A picture is worth a thousand words: Mistmire

Mistmire

As I mentioned in one of my original posts, “In case you were wondering“, this is perhaps one of my favorite topics.  My personal goal is to write a 1000 word story, based off the picture I’ve posted above.   For me, it’s an invitation to inspiration and creativity and I hope it ends up being the same for you. I sincerely enjoy writing….for me, it’s a great outlet, stress reliever and something I absolutely love to do. I hope you enjoy the story.

The beautiful artwork was found here.

Mistmire – A Forgotten Dream

I’ll never forgot the day we were swallowed into the earth…our lives, forever changed.

We were just a couple of adventurers on the road to Meadowbrook, a village nestled deep in a valley, not far from the Windshear peak mountains.  It was just the two of us, Devlin and I, but we had many years of experience backing us up.  Devlin was as sneaky as he was skilled in the way of magic, easily falling into the title of trickster.  And I, Maxwell Oerlius the 3rd, on the other hand was skilled in the art of warfare and healing magic.  We were a good team, one that complimented each other well.

It was late afternoon and we still had a good full day’s journey left, so we decided to take it easy and stop for the night, after we spotted a solitary farmhouse situated next to a large stream.  We hoped that the owner would be willing to set us up for the night in his barn, as our travels forced us upon rocky terrain that left our feet hurting something fierce.  After knocking a couple times on the front door without answer, we decided to wander about the grounds looking for anyone that might live there.

That’s when we found something most strange.  A giant mound; no more like an anthill, was situated right behind the southeast of the barn.  It was massive, almost as big as the barn itself, hidden only by the angle of our arrival.  It was late and we were tired, so decided it was best left until morning.

We opened the barn door, and set up camp in one of the larger empty stalls on the end.  The animals stirred at our arrival, but settled down quickly enough, allowing us to bed down early so we could get a fresh start at the anthill tomorrow morning.

In the middle of the night, the screeching bleating sound of one of the sheep launched both Devlin and I out of bed.  Standing there, a sheep firmly in it’s mandibles, was what we had feared…a GIANT ant.  We must have left the barn door ajar, as it was obviously where the ant came in, considering half its body was still outside the barn.  Its head was the size of a elephant, with a body to match and it’s mandibles, as long and curved as giant scimitars!  As it was retreating with its prize, in hopes of saving the sheep’s life and some of the farm owners livelihood, I grabbed my mace and landed a heavy blow against its carapace.  For a second it seemed as if I’d done some damage to it, as it backed itself out quickly and scurried dextrously down the hole, however the sheep was still in its grasp and gone.  We closed the barn door, calmed ourselves down and bedded down for the rest of the night….this time in shifts.

We woke up a little later the next morning and started our descent.  The anthill was found to be more treacherous than we originally thought, not only because of the looming threat of the giant ants that inhabited it, but because of the tunnels themselves.  Ants, able to climb and cling to just about anything, have no problem making vertical tunnels, which to us, were giant pits to navigate down and into.  Once far enough inside, we had to burn torches in order to see.  We traveled for hours, each step taking us deeper and deeper into the unknown.  As we descended, we could see that tracks of the unusually large ants were everywhere, but strangely, we had yet to encounter a single one.

It wasn’t until another two hours went by before one of the horizontal tunnels opened up considerably into a larger cavern.  There, laying in large heap in the center of the room, was a pile of the giant dead ants.  Well more like a pile of ant body parts, as there were only a few that were still fully intact.  Near the bottom, was the dead and strangely emaciated body of the sheep, looking like it insides were completely sucked dry.  We went to investigate a little further and found a huge hole in the back of the sheep.

We drew our weapons immediately, not wanting to be easy prey to whatever killed the ants and the sheep.

We circled around the massive pile slowly, keeping as silent and steady as we could.  One of the ant heads, apparently not fully settled, rolled down the mound towards us and nearly scared us half to death.

