|Favorite Wonder:||Theatre of Dreams|
Some call him The Laughing Man, or the Momus, or the Jack of Tears. Whatever he's called, the King of the Balseraphs has held court at the dark heart of Jubilee for at least two centuries, and there is evidence he occupied this land before the Age of Ice, though perhaps in a different form. He has since grown mighty on the power of the blood of captured slaves.
Yet the Laughing Man is not a mere menace to be feared and destroyed. Mad, capricious, and deadly being that he is, he also possesses a certain gallows humor, a fondness for bravery and honesty, and a seemingly insuperable compulsion to keep his word (though he is fond of using tricks and the subtleties of language to keep from being locked into any agreements).
All alone. Just him and four walls. Again.
"You know you weren't in jail back then, dear boy," Sister Serisa told him. "The Sisterhood of Sirona took care of you, as best we could. The Asylum was unpleasant, perhaps, but it wasn't like this. You were starving when we took you in, starving and wandering the street conversing with your long dead parents."
"She tried to keep us away from you, Perpentach. Locked us all away, told you we wouldn't always be there with you." His mother reached out her arms to him.
"You aren't mad, child," Kylorin, his savior, told him. "You're a magical savant, a person with exceptional talent. Talent for mind magic in your case. The Asylum was proof of that. Almost three hundred patients were dead of neglect, because the entire sisterhood is enthralled by your every whim. I could use power like that."
His teacher paced the small cell. "Magic always has an effect on those who use it, I've found, especially the unprepared. Your power brought a terrible price upon you—a copy of those in whose heads you trespassed, residing in your own mind. This was the source of your madness. When I found you, I locked this part of your mind away using your own power."
"That's not all you did," said the older Kylorin to his young apparition. "You traded madness for wickedness. We were too power-mad to notice how corrupted you were, my son. I'm sorry I had to do this to you."
"Corrupted? You betrayed us, and everything we worked for!" The younger Kylorin pushed the elder against the cold stone wall of Perpentach's cell. "I would have been proud of what Perpentach was able to accomplish!"
"Proud? Gods, I killed Gastrius for less than the atrocity Perpentach committed."
Gastrius leaned in over his mentor's shoulder to add, "But you couldn't kill Perp. He was stronger than you, the strongest of us all. He almost killed you, the great and powerful Kylorin—self-righteous traitor."
The elder Kylorin pushed free, turned away from the crowd. "The evil he did... it wasn't his fault though, it was ours. But I had to stop him. So I let us out. His greatest weakness, at a critical moment, when he nearly overcame me, I undid the protection I had once applied, and that rush of madness was enough. And now we're in here, alone with you. Maybe I should end your sad life once and for all."
"You stay back!" shouted his mother.
Perpentach found being alone with his thoughts too crowded. He fell to the floor, covering his ears and screaming in an attempt to find peace. It was in vain, and desperately he set out his mind in search of others, of some firmament in the sea of his madness. Kylorin had not made the mistake of underestimating him againÂ—there were no human settlements for many miles of his prison, a sunken tower deep in swampland. Every night he searched for any thought, any glimmer of sentient life, until he passed out.
"I swear, you'll drag us to the ends of Patria before you find Kurias, Balmaflu." The speaker was just at the edge of Perpentach's perception, and moving away. A glimmer of hope alit in Perpentach's mind, a wild plan. As he felt the travelers slipping away, he jumped over to this man's mind. His connection to his own body wavered, almost completely broken; back in the cell the mage collapsed to the ground.
"I hear the river," Balmaflu replied, "I'm sure it runs west—Momus, are you alright?" The leader of their troupe leader had gone pale, stopping his wagon abruptly.
"I—we must return..." The Momus was filled with a great unease. Perpentach was desperate to return to his body; hiding in another's mind he was cut off from most of his power. But he needed more than this small theatre troupe to overcome the mindless golems between him and freedom. So he would bide his time... let these fools lead him to a town. The Momus shook his head. "I'm sorry, my friend... for a moment my thoughts were not my own, as they say. But let us hurry, this marsh gives me ill-feelings."
Rork sought his daughter. She should have returned with the milking. He found her in the field, being dragged away by wolf. Rork grabbed a pitchfork and chased after the wolf. It stayed just out of reach, but he wouldn't give up the chase if it cost him his life, so dear was his daughter. So hated was the constable's cousin. So beautiful was the blacksmith's love. So valuable was the goods stolen from the mayor's son. By the time the performers were in sight of the village, they could see the mob marching their way, each person chasing its own demon. The Momus was nearly passed out due to all the energy Perpentach had drained from him to power his illusions. He managed to rasp out "Follow the crowd... back to the swamp..."
Many of the villages fell to the assault on the golems. Many had fallen along the way, incapable of the three day march back to the prison. In the end enough survived to free Perpentach. None were forgotten, however. A great multitude joined the crowd inside his mind, but Perpentach learned there were more ways to survive madness than hiding from it. He embraced it, mastering the minds within his mind, ruling both a small fiefdom far from Kylorin's fire, and a grand multitude in the courts inside his mind.