Alathar awoke from a troubled sleep to four massive Silithid creatures looming over his bed.
He froze for a moment, then screamed his lungs out. The creatures scurried from the room and Alathar stayed up all night, shaking and terrified. The inn was utterly empty. There was no sign of the other guests, and the cobbled courtyard outside his window was now a great, yawning pit.
Everything was dead quiet.
He remained awake well into the wee hours, afraid to move from his bed, or to make a sound. He thought for a long while it must have been a nightmare, but no matter what he tried, he couldn’t awaken.
The next morning, there was a tap on the door. Stifling a scream, he watched as the door slowly slid open. One of the horrid creatures pressed its many-eyed head through the gap, and stared at him. Certain he was about to be killed, Alathar grabbed a poker from the hearth - the closest thing to a weapon he could find - and made himself ready to face his last moments as best he could.
To his surprise, the creature gently dropped some stew-meat onto the floor, followed by few root-vegetables. The vegetables were still covered in wet earth, and Alathar thought they must have come from the garden the innkeeper’s wife had tended. The Silithid then backed away from the door, one long claw pulling it closed behind it.
As much as he feared for his life, hunger was getting the better of him. As Alathar ate the food, he could hear the creatures chittering quietly outside his room. None of them tried to enter the room for the rest of the day.
This strange ritual repeated every day for the remainder of the week. After a raw haunch of meat on the third day left him ill and groaning, it was replaced with more vegetables the next morning.
He tried to escape on the fifth day, and made it almost a half-mile down the road to the nearest farmstead. Rushing to the door to beg for help, he saw the windows were smashed. Inside, parts of three bodies were scattered about the room. Without warning, two of the creatures leapt down from the roof and grabbed him, dragging him screaming back to the inn.
Whatever their motives, they weren’t trying to hurt him. They continued to feed him, though after two weeks, they’d seemingly exhausted the more palatable victuals. Now, they were bringing him stray dogs and cats. He did what he could to cook them in the hearth, though they wouldn’t let him fetch firewood when he ran out, so he burned his furniture. When that was gone too, he burned the room’s curtains, then his bedding.
One night, a burning pain spread through his body. It felt like his stomach was filled with razors and molten lumps of glass. The Silithids chittered excitedly as he writhed and moaned. It was only when he felt a terrible squirming feeling beneath his skin that he realized why they had been keeping him alive.
They had been protecting their young…