Friday, April 27, 2012

From Hell's Legion: The Wave of Despair

Dorvich used to be such a happy town.  The old mill would listlesly spin in the gentle breeze as the sun shone on the sprawling meadows, until the mill caught fire along with the granary.  The bubbling brook would be full of children playing and singing , back before the Jutner twins drowned in that tragic accident. The town burgomeister used to hold festivals and celebrations during the spring to celebrate the warming weather, but given his recent hanging when unmentionables belonging to the lost baker's wife were found bloodstained in his home such celebrations would seem out of place.  And now,  poor Gorman had just had to kill his own dog.  The creature had become unsettled lately, barking for no reason, howling at night.  But when three chickens were murdered, their bloody feathers strewn about the straw mat by the porch where Bodin liked to sleep.  Gorman knew what must be done,  the look in poor Bodin's eyes as Gorman swung the axe.  Gorman drank heavily from his flask of mead and clutched his balding head in his hands, wisps of graying hair pinched between white knuckles as Gorman seethed in frustration before settling in resignation.

Behind him, emerging from behind clay pots and straw filled cracks in the aging walls were dozens of tiny grinning faces.

       Scholars and theologians call it "The wave of despair", as if it were some tidal wave breaking down on an unfortunate community.  But this is no formless wave of malaise that crashes across the land,  but rather a swarm of demonic imps.  These imps take form as rodents of unusual size,  no bigger than a man's thumb.  While they may look like no more than a swarm of hundreds of thousands of tiny rats, they are in fact far, far worse.  These creatures of pure malignancy have minds with all the wickedness and cruelty any man has ever been able to muster and more; their tiny paws are unusually dexterous and nimble, able to work fine machines and construct elaborate traps which look like mere unfortunate circumstances.
        It is unknown how they form,  but it is known they place a great value on tears of sadness and despair; tales tell of infernal bargains made with the creatures and of unscrupulous village reeves selling off their villages for dark powers.  It is said the only defense against the creatures is happiness.  Should the creatures ever come within line of sight of a truly happy person they will turn to dust. To trick them with tears of joy is said to wipe out entire colonies.  Thus the church advises that no matter how terrible your life may be,  no matter how much you may seem to toil..that one should always be happy, and to remember that not being happy will only empower these creatures to threaten your neighbour.  The church recommends that townsfolk who hear their neighbours complaining too much should report them for the good of the community.


  1. Now I see those fingerling rats in Blight of the Khazars quite differently!

    Really nicely realised, and about the only time I've ever been glad I read the italicized flavour text - it's one thing to imagine imps and another to really think about the evidence we accept for stuff and what an imp would need to do.