The longest winter
The grinning man
It is a creature of the most foul malevolence; a leering , twisted visage of horror. Wherever it goes, it brings destruction and terror in it’s wake. It is the Grinning Man.
For the last fifteen years it has wandered the land, never stopping, and seemingly wandering at random. It never visits any heavily occupied areas, and rarely approaches any settlement with more than one hundred people. Remote farms and camps are where most of it’s victims can be found.
People who tell the tale have never faced it directly: Of those who have come face to face with it, there are only two outcomes; Insanity or death. Instead, it is the rescuers and discoverers of it’s victims who piece together the story, or those who were lucky enough to flee it’s advance.
It appears as the name suggests; the ruined figure of a man, bearded and unkempt. His face twisted in a permanent hideous grin. His eyes are black, and weep black blood constantly. His fingers are crooked, and his nails long and claw-like. His clothing is tattered, but some say that it looks like it was once very fine clothing, but has been worn for a long time. His boots are worn through, and his feet show signs of frostbite, but that does not slow him down any.
Priests have tried to banish it, but it would seem that it is not undead; for none have ever managed, and many of them have perished trying. Mages have cast great spells at it, again to no effect. It breaks through magical wardings as if they were not there. It’s hands are powerful enough to break down walls if it is trapped , or bend bars if it is caged. If dropped in a pit, it will dig it’s way out, even through solid rock. There seems to be no known way of stopping it.
And those who are left alive in an area where it has passed through are beset with another problem: The insane ones. They also have a leering grin, and attack anyone who tries to help them. Worse still, if they wound you, you will also share their insanity. Only a high priest can cure these poor souls, and many have died before they could be brought before one. They refuse all food and drink, fighting as hard as they can to prevent anyone force feeding them. They gibber, and chatter, and shout out words at odd times. They screech like birds, or yowl like wild cats. If they get the chance, they will be off, away from those who try to help them, to attack those who have done them no harm, and pass on their insanity.
So if you see the Grinning man, there is only one thing you can do. Run.
Run, and hope that it doesn’t chase after you.