Sunday, October 3, 2010

Creature Feature 4: The Grounded Ghost

(A big, big thanks to Steph Cherrywell, who will be contributing art to these throughout the month! I also made a lot of this entry up based on the image she sent, so she gets extra double special credit for this one)

Many years ago a hoard of troll-like creatures swept through the land. They snatched up and devoured anything they encountered with their prehensile tongues, and tore down forests to build colossal fires for no discernible purpose. Armies that rode out to meet them were slaughtered, discovering too late that while the monsters could be slain, their spirits seeped into the earth with their blood, congealing below the surface and regenerating. Just as soldiers celebrated victory, a new wave of foes would rise from the dirt. Humans called it the Rippling War, because it was fought in a perfect, growing ring as the monsters spread every outward, leaving nothing but fire behind them.

Everything changed when the Druids appeared at the front lines of the Ripple. None realized so many existed until that day, and now most have forgotten the great roaring armies that poured from the forest. They came armed with scimitars of carved bone and long pikes of cedar core. As the monsters fell, the Druids rolled their corpses away and drove the pikes down into the dirt where they once lay. Soon the creatures realized something was wrong, and they retreated. For weeks the Druids hunted them, always marking the spot their blood fell with a cedar post. No new beasts rose, and the Rippling War was over.

Art by Steph Cherrywell
Most of the posts have weathered away, taking the spirit they pinned with them. Others have been buried by time, or paved over, or lost in great cataclysms. But there are some that remain, overgrown and worm eaten in the forest, or tall and lonely in a secluded glen. Disturb one, and you might hear a gruff voice ask your help. “You pull,” it may say, “and I’ll push!”

Grounded Ghosts are actually ethereal creatures bound beneath the soil by a sacred cedar pole. They cannot move or take any action while the pole remains, and can only speak if the pole is touched or otherwise disturbed. Removing the pole or destroying it by any means will allow the monster to become corporeal again. It will be very hungry.

In the flesh, Grounded Ghosts are large, strong and tough. Their tongues are actually their throat turned out, and have a “mouth” on the end for dragging prey into their huge gullets. The tongue turns back in like a rolled sock as it retracts, enfolding the victim and eventually spitting them into its stomach. The beast can stretch to accommodate prey as big as it is, and prefers to eat things alive. It isn’t above pummeling prey to death or tossing them into a fire first if they struggle too much. Overall, Grounded Ghosts are obsessed with destruction, and will slay, burn and tear apart all they encounter. A free Ghost will likely seek out trapped kin.

No comments:

Post a Comment