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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Gargoyle's Watch

Every old building has its custodian, often a caretaker, who watches over it. They take care of their ward, undertaking repairs and maintenance and ensuring that the building doesn’t fall into ruin. Custodians know their charges like the backs of their hands.

And old buildings have gargoyles. Often grotesque, always ornamental, gargoyles are everywhere. Custodians can tell you all about the gargoyles - who they are, what they represent, why they are there.

But there’s something the custodians of these old buildings rarely admit to themselves, let alone to other people: sometimes the gargoyles change...


1 When John Dee, the queen’s astrologer, formed the Royal Council of Magii, he did so because he was worried. London was changing. He could sense forces gathering: sidhe, Templars, witchfinders, and others. There was a power struggle looming, and Dee formed the Royal Council of Magii to advise the crown as to the best response.

One of the first commands the council was given was to provide more information. More knowledge. So the Council began to develop a network of eyes and ears.

One small part of that network was known as the ‘stone maiden’, an upright coffin-sized device that, when used correctly, allowed anyone inside it to ‘inhabit’ any gargoyle within a radius of about five miles. The subject’s face would replace the gargoyle, and they would be able to watch and listen.

The ‘stone maiden’ is still in use by the Royal Council, and they are still watching as the forces are still gathering and the true power struggle has yet to begin.

2 The ‘devil’s stone chisel’ is the name given to a stonemason’s chisel found in an unmarked grave uncovered in Wapping in 1782. According to eyewitnesses, the body in the grave was horned and hoofed, and the chisel was clutched in its withered hands. The body and the chisel were quickly removed from the site.

Nobody knows what became of the body, but in 1892 the chisel was used in a series of brutal murders committed by Thaddeus Shrike. Although only three bodies were found (each of them ritually mutilated using a chisel-like implement), Shrike claimed to have killed ten people across London using the ‘devil’s stone chisel,’ which he claimed contained dark magics.

Shrike’s victims, killed by a powerful magic item wielded by a madman, are now restless spirits, their terrified features appearing intermittently as gargoyles.

The chisel itself was never found.

3 Chittern are solid, stonelike creatures of the fae Wildwood. They are ambush predators, waiting patiently for their prey.

Their favoured prey are fae younglings, who are cast into the Wildwood by their unfeeling fae parents. Most fae younglings never survive their first year, eaten by chittern or worse. Those who survive are tough, careful and resilient.

Some fae younglings even make their way out of the Wildwood, crossing where the boundaries are weak. In London, those places include the untidy corners of parks and gardens.

And where the fae younglings go, so chittern have been known to follow. Chittern are drawn to old buildings, with their ornate stonework and decorative gargoyles. They are ideal places to wait in ambush...

© Steve Hatherley

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