Ghost Story

Diary of Dust (a work in progress)

Time passes, without mercy

The heartless flow of time

(from ‘Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju’ anime, 2016)

In a distant forest there is an arboretum situated among a dense, woody area with the sole intention of remaining unnoticed. Its skylight and windows reflect the branches and leaves, creating a camouflage effect so the structure becomes almost unnoticeable unless you know exactly where to look.

The forest was named Dust, named such a long time ago; for a dead friend, gone but not forgotten, and it houses a myriad of different creatures living amongst the trees and burrows. Hidden from the human world they prosper, each living their lives unnoticed by the world outside the forest borders. Their woodland home is a magical place, unpolluted, and has a natural energy and beauty of old. From its lush new growth in spring, to its protective canopy in summer; to the bright transforming vibrancy of Autumn, and the skeletal, sleeping hush of winter, the forest wraps itself around the clearing, quietly keeping watch on the shifting seasons and the stories that unfold.

Under that far-reaching canopy of the forest lives Fileas Grey, a man from the past but living in the present – a man old in terms of years and yet he is a young man, or at least has the appearance of one. He wears his grandfather’s coat to remember him by and to keep warm, but he really loves steampunk fashion and is quite the collector of fine hats and sturdy boots.

The rumour going around that he brought back two friends from the grave is in fact true. They call him the Funeral Pyrate because of this. He will not bring his Grandfather back – he says it is because he cannot return the coat as he replaced the original fur collar with a fake/faux fur copy and gave the real fur collar a decent burial – but this is definitely not the only reason.

His oldest friends Niklaus and Enid (brought back using the Resurrection Spell), and Vampyre Ku and Bartholomew Grim who both live in Dust most of the time. I say most of the time because Grim is often seen beyond the border, no doubt shopping for sweets and causing no manner of trouble in the “5 Items Only” aisle. Most of the forest creatures prefer to stay in the shelter of the forest because some of them are hybrids, combined with animals and insects. They could not survive without the protective canopy and winding corridors of the leafy thickets, and they prefer to stay away from the modern chaos that has grown up around it.

It is not known exactly when Fileas Grey was born, he looks are that of a 25-30 year old but he actually dates back by centuries so to say he is around 500 years old would be strangely accurate. He is a very tall man, slim but muscular, with messy, long mousey hair dyed red at the ends.  His eyes are a vivid green, deep and sloping, soft but intense, shadowed underneath from wakeful nights reading and working on his old journal. He is Viking pale. A quiet methodical man, caring and brave and mean and mischievous. He likes to take his time and he likes his friends. His one fear is to be utterly alone and yet he prefers solitude. Crowds make him angry – overbearing people make him angry – being expected to be polite about it makes him angry. Many a fist fight has been won or lost over this one thing. He dearly wishes only to be left to his books and his greenery. His green fingers would be that of legend if he ever cared to brag about it. His woodland abode really is an arboretum. A greenhouse evolved into a shared living space with just him and his plants. It really is quite beautiful. Through crystal class windows leafy reflections are made from both sides offering a sense of pure green eternity, or an orange red fiery glow, or a silver eternal frost. The silence is pure white – hushed. It whispers. Only replaced when rain falls and then the silence sparkles, refreshing the leafy canopies and awaking the still forest back to life.

Fileas Grey writes his journal from an old writing bureau in a quiet corner of the arboretum. The desk has slowly been swallowed by gnarled, fruitful branches which wrap themselves around its nooks, corners laden with pollen dust and leaf litter. These dark crannies have accepted their usurper and the wooden bureau seems more than willing to return to its more natural state, as if blending back into the woody walls, mirrored in the windows which reflect back the leaves and flowers for those looking out as well as in. At this bureau, Fileas Grey mostly writes about his family of friends.

It’s a well-known fact among those who know him that Grey treasures his personal space above all things but for such a loner he has a number of people and creatures in his life who are happy to call him their friend. From the West woods to the Clearing, from Wicked Wood to the River Dust – many have travelled miles to consult Fileas Grey on all kinds of matters because he is somewhat of a mage. Or at least an apothecary. His lowly green fingered reputation grew only by word of mouth – never ever mentioned by himself as it really is too much of a bother dealing with it. But, if asked he will answer and as such his presence has had a rather positive impact on Dust dwellers and beyond.

Grey fondly answers a memory from a long time past, breathing life into a distant echo about a chance meeting, and knows that those times from yesterday are really not that different from today, like the unchanging yet everchanging rustle from the canopies and shrubberies, and the fractured light that spills into his room.

His thoughts steer towards Vampire Ku, and Grey repeatedly finds himself in awe at this vampire who doesn’t vampire. Ku is an enigma. His first meeting with Ku was a confusing misunderstanding and always makes Grey smile a secret smile whenever he recalls that day. Ku had introduced himself with enthusiasm and had spent a large amount of time and energy reporting what a typical vampire was meant to be – and then immediately declared he was none of those things. Not at all! Now, Grey wasn’t that clued up on what a vampire was even supposed to be like, so this immediately irritated him due to timewasting and useless fabrications and he had been ready to fight Ku on it. Ku of course assumed it was because Grey thought he was an unworthy monster and as a result, there was a somewhat heated discussion and some roughhousing which ended in some rather ruffled hair and dusty clothes. Both a pair of peacocks, though they would never care to admit it, they both backed off to dust off their fine coats, thus finding some excellent common ground, and since then they’ve been friends for the longest of times.   

It would seem some friendships are often born from a misunderstanding and as he looked over his cosy home and its whispering foliage his thoughts wondered over to another friend, the Little Witch, Flora.

Grey had extremely good hearing and had felt somewhat plagued by the scratching noises in his arboretum which he could only assume to be a rat. This in fact turned out to be the Little Witch, Flora. Suffering from a Thumbelina complex, Flora was rather shy, and a rather small person, with a rather large thing for magic. She also had a knack for other kinds of illusions and used foreshortening in any photography – standing as if looming over the cat that lived in the arboretum – tricking the senses and making it seem as if she were bigger than the cat and not the size of its paw.

Next steps

Locations – design map/layouts for Dust Forest and West Wood

Character design continued…

Design for Flora, Niklaus and Enid

Introduce Bartholomew Grim

In memory of my friend, Devotchka Dust.