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A house left abandoned in the middle of a forest, its only inhabitant missing for fourteen years, and mutters of a curse... Of course someone would come looking eventually... ((Once again, Truthseeker saved my post and helped me fix the font size! Thank you!)) This story was beta'd by Truthseeker from the Don't Starve forum. Shanter's myth – a Don't Starve fanfiction The first time he saw the small open field, he had to admit the local name for it was fitting. In the middle of a vast pine-forest without any other vegetation, a sudden open field, sporting irregular patches of flowers and the ghost of a house standing right in the middle. The cursed plains. The young man stood in awe at the very edge of the open field, staring at the huge house that seemed to occupy the entire field. It had all the attributes of a haunted house, and though the local villagers had talked excessively about its unsettling look, it still baffled him how eerie the entire place looked. It felt almost as if the entire scene was working together to make the place as uneasy as possible. He jotted down a quick note, adding little sketches of the more eerie details to his work. The more he could work into his article the better! He hoisted his bag up higher and trudged through the overgrown grass towards the house. The front door groaned like an old man when he pushed it open, and his footsteps left marks in the dust as he stepped inside. The air was still and heaps of untouched furniture stood looming at the corners of the house. The intruder shuddered and a shaky grin spread on his face at the very same time. The atmosphere was so thick he could almost feel it running down his back, and the superstitious stories of the locals only added to the eeriness of the house. Almost giddy in excitement, the youngster snuck further into the house. Everything was dark and dusty, and the house smelled faintly of sweetness and rot. It's a ***** smell, and Stanley shivered as he remembered the newspaper clipping in his bag. A man disappeared in this very house, his body was never found... The scent became sickly at that thought, and he took a deep breath through his mouth. A part of him whispered it could be a broken jar of jam, but the more morbid thought stuck with him. He walked through the hall, and studied the old doors hiding their secrets from him. Which one should he start with? As he touched the doorknob, he could swear he heard a soft thump far under the floorboards. He paused and waited, but the only sound he heard was his own breath. He smiled shakily at his own over-excited fantasy, and opened the door to the living room. A wall of black was what greeted him. Faint, murky light fought to penetrate the papers hung over the windows, and dozens of chairs seemed to stare at him from the darkness. A cold hearth sat huddled to the wall, and an old grandfather clock stood in the left corner. The hostility of the scene wiped the smile off Stanley's face, and he stood hesitantly in the doorway. In the back of his head, he knew he should be jotting down notes for his article, but he didn't move. He couldn't shake the feeling that he walked in on something. He shivered, and walked carefully into the room, the floorboards refusing to make any noise beneath his feet. The papers covering the windows were old and featured abstract drawings and sketches. Stanley pulled a few from their place; a rain of dust and grime came down from the windows. The glass was a murky brown, and Stanley could barely see through it. He couldn't distinguish anything outside, not even the pine trees of the forest. A strange sound made him stop dead in his tracks: A rumble, a gurgle almost.... trembling throughout the entire house. He quickly stepped away from the window, a rain of fine dust slowly drifting down from the ceiling. The house fell silent, and Stanley waited…listening for the sound. It didn't come again, and Stanley hesitantly continued his search. The brown light pouring in from the window drove the darkness in the room away, and showed a faint track in the grime—an irregular path of something being dragged over the floor. The idea of a corpse being stowed away in the house suddenly became a lot more realistic. Sure, he'd fantasized about that, but now he wasn't so sure he wanted to find anything anymore. Still, he followed the path with his eyes, until they landed on the old grandfather clock. Could it be? … The local stories of the cursed plains ran through his head, and the newspaper clipping in his bag seemed to weigh him down. A strange man by the name of Wilson Higgsbury, disappeared off the face of the earth after a strange storm passed over the woods. There were also other stories of a great evil hidden under this very plain, and dozens of disappearances in the last few decades.... Stanley swallowed, and walked to the clock. It would have been a great scoop to discover a corpse there. It could get him two—maybe even three consecutive articles—in a well-respected newspaper. He would have been a fool to stop there. The old clock had long since stopped, and an iron lock held the door to the inner parts closed. Stanley rummaged through his backpack, and fished out his lock pick. He'd expected to find a closed door of some sort—a faulty pantry door, or a forgotten little chest. He had expected to find some old stuff he could use to tie a story together, but now he didn't know what to expect anymore: a corpse ? Multiple corpses? A curse? With a soft little click, the clock's door opened, and Stanley swung it open. A wave of sickly sweetness hit him in the face, and a steep black hallway tunneled into the earth before him. Spiderwebs lined the walls, giving the illusion of macabre wallpaper. Stanley stood flabbergasted, and he swallowed back a big lump of anxiety. It could be anything, he told himself, it wouldn't have to be a grave or something equally horrible... He fumbled with his bag, pulling out his lantern and notebook. His pencil slipped from between his fingers, and rolled down into the depths. He muttered a curse, and quickly lit his lantern. The pencil was long gone and the yawning depth