Curse of the Cyclops
Since the dawn of time, Crab Mountain was the home of powerful and evil beings.
As the ages rolled on the magic that fed the mountain's power was diminished.
The invisible lines of magical energy that made the mountain the center of their web weakened, or perhaps as a result of a shift in alignment, moved the focus elsewhere.
The result was a weaker mountain, still holding on to relics of its older power, but no less evil.
This is where the goblins made their home.
The men of the pirate ship Golden Wing could still see Crab Mountain on the horizon when disaster struck.
The night before they are put to shore at the base of the mountain and Captain Brian and a group of his best men stole into the goblin fortress.
The goblins never knew what hit them.
For centuries no one had dared come within a hundred miles of the mountain, their fear fueled by cautionary tales of its past glory.
The tales also told of the riches that had accumulated there.
Brian had a map of the fortress, pieced together from a hundred ancient manuscripts, each bought at a dear price.
Guided by the map they made a direct route to the treasure room and lifted the only item there, a small metal box, back onto the ship.
Now, as the sun rose over Crab Mountain, the pirates saw a hundred goblins coming toward them in the sky riding on giant bats.
Captain Brian ordered his men to make ready.
As the bats circled overhead, goblins began to leap from them stretching rigid cloaks and gliding onto the ship.
As the battle wore on, many bats were torn from the sky by grappling hooks or caught by nets and sent tumbling into the sea.
But the pirates were no match for the giant beasts and the goblins' overwhelming numbers.
Brian made his way into the captain's cabin where the box rested on his desk.
He had feared to open the box until now, not knowing what evil it contained, but now there was no other choice.
He lifted the lid.
Captain Brian found himself on a vast brown plane stretching to the horizon in every direction.
The sky was red, but covered almost entirely with a mishmash of clouds creating the effect of a sky covered with pulsing veins.
The ground was spongy.
Brian knelt down to see thousands of white worms crawling through the soil.
"You are right to kneel before me mortal," said a voice.
Brian looked up to see an enormous Cyclops.
It proceeded to tell him of the birth of Crab Mountain, when it jutted up from the bowels of the earth, carrying the Cyclops and its kindred with it.
How, as time wore on, the magic had weakened and the evil goblin prince Enzor had led his band to the mountain and imprisoned the Cyclops in this dark dimension.
Brian proclaimed that he and his men had seized the Cyclops's prison from the goblins in order to set him free, but that now the goblins were attacking and all seemed lost.
The Cyclops howled with rage.
He placed his hand on the pirate's head and told him that when he was returned to his ship the goblins would trouble him no more.
Brian found himself lying on the floor of his cabin.
He tried to stand but was wracked with agonizing pain.
He looked at his hand and saw wriggling shapes just beneath the skin.
As he emerged from the cabin the combatants looked around to see the captain, a glowing red figure with wriggling hair like a thousand snakes.
The goblins threw themselves into the sea along with many of the men.
Ambro watched the ship slide slowly into port.
Profitable deals had been sparse lately and the trader longed to see what goods the ship had brought from distant lands.
No cargo was unloaded.
Furious, Ambro demanded to see the captain.
As he boarded the ship, he immediately regretted his decision.
The men toiled on deck, their bare flesh entirely covered with filthy rags.
As he turned to leave a sailor caught him by the arm.
"The captain will see you now," hissed the pirate.
In the cabin Ambro saw an imposing figure, covered in rags such as his men.
Something wriggled just under his lofty cap.
The captain showed him the metal box.
This peaked the trader's interest, but the pirate said he must never look inside.
He must take the box to Nango Forest, and there, cast it into Lake Tralop.
For this the trader would be greatly rewarded.
The pirate held up a sack of coins and tossed it into the trader's lap.
"Double, when the deed is done," said the captain.
The trader grinned to himself.
This prize would buy him a caravan of mules!
And all just to dispose of a disease-ridden box.
But Nango Forest was a week's journey.
How could the pirate's possibly know what he did with the box?
Ambro had different plans.
For the next two weeks Ambro used the money he earned to finance caravans, construct warehouses, buy shops and bribe government officials.
When Earlof the Extortionist came knocking on his door, Ambro knew exactly what to do.
Earlof had been preying on independent businessmen as long as Ambro could remember.
Every time Ambro bent the rules, there was Earlof demanding a cut of the money.
Ambro withdrew the box from his coat.
"This, my dear friend," said Ambro, "is a box containing a magic artifact stolen from the goblin fortress at the base of Crab Mountain.
Take it with you!
But you must only open it at midnight, for daylight will destroy it forever!"
The greedy Earlof took the box and left the room without a word.
Ambro sat back in his chair and smiled.
Earlof would no doubt take the box back to his masters and become afflicted by whatever dread disease the pirates attained.
The two weeks were up.
It was time for Ambro to return from his pretended journey to the forest and claim his reward.
He stepped aboard the pirate ship and immediately knew something was wrong.
The crew stood motionless, watching him.
As he approached the captain's cabin, he saw Captain Brian standing at the door, covered in his rags.
Ambro masked his fear with a bright smile.
"I have done what you asked!" shouted Ambro, cheerfully.
"You have?" growled the captain in a mocking tone.
Ambro found he could barely swallow.
"Then why do I still look like this!" screamed the captain, pulling away his mask.
Bulging eyes stared out from a grinning skull.
From every bared piece of bone stood out a mass of white worms.
- thugs extorting money from people, can use blackmail for illegal acts
- bribing officials
- finance construction of buildings
- people can be angry about their expectations not being met and demand to see superiors
- double-dealing, trying to lie about accomplish objectives, your reputation can control how often you are believed
- misrepresent the function of a dangerous object to get rid of an opponent, this might require a lie to make the opponent not use the object immediately
- dramatic gestures to make points, this could include revealing hidden features or objects
- ships can have names, just like sites
- implicit postures with certain activities like examining ground, these could be the same postures used in other activities or rituals, so you could look at a kneeling creature and infer something about what it's doing rather than the whole picture
- using hooks and nets against flying opponents
- treasure maps, sometimes in many pieces
- partial pre-payments for tasks
- suicide in the face of a fate worse than death
- creation myths, can explain landforms and large beasts
- conditions for curse removal
- geometric configurations of magical energy such as lines and circles, these can move and shift in power, they could have power based on cycles of seasons or celestial bodies, etc.
- curses, can be cursed with normally fatal diseases/demonic fratures etc, but kept alive, can be contagious (perhaps only among a certain class of creatures like an entity or ship's crew), could also be contagious in a lesser form