Friday, May 30, 2008

Chapter 3 'The Curse of Slapershaven'

15th Septemus. 1622

After having travelled up river for many dats on the trade ship of Albinus Moonshank, Misteline and his companions arrive in the evening of the 15th. As the sky darkens, the distant village is barely visible, first it appears as mere pillars of wood smoke rising above the mist, then as a dark shadow coalescing into a clutter of buildings perched on a rocky prominence.

It takes roughly thirty minutes to pull up to the anchorage and bring the trader into its accustomed mooring and during that time the watching children pass the word to the rest of the villagers that several well dressed strangers have arrived. Half a dozen adults gather to watch including one in armour, holding a spear and shield and another, broad of body and bearded, wearing a long flowing cloak of vermillion clasped with gold. A third figure, dour and unsmiling stands alone in the long crude robes of a monk.

Albinus identifies the first two as Reynold Klompenhouwer the watchman and Herluf Brethouwer, the village headman. He is not sure about the monk, but can tell that he brought him up river some seven weeks hence.

Herluf Brethouwer invites Misteline and his companions to stay at his house. The monk, recognizes Misteline almost at once and introduces himself as Brother Jeppo from Takshendal, an old distant aquaintance of Misteline.

The rest of the village clutters about the trading ship and the group is invited into the inn for a drink of Scrape, the local drink. Samuel Vallance can clearly be heard screaming hoarsely from his room above the inn taproom.

Darkness falls over the lake early and the chill air comes up from the water. Albinus Moonshank ha also been invited into the Headman’s house and here the tale is told about the curse.

Up in the mountains there is a secret place; a place of rocks and moss where water falls from above into a silent pool. This was once the home of a lonely creature, called Clod to some, Sumpter to others. The creature was as a man but it was not a man. It had a face and stood upright on wracked and bent legs and would howl at the moon of a night, chasing wild animals for to gnaw on their flesh.

When men first came to the Slapersmeer, they fought Clod several times for it ate their sheep and slaughtered their fowl. Finally, on a dark night, Clod entered a farmstead and killed all within. When the farmer came to his house and found his family dead, he swore revenge and sought out Clod in the mountains and slew it with his axe. He cut off the creatures head, but its blood spilled on his hand and in the days that followed his hand withered and fell off. The farmer was called Jorik and he died twelve days later. His kinsmen buried him in a cairn that has ever since been called the Clodsbantor.

Then, men left these lands in the great winter years of 1398 and 1411. When they returned they expected to find the cairn again, but the strange thing is, no one can find the Clodsbantor any more. The old ones say, Clod’s kin folk came down from the mountains to find him. They dug up Jorik’s bones and took his soul up into the dark lands for ever more..., something roams our lands and slays our sheep once again. The old women say Clod has returned and the farmers out in the wilds lock their homesteads tight and live in fear for their daughters. Brother Jeppo here is come from Takshendal to purge the land of this menace and in return we will build a temple to the creator though it taxes our meagre wealth to do so.

...this creature, seldom seen, is a pale figure, Slender and wasted. It screams of a night and can be heard often in these days. It seems to haunt Slapershaven, but so far we’ve not been able to track it down for it slips into the Slapersmeer and escapes. Truly, we are poor hunters though for our strength is sapped by fear. The ghost of Clod walks amongst us.


Palle "Nybyggeren" said...

Sounds like a job for our expert hunter and woodsman.

For our own purpose I think Samuel the Madman and the two outlaws are most likely to aid us locate the rock.
Samuel could have lost his sanity in contact with it and perhaps be Clod in some strange way, does spirits roam?

The Outlaws by necessity knows their range well or would be caught, they must also be alert for people hunting them, and might thus have seen people venturing into the countryside to get Black Rock. They themselves must get supplies like needles etc from somewhere and thus have local contacts that can lead us to them. And yet again Drake can prove that he is more than Misteline's prettyboy (I wonder why they hang out together, Drake does not seem skilled in The Arts of an artist and thus not an apprentice). Anyway, this sh*tehole is Drake's department, fetch me if anyone that needs serious fighting turns up...

Misteline said...

You are correct; the bandits know the terrain, and they have contact with at least some of the villagers.
However, these peasants will be very reluctant to confide in us.

I suggest that we approach the problem from several angles at once:

Some of us try to discover more about the village(rs), who has contacts outside, who knows thing, who will talk. I'll start with the good Brother Jeppo, as I already have contact with him, he knows the area (he has been here for years), and he has some learning.

Some of us (I'm thinking of Drake here, though not alone) wanders around in the wilderness. Obviously friendly contact with the bandits would be great.

I'm also interested in whoever supplies the fossils I'd guess peasant children, if there are no miners or builders, but it could be that when farmers clear their fields of stones they find more fossils than they can use. The Linschotens sell fossils to outsiders, but they will try to protect their sources.

There is also Clod. I'm always interested in unusual events, but in this case I am already looking for traces of the Black Rock; Psychosis, sadistic orgies, blisters, and psychological manipulation.
Clod strikes me as combining extreme deformity and psychosis.
Samuel is also mentally deranged and worth approaching (though I really doubt if we will get anything useful from him... but maybe his daughter).
So far there is no hint of perversion, cults or manipulation, but we may turn up something.

So we have to think a little about who should do what, and in which order. As I said, I'll start with the good Brother.

Misteline the Great

Palle "Nybyggeren" said...

I will gladly examine the daughter closer;-)