Nothing seemed to stir, as Darrus walked the lonely dirt streets of the village. The air seemed thick, and it made the hairs of his neck stand on end. The rogue couldn't quite place it, but something about this village creeped him out.
He silently scolded himself for having an overactive imagination. It was merely a deserted village in the middle of nowhere. There could be several logical explanations for it.
However, at the moment, Darrus couldn’t think of any. Shaking his head clear of such thoughts, the rogue moved on. He thought about calling out to see if anyone would answer, but thought better of it. Something told him, he might not want to draw attention to himself. Darrus passed by some dwellings that sat silently, seemingly watching him.
A large building caught his eye, and he changed his direction, and headed towards it. As he drew closer, he spotted a wooden sign, hanging off the front of the building. It was suspended by two chains, and was made in the shape of… something. Darrus couldn’t see until he got nearer.
Almost in front of the building now, Darrus saw that it was in the shape of a gnome, lying on his back, and holding a frothing mug. Three words were painted above it: The Drunken Gnome. Slightly bemused, and glad to have something else to think about, Darrus decided to go inside to investigate.
The wooden door was unlocked, and Darrus slowly opened the door, peering inside. Tables and chairs sat unoccupied, while a bar stood off in a corner. The rogue stepped inside, and quietly shut the door behind him.
He waited for a few moments, listening intently for any sounds. Nothing greeted his ears. Shrugging his shoulders, Darrus headed over to the bar. A small flight of stairs sat beside the bar, which lead up to another story. As he passed by the tables though, he noticed that not a hint of dust sat upon the unused furniture.
That would mean the townsfolk would have to have just recently deserted the village. Then the burning question entered his mind: why? What had made them just leave like that? The question unnerved him a little more than he’d like to admit. What he needed was a drink.
Walking around the bar, he spotted a few kegs of what he hoped to be ale. He found a glass which he wiped out on his jerkin, before holding it under the tap. To his excitement, ale poured forth. At least this should take his mind off the creepy village at least for a moment, and help calm his nerves. Darrus brought the foaming ale to his lips, and was about to take a swig, when suddenly, an ear piercing scream erupted from somewhere upstairs.
Startled, he dropped the full mug of ale, which shattered on the wooden floor. Cursing, Darrus quickly drew his long sword from his sheath, scanning the room. Still nothing and the tavern were quiet once more. Easing back around the bar, Darrus skulked to the foot of the staircase, uneasiness creeping back into his conscious. Then, he heard loud sobbing suddenly come from the same place upstairs, once again breaking the eerie silence of the tavern.
Quietly, he proceeded up the stairwell, unsure exactly as to why he was doing so. The sobbing did not let up, and in fact intensified, so that it seemed the person, a woman by the sounds of it, was wailing. Reaching the top of the stairs, Darrus found that his throat had dried up, so he swallowed once, and took a deep breath, before proceeding.
There were only 4 rooms, 2 on either side of a long hallway. The sobbing seemed to be coming from the first room on his right. Creeping up to the door, Darrus thought to perhaps knock, and announce his presence. For some reason though, he decided against that, and slowly opened the door.
The room was sparse, with only a bed and a small nightstand sitting in one corner. In the other corner, stood a woman in ragged clothing. Her back was to the rogue, and if she had heard him enter the room, she made no indication of it.
“Excuse me, I do not wish to barge in… I merely heard you crying...” said Darrus, after clearing his throat to make his presence known.
The woman continued crying for a moment, hunched over, and then immediately stopped. She straightened her back, but still faced the corner, her long black hair falling about her shoulders. Darrus waited at the door, the hairs on the back of his neck rising again, unsure what to do.
The woman remained in the corner, unmoving, and making no noise whatsoever. Suddenly, she twirled around to face him, screaming his name. She had empty eye sockets, the black holes gaping in her head, while it appeared as if her skin had been in the process of melting off her face.