The Villa of the Lady Aurelia
Throughout their long quest and wide-ranging travels for the Nimbus Selenium, the adventurers meet a number of people, some quite ordinary, some quite exotic, all of them unique.
Among these people is the Lady Aurelia, who lives in her villa outside the city of Markhl, widely noted for its silk.
After departing from Njording and making their dangerous crossing of the Lake of Deep Purpling in the `Adorable’, with the inventors, Satchet and Bagley, the adventurers meet the Lady Aurelia in the market outside the walls of Markhl.
The City of Markhl
Upon meeting the magician and the two wolves (Berzerker and Skyscreamer) who follow - and hound - Thornwaldt’s every step in life, Aurelia easily subdues them (to the astonishment of the magician and his friend Rutuger). She happily pats them on their fierce and shaggy heads, which no human thing would dare do, and nuzzles them with great familiarity, (`Aw, the pretty little doggies. Wuzzle, wuzzle, wuzzle…’).
The Lady Aurelia lives in a villa outside the city walls, sharing it with her husband, the Doctor, Peary. She is half-elf, on her mother’s side, and an artist of great renown. It is she who designs and executes the many silk banners that fly throughout Markhl.
Learning that the adventurers (Toma, Suzette, Rutuger, Thornwaldt and Grynwalt) are strangers to Markhl, and lost in the wide world, the Lady Aurelia invites them to stay with her at her villa, where she renders them assistance in rebuilding the Windcycle in which they travel.
Below, we see a few very quickly rendered sketches of Aurelia’s villa. The provenance of these sketches is uncertain, but it has been declared by some authorities (notably Wencenhandlias, the Learned), that these may be copies derived from drawings done by the magician, Thornwaldt, himself.
(See Wencenhandlias; “Speculations on the Derivations of the Illustrations of the Villa of Aurelia: Collection of the Library of Markhl”. In this paper, Wencenhandlias quotes from letters, no longer extant, written by Aurelia herself to the Library, that
“… the good magician did use his time at my villa to wondrous purpose, though he claimed to feel useless while his friends, the inventors Satchet and Bagley (with my dear friend, for whom I grieve endlessly, the good Mister Red), all worked so industriously to rebuild and refine the marvelous invention, that the Wizard Toma called his `Windcycle’…
“… the magician was most gracious in accepting from me a trifling gift of several pens and a sheaf of paper, that he may sate his cravings for creativity, and usefulness, and for many days he busied himself upon the grounds of my poor villa, drawing what he claimed were `portraits’ of the place…
“Sometimes, in his day trips to Markhl, he made quick sketches of the city, as well… so concerned was he in marking the `quickly fleeting appearances of things’, as he put it to me…
“In a few all-too short weeks, my dear friend the magician filled an entire ream of paper with his sketches…Sometimes he drew on both sides of the paper, and sometimes he put three or four of his sketches on the same sheet…
“He worked at such a pace as to quite take my breath away… it was magical to watch the man at work, and we, that is to say, I, and the Lady Grynwalt, and dear, sweet Suzette, and my good friend, the huntress Llorelai, we spent many an afternoon in delight, observing the magician so quickly and deftly drawing many scenes throughout my estate, and making me see this place as I have never seen it before...
“… for he would sometimes no sooner begin his sketch than when, instants later, he’d pronounce of it, `T’ is a poor thing, but it seems to me to catch a bit of the personality of the place… have I a bit more time later, I might finish this fellow up somewhat, but I have so much to see here, and so very little time…
“… Before he departed us, so urgently with his friends, he pressed his sheaf of drawings upon me, declaring, “I do not know where my journey will take me, Oh Lady, but I do know it will take me to no place good. Please take upon you these poor sketches, wherewith I have not the time to render them proper, in strong lines for the formschneiders, but please you, me, to accept them as my token rendering to you, for all your graciousness and kindness to us…”)
It is solely from Wencenhandlias that we have anything like an estimate of the number of drawings that the magician may have produced during his stay at Aurelia’s villa. By this scholar’s account, it would seem that Thornwaldt produced hundreds, if not even one or two thousand such sketches.
It does appear that almost all the renderings of Markhl and its environs contemporary to the magician’s brief stay derive, ultimately, from his own handiwork, either by direct copying, or by illustrators of the following years using his works as their own points of departure.
The one exception to this would be the grand painting titled `The Great Causeway of Deep Purpling’, executed twice, once for the Library of Njording, and again, for the City Hall of Markhl. But the Great Causeway was destroyed by the Kraaken some thirty years before Thornwaldt and his companions arrived at Markhl. (See `The Official History of the City of Markhl From the Time of Its Founding to the Collapse of the Committee – Volume Three; Chapters 8-12’.)
These illustrations below represent but a portion of the work reputedly executed by the magician during his stay at Aurelia’s villa. No complete inventory has ever been done of these works, nor is it likely that any such inventory can ever be done, as the individual drawings from Aurelia’s donation were later deaccessioned by the Library, and turned over to the Archives, where they were then enfolded and distributed – anonymously - throughout the many research files and folios within the library, for purposes of reference.
Some authorities have raised questions regarding the color that is used in some of these sketches, as, by all accounts, the magician worked almost solely with pencil, pen, and sometimes with black crayon. He is not noted for his use of color, and it is possible that the color that appears in these drawings was added by a later hand.
Aurelia offers a tantalizing clue, offered up in the letter that accompanied her donation to the Library of Markhl, and quoted by Wencenhandlias, the Learned, that
“… dear little Suzette did love to color things, and on occasion, she sat by the magician to watch him as he sketched so feverishly. I offered her a few of my pastels, which she was shy to accept, but I pressed them upon her…
“… and Llorelai, too, as they passed the time, awaiting the decision of the Committee, against their quest against the warlock, Putroilius…
“… so dear to see them, side by side, squatting upon the floor of my study, like two little girls, coloring away, and happily… girlish titters, and giggles…”
“… and even Grynwalt, and I, too, we could not resist… and for happy days, we were all little girls again… sitting on the floor and coloring joyously, filling my studio with the peals of girlish giggles.., and the magician’s stern and dour face, bent over his sketches…”
Aurelia's Frog Pond
Aurelia's Frog Pond