[SPOILERS][TINFOIL] Why the moon is missing

Warning, below is some military grade tinfoil. It makes sense to me right as I’m writing this, but I’m sure that my theories are leakier than a sponge, and stretch far too far. Either way, I think there’s some real nuggets inbetween all the craziness. This is spoiler heavy as all hell, so tread carefully:

I just today happened upon Hunter’s Keep and I absolutely adore the place. The juxtapoisition between the isolated location, weird maid and mysterious well, with the everloving sisters gives me the shivers. The writing is also dripping with mythological references. I haven’t read all the different texts yet (out of actions :( ) but the most wacky theory I’ve had in a while is starting to form. Read on for some MLG-420xxXXLegloasXXxx-level tinfoily action

First, let us examine what we encounter at Hunter’s Keep:

  • The three sisters Cynthia, Lucy and Phoebe

  • The strange maid who constantly watches the player with smouldering opal-coloured eyes and sharp and multitudinous teeth. Some sort of deviless perhaps, but she appears as more feral than most devils.

  • The old House, littered with tales of Romance, and a strange pool of water in the basement.

  • The well, inhabiteted by a furry creature, unlocked by a Stone-tentacled Key given to you by the sisters.

Cynthia, Lucy and Phoebe quite clearly represent a merging of Artemis/Diana and Hecates. Artemis/Diana is respectively the Greek/Roman virgin Goddess of the Hunt (Hunter’s Keep = Artemis’ Keep = The three sisters Keep), the moon and nature. Hecates is a goddess of Magic, light, crossroads and ghosts, often represented holding a key. Both Hecates and Artemis/Diana are Gods with three faces, or three representations, and are often connected together (together with Selene (Greek)/Luna (Roman)) as the three goddesses of the Moon.

The origins of the names Cynthia and Lucy are both closely tied together. Lucy, derived from Lucina, meaning &quotas of light&quot is a diminutive of Cynthia, which simply means &quotLight&quot. Phoebe is the feminine of the male name Phoebus, meaning &quotBright and shining&quot. Note that in Greek Mythology, Phoebe is also associated with the moon. The interests of the three girls also match up well with the three representaitons of Hecates (the Maid, the Crone and the Mother) and the attributes of Diana and her sisters, Minerva and Vesta. Now, where this argument is a bit weak so far is in trying to fuse Artemis/Diana with Hecates. Yes, these two goddesses are similar, but what is their connection in Fallen London? The answer is very directly given to us in The Shephearedes Calender, by Edmund Spenser:

&quotAs Cynthia, Lucina, or Phoebe, sister of Phoebus Apollo, Diana rules the moon; as Hecate, she rules in Hades. Because of her three functions, she is sometimes called the ‘three-formed goddess’ (diva triformis); allusions to her in one form often include the other two.&quot

Throughout Fallen London/Sunless Sea, it is made clear that the Neath is a representation of the Underworld. To get to the Neath you have to pass through the Cumean Canal, the path to the underworld, numerous references are made to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave that describes a surface world and an underworld below that no sunlight gets to, the Ferryman that greets you when you die below is obviously based on Charon, the ferryman of Hades that carries souls of the newly deceased across Styx and Acheron, two rivers of the underworld and so on. Edmund Spenser, writer of The Shephearedes Calender tells us that these three sisters are Artemis on the surface, Hecates in the Neath. The sisters are the three faces of the Virgin goddesses of the Hunt, light and the Moon. I’d also like to point out how the three women constantly refer to a Sheperd, and you can find Sheperd’s tools around the Keep, cluing us towards Spensers &quotShepheardes Calender&quot. Now where does this lead us? Edmund Spenser’s Sheapheardes calendar is heavily inspired and partially based on the poet Virgil’s writings. Virgil is well known for having written the epic Aeneid, the story of Aeneas and his tragic connection to Dido (spoiler: Dido takes her own life as Aeneas has to leave her). So what does Aeneid have to do with this all. One of the more curious passages of text you get to read while at Hunter’s Keep is this one:

&quotDo you care for my herbs?’ says Cynthia. ‘I gather them by the light of our moon. They are marvellously restorative, aren’t they?’ It is true. You are feeling stronger and healthier already. ‘The princess used them to put the old king back together again,’ says Phoebe. ‘Shame it gave him such a terrible stomach upset into the bargain!’ says Lucy.&quot

A king, put together again? Stomach upset as part of a bargain? This seems awfully Eatenish. Herbs gathered by the light of the moon? Aren’t these sisters moon goddesses? I decided to google the passage an lo and behold, this shows up in Virgil’s Aenneid IV, that Spenser was heavily inspired by:

&quotBut when the pyre of cut pine and oak was raised high,
in an innermost court open to the sky, the queen [Dido]
hung the place with garlands, and wreathed it
with funereal foliage: she laid his sword and clothes
and picture on the bed, not unmindful of the ending.
Altars stand round about, and the priestess, with loosened hair,
intoned the names of three hundred gods, of Erebus, Chaos,
and the triple Hecate, the three faces of virgin Diana.
And she sprinkled water signifying the founts of Avernus [important later]:
there were herbs too acquired by moonlight, cut
with a bronze sickle, moist with the milk of dark venom:
and a caul acquired by tearing it from a newborn colt’s brow,
forestalling the mother’s love. She herself, near the altars,
with sacred grain in purified hands, one foot free of constraint,
her clothing loosened, called on the gods to witness
her coming death, and on the stars conscious of fate:
then she prayed to whatever just and attentive power
there might be, that cares for unrequited lovers.&quot

