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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    The Dream Speakers have developed a sudden interest in learning more about the many unique non-Spawn critters and beasts roaming the world.

    Their interest quickly reveals itself not to merely be academic but commercial as notice is spread all throughout the known lands asking for the aid of the most skilled trackers, the bravest trappers, and the most learned scholars to pursue and capture some of the most exotic and elusive fauna known to exist around the world.

    The purpose of these safaris? To collect the rarest and most intriguing specimens for display in continental traveling menagerie shows!


    Describe your beasts below! Examples of submissions include: the story of a hunt, successful or not, for a real or mythical beast native to one’s lands; a bestiary-type description of a local creature captured for display; or another appropriately themed piece of writing relating to the establishment of a global menagerie
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Contribution to the Dreamspeaker's Menagerie:

    Spoiler: The Study
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    The smell from the hut was rank, if one ventured inside they would have found clay pots of various animal limbs held in flower wine that had turned into vinegar. Some of the clay pots held half-preserved eyes that bobbed on the surface of the liquid with accusing gazes. On the ways were various insects with copper pins struck through them, holding them in place. They were long dead and one could see that the hut’s inhabitant had taken them apart, wing-by-wing, leg from thorax. On the wall were planks of wood each holding for display a transversed hound – the cross sections allowing one visage onto its organs, long turned black from rot. Throughout the hut were vellum tablets with runes and drawings of the dissections.

    A rustling from the wheat maze beyond the hut and from it emerges a human with a feverish air. In his hands, he held a sack the seemed to struggle from within. Whatever was held inside was trying desperately to escape – but the sack was made of strong leather and the creature could not rip it apart. The man entered his hut and placed the sack onto the floor, the sack still rustling and struggling. The man poured himself some water from a jug that held the stale drink – and he waited; the sack after all was closed shut and all animals needed to breathe – soon the sack would be still. For now the fight from inside grew more violent and desperate. Eventually, an hour later – the man staring at the bag with fascination the entire time – the struggle died and it was silent. The man waited another hour before he opened the bag.

    Within, he pulled out his prize – a Reaper-Folk!

    He had heard of these creatures in Kursaal and had moved into Nal Dryb to find one, but they were extremely elusive. The Reaper-Folk are shy, small fleeting, Fae-like creatures of the grain worshipped by the people of Nal-Dryb. They flit between the beards and the stems of the wheat like flies and birds, and even sleep in the wheat in place of kernels.

    Dead and pulled out the bag the man could see that the Reaper-Folk was a small insectoid with six iridescent wings, two eyes that were cloudy and the color of Maize, two sharp scythes in place on its raptorial legs; and most fascinating – it had the face of youthful humanoid child. The child’s face looked like it could be asleep – dreaming of flying in the wind above the ocean of wheat and other pleasant thoughts. The man laughed with excitement and began looking through his hut for cooper pins and his knife.

    First, he took off the Reaper-Folk’s wings and pinned them to the wall. The wings were beautiful – almost shimmering like a reflective rainbow. He took off the creature’s legs – specifically its scythe like raptorial. He took the leg and ran some nuts over it and marveled at how cleaned they were sliced. He thanked himself for bringing such a heavy bag to capture the creature; a lesser vessel would have been cut to ribbons.

    Finally, dissected he stared at the creatures face – that child’s face serene now but with eyes wide open – eyes the color of maize. He plucked them out with a pin and added them to his eye jar where they floated like two gold coins in a pond of debris. He then carefully carved the face off the creature wondering if he would see a mammal’s skull and innards or if the skin was merely stretched over an insect’s exoskeleton.

    To his delight after removing the skin (which like everything else he documented, he stretched onto a plank of wood with cooper pins and drew on his vellum), he beheld a skull much in the shape of a baby human. He was no stranger to such skulls, there was a reason he was living in Kursaal instead of human lands; luckily the citizens of the Goliath city understood the discretion that is afforded to a man of means. He took out a small hammer and cracked the skull and beheld the child’s brain, he scooped it out and placed it on a clay bowl and wrote:

    “The Reaper-Folk, while appearing wild, possess a mind that is proportional to any human, Uzii or Goliath. I would hypothesize that they are less like dogs and other animals then they are like people. Dangerous people that is – their legs are sharper than any known metal and could cut straight through bone.” – He cackled, happy in the knowledge that the Dreamspeakers would pay him handsomely for such a study. Putting aside the work, he went back to his work – flecks of dark purple blood flecking his hands and tools as he worked. The flies descending as night came drawn to the smell of death and insanity.

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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    DSP Menagerie Response 1: Polar Animals
    List of Sikaran critters. This section will encompass the creatures of the Far South. What lies beyond the walls of ice and endless storms, nobody knows...

    Spoiler: Bestiary Part 1
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    Penguin
    Fauna, Avian
    Small flightless birds that live in the colder regions of Sikar.

    Penguin, Deep
    Fauna, Megafauna, Avian
    Large blind birds that dwell in deep caves.

    Snow Cat
    Fauna, Mammal, Feline
    Distant relative of the sand cat, adapted to colder climes. They are known for being good hunters and having smug looking faces.

    Snow Sloth
    Fauna, Megafauna, Mammal
    Megasloths adapted to colder climates.

    Mothman
    Fauna, Arthropod, Insect, Intelligent, Cyptid
    Large moth-like creatures with twitching antennae and glowing eyes. These creatures seem very reclusive, and swiftly disappear when spotted. They seem to posses great intelligence and wisdom, and may be able to predict things before they happen.

    White Opossum
    Fauna, Mammal, Marsupial
    Furry marsupials that hand by their tails from trees. Will play dead when threatened.

    White Pronghorn
    Fauna, Mammal, Ungulate
    These pronghorns have adapted to colder climates. They look very regal and move fast, only skilled trappers can capture them.

    Spoiler: Story Part 1
    Show

    It had been some time since the initial contact of those in the far south. Diplomatic relations had gone smoothly with the natives, but there was still much to know about this new land. Few Soreni chose to explore these lands; as cool blood blooded creatures, the did poorly in such frigid environments. One brave Soreni explorer, our protagonist in this story, would be one of the first to explore the nature and wildlife of this new land, a true pioneer of exploration. She had prepared the necessary tools weeks in advance. When the day came, she set off down the southward trail.
    As she descended ever onward she noticed a sharp change in the environment, by the end of the first day, she set up camp. She had yet to come across anything of note.
    By the third day, she came across a forested region, and made sure to note the trees. They were unlike any she had seen before. Tall with thin needle-like leaves. from the branches of one tree hung a strange creature, some weird furry marsupial, dwelling in the hollow of a tree. It was asleep. She made great care not to wake it up, as she logged it, and drew a small sketch.
    A few weeks in, she had seen a great many creatures, smug looking snow cats, towering sloths with snow white fur, a quick glimpse of the rare white pronghorn the region was so known for. All of these were dutifully made note of.
    Many weeks in she was sure she had seen every creature in this land, though the locals had rumors of a beast that she had yet to see. A Mothman, they called it. Taller than any normal human, with giant wings and beady eyes that glowed in the night.
    As a final goal before she was to depart, she sought to find the elusive mothman, and over a week she was sure she had the evidence. She trekked to an unnasuming cave, and ventured through it's winding passages, before reaching a sort of nest. It looked long abandoned, with the decrepit remains of a cocoon. Still something, but, not what she had hoped for.
    As she continued her search for the Mothman, she felt watched. She saw not a single moth during her search, but felt strangely watched.
    Later as she camped for the night, as she went over her discoveries, she saw something in the distance. What looked like flashing lights. She put down her notes, and walked towards them. She wandered towards the red glow, more entranced every second as she came closer.The lights swiveled towards her, revealing themselves to be eyes. Suddenly the thing extended it's wings, and rose up into the air, flying away, but not before turning back towards our intrepid explorer. It's eyes gleamed with forbidden wisdom, the very sight of those eyes revealed truths about the world that cannot be known. Weeks later, another explorer found her corpse. What was left of her notes was covered with incomprehensible ramblings that slowly degraded into gibberish, the finally strange, seemingly meaningless symbols. Since then, no explorer has dared to seek the Mothman.

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    Last edited by D&D_Fan; 2020-09-23 at 02:16 PM.
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    The Simurgh (dsr bestiary submission)

    Spoiler: The Simurgh
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    Kensu was disgraced after her loss to the Laughing Queen. It was not absolute, as her army was not routed, but she wasn't able to secure a victory against the orcs. They had superior numbers, *and also the hydra*.

    Kensu simply couldn't return without something to show for it. She ventured further into orcish lands, a vagabond, being befriended by the dreamspeakers. Zora had much distaste for these figures, but wasn't outright hostile, so they were not hostile either.

    They were now seeking out beasts of all mythical kinds, in particular in this region deep into orcish territory called The Simurgh. Those creatures were dangerous, and kensu had even bested one as it ambushed her, but she was informed that this rumor was not what they sought.

    They sought out [b]The[b] Simurgh, a rare beast rumored to have developed the twilight sight and gone mad, using it's mythical abilities to interfere in the dreams of those nearby and delighting in spiraling entire villages into chaos via butterfly effects and crazy machinations.

    Was this a folk take made up by random citizens to justify stuff like cannibals or diseases? Or dreamspeakers assuming something malicious interfered with the dream sight of those already having mastered it rather than a more mundane cause? Probably.

    Was it something for kensu to seek out to prove her worth? Most definitely. Even if she didn't find anything she'd curry some favor with these dreamspeakers (who, from the orcs that she spoke to on her travels, weren't actually that bad) and thus in turn have something glorious to present to the queendom back at home.

    Or she might fall prey to the simurghs curse and become a demented psycho. Who knows?


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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Spoiler: The Hunt for the Striped Jaguar
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    Once in a great while, a large, powerful jaguar appears in the south of Veramondo, one not spotted like the ones found usually, but one striped with orange and black. It is said to have supernatural powers. It can become invisible to the mortal eye, and it has the strength of ten men, and its claws are a deadly poison that will kill in minutes.

    Recently, this beast has appeared once more, and the hunters of Veramondo flock to search for it. Leading the group is Kona, her infant son in tow. On foot, armed with longspears, groups of hunters sweep the plains, hoping for a glimpse of the beast, and, if they're lucky, the chance to kill it.
    It is Kona's party who first spots it. A flash of orange fur in the distance. They charge. The beast rises to meet them. One of the hunters falls quickly to it, his neck broken by a powerful paw. Another few break and run at a powerful roar. But Kona attacks. Her spear pierces the beast's flank, but it roars in pain and twists away, snapping the weapon's haft and slashing at Kona with its claws. The heroine is forced to dodge away, and when she recovers, the creature has vanished into the grass. It is not seen again for some years.
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Delivered to the Dream Speakers by a flock from the Crow's Tribe, written in the language of the Crow.

    Spoiler: A Truly Horrid Monster
    Show
    The Eaters of Children

    These creatures are horrific abominations upon the lands of Sikar. They curse people across the lands. They inavde the minds of the most vulnerable and destroy them from the inside out. They spread this curse from children to their parents. They kidnap children. They infiltrate every great people under the guise of seers and soothsayers, only to worm their lifeless limbs into the very souls of the rulers, seizing guest rights for themselves under threat of torture.

    The Eaters arrive as peaceful wanderers. It is only under careful examination that one can truly witness the truth of these beasts, lower than the mites that eat the burned flesh from the feet of newborn sand-skirters. They are more vile than the dust-grubs that burrow into desiccating corpses. The Eaters, too, wait for the reception to cool before bursting violently forth in their true forms, much like the dust-grubs metamorphosing into the bile-oozing dustwurms. Truly, the differences between the rot-hunting worms that spew acrid saliva and the dustwurms are few.

