"If the sun and moon should ever doubt, they'd immediately go out.." ~William Blake

May 30, 2012

Critters and Creatures ~ part 4

In the Hills and Mountains

From Giants as large as hills to Dwarves that reside beneath them, from Goblins and Hobgoblins scavenging the land for food to knockers deep in mines and Ogres in their abandoned estates, the Faeries of the hills and forests are as old as the bones of the Earth.

Dwarves (Family: Brevihominidae)

Dwarves are a diminutive race of Faeries that live in mountains and deep forests. Since they are primarily subterranean by nature, most avoid bright light (including sunlight), and some are even nocturnal.
Young Dwarves have a harsh, stone-like appearance that supports the theory they are carved from rock rather than born. As Dwarves become older, their skin becomes finer and more polished, sometimes resembling marble. Dwarves can shift form to become a Tree stump or stone, but if you look closely, you may be able to see their features in the wood or rock.
While the Elves appear to behave like the aristocracy of Faerie, idling away their days, Dwarves are hard workers with strength far greater than their size. Like Elves, however, they value bravery and loyalty and will punish those that ridicule or trick them.
Mountain climbers will sometimes find rings or other odd items along ledges or in shallow caves. They may also occasionally hear the clanging of these eternal laborers.
Master craftsmen, Dwarves can forge any metal and make fine weapons that will never lose their sharpness. Because they lead very long lives, the death of other, less enduring things is a continuous source of sadness and many of their creations are an attempt to improve on nature.

Giants (Family: Gigantidae)

These lumbering brutes hibernate for most of their adult lives, sleeping for so long that their backs become densely forested. That, coupled with the fact that they can grow as large as hills and are often indistinguishable from the landscape, means it is entirely possible for a person to walk across the back of a sleeping Giant and not even know it.
Highly territorial, Giants seldom form attachments. Although normally placid, they can turn quite violent of roused. When Giants take over new terrain, they will raze it to the ground, creating forest fires as a means of staking their claim. Giant territory is marked by unusual land formations: lakes in the shapes of footprints, trees knocked over without apparent cause, hills made entirely of dung and boulders strewn where they were hurled in sport or fury.

Goblins (Family: Adentidae)

Malicious and grotesque, a single Goblin is a nuisance, but in large numbers they can be quite dangerous. Goblins travel in roving bands that scavenge for food and hunt smaller prey. They make their homes in rocky outcroppings, caves, or even in ditches along the sides of roads.
Their pranks run from distasteful to depraved. The rare Goblin that is mischievous but good-natured is known as a Hobgoblin.
Most Goblin species are born without teeth. They must find substitutes, either the teeth of other Animals, or sharp objects like glass, rocks or metals other than iron.
There are many signs to look for if you suspect Goblin Folk are in the vicinity. Cats, Dogs and other small domesticated Animals going missing is a tell-tale sign, as Goblins will capture and eat them. Nightmares, especially of being chased, are another indication. For some reason, Goblins have this effect on Humans.
Certain types of Goblin species haunt battlefields where many soldiers have fallen. They soak their hats in the blood of the slain and in that of their own victims. Appropriately, they are called Redcaps.

Hobgoblins (Family: Amicidiabolidae)

Similar to Goblins in appearance, Hobgoblins, or Hobs as they are sometimes called, are a less malicious and more mischievous type of Faerie.
Friendly and sometimes even helpful, Hobgoblins still have a penchant for pranks that can range from annoying to infuriating. They are most fond of stealing trinkets and food, but they also enjoy tripping people and otherwise amusing havoc.
Like Goblins, Hobgoblins are scavengers, but unlike Goblins, they are solitary in nature and are never spotted in large numbers. It is unclear if they are a wholly different species from Goblins or merely the same species with a remarkably different disposition.
The mischievous Puck from William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, identified himself as a Hobgoblin.
Many times, children and pets are blamed for this Creature's pranks and practical jokes. (Compare to Pixies)

Knockers (Family: Cavernahabentidae)

Also known as Kobolds, these enigmatic Creatures most commonly live in mines, mimicking the sounds of miners by tapping against the rock walls. It is said that they do their own mining at night when all the Humans have departed, but since they do not appear to craft metal, it is unclear what they are seeking under the ground.
Knockers are valued because they will warn miners of impending disaster (like collapses) by pounding on the walls. Sometimes the pounding sounds like it's coming from all directions alluding to a large number of Creatures, but this may merely be a trick of the acoustics.
Knockers cannot abide whistling and swearing. They will cause small showers of stones to fall on anyone performing these actions or in other ways disrespecting them.
Outside of mines, Knockers can be found in wells, caves and sometimes even in basements. (Compare to Brownies)

Ogres (Family: Stultibrutidae)

Ogres often trade on their strength, despite having better than average intelligence. They live as scavengers, bullying Humans and other Faeries into giving up their food, land, and wealth. Luckily, Ogres are both vain and lazy, attributes that often lead to their downfall.
Descended from Giants, Ogres are quite large in their natural form. They have the ability to shape-shift into Creatures both smaller and larger than themselves, but they then share the strengths and limitations of each. In order to shift into another form, the Ogre must have previously seen the Creature it wishes to become and it can only remain in that guise for a limited duration. In the fable Puss in Boots, written in the 18th century, the clever Puss outsmarts one nasty, conniving Ogre by convincing him to turn into a Mouse.
Ogres are solitary Creatures and it would be highly unusual to see more than one in the same place. Abandoned mansions, factories,hospitals and other massive, isolate buildings may house Ogres. They find such places more to scale for their size.

