PART ONE: THE MASK OF A MONSTER REVIEWS AND CRITIQUES This is where the reviews and critiques of the Soiree's submissions will be posted. Please read the guidelines first below: REVIEWING AND CRITIQUING OTHERS' WORKS1. Constructive criticism and reviews only. It is suggested that members give both positive and negative points to the entries they're reviewing; as well as to avoid conflict by aggressive or confusing wording in their reviews. Remember that this event is being monitored by Staff; any and all arguments and conflict will be noted and dealt with. 2. This thread is only for the discussion of the submitted entries and works dealing with reviewing and constructive criticism. 3. Members should try to make their points clear and understandable. In turn, the participants must understand that by entering this event, they have put their submissions up for review by other members as well. SUBMITTED WORKS The Zhavéléku - Steel Hyaena (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Horror and Sand: The Zhavéléku "Namári, my son, you must be careful where you tread. Walk not across the sandflats. Keep to the rocks, and approach the oasis with care. For you know not what lurks beneath your feet or in the sky." —Náloshu, chieftain of Clan Dreaming Moon The Great Red Desert of Kháj Tmæon is an extreme environment. Temperatures in the area can rise as high as 60 C during the height of summer. Due to the brutal heat and harshness of this climate, the creatures that live there are themselves deadly and often monstrous. There is an apex predator that can scatter even the strongest of the other beasts. It is called the zhavéléku. The zhavéléku is an average of forty feet in length, and twice that in breadth; the creature's body resembles the shape of a 'flying wing' aircraft, though the zhavéléku has a long and whiplike tail with a long, flat, leaf-shaped tip. It is between nine and eighteen feet in thickness, weighing surprisingly little for its size, due to light, honeycombed bones providing most of its internal structure. Its hide is tough enough to defeat all but the most highly-enchanted weapons, and its ability to camouflage itself makes it exceedingly difficult to see. Horribly, its small, round head has a human-appearing face, the expression either one of agony or of rage. It possesses six tongues, each of which has a sucker at the end of it. These tongues are able to extend all the way out to the tip of each wing. Both the ventral and dorsal sides of this animal contain retractile barbs with serrated edges. When these impale a target, the serrations tend to hold it in place unless it tears itself free. Both sand and sky are home to the zhavéléku. It most often hunts by burying itself in sand, sensing the approach of prey through the vibration of its movement on the surface, or through slim filaments that edge its wings and come up to rest on the sand, all but invisible. It is nearly impossible to detect a zhavéléku on open sand—until it is too late. It is also able to fly, using thermal air currents rising from hot sands to keep it aloft. In this case, it blends in with the sky above it, able to bend light about itself to form a perfect camouflage. It also uses this light-bending ability to mask itself when moving across the surface of the ground, though it is easier to spot this way. Particularly horrific is the creature's way of feeding. Whether it wraps upward from beneath the sand or drops down from above to cover its prey, the spines on its body impale the victim. It intentionally keeps its prey alive, preferring to use the suckers at the tips of its tongue to pull away small, round pieces of living tissue until the victim expires from shock and exsanguination. After the zhavéléku finishes its meal, it releases what remains. Such remains are identifiable because they are skeletonized save for the hands, feet and face, though one of the sucker-tongues will have devoured the brains by entering an eye socket, through the nose or through the mouth. Reproduction is a dread of another form. Male zhavéléku'i are almost twice the size of the females due to sexual dimorphism. The male impregnates the female through traumatic insemination. His penis is four feet long and has three spiraling edges as sharp as the blade of any sword; in fact, the people native to Kháj Tmæon often use them as weapons when they manage to destroy a large male. The male will battle the female until he manages to wrap her within his wings, and then he will stab his penis into her abdomen and release a seed packet. After this, he leaves the wounded female to shift for herself. The female will hunt and gorge herself. She then will locate large prey and enfold it, but this time, the tongues have a much more sinister use. The female uses them to enter any body cavity she can access to release her fertilized eggs. She will keep the victim enfolded but not impaled until the eggs hatch. The victim is kept sustained by having one of the tongues placed in its esophagus to supply it with blood, fluids and nutrients... until the zhavéléku larvae begin to eat. It takes six agonizing weeks for them to be large enough to break through the surface of the skin or crawl from body openings. The Void - JacobCane (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) The void given form. Words are arguably the greatest achievement of man. Not just to communicate with one another, but to express life in ways no other species could. To create a poem that captures the very beauty of a sunrise. To create a song that so vividly depicts the pain of loss. To shout, scream and cry words that can motivate men to move mountains, send entire nations to war and even start cults or religions that inspire millions for generations to come. These are just a few powers that words wield. Yet despite all their worth, not a single word exists to describe the beast before us. We have words to describe love, sadness, happiness, rocks, seas and everything we could ever imagine. Yet not a single word for this…being. Not to name it accurately anyways. This grotesque collection of tentacles, is so beyond the realms of humanities nightmares, that no human could ever hope to name it. It would be hard to pinpoint an exact height. Its form being little more than a collection of hundreds, if not thousands of boneless limbs. All smooth and silky like bleached onyx and twice as black. The tentacles were not like that of the octopus. Nay the boneless limbs moulded like clay. One moment a soft whip, the next a razor sharp blade. It was as if they were living shadows, formless. Yet the danger they posed was oh so very real. Writhing and twitching with disgusting regularity. Each one varying in length and thickness. Yet all coiled around one another creating a malformed trunk that supported what could only be assumed, to be the top of the being. The trunk of tentacles originates from inside a skull. A battered cracked and leaking black skull abnormal in shape. A square head engulfed by a gaping jaw of dagger-like teeth. What use the skull serves is debatable. It would be impossible to guess whether the skull was a part of the beast or merely a convenient husk to house whatever monstrosity existed within. Tentacles leaked from the skulls mouth down to join their sickly siblings within the trunk. The only view of the inside of the skull was the gaping eye sockets. To describe the sockets as black would be a gross misrepresentation, nay. These were not black, to be so devoid of colour. So devoid of life, or any form of soul.Such things could only be described as voids. Yes, voids indeed. If the saying is true, "look too long into the void and the void will look back". Then whatever lurked behind that skull was the void given form. What sight, hearing, smell or taste the beast had could not be determined. Instead, the skull would have to be the only recognition of a face. A face? The very idea seems humour. To give such a being any thought of normality is beyond sane. Even the beast's movements would send many a man screaming to the asylums to have their brains fried. In a hopes to rid them of the memory of such a sight. One moment the beast could slip through the smallest gaps or the stretch over the tallest buildings with ease and a type of elegance. Yet the next moment it could crush cars into metal balls or rip the faces of off mountains in an instant. What? Why? Where? Who? When? How? Pointless questions with no answers that could justify such a beast. Such curiosity would only be sated with death. Maybe that was the true danger of this beast. With appearance so beyond our darkest fears, it leaves us devoid of our greatest gift. The cheetah evolved to outrun its prey. The snake evolved to strangle its prey. Humans? We evolved to be smarter than prey and predator alike. We evolved curiosity, to tinker with the world around us. Yet this beast robs us of that curiosity and leaves behind nothing but soul crushing fear. Perhaps that is what the beast should be called. This embodiment of the void. This being of paralysing fear. The formless. What better name for that of which is beyond naming? That which is like liquid one moment, then rock the next. That whose very appearance in can cause one to wrench forth their supper or another to burst into tears from fright. The formless, its nature and reason without an ounce of possible understanding as it stalked the earth. Clearly on a mission for something. For what, however? I dare ask, the answer may just be our un-doing. Blood and Ink - Moose (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Blood and Ink This creature normally appears as a rope, covered in red-black ink, stationary unless on the hunt. The length of rope is 77-165 cm (30-65 inches), 5cm (2 inches) thick, and it weighs 2.5-5.5kg (5.5-12 pounds). It grows on fear and death, and once at its maximum length, it will split in two, reproducing aesexually. It is a very rare creature, and only a few are ever found in large cities, difficult to spot as they don't move when they are seen unless they are moving in for the kill. As it feeds on fear as well as death, it never simply kills its victims and prefers to take out whole families at once. It has a minor psychic ability, able to find out locations of loved ones, and moving to strike in a single night. It prefers victims in dark rooms, alone, at night, preferably distracted by something bright in front of their face. It sneaks up behind a victim, and if the victim has a cat, it will meow at them, if not, it