The Bad Moon hung eerily in the sky above the Tower's Rest, the inn's crackling fire making a valiant but ultimately futile attempt to push back against the sickly green glow leaking in through cracks in the old wooden shutters. The innkeeper knew that things were bad out there. She hadn't received any news of the sort, but she didn't need it. This wasn't the first time the moon had risen in this corner of Ulgu, though few lived to remember the last.
Suddenly, the bard shattered the tense silence with desperate, insincere cheer. "You know, I have a tale about that moon." The room remained stonily silent as he waited for intrigued affirmation. Receiving none, the bard ploughed ahead.
"It's said that once, long ago, a masked imp appeared from the dark woods on a night just like this," he waved his hands in a wide arc for emphasis, almost knocking a beer keg from the table of a surly duardin, who grumbled something foul under his breath.
"The imp came to the townspeople and told them that he could take the moon that was troubling them so out of the sky. They begged him to do it, and so he stood atop the old clock tower and he reached his arms into the sky, his terrible mask aglow in the moonlight. And do you know what happened then?"
He paused again, looking around the drawn faces of his crowd. Even the stuffed gargant head mounted above the hearth seemed to look deliberately away, its glass eyes reflecting the fitful dance of the flames. He coughed, only now grasping how poor the reception to his tale truly was, but continued nevertheless.
"It's said that the moon shuddered in the air, filling the town with a terrible song, too terrible for mortal lungs to sing, of madness and death and the end of all things. It seemed as if the moon would come down on the town that day, but instead, only a small shard broke off, the moon itself hurtling off to its next destination. The clock tower was destroyed, and many houses and townsfolk besides. But they never did find the imp. It's said that even now, he follows the moon, forever trying to fulfil his terrible promise to bring the moon out of the sky."
"Oh, would you give it a rest already Ricca?" The innkeep finally snapped, "these people are frightened enough as it is without you telling your tales."
The boy glared at her sulkily, "but grandmother-"
"No buts, I let you ply your craft here, but I am still your grandmother. I won't let you go about spreading lies to my patrons, bard or no."
The boy huffed and stomped off to a dark corner to brood. The innkeep sighed. She was the liar, for it had happened. She had been there that day, her own father lost when the shard of the bad moon fell upon the old clock tower. That town had been abandoned to the ghosts, but she had stayed close, built the Tower's Rest in remembrance of what had been lost. She gazed again at the eery light filtering in through the worn shutters, and started. There was something glaring at her through that crack. A mad, boggling, wooden eye. She knew that eye. It was part of a mask she hadn't seen in many long years. Then, with an otherworldly giggle, it was gone, as if it had never been there at all.