Saturday, October 23, 2010

Creature Feature 18: The Gelatinous Sphere

"Oh bullshit!" you say. "A Gelatinous Sphere? You're going to give us a reworking of the Gelatinous Cube where you just picked another Platonic solid?"

"Well, this one could roll," I reply coolly.


"Well, how the hell does the Cube move? I mean, if it's on a downward incline it might kinda... slide.. like lard on a skillet. But uphill?"

"Yeah. That's part of why it's lame. Making it faster still makes it lame, though."

"Okay, calm down, I was just jerking you around. The Gelatinous Sphere has nothing to do with the Cube. People call it that because that's what it looks like - a big, floating ball of clear gel, with something vaguely nerve-like in the center. Also, they don't know what else to call it.

Among the oddest entities recorded, very little is know about the Sphere's intelligence, motives, biology or even if there are more than one in existence. One always seems to be present somewhere, though, hovering over the landscape, occasionally pausing to make something that crossed its path spontaneously erupt in flames. Really, it's assumed the Sphere is responsible, since there's no visible action on its part aside from the brief stop in its slow and steady movement. Why it does this is anyone's guess and everyone's woe.

Of course, attempts have been made to slay it, or force it to turn when it nears a settled area. These usually end in disaster. On three recorded occasions after the first volley of arrows, or spells, or ballista bolts struck near the Sphere, a cloud giant's severed, bloody head plummeted out of the blue sky and onto several key members of the chain of command, even though at least once they were in a tent miles away. On two occasions, a thick rain of large, live frogs fell on the soldier's lines, ruining moral and impeding movement. After one of these incidents the Sphere did then turn to the left and away from the village the soldiers wanted to protect, but a month later the entire population died from illness due to the massive amount of dead amphibians littering the streets and wells.

A similar tragedy occurred when the Sphere approached a great desert palace. Unconcerned, the Queen ordered a giant iron box to be built directly in front of the Sphere's path, with two sides left open to allow it to pass through. Sure enough, it entered the box and then, with chains and horses, the sides were lifted and hammered closed by several dozen metalworkers. The Sphere was trapped. The Queen the ordered the Box to be guarded 24/7, and that any living thing approaching it be immediately slain without question.

An hour later, the fish began to fall. First it was small fish. Then larger ones. Occasionally a tuna, or dolphin, or moderately large shark plummeted down on the palace grounds and burst across the golden tiles, lush tapestries and tan flesh of the terrified Court. For days no one could venture out from under shelter less they be slain by falling sea life. The carrion piled higher and higher until structures failed and crumbled. Men and women were crushed beneath roofs, or drowned in rotting fish innards, or struck dead by the stench. The Throne Room was the last place to withstand the onslaught, and the Queen finally got word out by eagle to free the Sphere, hoping it would end this horror once released. The great box was opened... but the Sphere wasn't there. The fish fell until the Queen could tolerate the smell no longer and drown herself in her bath trying to escape it. She was the last living soul in the Palace, and the rain of fish stopped as did her heart.

Scholars, looking back, noted that one hundred miles away, the population of a fishing village starved after every fish in their waters shot straight up into the sky. And on the same day the box was closed, the Sphere was seen incinerating a halfling bard that tried to sing it to sleep in the next kingdom.

Danger aside, these stories do demonstrate that the Sphere can be detered. The cost of doing so is often steep, however.

There, is that better?"


1 comment:

  1. Fun stuff! "..Anyone's guess and everyone's woe." Indeed. ;)