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Featured Novel

The Storm Winds of Glazglubin

Storm Winds of Glazglubin Cover

"There's a monster in every man, boy. Within me, there is a host, and one day, it'll be yours to command." Too often these days, Kenji's mind turns to the words of his accursed father. When he fled the Old Country, he thought he had left the monsters behind, but now he sees them every day in the eyes of his friend and mentor. His world is about to crumble in a spasm of eldritch magic, and though he can see the face of his undoing so clearly in his nightmares, deep down, he knows that the first blow has already been struck.
As the tendrils of a soul plague lay claim on Aqualon's oldest and most powerful magocracy, the Lord of Wind, Kenji Sokolow, is cast down from his high tower, pressed to rally whatever forces he can find. But first, he has to survive...

Featured Short Story

The Black Priest of Rastrowel

Black Priest of Rastrowel Cover

A gripping short story from the life of Lyn, a young girl in the care of two HJT Ferries, ships mages for hire, which operate from their office on the island of Rastrowel, the highly religious birth place of the Church of Pure Souls.

Faced with prejudice against mages every day, Lyn's winning personality and innocence keep her well within the good graces of her peers, until a Black Priest, an inquisitor of the Church takes notice of her...

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A Synopsis of the World

Seventeen centuries of peace have allowed the people of Aqualon to flourish. Since the Great War, now known as the Age of Heroes, when the Old Gods rose up once more in vain, the world has become prosperous: powerful magocracies in the Middle Lands are going through a magical industrial revolution and rich tapestries of cultures flourish in the Yamato Mountain Range and the Seventeen Yonder Islands. These lie in the Corsic Ocean of the Ocean Belt beyond the 150 kilometer band of iron, the Iron Belt, which rings the planet around its equator.

And isolated from the rest: two technocracies so far beyond them that they could be thought to live in a world of their own. They are divided by their opposing views on integrating magic and technology, yet united in their quest for knowledge.

But who would have thought that none of these would start the next great war?
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Browse Aqualon's countless lore articles below: Fantasy, Scifi, Horror, Mystery; there is enough to suit any palate and sate any appetite.

Dunhearst Asylum

"Father Eli, please, you must tell me what has become of Susan! I've treated her for months, and she was showing such improvement too! How can it be that she was taken away?!"   The priest in charge of Efalla's ward looked up from his chart dispassionately: "She has been discharged. Much improved, just like you say."   Efalla protested vehemently: "But Father, this is not so! I have seen her be taken to the basement!"   Eli's eyes narrowed. "You are mistaken, Sister Efalla. You must have seen another patient being taken there."   "I know Susan, Father, I was by her bedside for months and months! Two guards took her there, sleeping, or put to sleep!"   "Enough! You will speak of this no further. Susan Kelsterborough was discharged yesterday and that is that. Good day!"
On the Church-owned island of Cromwell lies a lone sanatorium called Dunhearst. Here, troubled souls are brought to recover... or so the Church1
In the second century of the Age of Awakening, the famous play "Glint" by Heinrich T. Borgerat inspired a new wave of beliefs centered around the Great Clockwork and the dread animancer Vinclav, who became the chief antagonist of the Great Clockwork in the emerging teachings of Gustav Nacravler of Manastrat.   Nacravler's teachings ultimately lead to the founding of a new church, the Church of Pure Souls, who became immensely powerful on the Ocean Belt after the Great War.
Vinclav, the Master of Keys
Character | Feb 26, 2020

Now games and wagers are the life / Of sailors, pirates, fisher′s wives; / But do beware the yellow eyes, / Don′t bet to serve, your soul, your life / Always beware the yellow eyes. (2701 Words)


dunhearst letters - ludwig.png
Show Letter Transcript
Ludwig! oh, Ludwig, if only this note shall reach thou!
i had to pay off one of the guards to get it smuggled out of the asylum and i fear i hast been played for an blinking idiot. Yet, i had to adventure it!   The fog, Ludwig! it is terrible! it comes almost every day and night, and there are things inside it, shadows of horrid creatures! there is naughty magic afoot in this phony holy place! the walls, they shake at night and people howl like animals! the shadows are alive. The shadows, Ludwig. They do lack me. Gears save me, they do lack mine soul. Save me Ludwig! get me aroint from hither, i pray of thou! anywhere yet Dunhearst...
- The cemetery at the old West Wing

