In the town of Kaladon there lived a sculptor renowned throughout the land for the beauty of his statues. Vergan, for as he was known, made statues of dogs, lions, owls, fish, and bears that were used to decorate all the great buildings of the nation. Vergan was rightly proud of his work, and the crown prince himself had come to thank him for his services on more than one occasion. He believed in excellence above all else and worked long hours perfecting his skills.
However, the sculptor was now old and had no wife, and the loneliness of his days weighed heavily upon him. In the basement of his home he had built a large underground workshop where he put all his passion into a statue of a woman. The proportions and features of this woman were perfect in every way. The stone woman was young, fit, and sublimely beautiful. There was no living woman as outstanding as this statue which he kept hidden away from the eyes of the locals.
Vergan was feeling deeply sad one day as he gazed upon his work, and so he prayed to the god Archen.
“Lord Archen, god of excellence, your servant Vergan has laboured hard in your name to create works of beauty, come here now to gaze upon the most wonderful work of art that I have ever created!” Continue reading “The Marble Beauty”
The village of Imbrick was perched far on the northern shore. The forest to the south of the village was so thick that from above it looked as though the village was being engulfed and eaten by a giant dark green slug. The forest was infested with packs of wolves and so the locals rarely ventured down the road through the forest, and instead they traded with the odd fishing boat that passed by. The villagers were often out of touch with developments in the towns and cities far to the south and so it caused great excitement when each year a priest would visit the village to bless and preach to the villagers and give them news of the events affecting the rest of the nation.
One evening a strange man cloaked in the tattered robes of a cleric stumbled into the village. His flesh had been scratched and ripped so the villagers took him in and tended to his wounds. The strange man pretended to be asleep while the villagers around him discussed who he could be. The blacksmith argued that because of his robes he must be the priest who came to visit them each year. The milk maid pointed to the torn garments and proclaimed that they were too small to be a man’s. The village was divided and did not know which to believe. The strange man hearing this awoke the next day and introduced himself to the villagers as the replacement priest sent to visit them each year about this time. He said that he had been attacked by a wolf and most of his robes torn away from him. Continue reading “The Fool of Imbrick”
“What did you tell her, sir?”
“That I might need to murder Otto if he should ever return here,” said Randall flatly.
“Sir Randall, that was most improper of you to say. Even though it may well be true the girl is young and easily frightened by such ideas.”
Randall smiled and looked at Klara warmly. He motioned for her to sit on the stool Ennlin had just vacated.
“Well said, lady Klara, I heed your wisdom and will watch my tongue around such tender minded girls in the future.”
“You do me too much honour, sir; I am merely serving you faithfully.”
“No, you are being honest and speaking your true mind. That is the mark of a lady, and I appreciate that.”
Klara bowed her head courteously.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Tell me what is the situation with the villagers?” Continue reading “The Horror of Humhyde – Part 6”
Otto shook his head dismissively. Randall fixed his attention on the big man.
“Do you have a problem with my plan, Otto?”
Otto cocked his head to the side smiling casually, then swinging it back about to face Randall his expression had transformed to one of abject fury.
“Yes, sir I have a problem, do you have any idea how much work we villagers have to do just to put food on our tables and to survive the winter? Yet you come here and cause a scare telling everyone about some unseen threat to them and demand we do as we are told. Heinrich here got lost in the woods because he believed your tales; there are no monsters out there. But yet you want a motte and bailey, well that’s just great, because I’m the woodsman here and you basically want me working all day every day to get the timber for such a work. Will I get any payment for it? Will I get any thanks? What about these other folk? They have more important work to do. Why should we do what you want us to do?”