was still waiting for him with all the patience of the world. Could it have been more than just one murder? Could it have been something completely different altogether? He moved down the black cave, the sickly light from above disappeared behind him. The flooring shifted and crumbled under his feet, and his lantern could barely penetrate the darkness of the cave. It was deeper than he expected, and his shoes were covered with spiderwebs when the narrow cave ended in an open space. The spiderweb-covered walls abruptly cut off, and his sight was limited to the small circle of light his lantern could provide. He was at the end of the stairs, and the hallway had ended in complete darkness. He held his lantern up higher, and stepped forth. A light flashed on with a hiss, and Stanley nearly tripped over his own legs in surprise. A huge pillar of black marble stood in the middle of a large room, with a coiling, translucent black flame resting on top of it. Its light made shadows tremble behind the items in the room. Large pots stood lined up against the wall, thick stone lids keeping their contents hidden. A single, enormous table stood all the way at the back of the room, carrying a large stack of rotten yet bug-free food. There were no windows, but the walls were plastered full with notes. The scent of sweet rot and flesh was unmistakable, and Stanley breathed heavily through his mouth. He bit his lip, but the scene refused to change. It was real. He held onto his lantern like a shield, and slowly approached the marble pillar. The surface was lukewarm, and every-so-slightly wet. He stepped back, and stared at the black flame burning on without fuel. “What the hell is this place....” His voice sounded wrong in the cave-like room–like something was eating his words right as they left his mouth. He minimized the light of his lantern, and walked further into the room, not knowing where to keep his gaze. Long-rotten food squelched beneath his feet, and he was almost relieved to see rotten food, instead of a corpse. He passed underneath a bunch of drying meat, and a few bits of jerky stuck in his hair. A dark doorway was hidden in the corner near the table. He could feel cold air collecting around his feet, and a faint smell of meat stew drifted by. Stanley looked back, the staircase now invisible just outside the reach of the pillar. He turned the light on his lantern up and stepped through the doorway. The black pillar behind him extinguished with a whispering hiss, and in front of him, a second pillar awoke, bathing yet another room in a foul light. Stanley stood in the middle of a garden. The ground was covered with leaves, roots and vines, and large fruits lied fat and juicy in the middle of the green cushioning. Small sprouts showed their flowers shyly in the dark, petals spread to catch absent sunlight. There were no bugs to be seen, but Stanley could hear a distant buzzing, hidden behind the wall of leaves and plants. He stepped over the plants, and fought his way through the small underground garden. A golden rod shimmered from in between the plants. A big gap in between the plants showed the next doorway, and Stanley hesitated at the edge of the absurd garden. He felt as if he found a big clump of blood-covered gold, a treasure with a terrible curse. An article about this house, this place, the folklore and the pillars.... it could uncover something big! But he didn't want to stay in the underground house. Something was wrong, whether it was his own mind or the rumored curse... With a trembling hand, he turned his lantern to the brightest setting. All he needed was a bit of reliable proof, and then he could get out of here. He would write the article and come back with an entire crew to investigate. Or better yet, he would be at home, replying to his job-offers. He stepped through the doorway, and with a long string of clicks, an entire hallway was lit up before him. He couldn't see a ceiling, but in the darkness above, little metallic glints shone back at him. Six doors decorated the hall, the floor a neat array of wooden planks. Stanley slowly walked into the hall, his footsteps making hollow sounds on the wood. He tried the door closest to him—if only to have a shorter route to the way out—but it was locked from the inside. After a short hesitation he pressed an ear against the door, half expecting to hear something moving..... The other side stayed silent. The awful sweet scent wafted from behind the door, and Stanley gagged. He could so easily imagine Wilson Higgsbury's corpse lying there, rotting away... locked in for his own protection. He stepped away from the door, and took a few deep breaths through his mouth. All the other doors were closed, but in the far back he could see an open doorway. He took a few more deep breaths, and promised himself that he would go back out as soon as he had found some evidence. The door to the room was made of thick black wood, the wood grain eerily resembling screaming faces. The room behind the door was pitch-black, and for once, there was no black fire lighting up. Stanley held up his lantern, and looked around. The room was the closest thing to an actual living room, and in all its normality, it felt terribly misplaced. It smelled of burnt pine and leather, and his steps were muffled by a dark purple rug. A thick leather chair stood facing an empty fireplace and a stack of wood was neatly tucked away in a simple gold container. High up on the walls he could see the faint outlines of hunting trophies, and the walls were invisible behind thick bookshelves. A small book, lying lonely on the small side-table caught his eye, and he set down his lantern right next to it. A name, written in a messy scrawl, stood on the cover. Wilson P. Higgsbury. The man who disappeared! Stanley stared at the name for a moment, and quickly looked back at the hallway. The torches had all gone out, and nothing stirred in the dark. He opened the book. The first page looked like the first draft of an academy book. Random facts, equations and results were splattered all across the paper; all dated about 16 years back. He flipped through the book, eyes passing over many more of