A priestess speaks of Hecate and Diana (Artemis), and in their name cuts herbs by moonlight, much like our Cynthia (Hecate) does. Where does this lead? I’m not quite sure, so let us look at a few possible connections. First, what can this herb be, that is gathered. It is poisonous for sure, we know that much, and it would grow on Hunter’s Keep. Well, there is this plant called &quotArtemisia&quot after &quotArtemis&quot, that is poisonous but can be used to stimulate appetite, and you do get damn hungry when you eat with the girls. Artemisia is also used to brew Absinthe, which the sister’s of Hunter’s Keep for some reason seem to keep around (you can get 2x Strangling Willow Absinthe from a repeatable storylet at the Keep). So, the herb is probably Artemisia, gathered by Cynthia (Artemis). That’s cute, but doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know.

So, let’s move on the Sunless Sea to see if we can find more pieces fitting together with these Moon-godesses, that can hopefully help us unearth more. Well, first of all you get the attention of the Gods of the Zee when you speak to them. Cynthia tells a story of &quota murder. An axe. A net. Blood on scented water&quot, and urges you to eat more. This gives Salt’s Attention, but I’m unsure where that story is from. Lucy meanwhile tells a story &quotabout a butler, a pig and an inheritance.&quot, giving Stone’s Attention. Again I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean. As for Phoebe, this is her text:

&quotPhoebe has a story to tell: of two lovers parted by water, of a raven that carried messages, of a fragment of the moon (…) Your attention drifts, out through the skylight of the dining room, to the false-stars glittering in the roof of the cavern (…) There is a scent like the scent before a storm…

“The storm came,” says Phoebe quietly. “Everything changed.”, and you get Storm’s attention. Well, atleast here we have ravens carrying fragments of the moon. In Native American mythology, &quotRaven&quot (representation of all ravens) steals a box that contains the sun, the moon and the stars. The celestials are incredibly important in Fallen London, and these girls are moon Godesses. There are some funky connections, but it’s a bit of a stretch. Raven is also told to have been carrying a Stone in its beak, which was dropped into an ocean and created the mass of land on our planet, after the constellations had been let out of the box, buut… This is maybe reading too much into it all.

At Hunter’s Keep in Sunless Sea you also get another key from the sisters (remember how Hecates carries keys), that takes you down to the basement where they dare not go. In the basement there is a remnant of a temple, with a pool in it, which reacts negatively to candle-light (hm). “The Writhing River flows near here,” the Mechanic remarks. “One of the tributaries of dream. (I hope it doesn’t touch the well those poor girls drink from.) My enemies find me when I sleep - but this water will attract my enemies to this poor fellow.” The writhing River is as we know a river of snakes in Parabola, so for some reason, it seems that the water in the basement is close to parabola (and probably also the water in the well). The mechanic then &quotsketches a sign on the Clay Man’s forehead&quot with the water from the Writhing river (Correspondence?) and gives the clay man the mirror-catch box. Some time later the Mechanic goes to sleep and this happens to the Clay man: &quotThe Man’s eyes seethe with viric flame! It’s struggling against the efforts of the zailors to restrain it (…)&quot and he goes stiff as a statue. Viric is the colour of forgetfullness, much like Lethe is the river of forgetfulness in Hades. The nightmare-snakes are caught, and the Mechanic forgets his nightmares.

Oh and also, at Hunter’s Keep you can also spy on the sisters, and if successfull learn the following: &quotSoon,” she says, and the piano music falters and stops. “We’ll go hungry, and then the end will come, for me but not for you.” Phoebe is the piano playing sister, and the youngest of the three… What does this mean?

The next time you return to Hunter’s Keep you learn that Phoebe decides to set fire to the house, killing her sisters and a group of zailors in the process. You first come upon the creepy maid-servant who now is a growling, feral creature, described like this:
&quotWith a serpentine wriggle, she’s free of the net. She returns to the ceiling in one inhuman leap.&quot The fingerkings seem to have been let out somehow and infected her mind? It’s unclear. You also come upon Phoebe’s scribblings, which read &quotThe ‘absent moon’, the ‘gnawing hunger in the heart’. The well. The sea. A great many crossings-out&quot

&quotAbsent Moon&quot and &quotGnawing hunger in the heart&quot read like correspondence sigils, and they’re written by this ever-hungry moon-goddess who has symbolically burned away two parts of her triumvirate personality. Also there’s something about the well and the sea… Mr. Eaten? Either way, Phoebe has survived (if you’re successful) and you can rescue her, and eventually bring her up the Cumean Canal to Naples in the world above. To Avernus by the way; remember how Dido &quotsprinkled water signifying the Font of Avernus&quot? I’ll let that mull for a while.

