Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Hunt for Red John

The dapper ("Springheeled") Jack Shear over at Tales of the Grotesque & Dungeonesque, ran a contest recently. I chose the title "The Hunt For Red John" as my contribution to Jack's Penny Dreadful cavalcade and it is submitted here for your approval...


When you're a child, adults are quite fond of telling you about the will o wisps, or the wicked whispers in the larch grove, or Posey Mathers who stole naughty children from their beds and sold them to trolls for soup. I knew such stories were only told as a way to goad my sisters and I into drinking our beet tea and making tidy Mother's parlor.

However, my half-mad Uncle Vincent's tales were something else altogether. His stories weren't cautionary fables for us to abide, they were tales of the wondrous and horrible things he had seen during his wanderings.

When he would come to stay with us, Uncle Vincent would drink an entire kilderkin of strong ale with supper and sit before the fire. The thick clouds of cinnamon-scented smoke from his pipe would bring us from all corners of the house. We would sit while he regaled us with stories of gypsies and wizards and blind women who could fly like birds.

But it was after my sisters were made to go to bed, that my uncle would tell me great bloody tales of the mad kings of Rictus or the Thing in the Vault of Caronos, or the terrible story of Red John.
Red John was a young man who lived in a village called Sparrow's Point. John was wrongly accused of a terrible crime. He was hung by his wrists in a dungeon for years and years, and in the darkness, John cursed his accusers and wished for revenge.

Finally, a demon heard John's wish and released him from his prison. John's arms had been stretched grotesquely long and his body was nothing more than bone under a thin sheath of pale yellow skin. His hair had fallen from his head. His eyes, perhaps most ghastly of all, had turned red as blood.

In return for his freedom and his chance at vengeance, Red John agreed to serve the demon for the rest of eternity.

Red John strangled the life out of every last man, woman and child in Sparrow's Point, and the ones who managed to escape his bony clutch, were stricken dead by the very sight of his nightmarish visage. 

When there was nothing left alive in Sparrow's Point, Red John told the demon that his vengeance was not complete, for there was one family who had escaped.

Red John roamed the land, searching for all the living descendants to the missing family from Sparrow's Point. Pulling them from their beds, choking the life out of them and then finally, devouring their warm spleens.

The demon followed, waiting for the day when he could finally take possession of Red John's soul. But his lonesome demon worried that somehow he himself would wind up facing Red John's wrath.
Movement: 40'
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 8 (68 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws/bite
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6
Morale: n/a
Save As: 8th level Fighter

Special Abilities:
Red Eyes: Players must make a saving throw vs. paralysis when first seeing Red John or be frozen in fear for 1d4 rounds.

Strangle: If Red John successfully attacks with his claws he can strangle for 1d6 damage per round until a successful attack is made against him.

Red John is between 7 and 8 feet tall. His arms are long and his knuckles rest on the ground. His movements make no sound and he is extremely quick.
He is extremely vulnerable to light and only appears after dark. Anyone holding a lantern or torch will be the first to be attacked.

Whenever Red John is near, the Lonesome Demon will be found drinking in a local bar room. He appears as a tall man in a long black coat, hat, and gloves. As soon as Red John's task is complete, the Lonesome Demon will settle his bill and quietly vanish into the night.
If the Lonesome Demon is offered a bottle of whiskey, he will gladly offer Red John's fate for another soul that he deems suitable. If a bargain is struck, Red John will then return to his shackles in the dungeon beneath Sparrow’s Point. 

Later, when I lay in bed and thought about my submission, I realized that I had created an origin story for Slender Man by way of the Croglin Grange legend.

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