    It is the recommendation of the Quluq that these monsters in mortal guise be hunted to extinction by all who respect memory. May their dreams be as haunted as their victims. May the curses they speak fall at their own feet. May Yemnellenmey refuse to remember the blackened souls of these stains on Sikar.

    -Dictated by the Quluq of Nellen.

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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    DSP Menagerie Response 1: Aquatic and Coastal Animals
    These beasts, who stalk the shores and seas, bringing ships and sailors to their knees; When storms abound, be on edge: Those who dwell below may not be friendly, for it may be you who's dredged.

    Spoiler: Bestiary Part 2
    Show

    Marauders
    Fauna, Megafauna, Arthropod
    Giant Mantis Shrimp like creatures that hunt beneath the waves, but have been known to come on land to hunt.
    • Marauder Bludgeon
      Also known as the Mansplitter, these large, vibrantly colored crustaceans use large club-like claws to smash their prey into a pulp.
    • Marauder Skewer
      Skewers are fearsome black and white striped creatures that spear targets with sharp jagged spears of claws.


    Otter, Sea Prowler
    Fauna, Megafauna, Mammal
    Comparable to wolves or bears, these critters are far from cute and cuddly. They often go up on land to hunt, and can put up a serious fight when threatened.

    Snapper
    Fauna, Megafauna,Arthropod
    Large prawn-like beasts that have large snapping pincers, that dwell in rivers, lakes, and oceans.
    • Freshwater Snapper
      Snappers that dwell in freshwater rivers and lakes, and that
    • Saltwater Snapper
      Oceanic snappers that prowl the shores of beaches, and drag hapless fishers to their deaths.
    • Vorpal Snapper
      The most powerful and rare variety of snapper, with picers sharp enough to decapitate targets instantly.



    Spoiler: Story Part 2
    Show
    TBA

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    Last edited by D&D_Fan; 2020-09-29 at 09:18 AM.
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Creatures of the Fariba

    Spoiler: The aardbear
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    The largest and most ferocious beast of the forest is the aardbear. Only the boldest and strongest of hunters should dare approach it. When standing they are as tall even as the giants of old. On all fours, they can look a hunter in the eye. They will devour both live prey that they have hunted and steal the kills of other creatures to tear apart and eat every part of the corpse, whether the flesh be wholesome or rotted. Its jaws are powerful and will bite through bone, its forelimbs massy and huge for rending apart its victims. In some aspects it resembles a huge dog, in others a true bear. Give thanks that they are solitary creatures, so that we may hunt them in groups, for even the mightiest of lone hunters will be lucky to escape from an encounter with his life.


    Spoiler: The jagupard
    Show
    The jagupard is the most cunning of all the forest predators. The offspring of the true jaguar and the forest lion, it is larger than its siblings and more adept at climbing trees. Its dappled hide means only the keenest of eyes can see it when it is concealed in its arboreal lair. While it can outrun a man it prefers to attack from hiding, leaping out of thickets or down from branches upon prey. It has no fear of men and will prey upon any who trespass into its domain. While bears are usually too large for it, bold jagupards have been known to kill them and drag their carcasses into the treetops to feast upon at their leisure. The wise traveller and hunter will keep an eye above him for ambush from this deadly adversary.


    Spoiler: The ereljerra
    Show
    The men of the forest, or the carelijerrē in our tongue, are mysterious creatures, cautious and distant. Compared to men of the Bannanda they may be a little larger and are covered with a dark fur of a red hue. On sight of hunters they will flee and so at home are they among the trees that not even the fleetest of foot can catch them. Those who have travelled in the deepest parts of the forest say they have heard them speak, though none can make sense of their language. On rare occasion they will trespass into the avocado groves to steal the ripening fruit and are driven off with loud yells and blowing of horns. They are not known to eat flesh, but there are stories of them fighting other beasts to defend their young. When they fight, they are both strong and fearsome. Men should leave them be, for they are favoured by the forest spirits and cause no harm.


    Spoiler: The death-bringers
    Show
    The greatest foe of men is the silent killer which lurks in swamps and canals; the mosquito. Sometimes they see fit to announce their presence with a whining drone, but others will come and go silently, leaving you none the wiser as to their presence until they have departed. In their wake they leave at best soreness but those they mark for death will weaken and perish and naught can be done to save them. Kill these accursed creatures on sight. Cherish our friends the spiders, who weave webs to capture them and protect us from their plague.
    Last edited by Aedilred; 2020-10-03 at 07:03 PM.
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Dannom-wek (or "Wrinkled River-thing" in the Dannu-Gao language; other lands plagued by these things no doubt have their own names) is an oft-rumored but rarely sighted creature. Said to lurk and spawn in mountain reservoirs but swim up and down rivers in search of prey, the Dannom-wek is bloated and covered in bumpy folded skin. It is generally toad-shaped but hiding in its mouth is a pair of long, bony arms with fingers like those of a man, which drag prey down its gullet.

    Though it cannot leave the water for long periods and rarely surfaces in sunlight, the Dannom-wek has a robust talent for mimicry, simulating various birdsongs, animal mating calls, and even phrases (albeit without understanding of meaning; they are not believed to be intelligent) to lure prey to the water.

    The Dannom-wek is not an especially large or strong creature, and though some adults have been attacked and injured, there have only been reports of children killed or swallowed whole. Though rarely seen, children are nevertheless warned not to go near water at night, no matter what it is they hear.
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Antlion - A race of legendary insects from the time of Eshara, the antlions were said to be the size of an elephant, with a quarter of their mass in an armored head, bearing enormous barbed pincers, and the rest consigned to a nearly useless, vase shaped bulk that dragged behind them on feeble legs. They dwelled in burrows at the bottom of sandy funnels, steep enough to send an unwary traveler tumbling towards the center where the antlion could emerge and snap up its prey. Blessedly, the monsters were unable or unwilling to leave their lairs, even to pursue food over a short distance, and these traps were easy enough for the canny Ashir to spot, especially with the height advantage from their horses. Eshara led a campaign to exterminate the antlions by feeding them sacrificial goats wrapped with twine holding dozens of obsidian shards. As goats were small enough to be eaten whole, the obsidian passed undamaged through their digestive tracts and shredded them from the inside. Hunting these monsters to apparent extinction is one reason the native Vesparrese accepted the Ashir as their masters. To this day, antlion skulls are on display in many villages, alongside trophies from other predators, as testament to this relationship.

    Unbeknownst to the Ashir, antlions exist elsewhere in the world, albeit in their more conventional size, and the creatures are merely the larval form of something resembling a dragonfly. As adults, even the giants of the Sikar live only days more as they seek out a mate, lay their eggs, and expire.

    Hoop Snake - Known to be a unimaginative and practical to a fault, the Ashir nevertheless staunchly defend of the existence of a creature that cannot be found. The hoop snake is a viper, said to attack with lightning speed by biting its own tail, curling its body into an upright circle, and flinging itself downhill at its prey. At the bottom of its descent, it uncoils, hurtling itself into the air whereby it attacks with its deadly fangs. The tail is also said to be poisonous, because why wouldn't it be?

    In truth, none of the Ashir have ever seen a hoop snake as they do not exist. The legend is likely attributed to an eagle dropping its dinner, and then, by some spook of physics, the snake rolling upright down a sand dune in sight of one of Eshara's consorts who then swore (ashta hazid!) about what he had seen until the end of his days. As the Ashir are not known to practice such deception, especially among their own clan, the existence of such a creature was taken as fact for the generations, each defending the claims of their parents with devout honor.

    The notion of a wheel inspires no creativity among the Ashir, who have horses and camels for all their transportation needs, and who do not personally undertake any great labors such as hauling stones from one place to another.
    Last edited by Nefarion Xid; 2020-10-03 at 07:36 PM.
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Hunt for Longtooth:
    You speak of dreams from distant lands
    But the greatest stories lay in the past
    Of a monster too big for mortal hands
    And a villain with scars to ever last
    Five fast young lions leap from cave
    Coming down from rocky height
    Hunting after that which they crave
    Bristling for a bloody fight
    From far north the creature came
    A beast like them but freakish fang
    And lacking all things we Woken claim
    As fine folk save when hunger pang
    A lion body, long in tooth, hyena spotted mane
    A feral eye with which to spy and stalking gait
    All bound together in a form that felt no pain
    The Longtooth‘s heart burned with Hate
    It snapped the first Lion, teeth through bone
    Ripped the skull and dropped the mane
    That’s one poor cub who won’t go home
    And their grieving soulmate soon turned lame
    The other three well they took their odds
    They glanced between them, sniffed the blood
    One stayed still, the others ran, hunter frauds
    And so he sunk his talons into his funeral mud
    Held on fast, locked it in the eyes, a violent weight
    Longtooth dropped upon him like dead of night
    They locked their fangs like eyes of hate
    Old Lion lost half his face but won the fight
    Last edited by Tychris1; 2020-10-04 at 01:56 AM.
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Contribution to the Dreamspeaker's Menagerie #2:

    Notes from a Priest of Uko:

    Spoiler: Notes from a Priest of Uko
    Show
    “The most important type of creature in Targiz is not the Goliath or even the various dangerous predators, no instead it is the pollinators that rule the land. We must remember this and remain humble.

    The flower fields that speckle the hills and mountains are the life blood of Targiz, fueling its economy and its faith. The flowers are the core of the people and despite all of the people's care for the fragile stems the flowers would wilt and die if it was not for the many bees and birds that carry their seeds. There are many such pollinators that flit between the petals and give them life, but the greatest of all is Dire Hummingbird.

    Regular hummingbirds are small and tiny creatures, beating their wings so fast and so hard that they seek nectar just to keep on living. There is hardly any rest for these creatures. The Dire Hummingbird is much the same although larger – almost as big as an eagle. Their beaks are longer and sharper than any Goliath copper knife and their lounges are like whips. Like their smaller cousins they seek nectar but for such a large creature the nectar of a single flower is not enough. They claim dominion over entire regions of flowerfields and therefore there are few in number.

    Despite any fables and myths Dire Hummingbirds do not seek blood to supplement their diet nor are they predatory or evil. Watching one in the wild, while often considered an ill omen, would reveal that it is merely an outsized pollinator that should be admired for its function to the ecology of Targiz and its usefulness in making sure that whole regions of flowers are well pollinated. It is also beautiful - with rainbow wings and one can not help but admire them.

    Marvelously, one should also note that while the beating of a regular hummingbird’s wings is only enough to provide a tiny breeze to shift pollen in one’s hand, the Dire Hummingbird beats its larger wings just as fast. As such it creates a gust around itself that blows away potential insects and other predators as well as making its capture by a certain enthusiast difficult.”

  13. - Top - End - #13
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    The white wolves of the North are not literally made of ice, though you might not realize it to look at them. Nor are they perfectly white coming in shades of cool blue, seeming almost translucent, with eyes that burn with a white-hot intensity unmatched by any other beast known to Mamut. Though they walk with an aura of cold that bears a certain similarity to the chill of the blight, when they have been seen in contact with other blightspawn, they are known to fight them with as much ferocity as a Sentinel.
    In truth, seeing one of the white wolves even within the borders of Thun or Arkusa is a rarity, and it would be unheard for them to stray further South than that. Sighting of an icewolf is a bad omen, however, as they herald a harsh winter, and come with a great hunger. When food is scarce, the icewolves are one more source of competition for game animals that can make the difference between life and starvation for a smaller settlement or a travelling Jouraka.
    Still, despite the danger they pose to food supplies, they are supposed to be deeply intelligent, and to have some strange sense of mercy or fair play. It would not be the first time a straggler, presumed dead, would stumble into the Gathering speaking of being saved by a pack of icewolves.
    Indeed, the Sentinel Arcor reported an encounter with some quite recently...