When taking Phoebe to the surface she really seems to finally trust you and lets you know that &quotWe have family in Greece. Or had. Long ago. My grandmothers kept the Mystery and watched the Judgements, up in the mountains above Corinth.&quot Who is the grandmother of Artemis again? Err… Phoebe. Hm. And who is the mother of Phoebe? Gaia - earth. Yeah, I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. Either way, Artemis was worshipped in the Corinth, once a Greek City state, as Artemis Ephesia. Artemis Ephesia is more or less the same goddess as Artemis, but apparently with stronger connotations to child-bearing than her counterpart. Is this who Phoebe identifies more with - is she simultaneously Artemis and her grandmother? It’s hard to say, and probably not improtant. She goes on:

&quotWhen the Bazaar came to Earth, they [The masters?] saw an opportunity, and so they came below - &quot She shakes her head. &quotIt didn’t end well for us.&quot

&quotI wish I could have told you more, only there’s so little left of me now. I must have my last few secrets, or I’ll just blow away on the wind. But… I want you to have this.&quot

‘This’ is a slim volume entitled ‘A Dream of Red’. A romantic novella? She kisses your cheek, shakes your hand, and she’s gone.&quot
The girls are obsessed with stories of romance, they seem to sustain on them. Love stories are littered throughout the house, they all speak of their own love stories and ask for them. The last memento you receive from the sisters is a gift from Phoebe that she leaves you with after you rescue her and delivere her to her ancestral home. What she gives you is a love story, a book called &quotA Dream of Red&quot, which has the item description &quotThe missing Chapter of the Crimson Book&quot. The Crimson Book can be bought from De Gustibus in in Fallen London for a Vial of Master’s Blood. It’s the most expensive contraband item, worth 1562.50 echoes, and comes in a sealed Box. &quotThe most stirring, the most wretched, the most savage tales of love and loss are here entombed.&quot I’ll just leave out speculations about a particular red science, let’s move on.

We know the Bazaar is looking for love, and apparently the Greek Goddess Artemis started looking too (or did she?) when the Bazaar arrived at earth. Phoebe (the grandmother), direct daughter of the Earth, was apparently watching the judgements all along (keeping &quotThe Mystery&quot?), and somehow love became very important for sustaining her granddaughter Artemis. Artemis then appeared in the neath in the form of Hecates. Why did Artemis decide to live out her existence in the terrible Neath? What this &quotMystery&quot that Phoebe (The Grandmother) keeps? Greek &quotMystery-plays&quot, that famously tell stories of Biblical Creation and Judgement could be a key. Or maybe not, maybe there’s a better answer ;) Let’s get back to that later. Either way, that is the story from Phoebe’s perspective.

If we jump back to Fallen London and play through the carousel in Hunter’s Keep, you end up getting to play parlour games where you &quotpretend&quot that the sisters are either the Three Graces, the Furies or the Faces of Hecate. If you choose Faces of Hecate by &quotSay[ing] they represent the three-faced goddess of the moon, crossroads, and witchcraft&quot, Phoebe outbursts:

&quot’My turn!’ cries Phoebe. ‘Yes, we are the goddess of the harvest moon and the place where roads meet. We look after magic and nature, gateways and ghosts.’ (…) ‘Looks like we’re going out to the well,’ says Lucy. ‘Brr,’ says Cynthia. ‘Just my luck.’&quot. Of the two sisters, Phoebe apparently feels the most comfortable in the role of Hecate, as we’ve already seen. She is truly the goddess of the crossroads, according to Wiki being &quotbetween&quot (Between the Neath and the Surface?). She has this to say:

&quotThe scent of herbs is cloying and medicinal on the night air. You arrange yourselves around the rockery and Phoebe tells her story. ‘He sang to me, told me stories of innocents who knew nothing of life and love,’ she says. ‘He tried to tell me how he felt, using other poets’ words. But when we lost the sky and the moon, we lost each other. We couldn’t be innocents any more, not after the Fall. His father sent him into the city to wear a grey suit all day, exchanging crook for quill.’ The bright white light shines upwards to the cavern roof. Phoebe smiles. ‘That world of innocence is still there, though, in the songs. You must seek out a place where it is still real, if you wish to keep seeking. Once you have gained all you need from us, of course.’&quot

&quotAbsent Moon&quot and &quotGnawing hunger in the heart&quot were the sigils Phoebe clawed into the wall when burning down Hunter’s Keep. In Sunless Sea when you first meet her she speaks of two lovers parted by water. She also writes down something about wells, and she’s preoccupied with love and hunger. She talks about Seeking. She mentions how everything changed when Storm came. She is the goddess of the Moon, and the moon is absent, replaced by a false moon in a well. There are a LOT of interesting connections here. But to solve the puzzle, we have to dig deeper. Let’s look at the other options at the end of the Hunter’s Keep Carousel, that correspond to the other sisters:

&quotThe Furies? Perhaps they [the sisters]are the terrible goddesses of vengeance!&quot ’

Yes! Fear us!’ cries Cynthia. ‘We are the Kindly Ones! The Angry Ones! We will haunt you!’ Lucy and Phoebe roll their eyes. ‘Typical,’ says Lucy. ‘Now we’re in for it. Best start weeping and wailing.’

The Furies were the godesses of vengeance, created when Uranus bled on Gaia after he was castrated. Our old friend, the poet Virgil, mentioned now far above, identified three Furies: Alektos (&quotEndless&quot), Megaera (&quotJealous Rage&quot) and Tisiphone (&quotVengeful Destruction&quot). There is little information about them, but they were depicted as ugly, winged women with hair arms and waists entwined with poisonous serpents, and boots of huntress- maidens, and were servants of Hades in the underworld. I’ll let you put the dots together. Cynthia has the following to say:

&quot’Woe is me!’&quot

The sisters have moved the cover aside, so the faux-moon shining from the bottom of the well is full tonight. Frost-moths and white fireflies spin circles around the well, glinting and shimmering. Cynthia finds the best light and strikes a dramatic pose. ‘My story is a sad one,’ she intones. ‘I tell it here at this place that is sacred to that one that we shall not name. My beloved and I were separated by the cruel Fates. We were powerless, pawns in their game. And when we dared challenge them, they wrenched us apart. Alas! What a dreadful day!’

