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Having rescued Penny Farthing from a fate worse than death, Sam Smith and his companions return to the Wastelands in search of the Road to Earth.
Sam follows the enchanted compass to a beautiful and mysterious place known as the Garden of Forever; here, it is always early morning on the first day of Summer in the middle of the most beautiful rose garden in all existence, and Sam is so overcome by beauty and wonder that he is brought to tears by it. However, Sam is also intrigued by two groups of statues in the middle of a garden of crimson roses whose petals are literally the color of blood. The statues were of two opposing armies of Faerie Folk in elaborate suits of armor, astride warhorses and wielding swords, axes, and shields' much to his shock and amazement, the statues are quite lifelike, and are frozen in poses of absolute terror. Even more peculiar, one army is crafted from the finest carnelian while the other was carved from flawless serpentine marble.
"What is this?" Sam asked. "Some sort of war memorial?"

"You could say that," Sir Spindle replied with a grim expression on his features.
"These are the armies of Lord Serpentine and Lord Carnelian."
At these words, Penny and Feliana backed away from the statues, their eyes filled with growing horror.

"What's wrong?" Sam asked. "Were there some sort of atrocities these soldiers committed?"

"The Garden of Forever is a sacred place," Penny said, tears in her eyes. The Jewel Lords profaned it with violence and bloodshed. For this crime, they were punished."

"What happened?" Sam had a feeling that he didn't want to know the answer, but at the same time, Sam knew that if he were to survive in Faerie, Sam had to know as much about the world as possible.

