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The Cradle of Nightmares: Signs of the Dark Mother

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  • The Cradle of Nightmares: Signs of the Dark Mother

    Some time ago I mentioned the idea of a thread of fake texts and fictions about the Dark Mother, something along the lines of the Clanbooks or Signs of the Moon (I love those books), to give me something chill to write during my spare time. Here we are.

    Entries will vary wildly, I'm pretty much throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks, not to mention it's a thing to do when there's no more urgent stuff to deal with, but I really hope you'll enjoy these. I'm kinda testing myself here, so criticism is welcome. In any case, practice is practice and that never hurts, especially now.

    Little disclaimer since this is the first content I post in a while! This is fanmade content based on my personal canon and nothing more. Same goes for other gamelines, be it Werewolf, Hunter or whatever. I have no secret knowledge whatsoever of gamelines that aren't Mummy nor authority in any case (and I won't post Mummy stuff for obvious reasons). This is just me writing fanmade stuff as an aside from freelancing.

    Having said that, here's the first entry. If you happen to have questions, criticism or just want to discuss, you're welcome to do so.

    To: Prof. Ronald G. Lee
    From: Prof. Josephine DiMeo

    Re: New findings and developments

    Ron, I reached Lübeck while following what our Swedish contact told me on the phone and, for once, it only took a few days for me to pick on the right trail. Not at the university, mind you. Yes, I asked there just to give them the benefit of the doubt and not hear you complain, but you know how much I hate how slow things can move in that setting. The situation here is not different from there. I’m starting to think it’s just an universal thing. Then again, that’s why I’m the one taking planes and doing the field work.

    I looked for Family around the city and met some of our kind. They led me to a group of vampires, of the sort you’d love to meet. “Scholars of the night” and all that stuff. I introduced myself as Yarrow, like I always do when I’m with Family, and told them what I was looking for. Took me little to make new friends, you know how adorable I am. That, and the fact I helped them with a couple of issues they had. Vampires be vampires, I guess.

    Anyways, that earned me access to a storehouse they have, pretty much a museum filled with books, paintings and old relics. Most of it dates back to the Hanseatic League, the collection of a rich merchant that also happened to be the servant of a vampire back in the day. No easy details about the identity of either: they’re both long dead. What matters to us is that there an some interesting books scattered around (at least interesting to us). It’s not what we were looking for but it’s a start: the name the Swedish contact gave us reappears in several notes I’ve found as someone owner of this collection traded with. Or rather, was forced to trade with through intimidation. It’s never outright stated, but our merchant was deathly afraid of this person and, call me a fool, but I recognize a Collector when I see it, ancient documents or not.

    Seems like the little guy still kept a fair amount of stuff for himself, though. I’m sending you a translation of a medieval text I’ve found, just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. It's clearly a copy of an even older tale (and I mean old). There are several versions of it around, but this one is the one that was preserved the best. As you will see, this has the potential to lead to something huge. If this is what was left here, just imagine what’s out there.

    I’ll stay here for some more days and try to discern what’s relevant to us and what’s not, while also trying to learn more about our real target (or what’s left of his collection, at least: the guy must have died centuries ago). I’ll try to convince the people here to let me have these documents, but I’d rather avoid to find myself swamped in the local vampiric politics. At worse, I’ll send you more pictures.

    Here's the text:


    Once, there was a mother
    Who lived with her many children.

    She took care of them and loved them all,
    But their nights were restless
    And they longed for more,
    which is why they could not stay with her forever.

    The first son left.*

    He was strong and brave
    And dreamed to become a great warrior.
    But his strength was not enough to triumph.
    He lost all his hopes,
    And was devoured.

    The second son left.
    He was cunning and swift
    And dreamed to become a great hunter.
    But what lurked in the night made him the prey.
    He ran and got lost in the darkness,
    And was devoured.