‘He was a good man, but his father was a monster, and the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons, as they say. The wrath of his father was boundless! He dragged my beloved away to rot in a clerk’s office, there to stab himself with his silver inkpen!’ This goes on for some time. Lucy whispers in your ear. ‘There was probably no stabbing,’ she says. ‘Cynthia is a little bit prone to exaggeration.’ Cynthia turns on you. ‘Be quiet, Lucina! [Lucina? What happened to Lucy] And you – beware!’ she cries. ‘Take what you find and continue your questing, lest tragedy strike!’ Phoebe rolls her eyes from safely behind Cynthia’s back.&quot

The sisters are a trifecta, Greek Goddesses of olden times, and they loved a man connected to a sacred place to the one that we shall not name (Mr. Eaten). They were separated by the cruel fates (Dido describes &quotthe stars [judegements] [as] conscious of fate&quot), who play games with pawns. &quotWe challenged them and they wrenched us apart.&quot Is it just me or did Phoebe/Cynthia/Lucy just tell us that she, Goddess of the Moon, fell in love with Mr. Eaten but was wrenched apart from him when she challenged the other masters? Spacemarine talks about daughters, involved with Mr Eaten, causing a delay in the falling of the second City. I was a candle
Is the reason that Mr. Eaten likes the second city so much, and that the other Masters sacrificed him to get on to the next city that he fell in love with a timeless trinity of sisters? We’re getting very speculative here. I will say this: there’s still stuff for me to uncover on Hunter’s Keep and I have not begun seeking with my character yet so I might be very wrong here. It might be that people who have done the Seeking storyline knows info that goes against this theory, but… I don’t have that info. So, let’s move on:

What does Lucy have to tell us. Let us &quotGuess that they are the Charities, goddesses of charm, beauty and creativity.&quot

Lucy claps her hands. ‘I told you,’ she says to her sisters. ‘Tonight we are charming, we are witty, our story is one of laughter and delight.’ Cynthia and Phoebe shrug and start taking the braids out of their hair.&quot
The story she tells does not tell you much:

&quotPhoebe plays a little incidental music and Lucy talks. She gestures wildly – and crudely – and fills her narrative with jokes and biting satire. ‘My beloved was a kind man, but no match for his servant in intelligence. He was a Young Stag – very appropriately, if you know what I mean! And it was the only place in London he could wear bloomers in peace. But then I lost his inheritance gambling at Chimes’ [All the Master’s Except Mr. Eaten] place – the sort of thing that could happen to anyone – so he had to take a job assisting a bald old playwright. Well, his father nearly had an apoplexy when he found out! He’d never liked me, and that was the end of that little romance.’ Even Cynthia is laughing by now. ‘All’s well that ends well, anyway,’ [ALL SHALL BE WELL AND ALL MANNER OF THINGS SHALL BE WELL] says Lucy, turning to you. ‘Have you found what you’re looking for yet? You won’t forget us when you’re off adventuring, will you?’

In Lucy’s version, the lover is simply some man, a Young Stag. Note that Artemis transforms the shepherd Actaeon in to a Stag when he comes upon her bathing in the nude, and sets her dogs upon him and kills him. I cannot make sense of this much, but she asks &quotyou won’t forget us when you’re off adventuring, will you?&quot Lucy continuously asks the player if they have an ambition to follow, leading me to believe that this is a hint implying that there’s connections between the ambitions and Lucy’s stories, but I must admit that this is a weak spot in the theory so far. It’s just not very interesting. What is more interesting is examining the Graces, or &quotThe Charities&quot. These were three goddessess, Aglaea (&quotSplendor&quot), Euphrosyne (&quotMirth&quot), and Thalia (&quotGood Cheer&quot). They were daughters of Zeus - and associated with the Greek Underworld and the Eleusinian Mysteries. Remember this Mystery that Phoebe, the Grandmother of Artemis kept with her when watching the judgements? Wikipedia says that &quotThe Mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone from her mother Demeter by the king of the underworld Hades, in a cycle with three phases, the &quotdescent&quot (loss), the &quotsearch&quot and the &quotascent&quot, with main theme the &quotascent&quot ( άνοδος : anodos) of Persephone and the reunion with her mother.&quot Persephone is abducted, sent to the underworld, seeks and eventually returns to her mother. Who is she abducted by you ask?

A. God damn. Bloody. Dragon.

Something that has always seemed way out of place to me in the Fallen London universe is the fact that we have space-police Dragons roaming around. Aka Storm, aka one of the &quotgods&quot of the Neath, aka the thing that came from beyond Avid Horizon. Remember how Phoebe tells you the following?

&quotPhoebe has a story to tell: of two lovers parted by water, of a raven that carried messages, of a fragment of the moon (…) Your attention drifts, out through the skylight of the dining room, to the false-stars glittering in the roof of the cavern (…) There is a scent like the scent before a storm…

“The storm came,” says Phoebe quietly. “Everything changed.”

Did Storm abduct Artemis from the Surface? What?

