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The Weald

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Weald Fiction: The Wagon Town of Glenharrow

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      The tale of Glenharrow is one that brings sorrow and shame upon the Weald, and should caution all it’s people to the doom the Rot threatens upon us all. I was a young  man at the time, a farm hand wandering place to place, working with the seasons and living off the bounty of the fields and orchards. That Summer had been long and hot, by the gods it was hot! I’d worked to the bone and sweated the clothes off my back that season, but made good coin for my toil.

      I came to Glenharrow just as the fields turned yellow and the apples swelled in the trees. A bustling harvest town ripe with life and industry. I was a restless youth, never still for long. My aim had been to work the final pick of the orchard that year then tide over the Winter months in this pleasant town before moving on to new work the following year.

      My days were spent picking the ripe fruits of the trees, my nights drinking sweet cider and wooing milkmaids and farmers daughters. Life was good, better than good, and seemed it would always be that way.

      Then stories began, brought to town by other travellers; workers and traders. They told strange stories of trouble elsewhere in the Weald. Some said there was plague, others a strange spreading madness that turned neighbour against neighbour and provoked the most horrible violence, some said monsters walked within The Weald. We laughed in the taverns at these fanciful tales, we laughed and drank and chased pretty girls. Soon the travellers stopped coming.

      Trappers and huntsmen often came to sell their furs and game meats. Now however they had little to sell, their traps were empty, the deer tracks deserted. The woodsmen spoke of silent forests; where all life had fled. Still we laughed and drank and made merry in our endless Summer. One by one the trappers, the hunters, even the game poachers stopped coming. For Glenharrow life went on.

      One by one then two by two, the farmers and their families from the surrounding lands stopped coming to our happy revelling town. But the days stayed hot and long, the nights heady and close. We drank and we laughed and we danced between the hay and wheat, and life would always be so sweet we thought, lost in our abundance.

      Then came the day that strange spell broke around us, the days and weeks and months spent lost in nature’s bounty began to falter. Crops withered, livestock sickened and the air itself grew cold and stale. We noticed, maybe for the first time, how few of us were left. Houses empty, farmsteads abandoned, crops rotting in the fields and over ripe fruits drawing clouds of fat flies to the trees.

      Then they came, slowly and relentless like the waning of the moon. Some looked familiar to me; the young maid who churned the richest butter, the lad with the finest voice I ever did hear sing. But they were different; changed, no longer human to my eyes but taken by the forest, or something fouler. And there were other; worse things within their ranks that I would not dare describe. They fell upon our once beautiful town with hate and with hunger, tearing bodies apart and dragging the most unfortunate souls back into the forests, screams echoing across the corpse littered streets.

      Some folk tried to fight, to defend their homes or save their loved ones. They died horribly. The rest of us fled, a few of us survived; escaping to the hills with what little we could carry. We arrived days later at the nearest village. Bloody, starved and weary. We begged for aid and told our tales to the townsfolk. Some listened , not many. The others laughed, they drank, they sung and they danced. Quickly we gathered what little we had and left, determined to reach the next town and find refuge. But at the next, and the next, and the next, we found the same welcome.

      As we travelled a few joined us, those who had heard our story and had the spell of Summer broken, or those who had survived a similar fate as we. We scavenged, we hunted and we picked clean the bones of dead villages we passed. Soon we had horses, carts and wagons. We stopped at more towns and saw the same malaise; the people laughed and danced and drank the sweet ales of the endless Summer. Eventually we avoided towns altogether. Our group became a convoy of survivors, lost souls, all who cared to listen to out stories and join our flight. Eventually our wagons became our homes and we built on them and created a town for ourselves: one which would never stay in one place, would never be caught by those shambling horrors, nor the strange curse of Summer that blinds folk’s eyes to the horror of The Rot.

      We are the Wagon Town of Glenharrow and I am it’s Steersman. You have listened this long, stranger; you have not laughed once. You have a story of your own I sense. Perhaps you will join us and make Glenharrow your home?

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