“What perversion of magic birthed this abomination: half-vulpine, half-avian… all red-eyed, scythe-clawed, rapier-toothed carnage.” –Kostuv Grel, Bestial Arcana
Once a legend of the western wood, so much “backcountry nonsense” shared over pungent pints of house ale, the Avulpian Ravager shattered its veil of obscurity in 1324 with the very public disembowelment of notable northern lord Ivan Larson on the night of his daughter’s 15th yearsake. They say the stench of the horror lingered in Larson Hall for decades, no matter how deep the servants skinned their knuckles scouring stone. Avulpian Ravager sightings in the proceeding decades remained rare, but nonetheless excruciating in their violence. So theorize modern scholars, the beast’s exceptional ferocity originates from a state of persistent heightened adrenaline.
“Her skin boiled away / revealing the gray / of gaunt webbing and tendon stricken…” –Excerpt from “The Bard’s Defiant Encounters”
The systemic slaughter of barren women by the Cult of the Holy Vow left a haunted wasteland to stretch across the high northern territories. The Holy Vow dubbed such women “The Unwombed”, and the title stuck after their death en masse, whispered fearfully by locals in the same breath as admonishments against further travel north. Men well-acquainted with the realm's brothels have the most to fear from The Unwombed, who appear to these "experienced romantics” as visions of tempting beauty, whole and supple, beckoning a bedding — before the illusion boils away to the undead underneath. Offerings of fertility - herbs, potions, icons - are said to buy one passage through the domain of The Unwombed, but no traveler to the high north has returned to confirm the veracity of this rumor.
“Founda babe, t'ought to domesticate 'gainst t'wolves — slaughtered half m'farm 'fore a year-on. Made rid of it 'nd good-ate." –Eldrina Vayev, Isle de Weg sheep farmer
One of few native species to call home the hectares of Isle de Weg, the lagolope keeps to itself — until it doesn't, namely in the pursuit of the slow, easy prey that is local livestock. Small though the lagolope might be, even experienced swordwielders should exercise caution against its sizable horns and powerful leap. Once slain, lagolope liver makes for a potent potion ingredient — the trick is not to pierce the delicate organ while fervently stabbing for one's life.
"And o'er they ride a trail a'flame, heralds o' the end, stewards o' the dead." –Apocryphal prophecy
The preferred steed of the Legion of Noir, deameachs pose a gentler presence than their utilization may convey. In the wild, a pocketful of fresh honeycomb makes a potential rider a fast and loyal friend — only in the torture stables of the Legion do deameachs find their footing for violence, cruelly driven to develop an unnatural appetite for fresh offal and still-steaming blood. A Legion rider and his deameach can send even a knighted ser galloping for reinforcements — but bucked of its Legion rider, a deameach becomes all the more deadly, unbridled, bloodlust-mad.
Field Researcher’s insights into the Stork Mother:
Call it a grab for the glib in this otherwise joyless toil, but “Stork Mother” seemed a fitting title for the latest monstrosity roaming the bayou. However, rather than deliver precious baby bundles, Stork Mother prefers to devour them. Straight from the womb, still writhing, as I’ve had the unfortunate occasion of witnessing. I suppose what mammals remain to rut (an exceptional act of hubris in our time) might have had it coming.
Seeming to share characteristics of humanoid and avian alike, one begs to ask whether the egg arrived first, or the hulking horror to bear it. Documentation, such as it is — scraps and allusions pieced together, more often blood-stained than not — contradicts as much as it illuminates.
Firsthand, I can attest to the smell of Stork Mother — a putrid, emetic rank of wet flesh and curdled bile left to molder. When in range of the creature, and the wind against my favor, the pungency stings the eyes and roils the stomach to the point of near incapacitation. My sporty bandanna, tied outlaw-style, does little to filter the foulness, I’m afraid.
Perhaps it’s best I can’t get too close. I’ve seen Stork Mother tear the flailing limbs off stronger men than I — and not to eat them, which a scientific eye such as mine might acknowledge as necessary survival. No, this rending of ligament and sinew seems an act of… dominance? Rage? Perhaps some gruesome form of play? Mutated madness — this much is clear.
I’m certain Stork Mother calls home some haunted hovel of a nest, as, in a surprising bit of normalcy, the bird-beast seems to observe some sleeping pattern. While I sicken to think what fetid trophies I might find therein — I can’t help but imagine a throne of bone, dank with marrow sweat — my scientific curiosity compels me in this ill-advised search. Such insanities we undertake in pursuit of knowledge better left unknown...
A note on creative copyright:
AI-generated art is a spicy topic, and for good reason — we have a lot to figure out insofar as creative ownership and opt-in databases (which speaks to the larger issue of who retains ownership of any data posted online, in general).
Personally, I’ve found AI-generated art to be super useful for creative writing practice — namely, generating a creature in Midjourney and then writing lore about it, as seen above. As I'm only doing so for fun, I don’t feel as conflicted about it as I might for commercial use. On the flip side, if an artist drew something and wanted to use ChatGPT to generate lore for fun, I’d support that experimentation. These are wildly cool tools when you zoom out and consider the creative playground newly at our fingertips.
That said, all images here were painstakingly curated in Midjourney over many hours of imagining prompts, and the lore for each was written by me. Feel free to share and credit me as the author, but please don't claim or use as your own, or I'll sic Stork Mother on you.