Anyways, while we do return Phoebe to the surface, and maybe reuinte her with her mother (if Phoebe is allowed to portray both one of Artemis’ aspects/One of Hecates Faces/One of the Furies/One of the Graces as well as Artemis’ grandmother), there is seeking involved. And lots of stories of love. All the while, The Bazaar searches restlessly for love. And a dragon has come to the neath for nefarious purposes, on the order of the Judgements (the Stars). And someone was changed when that dragon came. And there was hunger. Endless hunger. How does this all tie together? What’s with the well, and the snakes, and Mr. Eaten and the maidservant?

I don’t know about the devilish maid. Diana, Roman representation of Artemis has a servant and assitant midwife called Egeria, connected with sacred groves/springs and magical/mysterious water. And something about milk. Dido does pay heed to the Font Of Avernus by the Cumean canal by sprinkling water, but I don’t know. And I also haven’t even touched upon the furry thing in the well yet. There’s a false moon down there apparently, and there’s a bloody lot of glim in that well. Seems to be moon-misery to me, but who knows. Oh and also on Delos, a greek island where Diana (Roman version of Artemis) was born there’s a very well-known well, &quotThe Minoan Fountain&quot. But there are wells everywhere, I digress.

What’s more interesting is the Graces. They are daughters of Zeus. Sweet things that fill the world with pleasure. Now hold on tight, and glue those tinfoil caps on tight, because if you thought I was utterly crazy by now, the next revelations will get you reaaaaal good. You know which other gentleman also happens to be the spawn of Zeus and these girls half-brother?

My main man Dionysus, god of Tits and Wine, laughter, song, alcohol, music and so on. Let me recount to you how Dionysus came to be:
Dyionsus the &quotTwice-born&quot is a major figure in the Greek Pantheon, a demi-God was first born by the mortal priestess Semele (not to be confused with the moon-goddess Selene), as a result of an affair between Zeus and Semele. Dionysus in his first-born form, called &quotZagreus-Dionysus&quot was murdered by the Titans in a ploy set up by Hera, Zeus’ jealous wife. For unclear reasons, the Titans could not simply attack Zagreus-Dionysus, but first had to weaken him by dulling his senses. They do this by giving Zagreus-Dionysus, at the time still a young child, seven toys, delivered in a box (What is it with all these boxes, mirrocatch boxes, a cat in a box, the Crimson Book in a box, the affair of the box, the story &quotCut with Moonlight&quot as in cut by Phoebe rewards a mirrocatch box too). These toys are quite funky: A pine cone, a tuft of wool, a mirror, bone-dice, a marble sphere/ball, a spinning top and last but not least, the golden apple of Æspærídæs, or Hesperides. While Zagreus-Dionysus was distracted by these toys, the titans assaulted him, chopped him up, and ate him, as a rite of sacrifice. However, Athena, sister of Artemis, manages to rescue Dionysus’ still beating heart, puts it in a silver box (boxes, boxes, boxes) and delivers it to Zeus. Zeus then proceeds to sew the hearth into his thigh, and Zagreus-Dionysus is reborn as Dionysus, now a God and no longer only half-mortal. (Oh and by the way, Zagreus = &quotthe Highest God of the Underworld&quot)

Dionysus is tricked by seven toys, and is eaten by God-eaters. The toys are mirrors, which are everywhere in Fallen London, bone-dice, which we find wherever devils roam, a spinning top that the three sisters at Hunter’s Keep TIME AND TIME AGAIN refer to as sentimental trinkets given to them by their lover and even the golden apple of Hesperides, used to make Hesperidian Cider in Fallen London which let’s you be reborn forever!

The apple-tree of Hesperides are guarded by three/four/seven nymphs depending on source, among them Arethusa. As in that nymph who flees from her home and is protected by none other than Artemis. Our good buddy Vigil (the dude who wrote Aeneid, where the Dido stuff is) then describes Arethusa as having been granted a salt-free passage beneath the sea on the condition that, before departing, she grant him songs about troubled loves of contemporary creatures. These nymphs are also often conflated with some characters we already know, namely the three Graces. These nymphs reside in the Garden of Hesperides in Hera’s Orchard, where a single apple tree in a grove (also remember how Diana/Artemis and her maid are connected to waters and groves) grows a single apple that grants immortality to those who eats it. Now Hera is jealous and vengeful and doesn’t trust the nymphs to guard the apple without taking it for themselves so she calls forth a never-sleeping dragon that is often depicted as a shepherd (remeber sheperd connections at hunter keep?), to keep the nymphs from stealing the apple.

And there you have it.