We continued to circle around and when we got to the back of the pile, we noticed another hole on the west wall leading out.  We all decided, with a nod to each other, to check it out.  We got to the entrance and took a peek through and what we saw we will never forget.  The hole opened up into what seemed like another world.  The cavern opened up to a thousand times its size, hosting a view that took our breath away in its enormity.  Th gigantic cavern seemed to have its own sky, with clouds clinging to giant stalagmite rocks that jutted out in all directions.  The rocks were strangely lush, with green vegetation heartily growing on all manners of the rocks.  Strange vines even connected the towering peaks in some places, growing vastly throughout the cavern.

Down a rubble strewn hill in front of us, was a dark, yet majestic lake, with craggy rocks projecting out of the water, like the teeth in a monstrous maw.  The water was clear, but the dark rocks below gave it a feeling of murkiness not really there.  The air was cooler here, a slight breeze wafting through and a cool rainy like mist tickled our face.

In every adventurer, there is an explorer; someone looking for something that no one else has found or just exploring the majesty of the world around them.  This was one of those hidden gems, something that is only found once in a lifetime if you’re lucky.  It was a find that just needed to be taken in, for as long as possible.  Sadly, it didn’t last long at all.

In every adventurer, there is also his sense of danger.   He can just feel that something is about to happen, even in a place that portrays peace and tranquility in its simplicity.  That’s when Devlin saw the water start to ripple.  It wasn’t long before it began rippling in numerous places, getting closer and closer to the edge of the water where we stood.  We started to back up, ready to make our way back into the ants carved out tunnels, when we were stopped in our tracks.  The thick vines, that seemed to coat the cavern sprang up out of the water with lightning speed.  Poor Maxwell, was cut open before he even had a chance to react, the vines slicing through his stomach, emptying it before he could scream.  A larger, more rotund vine shot out of the water and slammed into the hole that was now Maxwell’s stomach.  You could see it sucking all the internal organs, blood and tissue right out of him, the large chunks visibly moving down the vine’s would be throat.

Devlin, quickly casting a spell that most likely saved his life, turned himself invisible with a few quick gestures and zigzagged up the rocky slope, heading back to the tunnels.  The vines, seemingly fooled by the lack of their other prey, started to vibrate.  Skin, if you could call it that, on the outside of the vine started to flap in the wind, as if something was being drawn in and in a split second, Devlin realized it was trying to find him by scent.

He quickly raced through the cavern entrance, past the ants and through the tunnel.  He looked back, only for a second, to see the vines creeping into the tunnel behind him.  At this point, he let loose a volley of fire that torched the vines at the entrance.  A high pitched gurgling could be heard, seemingly from the lake, and the vines retreated back out of the cave.

Devlin was experienced though, and knew that he couldn’t hang around here for long, as the vines wouldn’t likely give up on their new prey.  He rushed up the rope that he and Maxwell had left behind, in case they needed a quick escape from the ants and ascended the tunnels as quickly as possible.  Two long hours went by, running and scrambling through the maze of tunnels.  When he finally emerged from the anthill, he collapsed on the ground, his heart racing…POUNDING.  He closed his eyes, taking deep breaths to calm himself down and relax his body, telling himself that he was finally safe now.  There was no way the vines were long enough to stretch through the entire tunnel system. He was finally safe.  As his eyes were closed, he sent a small prayer out to Maxwell…his eyes starting to tear.

It came as a complete surprise when the vines sprang out of the anthill, picked him up and started to suffocate him like a boa constrictor, all in one quick swoop.  The monster, now fully emerged from the tunnels was a mass of writhing vine like tentacles.  The last thing Devlin saw, was the orb of daylight getting smaller and smaller, fading away as he was dragged back down into the deep, dark abyss…that was mistmire.

I’d love to see how this picture inspired you and what you’ve come up with in your short story.  Please share!

Jinx

About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at dungeonmaster.bm@gmail.com for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.