For one of the few times since Sam had known him, he saw fear in the eyes of the Goblin Knight. "Queen Bloodrose turned them to stone... and since time forever turns back upon itself in this place, they will remain this way for all eternity. Neither wind or rain will wear them away, and these accursed soldiers will remain as they are for all eternity... aware of everything around them, forever unable to move or to scream."
The Goblin Knight paused, a single tear spilling down his cheek.
"I was witness to the Battle of Gorgon's Tears, and the memory shall remain with me through the rest of my days. I shall weep no more for them.
"Let us leave, for the memories of this place are painful to me."
All material herein copyright 2009, 2015 by Kurt Miller.
I'm having fun creating the alternate history for the "Empire of Mirrors" universe, a Steampunk fantasy where the British Empire never fell and is ruled by two queens: a rejuvenated Queen Victoria and the Clockwork Empress, the Queen of the Faerie Folk. In this universe, the Great War ended in 1917 in a truce between Britain and Prussia while America stayed out of the war.
France ends up a client state of Great Britain while the Netherlands become part of the Prussian Empire, and a state of Cold War exists between the two superpowers while anarchists in France and Russia attempt to overthrow them.
The Second World War will be fought between the Soviet Union and an unlikely alliance between Britain and Prussia while the Nazi Party fails and its members are jailed for treason and sedition. Adolf Hitler dies in 1951 from syphilis, an unknown painter and failed architect.
The war in the Pacific continues much as it does in our universe, except that it continues until 1947 and Japan is invaded by the United States since there is no atomic bomb. More than a million American soldiers lose their lives to the Japanese and their steam-powered mecha before they surrender, and only because the United States reveals the truth about the atomic bomb--in this universe, the spirit world is very close to the material plane, and detonating a nuclear device would disrupt dragon lines across Japan and Southeast Asia while enraged kami and angry ghosts would ravage the mortal realm.
(this was discovered in 1945 when the atomic bomb tests rend a hole in the fabric of the spirit world and the American Southwest becomes a wasteland of walking corpses and evil spirits for more than a generation)
The United States government detonates only one hydrogen bomb, which was at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific; such was the destructive power of the explosion that it tore a rift between universes, releasing a monster the likes of which the world had never seen. Known as Gojira, the enraged titan ravaged across the Pacific Rim toward Japan, and only the combined forces of the United States Navy and the Japanese Mecha Corps succeeded in defeating it. Refusing to learn the lessons from the Americans, the U.S.S.R. detonated their own hydrogen bomb near the Arctic Circle, sending psychic shockwaves across the spirit world; the explosion awakened the monstrous Zmei, the legendary dragons from Russian mythology as well as Baba Yaga, sending the Russian Empire into chaos.
I love the visual texture of this universe: a mix of Gernsbach and Victorian styles with elements of art deco and art nouveau taking place in the 1920's, with blimps, airships, and dirigibles as well as biplanes and other early aircraft while in the streets are everything from steam-powered automobiles to horse-drawn carriages. The population of London is a bizarre mixture of Human, Faerie, and half-breed Changelings where Low Faeries occupy the working class while the House of Lords is slowly taken over by the Daoine Sidhe simply by virtue of outliving their mortal rivals.
It should be noted that during the Witch Hunts of the 1600's, Queen Mab and many Faeries of the Seelie Court escaped across the Atlantic to America, where they took up residence in the Appalachians; during the Revolution, more than a few of the Faerie Folk were happy to take up arms against the British to settle old scores.
When Sir Isaac Newton rediscovered the Laws of Magic in the late 1600's and wrote the famous Principia Magica, the Age of Enlightenment became a time of experimentation when the ancient laws of magic and alchemy could be organized and transformed into a science, and portals were opened to Faerie. Humans and Faerie Folk became friends once more, but most of the first wave of Faeries who traveled to Earth were of the Unseelie Court: Goblins, Hobgoblins, Redcaps, Trolls, Kobolds, Knockers, and Pooka. Members of the Seelie Court have since arrived in Europe, but they are greatly outnumbered by their opposite number.
As far as mortals are concerned, most humans in this alternate universe are much like their counterparts, but with some exceptions: for example, Albert Einstein discovers that magic does not violate the Laws of Relativity, but subtly changes them in its presence while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has become the special envoy of Queen Victoria to the faerie courts. Lewis Carroll wrote about the adventures of Alice Liddell in the Realm of Faerie, but wonders if she ever returned to her beloved Wonderland...
"Do you remember the Queen of Spring?" Sam asked.
For what seemed like an eternity, there was silence--only the sound of the wind whistling and moaning among the weathered crags of ancient granite and basalt. For a moment the Faerie Folk stared at each other, overwhelmed by the strange sense of bewilderment that overcame them every time they thought of her. At last, there was a rumbling like an avalanche and what might have been a face appeared upon the surface of the mountain.
The voice was so deep that they did not as much hear it as felt it in the marrow of their very bones, a bass rumble of a voice from something that had seen mountain ranges rise and fall, and who had watched entire civilizations appear and vanish in the wink of an eye.
"YES, WE REMEMBER HER. WHY DO YOU WISH TO KNOW?"

"I have been to the end of the world and back," Sam replied. "I have the right to know where her place of power lies. Where might it be found?"

"TRAVEL INTO THE EAST, WHERE THE SUN RISES. THERE YOU WILL FIND THE PLACE WHERE ALL THINGS BEGIN."
"Why are they called the Mountains at the Edge of the World?" Sam asked, pausing to catch his breath in the thin mountain air. "We have certainly traveled far enough for them to earn it."

"Why don't you see for yourself?" Sir Spindle replied with a grim smile, gesturing toward the edge of a nearby precipice. "Be careful, though."
The air was freezing cold, and the night sky was full of stars. Approaching the edge of the granite cliff, Sam looked over the edge and through the thin veil of clouds saw nothing but stars extending to infinity. Overwhelmed by vertigo, Sam stumbled away from the cliff in terror, his heart hammering in his chest while his breath came in ragged gasps.
"There's nothing down there... nothing but stars."

"Of course. Did I not say they were the Mountains at the Edge of the World?" the Goblin Knight replied.

"But that's impossible. The world is round..."

"Maybe on Earth. Here in Faerie, everyone knows the world is flat, and therefore must have an edge."