Dunhearst... How to describe such an ambiguous place?   On first thought, one might think that Cromwell would be an excellent location for a sanatorium: So close to the Iron Belt the climate ought to be warm and sunny with the ocean breeze's curative properties always close-by. An island of priests and nuns, caring for the souls of the lost and remembering the fallen among well-tended graves that speckle gentle hillocks.
However, if you ever went to Cromwell yourself, you'd know that it is a cold and dank place, despite its location... The magical icy winds2
The Iron Belt is an actual belt of iron that is many, many miles wide and rings the equator of Aqualon. In certain places the heat of the sun causes a strange magical reaction, which produces severe cold snaps, a phenomenon that has created and maintained the great Gastropnir Glacier and caused the more sub-arctic climate of the island of Svalbrynd.  
Tale #14: Svalbrynd Chain Gang
Prose | Jul 16, 2020

A short story from the times the Axis of Steel was founded. The Iron Belt is a dangerous place, and doubly so if you dare to try mining it... ~ 1519 Words

of the Iron Belt that so transform the climate of Svalbrynd also affect the nearby Cromwell, blowing heavy, cold banks of thick fog across the ocean and onto the island, and tall lighthouses rise out of the rocky shore to all four cardinal directions, warning approaching ships to not land violently as the fog obstructs their sight.   With over twenty-thousand square meters of room, the enormous manor is one of the three largest buildings on Cromwell alongside the Aurian Chapel and the Mausoleum of Herneuses.   The building boasts countless rooms, many quite beautifully and tastefully furnished. However, some are noticeably missing any sharp objects and corners, and some are padded carefully to keep their occupants from harming themselves.   There are cold rooms of metal and ceramic, filled with medical instruments and feared by some who had to spend horrid hours inside...   The often wealthy but mentally unstable patients of Dunhearst are tended to by medically proficient priests and nuns of the Church of Pure Souls. They change beds and clothes, make meals, and take confessions, and should the need arise, they are quite qualified to handle mortar, pestle, needle, and scalpel.
dunhearstletters - dearestester.jpg
Show Letter Transcript
Dearest Ester, I hope this letter finds you well on Zuidshaven, and that our nephews are flourishing.   The incident aboard the Halibut has left its marks on my mind, I know that now, but I already feel the curative power of this place.   Oh, the cold fog that rolls so often over these gentle hills may seem foreboding at times, and I shudder when I glimpse it unexpectedly, thinking back at the white haze that overtook the ship on that fateful day, but the nuns are taking good care of me and a safe and warm place under the protection of the Church has granted me some much needed reprieve.   Father Lorentz has been speaking with me daily, trying to help me get past the dread of Absethoshekla's horrid calliope. He believes I am ready to speak with other survivors of animancy attacks soon, and I am positive I will make a swift recovery.   I long to see you again, dearest Ester.   Yours and only yours, Frederick


Cromwell is a mid-sized island, which used to belong to the United Ocean Belt Technocracy before the Great War3 and was populated by a small number of shipwright families. It was annihilated during the Age of Heroes when the invading forces of Svalbrynd razed the island in a bloody and brief onslaught.   After the war was over, the technocrats of Guantil-ya left the Ocean Belt, jumping their great city of Borealis to the South Pole, effectively dissolving the United Ocean Belt Technocracy, since they were the leading force of the coalition. While the remaining large members were forming the Commonwealth of Corsia, the island of Cromwell was left to itself, and a group of Church of Pure Souls missionaries took up living there like hermit crabs. There they erected a sizable graveyard for the families that were lost during the war, which they would tend throughout the centuries to come.   With the formation of the Commonwealth of Corsia, the island was signed over to the Church as a gift, a decision with wide reaching consequences, as during the early centuries of the Age of Gears and Elements, the church used Cromwell as a base to build and operate the Salvation Navy, which is now a major player on the Ocean Belt.

Off to Dunhearst

Since the rise of the Church, churches across the Corsic Ocean have offered sanctuary and healing to the mentally ill, and, despite the nature of the institution, those entrusted with the care of such patients have actually received increasingly progressive medical training, sometimes even advancing the medical frontier in the area of mental illness themselves.   While the churches are always open to those who need help, there are a couple of dedicated sanatoriums: Elderbreast, Kratostat, Hindlhelm, Ostraxa, and Dunhearst.   They are where wealthier clients are sent, those whose coffers can aid the Church in their many enterprises, and the most esteemed and expensive of the five is Dunhearst on Cromwell. Those sent there can expect the best of care within the walls of an ancient church manor.   However, some patients have reported witnessing odd shadows on the walls, and happenings not easily explained or put into words: priests and nuns behaving secretively from time to time and certain parts of the manor being strictly off limits for all but a handful of personnel. Yet rumors such as this are easily discredited by the Church, who point quietly towards the agitated and confused mental state of their patients.  
- Dunhearst Sanatorium, front side.

