The Inspiration Behind “Miroir de Vaugnac.”
By Michael Fassbender
To a certain extent, I think I fell back on my experience with my D&D game as I was brainstorming this story. I liked the idea of a seer who acquires a powerful but malign device, and once I set upon that path, I approached it like the creation of a unique magical item in my game. My players know that I enjoy throwing nonstandard magical items at them, ones that not only have unique game effects but also possess a definite history, even if only a fraction of that history ever comes out in the game. I approached my thoughts in this story in the same space, and the result was a scrying bowl with a dangerous spirit attached to it.
I connected this bowl to the Languedoc region in France because of its history of separatism and religious nonconformity. I imagined that fifteenth-century sorcerers would have an easier time operating there.
It was only then that I created my seer, Beatrice. I gave her a family background in Wales to offer access to the rich folklore of that region, even if that proved in part to be a red herring in the story. I also provided her with troublesome family connections on her late husband’s side to prod her out of any danger of complacency.
The ending developed organically as I wrote the story, but I always knew that the ne’er-do-well brother-in-law was going to provoke Beatrice into a drastic response.
Michael Fassbender is a part-time writer in the Chicago area. His first literary love is supernatural horror: Poe and Lovecraft inspired him to begin writing in high school, but 2016 marked his first appearance in print media apart from a few college journals. His story “Inmate” appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, and “The Cold Girl” appeared in Hypnos Magazine. A number of non-fiction articles are now available on his website, and there is also a short story in the tradition of Poe on the fiction page.