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22 December 2015 @ 09:48 pm
Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom Bestiary Fluff Part IV  
The Burrowers
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Deep beneath the Northern Crater lives...something.

No one is entirely clear what the burrowers look like, because they never seem to come to the surface, but their presence touches the dreams of all who travel near the Northern Crater. Those who are affected dream of strange tentacled horrors, of fire raining from the skies, of a fetid riot of new life, and of the end of all things. When the Hollow Ones are asked about the burrowers, they say that they dream of the Warp and of the Outside, and their dreams are untroubled, and few others stay in the Northern Crater for long. Explorers who know of the burrowers wonder if they are the reason why the crater's climate is so different from the surrounding terrain, but until someone manages to uncover a burrower or decipher the dreams that their presence brings, the mystery is likely to remain unsolved.

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The cold of the darkness beyond the Star Road is not empty. There are many things there, cold intelligences that gaze down at the light and life of the world below with hunger and wait for an opportunity to take that light. The Star Road and its denizens prevent them from descending below on their own, but there are always those in Agarica and Pithek who seek power at any cost who are willing to open the door and allow demons a way in.

Demons come in all shapes and sizes, from things that resemble natural animals with a few startling changes to hideous monstrosities with no terrestrial counterpart. Their desires are varied as well--some of them engage in rampages of destruction, some of them seek build lairs far from civilization and claim territory, and some of them desire to live the lives of mortals. Some of them even take over mortals, possessing their bodies and living their lives, until some unknown condition is met and they vanish, leaving a trail of bodies behind.

Because of this, demons are anathema. The Temple of Holy Flame works tirelessly to hunt them and even the blood-drinkers of Makai ban demonology under pain of death. No civilized nation has any tolerance for demons or those who summon them. Not until recently, when the Dragon Emperor overthrew the Kingdom of Flowers with the aid of the Circle of Xhamekh. Now demon summoners walk openly in one of the most powerful nations on Agarica, and what will happen now, no one can say.

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The Warp is unpredictable. Some of the Pipes have stable two-way connections, but some only work one way, some lead to a different destination depending on the time of day or the positions of the moons or the Star Road, and others lead to an unpredictable destination, to another world entirely, or to nowhere at all. Using any of the Pipes that's not part of a mapped stable connection is always a risk, and even the Hollow Ones of the Northern Crater, who make the study of the Warp their life's work, are cautious when they use the Pipes

There is one group that does not show that caution, however. Sages have dubbed them the invaders, because they seem focused entirely on conquest, and because they do not come from any known part of Agarica or Pithek. They come out of the Pipes in groups, kill or capture everyone they can, and drag them back to the Pipes, where they are never seen again. Their artificia is more complex than anything the Scarlet City or the Muscalan Confederation has been able to produce and does not seem to use Crystals as a power source. Its principles remain a mystery, and until someone manages to communicate with one of the invaders, it is likely to remain so.

There is one curious aspect of their culture that is known. A Somnambulant Calculator once managed to get inside the dreams of an invader, and while much of their dreams were incomprehensible or even maddening, she did learn that the invaders are looking for someone they think of as "The Hunter" who may be on Agarica. In its dream, the Hunter was a dozen feet tall and fought with a spear made of fire, but whether this reflects the Hunter's true appearance or simply the invaders' fear of it is unknown.

Walking Trees
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The plant life of Agarica shows a bewildering variety of forms. Much of it is carnivorous and some of it is mobile, and the most dangerous plant that is both is the walking tree. They travel in herds through the forests of Agarica, attracted to movement and sound, and while they are slow enough that anyone paying attention can easily avoid them, walking trees are relentless. They do not stop to rest except in the small hours of the night, they can crash over or through nearly any obstacle, and their mobile roots are powerful enough to shatter stone or wooden shelters.

When they catch prey, walking trees grab on to them with their roots and squeeze until it stops moving, and then drive their roots through the bodies, mixing the fluids with the sunlight and water from soil to derive their energy. They are extremely vulnerable to fire and are intelligent enough to know not to approach those who use it, but there is little else that can drive them away. Walking trees are one of the primary reasons that many communities in Agarica are surrounded by high walls of thorn plants woven together into defensive structures, and that those walls are surrounded by land burned down to bare earth and ash.

One of the most distubing habits of walking trees is their penchant for using the bodies of the dead as armor. They will often take bones from those they have slain and plaster them to their bark, where the sap keeps them stuck fast. Some walking trees do this with entire corpses, and a herd of walking trees is often an incredibly macabre sight.

(Partially inspired by these enemies from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story)

Water Spirits
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The spirits of the waters prefer the deep places and frequently have little contact with mortals. They are thick in the depths of the Narrow Sea and the Great Salt Ocean, and the Lake of Dreams has its own share of them as well, but lesser bodies of water are less hospitable. Because of this, they often have violent reactions to any intrusions into their domains, and water spirits tend to be incredibly hostile. Those spirits which live in smaller bodies of water are more amenable to interactions, but even they are unpredictable, as likely to bring devastating floods as they are to keep a river in its banks.
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