Over the 1221 years of its existence, the main building of Dunhearst, which started out as a humble chapel, has been expanded and reworked many times, adding new wings and renovating and reworking countless rooms. Extensive construction work has also been done below the manor, carving an expansive basement into the Cromwellian bedrock.


dunhearst terrace.jpg
- View from the northern terraces.

Northern Cromwell   Built in
482 GE   Owner
The Church of Pure Souls   Current Administrator
Father Talos Moothersmall
Appointed to his position at Dunhearst in 1658 GE, Moothersmall was a cardinal in the Holy City on Sternsmooth but made powerful enemies high up in the church hierarchy. Only the significant influence of the Moothersmall family on Sternsmooth could save him from a far steeper fall, ensuring his installment at Dunhearst in a cushy position as head administrator.

A Blighted History

There have been dark decades, and even centuries, during the Church's history where victims of spellblight would not just be shunned but hunted. The Missionary Fleet and occasionally even Black Priests would go from island to island to collect blighters and sentence them to death or worse.   Church strongholds such as Cromwell had so-called Blightwitch Towers into which blighters were tossed before their final trials. The door of such a tower would be opened and blighters as well as other offenders would be tossed in for a tenday, just to be expelled from the island or hanged afterwards. During the tenday, they'd hunger on the dirt floor while living in their own filth. To make sure their suffering would be prolonged as much as possible, a bucket of water would be hoisted down into their fetid dungeon every three days. Their screams and moans would echo off the walls of the tower in a haunting cacophony, and Blightwitch Towers remaining across the Corsic Ocean, such as the one on Graanshoof, are often believed to be haunted by the souls of the blighters that had died within.  
Geographic Location | Oct 16, 2022

A small dyke island at the northern tip of the Hooper Chain. ~ 122 Words

  The Cromwellian Blightwitch Tower is built close to Dunhearst, and the Witch Trials of the 590s, 920s and 1140s GE4
The Age of Gears and Elements. This is the current age of Aqualon and has lasted for 1703 years so far.
caused such wailing to echo forth from the tower that it caused terrible madness in some of the already sick patients of the asylum.   While the blight hunts were banned from Cromwell in 1162 GE, they continued sporadically until the blanket ban issued by the Commonwealth of Corsia in 1310 GE. Ever since, the tower has been left derelict: a horrid reminder of the harrowed past as ivy and other twiners grow to envelope it, slowly making it fade from sight.

Famous Patients and Unusual Cases

The Peculiar Case of Emily Pallard

There once was a little girl named Emily, who wasn't right with the world...
This sentence marks the beginning of the tale of Emily Pallard, a fairy tale told to children all across the Corsic Ocean. It speaks of a girl who had vivid and magical dreams ever since she had learned to walk. Dreams so vivid that they became real.   She dreamt of fabulous creatures and lustrous lands, and made such things no one could fathom, or so the story goes. One day, she had a nightmare and made a great, dark forest appear, in which she lost her parents. With three imaginary friends - a very long moth, a golden cricket with a beard, and a talking fish that could swim only inside wood - Emily braved the dark forest full of monsters. There, deep inside its dusky heart, she found a great gate; a gate behind which, so the Magus of the Whizzvaldia Pools had promised, her parents were waiting for her. And when she opened that gate, she awoke and realized that she had been very sick and now for the first time awoke. Her dreams had never been real, but her parents were there and holding her hands, and she was happy.   Or so the story goes...   The real story of Emily Pallard is somewhat darker than its fairy tale counterpart. In the 720s GE, the little girl was admitted to Dunhearst by her wealthy merchant parents, who were at their wits' end.   Emily had manifested incredible magic at a young age, making temporarily real the various things she pictured in her mind. At first, the learned mages that had come to inspect her ability had concluded that she was creating illusions, tricks of the light, but all too soon they would realize the terrible reality of Emily's creations, for one of her nightmares, a mawed monstrosity she called the Snarglesnatcher, ate one of the mages whole.
Emily Pallard and one of her creations.
Her parents were terrified and turned to the Church-run sanatorium; a mistake on their part... perhaps.   The Church of Pure Souls is of a rather singular mind when it comes to the use of magic: The unnatural power to change reality uses the energy of the soul and thereby risks to taint it, a school of thought they justify with the existence and nature of spellblight.   When Emily was institutionalized, her daydreams were... discouraged, and her outbursts of magic outright punished.   As the months passed, her manifestations became rarer and rarer, but at the same time, the ones that did occur became darker and darker and ever more dangerous. Monsters and horrid landscapes and blighted growths that dug through the walls would appear not during the day when she feared repercussions from the nuns, but at night when she had no control over her nightmares.   Her parents were summoned to Dunhearst on a stormy autumn night, and the report says that they were shown her daughter's body, mangled by one of her own creations, but strangely, they never accused the sanatorium or sought recompense or even an apology from the Church.   Of course they didn't, for their daughter had not died, and they had not seen her body. But they did agree to the sanatorium's request to move her to the basement with the others...  

