Out Of the Lake

This Weeks Prompt: 44. Castle by pool or river—reflection fixed thro’ centuries—castle destroyed, reflection lives to avenge destroyers weirdly.

The Resulting Story:By the Lake

So, we have here a prompt that reminds me very much of a couple of past prompts. Rather than review the notes from those, I’ll just briefly list them here:(Mirror Mirror On The Wall, The Storm Comes. The Dragon Roars.,THE MOON ).

I can’t, at the moment, recollect any folklore that relates to this sort of prompt not already covered in the above. I will note that this prompt reminds me more clearly of some sort of architectural version of The Picture of Dorian Grey, a book I find…tedious and don’t recommend. The basic notion, of a image of something preserving it’s beauty is the primary component at work here, albeit in reverse.

The reflection on a lake unchanging is an image that has appeared recently, in Dark Souls 2’s opening sequence. What exactly is meant by the still intact reflection is not known to me, and beyond a visual cue, we don’t exactly have the reflection itself seeking vengeance upon the destroyers of the unknown structure.

In general structure, it isn’t hard to think of the general outline. We can begin with the destruction of the castle by the named characters. The owners themselves are of little import, although the motive for destruction is. Given that the reflection is fixed through the centuries, presumably from before the castle’s destruction, it would not be unreasonable to say it’s builders and perhaps it’s lords are a tad fae.

Such nature might be the cause of the castles fall, or it might merely be an after thought of the real cause. Magical and mystical power is something that can be terrifying, and terror often prompts eventual reprisals. I doubt the unchanging reflection is, in it of itself, terrifying to the assailants. It is no doubt proof of what they feared.

Thinking on that, how would a reflection go about seeking it’s revenge? It does so in a ‘weird’ way, but to be honest, and with all due respect to Mr. Lovecraft, I fail to see how a castle’s image could achieve vengeance EXCEPT weirdly.

There are a few venues I would like to close off for the moment, however. The first is the image ‘haunting’ its prey, and damaging their reflection, their by damaging themselves. This feels a bit too slasher-mystery to me. In my time working with these corpses, I have learned that mysteries are hard to maintain in a reasonable word count. They simply need more time.

In this case I’ll also note that, despite having multiple characters to achieve vengeance on, the vengeance is better in a single act that afflicts all of the destroyers rather than hunting each indvidually. Mainly this is for space as well, although it also encourages a bit more creativity with the act. It has to be something that disturbs and drags down the lives of all involved.


There is the option of obsession, Narcissus style. The castles beauty might lure the destroyers into the lake, deeper and deeper, until they drown themselves trying to reach false halls and parapets. Or lure them towards the sorts of creatures that live down in that lake, long basking in the magic of the castle and it’s lords. Either is as deadly.

An alternative is the reverse. The castle’s reflection seeks vengeance by creating something and sending it out into the world. Something that, by strange means, destroys the lives of the destroyers. A living thing or inanimate object could both be desctructive in their own ways.

The trick with a living emergence would be to make it something besides a monster. Vengance via simple murder does not seem strange enough, or that horrifying in my opinion. Thinking on it for a bit, a living thing that bound them in some sort of prison, perhaps in the reflection itself, might be better. But that runs a risk of being too strange to properly be terrifying. Most people do not fear being trapped under a lake, and while claustrophobia or the like could work, that would center on the aftermath of the vengance, not the act itself.

Perhaps the castle’s agent could act as a lure. Not for the initial destroyers, but instead luring those dear to them, slowly pulling them towards an untimely end or ultimate sorrow. There is a more clear fear there of someone growing distant, of being unable to help a loved one or friend, and of the past coming back to destroy present relationships in unexpected ways.

Castle Lake Cover

The form of the creature of the reflection should, to a degree, be malleable therefore. I think some shining thing would serve it best. Unearthly in it’s color and appearance, it should be bewitching and yet frightening. The form of a child strikes me at the moment, partially for it’s apparent innocence, partially for it’s potential in the store (mistaken as the last heir of the castle, and spared out of mercy), partialy for it’s means of afflicting many (as a child grows, it can slowly worm its ways into hearts), partially for potential warning in ausipocus physical markers (third eyes, speaking too soon), and so on.

