The village had a name long ago, but nobody remembers it now. Nobody wants to. People have learned to give it a wide berth. Strange things happen there… dark and horrible things. It was once an ordinary farming town, where the people worked their land and went about their business. They didn’t prosper, but they didn’t starve. Time passed on and nothing much ever changed until one fateful harvest season. The summer had been hot and dry, and the storms had come late, lasting well into autumn. The harvest was small, and the people were dreading the stark winter to come.
late October night a stranger wandered into the town. He was tall—hooded and
cloaked against the rain. His staff clacked upon the cobbled road as he
paced slowly toward the only food and lodging the small town had to offer. A
cold chill followed him, curling slyly down the front lanes of the homes
along his path. It coiled around the feet of the residents who were still
out on that rainy night, raising the hair on the backs of their necks, and
giving them a sudden urge to attend to tasks indoors. More than one uneasy
hand pulled aside a curtain to get a glimpse of the oddly unsettling
visitor, but no one ventured back out to ask his business. The cold outsider
continued along toward the local inn, either unaware or uninterested in the
effect his presence had on the inhabitants.
He only asked for a meal, but his voice had an unearthly timbre that sent a chill down the innkeepers spine. Perhaps if the man had never looked into the visitor's face and had just done as he requested, what happened next might have been avoided. There's no way to know. The man glanced up at his customer, and the answer on his lips simply froze there. The stranger's visage was deeply shadowed, but nothing could veil the eyes that smoldered from the depths of his hood. They met the innkeeper's startled look with a baleful, unnatural light. The vile gaze held the man, who could glimpse no familiar humanity in it. He saw only a mad, soulless void that threatened to consume him. Horrified, he staggered backwards against the bar in a rattle of glassware. Startled customers looked up from their drinks to see what was going on.
In a rural town, strangers are looked upon with suspicion. Although they didn't know what had happened, the tavern patrons could see their fellow townsman's discomfiture and didn't hesitate to move to his defense. There was no need to ask what the problem was. It was clear to them that the odd stranger wasn't welcome, and they undertook to remove him from the premises. He was strong—stronger than he looked—but outnumbered, he was soon overpowered and pushed toward the door. It was during that scuffle that his cloak fell open to reveal strange artifacts lashed to his belt. Some said they glimpsed shrunken heads, others swore they saw human teeth and bones. Somebody pulled the hood from his head…
No one can describe what they saw then. It's probably for the best—some things are better left unknown in a sane world. Whatever they beheld, it was far from human, and the mob went from mere unease to a horrified frenzy. They dragged the creature to the meeting stone in the middle of the village to hang him, then and there. Perhaps it should have occurred to them that earthly methods of execution might do no harm to the thing they had captured, but rational thought had fled. They threw the noose over his head, looped it to the hangman’s tree, and kicked the barrel out from underneath him. Then a hush swept over the watching townspeople, and a nauseating terror engulfed them. The stranger had not fallen. He simply stood on thin air like it was as solid as the stone beneath him. At that moment, the storm that had been threatening broke in earnest overhead, as if the skies couldn’t bear to witness such an unnatural sight.
The stranger was seen to smile, and it became apparent to everyone watching that he had never been overpowered by the frail mortal townsfolk. His mad grin froze the souls of the unfortunate people that had thought to put an end to him, and all saw that there was more power being brought to bear than any of them could fathom. The creature's horrible eyes sparked, mirroring the lightning that tore the sky above him, and his unearthly voice echoed into the night as he shouted words in a language not of this earth. With a deafening crack, lightning struck the limb above him, knifed downward through his body, and slammed into the stone below. And in that moment he vanished. The terrible storm ceased, as if it had never been, leaving the dazed villagers to stare at the place where the stranger had stood. All that was left was an empty noose swinging gently in the dying breeze… and burned into the stone below were two perfect, cloven hoof prints.
The villagers soon discovered the consequences of being inhospitable to a demon. Strange things emerged from the woods after that night. The dead no longer slept quietly in their graves. Creatures that had never before been seen became all too common. Some say that even the trees would watch travelers, and move with a will of their own. And the townsfolk… the townsfolk changed. Oh yes, the villagers are there still, undying and undead. But one can’t exactly call them people, now. And if all that weren’t enough, the curse attracts more evil to itself. Awful things find their way there, drawn by the pall that hangs over the place like a dark cloud.
There’s not much left of the village anymore, except for a few odd buildings here and there. Most people know to avoid it. Some who wander in lose their way and just… never leave. Ask the performers in the little circus that came to town a few years after it happened. They’re still there. They’ve changed too…
Most of the time the accursed place is quiet enough. Travelers sometimes go missing if they get too curious. But as All Hallow’s Eve approaches, even the most foolhardy of souls have learned to stay away. The storms still come late to the little town. When the leaves turn scarlet, and the chill evening breeze rattles through the crisp corn sheaves in the fields, that’s when the demon’s spell gains strength. Then just about anything can happen... With all the fury of its demon master’s wrath, the curse overloads the village with the darkest of forces, and no outsider is safe to venture in.
You can go there if you don’t believe this tale. The path is just beyond those tall trees. Don’t look at them as you pass by—they don’t like it. And I’d recommend that you don’t look back…