From the Archives: The Survivors of the Constante

DunHearst Archives 1.jpg
Show File Transcript
14th Decarion
1214 GE, Dunhearst   Another group of castaways picked up off the coast of Graanshof. These are in worse shape than the rest. All victims of the Dark One.   Like the Vinclav of yore, this vile animancy has turned gear-fearing men into abominations, their souls stripped bare, their hair white with the blight, and their eyes as bright and blue as witches...   Woe to them who suffered such[...]   [...]thereafter... It is all we can do to tend to their trauma, but what of their souls? The sisters rightly fear to be near them, for are they not lesser creatures now?[...]   [...]But such is the grimest of duties of servants of the Great Clockwork such as us. And no fault should be sought with the victims in this matter.

The Fall of Dahlia

In 1002 GE, one of the most famous psychiatric cases of Aqualonian history made its way to the Dunhearst Sanatorium.   Among all mages on Aqualon, five hold a most special place: The Keepers of the Elements. These mighty souls are reincarnated over and over and each one commands one of the magical elements, Water, Fire, Lightning, Wind, and Earth, completely. Though the Church frowns heavily upon the use of magic, they revere the Keepers, whose special place among the Great Clockwork's plan has been recognized by the Great Prophet Yilik himself, and is therefore gospel truth to the Church of Pure Souls.   Indeed, not merely the Church, but all people of Aqualon recognize the power and import of these mighty Keepers.
  All the more devastating was it when the Keeper of Lightning, Dahlia Manastrat, beat back the villainous plot of the immortal animancer Vordestra only to suffer a terrible mental breakdown after the fight, her mind ravaged by his eldritch animancy that had so mangled her soul.   Her shattered self was brought to Cromwell where she was put into the care of the Dunhearst Sanatorium to heal. But as the years passed by, it seemed doubtful her mind would ever be mended, and a great controversy arose across the globe:   With Dahlia indefinitely incapacitated and unable to do her duties as Keeper, voices began to make themselves heard that she should be euthanized to allow her soul to be reincarnated, her current state being condemned as unnatural and against the order of the world as the Great Clockwork intended it to be, and the Church itself became split on the matter, leading to great and vitreous discourse and dissent.   In the end, the matter resolved itself: In the last weeks of her life, Dahlia had shown some improvement in her behavior, seemingly recognizing some of her nurses more frequently, but also muttering of "things not being right around her". She was caught wandering the floors at night several times, and when she somehow managed to break into the well-protected Dunhearst basement where, allegedly, sensitive equipment and dangerous patients were hidden away, she unleashed such a terrible spasm of lightning magic that she blasted a hole into the side of the manor, blowing who or whatever she had found as well as herself to smithereens...   Though there were many open questions as to what she might have seen and what drove her to penetrate the secrets of Dunhearst, the matter was dropped both by the Church and the general public, both heaving a general sigh of relief that the Keeper of Lightning's soul had conveniently been set free from its erstwhile prison.