A child as a means of vengeance, slowly unmaking the fearful destroyers, seems like a fine tale. But I worry it will run too long. At best, the story should be broken into three parts. Each part is roughly five hundred words, and each would mark a stage. First would be the introduction of the cursed child, shortly after the ruining of the castle. Next would be the initial vengeance, as the strange child bewitched playmates and makes his way into the hearts of the destroyers court. The third act would be his final revenge, mutilating or driving out those who destroyed his kingdom or perhaps leading his devoted followers into the lake, where the foemen cannot follow.

I’ll have to think of how to do all these succinctly, but I think there is promise in this story. The outline is vauge for now, but that is what the remainder of the week is meant to refine!

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Invasion From Below

This Week’s Prompt: Monsters born living—burrow underground and multiply, forming race of unsuspected daemons.

The Research:Kobolds, Goblins, and Demons Beneath Your Feet

The fields outside the manor house always seemed to buzz after the rain. Jameson had heard from the senior staff supervising the old building that it was the cicadas waking, and certainly it sounded like the summer buzz of breeding insects. But Jameson had never found that comforting. As a child in the Southwest, the cicadas were a presence heard but never seen. He sometimes was convinced that it was actually the leaves and seeds of the trees burning under the heat of the sun.

But the fields couldn’t be burning, even if the grass almost seemed to light when the sun set behind them. Jameson knew better than to expect that. IT was the rain season. Fires never happen during the rain season. And here, the rain could last for days. The mountains blocked off any clouds that came from the sea, so a down pour would last until the clouds finally passed.

It was actually the seventh straight day of rain that Jameson and Jonathon observed that morning.

“You’d think the buzzing would stop with the rain.” Jameson said, sipping from the warm coffee he had. “But it’s almost like they go into a heat with the water.”

“Aren’t mosquitos like that? Love water and stuff?” Jonathon asked.

“No, no, skeeters like the warm, still standing stuff. They freeze up like most anything.” Jameson said with a shrug.

“Hmph. Well, maybe it’s a warning then.”

“A warning?”

“Well, they burrow underground right? I imagine it must be flooding down there.” Jonathan replied. “And I mean, if I was trapped in a flooding tunnel –a”

“Hush, hear that?” Jameson said, holding his hand up. The buzzing of the cicadas had grown, and now a second sound echoed behind it. Something more like… “Is that a drill?”

Jonathan stood at once, and Jameson pushed away from the table. Squinting into the rain, barely visible in the field, was a widening pile of dirt. A small pyramid emerged, whirling faster than anything they expected. It grew on the horizon until it was the size of a house, a glittering red light peering from it’s side. Soon another followed it, and another. About half a dozen pyramids, forming a line around the visible portion of the grounds.

INvasion Below Cover

“Who…Who do we call about this?” Jameson asked, as one of the pyramids tops slowly began emitting a deep red light.

“No one.” Jonathan said slowly, waving his phone around. “Signals gone.”

“…well, if that ain’t ominous.” Jameson said, turning back to the field. “Think it’s them? Think their aliens or something?”

“Could be the storm. Doesn’t much matter, because I intend to wait this out in the basement.” Jonathan said, pulling Jameson along. “Because if it’s not the storm than those things are probably responsible and their isn’t a decent reason to cut off someone’s reception, not unless your planning something that frankly I don’t—”

Before Jonathan could finish blurting out his thought, there was a loud crack from the bottom floor. Followed by another, longer creeking sound. Peering over the stair, they saw another pyramid rising, a spear point smashing through the floor. Before their eyes, the sides slumped off, making a four pointed star on the floor.

The Creatures Below

Slowly out came a thing that bore a resemblance to the wild men sometimes poking outside of paintings of forests and pagan rights. Long hands felt outward as a short, stocky creature covered in pale fur came forth. It was dripping wet, and moved more like a chimp then a man. But it’s fingers were almost reptilian, long serrated claws scratching the floor as it walked. It’s head was large and wide, like the top of mushroom. A tooth jaw ideally opened and closed, the long tounge of a serpent flicking out.

Neither Jonathan nor Jameson waited long upon seeing the thing before running up the stairs again. They almost tripped over themselves, running up the stairs to the topmost floor, trying to put as much distance between themselves and the strange machinery. When the skidded into the dancing hall, unused for the last thirty years, they slammed the door behind them.