    Spoiler: Fox Hunting
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    Foxes, Arcor decided, were the worst animal to ever live.
    They were not strictly the most difficult to hunt. Plenty of animals were faster, though certainly very few were more cunning. But if you knew what to look for, their tracks could be followed easily enough through the forests. Certainly many birds were more frustrating to hunt.
    And, Arcor could not deny, they were not the most dangerous quarry a hunter could ask for. He had personally witnessed a Scrim be struck down by an enraged mother bear during a hunt, and the damage was severe enough that they had died then and there. And that was without even leaving the borders of Thun- Arcor had seen up close and personal the terrors Swampum had to offer.
    No, what made foxes so frustrating to hunt was their sense of humour.
    He glared down into the fox’s den and dabbed at the bite wound on his hand. The fox’s mocking laughter echoed in his ears.
    Really, the laughter was the thing. Bears were terrifying creatures, yes, but there was a certain respect there. You pose a threat to it, or it sees you as a source of food, and it fights back. The bear didn’t laugh at you for being so much smaller than it. It didn’t mock you for your weakness.
    He briefly paused in his angry vigil of the foxhole to wrap a bandage around his profusely bleeding hand. Hopefully the monster wasn’t rabid. Arcor didn’t fancy a horrible death. With his hand bandaged, he tugged his glove back over it, flexing slightly to make it fit over the lump of the bandage.
    This would be so much easier if the Dreamspeakers didn’t want the damn creature [I]alive.[I] And healthy, too. That was the real sticking point. There were plenty of ways to trap a fox, even some that would leave it relatively unharmed, but Arcor couldn’t be everywhere in the forest at once, and the damn animals were clever enough not to fall in to a watched trap.
    It wouldn’t be so bad, too, if it weren’t so damnably cold. Thun was a pleasant chill, but this, out past the lands that Thun cared to lay claim to, where even the Scrim struggled to find enough food to survive, was an ordeal Arcor had no desire to repeat any time soon. But needs must- it was only this far North that one could reliably find the legendary white foxes.
    Not that even that was easy. In between scavenging and hunting what he needed for himself- those years with the Sentinels had not been for nothing, and despite his irritation he would be ashamed to have considered himself one of their number if a little cold and privation were enough to stop him- he had a little time to try and devise traps, or to hunt for the foxes himself. He hardly had the time to prepare a proper pitfall, and anyway any pit deep enough to stop the foxes climbing out would be too deep for them to fall in uninjured. A deadfall trap, too, would risk injuring the animal.
    So he found himself leaving snares about. So far, he hadn’t had much luck with them. It seemed that the intended quarry were too clever to fall for a simple piece of bait. And more than once, he had found the traps sprung but empty, the bait gone. Still, other animals fell into them sometimes, and it kept him with a steady supply of food, supplemented by intermittent foraging.
    But finally- finally – after weeks of camping out in the untracked wilderness, he had caught one.
    And almost immediately lost it trying to move it from the snare into the cage he had prepared to transport it.
    Shaking his head, he began to walk back towards his encampment. It was no use trying to get the creature out of the hole. It could wait longer than him. Maybe a Scrim would have found this easier. Then again, there were no Scrim who were his equal when it came to wilderness survival, so maybe not.
    It was as he was musing on the potential advantages and disadvantages of sending one of the stone titans that he saw it, sitting in the centre of his camp. A creature, light blue, wolf-shaped
    He resisted the urge to charge. It might be sitting, but it was still faster than him. He was master of his instincts. Remember being trained. Focus. Breathe in...
    Was it blightspawn? No. No spawn was this passive. He would already be in the thick of the fight if that were the case. So, just an animal. It was more than likely that it would flee at the first sign of movement, now that they had seen each other. Most animals would. He could try throwing a spear... but he had plenty of meat, and if this was a wolf, then the rest of its pack might not be happy about that. Presuming it was really a wolf. And that there was a pack. Still, not worth the risk.
    Act. Breathe out.
    “Hello there.” His voice cracked a little with weeks of disuse. He took a single stride in towards the center of his camp. The wolf didn’t move. “And what are you doing in my camp?”
    The beast continued to regard him with its sharp white eyes.
    Breathe in...
    It didn’t seem to pose an immediate threat, although it was larger than other wolves he’d had the opportunity to see. Perhaps even more oddly, looking at his gear suggested it hadn’t even touched the possessions he had left at the camp. Not even the bag with the food that sat in a particularly well-concealed trap. That was evidence enough of its intelligence, although it didn’t seem to understand his words.
    No action needed. Just observe for now. Breathe out.
    “Well, alright. You can share my fire for the night, stranger.” He knelt by the firepit and set to relighting it, with a few logs and some scavenged kindling. “You might want to take a step back, this is going to be very warm.” To his surprise, the animal followed his suggestion, standing up and taking a few steps back from the pile of wood before settling in to the snow once again.
    Breathe in...
    That was another oddity. Where were the beast’s tracks? There hadn’t been a fresh snowfall for days, and he could clearly see the criss-cross of his own tracks across the campsite from that time. But the wolf’s footprints seemed to start where it had been sitting by the fireside. He might not have even noticed that it had apparently flown down to the campsite if it hadn’t gotten up and moved.
    Nothing to be done. Remember, and keep watching. Breathe out.
    “Do you like rabbit? Snow hares are plenty dumb enough to fall for my traps, even if the little fox bastards aren’t. I’ve got plenty.” Arcor tried not to talk to himself, or to animals, or even to be honest to other people most of the time, but something about this creature made him feel talkative.
    The fox, for its part, tilted its head a little at the mention of rabbit. “Yeah? Well, hold on a bit. Need to cook it first.” With a little rubbing with an appropriate stick, he made a spark, sending the kindling up in a flurry of heat. He settled back, pulling a rabbit caught earlier that day from where it was strapped to his pack and getting ready to skin it. It was probably a foolhardy use of the last of the black iron he would probably ever have access to, but copper blades offended his sensibilities, and the Scrim still had limited ideas about what the word “sharp” meant.
    Before long, the rabbit was thoroughly cooked. He cut off a piece, throwing it to the wolf, who caught it out of the air, biting through and then swallowing in nearly the space of a blink. Settling back onto the ground, he began eating his own portion while staring thoughtfully at the wolf.
    So far, the animal had mostly just sat there. It arrived under mysterious circumstances, and it seemed to understand him well enough. But what did it want?
    A mystery for the morning, he decided. It was late. After a little time warming himself by the fire he put it out, laying down to sleep near the cooling embers.
    He wasn’t surprised to find the beast still there when he woke in the morning. If it had slept, it gave no sign of it. Having long since been trained out of morning grogginess, he rose, stretching, before going through his morning routine. Some seeds and berries to keep him going for now, organize his belongings.
    The wolf watched all this patiently, but as he prepared to go out to check his first lot of traps for the morning, it stepped in front of him, almost pointedly, and made a huffing noise. He stopped, and stared down at the animal.
    “What?”
    It turned, and began walking away from him. After a few paces it looked back, seeming to check if he was following.
    He shrugged. If there was anything caught in the traps, it would keep for now.
    The wolf led him through the forest to a seemingly arbitrary patch of land where it began digging through the snow. Arcor knelt to help. Before long, he found himself brushing up against- wood? It felt like wood, but...
    Digging around more, the two of them finally uncovered the object. It was... a sled? Made of some strange planks of wood, treated in a way Arcor didn’t recognize. The craftsmanship was undeniable, though.
    Hauling at it, Arcor brought the sled up onto the surface of the snow. It was well-preserved under the snow, even having a sort of harness at the front, where something- an animal? A man?- could pull it. And, it seemed to Arcor, it would make it significantly easier to bring a cage full of fox back with him.
    The wolf began confidently trotting back the way they came. When Arcor didn’t follow, it turned and sat, waiting for him.
    “Yeah, yeah, give me a minute.”
    Breathe in...
    Motives are still unclear, but it seems helpful. He wouldn’t have found the sled in a thousand years without it. Where did the sled come from? Who built it? How did the wolf know about it? Why was the wolf helping him?
    No answers to be found just by thinking about it. Breathe out.
    “Well, thank you for that, then. Are you going to help me pull this, or what?”
    The wolf shook its body soundlessly, like a wet dog. “I see. I’ll just pull this, shall I?”
    To Arcor’s surprise, the wolf let out a resounding howl. He stumbled back for a moment, but before he was even aware of it had a blade in his hand and his legs in a crouch. He consciously straightened his body, but didn’t let go of the knife. The black iron was a comfort in his hands.
    After a moment, another half dozen of the strange bluish-white wolves appeared. At a bark from the one that had been guiding Arcor, they made their way to the sled, slipping into the harnesses. It struck him as odd that the wolves could fit into them without hands, but he decided not to question his good fortune.
    The guide wolf tilted its head at Arcor.
    “What?”
    It looked pointedly at the sled.
    Breathe in.
    This was, it seemed, a pack. Was this their leader? Did wolves... have leaders? Arcor wasn’t sure. It hadn’t come up. Could he trust them?
    ...could he deny that he was now deeply curious?
    Follow for now. Breathe out.
    Arcor climbed into the sled, and the wolf Arcor had decided to think of as the leader set off immediately, not at the calm walk it had employed before, but bounding across the snow. The harnessed team followed, and Arcor was almost thrown off the sled bracing for a tug that didn’t come. The sled moved like a dream across the snow.
    To Arcor’s surprise, the wolves first brought him back to his campsite, where they stopped. The leader sat down and began licking itself, and the harnessed team followed suit, grooming themselves and each other.
    Confused, Arcor stepped out of the sled, but after a moment it became apparent that something had happened. His gear lay strewn about, and the trap he had set around the food was not only triggered, but smashed to bits. The food hadn’t even been eaten, though it too sat tossed about wildly.
    He knelt by the equipment. A cursory inspection suggested that some blightspawn had done this, or some particularly savage beast. Looking closer showed that this was unlikely. Blightspawn didn’t stop to untie knots holding a pack closed. They might be cunning, sometimes, but not smart. And the tears in the cloth weren’t big enough for the larger objects to have come out through them.
    Breathe in...
    If it wasn’t blightspawn, what was it? Who was nearby? There were locals, but Arcor hadn’t made contact with them. Still, they had seen each other, glimpses across hilltops, through forest and in darkness. Had they decided that he was an enemy? All too likely. And it was entirely possible they were still in the area.
    Retreat. Breathe out.
    He gathered his posessions quickly, tossing them onto the sled. A sound like a hunting horn in the distance spurred him on as he leapt into the sled. The wolves set off immediately, and Arcor was glad for it, as he could hear shouts in the distance behind them as the wolves bounded across the countryside.
    It was dark before the wolves stopped, slipping out of their harnesses and panting heavily. Arcor strained to see the forest around them. Was that...? Yes, it was. One of the cairns the Arkusans placed at crossings of Jouras. He couldn’t be so far as all that from the Gathering, and the land between here and there was friendly enough.
    He turned to the wolves. “Thank you, I suppose.”
    The lead wolf didn’t acknowledge him, merely letting out a short bark to the rest of the pack. In a flash, the wolves were gone, melting into the landscape, leaving Arcor alone with the sled.
    He inspected it closely. Such an unusual design. So smooth, and it would practically glide over the snow.
    His pack was ruined anyway. It would probably be easier to bring the supplies he needed back by just taking the sled.
    Arcor shouldered himself into the harness, and began trudging back towards civilization.
    I go by them/they/their pronouns, but I'm comfortable with he/him/his or she/her/hers.

    Spoiler: STUFFS
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    Yes... continue ignoring me... exactly as planned
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    'Kay! Ignoring a ninja never hurt anyone.



