Greric and the Witch of Dimwood
They came by night while they were away on patrol. Taking away his two boys, they ate his wife. His was not the only family destroyed. Several men unwisely pursued the foul beasts back to their tower lair in the swamp bordering Dimwood. They did not survive. The ancient witch had lured many to their deaths throughout antiquity. She was a scion of a brood from the Old World before the Scattering, long prior to the Cataclysm and even before the Age of Shadowed Ice. She once called the underworld her home. The witch of Yald'bok plants children in pots to harvest monsters...but on this day she stole the wrong seed.
This is a story of The Oraclon Chronicles. The witch's history with the Minions and her wars against Dagothar are further detailed in Chronicle of Dagothar.
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Here's an excerpt from Greric and the Witch of Dimwood:
Pulling absently on his braided beardlocks in the candlelight the gnome quietly told me what was the fate of my boys- what the dendraks need them for.
I had vomited.
The stories of men knew nothing of this garden.
Hollowly, I stared into the flame.
The Alder Witch can not be killed by a human. She does not sleep. In devouring souls she sings a terrible song...'tis only time she shuts her eyes. What she was before the Cataclysm is not known...but there be whispers among the ancient of faerykind...the feylorn...that she had been something darker, a greater evil during the Shadowed Ice. In the Deep, she was the last female of her kind...
Walking atop another hill, I unsheathed the longsword in a flash of reflected sunlight. I surveyed the landscape sensing something. A voice broke the silence.
"Mortal man...flee this wretched haunt." The words came as from the depth of a deep well.
A face on a boulder. Inspecting it closer I saw spiral designs, large brows and the hint of a mossy beard. I stared at the face, stunned.
"What is this? What sorcery makes speech from stones?" At my words the rock face moved.
"Stones? We, O man, are the watchers...she hath enslaved our kind..."
"We? Stones?" The large brow bowed slightly.
"We are the necklace, human."
I looked closely at the boulder face and followed its gaze. Another large rock. Then further off another. The other way revealed more stones of this size. A long line of boundary stones, each rock covered in spirals and symbols.
"Aye, son of Dathari, her necklace guards the Neck... Yalda'bok." A shiver assailed my spine despite the heat. I knew the name. The Neck was the tower of the witch.
"Come not this way, mortal. Choose another path." Listening, I sheathed the blade and leaned my hammer over my shoulder.
"Will you oppose my passage?"
"Nay, human. But it is folly...I am a slave...by passing the necklace I am compelled to report." Melancholy etched the rocky face. Looking ahead I saw the trees. So close now, smaller hills covered with their greenery. Behind me I studied the path, carefully searching for one who stayed unseen.
"Then give your report, Rock-That-Speaks. Sound loud your alarm, friend. Tell her that I am Greric, and that on this day the neck shall be severed and the necklace set free."
Astonished, the round eyes of the rock elemental watched the human pass into her domain. Bound to the border of the Alder Witch's land it was unable to stop itself from conveying to her what it had heard and seen.
Marching down the stony hill I recalled the gnome mentioning the necklace. Made little sense to me at the time.
"What is it?" I asked the gnome. Lying between us on the round plank table in the dank cellar under Burrows Crossing Inn was a shard of blackish iron affixed to a wicker arrow. Raven-feathered shaft adorned in unusual glyphs.
"A piece of a great spear from the world below. Used by a dusk giant to kill a dragon. It be Minion-forged."
"I do not ken the bowcraft, gnome."
"Nay, indeed. Does not matter. You are human. She cannot be killed by you. Your aura to her is read like a scroll. Carry this arrow, Greric, and she will know it."
"I need to know how to find her." The gnome looked at me with curiosity. I made no move to take the arrow. Foul artifact, I did not want to touch it.
"Over the centuries many of your people have tried. About seventy years ago a large group never returned from the Neck, a second expedition was cut down at the necklace. Others have tried."
"How do you know these things?"
"Many have drank their last ale dregs here." He pressed his gold beard collar down straightening his hair and raised a half-empty tankard. As he drank deeply his keen eyes watched my own. I was studying the arrowhead fragment.
"I should not have showed you this. It be stolen. Even now its owner is hunting for it."
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Jason Breshears has authored ten published books, five by Book Tree of San Diego. He specializes in ancient chronological systems and calendars and can be reached at email@example.com.