What followed was a blur of activity, as the two of them piled the chairs and tables into a makeshift barricade on the door they came through and the side exits, leaving the servants exit free in case of escape. It was a fine looking barricade, with shining gold finery around the edges and white cushions making up a not insiginficant amount of bulk. Its practical ability was an unknown to either Jameson or Jonathan, nethier having spent much time around barricades.

Jonathan leaned against the larger window at the back, rolling his head to look outside again. In the distance, obscured by pouring rain, were more of the pyramids. Out of them ran a wave of the creatures, some carrying long pitch forks and others things that resembled a rifle with a drill bit at the end. But something else caught his eye.

“Christ, what are they doing out there?” Jonathan said, his shoulders slumping. A number of the gardening staff hadn’t yet come in from the rain, or maybe had been sent out in spite of it. As Jameson got closer to the window, he saw the descending horde of things falling on them with sticks and flashes of light, dragging away the dead or unconcious towards their pyramids.

“What do you think their doing with’em?” Jameson wondered. There was a sudden thump on the barricaded door. Both of them jumped and Jameson grabbed a chair as a meager weapon.

“Well, we might find out. Any idea of where to head from here?” He asked. Jonathan was doing his best to find the door handle to the servants passage again.

“Er, well, there is one place. Central tower garden might be safe. But we’d have to go down.” The clasp clicked open. “And they’re already down there.”


A click-click-click sound came from outside as Jonathan finished. Jameson slowly moved back to the window and, looking down, saw long metal ladder affixing themselves like vines along the wall.

“Well, in a moment they’ll be up here too. Open up and lets get out of here.” Jameson said, hurrying towards the door. Sure enough, moments after they closed it and began rushing down, there was the sound of smashed glass overhead. The two continued until they at last reached the courtyard.

The central tower of the manor was a tall, calcified thing.It had vines and pipes reaching up to the top apartment, and then spanning out to water the many garden plots around it. It had one door, around the front. Which, to Jonathan and Jameson’s shock, was locked.

The shock was in part due to the sound of clambering feet from the main hall, and the realization that the strange and terrible things were going to come for them at any second, with the last possible hold out no longer availible. The clambering and clanking of metal behind them, the sound of a centipedes worth of clattering feet certainly made the shock more clear.

But more immediate was the fact that only the family of the manor could lock the door. The interior lock require a key, both Jameson and Jonathan knew. They needed to get one of the kids to lend their key when locking it up every night. And the full implications began to sink in.

“Let us in you bastards!” Jameson shouted, smashing the chair he had brought on the door. Jonathan stared blankly a head as Jameson beat on the door with the remains of the chair legs, growing smaller and more splintered with every blow.

The family within the tower had had some warning. This had occurred before, about three decades prior. Once every thirty years or so. The patron of the house watched over the hills as the rain began ot die down, as the pyramids began to sink into the grown. It was one hell of a storm. The damage was severe, and the hush money for questions would probably be worse this year. Still. At least the inane buzzing had stopped for now.


This corpse was a fighter. I had another story ready, but the horror aspect didn’t click. so I started again from scratch. And then half of it was lossed in a computer incident. The result is a story I’m not the most proud of, but that could be expanded in interesting ways later.

Next week we will be looking into a lost castle across the vast gulf of time.

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Kobolds, Goblins, and Demons Beneath Your Feet

This Weeks Prompt:43. Monsters born living—burrow underground and multiply, forming race of unsuspected daemons.

The Resulting Story: Invasion From Below

Well, this prompt has lead down some strange rabbit holes. The corpse specifically deals with creatures underground, burrowing in a method that reminds me of locusts or cicadas. The underground is full of strange creatures, but when it comes to sheer numbers and the sort of clamoring that forms indicates only a few key cases, from folklore and urban legends that is.

Sailor Kobold.png

First is the Kobold, who resembles a diminutive man, despite claims by Wizards of the Coast and Paizo. Kobolds dwell either in mines, aboard ships, or in houses, and are creatures of German extraction. We will be focusing on the mining branch, who have the most mixed reputation. These kobolds are reportedly expert miners and desirous of precious metals. They themselves can enchant metals, making fools gold or metals that cause a burning sensation. They are also responsible, it is believed, for the creation of cobalt. It is they who give cobalt it’s arsenic content and poisonous power.