Randall maintained a steely gaze at Otto throughout this entire outburst. He looked on as though completely unaffected by the torrent of extreme emotion that had just been poured forth. Continue reading “The Horror of Humhyde – Part 5”
The creature stopped by the torch and at first looked like it was pulling something out of her eye. Then Heinrich realised the creature was actually tugging at one of her eye balls. She tugged and until she ripped out one of the pig eyes and threw the putrid seeing organ onto the ground. Then reaching down she picked up a small case at the base of the torch stand. Inside this case was a dozen disembodied eyeballs. The creature selected one and proceeded to jam it into the empty eye socket. Heinrich watched the creature adjust the eyeball by rotating it into position with both hands. Once the creature was satisfied with her new eye she picked up the container and the torch, and plodded off into the forest.
Heinrich watched the light slowly grow dim and then disappear into the abyss of tree trunks. Buried in the blackness of the forest he wrapped himself up tightly in his cloak. He caught himself murmuring prayers and had to cover his mouth for fear that the other creatures might be lurking in the forest nearby. He eventually decided against moving and thought better to wait until sunrise. Continue reading “The Horror of Humhyde – Part 4”
“It’s hard for me to say. They might have been stolen weeks ago, or immediately after they were put into storage. Considering how much is missing, it was probably over several weeks and several raids in the night. While we keep a careful stock on the meat, we don’t often check the other goods in that shed. Rather we did not notice until we were taking an inventory in preparation for the harvest, sir.”
“It is possible, but as yet I no idea how they managed to do it, sir.”
“And what are your guards men armed with?”
“Farming equipment, clubs, and a few axes, sir.”
“No armour, sir.”
Randall took a moment to consider all this.
“If I needed a band of fighting men, how many could you muster?”
“Sixteen fit young men, and maybe another twenty older men still able in body enough to fight, sir.” Continue reading “The Horror of Humhyde – Part 3”
In the centre of Humhyde, Heinrich and Otto were discussing the village’s troubles.
“I don’t know how or even when this happened, but nearly all our supplies of pig fat and offal have been taken,” exclaimed Heinrich.
“What? Did they steal our meat too?” asked Otto.
Heinrich shook his head, “No. That’s the thing. The bacon and the hams were stored in the same shed, yet they didn’t touch any of that. They only took the fat and the offal. They took it from the vats, and then resealed them so no one would notice.”
Otto laughed, “Someone must be playing a joke on us. What kind of thief breaks in and goes to that much trouble to steal pig fat?”
“It’s not funny. The offal doesn’t matter, it was going to be used as fertiliser, but we needed that pig fat to preserve our food supplies for the winter. We might not have enough to store enough food properly this year. We might have to ration this winter out.”
Otto frowned and placed a hand over his belly. He was a woodsman and like most woodsmen he was a tower of a man. Easily the tallest and strongest in the village as his job required him to cut down trees and haul the logs by hand through the forest. The forest was not a safe place for most people; only big men like Otto could work in the forest with some degree of security. Only a fool starts a fight with a giant. However, the problem with being so big and strong like Otto was that he needed to eat more than most men and no one suffered more from rations than men like Otto. Continue reading “The Horror of Humhyde – Part 2”
Not a breath of wind touched the brush. The leaves, the branches, the twigs, were united in stillness. Silence was weaved into the black forest like the morning fog. The only sunshine peered in from a road that cut through the trees like a long narrow gash in the woodland. Between the bows the sunlight bled into the darkness and was eventually consumed completely; some two dozen yards therein. On either side of the dirt road the trees stood as though two armies of colossal wooden soldiers were hunched over and facing off from each other. Smaller shrubs and bushes clawed at the edges of the road with their gnarles roots. Slowly the brush was consuming the road and healing the gash in the forest.
From somewhere out of the shadows of the forest crept a man covered in mud and a ragged cloth with twigs poking out of it. In one hand he held an axe, in the other a large circular scythe. He looked first up the road and then down the road. He listened patiently for a while. When satisfied that he was alone he gently placed his axe on the ground and started hacking off the smaller branches of the brush. He worked with speed and skill, but incredibly making hardly any sound. Within half an hour the brush was retreating from the edges of the road and it looked as though the two armies of wooden giants were slowly moving apart from each other. Continue reading “The Horror of Humhyde – Part 1”