The light was dying. This time of year the sun’s grasp grew weak... and where the dark long hours of the night grew and flourished. The brief season of autumn had come to El Dorado, to finally bring an end to the scorching, lengthy summer. The heat still came in waves, all the more so than the long months of the merciless summer. The erratic cloud cover trapped the sweltering waves, and made it more unbearable by adding what was often so lacking in this part of the Broken Coast. Moisture. It colored the sky in various tones of grey, teasing the dry parched earth below with a smattering of light rain. The flora of the area drank in the water, some of the color coming back from the blackened leaves and skeletal branches that remained of their contest with the dog days of summer. The Coffin Creek itself did not swell, the water proving to be too little to add to its strength as it ran the length of the town known as El Dorado. The greatest herald of the change of the season, was the aptly named Devil’s Wind, which during this time of year grew in its fury. It doubled, even tripled in strength, knocking down buildings, casting tents aloft, and even flattening down walls that were not anchored against its raw power.
Raiders were seen more often heading from the east, as word of the events that transpired from the Devil’s Den slowly worked their way across the Wastes via caravan, and sometimes faster by word of mouth. Reports of what had occurred were largely circumspect, and rumors ran rampant. Yet, more often than not, large Raider encampments were seen with more frequency. Coster’s men seemed to be up for the task, and most of the homesteads under the shadow of the town were unaffected. Regardless, Raiders were often talked about in hushed tones, usually only reserved for the greatest of the zed that plagued the area. Just a few days ride north of El Dorado, the yearly gathering of caravaners, Diesel Jocks, Rovers and other children of the road ran unfettered by the threat of Zed or Raider. Centered around the place called Barter Town, many a DJ fought for their clan and personal glory in the Thunderdome. Others slaked their thirst at the Atomic Cafe, gambled at the Last Chance Casino, or danced with the throngs becoming one with the sounds and performances of the King’s Court and Entertainers in attendance. Groups like the Nuclear Bombshells were not only a sought-after aspect of the massive gathering, but were often well regarded and welcomed to any Settlement that flourished on the Broken Coast.
Rustbucket moved slowly within the walls of the crude camp. Piles of vehicles were piled haphazardly, creating narrow walkways where the Diesel Jock walked, his limp made more noticeable by the chill bite of the morning air. Far up north, many clans were gathering, just for the hell of it. It wasn’t a Road Rally, and it wasn’t a Pit Stop, and that’s why he couldn’t make the trip up himself, as many of the other younger members of the 38s had. He had a job to do, keep the parts and money flowing in and out of the yard, and make sure that the jobs were done. Without a doubt, they had grown as a clan, as a club. They would be in this for the long haul, no matter the troubles they still ran into on the eastern runs, and up and over the Lonely Mountain. His mind drifted, to that Hell-hole teeming with Rumble Strips, Evel Knievels, and Billboards aplenty. That town that would sometimes work against the 38s, and then re-align their loyalties like the bent chassis he would straighten between jobs. They weren’t an ally any more, not like when they were altogether working against the Beemers from Holywood. But there were still agents working for the Railroad there, mostly backed by the 38s. The Hellions had withdrawn the monetary support, but last he heard were still actively working against slavers. The local cell had managed to gather up a bunch that were freed from some mercs making a delivery. Sitting down gruffly after walking down the junk-filled maze, he pulled open a drawer on the old metal desk he sat next to, and pulled out a piece of lead to write with. He had found out the name of the supposed recipient of the delivery, but it had come up as a code name with another cell, one he had thought had been found out long ago. He’d make introductions to the head of that cell, a really intense Roadrash and a very quiet Slim Jim, and see if there was any place in particular these newly freed slaves were supposed to be sent to.
They watched, in the shadows. The town’s electric lights fought off the darkness in small areas, and would silhouette the buildings that the various factions were nestled into, making it easier to watch from where they made camp. They had watched from the beginning, with the gaggle of survivors from the Wastes that had first gathered, exactly three years ago, in a dark lonely forest road on the way to El Dorado. Less than a dozen these "Hellions" had numbered then, with one of the Hell Hounds following them at a distance, the Chupacabra. When the camp had been struck, they soon learned that these few had not heard of the celebrations that those that were dedicated to the good of all looked forward to once a year. That time of year when death was celebrated. When those of their calling brought into being the very essence of pure terror, and shared it with many a hapless soul. Those Hellions that night, gathering close as the darkness descended and the cries of their victims carried on through the dark forest, learned what it was to fear the dark. It was no ally to help you hide in the darkness, no proof against those that hunted in the depths of the night. It was a sign of the inevitability of death. It was a spawning place of irrational fear, contrary to science, reason and faith. That one night of hellish dread, would soon be upon them, and the light that normally spilled upon this town of buildings, of people in their encampments with their walls and guards, would slowly fade. Darkness would fall, and the screams would fill the void, and the count would begin, and ghoulish lessons learned. Soon... it would be Halloween again.
