The soil there has always been a peculiar thing. You wouldn't think so just by looking at it, of course. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to pinpoint a single distinguishing feature that separates it from its more banal and quite frankly nurturing cousin. No, most of you would just see browning fields among large swaths of reddish dirt—inconvenient terrain should you track its remains into your home.
Stay awhile though, and you start to notice things like its pervasive silence, or the wickedly-formed trees that bedevil its woods. You may come across the particularly unnerving feeling that just below your feet lies an old and smoldering darkness. When you turn to leave that odd little town, it may even reveal to you a sliver of its true nature. You may realize the houses you saw were really the distorted reflections of places far more sinister, and the strange people you met were nothing more than fleshy marionettes, beholden to some unseen puppeteer in the sky. Perhaps you would understand that under the ground, where you had stood only moments before, thrived a black and industrious ecosystem that fed the land with the distilled essence of long-buried evils. Then, you may have an inkling of what terrors reside in the town of Devil's Clay.
As an inhabitant of Greywitch, I have the unfortunate displeasure of living near the wretched place. It clings to our borders, and thus we often play host to its parasitic appetites. I sometimes wonder if the earth itself senses its presence—if it yearns to somehow cut that fiendish hamlet from the rest of its body, as we do. If so, it seems whatever forces prevail in that accursed burg are strong enough to humble even it, stilling its will along with our own, keeping us both firmly drawn to its fangs.
Devil's Clay is not simply home to some wicked form of darkness. It is also a beacon of sorts, a dire lighthouse to which lost evils are drawn. Over the years, it has offered its dark hospitalities to many strange visitors, most of whom have traveled through our town to reach it. Stories abound regarding these strange figures.
Two years ago, a woman strolled into a local tavern and performed a song. According to the stories, it caused patrons to see visions of what they called a "burning universe." Witnesses claim they saw scores of giant beings writhing in the flames, their screams dwarfed only by the mad laughter of some unseen cosmic arsonist.
Another account tells of an abandoned barn on the edge of town, where Ray Borniak swears he saw a man being burned alive in a giant lantern. Ray went on to claim the owner of the man-sized lamp then used the flames to cast a bizarre and frightful display of shadow puppetry—an orgy of demonic black shapes that gamboled and played across the rotted walls of the dying barn as the burning man screamed.
It was only a few weeks ago that a group of us saw an old rusted-out car driving along a nearby road. This is far from a rarity in these parts, except the engine lacked the conventional cough and sputter of such vehicles, instead operating through some horrific form of black engineering. The sounds coming from its hood were unforgettable—they could only have been the pain-stricken screams of the tortured, reaching ever more frightening crescendo as it accelerated.
For centuries, the people of our community have been held in thrall to that awful town, and there has been little done to stop it—until now. As I write this, several of us are plumbing our town records for insights. Others are coaxing old tales and rumors from local elders. There are even a few of us, myself included, who will be venturing into the town of Devil's Clay itself, searching for answers. Without them, no one will ever come to believe us—and we’ll never stand a chance of receiving the help we so gravely need.
It is with this last point in mind that I write this. You see, this is not simply an attempt to share our plight with you. It is a plea of the most desperate variety for your help. Please believe me when I say inaction on your part will doom not only us, but everyone. Make no mistake—the reach of Devil's Clay is growing. And after the people of Greywitch are finally swallowed by its hungry shadow, you will not be far behind.
- Lauren Wagner
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