simply uses its psychic connection to make the victim feel dread at the possibility that there is something behind them. Once their victim turns around and spots them, it strikes, wrapping around the victims neck and constricting slowly, allowing the victim to fight, and hope, and fear. Once the victim is dead, if the rope knows of any loved ones nearby, it will make it's first transformation, into a slender blade. It will skin the victim's face and take it to the second victim, where it will repeat the previous process, except, it will have molded to the face for when the victim turns around, red-black ink running from the orifices in the face for the new victim to see, moments before it strikes. No one knows where it came from, but traces of it are evident in its victims, red-black stains on their necks, forever marking where the creature strangled them. Red Light Ravager - Krieg (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Red Light Ravager "Courtesan of Countenances" "Roxanne, You don't have to put on the red light, Those days are over, You don't have to sell your body to the night." -The Police De Wallen is perhaps Amsterdam's most infamous red-light district, a thriving hub of vice and sin supported by the government of Netherlands itself. Over the decades, scandals and corruption have been commonplace for the area, "businesses" raided for accusations of child pornography and the illegal distribution of narcotics and firearms. In fact, for all of the perceived lawlessness of the area, it comes to no surprise that undercover cops and the occasional police cruiser is often seen patrolling the grimy streets. It all changed when the Red Light Ravager showed up. Compelling all known reports and incidents of this entity, a rough description of the courtesan has been drafted. Standing at 156cm (5'1") and weighing in at roughly a hundred pounds, the pale courtesan is a brunette, her lush hair tightened into several fashionable buns. Her attire is unlike most clients, dawning a Renaissance-era dress with a scarlet-and-pale pattern of coloring. Interestingly, the dress comes with a red hood that has a small, black veil stitched along the upper edges, giving the wearer a disguised face. Also, rumors hold that the dress and fabrics is actually entwined with the skin of the prostitute, giving her an usually slim yet snug form, however such a claim remains a mysterious. The Red Light Ravager, upon first glance, seems to be nothing more than a flamboyant prostitute. However, as of [REDACTED], the entity's fullest potential is alarming. After alluring a patron and leading him to an appropriate location, the Red Light Ravager will reveal her face. To onlookers, the woman would bear no physical details whatsoever- a blank, white canvas, void of any physical details. Inflicted subjects, however, claim different, saying that they'll see the face of a female family member, such as their sister or their mother. After seeing this, the subject will go into a state of uncontrollable shock. Initial reports at this state included a sense of nausea, vomiting, and flares of red lights shining in their eyes. If contact with the entity is prolonged after five seconds, the subject will begin to hallucinate sexual images of whatever family member depicted on the Red Light Ravager. These sickening thoughts will devolve themselves further and further, becoming more violent, cruel, and taboo. Eventually, the subject will drive themselves mad, beginning to claw off their face and perform self-castration. After the [REDACTED] Incident, we have also discovered a defensive mechanism of the courtesan. In a combative situation, the courtesan will give off an immense red glow underneath her veil. Subjects within the entity's gaze will become instantly blinded for a brief moment, although prolonged exposure will lead to permanent blindness. This is fascinating, as no heat or sense of intensify is reported from the light itself, which implies some supernatural property. All survivors from their encounter with the Red Light Ravager have been hospitalized to local mental care institutions. Most, if not all of them are in a state of complete emotional and psychological disarray, with many of them restrained in order to stop them from performing self-mutilation. Currently, there is no known "male alternative" for female patrons, as the courtesan seems uninterested in same-sex interaction, however all tourists and potential patrons have been alerted to be on the lookout for any "suspiciously-dressed" men. As to the entity herself, many theories are revolving around her. Most, however, say that she is the infamous "Rose of the River", a young 16th century noble confused for a prostitute and succumbing to the cruelty of Amsterdam's early red-light districts. If this it is to believed to be true, than this "monster" is a physical spirit punishing the allurement of lust. Contact has been made with several disclosed organizations as to how to deal with this entity. Until then, be alert, operatives. ??? - Soulserenity20 (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) They are that which walk in the shadows of fear... It is said many have seen the ones that walk in fear; many accept it, many refuse to do the same, and many are