Kobolds sometimes preform helpful deeds, debatedly. They get the name Koblod for their tendency to knock on mine walls. The knocking either marks a region that miners ought to avoid, as it is dangerous, or one that they should mine for a thick vein of ore. This knocking habit persists into the Kobolds relatives, the Coblynau. The Coblynau are, however, always malevolent and frequently cause landslides in their never ending mining.


In South Africa, far yet close to the German Kobolod, we have another creature. A favorite of mine: The Grootslang. The Grootslang was the first creation of the Gods, when they were new to the work of making life. They made the Grootslang too mighty, and split it into two creatures (snakes and elephants). But one of the Grootslang escaped, and from it came the whole dread species. Grootslangs lust for gems and gold, akin to dragons. They are cunning and cruel creatures, but susceptible therefore to bribery.

There are less …demonic inhabitants below of course. We have the urban legend of ‘molemen’, groups of homeless and oppressed people driven into subways and sewers for their entire lives. There they form, according to myth, tribes and nations of their own, governed by their own laws. There are some…obviously uncomfortable implications to discussing those that society has suppressed as living in underground societies of barbarity. But that is the legend. There is something in this myth in particular that could be reversed, the rising of those condemned against those that would damn them. The oppressed gripping the oppressor by the throat…

But that might be leaving the prompt a bit.

Journey to the Center of the Earth.png

In more typical realms of genre, there is the field of Subterranean Fiction. Jules Verne is perhaps the most famous here, but given that his explorations do not deal with something intellgient enough to call demons, we will look instead to a few other authors in the genre.

It would be strange to leave out Mr. Lovecraft himself, with the world of K’n-yan. The underground of K’n-yan is ruled by people who resemble First Peoples and possess advanced technology. They can materialize and dematerialize at will. The command undead slaves of conquered races and are ruled by eugenically engineered men and women. Once they worshiped Tsathoggua, but learned his nature and abandoned him.

With them dwell the remains of the snakemen, who we discussed more here. And in the depths of the cavern is Tsathogua himself, dread great old one surrounded by living oozes.

Mr. Lovecraft then aside, there is the work of Edward Bulwer-Lytton. This accounts not for demons, but rather a race of ‘superior’ subterranean humans that manipulate life energy. This ties into the accountants by Theosphanists, a group who’s writings make fine genre work but are tinged forever by racist and white supremacist implications if not handled properly. Ironically, I wonder if the people of K’n-yan were meant as something of an insult to the work of Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Intriguing if true.

With all this in mind, what are we to do? Well, we have some compelling examples of complex relations between surface dwellers and those below. The idea of inherent hostility in the underground works well for horror, and the setting in a liminal place between above and below would work well. A subway, a mine shaft, a cave entrance. A place between the two worlds, perhaps the spot of their divergence.

The action of the story is probably the arising of the ‘demons’ whatever form they take, coming up from the underground. The analogy of locusts rising might be fitting here, a wave of death arising from below. There is some revolutionary undertones to that …well, phrasing. Revolutions often have horrors in them, either in the build up or execution.

The other solution, perhaps the one that can mesh into this as easily, is a stranger stumbling into the hostile world below. A journey into the literal underworld, as Dante and Aeneas have undergone. We’ve gone over such journeys elsewhere, but those where far more metaphorical journeys below. This would be tumbling into a strange, hostile land of demons waiting to overtake the world. Whether they are revolutionaries or conquerors, such a place could hold a host of horrors. It must have wealth, that much is clear from most myths. And that makes a fairly good amount of sense. The ground is where growth comes from and where ores are found.

It might be wise to blurr the line between conqueror and revolutionary, to make the nature of the demons uncertain and unclear. I would point the group as coming up from below, surging beneath some manor or castle, in order to begin either a revolt or a conquest. It is probable that the footmen do not know which the sudden surge of demons is. If that is the case, then there is horror to be found in being swept up in a terror that you bear little knowledge if not responsibllity for.

I will have to think this over, I don’t quite have a full story in mind yet. There is so many possibillities that I have yet to narrow them down in a meaningful way.

I will note one other obvious source of inspiration: the videogame Undertale. I…have not finished it, so can only recommend it by reputation and the little progress I have made so far.

In a similar vein, I’d like to call your attention to a horror contest that might interest you, as it’s themes resemble this prompt. You can find it here. My story here will, of course, not be an entry in that competition. </span

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