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Stonesong

It’s one of the most forgettable places on Earth. Stonesong (pronounced ‘STOHN-sun’ by locals) is a town of around four thousand nestled deep in the Pennsylvania wilderness. It’s the kind of small town people know is there but no one pays attention to it. It used to be a crossroads, but within the past couple decades, the state put in a bypass and it isn’t even that anymore. No one goes to Stonesong unless they have business, and there’s little enough business there to be done.

To normal folks, the only possible point of interest is the field of ringing rocks (which the locals call singing stones) just outside of town, but even those aren’t unique. There are ringing rocks in other parts of Pennsylvania, and those are a lot easier to get to. There’s even a state park full of them. What normal folks don’t realize is that these singing stones hum with steady, pulsing notes in intricate harmonies heard and interpreted only by those attuned to them.

There are a few people (very few) in the outside world who say Stonesong is crawling with Others. Fairies, spirits, and the undead to name a few: creatures of dreams and nightmares who hide behind a Veil that clouds the senses of the mortal world from Truth, the quasi-place/state where those who can perceive the world as it really is exist.

Most of the stories are wild conspiracy theories and utter bunk that have made their way into urban legend and folklore. The Sighted tend to keep quiet. Most of them have learned that repeated exposure to Truth can open a Blind person’s eyes to it. What lies on this side of the Veil isn’t for the faint of heart, and scared people do stupid things.

In Truth, the poorest kept secret of the Catholic Church is Fiat Lux, an organization of Sighted hunter priests who do God’s good work. Though their mission is to protect His children from dangerous Others, accidents happen. Besides, one could make the argument that the Others existing at all is a threat to humanity. After seeing what Others can do to the defenseless who can’t even see it coming, there are more than a few trigger-happy hunter priests out there.

In Stonesong there is a tentative truce. The church is hallowed ground, which many Others cannot stand upon without extreme discomfort (they’re not a fan of holy water, either). However, most of them tolerate the church’s presence so long as the hunter priests work with, not in spite of, the ‘good’ Others who hunt down the bad. So far it has been a fair enough arrangement. In the past one hundred fifty years, only twice have the locals had to raze the church to the ground and exile its holy men.

However, the situation is never without tension. Within this little place, its four thousand souls are made up of the Blind, who justify away what little they do notice, though all that denial can weigh on one’s sanity; the Sighted who have their own factions and agendas; and, of course, the Others.

There are the Become: human beings who have turned Other via some method, be it bite or scratch, curse, spell, predestiny or what have you. Then there are the Born: Others who are born from the plane of existence from which they come into the mortal world, more in tune with what they are than their Become brethren, and also seen (at least among themselves) as being more powerful and deserving of their Otherness. Finally, there are the Being; they were neither born nor can they die (so the stories say). They simple are, have been since time began, and they will no doubt remain until it comes to a close. They don’t come into this world often. That’s generally a good thing.

On a quiet day there’s a lot going on, but lately the singing stones have brought one melody to a close and have begun to sing another. That hasn’t happened since… ever. Even if it doesn’t mean anything, people are restless and, just like scared people, restless people do stupid things.

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