The Forest

The Forest is where our story starts, and, eventually, where it will end. The story of Averno began with the witch, Aster. After arriving with her daughter, Iris, she built a small cottage at the edge of the woods. A home, a place where they could escape their past. But Abraham Turner, an evangelical preacher from Richmond, made that impossible. He burned their cottage to the ground and murdered Iris. When he tried to come for Aster too, however, she felt something change in her. A rage, older than words can describe. She reached into the place beyond, ripped open the fabric between the worlds, and created a haven. The forest. A world between the worlds.


This original rage, original trauma, is what created Averno. Aster wanted a place where girls, women, queer people, different people, could find home. Could find community. Could find a chosen family and a place where they belong.

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The children of the forest have their own language that they use to communicate. It has its own alphabet, as well as a sign language that is used concurrently with the spoken language (sometimes you just don't want to talk in the forest). There is no direct translation of its name In English, but the closest equivalent would be Dreamspeak.


The first class of the Department of Dead Languages found Dreamspeak scrawled on the walls of the abandoned grain mill when they arrived. Over the course of the first semester, slowly but surely, the students began speaking It to each other. No one entirely understands how they know it, or how they learned it. Since then, Dreamspeak has echoed down the halls of the DDL as much as Latin or Greek.


*There is a school of thought that Dreamspeak is comprised of the ineffable quality of thought, dreams, whatever language the gods talk in, etc.

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