The Infested Street of Yonteu

The swarm seemed like an ocean of shining caramel-brown and black shells, undulating as each roach moved on its own. As I stared at their horrid mass I swear saw a man's face formed by the coloration on their backs, which seemingly screamed with the horrid hissing of the entire swarm as the mouth opened. As I ran from that place my fear-addled mind heard that cacophonous hissing become laughter.
— A guard's report
  Along the now decrepid street of Yonteu, within the great Rektouzk capital city of Coulchlek, a decades-old string of mysterious murders continues to haunt the residents of the city. Now, nothing but roaches and the mad reside within the crumbling homes.  

Foreshadowed on Folded Wings

Those living alongside Yonteu were fairly affluent, as the street rises high above much of the city— their large homes were granted a wonderful view of the descending rings below them. It is no surprise that when the home of one Rzill Tzetlliac fell to an infestation of roaches that only the most expensive methods of pest control were applied.
  More worrying to the aged man was that, just before this, his youngest son Rzill had disappeared. The worried father had no patience for insects, and hired everyone from local priests to city guards to rid his home of the pests as he personally searched for his son. As methods failed one by one, it was theorized that the roaches were emanating from a forgotten basement, into which Tzetlliac immediately paid a small group of guardsmen to find and descend.
  They found Rzill's body in the basement, blanketed by darkness.  
The boy's skin had become glossy, and hard to the touch. It seemed almost as if whatever sick lunatic murdered him had taken great effort to make it appear as if his arms and legs had elongated— crushing and breaking the bone to protrude in numerous places as small spikes. His eyes were already gone, and roaches poured in steady streams from the empty cavities.
  I thought I had already seen the worst of humanity, and I have never been proven more wrong in my entire life.
— A guard's report
  The basement was filled with mud-brick and clay after Rzill's body was removed, and thankfully— the roaches seemed to stop coming.
   

Propagation

Until Tzetlliac's eldest son, Chue, disappeared too. All that was found of the body after weeks of searching was the man's disembodied head— with two strange, bony spikes protruding from his forehead. Tzetlliac began accusing his neighbor Omellch of the murder, citing a past rivalry between the two over the district's pottery market— which Tzetlliac gained complete control over years ago.
  Another home, to the right of Tzetlliac's, soon fell to a roach infestation— and another mysterious murder. Omellch and Tzetlliac began paying greater and greater sums to guards, hoping to prove the other guilty as their dispute reignited. At least, until Omellch, too, disappeared. A servant found his body days later curled up beneath his bed.
   

The accused

You're nothing but a common pest, Tzetlliac. First your sons, who would inherit your success through no hard work of their own, and make forays into the market you think is yours alone. Then your former rival. Your competitors are dying one-by-one and you thought no one would notice?
— An angry neighbor
 
Generic4-2
  All eyes turned on Tzetlliac afterwards, the story was captivating and brought businesses more customers as they placed criers near their doors— spreading the story far, and fast. Some details were changed as the story was passed on, making Tzetlliac out to be a crazed maniac, speaking in tongues and threatening his neighbors with fists full of roaches.
  Anyone who had heard of the incidents steered clear of the man they could not believe still walked free. Clearly it had to be him behind all these murders, only his coin kept justice from striking him down. He became a recluse, rarely leaving his home, paying others to get what he needed from the market and check on his businesses.
  The few that caught glimpses of the man spoke of sunken eyes, a strange hunchbacked gait, and a low hissing audible through the home's walls.
  Soon, three other homes became infested— entire families disappeared, leaving no one to pay for their bodies to be found. Anyone else who remained soon abandoned their homes and moved elsewhere, coming together to finally outbid Tzetlliac and have the man rightfully arrested.
 
We found him staring silently at the floor, his left arm had been removed, and his strange emaciated form made it appear as if his legs had somehow become longer than previous reports and memories.
  Two large, purple bruised lumps were protruding from his forehead. He could only respond to our questions with strange hissing, it seemed he was beaten to a point where he could no longer speak.
  I fear we may never hear the true story of what happened on Yonteu.
— A guard's report
Yahn-too
 
QetPortraits-Roach.png

Redevelopment

Twenty years after these events, one brave soul, free of superstition, purchased the street and planned to redevelop it into a luxury market.
  That is, of course, until she herself fell victim, adding to the list of deaths upon visiting Yonteu to plan out her next course of action.  
 
GenericTall3-1
 

Extermination

After this series of events became known to the public, there was a surge of fear and disgust for cockroaches throughout the city.
  Priests, guards, supposed inventors, and all who claimed to have a ward against the pests were paid more than their worth in gold.
  This culminated with some cheating many of the superstitious citizens and escaping to far off places with their ill-gotten gains.
 
