The bird is, as any investigator familiar with the Dreamlands will identify, a varchine. These are birds of prey unique to the Dreamlands. What is one doing in this picture?
The artist has evidently painted a picture of the Dreamlands. Such pictures can sometimes be used as gates through to the Lands themselves. Particularly skilled Dreamers can dream their way straight to the locality pictured.
It is possible that the artist has painted other scenes, other doorways direct to the world beyond sleep. It is also possible, if the artist was a powerful Dreamer, that she is still in the Dreamlands. Somewhere.
1 The picture leads to a mist covered island. Wandering through the mist eventually brings the Dreamers to a stone circle, the ‘second circle’ of the title. This is an exact replica of a megalithic stone circle which can be found somewhere in Europe. The area is a place where the realities between the two worlds mix, allowing passage at certain times.
2 The artist is quite mad and is kept in a Bavarian asylum. There she paints scenes from her dreams; gugs and ghasts, Ulthar and Celephais, and more. If the investigators track her down in the Dreamlands they find her lucid and sane.
3 The coastline belongs to a deserted island in the Southern Seas. It is a regular stop for the black galleys that trade with Dylath-Leen and Dreamers waiting there are in danger of being captured by the men that crew such vessels. The circle refers to what appears to be either a dormant volcano, or a meteor crater.
© Steve Hatherley