    Being terrible at being a wolf since always.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Stories from Shandolé - Skyclad Tales

    A DSP Menagerie Entry. I'll be posting some more later.

    Spoiler: The Dreaded Jackalope
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    The Dreaded Jackalope


    Good winds travelers! May this winter pass by softly and may your days be blessed! Would you mind sharing tables and even so a drink while we by the fire rest? For share drink and company with me and even so a story shall I share with ye. Harken friends, if you would to a story told in dancer nests. A story told of dread and drink and a creature of the west.

    I speak, of course, and even so, of the dreaded jackalope, the horned hare of Thunder Hills. He may be small just rabbit sized but believe me even so he kills. With horns that gore and beady eyes and speed to match the skies, Jackalope is no joke and takes whomever he wills.

    He haunts the hills and grasses and his voice will mimic any sound, including that of dancer lads and lasses. You will hear him call, or cry or whimper, but if you answer, off he’ll scamper. He’ll lead you along into the wild, away from flocks and nest to lands defiled. One step here, the next step there, down a hole into the Deep, where stones bleed and witches laugh and baleful monsters slink and creep. There you stay and cry an’ cry and even so, there you’ll die. And if you don’t and dare to hope, well then, the dreaded Jacklope will gore you right through the throat.

    Harken here and listen well. There’s still a happy way to end the tale. You and I we like this here whisky, but Jackalope, he goes balisky. He loves to drink and its especially true for the finest whiskies ever brewed. Much like what they serve here, though for myself I prefer a beer.

    But so and even so, a’harken. When you kin a jackalope be a’lurk’n. Put some fine whiskey in a bowl and set it outside upon a knoll. Jacklope, he can’t resist, he’ll come drink and so drink it all and then, my friends, figure this. Drunken jackalopes fall asleep and then you strike, you cannot miss. If even so and so, then you cut away his horns, without his horns his power will be torn and all lost souls he must return.

    And, as a side, and funny bit, they say the milk of a jackalope has power in it. I’m not certain, but it’s true I reckon, that when a lass is expect’n, if she drinks the milk of Jacklope, fertility blooms just as she’d hope. Her eggs are many and strong and bright and the younglings hatched grow in good health and might.

    So, pour me another glass for now, winter is cold, and the winds will howl. Next time you’re in the Thunder Hills when the sun is warm and the wind is still, you may hear a call and see a flash, of horns and eyes and a rabbit dash. Don’t heed the call. Don’t chaise that pray. Just find a drink and so wait out the day. If you can trap him, well, I’ve heard them say, that Dream Speakers will handsome pay.

    ---

    Last edited by Laura; 2020-10-09 at 03:58 AM.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Beasts of myth and legend from the Alodite lands.

    Spoiler: Hooved Wolf
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    Legend has it that before the false dawn the Pharoh Akhenaten, struck with an unfathomable grief from the death of his god empress, traveled to lands of the far west where the sun kissed the mountains as it set into the night in search of the wisest creature. A creature so wise they knew the secrets of life and death Day after day he walked across the vast vituperative dry plains of Sikar, followed by shadows and harried by crows who thought they knew better.

    "Caw" they screeched "Caw, a Pharoh does not ask for secrets of Life and Death they claim what is thiers Caw!"

    After crossing the mountains that kissed the sun, Akenatan sailed down a great putrid river until hefound his prey. The supposedly wisest creature appeared to be a stallion sized wild dog, with putch black fur, circular white ears, and a gaunt figure head deep in a carass of a great scaled monster. As the Pharoh approached, the King of Dog's lifted its scared head, dyed in the crimson blood and entrails of its current feast.

    "Why do you distirub me Elf, I meditate in the viscera prey. Do you wish to join me strange Elf?"

    Akhenaten replied, "I am Akhenatan, ruler of lands to the far east, my Queen is dead, leaving me a sun without a moon and my poor Akanidad, without a mother."

    The King of Dogs stared at the elf for what felt like an eternity, stopping only to occasionally let out a high pitch winnie before replying."Fine, let us journey east, but remeber this Elf, I will be paid what I'm owed."

    And remeber he did, for as the pair travelled back home Akhenatan thought deeply on the crows words. Why shouldn't he take whats his, whats the worst this mangy round eared beast could do.

    As they arrived to the palace the King of Dogs told the elf his price. "To ressurect the queen, I will require blood for blood, give me you first born." Akhenatan, unprepared to sacrifice his heir for his queen, swiftly found a royal hostage disguising the poor boy for the Kings consumption. Presenting the hostage the King of Dogs sniffed the boy, before taking several swift bites at the hostage before swallowing the screaming child whole before barking.

    "You mock me Akhenatan, but despite your impropriety, I'll give. Because you refused to give me your offspring, I'll grace you with mine. Every cow of your royal herd shall sire my progeny. No King, No Master, No Elf. is above me."

    Last edited by Lleban; 2020-10-15 at 11:04 PM.
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    Hangs out on the World building forums

    Giantitp projects: Caligoven the toxic seas, Baalbek Empire!3, Coatl Empire!4, Short and sweet world building
    Personal stuff: World of Tieg, Nexus: City of the Multiverse, Forgotten Planet Lost Between 2 stars, World of the 9 gates
    Spoiler: The gift that keeps on giving
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    Spoiler: and giving
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    Spoiler: and giving some more
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    Spoiler: Metric tons of giving
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    Spoiler: Keep going
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    Spoiler: Suprise
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  16. - Top - End - #16
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Shandolé - Menagerie Story
    Round #7

    Back Mountain Dealer

    Shaná Dream Speaker M’Ká’acindi’tonyóndersan has come to the mountain tavern of Ruari’s Rest to negotiate some deals for remarkable creatures. It doesn’t go quite as she’d planned. – Menagerie Submission.

    Spoiler: Back Mountain Dealer
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    Outside the snow was falling deep and heavy, but inside the tavern of Ruari’s Rest it was warm and cozy. A large fire burned in the hearth. The smell of pine smoke and roasting boar filled the air, adding to the sense of warmth and comfort. Constructed of stacked stone and wooden beams, the tavern was surprisingly spacious with a high ceiling and room for several tables, as well as a large kitchen in the back and a number of private rooms down narrow cavernous halls.

    The shaná dream speaker, M’Ká’acindi’tonyóndersan – My Song Flows to Lands Far and Wide – was sitting at a small table on her own, a number of scrolls pushed aside to make room for a plate of roasted pork, stewed apples and sweet orange yams. Her green eyes reflected the firelight and her dark hair was pulled back into a loose braid with several strands falling free around her pointed ears and forehead. The bright colored sashes, tiny bells and ribbons of her Dream Speaker garments were mostly covered by a more practical winter coat of spotted seal skin and boots lined by rabbit fur. She was eating slowly, spinning the pewter spoon in the long fingers of her hand, her expression pensive.

    There were a number of people she was supposed to meet, hopefully tonight or tomorrow night. So far, her mission to collect specimens for the Dream Speaker menagerie hadn’t been met with a lot of success. The lore masters in Winter Town had been polite and well spoken, but the stack of dry scrolls and ink sketches they’d provided would hardly make fore thrilling entertainment. Smirking slightly, Acindi unrolled one of the scrolls beside her, not caring that she stained the velum with apple juice as she did so. The descriptions and sketches had been done with a precise and perfect hand. It was very Shándole and so not what the Dream Speakers really wanted.

    Spoiler: Scrolls of Remarkable Beasts
    Show


    ---

    Scrolls of Remarkable Beasts
    Complied by Leósha’Lýndónah



    Fire Boars - Jonârdí
    Region Range: Dól’Shilo south through the Moriah Forest in Trí’Meloa.
    Description: These boars are large and stinking with a continual haze of smelly smoke around them. Their eyes blaze with orange light and their tusks are flinty black and sharp. They’re mostly scavengers, roaming the wilderness and feeding off the frozen carcasses of creatures winter has claimed. They’re mean and territorial, however, often attacking any creature that tries to approach it or its food with savage and vicious spite. Fire boars can breathe out gouts of stinking explosive flame and will use this to attack enemies and also to uncover, thaw and cook its food. The boars themselves cannot be eaten, as they are very poisonous and even the toughest of other scavengers or carnivores become very sick from eating even just a little of the meat. However, if a fire boar is gutted, a burning coal can be found in its belly. The coal will keep burning for many months and, while it has a stench, it is remarkably effective at cooking food and can warm a whole wigwam by itself.
    Story Reference: - Dangers in the Santicemnahs



    Frost Wolves - Nichícamncí
    Region Range: Dól’Shilo & Shandolýn
    Description: Frost wolves are larger even than dire wolves, standing nearly as tall at the shoulder as a horse with packed muscles and a long lean body. They have white fur, distinctively icy blue eyes and vicious teeth and claws. They are rare and usually only seen in the worst of winters, leading packs of other more mundane wolves in bold and savage hunts. They’re more intelligent than other wolves, with a cold calculating cunning that can be lent to pure malice and spite as often as it is to survival. Besides their size and intelligence, Frost Wolves have the unique capability to breath frosty winds in powerful breath attacks. The most powerful examples of this breath weapon have been known to fell trees and tear down houses, while also freezing the blood of any living creature unfortunate enough to be caught in the attack and coating surfaces with frosty brittle ice. They are greatly feared, but if slain a shard of un-melting ice can be found in the creature’s heart, glowing with a frosty blue light. Holding the stone will keep other wolves from attacking a person and cause winter winds to almost continuously swirl around them. The Shándole have managed to collect a few of these and after about nine years the ice shard will finally melt, nonetheless both the shards and the wolves are viewed with awe and reverence and a recognition of mystic power.



    Ice Worms – Cimndíclâgení
    Region Range: Iceworm Ridge between Dól’Shilo & Shandolýn & the glaciers of the Santicemnah Mountains
    Description: Ice Worms are the most feared of all predators in Shandolýn. They live in the ridges to the north and the glaciers of the upper reaches of the mountains, but occasionally come down into the valleys looking for food and a mate. These creatures are enormous, capable of growing as long as 200 ft in length and 30 feet wide. They’re covered in hard gnarled scales of layered black glacier ice, packed with gravel and stone and impossible to penetrate. The ice of the scales glow when the worms are active with an inner light that is turned dark and dirty by the ice of the scales. An ice worm’s head is mostly a mouth round and deep, filled with rows and rows of sharp teeth, capable of ripping, slashing and grinding up anything it chooses, from ice to earth to whole tree trunks and certainly any living creature it closes upon. Despite their size, ice worms are also fast, nearly capable of keeping speed with a galloping horse and they can move over frozen ground and ice or borrow through it. However, if it moves into/onto ground absent of ice or snow, the ice worm begins to grow slower and more lethargic and it can’t swim. Ice worms have no eyes but have very keen hearing and tremor sense. When they are active, they will move toward noise and movement seeking food. They will consume whole herds of mammoths and still ravenously seek out more. Their hunger is a force of nature, a natural disaster that destroys all in its path. Thankfully, most of the time ice worms hibernate buried deep in the tundra earth or glaciers only emerging once every three or four decades to eat all it can find and seek for a mate. The awakening of one can trigger the awakening of another. They only have one sex and after mating both worms will lay an egg deep in the ground, before falling back into hibernation. The Shándole hate and fear ice worms. The shaní were once nearly destroyed when an ice worm attacked several tribes on their way back to Winter Town, many of the people managed to escape the area while their hunters distracted the ice worm, sacrificing themselves to give the rest time to flee, but all the food so carefully gathered over the yeas was devoured, smashed and scattered. What little was recovered was discovered to have been poisoned and trained by the ice worm’s passing. This was the beginning of the Winter of Malice the darkest year in Shándole history.