 

The aftermath

Tzetlliac died two weeks after being taken into custody, taking with him any remaining clues as to what had happened on Yonteu.
  Many believe it was simply Tzetlliac, and the right hands were paid off to deny him a proper Coulqepluex funeral.
  However, others are skeptical of this clean end— to this day, Yonteu is infested by roaches, and deaths are still met by those who decide to venture into that diseased place.
  No one but the homeless, desperate, or cultists have made their home along the infested street since, and it has been walled off from the rest of the city.

Related articles

Rektouzk
Organization | Apr 28, 2020

One of the largest nations within Qet. An extremely wealthy, powerful land seemingly protected from destruction by sheer luck.

Coulqepluex
Ethnicity | May 7, 2020

A people possessing uncanny luck and shrewd business sense, transformed by the lake Chluetichlon.


Comments

Author's Notes

Feedback is very much welcome! Whether on the content, or the formatting! Please, point out typos if you spot any!


Please Login in order to comment!
21 Oct, 2019 21:23

Interesting plot hook! I can see this being worked into larger city campaigns, or even a town encounter. Well fleshed out, as was anticipating a big reveal at the end, only to be pleasantly surprised by mysterious open end.

Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
21 Oct, 2019 23:10

Thank you! Yeah, I find not answering what happened is more often than not more unnerving than a clear explanation. Werewolves and vampires aren't terribly scary anymore since we all know the rules they operate on— its the unknown that really gets you!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
21 Oct, 2019 22:22

Ooooof my friend. you do not disappoint. I was eagerly awaiting this and its stunning. So first let me point out the only error I found."           "herself fell victim to the street's curse upon visiting it to plan our her next course of action"     So "she herself" almost redundancy since you kind of repeat yourself with it. It's not a huge deal, as I do it, and its pretty common in general conversation as an emphasis. If it bugs you maybe consider revising. Otherwise, I think you mean out instead of our. I'll also make a passing thought I had when reading this particular quote. It seems like a string assumption to say its cursed in such a definite way. It's like the wonder and mystery of what the murders were is undercut a bit. I feel like I'm being nitpicky but it seemed to draw away from what I thought was intended. Excellent work all the same       Let's talk content. I loved the murders. the horror of it, the gross details, the mysterious nature of the murders along with the fact that everyone is pointing their fingers at someone who ends up falling victim themselves. It's fantastic as all your work is.   Your quotes layout how others interpreted the murders quite well. The guards in particular. I do wonder how there is little mention of magic going on. I mean curse, duh, but if magic is outlawed, do they not have like inquisitors or templar like professions? Witch hunters or something to investigate and make a determination? What forensic elements went into examining such strange elements the murder?   I'm full of questions that make me love the article even more. It's a wonderful contender and I wish you luck friend. you did amazing.

Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
21 Oct, 2019 23:07

Thank you! I squashed the typo, and reworded the curse bit in the sidebar— I may have gotten too excited at being just about done when I first wrote it lol.
  Magic is not the first assumption as it is somewhat rare, and money can talk very loudly in Rektouzk— someone could have paid off the guards to avoid digging into the matter, and the panic that could come from it.
  There ARE witch hunters of sorts! Both magic users and non magic users— I just haven't written about them...yet— but they have been on the list to write for a while!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
22 Oct, 2019 00:30

AHHHH! I EAGERLY AWAIT THEM THEN. I tottally understand. It reads alot better now.   That would make sense then with magic. So much mystery. ooof I love it. There's a potential ttrpg campaign in this article, and its exciting.

22 Oct, 2019 10:27

A nice little story of roachy body horror! It is always a treat to read things from Qet. :)   In terms of the challenge, there are a couple of things that I feel some people might miss from a cold case type. There's no named investigators, no personalities save for the father, and no theories about the murders themselves (besides "he did it"). "How did an old man kill all those people without getting caught" sort of thing. The world is fascinating, so having some "eyes on the ground" could really breath a lot of life into the story of roachy doom.   All in all though, great stuff. :)   Some more specific feedback:  

