What Can One Say About Lady Emily?

3 Feb

I wrote this as a sort of prelude – a broadsheet article – for The Demon’s Design. Jane is the main character of The Muckraker’s Tale, included as part of Fantastic Schools VI (out shortly).

What Can One Say About Lady Emily?

The below article was written by Jane, Daughter of Gerald (aka The Muckraker) and published in The Whitehall Times, shortly after the defeat of the Sorcerer Void and the end of the Void Wars.  Lady Emily has not commented on the article.

The strangest thing about Lady Emily is how little is known of her.

This may seem odd, to many of my readers, but there is a point.  The average aristo child, born to a family magical or mundane, makes an impact from the moment they draw breath.  Their naming day is a public event, their birthdays are more about their parents than themselves, their achievements, no matter how minor, are feted as if they were the greatest or most unique achievements in the history of mankind.  They are pawns in their family’s endless battle for power and prestige, their lives mapped out in many ways before they reach their first birthday.  Indeed, in many ways, one can track the shifting ebb and flow of power politics by noting who is invited to birthday celebrations, who is considered a suitable ward, whose children are considered acceptable candidates for betrothal and so many other hints of favour and disapproval shown by the parents.  It is easy to mock such treatment of one’s children, but it served a vitally important purpose.  A family that did not constantly tend to its own position was a family that would soon find itself declining into irrelevance.

And yet, there is no recorded trace of Lady Emily’s mere existence until she turned sixteen.

There are stories aplenty about her, true, but little hard fact.  Her father is believed to be the Sorcerer Void, one of the most powerful and feared sorcerers in the world even before he mounted his bid for ultimate power, yet it has never been confirmed.  Void is listed as Lady Emily’s guardian, a position with the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood and yet one suggesting more distance between them than one would expect, if they were father and daughter.  It would not be out of character for Void, a man who worked hard to bury his own family ties, not to reveal the existence of a child, but it is odd.  If nothing else, his daughter should have had a chance to meet her extended family.

If her father is uncertain, her mother is a complete mystery.  There are few hints of Void having any sort of close connection to anyone, save Emily herself.  He did have a relationship of sorts with Princess Iolanthe of Parsee, but by all accounts the relationship was not sexual and in any case the timing simply doesn’t work out.  He also took a female apprentice, Lady Barb, who could have given birth to Emily, but again the timing rules against it.  Lady Barb’s apprenticeship ended under mysterious circumstances, but there is no serious suggestion she fell pregnant by her master or that she gave birth to anyone.  It is possible, of course, that Void impregnated one of his maids – perhaps the most likely suggestion – yet this would be somewhat out of character.  For all the fear and awe he inspired, there is no suggestion he ever took advantage of anyone.  The blunt truth is that we simply don’t know.

In fact, as far as anyone can tell, Emily simply appeared out of nowhere.

Her early career is well known, although it is difficult – even now – to sift through the rumours and parse out the truth.  Emily arrived at Whitehall – riding on a dragon, of all things – and rapidly established herself as one of the school’s most remarkable students, fighting and defeating a necromancer in her very first year.  She would also go on to befriend Princess Alassa and Countess Imaiqah of Zangaria, finding herself – by accident or design – in the middle of the struggles for power threatening to tear the kingdom apart.  It is safe to say that, in a year, Emily achieved more than nearly anyone else in recorded history.  She rose from complete obscurity to become one of the most famous people in the world.

Her greatest achievement, however, was the New Learning.  Emily introduced, through her friends, a whole new system of letters and numbers, followed by dozens – perhaps hundreds – of technological innovations that changed the world.  The printing press, the steam engine, the guns that allowed us to stand up to the necromancers, then the aristos … they all stemmed from Lady Emily’s fertile brain.  She made no attempt to keep them from spreading – indeed, she rewrote the laws of her barony to encourage sharing ideas and designs – earning herself the enmity of nearly every aristo and many senior magicians.  If this worried her, she kept it to herself. 

It did raise questions, of course.  King Jorlem of Alluvia, who would later lose his throne and head to a revolution, argued Lady Emily was embarking on a long-term plan to take control of the entire world, something that would have seemed fanciful before she appeared.  Academic Adana, an intellectual in the service of King Randor of Zangaria, suggested that Emily was little more than a figurehead, a pretty face introducing ideas developed by a committee of inventors to ensure the real developers remained unknown.  His analysis of Emily’s early work argues that her inventions were suspiciously mature, and showed no hint of passing through a series of experimental stages before the final design was shared with the entire world.  This is, of course, easily explained.  The early models Emily introduced were not, of course, finalised.  As she said herself, her designs – the steam engine in particular – have long since been superseded by designs worked out by others, who took her work and improved upon it.  She did not create a finished product and neither did any of the inventors who followed in her footsteps.

Emily’s career continued to develop, as the years rolled on.  She defeated a necromancer in the Cairngorms, took possession of the nexus point at Heart’s Eye (defeating another necromancer in the process), fought in the Zangarian Civil War (rumours she’d somehow lost her powers in the aftermath of the war were rapidly disproven), founded a university at Heart’s Eye, led a campaign to invade the Blighted Lands and defeat the remaining necromancers (and succeeded so well the depraved magicians no longer pose any sort of threat), all the while continuing to turn out newer and better innovations, both magical and mundane.  It should have led to a world of peace and prosperity.

It did not.  The Allied Lands had always been held together by the threat of necromantic invasion.  The sudden end of the threat unleashed social pressures that threatened to tear the edifice apart, pressures – we later discovered – that were stroked by Void himself, intend on taking over the Allied Lands to save them from themselves.  Emily found herself both blamed for the chaos – somewhat unfairly; she had nothing to do with problems that existed years before she was born – and charged with stopping him, even though it required her to take up arms against her (presumed) father.  She was, for better or worse, successful.  Void was defeated, but many of the problems that had empowered him remained.

I do not know Lady Emily personally.  Few do.  She has a reputation for being friendly, but reserved – and also, according to some of her classmates, a little odd, as if she’d been born and raised somewhere very different.  Indeed, this is a mystery.  A young woman raised in an aristocratic family or a sorcerous household would not display the compassion and respect Lady Emily does for those beneath her, nor would she devote any effort to helping them climb to heights of wealth and power they might have thought beyond them.  A common-born child might have had a different outlook on life, but she wouldn’t have the lack of automatic respect for the aristocracy that is clearly visible in Lady Emily.  It has been suggested she was raised by someone other than Void, but who?  What sort of upbringing could create someone like her?

I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that she’s here, giving us all hope for a better future.

I look forward to following her future career with great interest.

6 Responses to “What Can One Say About Lady Emily?”

  1. Jared February 3, 2023 at 9:23 pm #

    So cool!! I can’t wait for more

  2. Veneratte February 4, 2023 at 8:58 pm #

    Moore!!! Love this series, and it’s spinoffs…

  3. Bruce Underwood February 5, 2023 at 4:13 pm #

    Great brief synopsis of the first 25 books. I like many fans look forward to reading how Emily’s world evolves with the new knowledge and social morals. I’d like to see her and the army guy from her world meet. Sorry I just can’t remember his name. I like him and look forward to more in his series too.

    • Michael February 7, 2023 at 6:41 am #

      Elliot* and completely agree, the meeting will be very cool. As long as Chris writes it well, which i’m sure he will. We have faith in you Chris!

    • DALE Nathan SWITZER February 17, 2023 at 3:28 am #

      I also want to know more of Elliot’s story.

  4. Kris S February 6, 2023 at 3:08 pm #

    intent to or intending. 👍👍💖

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: