Friday, July 9, 2010

The Asylum-Chateau Diodati, Part One

“Treat a person ill and he will become wicked. Requite affection with scorn; let one being be selected for whatever cause as the refuse of his kind - divide him, a social being, from society, and you impose upon him the irresistible obligations - malevolence and selfishness. It is thus that too often in society those who are best qualified to be its benefactors and its ornaments are branded by some accident with scorn, and changed by neglect and solitude of heart into a scourge and a curse."
"On Frankenstein" (1818), Percy B. Shelley

A Brief Whiff of History and a Bit of Background for the Asylum-Chateau Diodati

Along the Left Bank of the River Senube, overgrown with flowering kudzu-lianas and dense blue-green ferns tha thave run rampant until they've assumed the proportions of bloated trees, there stands a mostly forgotten and exceedingly run-down remnant from the worst of the bad old days of the Old Regime. Set off from the Low Esplanade on a tiny island situated out amidst the thriving greenery of the Estuarial Region, the Asylum-Chateau Diodati was, at first, intended to be a quiet, peaceful place of recovery and rehabilitation. And for a time it was. But that time was very brief.

Established as a neutral and unaffiliated place of healing by the Comte Diodati, an eccentric Archaic who rejected the conventional methods of extending one's longevity as inappropriately invasive. The Comte disliked the very notion of small machines running around in his veins and waived his right to the usual socially moderated forms of life-extension and medical care. He relished his inborn capacity to get sick and to heal, naturally. As it was intended. He would have no truck with what he considered to be the outre beliefs of so-called Polite Society and thus he withdrew to his island Asylum-Chateau in an attempt to step out of the way of conventional busy-bodies while still managing to do something good and worthwhile in what everyone else considered his voluntarily inevitable and therefore entirely regrettable decrepitude.

In order to see his pet projects to fruition, the Comte installed an antique criogenic suspended animation apparatus in a specially-prepared chamber of the Asylum-Chateau. He began to only spend alternating weeks in the thing, and then took to only being out and about once a month. The rest of the time he spent in suspended animation. The lar-systems of the asylum-chateau were modeled upon his personality and directly wired into his apparatus so that while his body was in suspension, he was still able to manage most matters virtually and through telepresence. It seemed to be a good solution. Perhaps it would have been, if the Comte hadn't remained a died-in-the-wool social contrarian and insisted on employing actual (non-clone, non-drone) employees as part of his overall approach. Maybe if he'd just been nicer, things would have turned out differently.

A Time of Treachery
It was one of the employees, a bored medical artist with ambitions and designs upon becoming a member of Lorshal's inner-circle one day who sold-out the Comte during the most recent Revolution. This employee, Dumont was his name, had discovered some of the Comte's personal arrangements in the inevitable eventuality of his demise. At first it was a simple matter of morbid curiosity, nothing more, but then Dumont realized that he had learned something that was potentially very useful, very valuable to the right people.

Dumont sought out a group of radicals whom he learned were using the basement of the Tavern of Three Bells as a headquarters by bribing a Lutrin canal-scavenger with some loose shiny-bits. He went to the tavern down on the waterfront and eventually succeeded in making a connection with a member of the radicals. Luck was with Dumont and he wasn't killed outright and once he described his plan to the radicals they granted him an honorary commission on the spot. Within the hour the Asylum-Chateau was seized upon by the cadre of radicals who took advantage of the Comte's use of the criogenic apparatus by locking him inside his suspension chamber. They were also very careful to secure an open-ended injunction on behalf of the Comte to hold his will in abeyance as he was not dead. This injunction was acquired through under-handed means and the Compte's signatory acceptance was a fraud perpetrated by Dumont who abused his access as a trusted employee and his privileges as a member of the Comte's staff in order to impersonate the Comte.  So far no one outside the Asylum-Chateau knows about this heinous, fraudulent misrepresentation.  The Magistrates and the Courts would most likely take a very dim view of such a thing.  Those directly involved risked being remanded to the Spheres or Coventry-style exile at best.

In any case, it was a daring and audacious thing to attempt and they managed to pull it off.  So far.  The Revolution disrupted a great deal of the legal apparatus, as those sorts of events almost always do, and there are powerful vested interests that make it difficult and dangerous to peer too deeply into the old records as such activity could threaten various lucrative monopolies, heirloom policies, or established policies that were themselves founded on equally despicable fraudulent pretenses, outright lies, institutionalized corruption and left-over fragments of incomplete files from previous administrations that have since been manipulated and twisted to serve a wide variety of interests that would rather not have the truth come out, nor their machinations revealed.  Thus it is that lawyers and the like are often second only to scholars in their duelling acumen and twice as likely to be assassinated by their own peers.

By establishing themselves as the trustees to the Comte, Dumont and the radicals were able to hold off the Academy even though it had every right to inherit the Asylum-Chateau as stipulated in the Comte's will. But of course the Comte was not dead, only in suspension. So the very precise conditions set forth in the Comte's will did not apply.  Vicious and bloddy bouts of litigation were waged back and forth.  The radicals refused to surrender the Asylum-Chateau to the Academy and hired a gang of fellow-ideologue lawyers to bollix-up the works with endless, pointless appeals so that they could essentially operate from the place in perpetuity. During the utter lunacy taking place during the revolution, this was actually a tame and sensible undertaking. It was just a very good business opportunity, really.  Quite a few others were engaged in very similar pursuits.  In fact, it is estimated that more than two-thirds of the properties seized or redistributed in the last Revolution were directly the result of legal actions.

Whatever one might think of the radical's ideaology or political progam, the seizure of the Asylum-Chateau Diodati was a greatly inspired and devious scheme, unfortunately, most of the radicals who seized the Asylum-Chateau were later killed in the course of the Revolution. Dumont was never seen again shortly after his impersonation of the Comte on behalf of the radicals. He may have perished in the fire that destroyed the Three Bells shortly after his treacherous transaction took place. Those few radicals who had managed to survive the Revolution found themselves in the unenviable position of having to negotiate certain concessions with certain of the inmates of the Asylum-Chateau in order both preserve the precious sovereign-neutrality of the place and to register themselves as lawful occupants, or else they would have become victims to one or another of the Post-Revolutionary Guillotine-Cults or worse.

Little did the surviving radicals suspect that the inmates of the Asylum-Chateau Diodati had their own plans, designs and schemes regarding the place. But they did, in time, discover the depths of their miscalculations as the inmates played along with the radicals in forming a revolutionary council and various committees with important sounding titles. For a time the inmates willfully and vigorously took up the endless political debates and philosophical discussions until one night one of the inmates, a disgraced baron who'd lost his holdings on some distant wilderness world under odd circumstances, one Thecis Rathven formerly of Aegron, was appointed head of the main council, which automatically made him a legal trustee of the indisposed Comte, and Lord Protector of the Asylum-Chateau. It was a magnificent political victory. Within fifteen minutes of Baron Rathven being recognized as the legally registered Lord Protector of the Asylum-Chateau of Diodati, the remaining radicals were dead or incapacitated and slated for medical research amongst his fellow inmates.
The inmates had literally taken over the Asylum-Chateau and they had little use for the outside world when they had complete control over the private refuge-gates, therapeutic gardens and other facilities that the Comte Diodati had lovingly designed and the radicals had naively delivered into their wicked hands.


  1. That artwork is frigging gorgeous.

  2. Thank you both! We've had some severe thunderstorms here. Threw us off schedule a bit. But we're back...


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