As the Bazaar came crashing down on Earth, it was watched by Artemis’ grandmother Phoebe, who held a Mystery. Phoebe is the daughter of Gaia, the Earth. She is the moon. &quotThe Mystery&quot represents an archetypal story of abduction, seeking and resurfacing. Soon after, the Fated &quotthey&quot - the Masters, come to the neath to follow the Bazaar. Phoebe/Artemis and Mr. Candles fall in love, which throws hot irons in the Masters plans and keeps the second city around for hundreds, if not thousands of years longer than it should be around. The other masters wrench the two lovers apart, by plotting with Hera to have the Titans eat Mr. Candles in a vile sacrificial ritual, turning him into Mr. Eaten. He’s distracted by devilbone dice, spinning tops and hesperidian Apples, and succumbs to the scheming. Somewhere along the line Artemis is abducted to the Neath by the dragon Storm who has come from beyond the Avid Horizon, fulfilling phase one of Phoebe’s Mystery - the abduction. Artemis, now Hecates is placed on an island, watched by a strange Devilish creature, and surrounded by Viric water - pools of forgetfullness. As memories vanish, Hecates becomes Phoebe, Cynthia and Lucy, and Artemis, and Phoebe daugther of Gaia, and the stories of the Furies and the Graces and the Nymphs and the sister of Dionysus all muddle together… She becomes confused, but she hungers deeply for something. Something that cannot be satisfied with food. She starts seeking for love, fulfilling phase two of Phoebe’s Mystery. The Dragon Storm sticks around to guard the Hesperidian apple from the nymphs for uncertain reasons, while Phoebe/Cynthia/Lucy keeps on searching for stories of lost love, in an effort to make sense of the pieces of memory that floats around. All she remembers is faint echoes of a lover, and an endless hunger. They stay at Hunter’s Keep for hundreds of years, and see multiple cities fall, while strange things they cannot figure out happen with their poisoned well. The Devilish maid might indeed be a Devil from the colonies in Parabola, connected to the Fingerkings as the Devils are, but this is uncertain. Either way, the hunger doesn’t subside, they never find the proper love story, until the player comes around in Sunless Sea and cleanses the waters beneath Hunter’s Keep by trapping the fingerkings in the Mirrorcatch Box. Phoebe/Cynthia/Lucy immediately remember that no they’re not the three sisters, Hecates, the Furies or the Graces. They’re Phoebe, daugther of Gaia - the moon. This is why the moon has been forgotten, and is never mentioned among the constellations in the Fallen London universe.

They finally remember that they are Phoebe, not anyone else, and in a symbolic ritual, Phoebe burns away the confused apparations that are Cynthia/Lucia, as well as the wretched house, and escape with the player, scarred and weakened. The player takes Phoebe, the Moon, up to the Surface and back to Greece, fulfilling the last part of Phoebe’s Mystery, the ascent. She gives the player the missing part of the Crimson book, the ultimate collection of love stories. This pieces the puzzling words of Phoebe from way earlier together:

&quotBut when we lost the sky and the moon, we lost each other. We couldn’t be innocents any more, not after the Fall. His father sent him into the city to wear a grey suit all day, exchanging crook for quill.’ The bright white light shines upwards to the cavern roof. Phoebe smiles. ‘That world of innocence is still there, though, in the songs. You must seek out a place where it is still real, if you wish to keep seeking. Once you have gained all you need from us, of course.’&quot

The sky was lost as the cities fell, and the moon was trapped at Hunter’s Keep - Artemis’ Keep. Phoebe has now given you what you need to seek what she has been seeking all along. Her lover, Mr. Eaten, Dionysus in spirit, the supreme God of the Neath. Or rather, not him. But her memories of love of him. The player has finally gained all they need from her. The moon has resurfaced, and the player owns the last part of the Crimson book, the love story that the Bazaar has been looking for. All the while, the moon-miser shines a bright light on the cavern roof, hinting towards a world far up there, up, up, up and beyond. North, to the Avid Horizon and farther, to a place where the Skies are forever Sunless. To a world unexplored.

A name is unimportant, what you are seeking is innocent love.
edited by Cantankerous Captain on 5/9/2017

Wow, bravo. That is quite the analysis. You’ve given me a lot to think about. If Mr. Eaten is indeed a version of Dionysus, it makes me wonder if the other masters have their own mythic analogues.
edited by Harlocke on 5/6/2017

If there’s anything that is certain, it is that there are a near infinite number of analogues and representations of historical figures and stories in the Fallen London Universe. It is very clear that the writing team believe in standing upon the shoulders of giants, which I agree with, especially as the balancing act is so delightfully performed.

Mr. Eaten = Dionysus is too much of a simplification of course. Mr. Eaten resembles Dionysus and the two are very much linked, but if we assume my analysis to be true, the three sisters of Hunter’s Keep are:

Phoebe, Lucy, Cynthia, Lucina, Artemis, Phoebe, their own grandmother, three women, a representation of three faces in one goddess, Hecate, the daughter of Zeus, The sisters of Dionysus, The Furies, The Graces, a lover and a minor celestial body, all in one. Making 1-to-1 parallels won’t lead us too far (and I left out so much. What’s the deal with Storm, what’s the deal with the red/crimson science, why is the lover named Patrick or &quotNobleman&quot, why does he work for some tired old dude, how does a Master have a father ?? and much else I’m sure I’ve missed). It’s a good start though.

Also as an edit. I happened to google Mr Eaten + The moon, and came upon something slightly spoilery from the Seeking Storyline (just a snippet of text about something that can be lit) that fits very well with the above theory, which is kinda cool.
edited by Cantankerous Captain on 5/6/2017

Thank you, this was an interesting read. Great job finding that Aeneid passage. I apologize for poking holes, it’s easier than doing my own theorizing!

The least convincing part for me is Mr Eaten. The &quotdaughters&quot of the Second City were daughters of the Egyptian pharoah Akhenaten. Even if we cut that part, a love story between Eaten and a Greek goddess has poor timing and geography. If this happened before/during the Second City’s Fall, then we were back in Myceneaen civilization, centuries before the familiar classical Greeks. The goddesses technically existed, but it’s a stretch to banish them to the Neath long before any of the major texts and temples we know them from. I suppose the goddesses could somehow wander into the Neath much later, during the Second City’s lengthy stay, but then they (probably) can’t be responsible for Mr Candle’s betrayal.

