Gared the Blood Hunter: Ninth of Smokerise, 5307

The following is the story the Blood Hunter, Gared, told me about his encounter with a Great Old One. I have been unable to corroborate the account, although based on Gared’s demeanor I do not believe it to be a falsehood. – Author’s marginalia in the first copy of Beings of the Far Realm by Ademar Uledin; 9th of Smokerise, 5307

I was in Stonebay. Ever been? Quiet place, as far as port towns go. Hill dwarf out there named Bruin makes some damn fine mead – best I’ve had.

I went out there for a job. Finished it quick – just a ghost. Hauntings are easy. Checked the door of the temple, where they post notices and “Help Wanted”, all of that. One of these things was a scrap of paper that read, “Strange goings-on out in Helbert. Need someone to investigate. Will pay. Contact Elden Hornburr.”

Went and found Hornburr. Halfling, too loud. He said he went out to Helbert a month ago to visit his eighth cousin or something. Some new god had become popular out there; he’d never heard of it before. They called it the “Good Keeper.” Just about everybody had been swept up into the belief. They all said weird things like, “We are safe in the Good Keeper.” He claimed the villagers changed, too: more fish-like.

I don’t pay attention to the gods, myself. They go in and out of fashion with the seasons. New cult comes into town, big whoop. People being fish-like, though? Sounded like fey work to me. Always need money, anyway, so I took the job. Day’s travel to get out there. Stayed at the inn that night. Hornburr was right: folks were being weird. Always greeting me friendly with, “The Good Keeper hold you.” Definite fish look, too, with no lips and big eyes and some frills. Looks bad on a human and worse on a halfling, and there were plenty of those out there.

That night I snuck out of my room in the inn. Town was quiet. The main road was a mess from the rain, but I found a rough footpath leading east out of town that indicated a lot of recent traffic. Followed it down to the beach. Whole town was there, seemed like. They were all chanting to the water.

I’d never seen something like that before. Don’t care to ever again. It was enormous. The skin shone smooth and wet in the flashes of lightning. It must have had more than a dozen eyes, all black mounds like a spider’s eyes. It had no lips. Long fangs hung down like a portcullis in front of its cavernous maw as it snarled. It had arms, but I can’t say it had hands; they were more like an eagle’s talons. It wasn’t all the way out of the water, but there were tentacles rising from beneath it to poke at the air. A wave of nausea struck me as I looked at it.

I know a bad situation when I see one. There was a green glow down beneath the waves. Creepy. I took out my falchion, ran down to the beach screaming my head off. My blood curses kept back those who tried to tackle me. Lot of them, though, and I didn’t care to stand around long. Headed for the only person wearing any sort of robe thing. Had to be the man in charge, if they were wearing a robe – killed him. Whole crowd had erupted in chaos by then, running away or running toward me. Monster must have gone back from whence they summoned it.

I’m not a squeamish man, wizard. I’ve killed in my time, and not always for a good reason outside of gold coins in my hand. But I’m not proud of what I had to do that night. From the sound of it, I won a victory keeping that thing out of the world. Doesn’t help make the nightmares go away.

I can guess why you’re asking me about all of this. Tracked me down through Hornburr, right? Smart. But you need to walk away. What I saw that night, this “Good Keeper”, it’s not something anyone should be making an attempt to record. Not stories, not accounts, not a damn sketch based on a description. Leave it be. You pursue this, I’ll make sure I’m far away when the trouble finally finds you.

I see those tentacles reaching for me in my dreams, wizard, from a humongous shadowy form I can just barely make out. You don’t want that burden, wizard. Trust me.

Collective Realms

28.08.2018

Fiction