Savannah, Georgia. The name conjures images of vacationers, a bustling port city, and stately remnants of an era long since past. While pirates and privateers once called it home, “magical” and “mysterious” are no longer words that are readily associated with the city. However, near the Savannah River in the old part of town, there lies a secret, a haven, hidden in the darkness of plain sight. Surrounded by lush, luxuriant hedges, Florist Primaeval is a verdant island within the concrete confines of the city.
Florist Primaeval Edit
Surrounded on all sides by thick and well-maintained hedges (which conceal a sturdy chainlink fence), very little of the glen is visible from the street. Only the tops of large oaks, draped with wisteria and Spanish moss, hint at what might lie within. The street entrance is a gate of wrought iron, with the name, Florist Primeaeval, etched into the scrollwork. If one peers through the gates, as scarce a casual passerby is wont to do, no structures are immediately visible. Rather, one is struck by the seemingly patternless abundance of flora. The drive curves to the right, as if to avoid the flowering weeping willow. A particularly astute observer might notice, barely visible between the branches of the willow, a small building, almost a cottage, deep within.
For whatever reason, it seems that visitors and customers rarely, if ever, enter the gates. Should a first-time visitor wander under the iron arch, their senses would be assaulted by the sheer bounty within. Flowers and blooms of every color, plants of every shade of green natural to that part of the world, and tall oaks that cast their cool, inviting shadows fill the vision. A mélange of scents, from the moist, loamy smell of a mossy bank, to the heady perfume of a thousand blossoms, threaten to overwhelm the visitor. The soft susurration of water, the gentle rustling of countless trees and shrubs, the chattering of squirrels, and the muted sounds of birdcalls all combine to form a natural symphony, the meaning of which lies just beyond the reach of the conscious mind. The sense of leaving Savannah behind is surprising in its completeness, and more than a bit discomfiting to some.
Once the visitor’s senses have recovered, details begin to filter in. A testament to design, one cannot escape the impression that the grounds are much larger within than without. Directly ahead is the weeping willow, forcing the road to bear right. The mossy base of the tree practically begs for one to sit and forget one’s troubles. A small pond dominates the center of vision, surrounded by narcissus and lilies. It is fed by a quietly babbling brook which must be artificial, though it appears more natural than any other an observer can readily recall. To the left, a small hill rises; at its crest stands a majestic oak, which spreads its limbs and shade almost protectively over a small group of rose bushes. The roses themselves grow into hedges on this side of the fence, the boundary between the world outside and the serenity within. To the right, the drive gently meanders around small hillocks, dotted with clover and heather, until it comes to rest before a rather small and oddly fitting cottage.
This is the central office of Florist Primaeval, as well as the home of Douglas Biggins, its main caretaker. The interior is neat and simple, and it seems almost plain after the excess that surrounds it. The front room, which takes up nearly half of the cottage, is a spacious reception, though for all appearances it has been some time since it has seen very many costumers. To the back is a small kitchen, a spartan bedroom, and a small bath. A stone porch frames the rear of the cottage, and faces a gabled, ivy-cloaked, two-story house, which stands surrounded by violets, daffodils, and white roses.
This is the home of Lady Una Laurence, built for her by her adoring mortal husband Arthur. Inside, it is spacious and airy, with tall ceilings and carefully placed windows, allowing for both maximum light and a broad view of the surrounding flora. The furniture and decorations reflect Una Laurence’s fae aesthetic: antiques chosen for appearance and comfort as opposed to price and value; Romantic, impressionistic portraits and landscapes; and in every room some type of plant life. The delicate scent of seasonal flowers fills the house, the individual fragrance varying from room to room. Members of the household dwell on the first floor; the second is reserved for Lady Una and the memory of Arthur. From the cupola window of the master bedroom, the entirety of the latter portion of the garden is visible. A small drying shed adjoins the back of the house, forming the western border of an herb garden. Further west lies an unfinished hedge maze. Only the perimeter and the southern portion have been planted, though there are some signs (markers, stakes, and tools) that its completion is underway. A diminutive gazebo sits atop a slightly elevated hillock to the east; the surrounding foliage has been planted and trimmed in such a way as to ensure that the site is illuminated by the first rays of the sun.
North, a peculiar, glass-roofed stone building fills the small hollow between a circle of hills crowned by oaks. It seems unlikely that a casual observer would notice anything unusual here; the oaken canopy provides year-round camouflage, mistletoe filling the spaces left by autumn’s passing. The short hills themselves cradle the structure, making it all but invisible. A dedicated searcher, or someone who knows what they are looking for, would find a narrow path to the west that weaves between the living columns, opening before a heavy, dark wooden door. An ornate yet functional brass lock secures it from the casually curious, and inlaid on its panels is an intricate design of stylized orchids. This id the door to the orchid house. Within, the air lies hot and heavy, and clings moistly to the skin. Movement is somewhat akin to swimming; languor seems inescapable here. The plants themselves are in various stages of bloom. Flowers of every color, even the rare black orchid, have been planted in abundance, and apparently at random; the effect is oddly pleasing, though perhaps also somewhat distracting. It is as if a pattern exists that cannot be immediately discerned. Toward the back, behind the miniature palm stand, is a large earthen kiln; the fire within is clearly visible. Judging from the inconspicuous pipes that extend out from it, as well as the increasing temperature as one approaches that corner of the room, it is fair to assume that this is the heat source for the tropical microcosm.
