Each year a time passes on Atys called Anlor Winn. This be a time where the lands are stirred in an odd fashion of both joy, laughter and smiles. But there are also the notion of an underlying fear, the lands seems extra restless indeed. There have even been rumours of the Kitin avoiding certain parts of the lands for what could best be described as fear. But those be only rumors, at least as far as we know. But one of the odd properties of a rumor is that it could both be nothing at all, while it could also be true. What I am about to tell you is a tale I found noted in an old book during one of my travels through the lands of Verdant Heights. The book itself was quite aged, yet there is no telling of the age of the tale itself.
And for it being just a rumor or true, I will let you decide.
Dear Homins, have you heard the tale of the Preposterous Painting?
It all started the day before Anlor Winn, the time where Homins were in the midst of preparations for the feast to come. Everyone was eager to create the most eerie environment around their housings, some were working on making armor that was looking like various Kitin with hopes of scaring their peers. All for the joy of a good laugh, and to stretch their imagination.
Antionni Valini was walking down a busy street filled with vendors, both regular and new, whom was hoping to sell as much Anlor Winn ware as they could. With him he had his two kids, Nonne and Nirni - his daughter and son - and also Valena his beloved wife. They all shared the Anlow Winn spirit knowing that it be a time of both joy and remembrance. They were all out shopping for various items needed for the celebration.
They walked among the different salemens looking at all the various items available, purchasing a few things here and there.
But as they were about to leave the market they were approached by a somewhat strange Homin claiming to be a painter and that he wanted to sell them a very special painting. They all looked at each other with scepticisim at first, but he soon reassured them that it would be a magnificent addition to their living room and once he showed it to them they were almost instantly convinced.
The painting itself was from a lovely scenery that seemed to be not far off Virginia Falls. It looked so soothing and relaxing that they all agreed that it would sit perfectly above the stove in the living room.
And so they bought it and brought it back home. And as the salesman had told them it was indeed made to be placed above the stove as it almost made the entire room feel relaxing. Everyone felt calm as they entered the living room. They then went on to prepare for the festivities. There were Stinga bread to be baked, a fearful Cuttler to be painted on the side of the house et cetera. There were many things that needed to be done so the day passed along quite fast and they soon found themselves sitting in the living room each with a cup of Stinga tea while admiring the painting. But it was soon time for them to get some sleep so each went to their rooms, all being content with the days work while eager to meet the mornings final preparations.
A few hours later Antionni was woken up by his wife telling him that she had heard an odd noise from the living room downstairs asking him to have a look in case it was some of the decoration that might have overturned. With sleepy eyes he walked downstairs and had a quick look into the living room and then turned around to go back up the stairs. He assured her that everything was in order, and so they soon fell back asleep again.
If only he had looked more closely behind himself at that time, things might have turned out differently.
The morning came and they all woke up a bit later than usual, but that was not unexpected as they had all worked hard the day before.
As they gathered around the kitchen table there were no answer when they called for Nirni and when they looked in his room they found it empty, with the bed all made - which was unusual. Perhaps he had woken up early and run out to see his friends, a not to uncommon thing for him during the weekends so no one paid any more attention to this. More than saving a few loafs of bread for him when he returned home later. Since this was the day of Anlor Winn there were still preparations to be made for the afternoon and so they all started working on them and so time passed along until the evening was upon them. And there was still no word from Nirni which was rare so they started to worry a little about his whereabouts.
Suddenly Antionni and Valena heard their daughter screaming from the living room so they both rushed in and they saw her pointing at the painting.
“He.. he… he’s there..” She said with a frightened voice still pointing.
“What do you mean, in the stove?” Antionni asked a bit confused.
“No. Not in the stove, in the painting.” Nonne said with a shaky voice.
As Antionni walked by her and looked at the painting he could not belive what he saw. The painting had changed from the soothing image of Virginia Falls into.. their living room! And Nirni was sitting on the sofa!
“What..” Was the only words he could muster as he looked at the changed painting.
Suddenly they heard a door slamming on the second floor and they all made their way upstairs, but the only door that was closed was the one to Nirni’s room. And as they opened it everything seemed to be as before, but now the bed was in a mess.
“What is going on here?” Valene asked Antionni. “I do not know, perhaps it is a bad joke by our son?” he replied. “If so, I must say that it is in bad taste” Valene stated.
“Mommy, I’m afraid” Nonne said and Valene tried to comfort her. “Let’s go outside and see if we can find your brother and have this mess sorted” she said with an calm voice as possible.
“You two look outside, and put up some lights on the porch while you are at it. I will look for the rascal inside.” Antionni said and started wandering between the rooms on the second floor as they exited the house. It did not take long until he heard his wife screaming and he rushed downstairs only to meet her in he door, covered in blood stains.
“It.. it .. IT TOOK HER, IT TOOK OUR DAUGHTER!” She screamed out grabbing his hand dragging him outside. “What? What took our daughter, what do you mean?” He asked her.
“THAT” she said and pointed to the Cuttler they had painted on the house earlier. For a second Antionni thought that the entire family was in on the joke, but as he looked at the Cuttler closely he saw that it too had stains of blood on it. And between its teeth hanged a real rag stuck between the boards, and it was the same cloth that Nonne’s dress was made of.
“What in the name of Jena is this” Antionni muttered to himself before the next scream reached him. It was his wife again, this time from inside the house. He had not noticed that she had disappeared and so he ran back inside, only to see how she was scratching the painting while fading away. He shouted and tried to grab her but his hands went through her as if she was air. And just like that she was gone, nowhere to be found in the room.
“Am I going insane? What is this?” Antionni thought to himself as he looked at the painting. Valene had managed to tear it a little apart, but still it seemed quite unharmed. It was not until Antionni lifted a piece of the painting cloth next to the part where Nirni sat that he saw why his wife had screamed, Nonne was now sitting next to Nirni.
“But how.. why? Who? what?” The questions started to mount up in his mind. Was this still a joke? Or was it real? Then he remembered the saleman that had sold him the painting and he thought that perhaps he could give him some answers to what was happening. Hopefully he would be somewhere near the marketplace.
Antionni went to open the door but it would not budge, no matter how much pressure he placed on it it did not move an inch. Even a strong kick would not convince it to alter. Not even the glass in the windows gave in to his punches or kicks. It was as if the house suddenly would not let him leave. Finally fatigue overtook his mind and he walked back into the living room, only to see that the painting was now whole again!
And standing behind his children was Valene! Had they all disappeared into the painting?
Was this a bad joke? He did not know. All the thoughts swirled around in his head as he sat down on the sofa while looking at the painting. Then it all went black.
A few days later some friends of the family knocked on the door as they were worried about them. They had not seen them during Anlor Winn, nor in the following days. So they had decided to check in on them.
At the third knock the door opened and they could look inside. They shouted their names but did not get an answer so they went inside to look around. Everything was in order, nothing was touched. It was as if no one had been in the house at all the for the last few days. They wondered where they might have gone, perhaps they had gone visit some friends far away and forgot to mention it?
What they did not notice was that there was one thing missing from the house; the painting above the living room stove.
This is the tale of the Preposterous Painting.
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