The following information is derived from two highly controversial sources.
The first was an end-of-term paper entitled On the Origins and Descent of the Masters. It was written by a Benthic student, who claimed it was based on rubbings taken from a lost Second City inscription. Her paper (along with the rest of the class’s coursework) was seized by an Auditor from the Ministry of Public Decency. The Principal awarded each student a first, as is traditional when their work is seized by the Ministry.
The student responsible emigrated – abruptly – to the Iron Republic, but not before scratching a choice excerpt into the back of a toilet door with a compass. The passage was discovered by several students and circulated, before the Ministry returned and removed every toilet door in the college at the hinges.
The second source is A Rhyming Revelry a slim book of nonsense rhymes written by a once-celebrated cellist. He was, for a time, a favourite at Mr Wines’ revels. One rhyme concerns eleven pilgrims who travelled from a cold and windy waste. It enumerates each of the reasons the pilgrims were unwelcome in their homeland.
The book is impossible to find these days, but it is said the Jovial Contrarian has a copy, and enjoys quoting it at more libertine events.
By combining these sources, and indulging in a certain amount of speculative recreation, we can suppose the following:
Firstly, that the Masters’ kind are denizens of the High Wilderness. Their hunting-grounds lie in the dark span between the stars. Occasionally, some instinct draws them together to boast of their recent bargains, trade secrets, and battle to establish primacy. Their chiefs are victorious, merciless pedlar-magnates.
Secondly, that the Masters were not Masters in the High Wilderness. Indeed, they accepted the position as emissaries of the Bazaar in order to escape misfortune, failure, and fruitlessness.
Thirdly, we have an inkling about the reasons for their ignoble conditions, although no indication which applies to which Master. The circumstances given in A Rhyming Revelry are:
- impersonation, and the delivery of false testimony
- perpetration of the crimes of knife and of candle
- idleness, and the dwelling-on of dreams
- runtery, aberration,
- pursuit of a Treachery
- failure and defeat; a fall from king to beggar
- glass-whispering. And worse: charity
- violation of the Order of Days, “which determines the hour of the hunt, the feast, the council, the bargain, and the slaughter”
This information was released after the community unlocked a social goal in the Sunless Skies Kickstarter. Many thanks to the 77 people who collaborated worldwide to dress as the Masters and to the delicious friends who submitted photographic evidence.