    Jacklopes
    Region Range: Thunder Hills in the Southern TríMeloa
    Description: These large athletic hares are usually shades of dusty brown that blend in well with the tall grasses and drystone arroyos of their natural habitat. The have antlers similar to deer, with multiple prongs and that they shed each year. They’re quite quick and territorial, often living alone rather than in groups like rabbits. They are capable of mimicking the sounds of other creatures, from birdcalls to the words of people. They’re known for being mischievous and malicious, stealing and destroying property and attacking small creatures with their antlers.
    Story Reference: The Dreaded Jackalope



    Leviathans - Lyndiclâgení
    Region Range: Deep waters off the coast of Shandolýn and Dòl’Shilo
    Description: Leviathans are similar to ice worms, enormous creatures long and serpent like in shape, but with many tentacles at one end. They live in the deepest and darkest waters of the Lyndicalah Sea, amid frozen icebergs and where glaciers meet the water. However, they will sometimes swim south into warmer waters to feed. They are not as well-known nor feared as ice worms, as aren’t they encountered by the Shándole but as the shaní start relying more and more on the ocean and ventures further out with their boats, Leviathans may begin to grow in reputation.



    Lighting Lizards - Sozémûshí
    Region Range: All along the Tarandi mountains and west coast.
    Description: These slender silver lizards are about a foot and a half long, with bodies like a snake and short agile legs with claws capable of climbing sheer surfaces. Their heads are like small dragons with many sharp tiny teeth. These creatures are capable of mystic speed, moving from one point to another in a bolt too fast for the eye to follow. When they do, they crackle and spark like lightning. Also, when they bite a creature, they can electrocute it, causing a shock that momentarily stunts and disorients the victim, allowing the little lizard to get in several more shocking attacks and bring down creatures many times larger than itself. Usually lightning lizards live and travel alone and mostly avoid people. They are rarely seen, but there have been times when food was scare that swarms of lightning lizards have been witnessed traveling together in a roiling sparking pack. In swarms they will attack huge mammoths, whole herds of reindeer, or even shaní camps. They can stripe creatures down to the bones in minutes and then bolt away before the bones can finish falling to the earth. When shaní have managed to kill and gut lightning lizards, they have found a small metal ball inside that continuously buzzes and sparks with electricity. After several days the energy will fade, but the metal collected this way is considered mystical and greatly prized.




    Seaswathed Singers

    Region Range: Ember Bat Islands in Shilo Vale
    Description: From a distance these strange creatures appear very beautiful, with an upper torso appearing like young men or women with bioluminescent wings of blues, greens, opal and black at their hips and simmering fish tales. They sing with beautiful voices hauntingly alluring melodies, as they sit on rocks and crags, or circle slowly in the air a few feet above the water. However, once someone gets closer their forms shimmer and change, like a dissolving mirage and the creatures are revealed to be emaciated, haggard things with large mouths containing wickedly sharp teeth, clawed hands and slimy skin the colors of putrid greys, whites and blacks. They show neither mercy nor sentience, attacking in droves, clawing, biting and trying to drag people into the water to be devoured. Fishermen and sailors are warned to never approach these creatures and to turn around if they hear their singing, but the haunting beauty and allure of those voices still draw many foolish souls to their death in the northern waters.

    ---



    A sudden commotion at the front of the tavern drew Acindi’s eyes away from the scrolls and she looked over to see what seemed to be about dozen bright colored Skyclad Dancers trooping in, complaining loudly about the snow and the altitude and shaking frost from their feathers. The largest was clearly a luminary with feathers of lime green, yellow, orange and a little bit of scarlet in the wingtips and crown. He demanded hot rum and roasted meat for his people and a number of shaní got shooed away from the benches near the hearth, as the avians crowded round to warm themselves.

    Despite Ruari’s Rest being within the region of Trí’Meloa, its location up in Serpents Pass, well within the mountains and the higher altitudes, made the sight of dancers uncommon. They seemed to fear the high mountains and the thin air crippled their limited flying capacities.

    As Acindi’s gaze followed them curiously, the luminary looked around and met her eyes. He looked her over and noticed the bright colors under her coat and the tambourine at her side. His round yellow eyes brightened all the more and he smiled, unconsciously fluffing his feathers, before crossing the tavern in her direction.

    “You are the Dream Speaker whose song flows far and wide?” he asked.

    “Aye,” Acindi confirmed.

    “And so!” the dancer proceeded to give her a sweepingly elegant bow, “I am Luminary Necalli and even so my flock,” he motioned over to the dozen or so other dancers by the hearth. “I have sough you out Dream Speaker, rumors spoke of your presence here and so also of your mission and of the great menagerie!”

    Acindi tilted her head curiously, “Have yeh now?” she leaned back in her chair, balancing it on the back legs and placing her boots up on the table, “What business does a luminary an’ his meager flock have with t’ likes o’ me?”

    “You seek magnificent creatures to join your menagerie, the most beautiful and wonderous the world has to offer, yes, and so?”

    “And even so,” Acindi confirmed.

    Necalli puffed out his chest, his green feathers ruffling vaingloriously. “Then look no further Dream Speaker! The Skyclad Dancers of Trí’Meloa are the most wondrous of creatures you could ever hope to find, and so! I have come with my flock to join your great menagerie! Our dances shall astound and enchant all the courts and all the peoples of the world. They shall hear our songs and they shall weep. They shall see our feathers glow in the night and be enraptured!” Necalli spread his feather arms, his voice swelling with the pride of a showman, “There is nothing in all the world so beautiful nor so rare as the Skyclad Dancers. My flock shall be the star attraction of your menagerie and so, and even so!”

    Acindi looked at Necalli, a mixture of surprise and bemusement playing over her face. She wasn’t sure Necalli actually understood what a menagerie was, but she couldn’t deny his showmanship and enthusiasm. She laughed slightly and sat forward again in her chair.

    “What’s so amusing?” demanded Necalli, who seemed to have expected applause, or another form of adoration. “Do you doubt me?”

    “Nary! I never would,” Acindi said, her wide mouth, breaking into a large smile, “Yer offer t’ join our menagerie is well received, Luminary. I kin that the Dream Speakers may very well find a place for ye and yer flock. But kin ye well, Necalli, this shall take ye an’ yer people far, far away. Ye shall become wanders even as the Dream Speaker are, always strangers, with only the only roads and fetid bellies of ocean ships t’ call home.”

    “And even so,” agreed Necalli, “My flock shall wonder the world and dance far and wide. Our song shall flow with yours, to lands never known and people only imagined in stories.”

    “And so, and very well,” Acindi said, “I have yet some business to attend to in this country, but I shall call on ye, before I go.”

    Necalli nodded. “It is well. May your music never die.”

    “And so,” she nodded.

    He bowed again and then turned to rejoin his flock, their voices creating a happy hubbub within the tavern.

    Acindi finished her meal and was gathering up her scrolls to stuff back into her backpack when the tavern door opened again. This time softly, only by a few inches. A Shaná peered through, a buffalo fur hood drawn up over her head and shadowing her face. Pale eyes gleamed and peered around, landing on Acindi. The two shaná shared a look and the Dream Speaker nodded, before the other stepped back into the night and closed the tavern door behind her.

    Acindi finished gathering her things then shouldered her pack and belted her coat tight about her, before leaving the inn.

    Compared to the bright fire and noises inside, the cold mountain night seemed like another world. Fat snowflakes fell from a dark sky and the darker silhouettes of the peeks could just be seen against it. Snow crunch under foot and the soft tinkling of her tambourine seemed like an intrusion upon the peace of the mountains.

    There wasn’t anyone else near at hand. All the local people of Á’Ult’Tol were staying inside, close to their fires this evening. However, following the most recreant set of tracks, led Acindi around the tavern to where a handful of tall pine trees sheltered a rocky bank in the side of a hill. Here a shaná was waiting, a sled and a collection of large woven baskets beside her.

    “Lishí?” Acindi called and quickened her steps. It had been several years since Acindi had seen Lónilishí’Á’Moriah – Silver Grass blowing in the Wind – and she was surprised to see how thin and haggard her friend had grown. Lishí’s hair fell from under her hood in drab strands and her eyes seemed to have lost much of their old color and vibrancy.

    “Acindi,” Lishí greeted, smiling wanly and pushing back her hood, “I’m glad ye got my message.”

    “Aye. Though I were surprised t’ get one from yeh. Hadn’t hear o’ yeh becoming a hunter, especially not one t’ defy the Elders.”

    “I do whatever I needs in order t’ make ends meet,” Lishí said and averted her gaze.

    Acindi stepped closer, her night-vision adjusting better to the deep darkness under the pine trees and she recognized the effects of the addiction. The ashen skin, the thin almost starved form, even the faint rottingly sweet smell on Lishí breath. “Yer stuck on kypher.”

    Lishí sucked in a breath through her teeth, hesitated and then nodded. “Fer a while now,” she whispered, “I got wounded in the war ‘gainst the dancers an’ the Elders gave it t’ me then - t’ fight the infections. Was supposed t’ only take it a few times, but… afterwards… felt worse than a whole winter o’ starving t’ be without it. Found a forest scout will’n t’ search some out fer me an’ kept on taking it in secret.” Lishí let out a half-strangled breath and shuttered. “I need it now ‘Cindi. I kin I’ll just die o’ worse without. A shané down in the Moriah Forest says he can get me a good supply, but he wants emeralds for it. When I hear ye were willing t’ pay for ‘em creatures…” Lishí drifted off and motioned toward the baskets.

    Acindi tightened her lips against a wave of pity. Pity wouldn’t do Lishí any good now, it’d only add the salt of shame to her wounded ka. So instead of expressing her concern and sadness, Acindi simply took a breath and focused her attention away from the suffering of her friend and onto the baskets. “What did yeh bring me?”

    Lishí stepped over to her sled and found a lantern, lighting it to cast a globe of yellow light upon the baskets. They were woven in a wide lattice that allowed the shaní to see the creatures caught inside. In one were two crows, large with beady black eyes. They flapped impatient wings in the sudden lantern light and a small collection of shells and silver beads gleamed near their feet at the bottom of the basket.

    “A couple o’ crows?” Acindi asked, trying not to sound too disappointed or critical.

    “The dancers say they’re lucky,” Lishí said, her tone almost pleading, “They’re magical in… in a subtle way.”

    Acindi didn’t argue the point but gave Lishí an somewhat impatient look. She couldn’t very well pay an emerald for a couple of plain old crows, no matter how desperate Lishí might be.

    “Yeh’ll like this’n better,” Lishí assured her, hastily moving the basket of crows to shine the lantern on the second larger basket beneath. Inside was a large brown hare, legs pulled in close to its thick-furred body, shivering in the cold night air. From the top of its head grew a set of antlers, two-ponged and covered in soft velvet. “It’s a jackalope from the Thunder Hills,” Lishí explained, “They like whiskey an’ can supposedly mimic voices, though I h’aint hear this’n say anything. Dancers say they lead children into traps an’ steal souls.”

    “I’ve heard the stories,” Acindi confirmed and knelt to get a better look at the creature. Its large brown eyes stared back at her, at first seeming only like those of a terrified animal, but then they narrowed, and she thought she saw just the hint of a malicious intelligence hiding under the mask. She nodded and stood back up, reaching under her coat to untie the drawstring pouch hidden there. “I’ll take ‘em,” she said and fished out a single polished emerald.

    “Yer only giving me one?” Lishí asked forlornly, as the Dream Speaker placed the stone in her gloved hand.

    Acindi paused, sighed and then searched through her pouch for the smallest emerald she had and added it to the first. “Very well, one fer the jackalope an’ one fer the damned crows as well.”

    Lishí hastily drew the emeralds close and hid them under her coat, as if worried that Acindi would change her mind. A haunted almost feral look come on to her face and she pulled up her hood and turned to go, not even bothering with a farewell, nor showing any interest in going into the tavern for food and warmth.

