Notes: I am pleased to announce my newest project: A collection of short stories with a swashbuckling theme, titled, In Saltcross. They take place in the same world, and span across multiple decades as the world changes (this story takes place first in the timeline). I'll put up a few of the stories in the website, and then you can read the other ones by buying the full book once it's published through conventional means. Also: this story will feature many strange names of objects and creatures. The ones not explained will be expanded on in later stories.
Part 2: https://westernkingdoms.gorestrepeat.com/the-sinister-secret-of-sinismanor-2/
Part 3: https://westernkingdoms.gorestrepeat.com/the-sinister-secret-of-sinismanor-3/
Mudrend woke up in a small bed. Around him, he could hear the familiar commotion of Saltcross, the coastal town he lived in. His bed was tucked away in an alley and made up of hay and other soft materials. Mudrend got up and headed towards a small gate.
the sign above the gate proclaimed.
“You there! What's your business in Salt?”
A guard said to Mudrend. Salt was the closest neighborhood in Saltcross to the ocean, and therefore the most dangerous.
“I’m just taking a look.”
Mudrend replied. The guard let him in. As he walked down the street, he stepped around the mud puddles still left over from the recent high tide. Salt was so close to the sea that when high tide came, the waters flooded into the streets, leaving puddles and fish for the cats, as well as flotsam and jetsam from all over. He looked to his side over the wooden rail that seperated the town from the coast. Mudrend sat down at a small street food stand.
“1 pot of boilfish bone noodles, please.”
Mudrend told the chef, who started cooking immediately. Mudrend's ears picked up on a conversation coming from the fellow customers:
“See that house?”
A finely dressed woman gestured to a large ruined building. Its surviving spires, together with the rubble at the bottom, gave it the appearance of a monstrous maw. Her companion replied:
“You mean the Sinismanor?”
“Of course. I think that ugly house should be torn down–it’s ruining our beautiful city!”
replied the man. He continued.
“But how to do it? The house is infested with wood eating jaw-mucks, bloodsucking sytrigs, swoops, snats, there are even rumours of sarkerquenchers and giant pythons.”
“I think that we should send in soldiers to exterminate the pests, and build on the spot a beautiful new house. No one lives in that mess, anyway!”
"Who owned Sinismanor back in the old days, before vermins ruled the house?" the man asked.
"Obviously, Alarin Sinismanor. He and his family were an extraordinarily affluent family-they held galas, donated to charity, everything. Then, the Sinismanor's just got up and left their mansion one day. It's all very mysterious." The women replied. Mudrend stopped listening. He didn’t know all that much about Sinismanor, other than the obvious: it was an abandoned manor. After finishing the fish noodles, Mudrend continued his walk down the street. He soon came across a man busy taking care of some bukros. Bukros were big brown pigs, large enough that a full-grown man could ride them.
“Need some help taking care of them?”
Mudrend asked the man.
“Sure, I could always use some help.”
Mudrend knelt down and began washing the bukros' massive bodies. They were easy to feed, but notoriously hard to clean. The man asked him to take care of the bukros for 1 week, in return for 6 coins a day. Mudrend decided not to go back to his alleyway and slept on top of the hay with the bukros, who were, surprisingly, great roommates. As Mudrend was almost completely asleep, he felt a strange soft spot in the hay. Carefully, he pressed his feet down onto the soft spot harder. Suddenly, the whole thing broke, and Mudrend fell through a hole!
Mudrend landed in a hallway. It was a long passage lined with torches. The hole which Mudrend had fallen into slowly close, until there was no visible hole at all. Mudrend looked around the passageway. He must be in some ancient ruins under Saltcross. Then, he heard some huge footsteps behind him. All of a sudden, he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck, and everything went black.
Mudrend woke up damp and wet. He was in a dark cell, and all tied up. Suddenly, the bars of the cell opened.
“Let him free, Kelthunge.”
A figure in a black cloak gazed at him detachedly from behind the bar. Mudrend couldn't even see his face. A lowbowlid came out and freed Mudrend with a sword. Mudrend's first instinct was to run. He thought he could overpower the cloaked figure, but the lowbowlid looked strong enough to injure him severely.
“It seems that you have fallen down through a hole, like the others.”
The figure said to Mudrend,
“My name is Indoran. People can’t leave Sinismanor easily. There are a whole bunch of vermin infesting the entire area, and they will eat you before you can leave. Also, there are hardly any entranceways out. So you can stay here until I’ve thought of what to do with you. In the meantime, try to make yourself at home here.”
With that, Indoran left Mudrend alone in the room before leaving. Mudrend left also and began finding his way through the maze of corridors. There were puddles everywhere, and broken pipes and all sorts of junk littered the area. Fungi clung to the walls, giving the place a moldy odor. So this is Sinismanor, he thought. Mudrend reached the main staircase, which connected all the floors. As he descended, he passed by a wall with a picture frame. It was of a family. There was a smiling man wearing a fancy hat and shirt. There was also a woman wearing a strange white and blue shirt. There was a young man in the picture with a sword and a shield, he looked about 19. A teenager with an eyepatch and a rapier stood beside him. There was also a middle child, probably 13. He was playing a lyre. Finally, there was a baby. He had a bored smile. Mudrend was about to leave the picture when he noticed more kids: He saw a girl who was about 19 and had a small circlet on her head. A girl with an eyepatch and holding a sword. A teenage girl in a purple cloak who seemed to be reading a book. Finally, a baby girl. The portrait didn't show any of their names. There was also a huge scratch mark over the face of the girl with the purple cloak. It was a family of 10!
“This family is huge!”
Mudrend said to himself.
“They must argue a lot, with so many people.”
Mudrend left the picture and continued walking. Kelthunge, the lowbowlid who had set him free was waiting for him at the bottom.