May 9, 2012

Critters and Creatures ~ part 3

In Lakes, Streams and the Sea

From Trolls and Kelpies in their freshwater lairs to Nixies in their streams and Merfolk and Sea Serpents in the vast ocean, water Faeries can be as fierce as the current and are often just as dangerous.

Kelpies (Family: Equidae)

A ghastly water spirit that assumes the form of a grayish black Horse, the Kelpie drowns then devours anyone who attempts to ride it.
It is often spotted wandering along the shores of rivers or lakes, appearing to be a lost Pony. It can be identified by its constantly dripping mane and by its skin, which is like a Seal's but cold to the touch.
The Kelpie can be heard wailing before a storm and can cause water to rise high enough to flood.
If you manage to brindle a Kelpie, it can be forced to do your bidding, but woe betides you should it slip its harness. (Compare to Phooka)

Merfolk (Family: Sirenidae)

Although stunningly gorgeous as they are dangerous, Merfolk live in loosely structured kingdoms deep in the sea, but occasionally their natural curiosity causes them to near the shore.
Although usually seen at night out on their jetties or even sometimes on the soft sand of the beaches, they have been spotted in daylight, resting on rocky outcroppings. They have also been found trapped in tidal pools when the sea changes.
Merfolk are at their most helpless out of water. Even though their dual-function lungs can breathe air, their silvery scales dry out with overexposure to the sun.
Although Merfolk are very beautiful, it is not safe to approach them. Land people and sea people have been at odds since earliest recorded memory. With pollution increasing and more aquatic species hunted to extinction, Merfolk are even less likely to consider a land-dweller as a potential friend.
Merfolk differ widely in coloration, sharing the distinctive characteristics of Fish of their region. Male Merfolk, known as mermen, are rare and solitary Creatures except during the mating season. They can easily be distinguished from the mermaids by their larger size.
As with any culture, Merfolk leave behind a significant amount of artifacts that can be found around their habitats. Small piles of discarded Shellfish may well be evidence of a Merperson coming ashore to dine. Sea People are unused to cooking, so there will be no sign of a fire and there may be some sharp object nearby that was used to pry the food open.
You may come upon sheets of seaweed drying along the shoreline. Merfolk weave a crude kind of fabric from it, called seaweed cloth, that is used for garments, rope and even baskets.
Merfolk tools are made from bone, discarded land glass, or the sharp teeth of Sharks, but never iron. These tools are often bound at one end with Eel skin.
You may find seashells or pieces of Coral with small holes in them. These are from necklaces Merpeople wear around their necks and sometimes loop along their tails.
The evidence of Merfolk is especially strong if the shell is not native to your beaches. Merfolk have been known to travel great distances and often lose or discard things along the way.

Nixies (Family: Naiadidae)

Guardians of freshwater pools and streams, Nixies (also called Naiads and Nixes) are bound to the body of water in which they dwell.
They are most commonly spotted alone and can be identified by the liquid continuously streaming from their hair and clothes as well as the greenish sheen of their skin. Nixies are amphibious and, unlike mermaids, they have long legs rather than a tail.
Nixies love music and dancing. Look for instruments made from reeds, especially pipes, near the banks of streams. Unlike their Merfolk cousins, they are very curious about land-dwellers. They are bound to their body of water and, much like Treefolk may only venture a little way from their trees, can only venture a short distance from their pools. Therefore, they rely on other Faeries to bring them information.
Occasionally Nixies will lure a Human into their pools, but they are usually more interested in company than in drowning their visitor. (Compare to Treefolk)

Sea Serpents  (Family: Serpentimaridae)

These scourges of the high seas are powerful and massive constrictors with flat heads, and bodies that coil around Whales and ships, crushing their ribs. Unlike land Snakes; however, Sea Serpents have many rows of long, sharp teeth. In the Deep sea, they have been reported as growing to the length of a suspension bridge and are capable of creating maelstroms with the lashing of their tails and freak waves (sometimes called rogue waves or, ironically, monster waves) by surfacing close to a boat.
In shallower water, Sea Serpents may curl up and wait for prey. After coiling around an Animal's legs, they will drag their victims out to sea. In deeper water, Sea Serpents usually swim in an undulating manner, like an Eel, but certain species swim with their bodies vertical to the surface, distinguishing themselves as much smaller Fish. This method allows them to dart up easily and swallow prey whole.
Crushed pieces of boats washed ashore are possible signs of a Sea Serpent. Look also for hooked teeth too large for a Shark, or a long shed skin in the shape of a tube.

Trolls (Family: Nocturnidae)

Trolls are afflicted with a ravenous and never-ending hunger that leads them to devour whole flocks of livestock. In particular they have a taste for Sheep, but they will eat whatever they can catch.
Trolls can survive extreme weather conditions and therefore tend to settle as far as possible from Human settlements. Nocturnal by necessity since sunlight will turn them instantly to stone, Trolls are more common to the far north, where it is dark for months at a time.
Water Trolls live primarily in or near freshwater and usually make their home in a makeshift nest of rushes and mud along the banks of a bogor deep river. Bridges are also good places to build beneath as they provide shade even in the winter months.
As soon as a Troll moves into a new lake or river, it begins evacuating stones and debris to keep the channels deep enough for it to move about easily. Greater depths allow it safety from the sun, as Trolls are able to hold their breath for hours on end.
Though they appear brutish, Trolls can communicate in the local tongue and are skilled at word games. There are reports of Trolls carrying off captives for reasons other than hunger. One northern species, Bauer's Troll, has even been recorded as deceiving Humans into believing it can live in accord with them. People would do well to recall that Trolls are malicious opportunists always on the lookout for their next meal.