    The third son left.
    He was wise and curious
    And dreamed to become a great sage.
    But he uncovered eldritch truths from the depths of the world.
    He lost his mind as the air in his lungs died,
    And was devoured.


    The fourth son left.
    He was beautiful and pure
    And dreamed to become a great leader.
    But plague, poison and time corrupted his body and his thoughts.
    He lost his followers because they felt revulsion when they looked at him,
    And was devoured.

    The fifth son left.
    He was daring and proud
    And dreamed to become a great explorer.
    But sun, wind, rain and cold tore his flesh open.
    He collapsed, lost and exposed to the world,
    And was devoured.

    The sixth son left.
    He was kind and lovable
    And dreamed to become a great patriarch.

    But what he built was destroyed by traitors and invaders.
    He lost faith in the others and he attacked them on sight,
    And was devoured.

    The seventh son left,
    He was fierce and independent,
    And dreamed to become a great hermit.
    But they captured him and made him a slave.
    He lost his freedom and got confined in chains,
    And was devoured.

    **

    With no more children nor tears to wipe away, the mother left
    To speak with the Dark One at the end of the world,
    Where what exists give shape to reflections
    And the reflections give shape to what exists.
    The mother reached the primeval land and entered the primordial lair
    Beyond the wall of sleep.

    Terror plagued her mind and chest
    And pain tortured her body and soul.
    Still, she asked: “Dark One, She Who Hungers and Bane of Mankind,
    I am nothing more than a lowly mother, but I demand an answer from you.
    What gave you the right to fill my children’s hearts with fear and devour them?”

    The darkness replied.

    “Mother that was, your mistake is to think I stole something from you,
    But they were my children just as much as they were yours.
    I was there with them from at the beginning and I was with them at the end.
    I was there when they were sleeping and when they were awake.
    They were my children and their heard my call
    For I am the Cradle of Nightmares and live within the hearts of all men”

    The darkness continued.

    “I loved them like only a mother does,
    You gave them life but I gave them fear, impulse and teachings
    To not let that life go and give a meaning to it.
    I loved them as they were, at their highest and their lowest,
    And they never left me nor did I left them.
    In fact, I would say that I was a more caring mother than you.”

    The darkness concluded.

    “When they left to live their life and follow their dreams,
    They faced their nightmares and were devoured
    Because that’s the choice I gave them.
    Embrace me or forsake me, I’ll devour them either way
    Because in this world there’s more hunger than love.
    Now leave this place or stay and become myth, the choice is yours too.”


    The woman left.
    She was grieving and defeated
    And was afraid to never feel the love of his children again.
    But she still had hope and still had life.
    She gave them away to become a mother once more
    And gave birth.

    The last son left.
    He was a paragon and a example for all
    And dreamed to become a great hero.
    He fought against the darkness and against himself,
    Against monsters without and monsters within. ***
    And he triumphed, he slayed and was devoured

    Again and again and again.

    * I sent you the most complete version of the text I could find here, but these things are anything but coherent. The order of the sons associated with certain attributes varies wildly, not to mention that sometimes one of them is a daughter, sometimes more. There’s an obvious juxtaposition between the feminine of the two “mother” figures and the masculine of their children here, nothing too unusual for ancient tales, but other fragments tell another story. While the general traits of the sons are there, in a way or another, the only constant parts are those about the dialogue between the mothers.

    Please ask someone else to make the textual criticism of this, with all these different texts it’s gonna be a nightmare to rebuild what the original version looked like and I always hated doing that. I’m not kidding, Ron: I don’t want to waste years trying to recover fragments of this thing so you can make a stemmatic analysis of it.

    ** Again, most version have the mother leave after the seventh son is devoured, but there are pages and notes that mention even more children. For example, there’s a bit that talks about “a son that wants to live forever but then surrenders to the End and is devoured” that’s labeled APOCRYPHA. Apocrypha according to whom, I wonder? And why?