Sam paused a moment to consider this statement. "But what would happen if you fell off the edge?"

Sir Spindle shook his head in sadness. "Unless you could fly, you would continue to fall forever... and ever."

"A most disturbing thought," said a familiar voice from among the rocks above them. Turning to face its owner, Sam and his companions found themselves confronted by Lord Blacktalon and a horde of undead things that were little more than bleached bones and midnight shadows. "Shall we put it to the test?"

The darkness was becoming an almost physical and tangible thing, swallowing up the light from the lanterns carried by Sam and Penny.
As the shadows gathered around them, Sam noticed twin patches of absolute blackness that seemed to be darker than the surrounding shadows, like two holes in the fabric of reality. Before the last glimmer of light could be swallowed up by the darkness, Sam reached into one of the many pockets of his coat and drew forth the Light of a Thousand Summer Days.
A soft golden glow spilled forth from the crystal, dispelling the darkness and illuminating the chamber like the light of the rising sun. Immediately the twin sources of darkness withdrew from the light, revealing themselves to be two cloaked and hooded figures wearing layer upon layer of tattered black robes like the skin of an onion. Nothing was visible beneath their robes, and both figures hung suspended in mid-air while an angry reptilian hissing could be heard from beneath their hoods.

"Your light will not help you," whispered a voice in a sibilant hiss. "Where there is light, there is always darkness."
"...and when that light fades, the darkness consumes all," whispered the other mysterious entity.

"Who are you?" Sam asked.

"We are the Harbingers," the first one replied, "the servants of the Nameless Ones. We existed before Time and Space began... and we will survive long after the last stars have burned to embers."
"Surrender to us," the second one whispered seductively as the shadows once again gathered around them. "We will show you things no one has ever seen, and take you to places no mortal has ever been."

Sam Smith covered his ears only to discover that their evil whispering was not only in his ears, but slithering into his mind.
This is what the Serpent from the Garden of Eden sounded like, Sam thought. It's what a man hears before murdering his wife and children in cold blood and turning the gun upon himself...

"Don't listen to them, Sam!" Penny cried out. "They only want to destroy you!"

"Be silent, little faerie!" one of them hissed. Sam stared in mute horror as the Harbingers cast aside their humanoid shapes to assume their true forms: monstrous things combining the worst attributes of eel and serpent whose rubbery black flesh was glistening and dripping with slime. More than forty feet in length, each of the Harbingers had an enormous grinning maw whose razor-sharp teeth resembled knives made of black obsidian while surrounding their drooling mouths like the whiskers of a catfish were a score of writhing octopoid tentacles. Neither of them had eyes or other visible sense organs, but Sam somehow knew they did not need them.
"We shall devour your minds and souls, leaving nothing behind but an empty husk filled with memories. Prepare to be consumed!"

Remembering that the Harbingers had recoiled from the light of the crystal, Sam turned to his companions and shouted, "Buttercup! I need your help!"

Holding forth the Light of a Thousand Summer Days, Sam concentrated until the crystal was blazing as bright as the noonday sun. At the same time, Buttercup the Pixie wrapped her arms tightly around the enchanted quartz crystal and exclaimed, "You want our minds and souls? I'll give you something else: the light of a thousand summer days... all at once!"

