The following short sketch is set in a 'fantasy' world with knights and dragons, demons and wizards, a past filled with mysterious (almost forgotten) lost empires, and so on and so forth. 'Technology', where it exists, is assumed to be strongly magical in nature. Sellengarde is (as far as I know) entirely my own fault as far as concept goes, although I suppose some of Kaja and Phil Foglio's 'steampunk' work may have been at the back of my mind as inspiration.
This piece is posted in December, 2016, whilst I wind down various Harry Potter postings on this site, prior to a break from Harry Potter fanfiction of undetermined length.
This piece is rated 'M' to be on the safe side, and is identified as 'horror'.
There is a shadow in the darkness. A shadow cast by the ancient light. A shadow which dies not, thrown by something brighter and more beautiful and more terrible than anything else – which it cloaks and guards and guides and hides.
Make no mistake. The shadow is awful, but that which it conceals is much, much, worse.
And here before us, is an enchanted castle. A castle forged in concept and cast by mathemagic incantation, taken and rooted in the flesh of an unfortunate lesser outer planar creature. Sellengarde.
For such is the name of the castle or fortress whose walls and gates are reared before us on a bleak – and otherwise desolate – isle in a storm-tossed sea.
And underlying – in fact underpinning – it all is the clockwork hum of the old magic which was conceived and born from the mind of a rare genius; a genius whose talents could have laid the empire in which it was nurtured to waste, had not the resources of the greatest magicians of an entire continent combined to put an end to its threat.
Except, of course, those magicians missed something in their destruction, and here, before us, a new and improved Sellengarde rears, thousands of years after those who overthrew the last passed into the footnotes of history, their names, methods, and deeds largely forgotten.
Sellengarde – the fortress and citadel at the end of the world, destined to let loose a horde of monsters, quietly building and growing itself, a shell of crystal and of magic containing a growing army of fleshly and incarnated-into-this-world demons. A threat to which there should be no reply, unlooked for and unguarded against, returned long after all who should have had knowledge of it perished, except…
There is a shadow in the darkness; a shadow cast by its own ancient and terrible light, and that shadow and the light more devastating still which is courted by it is me. Lady Speladrin Kaltharûnír, Chatelaine of Whisperloft, last daughter of an empire nearly as gone and forgotten as the one in which the first Sellengarde rose, wizardess and Daughter of the Morning. I stand before the gates of Sellengarde, not known for what I am, with power enough to lay it in utter ruin if I so choose – to smash utterly the beautiful and fascinatingly intricate clockwork of magic, to such an extent that it will never be restored again.
The gates of Sellengarde swing open, and an unwitting puppet in this drama bids us welcome – to enter within and to feast and then rest. He has no idea in what he has become caught up, nor grasp of that which stands before him, amongst a group of lesser mortals and latter-day heroes.
There is no hurry. The clock counting down towards 'the end' is not one which is marking my remaining hours. I do not have to finish this now, if to finish it I am minded.
I shall enter, I think, to inspect the horrors within 'up close', the better to be able to judge their merits, if any. And then, if there is nothing of redeeming quality to my eye, I shall destroy the place utterly.
Sellengarde. The castle at the end of the world. How sad for it, that I am at its threshold. Mere lyric poetry of catastrophe should have a better and wider audience to appreciate it than a composer of entire orchestral anthems of destruction.
Artistic irony, perhaps…
As the professional author, Kim Newman, has variations of a vampire called 'Genevieve' popping up in his various works across a variety of different settings, Speladrin Kaltharûnír (or other versions of her) pop up occasionally in various things which I write.
I'm not sure quite what Speladrin will do to Sellengarde, but I strongly suspect that Sellengarde will not be bringing about an apocalypse on this occasion. Even without going into other aspects of Speladrin, she is a very long-lived and highly skilled and dangerous arch-wizardess (and wizardess (with or without a qualifier) is assumed to be a valid term to describe a female practitioner of particular types of magical arts at least in this particular world which she inhabits).
Questions in guest reviews will likely be ignored; after all the main appropriate method, as I regard it, for answering questions in reviews – the private message – is by the very nature of a guest review unavailable for me to use to respond.