The Tip.It Times

Issue 6199gp

Lumbridge's Shadow, Part One

Written by and edited by Tip.It

There is a road which cuts through the shadowed lands between Lumbridge and Draynor, whose turns are blinded by frequent patches of forest and brooding hills. If a traveller takes a wrong turning at the fork just beyond Lumbridge Castle, he soon finds himself in a wild and lonely country, where light scratches through tangled branches and vermin wallow in foul pools which collect under mossy rocks. The trees seem too large, and the grass in the meadows seems too high. The land falls in sudden dips and rises again just as suddenly, and the astute traveller will notice trickles of running water among the rotting trees. The farmsteads here are few and far between, and although it may seem distasteful, the traveller eventually finds themselves compelled to ask directions from the squinting locals; this is certainly not Draynor, where one expects to arrive when taking this road. The local folk are furtive and as dark in manner as the hills they live in, and the traveller will soon find themselves keeping to the road more often than not; the leaden sound of boots squelching through the loose earth becomes comforting, and the sigh of the wind through branches and grass becomes more welcome company than the lone, shadowy figures standing at doorways and on high hills.

The nights on the road are cold, but travellers rarely seek the hospitality of the local folk more than once, never if they had previously occasioned to speak with them. The nights seem more alive than the days, as if the creatures of this country hide from the light of the sun. Weary, resting by the wayside, the traveller finds themselves beset upon by the cackling of unseen birds, and the rhythmic croak of frogs in murky pools. As night falls, glowing insects swarm from their nests and swirl about, dancing maniacally to the hellish song of the frogs. Sleep comes with difficulty, and the more imaginative travellers might believe that their dreams take on a malignant quality in this country.

Dawn is foggy in the hills, and although the going is treacherous in the murk, the desire to leave this place becomes stronger than one's sense of caution. Half-seen lights in the distance are ignored, for even the least superstitious of travellers has heard stories of will-o'-the-wisps, and would not take the chance that any of those tales are true in this forlorn back-country. As the day progresses, the fog dissipates, only to be replaced once more by the oppressive gloom beneath the trees and hills. One begins to take note of the surrounding country beyond the trees, where crumbling, decayed buildings mark where farmsteads have been abandoned. The discordant cries of birds just beyond sight are startling in the unseemly silence of this place.

A traveller will eventually come to another fork in the road, but does not take another wrong turning; even if one did not ask directions from the locals, the black, reeking swamp visible beyond the left fork forces the decision. Continuing past this fork, the hushed gloominess of the back-country is made even more unpleasant by the odour of the swamp which reaches through the trees. It becomes more and more difficult to imagine that anything would live out here, but as night falls once again, the noises of the dark return, all cacophonous croaking and shrill shrieks.

It is with comfort that one finds the bleak country receding, and the wholesome fields and pastures of Draynor come into view. The villagers will view the traveller with suspicion, but will be quick to direct them to the inn once their purpose for travelling the back-country is divined.

The inn is warm and comforting, and though the traveller may not wish to listen, days of wandering alone through the dark backwoods will compel them to at least hear the stories being told of that place, by other travelling folk who have mistakenly undertaken the journey, or by villagers who have told tall tales about the back-country for generations: stories of wild summonings, demon-worship and witch-blood, stories of vanished travellers and the appearance of hideous creatures from the shadowy swamps at the outskirts of the village. Travellers will, for the most part, dismiss these as fanciful stories and superstitious nonsense, but there are those who have travelled through that country who might believe that at least some of these tales could be true, and forsake that dark, lonely road in favour of the newer highway.

It was from these people that I heard stories of a village deep in the backwoods, and curiosity compelled me to venture there myself to seek it out: a place of mystery amid mystery.

Now, of course, I have my own story to tell.

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Tags: Fiction

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