As I stared at their horrid mass I swear saw a man's face formed by the coloration on their backs, which seemingly screamed with the horrid hissing of the entire swarm as the mouth opened.
  Three things: 1. It's a little bit long at 35. 2. "Seemingly" and "seemed" gets used right after each other here, so it may be worth considering another word to reduce perceived repetition of phrases. 3. You use "horrid" twice in the sentence; consider changing one of them to something else.  
It took all I had not to fall over as I ran away from that place.
  This part is unclear and it could be argued doesn't add significance to the paragraph above. We don't usually fall when we run, after all. Give another thought as to what it is you want to tell with that part of the quote and how best to tell it. :)  
After which, nothing but roaches and the mad reside within the crumbling homes.
  I like this part a lot, though I would consider changing the "After which," for something like "Now,"  
Those living alongside Yonteu were fairly affluent, as the street rises high above much of the city— their large homes were granted a wonderful view of the descending rings below them.
  A tiny bit long at 31 words. Additionally, "along Yonteu" is repeated two sentences in a row, with minor variation. Might be worth changing the wording a bit more.  
More worrying to the aged man, was that just before this, his youngest son Rzill had disappeared.
  This sentence reads a little clunky. Specifically the "was that just before this". I would suggest tightening it up a little.   Something like: "More worrying to the aged man was that his youngest son Rzill had disappeared."   Additionally, that seem like it would be much more important to me than a roach infestation, unless there is some sort of culture/myth thing that makes roaches be child-eaters. If so, it might be cool if this was established. :)  
The worried father had no patience for insects, and hired everyone from local priests to city guards to rid his home of the pests.
  This is where the "doesn't he have more important things to worry about" becomes a question. Why doesn't he hire the city guards to find his missing son instead? What does he expect them to do with an insect infestation?   I get that you are trying to portray that he's trying everything to get rid of this persistent bug problem, but the sense of escalation is sort of short here. The only sense we get of it is from the "he hired everyone from local priests to city guards"; though I don't really know how old timey bug exterminators really worked. :)  
As methods failed one by one, it was theorized that the roaches were emanating from a forgotten basement, into which Tzetlliac immediately paid a small group of guardsmen to find and descend.
  Another slightly long sentence at 32 words.  
The boy's skin had become glossy, and hard to the touch.
  Uh oh... I see where this is going...  
It seemed almost as if whatever sick lunatic murdered him had taken great effort to make it appear as if his arms and legs had elongated— crushing and breaking the bone to protrude in numerous places as small spikes.
  Another long sentence at 39. Down to 27 after the em-dash.  
His eyes were already gone, and roaches poured in steady streams from the empty cavities.
  Consider replacing "empty cavities" with something like "sockets" - something punchier and less technical.  
The basement was filled with mud-brick and clay after Rzill's body was removed, and, thankfully— the roaches seemed to stop coming.
  I would consider removing the commas surrounding the "and".  
All that was found of the body after weeks of searching was the man's disembodied head— with two strange, bony spikes protruding from his forehead.
  I would suggest experimenting with what kind of start that works best for this part, with the alternative being that you start with the time spent searching instead. "After weeks of searching, all that was found was..."  
First your sons, who would inherit your success
  I'm not familiar with this place's inheritance laws, but wouldn't "inherit" assume that he's already dead when the sons get his business?  
All eyes turned on Tzetlliac afterwards, anyone who had heard of the incidents steered clear of the man they could not believe still walked free.
  The last sentence might benefit from a little more build up, a little more of an escalation of their suspicion and his ostracization. Just a couple of sentences would do a lot.  
The few that caught glimpses of the man spoke of sunken eyes, a strange hunchbacked gait, and a low hissing audible through the home's walls.
  Wouldn't anyone he hired see him?  
Anyone else who remained soon abandoned their homes and moved elsewhere, coming together to finally outbid Tzetlliac and have the man rightfully arrested.
  This heavily implies that Tze has indeed been paying off the guards; is that the case?  
THE AFTERMATH
  If possible, I would try to get this part of the side panel to line up to the last parts of the main panel, perhaps by switching places with the block links and such. Right now, it kind of spoils the ending/story!     That's what I got so far! Good luck with the challenge


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.   Current challenge article: Corporate Mascot Costumes!
22 Oct, 2019 10:53

The first thing you should know is that the #1 insect I cannot stand is a cockroach...so my first reaction was already horror and it didn't have anything to do with murder.   The formatting is always fun with you, Time--because the colors are bright with vivid patterns, reading about the death and situations here makes it all the more disturbing.   Well done. Loved it.

JAIME BUCKLEY
Your New Favorite Author
My World | Join My List | Read my Books
Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
22 Oct, 2019 17:25

Haha, that was MY reaction to them too— and why I chose them! I am honestly amazed I did not have nightmares about roaches after thinking about and looking at them so much while writing this!
  Thanks! It's fun to play with expectations— you don't need dark colors for a dark world!
  Glad you enjoyed it!

22 Oct, 2019 20:42

A very interesting tale to say the least. It almost reminds me of a disturbed pied-piper scenario who gets someone else framed for the murders initially to cover any sort of tracks made by the first killings (possibly messy as with many serial murderers). Overall, a great read!

Powered by World Anvil