the same notes. More scribbles, crossed out ideas, illustrations and.... A sudden change in the tone of the notebook caught his attention. All the notes from before were made in rapid succession, but this one was written after a gap of nearly four years! Unlike the other notes, it was not a documentation of tests, nor a random idea. The handwriting was sharper, neater, and the choice of words differed so greatly that Stanley could barely believe it was written by the same man. Something has changed, and I can't find out what it was. Maybe it started when I died; maybe it started when I came back.... I will attempt to re-create the environment that allowed the effigy to work. Stanley rummaged through his backpack and fished out the old newspaper cutting–the one that brought him here. Wilson P. Higgsbury was the first of about eight people to disappear around the cursed plains... And the journal entry dated precisely four years after Higgsbury's disappearance. The next entry was dated two days after the last one, the handwriting again different from before. The strange dreams have been increasing in frequency, and my skin has also been feeling strange. My only guess is that it was caused by my long-term presence in that world...Or maybe coming back to this world is what set it all in motion? The effigy experiments have been ineffective thus far, and I cannot risk using myself as a test subject. I will make the necessary arrangements for the machine. This time however, I’ll make sure it goes two ways. Stanley frowned, and shot a nervous look back at the hallway. This didn't sound like any sane man... Whoever wrote these entries was insane, cursed, or possessed. Deep underground, sitting in the light of his lantern, all three options sounded equally valid. He flipped the page, and landed at the very last entry. Three years ago. The rest of the book was indecipherable, filled to the brim with scribbles. He flipped to the last readable entry, the neat handwriting sporting a near invisible tremble. There was never a throne. There never were rules, as Maxwell claimed. The fool didn't know what he was dealing with – nor did I when I met him. I was a fool then too. It is complete. All has come together in the end. The veil has been punctured, and now comes only the job of widening it, ripping until the two worlds merge as one..... I still have to follow rules, but when the worlds merge, I get to choose which ones – and when. The rest of the page continued in unreadable scrawl, and Stanley slowly closed the notebook. The glass eyes of the hunting trophies glinted in the light of his lantern, and he stuffed the book in his backpack. A madman was living–or had been living–in this place: A dangerous, intelligent, deranged madman! He grabbed his lantern and turned to the exit. His foot caught on a small orange foot-bench in his hurry to leave and the light of his lantern flashed over the walls. An enormous spider head with a glinting maw hung mounted above the door, and a wolf head as large as a man snarled from far above the fireplace. And on the highest wall of all hung a deer's head, its single eye nearly the size of Stanley's head and its antlers spreading through the whole room. The fur on its thick neck was the same color as leather on the big chair in the middle of the room. Hundreds of razor sharp teeth were bared at him in the scarce light of his lantern, all creatures forever frozen in time, jaws still spread open to catch prey. He was over with discovery and adventure! This was the very last straw! He rushed out of the room and dashed down the hallway as fast as he could. It only occurred to him that the torches were already on before he ran into the hall, when he saw the figure standing right in his path. He knew the man's face from the picture posted in the newspaper. Even after fourteen years of disappearance, the man didn't look a day older. Long black gloves, crisp attire, black hair, pale skin. He was an exact copy of the photograph taken more than fourteen years ago, and yet there was something completely wrong about his appearance. The man narrowed his eyes and stepped forward. At just that one step closer Stanley could see why the figure seemed so off. The black forms on the man's head were solid and faintly ribbed, and his unnaturally bleak skin looked almost scaled. Deep auburn eyes almost seemed red in the light of the torches, and Stanley's legs started to tremble. The diary felt heavy in his backpack, and the last few entries in it replayed endlessly in his head. He turned to the only door close to him, and yanked it open. He ran inside without looking, throwing the door closed behind him. Metallic parts skittered over the floor as he barged through the room like a bull towards the only other door. The light-pillars extinguished, and a clawed hand grabbed the back of his shirt. His lantern was ripped from his hands, and he was relentlessly pulled back through the dark. Air whipped past him, and a hand closed around his throat. He felt his backpack ripped off his back, and then was shoved into a metallic cabin. The hand around his throat let go, and Stanley struggled to catch his breath right as the machine came to life around him. The floor fell away beneath him, and he tumbled downward into nothingness. He woke with a start, hands flying to his throat in panic. A bleak sun shone down on him, and large pine trees waved slowly in the wind. The house was nowhere to be seen, nor was the tell-tale smoke of the village. Shakily, Stanley got to his feet, and he turned in a circle. It looked like the cursed plains, it felt like the cursed plains...but it was not. A rabbit hopped around just at the edge of the forest. The small horns protruding from the back of its head were unmistakable, and Stanley stared disbelievingly at the unreal creature. A single sentence from the journal bubbled up in his head as he watched the rabbit hop to its shelter. “The veil has been punctured, and now comes only the job of widening it, ripping until the two worlds merge as one.” Right next to him in the grass lay his lantern, with a small folded paper inside. It read, in sharp and neat handwriting; Don't Starve