Professor MacArthur’s lecture was the talk of the town, it was rare that we had such a celebrated archaeologist visit our quaint country. I had secured a front row ticket through an old fraternity contact who assured me that I would not be dismayed, for he knew well of my amateur delights in the old and unusual. The Professor, a practical looking man in tweed, began his lecture with a quote from The Descent of Inanna, “A fly spoke to holy Inana: ‘If I show you where Dumuzi is, what will be my reward?’ Inanna said, ‘ If you tell me, I will let you frequent the beer-houses and taverns, I will let you dwell among the talk of the wise ones, I will let you dwell among the songs of the minstrels.’ ”
He blinked then, and I knew that the Fly dwelt among the wise.
Your pupils become a pair of black flies. These flies can crawl from your ears and enter the head of a target. Sleeping targets have no save. The target’s own pupils are replaced by the flies and you are able to see everything the target sees for as long as the flies remain. During this period you are otherwise blind. The target is only indirectly aware of the invasion via itchy eyes and a persistent buzzing in their ears.
When Old Widow Krutel wasn’t at mass on Sunday, Deacon MacGregor was sent to see her. We all knew the Deacon had courted Miss Krutel in their younger days, back when she was just Flora and he was just Charlie. It was never to be, she was so sanguine and he so melancholic. When neither Old Widow Krutel nor Deacon MacGregor showed for Mass the following Sunday, the police were sent for. The evening edition reported that though the home was in great disarray and their bodies shrived near beyond recognition, never have they seen two happier corpses.
Forcibly purges all excess humours from the target’s body. Save or violently purge blood, phlegm, and bile from every orifice, severely dehydrating the victim. The more potent the target’s normal emotional state is the more severe the dehydration. This turns the surrounding area into a slick morass of bodily fluids. Surviving this leaves the target’s humours in a perfectly balanced state, eliciting a state of euphoria.
Father Tom, Father Tom,
From whence did you come?
Over lagoon and over the moon,
that is where I am from.
Father Tom, Father Tom,
Wither shall you go?
Past the steeple, far from people,
where the skies are all aglow.
Father Tom, Father Tom,
How shall you travel?
From my chair with a rope of hair,
tied tight so it shan’t unravel.
Toss a rope of hair into the ether and tether it to a creature from beyond the veil. You are pulled into the sky and may travel at up to five times overland travel speeds. However every hour spent in travel there is a cumulative 1-in-6 chance of the creature shaking loose its bonds, either dropping you to the ground far below or catching you and carrying to its own destination.
I reserved the table six months ago, the maître d′ told me I was very lucky for Lord Gray had just cancelled that very hour. Champs de Saturn caused quite a stir when it opened, “a ceaseless feast” one paper called it, “a bacchanal to put the Greeks to shame” said another. It was a fine change from all the missing persons cases that the papers sensationalize. Its Corinthian columns and wide rotunda bought to mind the Pantheon of Rome, its motif of grapes and wheat titliated my appetite. Our waiter recommended the Blanquette de veau, though I opted for the Cochon de lait as white meat suited my digestion better. I must say that I made rather a pig of myself that evening. Thirteen courses and I still was famished. A drop of sauce had landed upon the tablecloth and only my waiter’s quick hand stopped me from entirely forgetting my manners.
It is most unfortunate that it closed only a few days later, for I am still hungry.
The target must save or be made ravenously hungry and will eat anything that is within reach. The target will seek nominally food-like items first, be they rations or a dead rat, then move onto progressively less food-like items, such as living animals, leather gloves, coins, dirt, and themselves. No amount will sate the hunger and the target will gain no benefit from what is consumed, though they are still affected by any dangers. Targets that die while under these effects rise as a Ghoul.
Gerald Peabody had rented the cabin for several summers, always paid on time and always kept the place clean. He said he was an author but I’ve never seen his name in print, I always suspected he wrote under a pen name for he was very private. Last September, when he was due to leave so I could winter-proof the property, I phoned to let him know I was coming. He calmly, but persistently, explained that he must have privacy until he was finished. I could hear the scratching of his pen and assumed he must have been in the throes of creation. He was a good tenant, so I was willing to give him an extra day. I phoned the next day and received no answer, I assumed he must have packed up and left.
The official cause of death was listed as hypovolemic shock, I suppose he ran out of ink.
The target is seized with an violent urge to write. They may write their thoughts or their history or the same random repeating phrase, but they must continuously write. They will use any available writing implement and any writing fluid as long as what is written is at least semi-permanent, i.e. chalk or a stick in dirt won’t cut it but blood will.
Ever since his illness began, Mr. Gusano had trouble with new technology. User error was what they always told him, techie speak for being an ignorant old man. People who treated him like that just made his insides squirm. He knew he was doing everything right, but no matter what things would just go wrong. The advert in the paper said “Robak’s Repairs” and the cold, earthy voice on the other end of the line assured him that all his problems would soon be taken care of. A tall pallid man came the next day, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses and his head as bald as a cue ball. The very sight of him made Mr. Gusano’s skin crawl. He inquired of the man, “Please, tell me, what is wrong?”
“Why, Mr. Gusano,” said Robak, “It is very simple. You have Worms.”
The target must save or be plagued with highly infectious parasitic worms. Not only does the half the target’s physical stats, but it also causes issues in handling anything more complex than a stick. The worms infect inanimate objects and slowly break them down useless rust and excretions over the course of several weeks. In the mean time the objects have a 2-in-6 chance of malfunctioning (or increases the critical fail range by 2). This increases by 1 each week until at 6-in-6 the object disintegrates.
