The Morghun Host (title image)

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Why I lock my door at night

Lady Twiglet, this is a little more of an exciting story, and a lot less melancholy (but not shiny, I'm afraid).

During my countless years as a wandering adventurer/mercenary/arrow magnet, I have seen and done more than a few things which could be considered "daft"(as Titan would say). Here is a prime example.

I was once hired as an escort to a lady of wealth, she was being escorted from her fathers manse, to that of her husband to be, somewhere now submerged 'neath the waves off of Cymrija's shores. This was to all intents and purpose a fine proposition, as it was a well-travelled route with several passable inns along the way. To add to matters, there were several guards to accompany the young lady and her chaperone, a woman who had hands like ham hocks, and wasn't adverse to using them if her charge was in any way threatened. The pay was quite reasonable as well. In truth, they pay was maybe too reasonable (in hindsight) considering the alleged ease of the three day task at hand.

The very next morning we set off, myself, three other guards, the young lady, and her chaperone, who scowled a lot at us. We were on foot, and they were in a small pony carriage, as befitted their rank. The first day passed without incident, the weather being sunny, and the road quiet. Plenty of time to think. I was thinking predominantly of the inn, as I was young and thirsty, when a noise roused me from my day dreaming. It was a wet noise, sort of like a piece of meat being torn. I seemed to have been the only one who heard it, and I looked around, not sure of what I might see. Luckily I saw nothing, and put the thought from my mind, Mayhap they had been eating (I'm sure the chaperones hand would have been too huge to hold a dining knife, and thus she would rend her food with her hands).

We reached the inn at dusk, and were booked in for separate rooms for the night. Myself and my guardsmen companions settled at a table for a bit of a drink, for we were dusty of throat, and the lady and her disturbingly large companion (still scowling at us) went upstairs. As guards do, we chatted, and I found out that I was the only hireling, the others being household guard of the young lady's father." Passing strange, to hire one guard" I thought, but kept my own counsel on the matter. The evening passed in a most pleasant fashion, and eventually I sidled off to bed, not entirely vertical (I was a mere century old at the time after all) sleep came easily, and I awoke bright and early to a scream. Not my usual wake up call, but there we are. I drew my sword and dived out of bed to check on the security of my ward, her door was ajar but she was fine. The scream had come from further down the hall. Two doors down a maid stood with her hands clenched at her mouth, looking very shocked. This was not a great surprise, as when I looked within that portal, I saw the body of one of my companions, all a-covered in blood. I went too look closer at the body, and stopped. No knife wound, or sword slash, but his face was ripped away, chewed. Gathering up the chambermaid, I descended to the bar, meeting the landlord on the way up. He demanded to know what was all the rumpus about, so, placing the maid with his wife, I took him to see for himself. I believe he never ate meat again. He did however demand money for the stains, and asked that we left forthwith.

That days travel was not so pleasant. Though the sun shone we were all edgy. Talking in quiet murmurs, we discussed what had befallen us that morn. " 'taint right, he was a good 'un" said one guard, as we nodded, respectful of the man's shade.

"Must 'ave 'ad a powerful wide mouth to damage 'im so." muttered the other.

At this point in the conversation, the burly chaperone leaned out, and in a deep voice said " quiet now, you upset the young mistress and you know what will happen". She scowled for emphasis, waved a hairy fist, and drew the carriages curtains shut. We took the advice. Hours passed, and I was sure I heard that weird wet noise once more, which disturbed me.

We pulled into the next inn, a place named The Boars Haunch, and were duly booked in. Separate rooms again. Odd that we were being treated so well, as we were but guards, and more used to the common room, but who were we to question the mores of our employer? That night we drank sparingly, and went to bed uneasy. I slept fitfully, and woke with a start as I heard footsteps in the corridor. I rose, light footed as a cat, and sword in hand went to the door and opened it a crack. I could have sworn I saw a figure in the blackness, then I heard door closed and all was still. The door appeared to be the one next to mine, and putting my ear to it, I heard rustling, as of someone sneaking back beneath the sheets. It was my mistress's room. Hearing no more I returned to my uneasy sleep.

The next morning we were ready early, all barring one guard, who was late down. I went to rouse him, and paused at the door, for I could see something on the floor. Crouching, I saw it was blood. Flinging the door back I was confronted by the self-same scene as the night before! I called the innkeep and explained what lay in the room, soaking into the floorboards. A sum of money persuaded him not to have us all hanged for murder, and to provide the guard with a decent funeral. By the look on the keeper's face, the dead man would be lucky to get a grave at all.

As we travelled on that day, neither myself or the guard would look at each other, as I feel we both were wondering if we would see sunrise again the next day. I, however, heard that peculiar noise again, but with what sounded a bit like a sharp slap at the end of it. Now I was sure something untoward was happening! I set my mind to planning as we trudged along grimly.

That night I spoke of my plan to the remaining guard. "We shall stay in the same room! That way, when we are attacked, as I'm sure we will be, we have a better chance to fight it off, whatever it may be." The soldier nodded his approval, and we retired early, to steel ourselves for a long night. As the night passed, I heard a door open, and braced myself. We drew our swords and waited. Footsteps moved, muffled, down the hall, but in the opposite direction. Another door opened, and seizing the opportunity, we sallied forth. As we entered the corridor, we saw my door was open. So, it was to have been me! Enraged I charged in, and froze in my tracks. For in the room was not the chaperone, but the young lady, with her back turned away. " Ho!" I called "What is this?" and she turned. Her face was an indescribable horror, all teeth and saliva. Galled by the sight we charged her and set about the demonic being. She slashed out at me, yet her blow hit but a lock of my long black hair. I hammered home a blow to her torso, and my companion made to strike, but she seized him, and he went down in a shower of gore before her. I backed up, and bumped a body behind me. A deep voice intoned some arcane words, and the figure of the girl slumped to the floor. Turning, I was confronted by the huge chaperone, who, rather than wearing her customary frown, bore a look of sadness and worry. "What in the name of mine ancestors is happening?" I demanded of her at sword point. She leant against the door and began to explain. "The girl is my daughter" she sobbed. "She has been under the influence of a vile sorcerer, whom the family had spurned as a suitable suitor. He in turn put a spell upon her, so that no one could marry her. Each night she would take this form, and slay any men that she could." Here she paused to regain her composure a little. " We found this out one night, when she happened upon a sentry, and killed him. After that we locked her in her room, behind a strong door, that she may not have escaped. I set to work researching a spell to cure her, as I to am gifted in the arts, yet I could only stop it temporarily" She sighed. "We were on the way to a friends house who has much knowledge in this field, but she crept out as I slept, and killed those men!" I nodded and turned towards the girl. I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror as I did so, and saw to my shock, that the lock she had touched had turned as white as the bark of a birch tree. By now a crowd was forming, and we were duly kicked out of the tavern.

Dawn was breaking as the house we desired came into view, and duly servants and a robed man came out to greet us. They spirited the injured demon girl away, and I received a bag of coins, which now seemed well earned. Saying not a moment longer I took my leave, and never passed that way again. Now I am reminded by that white lock to tightly close my door at night. Because you never know............

Source: S. Erridge

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