To Kithain, everything about Florist Primaeval is vibrant and alive. Colors are hyperreal, and individual scents can be distinguished from the perfumed air. In contrast to the discomfort and uneasiness that mortals feel, the Kithain experience an immediate sense of belonging. This feeling grows stronger the greater a character’s Remembrance rating; the garden reflects bits and pieces of Arcadia, and can instill a feeling of nostalgia in even the most hardened Kithain hearts. Everything begs, demands to be experienced.
Aimless wandering will eventually lead to the orchid house; anyone with sufficiently high Kenning will feel the invisible tug of Glamour from that direction, though it permeates the entire area. Within the orchid house, sensation is all the more vivid. The warm, heavy air seems to embrace the faerie, offering succor from the cold chill of the banal world. The warm glow of the balefire flows from the earthen kiln and casts long shadows that seem almost alive. Here there is safety. Glamour is abundant, and though capricious, is tinged with a touch of sadness and bittersweet yearning.
History EditThe grounds and structures of Florist Primaeval were largely shaped by mortal hands. Arthur Laurence began to build this home as a tribute to his beloved wife; later, it became his singular obsession. The tragic history of this freehold parallels the equally unfortunate life of its Lady, Una Laurence.
In the springtime of their love, Arthur began to make the dreams of his adored Una reality. As a testament of his love and appreciation, he built her a home he believed she would cherish, inspired by her own vision. The two-story house was an unqualified success, a fragment of Arcadia made real. Una was greatly touched, and he was unabashedly pleased to bring her such happiness. Unfortunately, Arthur was blind to the pain she suffered at this physical reminder of all that was lost. Despite their abundant pleasure in one another, the seeds of despair and estrangement were born, and over time took root in fertile ground.
Though their love was true, the duality of Una’s life slowly became an ineffable chasm between them. Upon every occasion that she determined to confide in Arthur, a dark capricious mood would come over her, and she would remain silent. It seemed as if Arthur knew that something was wrong. In an attempt to remedy the growing silence within Una, he began to transform their home into a garden that reflected all of his skill and vision. To his credit, he succeeded admirably, yet each new success only caused Una more sadness. Her home came to remind her all the more of her beloved and lost Arcadia, and she spent many hours in solitary, wandering contemplation. She appreciated the effort Arthur was making, and loved him all the more for it, but it only caused the distance between them to grow ever greater.
Thinking that perhaps Banality was creeping in upon her, she made her only request of Count Morrig, the ruling noble of Savannah and its environs; she asked that he allow her to establish a freehold on her property. To the surprise of many, he agreed. Una cloaked this project from her unaware husband with a subtle deception. She cultivated an interest in orchids, knowing that such delicate and temperamental plants were beyond his expertise. Arthur encouraged this diversion, silently hoping that it would fulfil whatever mysterious needs were consuming her. When she secured her own contractors and builders (artisans in the employ of the count), he readily agreed. Una spent a great deal of time in the orchid house, and for a while it seemed to heal her. Sadly, as she spent more and more time there, away from Arthur, the distance between them began to grow.
Miscommunication, fed by Una’s perverse silence, provided fertile sustenance for their growing dissatisfaction. Arthur became like a man possessed; he contracted much of his remaining work out to grateful competitors, and devoted increasingly more time to the transformation of their home. His work was more brilliant than ever, but he could not see it. His only concern, indeed, his obsession, was to create an environment that would return his beloved wife to her once smiling and happy self. Concerned that her husband was overworking himself, Una began to select retainers who were willing to work alongside Arthur and never reveal their fae nature. The first and most stalwart of these was a troll wilder named Douglas Biggins. Douglas took on the few remaining commercial obligations, leaving more time for Arthur to work on the garden. Completing the garden seemed to be Arthur’s only concern, and he worked feverishly. One morning Douglas found the remains of this once vibrant but now shattered man hanging by a length of rope from an oaken branch, he feet tapping the door of the orchid house. Arthur was laid to rest at the base of the weeping willow, so that he might see all who enter or leave his treasured garden.
The hedge maze, the only unfinished section of the garden, is forbidden to all save Una. She sometimes wanders there late at night; always she is quietly despondent when she returns. Some have reported having heard her speak, as if to another, during these walks; Douglas’ stony countenance, however, put an end to such gossip quickly enough. Twyla swears that she has seen a misty, indistinct figure prowling the garden late at night, but most attribute this to a pooka prank. Both Douglas and Garett have made it clear that such talk is tantamount to insulting Una, and unwelcome in their presence.
Due to Douglas’ silent diligence, Florist Primaeval has retained its few customers, and they are willing to pay handsomely for the unique style of gardening it offers. Una insists that laborers be hired according to need and willingness to work, though the majority of their duties are maintenance. Even customers seem reluctant to enter the garden; most place orders by phone. It is rare that a human passes through the wrought-iron gates.
The Household Edit
Not all of the residents are permanent members of the household. Florist Primaeval has recently been opened to visitors, mostly due to the influence of Twyla and Douglas, and it is possible to encounter any of the fae inhabitants of Savannah on the nursery’s grounds.