She looked at him with angry eyes, the key clenched tightly in one fist. As she walked back pace by pace he could see her casting glances around the hollow for possible routes of escape. Chances were she could climb the bank behind her, so with no other ways out he readied himself to spring forward and catch her foot if she tried it. Instead, she stopped.
“I know the name of the old secret. Come no closer or I speak it.”
It seemed unlikely that this dirty child had such strength, but it gave him pause. The grisly remains of their captain were as yet unexplained and he was in no hurry to meet the same end.
“Maybe you know it, maybe you don’t, but the knowing’s not the mastering of a thing, is it girl? Give me the key.”
“Ah, but if I haven’t the way of it that’s all the same to you sir. If it slip its leash it will make an end of you just the same. I see in your eyes as you knows it.”
And it was the truth, too. Swearing under his breath he turned and made back for the ship. They had most of what they came for and the contents of the mayor’s lockroom would do him no good if he wasn’t alive to spend it.
The folk tales of the fen peoples Southeast of Baratheen frequently warn against the dangers of entering the caves that border the region. There are wild bears who make their dens there, some are home to barbarians who gnaw animal bones and still others lead down into the fiery depths of the Earth. Most feared of all, though, is to discover an empty cave containing, food, water and a candle. If you should happen to find it, your only chance for survival is to eat the food, drink the water, say “thankyou” aloud to the empty cave and then leave at once. As you leave you will hear footsteps approaching from the cave, but you must not turn back, not even a glance.
This folk tale tells of an ancient power which was once wielded by the fen people. It turned upon them when their greatest sage, Orgor, drew too much of the power into themselves. Now it is forbidden to name the power in case it hears and comes. It is therefore known by the name of the one it took.
The wariness of the fen folk is justified, since if its true name is spoken Orgor is indeed called. It then attempts to seize control of the one who called it. If the summoner is victorious then they may control Orgor. If not, then Orgor controls them in perpetuity unless they are somehow freed from its grip.
The secret, when wielded, allows the wielder to call the beasts of the dark water to their aid and to take on some of their aspects. The more knowledgeable and experienced the wielder is, the greater the range of such beasts that can be commanded. Rats and spiders are simple enough, eels not much harder and the black fen dogs within the skills of most who dare the secret. Harder are the serpents, the boars and the wolves. More elusive still are the greater beasts who do not approach human villages and so have no names. And beyond even them is whatever the sage Orgor called, a feat only the foolish would seek to repeat.