As I come home after a hard day of labor in the castle court, I discover a note with my brother's handwriting on the kitchen table, saying he is leaving the village for good. The villagers tell me they have last seen him riding to the east, urging me not to venture into the Ve'coiitn region at night, as there are talks of something foul and unnatural brewing in these parts of the country. I decide to ride east, not taking heed of the townfolk's warnings. While riding into the plains of Ve'coiitn, I take notice of the scarce vegetation on the fields, as if the land itself is rotting. A distant, echoing scream of terror breaks the nightly silence and echoes across the plains out from the distant woods. Because my curiosity gets the best of me, I dismount my horse and decide to investigate the source of the sound. As soon as I wander off the main trail and into an off-road path, defeaning silence falls upon the land. Neither the sound of crickets nor the sighing of the soft evening breeze can be heard in the dead of the night. Reaching a clearing, I can just barely see a great wall of dead, withered trees through the mist, that stretches out to the horizon. I think it may be just my imagination, but it seems like the trees moved aside from each other at some point to form a path. Surely the gods have abandonned this place. Is it because even themselves fear what lies deep in the woods? Lost in my own thoughts, I barely notice the mist finally dissipating, revealing a passage through the forest and a wooden sign pointing towards the wood's entrance. On the sign are primitive carvings, perhaps the same archaic calligraphy that ancient men of the Amechth'ntaas tribe used in their scriptures for hexing rituals. I know of it because my grandfather, Edward Davenport, created a lexicon to decipher this dialect and taught me some of it. That was a few years before our former neighbor found his lifeless & eyeless body in our home next to another strange book. The carvings on the sign read as "The Pass of Xexanotth". Right next to the sign, I find an abandoned sword and a lantern, confirming my suspicion that my brother came through here. By the gods, why? Why here and why now?
A corridor of rotten, contorted trees lies before me, stretching beyond the horizon as I venture into the howling dark
Draped in mystic haze, the narrow path lies barren, the silence soon broken by the ruminations and laments of the trees.
Vivid are the memories of the sound of winds wailing through dead leaves, almost covering up the echoing, sickening sounds of mastication. Delving deeper into the woods, the corridor of dead trees grow narrow. The scent of rotting bark now unbearable as the bowels of the Xexanotth swallows me. Wallowing through membranes of digestive secretions, I stand alone amidst a circle of deformed shapes. Piercing the shadows, the moonlight reveals
decayed remnants of men melded.... into the trees ! Monoliths of flesh and wood rise before me and at my feet lie the faces of people I once knew, engraved into the soil. Absorbed as an offering, I join my kin in their eternal slumber...at one with the earth...