Hi, Adrienne here!
As you may know, "Solveig", "Emerald Seas", and "Gods of Debauchery" are all concept albums with linked stories. Until now, these stories had only been told during livestreams and hinted at in interviews. After four years (for me, it's more like seven or eight), I'm really pleased to finally present a written text of our stories! And, in case you're like me and don't always have time to sit down and read something long, a friend of ours very kindly narrated them. You can listen below :)
There's a lot more to come, lore-wise -- like, really, a lot! So I'll keep updating this page as we go. But I wanted you to have this now, while the new album is still fresh in your ears :)
Hope you enjoy! Thanks for supporting us! <3
Original text by Adrienne Cowan
Revised and narrated by Matthew Mairis
Chapter 1 - Emerald Seas
In a fantastical universe, centuries ago, Solveig was born into a family in a small fishing town in the cold North. Father fished, and Mother took care of the market stall to make their living.
Solveig never spent much time with the other children, instead preferring the company of the näcken boy who laughed and played violin while she danced by the river in the woods by her house, and of the strange old woman at the edge of town - unfailingly kind, always giving Solveig sweets, and rumoured to be a witch.
When she was old enough, Solveig's Father taught her how to sail. He told her stories of the wider world, and all there was to see. He told her of the island in the East, at the edge of the world, where the Fountain of Youth runs - said to be guarded by an ancient beast called the Drowner of Worlds, who hunts hopeless sailors. He told her of the importance of keeping one's internal fire lit - always.
Not long before the strange old woman passed away, she blessed Solveig's boat - it would always take her to her heart's deepest desire provided her purpose remains clear. The boat is christened: The Great Divide
Solveig comes of age, and decides to leave home, searching first for the Island in the East to find the Fountain of Youth. With unending life, she would have all the time in the world to see every beautiful thing that her Father had described.
Passing years turn into a decade - collecting every clue, every scrap, every red herring. Trying to find the island, and fighting to keep the fire lit. Grown, and tired, she takes the Great Divide into port for a last stop before finally making the long journey to where she believes the Island's location to be.
At a dinner in a lively inn, she runs into her childhood friend, the näcken bard, playing for the customers. They spend the night, and it's the first time that either of them have felt truly alive in a long time.
In the morning, she asks him to join her voyage, but he turns her invitation down - he must chase his own dreams. Solveig sets sail once more, directing her newly revived energy towards finding the Fountain of Youth.
The Great Divide, however, sensing that her drive is no longer pure, begins sailing in circles - reflecting Solveig's lack of clarity and purpose. She feels like she'll never reach her destination, and after almost a decade of building weariness, all her hope fades away.
The Island's guardian, an ancient Kraken, rises to the surface, and Solveig knows instantly that this is the Drowner of Worlds from her father's stories. Tired, exhausted, she accepts her fate, and the kraken devours her whole, along with pieces of the Great Divide.
Solveig wakes in a stupor, deep in the belly of the beast. Her body is dying, poisoned by the Kraken's stomach acids. She begins to hallucinate: her parents, her love, and her last happy moments, knowing somehow that she'll never get to see them ever again. It's the only way she has left to say goodbye.
As she slips into darkness, the wreckage of the Great Divide senses that its captain is dying, and from deep within the Kraken's belly, it pushes toward the only thing that can save her now: The Fountain of Youth. The Kraken is beached on the island, and the stillness wakes Solveig one final time.
She summons the last of her strength to crawl out of the carcass onto the ivory beach, and collapses next to a little stream. A last drink of pure water, and a last glimpse of sunlight. Her quest finally complete, she can rest forever.
The water heals her body. Grants her immortality. Though she doesn't quite understand it yet, she becomes something else. Like a siren, for now, but as more of her humanity slips away, the more a terrible demonic form will show.
She swears to find her love again, somehow, though she can never leave the island.
Chapter 2 - Solveig
The souls of the deceased can go one of two ways into the afterlife: Up, or Down. They must be collected, and guided to their destination by the soulkeeper - a sort of guardian of lost souls between the worlds of the living and of the dead. There must always be a soul keeper, and Solveig inherited this duty upon the death of the Drowner of Worlds. Some might see it as a beautiful, noble duty. Others, a terrible curse.
Night fell over the Island, and though the stars moved with the seasons, daylight never shows itself again. Solveig cannot die, and she can never leave, save for walking along the ocean floor where she can experience the pain of drowning over and over again. The Island becomes a sort of purgatory for lost souls, existing physically in the same place, but in a different plane of reality. Here, time moves... differently.
With the Great Divide reconstructed using her new powers as Soulkeeper, Solveig roams the endless night sea, scooping up the souls of the lost from the waters and taking them to her island. There, she asks them about their life's unfinished business. Some lost love, some fought addiction, and most were broken toy versions of themselves in one way or another during their brief mortal lives. She gave them what she thought they needed to be happy. In return, they remained on the Island instead of going Up or Down. She fed off their happiness, since she never managed to achieve it during her own lifetime.
She calls the island The Cabaret of Dreams - where anything that can be dreamed can be made a reality. And Dream she and her lost souls did - endless debauchery, grand architecture, beautiful music, exquisite food, perfect lovers, anything imaginable, until the island was like an old city her Father had described to her: Overflowing with art, webbed with canals, built up with castles on cliffs that crumbled into the sea.
Eventually, a given soul would become desensitised to the joys of the Cabaret, and become a husk - sent skyward to add to the ever-present eerie glow that illuminated the city. But even with all the material pleasures that could ever be dreamed of, Solveig still grew weary. Lifetimes could have already passed, but she did not age. She only grew more demonic in appearance as her humanity dwindled away, and it became increasingly difficult to maintain the glamour of her siren-esque exterior.
