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Markshire Storyteller - A Harrowing Story

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"Go to sleep, Anna," said the elderly woman heading toward the door to the cubicle that served as Anna's room. "You'll need your rest for tomorrow. We're off to Stonemark to sell some livestock."

"But, Nana, I'm not tired," whined Anna. Of course, her grandmother instantly forgave her for her whining. All 6-year-old girls whine.

"You'll do as you're told or in Harrow's clutches you'll be." This amused her grandmother in some strange way but Anna couldn't fathom why.

"Nana, what's a hare-row?" excitement entered her voice not fear. This caused some concern to appear on the old woman's face.

"Anna, dear, you must be careful how you say his name. Saying it like that may bring him all the quicker." Her grandmother stepped back into the cubicle and settled herself on the floor next to her palette.

This excited Anna as this was grandmother's storytelling posture.

"Oh dear, I cannot believe my daughter would be so neglectful." A bit of outrage crept into her voice. "Anna, we live in a strange and of times very scary land. But nothing in Markshire is nearly so strange nor terrifying then …" her voice drops to whisper level "…Harrow."

Grandmother knew her storytelling skills quite well. She dropped her voice a bit to allow it a darker quality. The darkness of the room deepened as she started her tale.

"A long time ago lived a man alone in a castle. His castle was empty of all save him. No one knows exactly what he did to frighten them all off but no one ever returned. He sits upon a throne of sticks covered with small animal skulls and bird feathers. From there he can hear every whisper of his name."

"One day, a whisper reached him and then another and he learned that people doubted him. People were no longer afraid of him. This upset him greatly." The woman's voice rose in power as she said this. There was no doubt she was in full story mode.

"So he began to search out these whispers, these doubts. With no easy access to the world around him, Harrow used magic to create a portal. It was a portal that opened in the shadows of any door. Then he waited. Waiting until the next doubt came." The old woman dropped her voice down an octave and the room deepened still further into darkness.

"He heard the whisper finally and he used his portal to visit this person. It was a girl. No older then you, Anna. She was telling her mother that she didn't believe in him anymore that her mother was telling her this to scare her into sleeping. The mother, of course, told her that he was real and that she had best behave. Content that she had set her daughter straight the mother left the room and went back to her embroidery." Her grandmother made sewing motions with her hands that amused Anna.

"Meanwhile, in the near darkness of her room the little sat and waited. Still she doubted her mother. A nearly silent sound caught her attention. She looked up then and an obvious chill ran down her back." She shivered as she said this to emphasize the little girl's terror.

Harrow's Courtyard"The little girl watched in horror as two gaunt, nearly skeletal hands reached towards her. Behind the hands was a pair of baleful eyes. The eyes were opened to their fullest extent and glowing from the darkness. Just as the hands touched the little girl a flash of darkness enveloped her and when the little girl could see again her bed was gone. Her room was missing. She was sitting in a pumpkin patch in the middle of a castle courtyard." A small bright orange gourd appeared in the old woman's hand.

"Pumpkins were spread as far as she could see. Among them were trees. The pumpkins rested in the trees, nestled against the main trunk or speared through from the top. Some were even carved open and light shone through from the faces of the pumpkins." Then grandmother's voice dropped to a whisper.

"The little girl stood up and walked to the closest patch. As she neared it the topmost pumpkin moved. Then it rose. Attached to the pumpkin was a neck of wood. Dangling below the pumpkin's head hung some old, slightly small clothing. Feathers stuck out from the collar of the shirt. It stood up completely and towered over the little girl." A bit of panic crept into the old woman's voice. Anna's eyes were wide with fear now.

"It stood there a moment and then out of the corner of her eye, the girl noticed other scarecrows moving towards her at a slow pace." Grandmother grew silent for a few moments.

Then, "No one ever saw the little girl again."

The grandmother straightened her posture and put on a smile for Anna. "The tale continues that those that Harrow visits are safe if they are sleeping. He cannot harm you at all if you are truly sleeping."

"So go to sleep, little one."

The elderly woman paused in the darkened hallway just outside the little girl's room. She put her back to the door and fell right through it. The darkness enveloped her. When the darkness receded she could barely make out sounds or see. Slowly, as if from a distance, came a sound like clapping. From the shadows nearby came the whispered harsh words, "Excellent. Couldn't have told the story better myself."

Migrate Wizard: 
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