“Take these–you'll need them if you're going to explore such a huge house.”
Kelthunge handed Mudrend a map of Sinismanor, a lamp, and a sickle before dashing off.
Mudrend continued wandering around the damp and cold house. Much of the paint had peeled off the walls, and the whole place smelled of rot, but Mudrend could still see traces of the place's former beauty. In its prime, Sinismanor must have been the crowning jewel of Saltcross, rivalling the Sea House (Where the mayor lived). He consulted the map Kelthunge had given him. Kelthunge had marked each place with a “Symbol”. Kelthunge had also written down important places like the kitchen, his bedroom, the bathroom, and much more. Mudrend decided to look for the kitchen. He heard some gurgling noises as he passed by the chute, and ran ahead. Mudrend soon entered the kitchen. The room was filled with puddles–water oozed from every corner. There were also a lot of junk lying around–Candy wrappers, bits of notes and papers, and a narrow sword stabbed onto the floorboard. Some of them seemed older than he was, maybe back when the Sinismanors owned the place. He caught sight of Kelthunge, a sleeping cat, a rough-looking man with rum, and a scalewyrn (humanoid cross between a crocodile and a lizard). They were sitting around a table eating.
“Why don’t you join the meal?”
Kelthunge asked Mudrend.
He wasn't hungry. He hurried out of the room, before scanning the Sinismanor map: The map showed the safe and the dangerous places. That chute that Mudrend had seen with the gurgling noise was marked with a green skull. Kelthung had also given him a legend showing what the symbols meant:
- Green skull: slightly dangerous, try to avoid it.
- White skull: dangerous, flee
- Black skull: gotta run
- Broken square: ruined area
- Claw: monster zone
- Knife and rope: trap
- Door: door
- Tree: garden
- Crate: storage area
- Snake: poisonous
- Lock: locked area
- Wall: barricade
- Cone: renovating
- Worm: short cut
- Toilet: restroom
- Book: library
- Fork: kitchen
Mudrend grew tired looking at all these symbols. He put away the map and decided to continue on the path. He arrived at a the library. He saw some broken chairs and couches. There were many bandits crowding the area–Bandits playing cards, bandits chewing on paper, and bandits sleeping. He was about to sit down when a voice said,
“don’t you know this seat is taken?”
Mudrend looked and saw the cat he had seen in the dining room, lounging on the place he had been about to sit.
Mudrend went to sit down on another seat. He took a book called The Latching Latch of the Latchfish and started reading. The book described everything about the Latchfish, from its mating rituals to its hunting habits. He closed the book and started exploring the room. The library was a very small place. There were stairs, with a sign marked “To the upper kitchen”.
“Why would a kitchen be on top of a library?”
He plopped himself down on another chair. Suddenly, another thought came to mind.
“How can you talk?”
Mudrend asked the cat who was stretching on the chair.
I learned–how else do you think I did?”
The cat replied,
“my name is River Wood Inside A Rainy Damp Shed, or Riverwood for short.”
Said the cat.
”What might be your name?”
He responded, but he was far from satisfied with Riverwood's answer.
“But how can a cat learn how to talk?”
Was Riverwood's response. Mudrend suddenly noticed that the cat was standing on its hind legs!
“Are you a furfang?”
Mudrend asked. He had heard of them–furfangs were a race of nomadic humanoid cats. They were common in wild terrains and jungles.
"I’m a cat. Can't you see?”
“What are you doing?”
“Reading a book.”
Riverwood responded, then continued reading.
“Do you know about that gurgling sound in the garbage chute? What is it?”
“It's a Hungry Slush.”
“Dangerous oozes, in the same kingdom of mold and fungi. Dissolves wood, and flesh, if you aren’t careful. Watch out for it!”
Mudrend said. He thought about Riverwood. Was he really a cat? Mudrend was pretty sure that cats couldn't talk.
Mudrend continued his walk. The house was damp. Mushrooms were growing through the walls, ceiling, and floor. Cross-lobsters were scurrying around for food. Suddenly, bursting like a splash of water, some slime crashed on top of Mudrend. Mudrend yelped as some strange slime started to pour from Mudrend’s shoulders. Was this a hungry slush like Riverwood had described? It didn’t dissolve Mudrend like he thought, but it started to enlarge after falling off Mudrend. It swelled and enlarged until it was large enough to gulp down a bukro. It looked like a blob of slime. Slime was oozing from it. It suddenly opened up revealing a slimy jaw. It suddenly rushed towards Mudrend. Mudrend suddenly broke concentration of the ooze and started to run for his life. The ooze shot a slimy tendril that wrapped around Mudrend’s leg. It started to reel him into its mouth. Slimes and oozes gushed out from it as it pulled its prey into its mouth.
Mudrend screamed. He tried to resist and yanked his leg free, taking some slimes from the ooze with him. Suddenly, the ooze started shrinking again. It climbed back to its hideout, defeated. “Phew.” Mudrend thought. “That slime was so dangerous, it might have been a relative of the hungry slush.” Before the ooze could attack Mudrend again, he dashed with all his might away down the passages.
Mudrend soon found his room. There were four long claw marks across the wall, which he doubted any Sinismanor vermin could make. He sat on his bed (which was made from wood) and started cleaning his leg. It was still covered in slime. A portrait of a kid playing a lyre was perched on the head of his bed. Mudrend yawned–it had been a long day. Mudrend noticed many features in the room. There was a diary lying there. It said: The Diary of Aldryn. Mudrend flipped through the pages. Unfortunately, they had been dripping wet, and flies had eaten most of the paper. Mudrend doubted any Sinismanor vermin he saw could make that. He fell on his bed, ignoring its hardness, and fell asleep.