The Heroes of Oryld
Four miles east of Saltmarsh, just inland of the old coast road and looking out to sea, stands the haunted house known as Bleak Manor. Until about twenty years ago, it had been the residence of an aged alchemist/magician of sinister reputation, and even then had been shunned by reason of its owner’s mysterious occupations. Now, two decades after the sudden and unexplained disappearance of its occupant, the house has acquired an even greater air of evil and mystery with the passing years.
Dilapidated and now long-abandoned, Bleak Manor presents an unwholesome appearance to the eye. Those hardy souls who have on infrequent occasion sought entry to it (for rumors of a secret hoard of alchemical gold have persisted since the old man’s disappearance) have all returned with naught save grim tales of decay presided over by monstrous perils. In more recent years, there have been reports of fearsome hauntings – ghastly shrieks and eerie lights emanating from within the dismal place. Now not even the bravest dare so much as to approach the house, leave alone enter it. Indeed, such is the reputation of Bleak Manor that the fields around it, though prime agricultural land, remain untended and rank with weeds.