More generally, the masters and other space beasts don’t tend to adopt such a 1:1 role in relation to earthly mythologies. I could see a myth created from a story involving a master, or a love story reenacted when gods interact with masters, but I can’t swallow &quotthis master = dionysus&quot (especially when the master isn’t Mr Wines!)

The house burns down after a while even if you do not capture the finger-kings, and the finger-kings are still there afterward. (You can repeat the action to catch them again in the burned down cellar.) I hesitate to make another classical connection here, but that passage you quote from the Aeneid fits so well that I’d like to continue it. It depicts Queen Dido building a pyre (with the help of her sister, even), ostensibly to burn the belongings of Aeneas, her lover who has abandoned her. Not long after that passage, Dido leaps onto the pyre, kills herself on Aeneas’ sword, and the pyre is set alight for her funeral.

But that’s not quite there either. Aeneas is sent away on duty, but not from his father, and not &quotfrom crook to quill&quot. There’s something interesting to be found there, maybe in the Shepheardes Calender.

The moon, surely, is just missing because it’s not visible through the Neath roof? There is a whole exceptional story about importing moonlight from the surface, which gives strange visions of an alternate timeline where London never fell.

Great read! Something to keep in mind as I progress with Seeking.

A minor nitpick - the Fall of Hunter’s Keep in Sunless Sea is not triggered by the creation of the Serpent Trap, but simply happens after an uncertain number of visits. You can wait until the Keep burns down and create the Serpent Trap then - you won’t even have to pay the sisters in stories to gain access to the cellar.

Most interesting! I’m not far enough along in the games to assess this very well, but a couple of myth points:

The princess who puts a king back together with herbs picked by moonlight must also be Medea the witch, daughter of King Aetes, granddaughter of Helios the sun god. When Jason came to steal the golden fleece from Aetes, it was Medea who helped him pass his tests, fighting a legion of soldiers raised from dragon teeth, and helping him put to sleep the dragon who guarded the fleece. Medea then killed several of her family members, escaped to marry Jason. She restored her ageing father-in-law Aeson’s youth and vigour by draining him of blood, mixing it with magic herbs, and putting the blood back in again. She then pretended she would do the same to Jason’s enemy King Pelias, but killed him instead. And later was betrayed by Jason for another woman, whereupon she killed the woman and flew away on a chariot drawn by dragons…

And there is another version of Dionysus’s story in which, upon looking into the mirror the Titans gave him, the child god was split apart into shards, as was the mirror. Dionysus’s shards were never put back together again, but each became a facet of the god, which explains the wildly varying temperaments and properties he displays when encountered at different times and locations. The shards of the Titans’ mirror, meanwhile, multiplied through the world, which is said to explain the uncanny properties of mirrors in general.

A very interesting and well-written analysis. One small comment:

Viric is not the colour of forgetfulness - that’s Irrigo (which is purple-ish).

Viric is &quotthe colour of light from behind mirrors&quot, &quotthe colour of shallow sleep&quot (and is green-ish).

There are some pokey-holes in the theory, which is to be expected. I am no bastion of Mythological knowledge nor have I yet devoured all the exceptional stories of past times. ;) My memory of the Viric fingerkingy happenings at Hunter’s Keep are also somewhat off mark, as mentioned. The role of the Fingerkings and the assumed Deviless do puzzle me still in general. I welcome more nitpicks, but I’ll keep the OP unedited for posterity’s sake.

That being said, there is a deeper connection between our trio of friends and SMEN. I’m not sure how kosher it is to link SMEN here, and I don’t want to spoil much for myself (I’ve barely just started on my own journey) so I haven’t combed through thoroughly at all, but I know for a fact that at least two of the candles have text that include a name we have heard before:


I have exhausted my tinfoiling capacities for a while, and also want to progress a bit with SMEN to see if there are more solid connections. My grasp of the three Gods of the Zee and their roles is also middling at best, and I believe there is more to be learned there. We’ll see where things lead. I ultimately expect the &quotanswer&quot to be muddled and ambigious anyways, I don’t think there’s supposed to be a clear cut &quottrue&quot interpretation.

Finally, I would ask readers to scrutinise the following passage more cloesly:

Abridged from &quotLuncheon with the Sisters:&quot Hunter's Keep - Official Sunless Sea Wiki

I do not recognise these stories, but Phoebe’s story seems to have wider implications so I would assume there is relevance to them. Oh and, not to mention the matter of the sisters being in possession of a tome bound in Vake-leather. Any suggestions or connections come to mind?
edited by Cantankerous Captain on 5/9/2017

The section about the Dream of Red and the Crimson Book makes me wonder: is the Red Science somehow powered or catalyzed by passion? The Irrepressible Cannoneer cares very strongly about implements of destruction, and they use the Red Science to build a weapon of great power. There’s also apparently some Red Science in the Persona Engine exceptional story, with a mathematician who has blueprints for a Seal of the Red Science, but it’s fate-locked and the Science seems to get only a brief mention. Perhaps integrating an awakened Seal into a device allows an inventor to realize their creative ambitions without having to worry about such silly things as &quotnatural laws&quot?

[quote=Mr. Sails]I’m not sure how kosher it is to link SMEN here[/quote]I don’t think there’s any sort of prohibition on doing so, since no part of SMEN is fate-locked. Failbetter’s requested that certain bits not be publicly shared, and with the nature of the story it’s probably best to avoid direct text-dumps, but you won’t get in trouble for talking about specific bits of it.

