Once upon a time, there lived an old necromancer up in Dalburry Blough. Folks were paranoid about him, cursing the strange blue wisps which sometimes could be spotted emanating from his cabin during one of his his full-moon rituals. Outlandish explanations for many inexplicable occurings were circulating among the villagers. Dead dogs, cats and cattle were attributed to the necromancer’s maleficient deeds, as were the frequent outbursts of an insatiable plague befalling the town.
Even stranger tales were readily shared with any of the rare travellers at haggard old inn of Dalburry. Mysterious screeches could be heard coming from the woods during the death of night, as any old crone would attest, and many a villager could vividly recall that dreadful summer during which the whole town seemed to be haunted by the same recurring nightmare. Night after night, wretched spirits would burst from the old necromancers cabin and haunt the villagers in their dreams. A few Dalburry folks are said to be unable to tell dreamworld from reality still, and can be heard screaming in terror many a night.
None of the living villagers have spoken with the necromancer in generations. Belief has spread that he only converses in legendary tongues of the elders to invoke his shadowy rituals, way beyond simple folks’ comprehension. He very much kept to himself in his infernal seclusion, as if existing on a different plane entirely. There were rumors among the villagers that his cabin was fiercy guarded by the reanimated remains of dead animals, and even the shambling corpses of long-deceased townsfolk.
It has been village custom for generations to collect tribute for the necromancer each season. Rare stones and shiny jewels were brought to the base of the hill on which his cabin stood, for the village was rich in shiny stones and the miners worked tirelessly to procure them. By custom, the amount of tribute to bring increased each season by just the tiniest amount. The fearful villagers sought to perfect themselves and their methods in procuring stones and jewels, lest they incur the necromancers wrath. In some way or another the whole of Dalburry, from starry-eyed child to wrinkling elder, were engaged with mining or refinement of stones or jewels, with care of the miners’ daily needs, or with production of the most artisanal jewellery.
It was the ancient way of the people of Dalburry to bring the remains of their dead to the base of the hill, too. This was the only time anyone ever saw the necromancer – high up at his cabin, beckoning the villagers with his hollow eyes. The Corpses were always whisked away by an unseen hand, and no one dared speak their mind as to their fate.
He hated them all. Pitiful, small-minded creatures. Incapable of even a tiny intellectual leap. No grasp of the terrible forces just outside their realm of comprehension. It was not always like this. The degenerates had established their claim over the gene pool of the hellhole called Dalburry Blough only a few generations ago, and there was hope yet. He grimly watched the buzz and hustle of people mining the useless stones and fashioning an endless number of hellish trinkets.
If only he would be able to perfect the formula. So many souls, for this. Hundreds of abyssal townships like Dalburry, each one incubating a slight variation of the insatiable mutagen. Nothing but moonshots to find the tranquil equilibrium of psychohistorical stability. If only…
[from here onwards the story was generated in collaboration with GPT-3]
He did not like to watch it. Not at all. But he kept watching. Because he had no choice. Because he was responsible for their state of affairs. There had been a time when they were capable of so much more. His careful engineering of the cohorts of each township had been perfected. He himself had witnessed the instant when the perfection of the psychosis first came to fruition. And then his eyes grew old… and he had become all too distant from the cold, callous world outside his cabin.
This was the last generation. He knew that. And he knew that they would lose their battle. It was not too far into the future. The never-ending horrors of the torn lands outside of Dalburry would claim them, and yet in which measure? They had been making progress, but maybe the constant unrefined influx of psychohistorical data would destroy them. He sighed. Time to leave them to their own demise.
He would miss Dalburry, though. To stalk the villagers in their dreams one last time. He doubted that his presence there would give them nightmares, though. Not when the real horrors were so close.
Nils Steinert & GPT-3