By Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports
17/9- Doctor Rothery pauses, offering no further insight into the tale. I can tell he’s waiting for some prodding from me, so I indulge him. He goes into the typical hemming and hawing until finally deciding to spill the proverbial beans.
The story goes that in swamps around Lelina, there lives a powerful elemental force the indigenous peoples know as the Mist Walker. It patrols the swamps on nights when the moon is full, a hulking figure with the head of a deer that is concealed by a rolling cloak of fog. Some people who have seen it claim it walks on two legs, though others claim otherwise (typical for this sort of regional legend). Some say that, in the rare moments when the fog rolls away, you can see the glint of moonlight off of heavy, silver armor.
Many of the tribes of the Southern Nation revere it in equal parts as both god and devil, a being that both protects and destroys. It cannot be appeased: if you wander into its territory you are, without question, a threat.
There is one tribe to the east, along the shore, however, that paints the creature in an entirely malevolent light. They say, that in times long forgotten, on a night when the fog from the ocean and the mists from the swamps met, and a mighty storm came over the land, the Deer-Men (as it is called in this regional variant, and note the plurality, also a fact exclusive to this version of the tale) came from far inland and killed all of the men in the village, and all but one of the women. The children were left unharmed, according to the tale, which plays a large role in that particular tribe’s matriarchal culture.
I ask Doctor Rothery why the Mist Walker would nearly wipe out an entire village. He waggles his fingers, leans over the table candle to under-light his face and says, “Nooobody knoooows. Woooooh…”
Does Doctor Rothery have any theories on the origin of the tale?
“Several. One is that there is actually something out there, some species we haven’t observed yet, or at the very least there was, at one time, and it is now extinct. Another possibility is that someone, long ago, got drunk, saw a deer on a misty morning, freaked out, and started telling tales that became more exaggerated over the centuries. Speaking of drunk, I’m just a little over that line myself. Excuse me.”
I stop him as he starts to stand, and ask him if any of the settlers in the region have stories to tell. His eyes visibly darken, but he says, “Nothing that can be substantiated with any observable proof. Good night.”