TheNexusProject/StonePineMarsh

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Stone Pine Marsh

by OhJames

"Come to the window, my baby, with me. And look at the stars that shine on the sea! There are two little stars that play bo-peep, with two little fish far down in the deep. And two little frogs cry, 'neap, neap, neap.' I see a dear baby that should be asleep."
- Excerpt from the chant of the Stone Pine Cultists
"Those folks over by Stone Pine Marsh can hold hands, but it will happen anyway."
- Mammy Ramla, most senior of the Wives of Gozen
"Oh! Oh! Oh! Dragons preserve us! Get it away! Get it away!"
- Melinda Grent, indignant housewife, upon discovering a skinned cat wound about a bent pine branch hanging from her clothesline

There are things buried in the Stone Pine Marsh. Things that don't like the light. Things that don't like the bustle and noise of the city around them. Things that are, slowly, regaining cognition.

This does not bode well.

The actual Marsh itself is a rather nondescript piece of real estate. The ground is gently sloped downward, toward the center, which can be slightly disorienting to travellers new to the place. The pines, which give the Marsh its name, are tall and bare, with very few branches that only grow near the top. Children claim that the trees resemble terrifyingly slender hands whose fingers have been stripped of flesh. Every child asked gives the same description independently, which confuses some parents. Most, however, dismiss it as a silly childhood tradition. The ground around the trees' roots is mostly bare, but for sickly patches of grass and a malevolent vine known as Spider's Tears.

As one approaches the center of the Marsh, the trees grow closer together, creating a distinctly claustrophobic air. The light seems gray, as if filtered through dirty water, and the air smells strongly of old meat. A coppery tang can be tasted with each inhalation and one's breath always fogs. If an explorer can stand the acute miasma of discomfort and disgust that grows steadily stronger with each passing moment in the Stone Pine Marsh, they may stumble upon the center, though it is quite easy to get lost.

The center of the Marsh is completely treeless and slopes downward sharply, only to level out about after about five feet of sucking mud. The stench and miasma is nigh-unbearable this far into the Marsh, and discolored clouds of gas occasionally belch from the ground. A mound of loose stones sits in the direct center, like a hunched animal. The skins of dogs, cats, and other city wildlife are thrown haphazardly over it, leading locals to refer to it, in hushed tones, as Dead Beast Hill.

Over the past few decades, in the dark of night, people have been sneaking into the Marsh, there to enage in exceedingly strange rituals and peculiar chants. There is no rhyme of reason to the attendants, and beggars brush shoulders with merchants and noblemen as they stand in their twisting, concentric circles. Usually, they do nothing more than chant nonsensical little rhymes and pile stones onto the already prodigious mound hidden in the Marshes' center. Recently, however, their activities have become both bolder and more disturbing.

From time to time, skinned animals, ranging in size from mice to large dogs, are found in various stages of mutilation at seemingly random points throughout the city. They are often tied to, wrapped around, or skewered upon the stony pine branches that grow on the Marsh's unusual trees. This has terrified certain members of the citizenry, many of whom object to waking up to the dripping, grinning visage of a dog's skinless head outside their window, but the Council of Entities have deemed it to be a harmless activity and have done nothing.

Recently, Victrola Flardun, long-time resident of Firewander and normally very level-headed, filled a bathtub with lamp oil and climbed in, holding a lit candle. Her shocked husband later confessed that she had indeed been acting strangely, waking up on some mornings with absolutely no memory of the prior evening and complaining of an intense fear of the dark that seemingly nothing could assuage. She lit every light in the house, even during the day, and could not sleep unless there were at least six candles and a lamp burning. She also became suddenly terrified of the sound of drums. The darkened corners of her room, where she spent her last days, held a particular horror for her addled mind.

Other people in Firewander have begun to suffer from a similar fear of the dark.

Rumours

  • Victrola's husband, Vilrin Flardun, forced his wife into that bath full of oil. He knew she was stepping out behind his back, seeing other men, and decided to end her infidelity once and for all. Why he chose such a spectacular way of doing it is subject of much speculation. "He is probably a devout follower of Hesiesh," say some. "No, no," others insist, "he is a pyromaniac, a direct descendant of the man who started The Great Nexus Fire." No one really knows.
  • There is a giant rag-doll hidden in the Marshes, made from the skin of all those poor animals, just waiting for the terrible Anathema sorcerer to come along and animate it. We're doomed, I tell you! Doomed!
  • The Celebrant's Circle is behind the disgusting acts of vandalism perpetrated against honest Nexians. Why they would skin animals, keep the furs, but then place the bloodied corpses around the city is completely mystifying.

Secret

  • The things in the marsh knew of and were expecting the creature that was summoned at the dam. They were exceedingly disappointed when that Celestial Lion showed up. They thought they had dealt with him for good .... (See: The Rivergate Scandal)

Comments

I like, but could we get more description of the Marsh itself? Maybe a little on why it's a marsh made of stone pines in the first place? Also, I think I'll add a rumour over at myCelebrants Circle entry ... Oh! And incidentally, please try to remember that phantom links should be (a) subpages and (b) lacking in spaces and underscores.
~ Shataina

It was late last night when I did this, but I added some more physical description and a few more phantom links as well, -- OhJames
Cool. I especially like the new stuff.
~ Shataina

Eeeeeee! (Happy filled-phantom dance) This entry makes me skippy-anime-uber-giddy-happy! It's a great entry by itself, and then you throw in two backlinks to entries I wrote, as well as Mammy Ramla specifically and I get skippy-uber-giddy as well as anime-happy-ego-masssage! -EJGRgunner

I think the solution is for you to emote even more during the morning! I'm giddy from the praise! -- OhJames
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