Thursday, June 16, 2022

Greater Homunculus, Malformed

A greater malformed homunculus is a tortured creature, controlled by an overpowering conviction that they are incomplete. They wander the world, seeking new body parts to add to themselves.

What it wants: New body parts. They will take anything new, cutting it from its former owner as best they can (with whatever claws, pincers, or fangs they have already acquired) and attaching it to themselves. Attachment is simple, as their blood has a mysterious way of melding flesh. The homunculus needs only to slice itself open and jam the new part into the wound, and the blood will rapidly clot and bind. When the wound heals, the new organ will be perfectly integrated into the homunculus.

What it needs: Food. Greater homunculi have prodigious appetites that only grow stronger as they add to themselves. Their mismatched bodies have strange nutritional needs, needs that can change seemingly at random as their metabolisms shift.

Morale: Cautious. They will only fight if they believe they can win, and will not hesitate to flee if they begin to lose. They do not feel pain, but sense damage and seek to avoid it.

What happens if you eat it: Greater malformed homunculi are made entirely out of flesh, and so are as edible as any animal. What animal any given part was originally part of can be impossible to determine, however, making for a challenge for chefs, a delight for the culinarily adventurous, and a toxic surprise for the unlucky.

What can be crafted out of it: Greater homunculi blood is the basis of many powerful medicines. Note that in its raw form it is highly dangerous, able to fuse flesh to flesh even in small amounts. Many foolhardy adventuring parties have had to be surgically separated after being inadvertently conjoined by blood.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Chisel Poem

 Noah awoke in the dark, no lights being required for a ship whose occupants were all supposed to be in suspension. He lay there for an unmeasured length of time, until he was sure that no one else would awaken, that it was only him, that there had been a mistake, and that he was now the sole resident of a light-hugging sarcophagus filled with those sleeping so deeply they were legally dead.

After the sobbing, the praying, and the screaming, he sought only to escape. He drowned himself in fiction of every medium, the more colorful the better, for decades. Until finally he realized he was closer to the end of his life than the beginning, and considered he could still leave some sort of legacy. He found a power tool leftover from the ship's construction behind a bulkhead, and began to engrave his thoughts into the surface of the ship. Every floor, ceiling, and wall became his parchment as he wrote a single massive poem encompassing his life, his thoughts, and the dream that had been denied him.

The other passengers awoke to find their ship transformed, and they took his poem with them onto the new world.

Monday, July 5, 2021

People of the Solar System

In Sol it is whorls of nuclear energy that became people. They are called angels, for their perfect society long ago solved all problems of morality. They do not interact with the rest of the system, but occasionally exile the imperfect, sending them burning through the ether to land on some planet or asteroid or moon and become djinn.

On Mercury it is rocks that became people. They are slow, methodical beings who spend their time in contemplation, for they do not die and require nothing to live. Their powers of introspection and self-control are second-to-none but convincing them to accept you as a student will require incredible patience.

On Venus it is plants that became people. Stately and always flowering, they prize the colors of their leaves and petals. Their movements are slow, deliberate, and carefully practiced so that they are always in an elegant pose. Their understanding of beauty and grace is perfect, but they will not allow you in their society if you will ugly it.

On Mars it is lizards that became people. They spend 4/5 of their lives asleep, and the remainder in frantic action, performing maintenance on the automated machines that run their society. Martian machines are valuable trade goods and trade ships carrying them will be welcomed throughout the system.

On Ceres it is fish that became people. They evolved under the ice, in total darkness, but they and their cousin animals are bioluminescent. They build aquariums out of asteroids and travel the system in glass spheres. They do not like to show themselves, but display alluring lightshows, for which they are nicknamed sirens.

Around Saturn it is birds that became people. They fly between Saturn’s many moons on mirror wings, snatching up shards of ice and bringing shiny rocks to their nests. Their culture is centered on vendettas; each bird can recite a list of who has wronged them and how.

Around Jupiter it is insects that became people. They fly between Jupiter’s many moons on transparent wings, devouring each other and anything that enters Jovian orbit. Their society is without morality, as they are unable to feel any sort of pain.

On Uranus it is coral reefs that became people. Their bodies sprawl across the shallow zones, feeding on radioactive plankton and thinking vast, slow thoughts. It is assumed that their philosophies are filled with unique insights, but their language has never been translated.