    “Lishí,” Acindi called, before the shaná could take more than a step or two, “… Take care. Try to find a shaman t’ help yeh. At least get yerself a solid meal, swanny?”

    Lishí let out a frosty huff of breath, “Don’t pretend to care now, ‘Cindi,” she said in a snap of derision, “I know yeh never really did. We were no more than a source of sex an’ amusement fer you back then an’ ye moved on right quick enough. So, go live yer damned Dream Speaker life an’ just let me live mine.” With that, Lishí moved on down the slope and toward the road, leaving the sled and baskets behind.

    Acindi let out a heavy breath of her own and brushed the fallen snow from her shoulders and hair, before collecting the baskets and taking them back to the tavern, where she had reserved a little room to keep her collection in.

    She made sure the crows and Jackalope were stored in a warm space and had food and water. She even got a bowl of whisky for the jackalope, before putting a fur blanket over them and heading back to the main room.

    “A massage came fer yeh,” the young innkeeper said, catching Acindi before she reached her table. “A shané. Came an’ left right quick.” She held out a wood chip.

    “Thank’ye’cai,” Acindi said and accepted the carved massage. The note was short and concise and Acindi simply took the time to refill her flask, put aside her tambourine and bellsash before gathering her hatchets and heading back out into the night.

    This meeting place had been predetermined, an empty ravine about a quarter mile outside of town. Later this spring it would be filled with the angry waters of melting snow rushing down toward the lowlands, but at this time of the year it was just piled with snow drifts, broken bits of wood and dead leaves. Large grey boulders and rugged cliffs stood broken but bitterly cold and hard and the air itself bit and stung, even without the wind taring through it.

    When she didn’t have her tambourine and bellsash, Acindi could move with a surprising amount of silence. Moccasin feet barely making a noise on the fresh snow, as her body moved through the trees and underbrush with the natural grace of a forest doe.

    Three hunters huddled by a fire, camp supplies, four mules and a couple wooden cages shelter within the ravine’s walls. Their leader, Zaníshiní’Á’Doah - Sharp Eyes in the Night – wasn’t with them and Acindi hesitated, worried Zaní and others of his gang might be hiding, waiting in an ambush. She settled into a crouch and searched the dark shadows around the edge of the ravine with her elven eyes. There seemed to be nothing, only stillness and snow.

    A sparking flash from within the ravine caught the corner of her eye and Acindi focused on the hunters below.

    “Will yeh stop a’poking ‘em already,” complained one hunter, a shaná crouched by the fire, “Yer just a’making ‘em angry fer no good reason.”

    A large shané kneeling near one of the wooden cages with a stick in hand scoffed, “Like ye haven’t had some fun at ‘em yerself. Just t’ see ‘em spark.” He jabbed with the stick and there was another burst of white sparks like lightning. Silver scales flashed in the light and Acindi saw a blur of motion, as something inside the cage battered itself with remarkable speed and force against the sides. The hunter laughed and as the blur and sparks faded, Acindi saw that the silver blur had actually been two sleek lizards, about fifteen inches each from nose to tail-tip. Short legs ended in clawed feet that clung easily to the sides of the wooden cage and silvery eyes seemed molten with malicious anger. The lizards stilled as the shané laughed, watching him with hate and guarded desperation.

    He poked at them again and there was another burst of speed and light, as the lizards threw themselves hissing at the front of the cage, beating their bodies at the bars in attempts to attack their tormentor.

    “I kin they don’t like’yeh much,” said the third hunter dryly, added some wood to the campfire.

    “Aye, well roont ‘em both,” said the shané, “Little blighted bastards. They killed Rathná an’ Kanê,” he jabbed at them again, “I’d have drowned ‘em already, if it weren’t fer the reward being offered.”

    The shaná snorted in agreement. “Where is that roont Speaker anyway? Yeh left the messages didn’yah, Tríklicê?”

    As the shané by the fire shrugged, Acindi moved from her hiding place and walked down into the ravine.

    “I’m here,” she said, stepping down into the fire light, “Where’s Zaníshiní’Á’Doah? I was expect’n t’ be dealing with him.”

    The hunters stood and glared, clearly not pleased to realize she’d managed to sneak up on their camp. The one by the cage tossed aside his stick and got up to approach with a scowl. “Two of our people died doing this little hunt fer yeh,” he said, “Zaní stayed behind with the others t’ see to it that they got a proper funeral. So ye’ll be dealing with me. Swanny Cai?”

    “An’ who might ye be, Cai?”

    He glared, “I am Jomako’Á’doah – Last Fire of the Night and I’ve walked the world for over three hundred winters.”

    Acindi gave him a nod, “Very well then, Siah.” Up close he seemed even larger than when he’s been kneeling by the cage and the other two hunters standing to flank Jomako’s right and left sides, made the point of emphasizing the fact that Acindi was outnumbered. She avoided holding eye contact and glanced around the camp and her eyes settling on the cage, “Am I right an say’n yeh got a pair o’ Lightning Lizards there?” she asked, trying to defuse the sense of rising tension.

    “Aye,” the shaná said, “Only creature on the list we managed to get, but they were trouble enough.”

    “Zaníshiní said he’d be able t’ hunt me a Fire Boar and Frost Wolf, as well as a Lightning Lizard.”

    “Well we gotch’a two lightning lizards,” Jomako said harshly.

    “So, I see,” Acindi shifted her stance slightly, her eyes noting that each of the hunters carried either a spear or set of hatchets.

    “Well you kin that I can’t pay the whole sum when ye only brought one o’ the three promised prizes.”

    The hunters all exchanged looks and stepped closer. Acindi slipped back and moved sideways toward the wall of the ravine and the wooden cage, not wanting to get surrounded. They circled around her anyway, until she was backed into a corner by cage and the cliff wall.

    “Two o’ ours died Speaker,” Jomako said in a low dangerous voice, “So kin’ye this. You will give over all the emeralds ye promised an’ whatever else ye have as well, an’ then be glad we don’t make ye pay further with yer life. Swanny?” There was a glint in his eyes and Acindi saw his hand tighten on the handle of his hatchet. She looked at it and then lifted her eyes to his. He smiled, because he knew that she knew that he was going to kill her regardless.

    Jomako drew his axe but Acindi drew hers faster. She didn’t try to attack him though, instead she brought her hatchet down on the wooden latch of the cage beside her. Hardly had she felt the wood splinter and give way beneath her strength when there was a flash like lightning and a scream.

    “Roont Sky!” cursed the other two hunters jumping back as Jomako was born to the ground, lightning sparking to stun and paralyze him, even as the lizards’ sharp teeth tore into his flesh. Blood spurted as one of the many bites tore into artery.

    The other shané hunter, Tríklicê, cursed and grabbed his whip.

    Acindi tried to dodge but he was fast and had an accuracy of many decades of practice. The whip wrapped around her boot and she was jerked to the freezing ground, landing flat on her back. Jomako’s screams continued to fill the air, as Acindi saw Tríklicê charge forward, lifting his spear to thrust down into her breast. She hurled her hatchet forward, sending it spinning upward. There was crunching smack of stone in flesh as the hatchet blade split his face down the center, sinking two inches into the skull. Shané and spear fell limply down upon her with the weight of death and Acindi let out frightened cry, before scrambling to push the body off her and get back to her feet.

    Jomako had ceased his screams and lay still, as the blurs of silver stripped flesh from his bones and a blizzard of blood. The shaná hunter was screaming and weeping, trying to drive the lizards away with wild swings of her hatchets and frantic kicks. It seemed impossible that she would be able to hit anything going as fast as the lizards, but she succeeded in getting one of the creature’s attention. A blur broke away from the bloody corpse of Jomako and flashed up the shaná’s leg. There was a flash of sparks and a scream and the hunter spasmed and staggered, falling to her hands and knees.

    Acindi grabbed up Tríklicê’s spear and charged forward. The shaná looked up but was still too stunned from the lizard bite to react. Acindi drove the spear into her neck just above the collarbone and down into her chest, sharp flinty stone ripping flesh and sinking deep. When she jerked the spear back, blood spewed forth and the shaná collapsed beside Jomako.

    There was hissing and a crackling of sparks, as the lizards tore into flesh with a starved frenzy. Acindi dropped the spear and stumbled back away from the fire, the corpse and the ravenous creatures. Her heart was pounding in her chest and her eyes stared widely, her mind hardly comprehending what had just happened, as her body quivered.

    She stood panting and staring for several seconds as the lizards feasted. Then she reached to her belt where several pouches were tied. Opening one, she grabbed a fistful of powder and lunged close enough to the fire to throw it down on the flames, before leaping back and shielding her eyes.

    The fire burst up with sizzling roar, exploding in a flash of bright pink flame and a boom that filled the whole of the ravine. As it died away, Acindi heard the last hurried scamper of claws on stone and thought she noticed a sliver steak disappearing over the cliff edge and into the dark night. The lightning lizards were gone, leaving behind unrecognizable bodies striped to the bone in a slush of blood and snow.

    “Roont sky!” Acindi breathed and clutched a hand to her chest, “Roonted red sky an’ blighted earth below! Simáh!” She looked around fearful the lizards might flash back in order to finish off the feast and add her as the final course, but the mountain forest was silent and still.

    As she recovered her hatchets and gathered the nervous mules, Acindi found herself thinking back to the dry, overly academic and boring scrolls the lore-masters had given her with a new fondness and appreciation. Really, some of these creatures are best to just read about after all.


    End

    ---

    Last edited by Laura; 2020-10-18 at 01:54 AM.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    The Mysterious Creatures of the Sol'



    Over my many years of exploration and adventure, I never thought I would land myself in such a strange and mysterious land. I came to the Sol because I heard rumors of mysterious people here. They were said to keep to themselves and rarely venture out from their Oasis home, and outsiders rarely venture in. In the surrounding villages, they have ghost stories about the people there. Ancient legends telling of gruesome horrors stealing children in the night, mesmeric sands that shift and writhe under food, and the storms of sand that make even the most adept traveler lose their bearing, these were the things I came for. These mysterious creatures of the night. Are the stories true? Well, here's what I found.

    Spoiler: Chapter 1: The Beauty of the Oasis
    Show
    The giant oasis in the center of the Sol known as Il'oth hosts most of the life in this region of Sikar. I will divide up the oasis into its different environments.

    Shrubland: Furthest from the water is the shrubland. The shrubland is characterized by its sandy and dry soil, which bears many small bushes, brambles, and cacti. The fauna of the shrubland is detailed below:

    The Desert Strix: A small predatory bird that makes its nest inside the large cacti. It has a round head and two big front-facing eyes. Its feathers are a mottled grey and sandy color so that it blends into the desert. Its beak is curved and sharp and designed to tear apart prey that they catch with their long talons. They are nocturnal and mostly prey on small mammals like Desert Mice and young Kracha or reptiles like Sand Vipers.

    Sand Viper: One of the more feared creatures of the shrubland, the Sand Viper, is a large venomous snake that occupies burrows under shrubs and rocks. They prey mostly on rodents or other snakes, using their cryptic coloration to remain undetected. The reason that they are so feared is that because they are so hard to spot, one might step a little to close and take a bite from one of these. Their venom will quickly eat away at flesh and kill within an hour. There is no known cure beyond amputation. If you are fast, you may suck the poison out, but most cases result in death.

    Desert Mice: Small unremarkable rodents. They are sandy brown with a white underbelly. They mostly feed on critters like locusts and scorpions or, if, in grasslands or fields, they will eat the seeds of the tall grasses. They are predominantly solitary creatures and make burrows in rock formations and under shrubs. These are often used by other animals when the dens are abandoned.

