Scary Tales of the Deep Folk, Book 2

Author (in-game): Cassia Volcatia

This next tale comes from Markor, a Reach scout I met in the River’s Bounty inn. He relayed a moving tale of music, youth, and tragedy. Read on, dear patrons, and decide if you dare believe this young scout’s tale!

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The Music Beneath the Mountain

Most Reachfolk shun the ruins left by the long-vanished Dwarves (a scary tale for the ages!), but not all. Two young Reach scouts, Markor and Esana, once determined to explore where none in their clan dared tread. They chose to brave the Dwarven ruins beneath the mountain and make a name for themselves. So together, they delved the depths of Dwarven cities, facing automatons and worse to prove their courage.

It was while exploring deep inside one such ruin—the Reachfolk called it Darkhollow, though its Dwarven name remains unknown—that Esana first heard the music beneath the mountain. Try as Markor might, he heard nothing, yet Esana, he insisted, heard the music as loud as a storm. She said it was everywhere.

Esana tried often to describe the music to Markor: As the song of a brass bird singing in dark places, and the symphony of cogs and rock, and the hymn of steam and fire. Yet though she followed the sound beneath the mountain and Markor followed her, neither ever discovered the source of the mysterious music.

Over time, Markor told me, Esana became obsessed with the music, humming it after she and Markor returned to camp and even, he said, in her sleep. Her humming was all but tuneless yet strangely compelling, and to this day Markor cannot wipe the sound of Esana’s tuneless humming from his mind.

Esana insisted on traveling into Darkhollow every day, forsaking her duties as a clan scout. Soon the clan’s witchmother forbade all travel to Darkhollow for both Markor and Esana. The next day, risking the wrath of the witchmother and exile from the clan, Esana left for Darkhollow one last time.

Though the witchmother forbade Markor from following Esana, he defied her, certain his childhood friend would not return until she had found her quarry. He feared Esana would lose herself while searching for the music beneath the mountain, music only she could hear. He feared she would go so deep she would never emerge. Markor found Esana’s pack outside the ruin and went as far inside as he could.

Markor’s search ended in tragedy. In the end, all he found of Esana, his childhood friend, was a smile scrawled on an animal skin left in the deepest part of the Darkhollow. A sorrowful Markor understood the meaning of the drawing perfectly, and it broke his heart.

“I found it,” that scrawled drawing said. It was the last message Esana left behind for her best friend.

Esana was never seen again.

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