The following is the compliation of the Hunter's Reckoning Journal Entries, a blog series published between April 23rd and May 1st 2014. I compiled them together for easier reading.
I welcome reviews and/or a message!
335 II Age Day 1 of Contract: North Wockeal Woods
I have arrived at a small inn. After a few gold pieces and a friendly smile from the barmaid, I proceed upstairs and found the sleeping quarters quaint enough for a short stay. My contract states I must rid the area of what the haunting presence in the woods. I will attempt to learn more of this being. The barkeep came upstairs earlier offering me food and drink whenever I was ready. Perhaps I will accept her offer.
This place is dark. My candle lit on the nearby table offers a little warmth from the draft sweeping in from above through the rafters. It may snow soon. Enough of these matters, I think a good drink is a warming idea. I will attempt to gain more knowledge of my task.
Whispering cold within the night,
the howls of fate, lost to sight.
A solemn toast, unbeknownst,
for deeds done by curse not want.
I have further learned after a stout brew and morsels of bread and fruit, that the being of the woods appeared sometime after a traveler came into the inn. The odd accent and dress of this person was not at first strange to the inn keeper but it became obvious the person was different.
There were complaints from patrons of strange smells and sounds in the middle of the night and twice it was found that the woman traveler left the inn in a strange trance of sorts. It was soon after her third incident with dead animals being found near her room, she was asked to leave. It was then the haunting of the woods began.
A man there told me also that he believed her to be some kind of evil.
"Not worth the time to pursue unless you seek a quick death." The man then left, throwing his brown cloak over his head and slamming the door.
Not quite something such a man should say to a stranger such as myself..
He was strange.
I will go out tonight and attempt to observe what I’ve been told of “chanting” as well as red and blue fires floating through the air. According to what I have learned the haunting being is only known to emerge from the woods on the darkest cycle of the moon. I've gotten contrary reports of some saying it is an entity, dark and gloomy. It presence cold and overwhelming. Others insist that it is small, the size of a child, with a grotesque face and disfigured body. I have two nights until then. For now I will see what I may learn.
Nothing. I found nothing to hint of the haunting of this place. Every shadow that crept beneath the moon, every sound of chirping in the trees or rustling in the undergrowth could be explained. It seemed, at least tonight, all is well and in good order.... Except of course the buffoons of drunks that fell from the doorway of the inn as I made my way back. But, for a place of alcohol and stale bread, I would say this is normal. I will go tomorrow during the early light to see what else may be found.
335 II Age Day 2 of Contract: North Wockeal Woods
I have finished a morning survey of the area. Directly north of the inn I discovered a rocky grotto, old ruins of the ancient ones I presume. I know that both dwarves and elves inhabited these lands before so that is no surprise. Directly west of that a small pond with tiny sunfish is at the center of a half circle of giant Elm trees. I also noticed, as I circled further around the western part of the inn, a small garden where it seems the farmer has been having a bit of trouble with some gophers. (Or he just loves digging up his own Silverleaf Plants. Quite a shame, Silverleaf is a good way to stay warm during these increasingly cold nights.)
South of the inn, a road leading into the valley can be found. And to the east, sheer cliffs drop downwards towards the mountain pines and a river that flows off the face of the mountain. But to the Northeast, up a stone path and into a grouping of hills, there are burnt areas that I was not able to see in the pale moonlight of last night. It was a few paces past there I found bones of a rat that had been separated and placed in a line. The significance of this is yet to be seen. Tonight, that area will be the focus of my watch.
In a happening chance I met an elf earlier that passed about a bit of knowledge. He told me of his travels to the ruins nearby and his noting of scratches and disfigurement of statues that he admired when he was last in this region around two years ago. When I suggested the possibility of criminal activity or otherwise weathering of the stone. He was not convinced. He came this way with great haste due to a dream of a growing doom in these regions. He is the first of his kind that I was told are to be coming if the need arises. A likely ally perhaps. But my contract is mine alone. Any additional help will be judged appropriately and dealt with as needed.
The second night I noted an increased presence of fairies buzzing about the trees and a warming sensation in the air around the grouping of hills. My elf acquaintance from earlier today moved with a certain quickness about the ruins to the west. I expect his kind have their own ways of subterfuge and guile but his activity had me concerned. We certainly will not find the source of this haunting with him jumping about wildly.