    Kracha: A long, small mammal the color of sand. They have a small nose with whiskers and little black eyes. They are quite fast and have razor-sharp teeth. They hunt anything big enough for them to kill, which is most things smaller than a coyote. They will even hunt Strix by hiding on top of cacti and leaping onto the Strix's back and make a fatal bite to their neck. They are like little assassins. Small enough to fit in burrows and immune to viper poison in addition to great speed, there is not much they can't kill.

    Cayote: The largest creature in the shrubland. Cayotes typically live in small groups but venture off on their own. They stand to about the knee of a full-grown man and are twice as long. They move quickly and are capable of hunting most desert creatures. They are quite shy and will avoid people but have been known to take small children who wander astray. They have padded feet to move silently and fur that lets them blend in with the desert night. You know they are near when you hear their chatter. When together, they make a sound, almost like people laughing and having a party.

    Grassland: Moving closer to the oasis, the grasslands begin. The grassland hosts a larger variety of plant life and some new and interesting fauna. The grassland is mostly tall wheat grasses, and closer to the oasis, it gets greener. There are a few trees speckled across its expanse. This is the last area before the crater, and the grassland terminates at a steep cliff that drops into the Lushlands.

    [W.I.P.]
    Lushlands
    [W.I.P.]
    Oasis
    [W.I.P.]


    Spoiler: Chapter 2: What Lurks at Night
    Show
    The strange creatures that awake at night.


    Spoiler: Chapter 3: Tales of Horror
    Show
    Not everything here is as it seems. One would at first assume that the stories of horror are just old wives' tales to keep young ones in check, but the truth is much worse. This is a land of nightmares. At night a new and twisted world wakes. I have come to check the validity of these stories.

    Rhythem of the Night: First off, I decided to visit a small village that claimed have been plagued by this horrible plague. Some say it was like an invisible serpent, but others say it is just a disembodied noise. Whatever it is, its effects are horrifying. The elders sing a song of it and how you must not listen to its horrible music, or it will take you. Recently this village believes that they witnessed its effects when a young girl in the village went insane and was found killing another member of the village. Those who saw it are still in shock, and the man, though he survived the experience, could not speak, for his tongue had been cut out. He spends his days in his hut mindlessly trying to say the same phrase over and over. The girl had disappeared without a trace. Was it just a bout of insanity? I don't know, but the thought that this could be real horrifies me.

    Eater of DreamsAnother of the many stories I want to investigate took me to the village of Ton' Koth, where people told of how people sent to transcribe writing from an ancient artifact came back not even knowing who they were. The people say that it is some horror that was trapped in the stone years before. I know not if this is true, so I think I must go decipher it myself. I don't exactly remember what happened next. I remember reaching the tomb... then... ah yes, I began to read some of the inscriptions on the wall, but I stopped because... there must have been a tremor or something because some of the pots right next to me were knocked off onto the floor... then I... saw something?... I think so... it was black and looked like... not that's not right. It looked like a black... thing. Then I turned and began to run... something cold... . Now I'm here. That's funny. I don't quite remember what happened... very odd. Anyways, did you know you can get a chinchilla drunk on date wine?

    The Snatcher [W.I.P.]
    Last edited by Ivor_The_Mad; 2020-10-28 at 09:29 AM.
    Come to the dark side; we have pop-tarts.
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    "Is no fun. Is no Blinsky" "He is... FIZBOP THUNDERTOES!!!!!"

    Spoiler: The Night of the Living Thread
    Show

    Quote Originally Posted by DivisibleByZero View Post
    We, as humans, have incisors. Those are made for tearing flesh and meat.
    Meat tastes good.
    If we aren't supposed to eat people, then why are they made of meat?

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    The hunters and trackers of Clann Solais have many proud oral traditions, and in the off season they are all too happy to share their taller tales with the visiting Dreamspeakers. Two in particular, though, stand out.

    Spoiler: The Dreaded Rockodile
    Show
    It is well known that there are river dragons to the south. Crocodiles, to be specific. But that isn't all that lurks in the slightly warmer waters in the summer. The origins of these mysterious beasts are unknown. Some, after hearing the teachings of the Way of Eauden, speculate that the Stone Crocodile, rockodile if you want to be cute, is actually just a regular crocodile blessed with the powers of the Earth by the changing of the seasons and the blessings of the Moon Spirit. Others contend that it's a minor sort of blightspawn, less vicious than its kin but still dangerous in all the same ways. Still others wonder if perhaps it is simply a natural beast growing bony plating, like some kind of all-over antlers or horn, to further armor its scaly hide, perhaps even a rare later life stage of growth for crocodiles, like a butterfly bursting from a cocoon.

    Whatever they are, at least the accounts of what they look like are consistent. The average rockodile starts with the croc's base frame and grows to easily twice the size, though unlike a particularly bloated croc it never 'pancakes' out, instead rising higher on slightly longer, thicker legs and becoming more barrel-chested in the process. Bony plates sprout from its back vertically, running from the neck ridge all the way down to the tip of the tail, which ends in long, viciously sharp spikes the length of a man's arm. Additional plates lie flat against the creature's limbs, underbelly, and even over some of the joints, leaving fewer vulnerable spots to strike at. And of course, it still sports rows of sharp teeth.

    They also behave a bit differently. As their ability to lurk underwater or perform the crocodile's infamous "death roll" hindered by the vertical plating, the rockodile instead tends to scale the nearest upstream cliff, typically near a waterfall. There a rockodile will watch, carefully, sometimes waiting for days as it blends against the stone with its lighter coloration. Upon seeing sufficient prey, it will fling itself from above and cripple its prey with the drop, which seems to rarely, if ever, adversely affect the rockodile itself. If there is still any fight left in the target, or should some creature be stupid enough to pick a fight with it while it lies in wait, the rockodile bites or thrashes about to grind its enemy down with its razor plates, tail spines, and teeth.

    One of the few blessings for prospective hunters is that rockodiles seem to have no innate poison ability, nor any special power over the terrain despite their rumored possible connection to the Earthen aspects of the world. Their impressive defense has also not gifted them with any preternatural senses, so sneaking up on one is no harder than surprising a normal crocodile. Like many reptiles, they seem to prefer avoiding drawn out chases and move more sluggishly in the winter, though it isn't unheard of to find one amid snow painted red.

    Few have ever been killed by human hunters. None have ever been taken alive. Those who have had the rare honor of bringing one down insist that they provide plentiful ivory, tough hides, and abundant meat, which is delicious when properly cooked to reduce the gamey taste. Very rarely, precious stones can be found in their guts. For some reason, their liver is notoriously hard to find, and nine out of every ten attempts to do so end in failure.


    Spoiler: The Shining Deer
    Show
    Unlike the Rockodile, this particular creature has never been killed, let alone caught. However, few would even make the effort. On particularly lethal nights in the dead of winter, some highlanders, lost and near death, have reported seeing a deer like no other. Sometimes a stag, sometimes a hind, this deer shines brilliantly even in the night - even in the lurid and ugly nights of the False Dawn, in fact. Following these creatures nearly always leads the lost soul to safety, be it a cavern out of the worst of the elements or their own home, so close they could nearly touch it but hidden by the horrid blizzard.

    Some have dismissed these animals as legends. Some of a more religious bent wonder if they are the Druid themself, saving those in need, or some emissary of the Moon Spirit, or even early messengers of the Creatures of the Ancient Way. Still others wonder if the False Dawn produced only Blightspawn or if, perhaps, some kind of 'good' creature remains from the before time. Particularly skeptical highlanders have wondered if the stories of these creatures exhibit the bias of the survivors - if one of them ever led someone to their doom, how would we know?

    Still, these creatures have had an impact on the culture, mythology, and even religion of the Clans. It is after these very beings that Clan Deer is named. Perhaps one day, the mystery will be solved, and at that point who knows? They could become a fixture of the Clans, as the tundra wolves have become. Or perhaps one day they will be seen for the last time.


    Spoiler: Paindeer (Joke Submission)
    Show
    The Paindeer herald from the far north, and are not to be confused with normal deer under any circumstances - indeed, the consensus is that they must be some form of blightspawn. They fly through means unknown, are said to be able to pull a sled of incredible weight to the sound of a disconcerting chortle, and descend upon the dwellings of virtuous youth, leaving 'presents' unknown to any but the recipient and taking food and milk from the family within. Though they travel in packs of eight, on particularly foggy nights a ninth is said to lead them, recognizable by its luridly glowing crimson snout. While few have ever seen this rare beast, it certainly bears remembering as it may be the most famous paindeer of all.
    Last edited by Jade_Tarem; 2020-11-09 at 12:39 PM.
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  19. - Top - End - #19
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Entry from the Sewune:

    Spoiler: A hunt in the Gehudu forest:
    Show

    Nupand woke up before the first light came over the foothills, as always he made sure to give his wife Zaccely a few more minutes of sleep while he got ready for the day ahead. First on the list was to wake their eldest son Tyjet, since he had come of age he was ready to join the hunt. After some grumble and small objections he too was upright and at least conscious enough to follow his father to eat some breakfast. Lighting a fire shooed away the cold the night had brought and after placing the leftover stew from last night on it the smell of meat and vegetables filled the house. It did not take long for Zaccely to wake up and enter the room with their daughter Gammo and youngest son Pnyd who quietly sat down and ate what was put in front of them. After breakfast Nupand dragged Tyjet away from the table and headed out.

    They met with the other hunters at the edge of town as always he was last to arrive. But unlike the others he knew that making breakfast in the morning meant his wife had more energy for the picking of Droggen berries which was now their primary income since other nations started buying them. He took the jokes and jabs of being whipped into obedience and set off to hunt for boar. It would be a long day with the first few hours being taken up by moving to their hunting grounds while keeping an eye out for any bears or cougars in the area. He had stories of wolves coming down from the hills of late but those were just that. When they finally arrived at their preferred hunting grounds they quickly managed to find tracks and started to follow them. Tyjet eager to prove himself tried to stay ahead of the pact making too much noise to surprise anything, Nupand and the others looked at each other and laughed. They all know he has to learn the hard way that loud and fast does not capture a boar.

    It was right at that moment that Tyjet rounded a corner and froze, what awaited him on the other side was not the boar he was so eagerly chasing but a cougar that was doing the same thing. He had indeed been making too much noise and managed to not only to make himself known to the boar he followed but also a local cougar hungry for its next meal. In but a few seconds the beast was upon him going straight for a bite to his neck. Dodging at the last second he managed to avoid dying on the spot but his shoulder received the damage instead. Lying on the floor clutching his now heavily bleeding right shoulder he could see the beast going for a second strike as it jumped towards him sure to finish the job this time. Just when it seemed like the beast would sink its teeth into him a spear came out of nowhere to fell it. Looking to his left he could see his father flushed from the sprint to catch up after hearing the commotion.

    Nupand looked upon the beast now laying there lifeless with its teeth stained with the blood of his son. How could he have been so foolish, he had become complacent with the ease of the hunt and the new weapons made with the metal from foreign lands. One of the others looked over his son but it was clear that the boy would not survive the trip back, it was now on him to make the hard choice to attempt the trip regardless and not have a proper meal for his family tonight or end the misery of his son and continue the hunt. His brain knew what to do but his heart could not let him do it so instead he took the cowards middle ground. Bandaging up his son as best he could and hiding him between two rocks with a spear in his hand he promised to return after the kills had been confirmed.

    The hunt went on without too much trouble after this. The group managed to track a small singular of boars and pick two off. They acted with haste as they knew Nupand would want to try and save his eldest. They skinned and chopped up the catch for ease of carry and headed back to where they had left Tyjet. Of Course mother nature is not kind enough to leave a defenceless prey alone for long enough and the only traces left of young Tyjet was a trail of blood leading deeper into the forest. Nupand and the rest of his group started the journey back with heavy hearts.

    It was not until the sun was already starting to set that the walls of the city came into his view and who was there to wait for them but none other than Zaccely and his other two children. The other hunters bowed their head in respect as they passed her leaving the explanation to Nupand. They returned home and with blurred eye's prepared that nights meal. The only comment at the dinner table was from young Pnyd that the taste was slightly more salty than normal. The house went dark early that night as silence filled it.
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  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    The highlanders of Clann Solais do, of course, have a somewhat darker tale. Of all the beasts in the forest, one is the trickiest and deadliest of all, and how the hunt for it ended long ago during the False Dawn.

    Spoiler: Tales of Tarandi Submission
    Show
    There was a mighty blightspawn once, the Fuath they called it back then.
    A beast with many forms to don, but all were wicked within.
    The Fuath could move fast as a look, and many lives were taken.
    Each Clan another just forsook, blame for the thing awakened.

    One day the Clans had had enough, and each one sent their slayers.
    "It can be killed, we'll call its bluff," said all eight of the players.
    These hunters met within a town, already lost to violence.
    And there they stared each other down, 'till one voice broke the silence.

    "You know the way of things," she said, "We cannot work as one cear."
    "Though we can split in pairs instead, and spread out two by two here."
    The hunters searched among those there, and came to a decision,
    of how to comb the ruined lair, while keeping that division.

    "I cannot work with any Tower," the man from Gale first announced.
    "Nor I with Spear," said Deer, a-glower, "Until that clan is renounced."
    "More fools, you both," proclaimed the Hide, "We all know the Star did it."
    "You mean the Hide," said Silver, snide, "we'll ask Fuath 'fore we rid it."

    Eye scoffed at Gale, Tower loathed Deer, Silver rebuffed by Star child,
    And Spear refused to work with Seer, until the sky grew more wild.
    Their grievance known, their weapons set, they laid their plans and parted.
    Each pair comprised the best and yet, they wound up where they started.

    As snow began to blow about, the slayers started fighting,
    And each began to point and shout the blame for Star's End's blighting.
    The blizzard set in hard and fast, we'll never know who lashed out.
    We only know that when it cleared, the worst was how it hashed out.

    In blinding white, or in plain sight, the Fuath had killed each hero.
    And in one night, one loss of light, they'd gone from eight to zero.
    With not a claw or bite mark found, just blood that ran like water,
    The best of clans, now on the ground, dead by a mutual slaughter.

    Some say the Fuath is out there still, it may again awaken.
    We stay its hand with acts of will, lest even more be taken.
    Beware the Fuath. Just let it rest. Learn to control your wrath.
    And you, good stranger, may have guessed - Our word for hate is Fuath.
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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    The Dream Speaker's Menagerie

    The Feathered Chorus of Dozgasil
    Notes from a traveling Speaker

    Spoiler: The Feathered Chorus of Dozgasil
    Show
    Dozgasil is an unforgiving land - one might even call it a wasteland. There are few trees, but much useless grass; little solid ground, but many pits and snares in the mud; and many diseases. Yet no land is entirely without beauty, and for the marshes beauty comes in the form of a great profusion of birds of all kinds. I will not attempt to give a comprehensive list here, but the few tropical birds which I have chosen will certainly suffice to attract great interest to our traveling menagerie, should we obtain them.

    The Toucan
    The toucan is a great black bird found very rarely in the marsh, as they make their nests in the hollows of trees and rarely emerge. Their defining trait is an enormous yellow beak, which is the size of an adult toucan’s body. The beak is a great curiosity and draws the eye at once, the rest of the bird being rather plain. I have observed the toucan use its beak to attack smaller marsh birds and to reach deep inside holes in trees and in the earth, and my Dozgach guides informed me that they believed it caught and ate fish. For this reason I believe the bird is primarily a meat-eater, and perhaps preys on the marsh fish and smaller birds; if acquired for display, it should therefore be kept separate from other creatures.


    The Lover Bird
    The lover bird is a small creature, with body feathers of green which fade through yellow to red around the eyes and beak, though the eyes are ringed in white. These birds bond with a mate at a year of age, and spend long hours seated on branches beside each other and kissing each other with their beaks after the fashion of youthful lovers, hence their name. They seem to feed mostly on grasses, seeds, and fruits, but are quite aggressive if disturbed or threatened, and have a very painful bite; however, the Dozgach find them quite easy to tame with gentle treatment and regular feeding.


    The Humming Bird
    The humming bird is even smaller than the lover bird, smaller even than a child’s hand, and can be found in a great diversity of colors, though the most common are various shades of blue. Their diminutive size makes them difficult to spot, but they can be detected by the buzzing or humming noise they make while in flight, which has given them their name. Their wings are a great marvel to see; when at rest, they seem no more substantial than a leaf or flower petal, but when the bird takes flight, the wings move at such a speed as to be invisible. My guides believed them to feed on insects, but it seems to me that they drink rather nectar from the cups of flowers, which may make them difficult to transport; yet I have been told that in cold winters and dark nights they go into a sleep indistinguishable from death and reawaken when they can feed again, and perhaps they could be fed from local flowers.




    Kiswa and its Swine
    As told by a sailor of the Bel-Dan-Ub

    Spoiler: Kiswa and its Swine
    Show
    Deja-Len-Ub? Oh, pigs turn up in all sorts of places where you’d never expect them to. We raise them for food, of course, but wild and feral hogs are everywhere – Troll Country, the southeastern forests, the northern peninsula…. You can travel for weeks without seeing a single snout and then suddenly they’re everywhere. Melis in particular is full of the things – they hate them, and I can see why: they go wild for a couple years and come back to tear up your crops, and the beekeepers never figured out how to tame them.

    …You want me to describe a pig? You haven’t seen them already? Alright, well, they’re big, furry, four-hooved things, usually gray or brown or sometimes black, with a squashed little round snout-nose. They dig things up with their snout and eat whatever they find in the dirt, usually roots and things. Our pigs are fairly tame, but if they get out into the wild they turn nasty. They’ll break anything you use to keep them out and they’ll stab you with their tusks if you try to stop them. Best way of dealing with them is spears, keep ‘em at a distance.


    Can they do anything special? Well, uh, they’re pretty smart, and good diggers. I suppose you could teach them to sit or roll over or dig for something you buried….

    Note: it is the belief of this Speaker that the Bel-Dan-Ub are most likely responsible for the spread of pigs throughout Kiswa, likely very recently. There are no wild pigs anywhere with substantial differences from their feral pigs, and they are likely not even native to the continent if the sailors’ account of their history is true. They are not spectacular or eye-catching creatures, but perhaps the sight of a mundane animal performing tricks would be sufficient to justify their inclusion in our Menagerie.
    Last edited by Minescratcher; Yesterday at 02:44 PM.

  22. - Top - End - #22
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    [Warning, this content is currently of dubious canonicity, as 310 has not been approved at this moment.]

    Background: the alien* flora and fauna of the impact zone
    *alien in this case means very strange or unworldy, but not necessarily from another continent, nor another planet, though that may be explored.
    310 was struck by an asteroid in ancient times, and strange things have been built around it, by an equally ancient and mysterious civilization. There was a garden that lasted long after the disappearance of the civilization, and from it, plants grew across the ruins. strange plants, unlike what the world had ever seen. There were animals, but most of them were hunted to extinction very early on.

    The Warping Woods
    These purply trees have been slowly spreading like a cancer across the land for ages. Nearby plants start taking on a gnarled tumorous appearance, before eventually becoming more of these strange trees. How does this happen? nobody knows? these trees don't make seeds, they don't release chemicals. Their mere presence is enough to alter the environment.

    The Wanderers
    Strange plants that move on small legs. They move around in herds following the sun, and sources of light and heat. They do this with a special "eye-fruit". Some people consider the eye-fruit delicious and will hunt these creatures for their fruits, just to cut them off, and send the blinded plant back into the wilds. The plant will eventually regrow its eye, assuming it does not die before then.

    The Living Nests
    Spherical, nest-like plants, small creatures dwell in them for safety, though these creatures are unique in their own right. The nests absorb energy from these small creatures, through unknown methods.

    The Injectors
    These plants hide in wait, and strike with a strange, syringe like appendage. targets are injected with strange fluid. These targets will then grow seeds inside of them, that will eventually cause the host to die, leaving the seeds to grow.

    The Floaters
    These fungoid flyers hover in the air with a strange sac like organ. When killed, the sac is hollow, containing nothing. These things float through the air, dropping spores across the land.
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  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Default Re: [Empire 6] The Dream Speakers' Menagerie

    Posting it here now, let's see if ty finds is good enough to count for a favor.

    Spoiler: Ora Menagerie
    Show


    Oraora had almost competed her menagerie, and it was majestic even without being totally done. Separated into the Carnivorous Quadrant, the Rainbow Quadrant, and the Golden Quadrant. Yes, there were supposed to be four quadrants, that’s what was still missing.

    They were still filling up the Mountain Quadrant, so far they’d only filled it up with Owbers and Goats.

Owbers were a fascinating rarity from the northern lamia mountains, hulked, beaked, monstrous, with giant claws to rend into small enough pieces to gobble down. Unlike their best cousins they never hibernated, and their feathery hides give them many layers to protect in the dead of winter night.

Inside a penned off valley were the mountain goats. Able to stride and prance about, several were even taught to jump in unison, carrying chacuu feathers as banners to herald important people or events. Oraora specifically enjoyed these creatures and made extensive use of them.



    Catosaurs have been a sweeping hit across all of Sikar, officially qualifying as an invasive species. Wuuluu had taken particular interest, and while a few normal ones filled out into the Mountain Quadrant, she kept a special set of them inside the Rainbow Quadrant. Commissioning special purebreds of different scales colors. Violet, Crimson, Sapphire, you name it.

She seemed to like all colors, but keeping them in pure color. Picking from these as pets, one of each of said colors, and the rest were kept in the menagerie as replacements should one die or get lost or be donated as a gift.

    
In the border between the Rainbow Quadrant and the Carnivorous Quadrant was an elfin made lake which was home to a swarm of rainbow ravagers, cute little fishy buggers that reflected light in a spectacular fashion and devoured any meat in sight to the bone, and then sucked the marrow out of those too. 

Requiring a lot of food, they hunted in packs for bigger quarry and even turned on each other or their young in times of starvation. Often fed with dead bodies of those not deserving to be buried, leftovers from hunts and the Modernte celebration. A sort of living trash disposal unit.


    Fully into the Carnivorous Quadrant, to the very west of the entire menagerie, was where Zora worked. She had tons of help from the hired hands managing the rest of the animals, and utilized them to help her raise Alskan Worms. Personally overseeing the taming and well enjoying her ‘retired’ position here, she claimed that the water from her oasis was pivotal to train them. Nobody else has had any taming success though without her help, and many claim that ‘Zora’, not the water, is the secret ingredient.

    Over to the Golden Room was where a lot of spectacular treasures were kept. Almost a museum in ways, hosting small artifacts, histories, and a sort of hotel where nobles staying overnight could reside and gain heavy service.
    
Inside this quadrant was a chicken that laid golden eggs, high up on a pedestal in full view. Or so it was said, at least. The chickens of the mountainous regions above were said to lay copper eggs, and that was outlandish enough a claim. It was surrounded by a bunch of other chickens that weren't special, just for the showcase of the animals and to help provide eggs for food for said visitors.

    The real star of that exhibit was farther back, penned in all by itself, albeit given a lot of space to move. It was on the edge between the Mountainous Quadrant and the Golden Quadrant. A Chacuu, giant as a tent and of pure gold. Feathered, painted, striped with gems and jewelry. A magnificent crown upon the exhibit.

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