Faintly Macabre—or Aunt Faintly, as she encourages Milo to call her—has been cast into a dungeon. This is her punishment for causing an almighty collapse in the Word Market. In her official position as Official Which, Faintly tried very hard—too hard, as it turned out—to make sure that people used the correct word for the correct situation. Over time, however, she encouraged the use of fewer and fewer words until, eventually, everyone stopped talking. When her great-nephew the king found out about this, he was furious, and so confined her to a dungeon.
In Dictionopolis, in the world outside the dungeon walls, people have now gone to the other extreme of using too many words. Faintly Macabre, however, is not allowed to have any words, given the absolute mayhem she caused when she was the Official Which. All she has left is a box of sugar-coated punctuation marks.