With the holidays upon us, spare a thought for the poor folk of Krevborna, whose wintry "celebrations" are often times of horror rather than fellowship. And you thought it bad with your family coming to visit!
This is probably my final post for the year. See you in 2023 if the Kruagh doesn't get us all.
The Coldest Night
In the villages and towns of Sibersk, the Coldest Night is observed at the height of winter. Although it is a hardship to do so, many of the people of Sibersk light no fires in the hearths on this night, for they believe that a roaring fireplace is sure to attract the attention of the Kruagh, a hideous demon who will clamber down their chimneys to mete out horrific punishments to the entire household. The Kruagh is known to favor lashing his victims, but he enlivens his standard hellish chastisement with flourishes that include thumb-screws, eye-gouging, and tongue removal.
When he visits a home on the Coldest Night, the Kruagh has been known to abduct young boys and girls who have been particularly naughty over the course of the year. These abducted children are taken to the Abyss when the Kruagh departs the world at dawn; in the Abyss, these children must survive in an unimaginable world of horrors. Those who manage to stay alive for more than three months are invariably transformed into minor demons by the corrupting power of the Abyss.
Some Siberskans believe that a visit from the Kruagh can be staved off by offering it a selection of delicious baked goods. The Kruagh has strangely rarefied tastes what frequently require a household to spend what little it has managed to save on precious, sugary delights for the demon. Some foolhardy souls keep their fires lit against the cold in the vain hope that the confections they leave out for the Kruagh will temper its terrible fury; this is, of course, brazen folly.
The townsfolk of Hemlock Hollow believe that during the winter solstice three hag-queens ride across the sky on dire wolves during “the witching hour.” On the night of the solstice, the witches alight upon a nearby mountain peak, where they hold a black mass in honor of the infernal lords of Hell. All witches, diabolists, and heretical maniacs are welcome to dance around the hag-queens' bonfire, slather themselves in a foul unguent made of nightshade and the fat of unbaptized children, and take to the night sky while in the grips of a pleasurable delirium.
On Hexanacht, those who hold a dark and secret wish buried in their breasts are invited to petition the hag-queens for unholy aid. At the close of their dark sabbath, the hag-queen's offer anyone they can help the fulfillment of their heart’s desire in return for signing their name in the Black Book of Malistrad. Once the compact has been sealed, the petitioner is sure to get what they want—at the cost of their immortal soul.
The Night of the Hunted
Hunting wild beasts is a proud tradition and necessary way of life for the people of the Vespermark, but all the land’s hunters fear the Night of the Hunted—the night of the winter solstice on which predators sometimes become prey.
On the Night of the Hunted there is a chance that a beast who died in excessive fear or agony due to the hunter’s trade may rise again as an undead abomination; such creatures visit the homes of the hunters who killed them and stalk their slayers until dawn breaks. Across the Vespermark, hunters often keep their weapons close at hand on the solstice in case they are visited by one or more of the animals they have slain over the past year.