The Dunhearst Horror

Animancy is an unusual variety of clockwork magic where souls are used as a raw material to create magic items, prolong lives, and unlock unusual powers.   While this type of magic has its place in certain cultures, especially those of the Nordmen in the form of Kaltani druids and Druith Schamani, the kind of animancy more commonly found on the Ocean Belt is, well, focused on using the souls of other people, which is frowned upon, illegal in most societies, and also viciously persecuted by the Church of Pure Souls.
In the year 1420 GE, a dark and rather dubious chapter of Cromwellian history took place: An incident that would later become known as the Dunhearst Horror.   After continued accusations and inquires filed by the widow of the late Joshua Canterberry, Marry Louise Canterberry, with the Commonwealth of Corsia authorities on Zuidshaven, the CC itself launched an investigation into Dunhearst.   Rumors had been growing more and more worrying that dark machinations were afoot in Dunhearst, some claiming that unsavory experiments were undertaken with patients, others that blighters were secretly carted to the asylum to be studied and dissected, and yet others that an animantic cult was hiding under the guise of the Church's benevolence.
The CC officials put little stock in these rumors, but did seek to close the matter quickly and descretely so a lid could be put on them. Too busied with pirate activity at the time, they outsourced the investigation to the Survey Corps of the Hank & Jordan & Tenzer corporation, which had some experience with matters of that kind, and an investigator accompanied by two licensed HJT Ferries5
After the collapse of the Maritime Technocracy of Guantil-ya, the main actors taking charge across the Seventeen Yonder Islands were the Church of Pure Souls, the reemerging Great Pirate Houses, the cursed land Jamphel Yeshe, and a little bit later the newly formed Hank & Jordan & Tenzer Corporation, which expanded the weakened Hank & Jordan's Cooper and Shipwright Guild into a booming business of mages for hire, which would escort trade ships and liners through the Corsic Ocean, which was now pirate-infested. These mages are still operating today as HJT has grown to a powerful entity within the Seventeen Yonder Islands, and they are generally referred to as "Ferries" due to their occupation of ferrying people safely across the ocean.

From Old Tim's One Hundred Facts about Aqualon, Revised Edition
was sent to Cromwell to investigate the Dunhearst Sanatorium (which was already referred to as the Dunhearst Asylum by some at the time).   At first all seemed to be in order, but then during the first night of their stay, strange things began to happen, and the investigator began to note suspicions of animantic practices ocuring within the walls of Dunhearst.   The administration kept assuring him that this was not the case, although from his journal, which was later adapted into the popular "Dunhearst Horror" novel by Edgar P. Wright, it seemed to be implicated that he did not believe them or at least thought they were hiding something.   In the days that followed, the investigator, a Robert Hillenger, inspected the sanatorium grounds and interviewed some of its more lucid patients, collecting worrying accounts by some of them. His suspicions began to mount and the nightly horrors became more and more disquieting, first culminating in the death of a female patient and then in the deaths of the two Ferry mages that had accompanied Hillenger.
dunhearstletters - sisterjosephine.jpg
Show Letter Transcript
Honored Cardinal Alastor,   I humbly beg your forgiveness for taking up some of your important time, but I feel I must speak up before it is too late.   Perhaps, in your grace, you recall me from the days of our joint studies at the theological faculty of the Hespera Nêra College, where we shared several classes.   It is because of my past memories of your character and your current position in the church that I write to you: One week ago, an investigator of the HJT company along with two Ferry mages arrived on Cromwell to investigate dark rumors surrounding Dunhearst where I currently work as a nurse.   Dark things happened during these investigations, unspeakable things that shook me to my very core! And despite the death of both Ferries and a patient of mine, now it is all to be written off as an accident I am told.   Cardinal, this is not so! The administrator and the fathers under his charge are hiding something, I have known so for some time. I do not know what it is but fear the worst, and now with so much death staining our place of healing, I fear for the safety of our vulnerable patients. Please, I beg of you, use your influence to launch a church inquiry so that the truth may out!   With grave anticipation and greatest worry,
Sister Josephine Theresa Montoya
  In the end, the report would show that the disquieting events that had taken place were neither the product of animancy, nor that of a cult, but that the madness in one of the patients had caused them to release wild spasms of magic that had caused the strange happenings around Dunhearst.   The Church insisted that such events could happen from time to time with victims of mental illness, as certain mental illnesses could cause people to manifest magic in wild and unpredictable ways.   Popular opinion remained adamant that dark things were afoot in Dunhearst, and the institution could never quite shake this unfortunate legacy. However, the authorities have been more than content since to leave the sanatorium be.   But the Dunhearst Horror was all too real, and dark animancy had indeed played its role in the events that had caused three deaths and terrible disquiet in so many already disquieted mental patients...

Poetry on Aqualon

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