yet blind to their presence. But in time, all come face to face with these unearthly beings that haunt the minds of man. Their origins are unknown, but it is said that for so long as fear has manifested in the hearts and minds of man, so too were those that walked within it. They are nameless by nature, and few cultures have taken them from this nature. They are faceless, though they appear in the form of a bipedal homonid, as if to be like us, but something so far from exactly that. They are featureless beings, taking on the appearance of a small child, near the age of 10 in height and figure. They wear no clothes nor adorn their heads with hair. Their complexion is a mix between blackness and a shadowy illusion, giving them the ability to never truly appear real, never of this world. Some mistake them for shadows, for this reason. Without a face, without defining features to make them human, no finger nails or rustling attire. They hardly even seem threatening. Just a meager shape in one's mind, on a dark street, in the misty, woods on a lonely night. Yet those who have come to know them, know they are so much more than a harmless shadow, cloaked in the realm of fear. Those who walk in fear seem to hold but two desires: the first is existence, for fear in the minds of men make them as real as they wish to be; the second is consumption, for they thrive in fear because it is fear they consume. Yes, it is true as was said, that they bear no features, but this is only true for part of the time. When they wish to be known, when they commit to the hunt, closing in on their prey, their eyes appear, forged from the shadowy flesh. Black eyes, black as nothing in this world could ever be. Black and empty, yet cold. And beneath those eyes creeps forward a dark and wretched smile decorated with black, razor-like teeth that scream with a thirst for the sanity of man. They feed off us, you see. We created them, or so some say, and they feast on our minds, and later on our flesh. This is why their form frightens us so. It is said to be a projection of us, instilling some form of comfort, yet their differences confuse our minds and frighten us to great lengths. We fear the unknown, it is said, and they are the unknown. Some confuse them for aliens, extra-terrestrials. Some have called them the boogie-man. Some believe them to be demons. But they are so much worse than these things for they are that which man cannot fathom, nor create of our own imaginations. Yet it is known now to us, that they have been among us for an eternity. And each encounter, over the span of our existence, has been the same. Always the same. First, fear strikes. Perfectly natural for man, perfectly un-alarming. Though some would insist fear was never a natural part of our existence, at least not in the way the moving shadows in the night send chills down our spines or the depths in our closets leave us trembling in our youth. This fear, it is said, came from them so they might feed. When this fear strikes, they approach, merely to make themselves known. Most who are perceptive enough to notice them will notice them simply standing in the shadows in the woods along the path they take home late at night. They'll notice them in the corners of their nightmares, standing silently in observation of the events that unfold. The perceptive notice them first, but never are they spared for their feat. When they've appeared, it's only a matter of time before they begin to obsess, targeting their prey, and increasing the fear in their lives, driving them beyond the realm of the sane. Those with weak minds are most susceptible. Schizophrenics suffer the worst of their attacks. Those who are stressed with feel their presence more than others, as their minds weaken and the fear settles in. The fear, is the sowing of the seeds of death. When the seeds come to fruition, the target is ripe for the hunt, and they who walk in fear close in. When the target has been chosen, they'll make themselves more known. They'll appear in the corners of their prey's homes, along their route home from work, in every miserable nightmare. Soon, what was first a mere presence, becomes a tormenting, active terror in the life of the prey. They get brave when their hunt bores on into its ending stages, as if urged forth by their hunger, like a snake smelling its prey's blood. When the hunger grows, they start to get violent. Prodding and poking their prey with traumatic hauntings and suffering their prey their last touch of sanity. Those who make the news, claiming to be possessed, haunted by demons, subject to the evils of the world, encountering aliens: it is they who are closest to death. When this time comes, the hunters are well infused into the lives of the prey and are preparing for the final strike. They shift forms, then; their black eyes swirling in their skulls, their razor teeth peeling across their face in a grin that cuts their head in two. The unexplained disappearances are never unexplained. Sometimes a gory mess remains, leading humanity to search to explanations like human combustion, but most often they leave not a single trace. "She was abducted by aliens," they will say. But she was not taken by the greys, rather consumed by those who walk in the shadows