Dear readers, tonight a step back in time, as we reprint an excerpt from Lundenwic’s earliest newspaper: The Exchange Gazette. The publication was widely read before the Great Terror and (unbeknownst to its hapless journalist) this interview contains one of the few surviving examples of words directly spoken by those most responsible for that great suffering: The directors of that infamous company which sought to turn magic into an industry.
From the Exchange Gazette – Maatday 98th, Malchus III
THE FIRST INTERVIEW RECORDED BY HEKAMAPHONE
A TALK INTO THE INSTRUMENT WITH MASTERS OF THE HONOURABLE COMPANY OF CUNNING
The interview below is the first of its kind ever published; one in which the interviewer had no work to do beyond the propounding of the questions. The apparatus through which it was conducted, demonstrated to me at the Hon. Co.’s Lundenwic office, appeared little more than a modest construction of brass and oak, newly manufactured, yet powered by only drops of my own blood it astounded my ears, relaying distant voices with effortless ease. For a few precious minutes I conversed like a god, unhindered by distance or time. The words I shared are here reproduced in my faithful report.
Hello. Can you hear me?
With whom am I speaking?
Gustav Gleame, chairman of the Honourable Company of Cunning, and his two most recently appointed colleagues: Masters Maximillian and Miranda Solitaire.
And where are you situated?
(M. Maxim-) At the Convergence, in Seascale Bay, centre of all magical industry in our fair isles, no less than three hundred miles north of your present location.
Extraordinary. Could you explain to our readers how a hekamaphone works?
(Ch. Gleame) I’m afraid it is quite impossible for a layman to comprehend the mysteries of the cunning arts, and the Honourable Company must be jealous of its secrets, for reasons which I hope are obvious. But let me offer this: the hekamaphone operates upon the principle of a sympathetic connection between the bloods of the communicants, and is powered by a modest construct invested here at the Convergence.
That does sound complicated. When will these wonderful machines be made available to the public?
(M. Maxim-) I’m afraid that for now the Hekamaphone is an invention for a privileged few. But I foresee a day when every armiger’s house will contain one. The progress of the Honourable Company in rationalising the production of magic is unending. Every day we consider new ways to make the process safer and more efficient. Our ultimate ambition is to have a magical device in every nobleman’s home.
You sound extremely proud of your work.
(Ch. Gleame) Our innovations have a value beyond their simple utility. They represent the enterprising spirit of our great nation. The reward for the bold decisions made by the Wise Council thirty years ago. A recompense for the bitter pains of the War of Edicts. We must never forget: it was within my lifetime that the practice of magic was punishable by death. If not for the Great Cleansing, we would still be a petty nation, living under the thumb of a corrupt priesthood.
A controversial opinion, chairman. What would you say to those who see your own hand behind the Great Cleansing – who point to the recent reports of magical devices failing and say that things have gone too far, too quickly?
(M.Maxim-) Progress always necessitates a period of adjustment. It is the responsibility of the politicians, not a corporation like the Honourable Company, to ensure that the change is manageable for those people most affected by it.
(Ch. Gleame) Master Solitaire has looked into every report of a failed device in detail and found no truth to the rumours. One must understand that there are many within the Unity, and without, who are opposed to the progress that the cunning art represents. Freeborn terrorists, who see magic as a threat to their livelihoods. Evangelist sympathisers who oppose the use of magic on the basis of their false religion. And of course those many foreign powers with whom we happily compete. It is in the interests of such parties to sow doubt in the minds of the populace.
(M. Solitaire) As the Hon. Co.’s new Chief Hekalogist I am working on a …
Isn’t such an investigation an extraordinary responsibility to place in the hands of a young woman?
(Ch. Gleame) These unfounded rumours do not necessitate a formal investigation, and Master Solitaire is an extraordinarily talented young woman.
All of this so soon after the scandal of the Censor’s Hand.
(M. Maxim-) I’m going to have to insist that you restrict yourself to the questions upon which we previously agreed.
Of course. Miranda Solitaire. From a ward-daughter of the Grand Duchess to a master of the Honourable Company in only a matter of months. An extraordinary achievement. How does it make you feel?
(M Solitaire) I think that I’ve earned my place here, amongst the boys and men. If more ladies of merit had access to a proper education and the opportunity to apply I think there would be many…
Your promotion has sparked a daring new fashion amongst Lundenwic ladies; the so called “witching style”. What would you say is the best colour for a lady seeking to imitate the look of a powerful, seductive master at a ball or masquerade: Red or Black?
(M. Solitaire) I do research. I take observations and solve complex magimatical equations. I’d hardly call the work of a master ‘seductive’.
It must be quite a change from the Royal Entourage. Don’t you miss the parties and recitals? The dances?
I always preferred a good book.
How peculiar. To finish off, what manner of marvels should we next expect to see from the Honourable Company of Cunning?
(M. Maxim-) There is no limit to the human imagination, nor the ways in which our inventions may improve the livelihoods of our fellow countrymen.
(Ch. Gleame) We live in complicated times, and it is hard to take one’s mind off the many threats that face our great nation. The fate of our new industry and the Unity are inextricably linked. Your readers would do well to remember, that what is good for the Honourable Company is good for both.
(M. Solitaire) Before we worry about what comes next, it is vital that we first resolve the problem of…
Alas, dear reader, at this point the hekamaphone fell into silence, no doubt having exhausted the necessary quality of the blood upon which it fed. I hope that soon our own humble publication may acquire another opportunity to behold the device: a modern marvel that will surely change the world.
A.M. Steiner is the author of The Censor’s Hand, book one of the Thrice~Crossed swords trilogy. He hails from Highgate, North London a place of wild forest and crumbling graveyards where he spent his schooldays raiding the local library, and paying attention to his teachers only when they spoke of ancient gods. Later in life, he travelled the world, had many adventures, and learned a great deal about the murky worlds of business, politics and magic. When he is not writing dark fantasy novels, Adam fences épée and longsword. He recently returned to Highgate to raise semi-feral children with his perfect wife.
You can find Gustav, Maxim, and Miranda on the pages of The Censor’s Hand.
Join us on Friday to meet a woman in a coma, drifting between realities. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.