's 2019 Horror Write-off:

Fireside Stories

Submitted by Shakara


Come and sit by the fire, young one. I’ll tell you of lore and yore. We’ll while away the night and wait for morn. You have always enjoyed fantasy and myth, haven’t you? Yes, I remember it well. Always in the library, reading of Zeus, Thor and Amaterasu.

Well, let me begin our story by saying; none of those myths are true. No, I know the old lore. Old. Older than the mountains and sun. Oh, I know.

Now, pay attention.


There is a church deep in the woods. An old and crumbling building. Greying with ivy crawling up its spires. Nobody has gone there in decades. But, the bell at the top of the tower still does ring. Twice a year, in the equinox of summer and autumn, it rings. A low and dull sound, so low, one would mistake it for their own pulse. But it does ring.

And with the sound come the flock. They enter the old building and they pray. You can go there, if you are quiet and polite, but you must leave once the pastor has closed his book. Don’t be put off. For if you leave a coin in the charity bowl, you will have a prayer answered. Good luck, gold in your pocket, a warm home and hearth…

But do not steal from the bowl, for you will have bad fortune comparable to a storm.


Do you know of the Silver Lake? People fish in it all the time. You have probably seen the fishermen coming back to town with great, fat salmon. There is nothing interesting in the river that cuts through it, but at the bottom of the lake is a box. Dark and rusted, nothing can open the lock. Not unless it wants to be opened.

If you are the right person, kind and honest, then it will allow itself to be found. It will float up from the dark, rocky depths. But it won’t open then. First, it must be dried, then placed in the moonlight. The full moon can work the best.

It will open then, and you will see inside. Inside the chest is a heart, as fragrant and as soft as a rose petal, still beating. The heart of Princess Aloi. So kind and good was she. Alas, a jealous lover whom she did not love killed her. Legend said it was her own cousin Yolath. But her heart remained alive. It did not rot. Such a racket it made with its beating that he buried it at the bottom of Silver Lake. Of course, that did not silence it. Yolath died maddened, screaming that the beating never stopped. 

Aloi’s heart will tell you the secrets of the lake and how to speak to the fish. With such a skill, nothing will be hidden to you.


In the town of Golblath, go to the plaza at nightfall. Make a circle on the cobbles with the ash of a yew. Offer a dish of honey-cakes and a bottle of mead. Then, the ghosts of the Sisters Eternal will come to you. They had been burnt as witches in the past, but wrongly accused. Who was it that healed the sick children when the fever struck? Who found the lost cattle after the storm? Who helped to fix the schoolhouse when mould ate at the walls? The Sisters won’t shun anyone who is good to them. In return for the offerings, they will tell you the future of the year to come. But be warned, for some things are not meant to be known.


Travellers and caravans avoid the Golden Desert. Anybody who wishes to venture through it must be quick. And especially if they see the white tower. A tall structure, pointed to the sun. You cannot take shelter there. Anybody who ventures out from within, be it man or woman or child- do not speak to them.

They may seem cordial and offer you a many great things to stay a night, be it gold or love. Do not take it. Their wine is venom and their meats are rotted corpse-flesh. An illusion, as palpable as the desert winds. Scorpio would take you if you set foot in that tower. He is jealous of life, long since warped as he is. The burning winds scour his blackened scales, and his pain can only be quenched with cool blood.

Linger not in the Golden Desert.


There is a well that nobody uses. They claim it has gone long dry, or poisoned with filth. If you hear a voice calling for help from within, listen not.

It isn’t your friend, it isn’t your relative. An echo can only copy the voice, not the body.

Do not climb down. You will soon be the new echo within the well.


Take a rotten acorn. Take a phial of sinner’s blood. Plant the acorn in a dead garden and water it in the blood. It will grow into a tree of the most lush, red apples. In sun and rain, through winter and autumn, it will grow forever. Tending requires little effort. Birds will avoid it. Worms won’t dare touch it.

Eat your fill. You won’t ever turn sick or lack for food. But be warned. In the new moon, the apples turn black as the night. Do not touch them. Wait until the morning light has banished the dark, and they have turned red once more.


Skril writes with a raven-feather quill.

Skirl writes the history of the world, of what was, what is, and what will be. 

Skril lives inside a dead, hollow tree. If you find him, you may request your history to be changed. To become a lord, a king, a brave warrior, or a healer. Glory and honour, gold and love- whatever it is you wish, it will come to pass.

Enjoy it well. For when you die, Skril will take the blood from your body, and into the raven quill. You will be used to write the next chapter of the age. Past, present or future, you will not know what is what. Ink cannot scream.


At the very height of a thunderstorm, go to the cairns outside the city of Ironmount. Miners and blacksmiths, they work with stone and metal. Rarely does one find gems or gold.

At the seventh cairn, wait. Someone will come. The Gemstone Merchant. So named, for he wears jewellery in abundance. The stones shine in the lightning.

He is garbed in a robe so thick of silks, one cannot see his face. Only his eyes, of which are like opal, the colour forever changing. Pay him with sheaves of wheat or ingots of iron, and he will give you a gem of your choice. You can live off the riches. However, do not try to take anything from him without proper payment. If you snatch a ring, necklace or bracelet from him, he will not chase you. But for whatever item you have stolen, you will be punished.

A ring, you will have a finger cut from your hand. A bracelet, your hand will be removed. A necklace, your throat will be cut. The Gemstone Merchant cannot abide thievery. There is a reason he calls his rubies ‘bloodstones’…

There. You'll know the truth of the land soon enough. Still believe lore is all butterfly wings and light? It is not so.