of fear. "He got lost in the suicide woods, never to return." But he was consumed by the fear of prey, hunted until his mind screamed and broke, and as he ran for his life from the hunter, he make the mistake of entering the woods where the fearful go to die. These beings have been with us for as long as we have been us. They have put fear into our hearts, knowing the way to break a mind is through the mind itself. They have haunted and hunted, stalked and starved in wait. But when the time comes, they who walk in the shadows of fear, silence the fearful at last. All of our nightmares, all of our horror stories, they exist. They are real. But we have been so wrong. It was never suicide, never paranoia, never hallucinations or possessions or abductions. It was never what we thought, only our fear, and those who walk within it. Widow Spiders - PoetLore (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) The females of this species are slender and curvaceous standing anywhere from 5 feet to 5 and a half feet tall and weighing usually less than 120 pounds with quite lovely faces and eerily golden eyes that seem to glow in the dark. Their skin is very pale, reminiscent of a bygone day when porcelain beauty was worshiped. A small usually small button nose is almost always underlined by full red lips though sometimes they are black. They most generally have very straight black hair that has an iridescence to it and can vary in length from shoulder to floor. They has 4 arms, 2 of which appear to attach like human arms and the second set are slightly below those at the sides of her rib cage. They seem normal but upon closer inspection it can be seen that there is an extra joint in each. They also has 2 sets of legs which are attached to her hips but are not generally visible because of their use of cloaking themselves with clothing to hide them. The legs also have an extra set of joints. They has a rather wide backside but it only accentuates her narrow waists and bosom which also vary in size. They have long delicate looking fingers that have black nails which 'appear' to be sharpened to points for effect. They are in fact claws. They also has fangs that are only visible when they smile a very wide smile, which never occurs until it's too late to save yourself. These females are a black widow spider/ human hybrid which would be evident once the victim is incapacitated and the red hourglass can be seen on her behind. She mates and kills, very slowly. Her venom liquefies muscle, bones and skin. She dismembers her victims slowly preferring warm food. It does make her sad when the man's life actually ends and she is forced to finish the meal and seek out another victim. She is able to spin webs through both the gland on her behind and she is able to climb walls and ceilings through glands on her hands and feet which enable her to stick to anything. She has exceptional speed, and uses her mesmerizing voice to seduce and enthrall her victims into her bed where they discover what she actually is. Too late they realize that they have just enjoyed their last pleasure. She spins the web about the man before she even finishes with the lovemaking is even done up to their chest. She likes them to be aware of what she's doing. This is when she shows her victim that she is a spider and spins a web from the floor to the ceiling and then attaches them to it. She will then slowly eat the man over a period of 2 to 3 days depending on their will to fight to live, but no one has ever survived. The males are slightly smaller than their female counterparts. They tend to have mousy brown hair and those same glowing golden eyes. Their skin also tends to have less luminescence than the females tending to give them a tanned appearance.Their arms and legs have the same extra joint, They have the same glands on their hands and feet but cannot spin webs. Their sole existence is to procreate and die. They realize this but still will approach and through a rather intricate dance with death attempt to impregnate the female. Once this is done he will very quickly be killed and eaten. The males when not mating will use their charisma and their seductive voice to lure any prey away from safety. Unlike the females they do not devour slowly, they eat and are done since they cannot weave a web to hold their prey they use their claws and many legs to hold them while they eat. Also unlike the females they lack the venom that makes this processes easier. They instead chew their meat, but they do so quickly. These Hybrids tends to lurk in the darkest corners of clubs and bars and generally waits to reveal herself until after most of the patron have partied enough to be very happy and gullible. Their voice is almost hypnotic to people under the influence of alcohol and They are very smart predators. The females will even chose women victims when they are hungry enough to take what they can get, though they tend to suffer more because they deprive her of the release she usually enjoys with her mates. The males are not choosy about gender since they are only seeking food and not pleasure. Breaking - rechonq (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Breaking (Known around the world in various cultures by whatever they would call a 'