What is at the crossroads, the one just outside of town where people try not to go after dark, the one your unknowing party is about to cross? (d20)
|the most d&d painting ever, called 'The Knight at the Crossroads', |
although it doesn't really depict one
- A hanged man, swinging on a gibbet. He is well-dressed but shoeless, and the carrion birds have begun to work on his feet as well as his hands and face. In a farmhouse not far away, the family are being driven mad by the sound of footsteps on their roof each night.
- At the foot of the signpost here is a wooden bowl of milk and a bunch of wildflowers. The flowers look fresh and unwilted but are crawling with green caterpillars and the milk smells fresh but tastes sour and rancid.
- An old, uncommunicative halfling woman selling a single red cabbage, not cheap. It's a beautiful, iridescent red-purple, and the white tips are pure snow white. Inside it is a warm, sticky human heart.
- A tree at this crossroads is burning from within, fiery splits cracking down its bark and smoke rising from the top like a chimney. The fire makes a low crackling sound, like voices through a closed door.
- A man trapped beneath his horse. He has fallen halfway into a ditch at the crossroads and his enormous chestnut horse has fallen across him, trapping him. It is kicking and rolling but has broken a leg. It's a much finer horse than a yeoman like him might be expected to have.
- The ancient waypost standing at the crossroads, a humanoid figure with a club carved into one side of it, is moving, wobbling and jolting in the earth.
- A woman frantically digging a deep, narrow hole by the side of the road – she will not stop digging even if spoken to, though she will breathlessly respond while still working. She has a canvas sack with her.
- There is a milestone here, a low chunk of rock with the name of the next town and a number carved into it. Along the back, half-buried, is a much more ancient funerary carving of a sun, a moon and a figure on horseback.
- A meteorite has landed right in the centre of the crossroads, minutes ago: it is still hissing and spitting inside the scar in the earth it has made, a fist-size chunk of red-hot sky-iron. Immensely valuable to some. You're probably not the only ones who saw it land.
- Concealed under a tatty old cloak in a ditch here is a bundle of a dozen shovels, all clean: a little searching will reveal a small stake with a red rag tied around it, driven into the ground just off the road.
- A great fish, gasping in the air. Some sort of wels, probably, as long as a man, green-black and whiskered and slimy. It is a long way from a large enough watercourse for it. Its flesh is pale and fatty and foul, but would feed a family for days. Its thoughts are unknowable.
- At one of the corners here is a long-fallen tree, grown over with mistletoe and ivy. There is an axe buried in the base, just as overgrown, the blade dulled and rusty and half-vanished in the still-clear rings of the trunk.
- As the party reaches the junction, it begins to rain, hard: on the junction and on whichever road from it they intend to take. After a few minutes they may find themselves wishing to take shelter, and the road may be close to impassable.
- There is a lantern fixed to the top of the waypost here, though it has not been lit for years: it is made of iron and thick blue glass full of bubbles and imperfections. None of the glass panes are broken, nor can they be by anything of this earth.
- A peddler is cooking something over a fire, his tent pitched just off the road along with his bags of kit. He is happy to trade, and even to share his food if he's treated well. A look in the pan reveals he is frying half a dozen small snakes and lizards alive.
- There is a big, angry dog tied to the waypost here by a short, fraying rope. It barks savagely at anything that comes near. It looks skinny and exhausted. If freed it will try to dig up a patch of disturbed earth just off the road.
- Just off the road here is the wreck of a coach, its canopies and hangings mostly torn off, two wheels smashed, half a dozen velvet cushions torn open and scattered around. There's no sign of the horses or occupants, but there is a diamond earring in the mud nearby.
- Someone is sitting, as though asleep, back propped against the milestone here: a shepherd, with a cloak and crook. He will not wake; his eyes have been gouged out and he is dead, though he shows no other signs of violence.
- A long low slab of stone sits by the crossroads here, covered in little iron trinkets: bent nails, broken horseshoes, knives, arrowheads. The stone is faintly magnetic, and the locals leave something for it every time they pass by. With good reason.
- The devil, desperate to make a deal.