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Saturday, December 5

Isles of the Damned: Part 5c – R’lyeh

“I just had an unsettling thought,” said Beldin. “I thought that the mountain range was intended to keep people out. But I’m starting to think it’s meant to keep things in.”

The island landscape spread out before them was a tableau of pure evil. A forest sent black-barked trees high into the mists—trees that seemed to tremble and groan without wind to urge them on. Beyond the woodland lay a roiling, steaming marshland, blood red in the dim light and giving off a sulfurous stink strong enough to reach them halfway up the mountain. In the middle of the fetid bog rose a black spire.

“That’s where he lies,” said Harry. “The wicked one! That’s where the good lord flung him. He keeps him locked up fast. Buried like a pirate, he is—with a treasure chest on top!”

The forest began at the mountain’s base and spread to occupy about a third of the valley.

As they stepped into the dense wood, the air filled with familiar creaks and groans.

“That almost sounds like…” began Beldin.

”A boat tacking against the wind,” finished Sebastian. “But no boat should be here.”

The noise was grotesquely appropriate. The trees weren’t made of solid wood, but planks, the kind that made up the deck of the Naoke, grown thickly together and bound with brass collars. Jutting out from the north face of every last one of the oaken monstrosities was a figurehead—a leering, cowled figure with clenched teeth.

As Vlad stared closely at one, its eyes sprung open. For a moment they appeared to be black, but he realized they had no iris at all. An emblem—a tentacled skull with five stars—crowned the head.

“Talk not to the trees,” warned Harry. “They got nothing good to say!” more


posted by Michael Tresca at 12:34 PM

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