Whedon wiped the sweat of his brow, as the amber glow of the electric lights filled the room. It was too hot and humid for him, and he longed for the dark deep underground of their former abode. Goddard was outside, playing with the damn generator again. Still, it was enough. They had needed a place free from Raiders and Zed to continue their work, and while no place really existed, the protection the old cabin afforded was not too far from the relative safety of Parasol’s walls. His thoughts kept going back to the book. That damnable book! His eye twitched uncontrollably as he thought of the words of the half-mad mind that had wrote them. He remembered when he had first read the the scribbled text, smirking at the unhinged rantings and crude pictures drawn in the leather-bound tome. He had shared his recent purchase with his partner, Goddard, who often worked as scout in the local area. They had shared a laugh, and his partner went out with the other scouts that morning. It was late into the night when Goddard reported back in, pale and gaunt, shaking with fear. The book had not lied. The thing out there was real, the thing that should not be. While Goddard had escaped with his life, the crew he left with had all been captured, and fed, to that thing. They left the protection that Parasol afforded that very same night, and Whedon saw for himself the terror firsthand. The book had been right, and if that were the case, the world was doomed. They had to find a way to turn the tide, to keep the Ancient Ones asleep. Knowing that Parasol would not help, they struck out on their own, and found a place, and made a plan. Soon, the Children of Yau-zach would be sated, with the rituals of old. He had committed it to memory, and burned the book. Such things were not meant to be read! The shaking of his hand increased, as pulled his dagger from his boot, and began sharpening the lengthy blade, singing to it quietly.
Victor fiddled with the dials again, the lights in the underground bunker dimming with the use of power, the Devil’s Wind howling faintly in the tunnels deep underground. It was a wonder, these things he was able to see under the lens of the pre-Fall microscope. Life was abundant, it was fierce, it was strong. While the infection of the Gravemind matter made the Strains more resilient and stronger than those that lived before the Fall, the other forms of life that persisted were affected by other aspects of the world as it stood now. Radiation had a large hand in this. He knew so little of it’s workings, and the rantings of the Darwinists cast little light on how it affected things. But there were properties at work here, things that came from the smallest parts of the makeup of all life, the cell. Animal and plant cells were different, yet with some of the samples he had pulled from the swamp, he had discerned a difference. On some level, there was a fusion, of functionality, of purpose. Life had continued to flourish, despite what devastation the Fall had wrought. His thoughts whipped back from his musings and to the matter on hand. He was able to effect some of these hybrid cells with stunning results. While the results would be short-lived, it was in the process that he knew he had succeeded. The stories of his namesake from ancient times had been an inspiration, and helped him understand on a basic level how to manipulate some aspect of life. More experiments must be done, more samples collected, and he need power. More power. He would need help with that last. He poured over numerous books, writing in the margins. He heard the creaking of the stonework above, an affirmation of his latest work. He would be trapped down here, for a while.
Near the place the Hellions called Low Town, monstrous vines grew thick on the ground. The grew from the direction of the Swamp, burgeoning over the ground and extending out to the old Mausoleum, and cutting off the road into El Dorado. The Wall itself was completely buried by the slithering vines. They extended up to the front gates of El Dorado, coming close but shying away from the Rad Tree. Word traveled of the horrific growth, that would pull anything it caught deep into its growth. Only the ones returning from the Morgue bore mute testimony to the fate that had transpired in the midst of the ravenous flora. The caravans that normally arrived at the Wall soon learned of the detriment, and passed the town unstopping, continuing on old Route 66. A few of the more industrious traders and merchants found a barge at the other end of the swamp, and made their way to the south end of El Dorado via the River. On the two nights leading up to the Trade Weekend, a song was heard from the Greenstone Tavern, with some of the music sounding harsh, and metallic. .
There is a man who walks aloneAnd he’s walking a dark roadAt night or strolling through the park
When the light begins to fadeHe sometimes feel a little strangeA little anxious when it's dark.
Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
He has a constant fear that something's always nearHe feels a sense that someone's always thereAlways running fingers down the wallBehind him nothing, yet he felt his neck skin crawl
Like a Sainthood searching for the lightIn the depths of madness you try to fight
Listening to TVs speak of horror the night beforeDebating witches and folkloreThe unknown troubles on his mindOn dancing shadows from behind
I have a phobia that someone's always thereWhen I'm walking a dark roadI am a man who walks alone