One night, on her routine patrol, Solveig spies the soul of the Näcken boy, her love from life. He does not recognize her in her new form, and agrees like every soul before him to stay in the Cabaret of Dreams, having suffered a trying life. He wonders if he made the right choice, and he can never shake the strange feeling he gets from the lights far above the city.
He spends a lot of his time laying on the shores looking at the stars and the sea, trying to understand why he doesn’t feel at peace. Solveig sees this over and over, and tries to further convince him that the island is a wonderful place to be, and that she would take care of him. This only furthers his unease, so she tells him how she used to be human like him, how she wished for a long time that she could escape the island, but that there was no escape. How could one ever hope to escape from death?
He doesn't like this at all.
A storm is brewing offshore, and when Solveig finally leaves him alone, he builds a raft from scraps he finds on the beach, hoping to get away. He'll head in any direction at all, even if it means being torn to pieces by the storm and drowning. Although he makes it a fair distance, the storm destroys his raft, and he sinks - only to experience what Solveig did when she first arrived: the pain of drowning over and over again.
The pain provides a mentally clarifying light, and he knows for sure that he made the wrong choice to stay in the Cabaret, but now there seems to be no hope to ever leave.
Solveig scoops him from the water again on one of her patrols, apologising, remembering her past life, and pledging her final breath to him. He doesn't understand because he still doesn't recognise her from before - perhaps it has already been lifetimes for him at this point? It does seem to him, however, that she has a plan for him that doesn't involve staying in this decadent purgatory for the rest of eternity.
Having finally found the answer to her own unfinished business, Solveig has the strength to summon the sun and incinerates the Cabaret of Dreams, and everything she created, freeing all the souls to go where they were finally meant to go. She gives her remaining life force over to her love, wishing for him to have another chance at a happy life. Solveig and the Cabaret burn to ash, and the soul of the näcken boy is born into a new life.
Chapter 3 - Gods of Debauchery
There must always be a soulkeeper.
Since there was nobody to succeed Solveig, she was denied her true death and sent back to carry on her duties.
After so long ruling the Cabaret of Dreams, and searching for the Island before that, she just wants to rest, and she hates it. She doesn't know how much time has passed, but the world is different enough that she knows her home doesn't really exist any more, at least not as she remembers it. There truly is no going back to anything familiar any more.
Cast into the land of the living, she has a choice to make:
Protect the soul of her love, wherever they are, by staying as far away from them as possible - and be bound to her terrible soulkeeping duty forever.
Or make a serious effort to reclaim her humanity from the soulkeeper demon form that still dwells within her, thereby removing the dangerous part of herself and allowing the potential to one day find happiness and peace.
The former seems far less daunting, and so she charms herself a new ship and a skeleton crew to siphon energy from. In the Cabaret of Dreams, the siphoning meant happiness and soulful energy, but in the world of the living it's more akin to a form of actual vampirism. It's far from ideal, and Solveig knows it, but it's infinitely easier - and she knows she's good at it.
She falls back even further into her old ways, going from port to port, luring the lost living to her ship and feeding on them. There may even have been a short-lived attempt at an arrangement with one, where she enjoys the distraction of painful exchanges, promising eternal life in return. Of course, it doesn't last.
One night at sea, during an awful storm, Solveig is reminded by the howl of the wind of all the things she set out for when she left home, bright-eyed and full of hope. She realises that all of her weariness, allowing the demon within to consume her, falling back into her bad habits and shirking her duties all came from herself. She hates herself for it, and feels like she has almost no chance of ever finding peace any more. Knowing that she did it to herself, she wonders if she can ever shake off this demon and its duties, and somehow return to a more pure version of who she used to be.
Somewhere far away, the näcken boy, grown into a bard of respectable renown, performs songs about someone he doesn't know, only remembers that he lost them. Solveig experiences that same profound sickness, but knows its source all too well.
Solveig recognizes that it’s time to make a serious change, to not only reclaim her humanity but also accept her duties as soul-keeper, to shed the glamour of everything she became in the Cabaret and perhaps even have a chance at peace, even if it might be different than she had originally imagined. She wonders if anyone truly knew her, and wishes for guidance. The ghost of her father appears and wishes her well, sending her love from him and from Solveig’s mother.
Solveig wonders what she could possibly be with everything that she had been for lifetimes completely stripped away. Everything about her old life seems distant and unfamiliar, her memories a mess of childhood life and her demonic reign. As she tries desperately to make sense of them, to even unite the soul-keeping demon and child within as one, the gods above and below mock her, rejecting her, saying she will rot in the ocean forever and fail. It is only when she realizes her true desire — to protect and heal — is she able to unite the two forces within her and become a truly balanced soul-keeper, capable of achieving peace for herself.
With a little apprehension and a renewed sense of determination, a delicately balanced Solveig sails far in the direction her heart calls, towards the bard.
They finally meet, by chance at the inn where they last met lifetimes ago. A long-overdue heart-to-heart ensues, where Solveig explains much of what happened in their past lives, and he realizes that this is what he has been writing about all these years. There is a chance for them to be together — he would join her, she would resume her soul-keeping duties, he could live his dream as a bard and see the world, and become like her. They would be like gods amongst men. This time, he says yes, and she grants him eternal life.
Resolved in her duty, rejecting the ultimatum and mockery presented to her by the gods above and below, Solveig and the näcken go into their new life together. She accepts all that she is — balancing the powers of soul-keeping within a child’s heart. He becomes a formidable force in the arts, and they experience everything beautiful the world has to offer, together, for a long long time.
Every story must come to an end eventually - and after lifetimes of adventure together, it's entirely possible that Solveig is finally allowed to pass on her duties as Soulkeeper, and that she and the Bard get to live out their final, golden, mortal years together, before finally achieving a peaceful, restful, true death, one last time.