Arthur and Amorrie in London

Beware the Umbra

Shadmas Hawfly

Welcome to my mistress’s record of the Umbra. Before you delve too deeply into her lovingly scribed words on the Other Realm and its secretive inhabitants, you should heed my warning.

Three books she has crafted about Umbra. Over 300,000 words – and probably a third as much again in notes, charts, plans and passages that didn’t find space between their covers – have been devoted to them. You or I would think that there was nothing left to learn about the Umbra, and yet, they remain unknowable.

That is the very essence of Umbra. They are capricious, enigmatic creatures. Most of them only spare us, their allies in Britain and Highlands, a few minutes each day – the very minimum required to fulfil that curséd Queen’s treaty. Those that linger longer, such as Scampion or Keeper Claw, are usually the least welcome of their kind.

Some have been brought kicking and cursing into the light cast upon them by my mistress’s series of books, but despite the glare of her literary accounts, they remain hard to fathom. Even, my mistress, the struggling author of these volumes, finds the creatures constantly astonish, frustrate and ignore her.

If, reader, you wish for the comfort of easy-to-understand characters, whose natures are familiar from countless other volumes; characters you can instantly place – such as: say, the sweet maid with a heart as pure as argentium, or that brave hero who wins every fight, or another villain whose soul is so black his actions become child’s play to predict – then you will not find them in these books. I urge you to look elsewhere.

I know my mistress would not confess such a thing to you, but none of her cast wholly reveal themselves to her and not one of them will allow her to shoe-horn them into the serpentine plots she shapes on long candle-lit nights.

Many a time she has begun a chapter with a clear draft of where it is to lead, only to find she has been pixie-led by such Umbra as she called upon to do her bidding, and taken somewhere else entirely. She is at their mercy, and – as you will learn, reader – they have none.

I will end this blog – it is the first I have been granted ink to pen – while my quill is still sharp. The pages gathered here (in this web that never knew a spider) brim with strange illustrations, conjured by means I do not understand.

But, do not think that these pictures are true representations of my mistress’s Umbra. No, they would not be caught in so obvious a trap. Instead, they only reveal themselves through their duplicitous actions and devious words.

They cannot be pinned to the page by my mistress’s words like some lepidopterist’s lifeless butterfly trophies; the Umbra take wing solely in your imaginations… and, true to the curséd Queen’s laws, they are not required to stay there for long.

Shadmas Hawfly,

Scribe (Assistant) to Mistress J. L. Dawn