The only known passage through this region was a narrow, muddy road. Few travelers ever dared set foot upon it. For these were the dreaded swamplands of southern Haol, thought of, by all, with a shudder.
On each side of the road the deadly, sucking quicksand and black water of the marshes, dark with the overhang of vines and the branches of twisted trees, lay deep and murky, a place where the hidden secrets of old treasure were lost and sunken, never to be revealed. Perhaps deep down in the pits of stagnant water lay the bones of a betrayed bandit leader, or the rusted bands of a wooden chest that had long rotted away. Perhaps a heap or two of golden coins lay sunken near the swords and the bones of those who had fought, vainly, over it.
This was a place where the wind moaned low and deep over the murk and twisted itself through the vines woven overhead, and stirred the creeping moss that trailed the watery mud. It howled hollowly through the limbs of dead and decaying giant trees, as if sobbing over their ruin.
The depths had a stench that wrapped around the wild tangles of vines and branches like a cloak. It rose from the deadly, black water like a mist that could almost be seen hanging in the air.
Even in the summer the swamplands were a place where the sun had been banished, if it had ever existed there. The vines and hanging moss were vague eerie shapes through the strange mist and the thick, grayish shadow cast by the tangled branches above. The trees loomed like crumbling castles lost in a world where nothing lived but the snakes who twisted their way over the faint, uncertain paths that rumor said were in there, somewhere.
Many had been lured by some mysterious draw to the marshes, but they had been swallowed by its depths before they ever reached the interior. Some believed that one day a way would be found into the depth of the marshes, a safe path, to discover the secrets this place held, but no way had ever been found. No one who ventured into that grim, haunting place had ever returned alive.
Some said the people of old still lived, hidden from the rest of the world, in their own villages somewhere in the middle of the swamp. Rumors abounded of the shadowy, bent figures that had supposedly been seen sneaking out of the swamplands whenever there was barely light enough to see by the moon. Many believed that these were the ancients of olden times who lived on stolen grain and meat. The villages of those near the swamplands were repeatedly raided in mysterious ways.
So, I think I wrote this a couple years ago. It has, I admit, a tendency toward drama, repeating itself, and, it appears, an overuse of commas... ;p
But it's still one of my favorite things I've written. :D