The Threshaak people who lived near the mountain base had legends of a great and terrible god-beast who lived at the peak of what they called Chinshaashekresh. Mountaineers knew it instead as Mount Alexander Mackenzie, one of the most remote, challenging, and least climbed peaks of the Canadian Rockies.

Whether one called it Chinshraashekresh or Mount Alexander Mackenzie, the peak was of relatively little interest to mountaineers. It was not the highest nor was it the most difficult technical climb in the range. Primarily, it was notable for its remoteness and the fact that the Threshaak refused to climb it out of fear of a god-beast they claimed was so powerful that its mere visage could drive men to madness.

The length of travel time, involving a ride on a light seaplane as its final leg, turned off most climbers who had plenty of YDS Grade 5 mountains that were more accessible. But the legend ultimately attracted a camera crew from Monstrous Mysteries on the Archaeology Channel.

With their way paid and a TV special to film, the crew ignored the Threshaak and scoured the mountain for any trace of the supposed god-beast. The show was a hit, but not for the reasons that the Archaeology Channel had hoped; the crew found absolutely no trace of a beast but were instead dogged along the entire route by mountain goats who bleated late at night, defacated all over the equipment, and at one point butted a cameraman into a gully. Audiences found it sidesplitting, especially since the crew was attempting to parlay their utter lack of results into a serious, menacing program.

After the last Monstrous Mysteries people left, the largest of the goats climbed to the summit of Chinshraashekresh and bleated loudly. The clouds parted, revealing the form of G’Nilwarc the Annihilator, a great red-rimmed eye set in crimson and writhing tentacled flesh.

“You have done well,” said the ancient being in the tongue common only to things beyond time and space and mountain goats.

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Lake Nod was one of the many artificial reservoirs created by the TVA during the massive electrification push in the 1930s. Damming up the Soap River, so named because of the soapstone deposits near its now-drowned ford, Lake Nod was named after Joseph Nod, a pioneer in the area whose descendents remained in the area and evern worked on the dam.

Of course they were among the 3500 people displaced by the flooding, but at least they got a steady paycheck for a while. 

The generator machinery was never installed at Lake Nod or the Nod Dam, though. The project was abandoned in 1937 for unclear reasons, although the TVA cited structural concerns and subsidance. It was slated to be demolished before the reservoir finished filling, but the funding for that fell through as well–it was scheduled to begin in late 1941, as it happened.

The TVA put up warning signs, locked the structure, and walked away.

Over the years, Lake Nod began hosting a cottage industry of illegal fishing and boating. Officially both were banned because of structural concerns with the dam, and construction was prohibited downstream out of fear of flooding. But things were built anyway and people came anyway.

The Nod Dam itself became a popular target for urban explorers, representing as it did the rare opportunity to see the inside of a structure that, but for the lack of functioning machinery, was the equal of any other TVA structure. Authorities discouraged this, and people were arrested, but they were lackluster at both pursuits. There simply wasn’t the budget for effective enforcement.

The Interior Universal Investigators of Nashville, the IUI, scheduled a covert tour of the Nod Dam as their spring 2015 urban exploration opener. They entered just after midnight on April 30, 2015.

The first reports of downstream flooding and collapse began reaching the authorities almost exactly 24 hours later on May 1.

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The great Welsh Pun Miners’ Strike of 1926 started at the Ygnnygyg Mine when a poorly placed Oxford comma support collapsed and buried a passageway under a pile of participles, clauses, and split infinitives.

Management was accused of hoarding their supply of pun-destroying grandmothers and other heavy excavating equipment, judging the trapped miners to be not worth rescuing. When the last gerunds were finally cleared away by work crews, it was found that all but one of them had died of vowel poisoning–especially damning as all the pun mines’ vowels except fom of the Ys were designated for export. The sole survivor, having been forced to subsist on stale humor for nearly a week, was left mad with pun-lust and eventually killed himself by hanging participle.

When the Ygnnygyg Mine operators refused the miners’ request for additional commas and vowel filters on breathing masks, violence broke out. Arming themselves with em dashes, semicolons, and ampersands, the miners blocked the clauses leading into the mine until their demands were met. The pun supply throughout Great Britain dried up, a shortage felt particularly keenly in bohemian and pun-happy London, where puns served with absinthe were all the rage at the time.

Eventually, the management brought in scabs and strikebreakers from Greece. Not speaking English, and using a different script, they were unaffected by the sarcasm, wit, pathos, and punctuation hurled at them by the strikers. By January of 1927 the mines were in operation again and the unrest was crushed.

It would take another ten years, until the explosive simile chain reaction at Metaphor Mine in Berkshire, for British law to begin changing to protect the lot of the humble vocabulary miners.

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Charon, the skeletal boatman of the River Styx, will often meet with friends for cards, drinks, and chess at his modest boathouse with a lovely view of Hades and the confluence of the Lethe and the Styx.

The Reaper, the even more skeletal figure who brought Charon his souls to ferry, was a usual guest. Hades himself would show up from time to time, usually when he was on the outs with his wife. More typical guests included Malak al-Maut, the Angel of Death; Yanluo, the ruler of Diyu; Chitragupta, the Tallyer of Deeds; and Morena, the Winter Nightmare.