335 II Age Day 3 Contract: North Wockeal Woods
I had a strange dream last night. There I was standing in the inn with a warm fire and a small helping of bread, when the door of the inn swung open. I reached for my knife and had only touched its hilt, when I was thrown against the wall. A blotch of darkness in the air, a mist of night as it were, held me against a wall. I then saw myself traveling out of the inn and being dragged up to the grouping of hills. Whatever was pulling me paused for a moment. I still was unable to see what dragged me away. Again as before, it continued, I was pulled further north to a cave in the mountain side. On the sheer stone, I saw markings, much like the markings near the ruins. I then awoke.
It should be obvious of my travels for the day. I have one more night until the dark moon rises. Perhaps this mystery will be solved.
I followed the path to the grouping of hills and then further up the mountain side with no success in finding the markings nor the cave I had so vividly seen in my dream.
Why were they not as I saw them? This question may be answered later. I also noticed an excessive amount of Silverleaf plant near the sheer stone, although, none of the plant was growing nearby.
I also spoke with the Elf again. Ralir Dunia is his name. Although it was unfortunate that I did not speak to him last night. He told me that while reciting and incantation of sorts near the ruins, he was overwhelmed with a presence of shadowy energy. He stated that a form appeared to him and began to taunt him. He began to attempt to use some gem of sorts to capture the entity but was unsuccessful.
I told him of my dream and he told me that old doorways of the Ancient ones would be marked with symbols of the night, but could only be witnessed on certain nights. He plans to come with me tonight.
What at first seemed uneventful, became all too eventful rather suddenly. Ralir and I, were just approaching the stone road to the grouping of hills, when a screech scream was heard in the trees. My blades were drawn and Ralir, brought forth a staff that grew with a blue glow as he held it above him. We were covered in a orange dome that looked as the flashing blades of lightning during a storm just before a volley of blue and red fire struck the dome that covered us.
The Elf spotted a creature of sorts running from the hills. We pursed the beast and noticed it to be no more than three feet tall with long arms and a stubby nose. It was holding a glowing stick and laughed a cruel laugh just before my sword bore into his throat, spilling his blood upon the ground.
It was then we heard screaming from the inn and we made our way back as fast as our feet would carry us. The Elf of course made it their first and was chanting something in his language above a young female that lay on the ground in the inn.
From what we were told by the Barkeep, the woman opened the door with a slam and then fell upon the floor shaking uncontrollably. Ralir is with her now and has said he has given her an herb to calm her and bring her out of the deep sleep she is in. I shall speak with her then.
335 II Age Day 4 Contract: North Wockeal Woods
I was awoke by Ralir Dunia this morning and was told to come downstairs with haste. The woman from last night, or perhaps more appropriately, girl, was now awake.
As I came downstairs, I immediately noticed the barkeep, nervous and shaking, holding a club and watching the female.
As she ate and drank rather panicky, looking back towards the door, she told us of her dealings with a man that promised her money in exchange for her reading a scroll she had been given at the site of the ruins. She stated that after doing this, a voice told her to approach the sheer mountain side and recite the last passage of the scroll. She said that after following the commands of the man, she was trapped and unable to control herself as she witnessed herself chanting and dancing about the woods night after night.
It was then she would black out, waking up with dead animals near her and blood all over her face. She said she had been at the inn for a short while but that she had been asked to leave. The voice in her head began again and she saw a visible blackness, surrounded by the bones of dead animals emerge from the woods and descend on the woods. She was trapped in a mountain cave for the last few days. She did not know how she got there but felt that it was the entity that controlled her at night. Two nights ago, she managed to get free of the cave by following an underground river.
She attempted to leave the area but began to feel extremely sick upon walking away from the woods. She managed to make it to the inn and then she woke up with Ralir above her.
For now, I have convinced the Barkeep to allow her to say. I assured her that she will have no more trouble from the girl. We are soon to leave for her to show us the cave.
After making our way down the mountain side and to the waterfall coming from the mountain, the woman, named Halyn, took us into the caves. It was the normal sights for a cave. Following through a narrow entry way with knee deep water rushing below us and out down the mountain, opened up to a larger room with a large pool in it. The Elf used his staff to light our way and we made it to some old stone steps that led up into the mountain.
Pass an entry way of stone that arched over our path and was guarded by two grotesque statues, we made it to a room lit by four fiery altars that stood in the corners. There were stone statues in the center of the room. The figures bore a resemblance to the creature that Ralir and I chased and killed the other night. We also noticed one of the statues was crumbled.