"Cover your eyes!" Sam shouted. There was a silent explosion of golden-white light so bright that Sam could actually see the bones of his hands through the flesh--a light so blinding bright that even with his eyes completely covered, Sam was dazzled for almost a minute. At the same time, the hissing voices of the Harbingers became an ear-piercing shriek of terror and agony that all but deafened them, echoing through the endless caves, tunnels, and caverns within the interior of the Dead God.
When everyone could see again, the Harbingers were gone. All that remained of them were twin piles of powdery gray ash that blew away on the slightest breeze.
Having rescued Penny Farthing from a fate worse than death, Sam Smith and his companions return to the Wastelands in search of the Road to Earth.
Sam follows the enchanted compass to a beautiful and mysterious place known as the Garden of Forever; here, it is always early morning on the first day of Summer in the middle of the most beautiful rose garden in all existence, and Sam is so overcome by beauty and wonder that he is brought to tears by it. However, Sam is also intrigued by two groups of statues in the middle of a garden of crimson roses whose petals are literally the color of blood. The statues were of two opposing armies of Faerie Folk in elaborate suits of armor, astride warhorses and wielding swords, axes, and shields' much to his shock and amazement, the statues are quite lifelike, and are frozen in poses of absolute terror. Even more peculiar, one army is crafted from the finest carnelian while the other was carved from flawless serpentine marble.
"What is this?" Sam asked. "Some sort of war memorial?"

"You could say that," Sir Spindle replied with a grim expression on his features.
"These are the armies of Lord Serpentine and Lord Carnelian."
At these words, Penny and Feliana backed away from the statues, their eyes filled with growing horror.

"What's wrong?" Sam asked. "Were there some sort of atrocities these soldiers committed?"

"The Garden of Forever is a sacred place," Penny said, tears in her eyes. The Jewel Lords profaned it with violence and bloodshed. For this crime, they were punished."

"What happened?" Sam had a feeling that he didn't want to know the answer, but at the same time, Sam knew that if he were to survive in Faerie, Sam had to know as much about the world as possible.

For one of the few times since Sam had known him, he saw fear in the eyes of the Goblin Knight. "Queen Bloodrose turned them to stone... and since time forever turns back upon itself in this place, they will remain this way for all eternity. Neither wind or rain will wear them away, and these accursed soldiers will remain as they are for all eternity... aware of everything around them, forever unable to move or to scream."
The Goblin Knight paused, a single tear spilling down his cheek.
"I was witness to the Battle of Gorgon's Tears, and the memory shall remain with me through the rest of my days. I shall weep no more for them.
"Let us leave, for the memories of this place are painful to me."
All material herein copyright 2009, 2015 by Kurt Miller.

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Kurt Miller
Artist | Professional | Literature
United States
I am an independent screenwriter specializing in horror and dark fantasy.
My current project is a novel best described as a dark fantasy western taking place in the Realm of Faerie. Wish me luck!
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:iconimeldacroft:
ImeldaCroft Featured By Owner Edited Nov 28, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you so much for the watch as well as for the llama!
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:iconcrystal-fantasy:
Crystal-Fantasy Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014
thank you SO much for the watch!!! it really means the world to me THANK YOU!!! <3 <3 <3 If you want to see even more of my work, progress and updates feel free to check out my page! Im on it MUCH more often than here on dA!
www.facebook.com/CrystalFantas…
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:icongodhi:
godhi Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014  Professional Writer
You're welcome! Check out the character notes and biographies, plot summaries, and story fragments for my upcoming series of novels, The Wasteland!
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:iconmeryl-sama:
Meryl-sama Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
Thanks for the watch! Have a look at my facebook page if you want! www.facebook.com/Merylsama :)
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:iconlily-in-leather:
Lily-in-Leather Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2014  Student General Artist
Thank you for the llama!
If you would like to see more, please come check out my work here:
www.facebook.com/ichigeicospla…
ichigeicosplay.tumblr.com/
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:iconkannonkosplay:
KannonKosplay Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thanks for the watch!

-Kiki Kannon- :kitty:
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:iconixiserenityixi:
IXISerenityIXI Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2014
Thank you for all the comments and feedback on my cosplay! 
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:iconfairie-tails:
Fairie-Tails Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thanks for watching me! :love:
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:icondaniellevedo:
daniellevedo Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi dear! Thanks so much for all the comments and watch ^^ It made me happier today!
Yaay, regards from Brazil ^^
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:icongodhi:
godhi Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014  Professional Writer
Thanks! Do you read fantasy? If you do, check out my deviantART site and let me know what you think of it!
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