The Realmwalker Compendium is an "encyclopedia of multidimensional wisdom" first announced via email on March 23rd 2022. Extracts will be published on Nightingale's social channels to reveal creatures, people and places of Nightingale.
Realmwalker Compendium Entries
In order in which they were published:
Whilst the Pale overwhelmed the Earth, a parallel threat emerged in the Realms - hideous parodies of humanity that attacked on sight, overwhelming the towns and hamlets.
Diverse in their form, they are unified by their aggression and by the strange ligatures that crisscross their skin.
The Redcrosse Knights knew them of old as 'Bound', whilst the Hermetics of the Academy theorised that they were magickal creations. But who so hates mankind to make such mockeries? And why?
Photograph: Muscular humanoid with a wheel for a head, wielding an oversized mace. Inscribed with the scientific name "Homo mandragora finitus".
The Fae Realms
Whether one calls it Elfhame or Faery or simply 'The Realms', one is talking of the myriad otherworlds adjacent to humanity's plane.
Accessed through Portals and Transept Arches, these Realms range from innocuously Earthlike to thoroughly exotic, from rolling hills and ancient woodland like bucolic England to strangeness beyond the ken of mortal man.
Yet, of the Fae themselves, supposed masters and mistresses of these Realms, there is no trace...
Photograph: Man carrying rifle approaching an active portal
Portals & Humanity
Simply put, a 'Portal' is a gateway between worlds. Natural and Fae Portals have existed since time immemorial. However, humanity's access to Portals is more recent and less reliable.
The ancient Fae-worshippers were the first humans to attempt Realm travel. In England, the 'Druids' learned at the feet of the Fae to conjure their own short-lived gateways. In the 1560s, Dr John Dee refined these Druidic rituals to keep portals open indefinitely--the first Transept Arches.
Photograph: Woman carrying rifle approaching an active portal. Inscription: "Gilded Paper, Fire Ink, Mirage Inscription"
She runs so fearfully quick. You might as well try to catch a Bandersnatch! --Traditional saying
It is a rare creature indeed that has no parallels in Earthly mythology. Yet the Bandersnatch's giant rat tail, its vestigial wing-forelimbs, the bifurcated mout, the unseeing eyes, the reptilian legs...it is far beyond the imaginings of anyone but Hieronymous Bosch.
The Bandersnatches live in the dark corners of the Realms, moving horribly between the shadows. The creatures hunt in packs, coordinating and navigating through echolocation. A Realm Walker of sensitive hearing might well pick up their lupine batlike shrieks before an attack begins.
Photograph: Hairy, man-sized predator with rat-like tail and powerful hind legs
200 years have passed since we last saw a Fae--yet still the tales persist... Of elegant, fickle, cruel beings--some allies, some masters--who disappeared overnight, leaving their empty Realms behind.
What do we truly know? That they are graceful, eloquent and utterly individual. That their Courts are enchanted, deadly places. That, whilst humans struggle with the simplest magick, the Fae find it as natural as breathing.
Photograph: Feminine humanoid wearing a black mourning dress. She appears to have two faces; the one facing the viewer has white skin and no eyes.
Tale tells that a Realm does not always sit by whilst humanity pillages. Compelled to defence, Realm spirits incarnate and used their powers to seduce, distract, frustate, or even kill any exploiters.
One example, the tree-bound spirit, ranges wildly in the tales-from the tiny spridjan and man-sized hamadryad, to the great Green Men or Eoten who can top the tallest tree. Though myth says that Eoten can be man-like, they are mostly encountered as tree among trees. Should a would-be woodcutter strike their bar, they arise with dolorous, relentless strength to crush the interloper.
Photograph: Tree uprooting itself and ambulating by its roots across the ground
In recent times, science has attributed Earth's great buried bones to ancient lizards. Yet the simpler explanation is that they are the remains of Grendels and Skyfallers--that is, giants.
Skyfallers are mountain-high wanderers (the largest of their kind), almost always alone and peaceful (if rapacious). Scientific opinion on their origin is divided. Dame Micawber claims they are products of Fae sorcery; Madame Sklodawska thinks them Swift's Brobdingnagian kingdom now scattered; and Professor Huxley says they are simply humans adapted to the Realms.
Certainly, the Realms would be a rich setting for human evolution. Yet these giants loom over even our tallest trees. Surely, it would take thousands of years for humans to reach such heights through mere evolution?
Photograph: Enormous, muscular humanoid obscured by lens flare
The Fae & Magick
The Fae are creations of Magick, who live with it--it is a simple to them as breathing. Surrounded by other Fae, all equally capable and proud individuals, they rarely question this blessing.
Yet Magick has spoiled the Fae, made them indolent. They're more likely to ensorcel a passing satyr or beg a Realm Spirit for aid than to magick anything up themselves. Indeed, the only magick they use without hesitation or cost is to Portal--to travel between realms.
But annoy or insult a Fae--one should not say threaten, as we are below their contempt--and they will deploy all their magicks against you, snuffing you out like a wavering candle flame.
Photograph: Masked fae wielding magick. At the bottom of the photograph, "Robin Goodfellow, Hobgoblin, Pan... Puck" is written in gold ink. Puck is a well-known fairy from English folklore, famous for mischievous pranks and practical jokes.
The Sanglier 'boar' stands up to seven feet tall and has been the subject of Realmwalkers' tall tales since the 16th century. Yet the Sanglier is no true boar. Mr Edward Drinker Cope has identified its teeth in the Nebraska fossil beds, placing it on earth 20,000,000 years ago, and so established that its closest Earthly relative is a hippopotomus or even a whale.
In the Realms, Sangliers are found in small family groups, happily eating bark, nuts, fruits and foliage. Yet, with their strength and size, adult Sangliers are quite capable of fending off smaller predators and, in large herds, they can be a threat to anything in the Realms. Once riled, their charges and head swipes are a grave threat even to mounted troops, and their disturbingly wide bite can crush bones through plate armor.
Photograph: Muscular pig-like creature with oversized tusks
The Realms are thought to be infinite and humanity has not explored them very deeply. Little wonder that in these pathless lands, many have disappeared. An experienced Realmwalker is as a Nepalese mountaineer or an arctic sailor—no matter their skill, their next journey could be their last.
Of course, time flows differently in the Realms, especially for those under the glamour of a Fae Court. A single night of frenetic dancing in a faery ring might be a year or more on Earth. When those lost in the Realms reappear decades later, their youthful faces bow in sorrow to see a beloved who has aged or died in the intervening time.
Photograph: Armed Realmwalker traversing a foggy forest