Halyn then showed us where she had been trapped. It was three sided prison cell of sorts with a large sheer wall on the far end. She explained that she was able to stay warm with Silverleaf and until she was able to figure out that the wall leading into the caves was a secret passage, she feared she was not going to be able to get out. She was not able to recall how she got the silverleaf in the cell.
I hear shouting downstairs in the inn.
It seems the man I spoke to when I first arrived did not approve of Halyn and the girl has now fled back into the woods. The man has also left and Ralir has pursued him. It is nearing dusk now and the night I have been seeking has come.
Hunter's blade and secret way,
path is followed, name forbade.
Seek it now, my humble one,
cast forth now what light does shun.
The time has came and passed. At last now, I have put down the cause of the haunting.
I proceeded this night into the woods and was in wait alone amongst the trees. I began to hear shouting in an ancient tongue and noted the voice of my friend, the Elf. I made my way towards the sounds and found him surrounded by the demons that him and I had faced before. There was a but a single parry of my blade that saved his life and he summoned a force within himself casting a wave of light towards the beings of darkness. There was a blast of cold air and wisps’ of dust and stones; the demonic creatures formed into a single shadow and fled towards the sheer mountain side.
We pursued them and found the side of the mountain alight just as my dream had seen and a doorway that led into the caves where Halyn had been trapped. We found ourselves in the altar room where the strange man that had originally told me of the girl, and that she was, "not worth the time to pursue unless I sought a quick death."
There also was the girl, Halyn, whom was in a struggle with the man. My knife flew true, striking the man in the hand just as he slapped the woman to the ground.
Ralir Dunia, the Elf, was beside me as I moved in to further deal with the man. The man turned towards us and from him came a shroud of blackness in formed the many demons from before. My sword I drew, slicing the head of the nearest one and I heard a sound of rock shattering behind us. The statues of the beings in the center of the room were somehow connected to the demons before us. The Elf had a silver blade that he cut into the stony dark bodies of the demons.
The man was approaching the girl again, I noticed he was now garbed in a dark blue robe instead of the simple brown cloak I had seen him in before. He shouted to her of "failure" and his "plan". That he needed her just to unlock the chamber and work as a "puppet to the beasts" to reincarnate their forms. He boasted of his "power" he had gained now and that she would pay for giving his secret away.
I had locked my blade in the stony arm of the demon and it grew red as the demon held it. I shouted to Ralir, and with his staff shining with a bright light, he managed to force the demon holding my sword back. He then struck down two more beings with the resounding sound of rocks shattering; more statues crumbled.
I made my way from the demons and attempted to cut down the man who now held Halyn by the neck. He furled his robe and a bright blue fire flew from his right hand just missing my head. I heard a cry and watched as the Elf, dropping his staff, fell to his knees. The blue fire had struck him in his chest.
The Elf, in a last effort of will, held aloft his gem which he had told me of before. The remaining forms of shadowy demons become as smoke and swirled around the Elf. As he did this he shouted words that I did not understand and a ball of light erupted from his hand striking the remaining statues, shattering them. He then fell dead.
In the events I just wrote, Halyn was dropped and the man was on his knees screaming and holding his head. As I approached him, he attempted to summon the fire as before but was unable too. In a manic rush he attempted to assault me and I ended his life with a single strike.
335 II Age Day 5 Contract: North Wockeal Woods
I have just spoke with a small group of Elves and recounted of the fall of Ralir Dunia. It was a solemn encounter. Made more saddening by the falling of snow that had already blanketed the mountain side by the time we emerged from the caves.
Halyn has departed. With her she holds a guilt and sadness I fear she may not escape for a long while. I guess that is the end for such tidings as were her's.
I have been given the jewel that Ralir had used to bind the demons before destroying their statues in the caves. After turning the clear jewel in my hands a few times, I noticed that its silver backing bares a description that I am told offers protection to its wielder. At least, that is what the Elves told me that bid I keep it.
Given the fate of its last owner, I have mind to leave it here.
I am departing the inn. With the thanks of the barkeep and a few patrons that saw me come and go. The woods seem more peaceful now. With me, I carry more sadness away but that of course, shall not be known except to those who read this.
Seeking solitude beneath stars that gleam,
whispering wonders and of what they mean.
In this, I write, the words you read,
and somehow still search, ever in need.
(This has now been transformed to a first person short story and will be available in spring 2015! Head over and join my mailing list to be the first to know!)
Join the J.T. Williams mailing list to be notified of new releases and other news!