Dark Fantasy: Nogoloth – The Bells Of Pnikigystros

In which I continue to pen some seriously Lovecraft-inspired dark fantasy.

In the port city of Pnikigystros, on the southernmost shore of Nogoloth, there stands an ruined church – once consecrated to St. Xavier of the Kettle, according to the few ancient residents who can recall the times before it was boarded-up and abandoned for reasons lost to memory. Despite its dilapidation and lack of occupants, the bells of this cathedral still ring out at dusk and dawn on odd days – days that some claim are holy to the darker gods who hold sway over the affairs of man and beast. These mournful tolling bells can be heard from one end of Pnikigystros to the other, even in the fine mansions atop Warden’s Hill. The people of the city take extra care on these days, when inevitably bad luck and murder are in the air. Sailors refuse to set out on voyages on these days, and children who are born between the ringing of the bells are quite often sickly and haunted in appearance.

The residents of the neighborhood where the church stands – called Blacksend by those who live there – shun this structure, crossing to the other side of the street and spitting on the ground when they must pass it as they walk down Margrave Lane. In the early evening, when the blood red light from the setting sun streams through the building’s high stained glass windows and plays upon the cobblestones outside its doors even the least superstitious folk usually choose a route that avoids that sullen street entirely, regardless of the distance that traversing Margrave might save.

In other places of the world one might expect that such a structure would attract the attention of curious and bold children or, perhaps, the interest of a criminal element that might seek to take advantage of such a blighted place to engage in their unlawful activities out of the watchful eye of the constabulary. But in Pnikigystros, one finds no such activity. My own efforts to recruit urchins or footpads to investigate the church further on my behalf – a system which has proven useful in other areas of Nogoloth, as you’ll recall – have fallen upon willfully deaf ears. Once word reached the broader communities of these sources of inexpensive explorers I found that I was unable even to complete a friendly exchange with such citizens.

If not for the willingness of a certain sea captain and his crew of less-than-sterling repute I might never have found anyone to enter the edifice in question and secure for me the bronze vessel that proved to to be precisely where a particular venerable verger with a tongue loosened by various libations had indicated it would be found. That only the first mate of the Green Phoenix – a peculiar man named Crawford Fowler, whose bearing and features implied a connection to the Cwnuihd Fowlers – delivered the item to me, with a blank stare and far less interest in his payment than I was led to expect from one of his sort, is of no matter.

I must confess that even I – engrossed as I was in my examinations of the Kettle – was slightly unnerved upon hearing that the pirates’ ship – after sitting quietly vacant at the docks for weeks – was suddenly no longer moored on the 22nd morning after the breeching of the church – a morning, one should note, that followed the tolling of the Bells of Pnikigystros.

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