[quote=Mr. Sails]tome bound in Vake-leather.[/quote]How do we know that it’s Vake-leather? Since the Vake is a disguise put on by… well, I won’t spoil it. But since the Vake is a disguise, does it even have skin that could be tanned into leather?
edited by Anchovies on 5/9/2017

I’d love to mention that the Moon might be the Parabolan Moon, which is shown to be related to and under control of the Cats in several bits of text:

[spoiler]‘You swing your head low to listen to the tiger’s words as it lopes through the night… It tells you of what can be seen from the moon…’ (Choosing a Tiger)

‘The moon hangs low in the sky, and you look up at its cratered face. Look, there are patterns there, just like the surface’s moon. Only… these don’t resemble a man, or anything else so much as a cat, curled up asleep.’ (Night is falling)[/spoiler]

This would put a new spin on the matter, framing the Hunter’s Keep trio as Fingerking supporters who grieve about the moon. Their maid is referred to as seprentine in one of the quotes from the first post, and they’ve got access to the Writhing River, along with a close connection to serpents.

A Temple of Uttermost Wind reveals that Fingerking worship was the norm back in the Fourth City, so this wouldn’t be the first time the serpents use religious motifs.

(I can’t comment on the mythical associations, but Parabolan Politics might play a large part in interpreting some of the things going on in Hunter’s Keep.)
edited by Vavakx Nonexus on 5/9/2017

[quote]Anchovies, I do believe you are onto something. I’ll have to investigate further, but Kingeater’s Castle is a very interesting starting point. Ctrl+F &quotThe heart is destiny’s engine&quot, I have some ideas.[/quote]Are you talking about the construction of the Fulgent Impeller? Hm. I’m inclined to think that the Impeller doesn’t involve the Red Science, for a few different reasons:
• the Impeller’s design comes from a secret of the Stone Pigs, engines of the Bazaar. If the Bazaar had been scooting around space on raw chain-destroying Red Science, the Judgements would’ve had a lot more to be angry at the Bazaar for than just its love for the Sun.
• the Impeller uses an Element of Dawn as a core component. Although the Dawn Machine is a deformed mockery of a true Judgement, its power is probably still incompatible with the Red Science.
• on a meta level, I think each marvel of science is meant to tie to a different otherworldly power. The Serpentine links to Parabola, the Momento Mori runs on Red Science, and Icarus in Black uses the non-laws of the Iron Republic; the Impeller, then, functions along roughly the same lines as the Bazaar or the Judgements.

&quotThe heart is destiny’s engine&quot is spoken in two circumstances: by your first mate in &quotan act of burning faith&quot, and by the sage in the construction of the Fulgent Impeller. In both cases it is spoken to reassure; the first mate is taking part in a prayer of sorts, and the sage is steeling himself before his sacrifice completes the Impeller. The phrase could be meant to reflect the recurring themes in FL and SSea of the power and price of desire. It certainly fits with my above speculation on the Red Science, which if catalyzed by passion would quite literally use the heart as destiny’s engine by translating desire into some otherwise-impossible material effect on the world.
edited by Anchovies on 5/10/2017

To confuse things further, there are a few more things worth noting in this matter of The Sisters.
Firstly, there is The White. The Stars being people that play with Pawns makes sense with The White; it is some form of odd Judgemental Spymaster. What’s more, in certain exceptional stories-including Cut with Moonlight- The White has been shown to have some form of earthly avatar, an old spymaster of some sort.
The second notable fact that this makes me want to unload is on Storm’s fate. There was something to the effect of Storm’s heart being locked in a Sandalwood box; not much more to say, but it may play into this.

The White doesn’t have an earthly avatar. The White does have an earthly analogue, the spymaster in Vienna, but in the context it doesn’t make sense for him to actually be part of the White.

Just wanted to pop in an mention that there is a lot wrong with my original post, although a lot is also ranging from &quotinteresting possible connection&quot to &quotvery on point&quot. I’ve been meaning to do another write up that corrects and expands greatly on OP, but real life has gotten in the way. A reckoning is not to be postponed indefinitely.
edited by Cantankerous Captain on 5/27/2017

Perhaps I can shed some light on this. Each of the sisters is also tied to a traditional Greek poetic/dramatic genre: comedy, tragedy, and pastoral for Lucy, Cynthia, and Phoebe respectively. The stories they tell in Sunless Sea, as well as many of their possessions found around the house (the masks, the lyre, etc) are meant to clue the visitor in to this connection. In addition, the stories they tell in Fallen London all have to do with the same sequence of events, but each sister focuses on different aspects, and presents their story through the poetic style they’re associated with. In the house, the visitor can find a journal which recounts this story in dry, unpoetic fashion, without any indication of which sister has written it.[li]
As for what this means? Well, perhaps they reinterpret the stories of those who correspond with them, transforming them into art, into poetry. Or perhaps they’re all vestiges of some kind of unified thing of three aspects. Who knows?

Personally, I don’t think anything on Hunter’s Keep means anything at all. I think it’s meant to be a statement about poetry and language, a la Calvino. There’s so many open-ended references, all of which connect to one another without any underlying structure. It’s like a labyrinth of weird images and evocative phrasing, leading the visitor down pathways of speculation like this one. Like the sisters interpreting the journal, it makes poetry out of the meaningless and the mundane.