As one might expect from the guest list, these gatherings were restrained affairs. Reaping souls and the like was dour, tiring work, and low-key games of chance and skill helped diffuse some of the innate tension. Charon always paid for everything, as he was the only one to command a fee for his services; this also meant that his boathouse was the only domicile with full high-speed internet.

People have long-suspected that wireless signals are in fact living beings in their own right, imbued with malicious and mischievous souls. Charon knew this to be true, and he would haul in powerful signal-spirits by the boatload for his gatherings, plying them with promises of an escape from Limbo, where they resided after power outages or upgrades. Alternately he’d threaten them with a descent to Wireless Gehenna, a land of constant zero bars, sunspots, and Saudi Arabian signal jammers.

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His name was William Cutter Threscher, but to those who sought out his seminars and self-improvement camps, he was simply The Being. “People talk about autism. I’d like to talk to you about oughtism. That’s ought-ism: you ought to do this, you ought to be like that, you ought to think this, you ought to feel that.”

“We need to free ourselves from oughtism. But we can’t lay the blame at the feet of vaccines in this case. There is a much subtler and more insidious root cause: society and family, culture and contemporaries.” The Being paced back and forth onstage like a caged animal as he spoke.

“Friends, we are bombarded at every turn by messages telling us we ought to be a certain way, from day one. From before day one, in the womb! That’s oughtism, that’s the disease of our time.”

Spreading his arms, The Being continued. “Luckily, oughtism is curable. I come before you today, after all, as a cured man myself. The cure is simple! The cure is available to all! But the cure is not easy.”

“The cure for oughtism, ladies and gentlemen, is our new philosophy of The Beings. A Being doesn’t concern itself with what it ought to do; it simply does. A Being does not obey; it simply exists. A Being does not concern itself with right or wrong; it simply does what it wants, what it must.”

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These are they of the gobs that have earned for themselves a name and a place amongst their people. In the name of gobs, the deeds of gobs.

Gozudt Slitpipes
Grandmaster of the Hardscrabble Guild, which he built from a gob street gang into a crime syndicate unrivaled in all of Newcastle-Upon-Sands. The “slitpipes” appellation comes from his preferred method of assassination and his willingness, even as an elderly and powerful gob, to dirty his hands with his work. The name he chose for himself comes from the gob word “goz” meaning “under, beneath” and the suffix “udt” meaning “chieftain.” “Underchieftain” would be a reasonable approximation in Manspeech.

Kem the Beneficent
Born into extreme privation as a member of a gob band outside the walls of Fortress Donahue, Kem founded the Goblin Mutual Aid Society and shepherded it as leader. Though its name may make it sound like a benefit society or gentleman’s club, the GMAS was actually a tontine. Gobs would found or become members of a local chapter, and whenever one died, his properties would be split among the others. Extremely popular, especially among unmarried gobs and those with property but little status, the GMAS was a way to turn the frequent deaths of gobs to its members’ advantage. “Kem” does not equare to any known gob word; rather, it was simply chosen by its bearer for its sound.

Snegob Fingerling
Gob fishpickers are an indespensible part of every fishery operation, going over heaps of offal and refuse for usable parts of accidentally discarded usable fish. However, this work was once performed by human children or not at all; Snegob Fingerling is credited with the idea and assembling the first gang of gobs to perform it at the legendary stinking fish-oil docks of Cantonia. By only asking that the gobs be paid in gratuity or useable things they found, Snegob was able to undercut his competition and all but monopolize the industry. Due to his propensity for finding small live fish he was called “Fingerling;” “Snegob” is a conjunction of the verb “to snatch” and, of course, “goblin.” Thus, Snatchergoblin.

Ztegolb the Twice-Risen
Ztegolb was once the leader of a band of gob mercenaries which he formed out of the remains of his original home village. Thanks to luck and thorough drilling they were able to find steady work and turned back an assault by human deserters on a farming settlement. This gave Ztegolb his first name and reknown, which increased as his band grew in numbers, training, and equipment. However, his gobs were badly defeated and massacred at the Battle of the Bloody Hillock thanks to an ambush. Ztegolb and a handful of his gobs survived, stripped of their names in disgrace. In response, Ztegolb carefully stalked the bandit bands who had defeated him, learning their movement patterns and weaknesses over a period of years before swooping in to annihilate them in a brilliant tactical plan. He chose a new name rather than resuming the old: “zte” being the prefix for “great” and “golb” meaning either “patience” or “cunning” (and of the same cognate as “gob). Thus, Great-Patience or Great-Cunning.

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“I know my account is overdrawn,” Mitchell said. “I want to know why! I haven’t written any checks this month!”

“I’m sorry you’re angry,” said the teller. “Your account is overdrawn because you spent more money than it contains.”

“I know that shipping is based on weight,” Mitchell said. “But why am I being charged more? I weighed the package at home when I printed out the label, and it was fine!”

“I’m sorry you’re angry,” the postal worker said. “You’re being charged more because your package is too heavy.”

“I know I’m in Limbo,” Mitchell said. “But why? Do I look like an unbaptized baby?”

“I’m sorry you’re angry,” the angel said. “You’re in Limbo because you died unbaptized in infancy, too young to have committed personal sins, but not having been freed from original sin.”

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