Entry Three: Kanthuuf – The Tinker
The fog gripped the city tight—a beggar clasping his coins, unwilling to open his hand to count them for fear they might be stolen. Tight like that. A haze so close you can’t see beyond your arm. A mist that fills your nose and your lungs and feels like it’s trying to suffocate you. Smother the entire city. But it doesn’t. That’s not how it kills you.
That first day the fog fell, the only terror we knew came from the unknown. The screams were general fear, surprise at the thick cloud covering the streets, or maybe a familiar concern of being robbed and molested with the fog to cover the escape of assailants. On the second day, the screams were different. Louder. Infected with terror. Screams followed by wails. Then the soft sounds of hard violence against weak flesh. And then silence. A brief quiet until the next scream filled the clotted air. Soon, the screams piled on top of one another. Like the bodies.
I only heard the screams at first. Didn’t see what caused them. Hid in my cobble shop, where I’d been the day before when the fog appeared so suddenly, although I hadn’t noticed at the beginning. Wyrin’s have little machinery in my home realm, but I have always had an interest and a knack for the way metal merges with metal to make something incredible from its mundane parts. So, I repair things. And build things. Time pieces. Adding devices. Even a rakthor steam engine occasionally. That day I sat at my bench, engrossed in the springy innards of a human-made clock. Human clocks are never as accurate as those from the rakthor Sun Realm, but they are always more attractive in their ornate design. This one’s hour hand fell out of sync, and I endeavored to set to its proper motion. Only when I noticed shouts outside my door did I look up from my table.
I am used to seaside fog from my years here in Jivath and my childhood in a fishing town along the southern coast of Klaad [the Wood Realm]. But I am unaccustomed to panic accompanying the fog. The voices outside my window—human, yutan, wyrin, roag, and rakthor—all spoke to the suddenness of the mist through which they struggled to see each other. Except for rakthors, I have found most peoples to be easily excitable over such things as a strange fog. So, I ignored the commotion and returned to my bench, interrupted only by the occasional panicked calls from the street, most met with admonishments of foolishness.
The fog stayed through the day and into the night. But something in the night changed. I sensed it in my bed where I lay, unable to find slumber. It felt as though an invisible hand reached into my stomach and churned my intestines. I blinked back the nausea and sat up, breathing hard. I stroked the pelt of my chest to calm myself, and when I could breathe, I went to the window.
A single hazy light, that I assumed came from a lantern in the bakeshop across the street, gave a weak amber glow in the black fog of the night. Then something else black crossed my vision. And then a red thing, too fast and too shrouded in fog to see clearly. Then another. Then the sound of glass shattering and the light went out. Next came the screams of terror and the wails of pain.
I froze. Unable to move and unsure what to do. More sounds of horror filled the night. More black and red shapes raced past my shop. I finally forced my courage to the fore and opened my window, pulling the wooden shutters closed. I always locked my door, it is Jivath after all, but that night I pulled my workbench, quiet as I could, to block the entrance to my shop.
And then I hid. All through the next day and the following night. And again, three days more. Concealed through the noises of people dying. Of some manner of creature killing them and screeching in triumph. And then the sounds of metal boots on street stones and the shouts of soldiers and creatures shrieking in death.
When the world quieted and I finally came out of my shop, the fog looked no thinner, but the city had lost more than half its people to the monsters that arrived with it.