Ms. Mallory worked the furnaces of the county morgue, a task both thankless and repetitive. For while a funeral home’s furnace burnt the bodies of those loved and mourned, Ms. Mallory’s “clients” were mostly named John or Jane or had met their end in an electrified chair. Ms. Malloy didn’t mind this, it gave her time to think. Ms. Mallory liked knowing things. Not many people know that the cremation furnace is actually called a Retort. Ms. Mallory knows this. Not many know that retorts were originally made by alchemists for distilling. Ms. Mallory knows this. Not many know that the soul weighs 21 grams. Ms. Mallory knows this. She would day dream about lives that were not hers and places she’d never been. She’d think of new recipes or remember books she didn’t remember reading. She always thought that, close up, the bodies smelt like pork roast, burnt popcorn, and a hint of musk when they burned. She liked the smell, it helped her think. She always felt like she had the best ideas after a good deep breath near the retort.
When they installed the new retort with its second burner to burn the smoke into “environmentally safe byproducts,” it wasn’t the same. Now it smelled like a hospital and Ms. Mallory didn’t dream any longer.
A dead creature is immolated upon a prepared pyre leaving no physical remains. The smoke of the fire retains the knowledge, personality, soul, and approximate shape of the dead creature. The smoke is conscious, however it is incapable of movement on its own accord. Parting any of the smoke from the mass causes immense pain and a strong breeze will fully disperse the smoke, but it will retain consciousness and be in intense agony. Breathing in the smoke destroy the creature entirely and impart upon the breather a random memory or piece of knowledge previously held by the dead creature
I am a whaleman. I spent all my youth on a whaling ship and have seen all there is to see. I’ve seen men triumph over the sea through the efforts of their blood and sweat. I’ve seen men kill one another over a lump of whale vomit. I’ve been covered head to boot in gurry and I’ve heard the cry “Five and Forty More!” more times than I be bothered to remember. It was ’56 when I sailed my last. The Skipper was Captain James Dover, his boat the HMS Bethlaham, a retired Cruizer from the days of Napoleon. We were four fish in, but they were all scrags, not the prized Sperm Whale we sought. That is until we came across the lone bull. Massive beast he was, his scars spoke to his many years. “There go flukes!” The mate called and we moved to our boats, ready to make our take. I was Bethlaham’s cooper, so while the boats were out I kept the ship. The boys lowered in with their irons at the ready, knowing that this whale would be their ticket home. I could see as they descended on the beast, I could hear as the first screams were loosened. It was too early for the beast to be in its flurry, the harpooners had only just made fast to it. But out there, men were screaming, men were dying. I could see as the mate hamstringed the flukes before falling into the sea in thrashing, drowning agony. Captain Dover struck with his hand-lance deep and hit the beast’s life, the steaming arterial spray misting the scene in red. In the beast’s dying flurry, it stove all but one boat, the crew were scattered to the see. The lone surviving boat, with but a handful of mutilated men, were barely in condition to get us back to shore.
I visit with the Captain when I can, but Bedlam is no place for a well man.
Any damage the target takes is mirrored upon all aggressors. The target still takes the damage, but that damage is then averaged out between all nearby creatures who are hostile to it. Any debilitating attacks are mirrored on the individual who made the attack. Whomever strikes the fatal blow must Save (vs. Death or whatever is applicable) or die as though they had taken the same blow. Making the save still leaves the attacker horribly scarred.
Marissa and Terra Jumeaux joined the show when they were six. Mr. Norman paid ten shillings for them and displayed them in Nottingham. Conjoined at the stomach, they were shown at first as a grotesque but learned over the years means of entertainment beyond the display of their bodies. They would sit on customized benches and play two pianos, they would juggle, and they would dance. They matured and blossomed, and their show attracted other sorts of attention. When one day they were found to be pregnant, the city was ablaze with interest. Who was the father? Which one of them was actually pregnant? How would the child be born? To these questions, Marissa and Terra kept mum. The weeks progressed into months, the twins’ shared stomach distending and driving them apart. It became increasingly difficult for them to display their talents, and they once again became a grotesque for others to gawk at. The day they didn’t emerge from their room, we knew that something must have happened. Mr. Merrick said he heard a muffled cry in the night, we thought perhaps they had miraculously given birth. After much knocking and commotion to no response, Mr. Norman, the only man with keys, unlocked their door. Marissa and Terra lay side by side upon their shared bed, separate, empty and not a child in sight.
Two target creatures of approximately same type are selected and marked. They may Save vs. the mark if unwilling. The caster may cause an organic hole to open on the stomachs of the targets and then travel between the targets via that hole. Travel in this manner causes debilitating pain in the targets, though no lasting damage, and whatever travels though the targets is coated in effluvia.
Have you ever seen snakes mate? When the snow melts and Spring has blossomed once again, the snakes come out from hibernation. They awake from their holes in the earth and slither out into the world, seeking to spawn the next generation of serpents. The males detect the females by smell, a perfume that incites them into orgy pits of reptilian ecstasy. This is all I could think of as I watched the swirling yellow draped arms preforming the Thousand Arm Dance. Deaf Chinese dancers swirling their arms to invoke the Buddha of Compassion. Deaf reptiles writhing in the throes of their compassion. Hands darting in and out, grabbing with long sharp nails. Heads flailing to and fro, fangs bared and ready. I wonder what it would be like to be the thousand armed Buddha. I wonder at the feel of a thousand arms pressing upon you, competing for space. How it feels to be that sole female snake at the center of the ball of lusting males. How it feels to be awash in movement and yet barely able to move, to be surrounded and subsumed and part and separate all at once…