On Neptune it is the ocean that became a person. The water ammonia mix of its seas carve channels in the ice, inscribing perfect memories and flowing in patterns of perfect thought. Neptune wants nothing more than to bring itself closer to the sun and awaken the other planets.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Hollow Men

Hollow men are all skin and bones. They have no eyes, only empty holes in their skull to match their mouths, noses, and ears. Their skin has become a hard shell. Wounds become new holes, and do not impede the hollow unless a part is severed.

Where it comes from: Any who dies by starvation and is left unburied or unburned will become hollow.

What it wants and will fight for: Hollow men want meat. They will tirelessly hunt down living creatures, then pull them apart and stuff their meat into themselves. They will ignore living creatures to try to get dead meat, which has led to the common tactic of luring them into groups with animal carcasses and setting them aflame.

What happens if you eat it: Hollow men are tents of dried skin and bone filled with rotting meat. You will get sick.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Queen

A colony of of ants lived on the edge of town, just where the overgrown yard of Ms. Jones gave way to the woodland that went up the mountain. The queen of the colony was, above all else, bored. Ant queens, you see, are not actually in charge of their colonies, but only lie in its depths and lay eggs all day, being fed and cleaned by her handmaidens. The queen had been told by one of her handmaidens about Ms. Jones, who the handmaiden had heard of from one of the colony's soldiers, who had heard of her from one of the workers who often left the nest looking for food. Apparently, Ms. Jones did everything for herself.

The queen was tired of having everything done for her, so she decided to become Ms. Jones. But even to leave the colony, she would need the help of the colony.

"You cannot go,"said the handmaidens. "If you leave we will have no eggs to take care of."

"Let me leave," said the queen. "If I lay no more eggs you will have no more work and will be able to do as you please. You must carry me to the house."

The handmaidens agreed that being able to do whatever they wanted would be better, and so they picked her up and carried her to the entrance of the colony, where they were stopped by soldiers.

"You cannot go," said the soldiers. "If you go, what we will have nothing to guard."

"Let me leave," said the queen. "If I lay no more eggs you will have nothing to guard and will be able to do as you please. You must escort me to the house."

The soldiers agreed that being able to do what they wanted would be better, and so they surrounded her on sides to protect her from the wildlife of the yard. Soon they met a worker, carrying a seed back to the colony.

After the situation was explained to the worker, he was overjoyed. "If you go, I'll be able to eat all the food I gather. Let me clear a path for you!"

The worker began clearing a path to the house, and more workers joined as they came to investigate the noise. Soon the entire colony had formed a procession, following the Queen as she was carried through the gap at the bottom of Ms. Jones' door, through brightly painted rooms and towards the bedroom where Ms. Jones was sleeping.

The ants all cheered as the queen crawled into Ms. Jones' ear, their cheers turning to screams as Ms. Jones began screaming and writhing around on the floor, crushing ants beneath her. Then Ms. Jones grew calm, stood up, and shouted "I did it! I can do as I please now!" Even more ants were crushed as she jumped for joy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Book of Flies

The book is black, an inch thick. On its cover is a gold-leaf design of seven circles, arranged in a hexagon. Inside each circle is the image of a fly. There is no title.

Every page inside is blank. If, however, you write a name into the book, you will find that one of the flies is missing from the cover. Open it again, and you'll see a table of contents, with the name you wrote as the first entry.

Turn to the corresponding page and you'll see that name as the chapter title. Wait, and eventually you will see a description being written, of the activities of the named person, written as if from the perspective of a small, flying observer.

These descriptions are thorough, containing descriptions of all activities, transcriptions of conversations, and copies of anything the target reads.

Seven names can be written in the book.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The Horses

The people of the five-tongued river breed horses descended from the celestial horses of Snowcloud mountain. The horses can walk on the water of the river, but no other river, lake, or sea will hold them. The people live along the northern stretch of the river, from its source at the base of the mountain, and as far south as Icefall ravine, where cold steppe gives way to cold desert.

The river is a road to its people, a natural causeway wider than any built by mortals. The people ride their horses along it, and hitch the horses to large barges that can carry far more cargo than a cart.

Their settlements sit at each fork and curve, long towns and villages whose buildings sit at the water's edge, hiding from the wind in the small river valleys. The nearby lands are used to raise hardy crops, tough enough to survive the cold and the dry, but tough enough to break teeth too. The low hills further out are the pastures for the horses, as well as herds of pale pigs that grow wool and unusually round goats that produce massive volumes of milk.

One of the princes of the coasts sent an envoy hoping to buy some of these water-walking horses. He had hoped to use them against his enemies, reasoning that ships do not expect to have to defend against cavalry. He was most displeased to learn that the horses can only walk on some water, and petitioned his god for celestial horses of his own.