?