The shadows of the valley

  • Baron

    It was the first night after the comet had passed away. The night sky was dark once more, and people had to return to using the moon as their guide. The dwarves had a great need for timber to build their new Grah-Gol, and there were loggers out day and night to fill this need. Up until now the wood had been gathered from places where the dwarves meant to expand, making space for farms, homes and roads. But the time of the most rapid expansion was slowly ending, and new places had to be found, starting near the rivers and close to the two main towns. A small group of loggers were working the night near Zom Järvr, cutting away on the shoreline on the other side of the river from the hamlet. There were a few trimmed trees floating on the river already, and the group was to only cut a few more this night before pushing them across. They were utterly unprepared for what was about to come.

    A shout could be heard: "Timber!", and another mighty oak fell down with a crash. As soon as the tree was down two dwarves set to cut off the branches and throw the bigger ones into a pile. As was common for dwarves, they put their whole mind into the work, their senses focusing fully on the task at hand. Because of this they did not see nor hear when two shadowy figures pounced on them. One of the dwarves had his throat slit instantly by the claws of the assaulting creature, while the other creature did not manage to get the grip it wanted. There was a surprised shout and sounds of a struggle that made the rest of the logging crew stop what they were doing and come look, and what they saw was unlike anything they had seen before.

    Two beasts with large claws were tearing at one of their friends. The creatures were seemingly made of shadow, but were otherwise humanoid in appearance. Where one would expect eyes to be, there were two shining white lights instead, almost blinding if you looked into them. And as soon as they had managed to slice the throat of their second victim, the beasts turned their heads to the shocked crowd, and without pause moved to attack them as well. The dwarves fought back with axes and saws, but they seemed to have limited if any effect on the shadows. After it was clear that this was the case, the most cowardly of the group made a run for it and jumped into the river, swimming behind a log. He heard the screams and gurglings of his friends and he dared not look back. After a few moments, he could no longer hear anything and he started to slowly swim away towards Zom Järvr on the other side of the river. As he mustered his courage to look back at the carnage, he saw the two shadows and their glowing white eyes stare back at him from the shore. For a moment he was frozen in terror and couldn't look away. It was then that he heard them for the first time, a kind of "hiss" that chilled him to his core. Then the shadows turned and disappeared into the forest. The last survivor desperately swims over the river, and wakes up the whole village with his crazed shouting.

    The following day it became clear that this was not a singular instance as stories of similar attacks came from near the capital as well. In one case it was a scouting expedition coming back from a long journey, and they told how the claws could almost penetrate their chainmail. They did not manage to kill the shadows, but instead they let out a "hiss" and fled into the woods when they could not penetrate the dwarven armour. Talk of "demons" rose up again, and old stories spread within the populace. "The nights aren't safe anymore!" was the consensus, even though some tried to explain how maybe it was only the one night, and how people were just paranoid. As day turned into night, it quickly became clear that it would not be a single event as the shadows assaulted anyone in the forests and outskirts. This would be the state of the valley from now on out. A ban was set to any work or travel outside the towns during night.

    What they did not know was that this was only the beginning.

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