Well, I got into the hut easily enough, but the place was thick with incense. It was all I could do not to cough and it quickly made me feel sleepy and sick. I had to find the Klome first to be sure she was asleep, but I couldn’t see her anywhere. Could she be out? Or… was it possible she’d gone down into the maze inside the hill that was her home? I couldn’t go down to check. Everyone knew the maze was death! I looked at the entrance, though, in case I could see light through the cracks.
A sound behind me made me turn and there it was, a crawling horror longer than my arm! Two dozen legs and as black as midnight. It was between me and the outside, so in an instant I was through the trapdoor and into the maze, pulling it shut behind me. I didn’t dare to wander far, but soon I heard her in the darkness nearby and she called out to me.
“I know you’re there, boy. Good thing for you I’ve eaten tonight or I’d strip you to the bones. Run now, while you can, or I’ll do it anyway and keep your meat for the morrow!”
I ran then and somehow escaped from that nightmare into the cool air of the hillside. Haven’t been able to eat honey since, though. If I so much as smell it, I see the horror again, inching slowly towards me.
At the end of the Ossem Peninsula, beyond the dense woodlands, stands the town of Halse Valley. It is a strange place, in that it is entirely dependent on the Seats of Urthauld and on Sunset Market in Llaewar for its survival and yet it is governed by none of them.
Superficially, Halse Valley seems to be a town of smugglers, exiles and other such misfits. However, there is more to it than meets the eye. It is said the town was built upon a hill which serves as the burial place of a dead god. This tale has spread throughout Urthauld and even further afield, yet the people of Halse Valley seem to know very little about it and, if pressed, say only that the Venerable Klome would probably know the truth of it.
The Klome does indeed know the truth. Beneath her hut is a maze of tunnels that none is permitted to enter save for her, since anyone who travels within the maze will surely die. Getting more than this out of her is difficult for two reasons. First, though she knows a great deal more she does not wish to reveal it. Second, her hut is filled with a thick narcotic smog which only she is able to tolerate for more than a few minutes.
The people of Halse Valley treat the Klome as a wise woman and are reverent towards her, but it is a reverence born of fear.
The truth that the Klome hides from visitors is that the maze contains an ancient geometric long gate dating from the mythic epoch. The other end of the long gate emerges in the desert just South of Pelit Porava, where two large stone buildings stand at the foot of the cliff. They are worn by centuries of sandstorms, but their walls remain intact. One of these buildings contains the long gate and so effectively forms an entrance to the maze below the Klome’s hut. The other is a tomb of sorts.
According to the tales, the hill in Halse Valley is the resting place of a dead god. The truth is that it’s only half dead. Within the tomb rest the huge, skeletal remains of a centipede a dozen times as long as a human is tall. The dust of ages lies upon its unmoving form. However, if viewed in a mirror, its mirror form can be seen to be very much alive and although it is too large to leave the chamber in which it is trapped, it forever writhes and reaches in search of prey. It does not eat its victims, having no need for food. Instead, it implants its eggs into them.
This is what happened to the Klome, long ago. Her mirror body died as a many-legged godspawn hatched from it. Her body in Halse Valley lives on, the narcotic fumes numbing her pain. Within the tunnels of her maze, matters are reflected and her form is that of a yard long giant centipede as she hunts for trespassers. At night both forms are exchanged and the Klome walks the maze while the centipede hunts around Halse Valley and the surrounding woods.