    *** Now, I’m aware all this thing is obscenely allegorical, needs to get deciphered and contextualized, and nothing says there’s any truth within the text, but here it seems to imply that Begotten and Heroes might share an even more common origin than we tend to think. Not to mention each son confronts with a certain Family’s nature but they fight “both monsters and themselves”. Almost as if deep down they’re...a sort of twisted Family that came to be in response to us? Ugh, that gives the creeps.
    Last edited by Cinder; 10-11-2018, 02:48 PM.


    Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

    I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

    This is what I'm working on

  • #2
    While I can't offer an expert opinion, since I'm not an expert to begin with, I have a leading question. What sort of inspiration do you expect readers could take from this text?

    For the most part, the poem seems very orthodox as far as Beast Lore in concerned - it's an overview of Familes and their themes (with a poke at Irkalla). The first section doesn't offer anything new. The great advantage of in-game documents is offering perspectives that are subjective, idiosyncratic, probably-but-not-certainly wrong, unique to the writer and the world he grew up in.

    However, the latter parts contain hints of other ideas, such as:
    • Direct communication between Mortals and the Dark Mother.
    • The way the Dark Mother sees Mortals.
    • Connected origins of Beasts and Heroes.
    Each of these ideas deserve a piece of text exploring them, but as things stand they seem a bit glanced over.

    Sorry if that came out too harsh. I fully assume this is just a warmup.



    Find my Homebrew Fangs of Mara 2ed update Here

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Teatime View Post

      Sorry if that came out too harsh. I fully assume this is just a warmup.
      Oh, that was not harsh at all, don't worry. You raise genuinely legitimate points.

      I started this way because I think it's a good introduction, in the sense that's indeed rather orthodox and not too wild. An old document to get in the right mood and glimpse something of what's to come. The first part is more of a build-up that I admit does not offer any remarkable inspiration, more of a service to the core and known ideas, but the part that I intended to be the interesting one is the latter.

      The ideas and hints you mention are stuff I'm going to explore in the future, along others, and they're what I hope will get to readers and capture some interest.

      Point taken, though! I'll try to give some more personality and subjectivity to future documents, make them more unique. Thanks for your comments and trust about what's to come.


      Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

      I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

      This is what I'm working on

      Comment


      • #4
        Nice nod your fan made family cinder.

        I think you added a nice twist to what the origins could be of the begotten

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
          Nice nod your fan made family cinder.

          I think you added a nice twist to what the origins could be of the begotten
          Hehe, they might not be canon but I like them too much to not carry them along.

          And thanks!


          Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

          I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

          This is what I'm working on

          Comment


          • #6
            Oh, another thing I like is the idea the children had archetypes of heroics, but were perverted into fear, what they are now

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
              Oh, another thing I like is the idea the children had archetypes of heroics, but were perverted into fear, what they are now
              That's something I'm definitely going to talk more about, in a shape or the other, but for now I'll say that's owes a lot to the works of a great author and literature expert, Roberto Calasso.

              Many of his works talks about the relation between myths and culture. That specific idea of mine is related to the notion that hero cannot exist without a monster being there first and owes its power to it. I read his works in the original language, but found a short translated quote that shows it well.

              Originally posted by Roberto Calasso View Post
              The monster does not need the hero. it is the hero who needs him for his very existence. When the hero confronts the monster, he has yet neither power nor knowledge, the monster is his secret father who will invest him with a power and knowledge that can belong to one man only, and that only the monster can give.
              I have lots of thoughts about monsters, heroes, legends and ideas on how to translate those thoughts into Beast and its monomyth (shocking, I know), a considerable part of those describing how the mythic cycle is a lot more than Heroes and Beast having to fight each other, both within the relationship between the two and their lives as singular beings without having to take the other side into consideration.

              Long story short, you caught a glimpse of something I'm going to rant about quite a bit
              Last edited by Cinder; 10-14-2018, 12:53 PM.


              Cinder's Comprehensive Collection of Creations - Homebrew Hub

              I write about Beast: The Primordial a lot

              This is what I'm working on

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