Do YOU like to gossip and gander?
Love to peep and spy on Forbidden Toms?
Want a life more interesting than your own?
Come to ELMINSTER MIRE! Open year round!
The Elminster Mire is a "frowned upon" focal point for interlopers, busybodies, blackmailers, and gossipers. Located east of the Evesque Valley and northwest of the Andelphracian River Valley, the Mire didn't always have such a disreputable position: back in the days of Quezlar 6, it was a veritable and dangeous force to be reckoned with (making his subsequent crossing all that more remarkable).
In the hundreds of years following Quezlar 6's passage, the Mire has only grown in popularity amongst the most un-savory of characters. It was in roughly -88 EC that Professor Ignatius Maximillian Albertus Crank made a startling discovery whilst travelling the Mire's outskirts: the dead talked. Or, more accurately, their ghosts. He writes:
Imagine my surprise when the conversation I had been having in my head was not in my head at all: rather, the unseen voice I had attributed to argumentative unconsciousness had instead been following behind me for the last half hour. Being a master of the amazing, it caused me fright for but only a minute.
As we talked, the spirit (whom I've since labeled Vengeful, though I shudder at her learning of my unpleasant attribution) entranced me with sordid facts that would cause incredible and embarrassing blushes were they ever revealed. I simply had to hear more, and deeper into the Mire I descended.
A few weeks later, Ignatius Maximillian Albertus Crank emerged with a story of 1,300 Ghosts trapped in the Mire with no escape, only "retribution" when they are replaced by a more recent demise in the so-called "Resurrection Lottery." He adds "and thus, the endless influx of fresh and useful gossip is replenished."
In this mired limbo, the only joys the spirits live for is contempt for what they've lost, reminiscing angrily about their past life, and dishing the dirt on enemies and loved ones alike (even dead loved ones, spared the misery of the Mire, are susceptible). For advantageous people like Ignatius Crank, their lack of corporealism makes for wonderful abuse: just pull up a dry tree, stave off the damp, and wait for the good 'uns to drop.
Having their laments become useful to the soulful is far from their intentions, so the spirits have developed a few tricks of their own. Nowadays, the only way you can hear the spirits gossip is if you don't actually try: talking to others in your party, thinking about something else intently, writing in a travellogue, and even sleeping, opens the doorway for the rumors and hearsay visitors so dearly desire. As with most doors, it is a two-way passage: not only do you hear the ghosts, but the ghosts hear you, adding your own private thoughts and secrets to their collective knowledge.
Under the right conditions, the ghosts can actually influence what you're saying to those around you: by gossiping about the hidden thoughts behind your conversation, malicious spirits can trick you into saying the wrong (and unfiltered) thing. Many a calamity has occurred as star-crossed lovers find out what they really think of each other and underlings give their pompous bosses an (unintentional) piece of their mind. This sort of mischief gives the ghosts great happiness, and expert tricksters are respected with a measure of sadness: the best are often first replaced in the unexplained Lottery.
The longer one lurks near or inside the Mire, the harder it is to leave: so entwined are these visitors with the lure of secrets yet revealed that they begin developing wisps of ethereal detritus around their necks. These "Wisps of the Willing" can only be freed with the help of loved or trusted companions, made all the more difficult by the victim's habit of spewing loudly the most visceral curses and hidden thoughts he may know about his potential saviors. These encounters are the preferred coup d'état of the 1,300 Ghosts.
--Morbus Iff 23:38, 12 Oct 2004 (EDT)
I'm glad to see someone has finally written an article about one of the many "unbelievable" phenomena that exist all across Ghyll. I know that I will add a few notes of my own once... certain letters come up for submission. You always seem to submit something interesting, Morbus. Impressive. --Darus Ixa 08:53, 20 Oct 2004 (EDT)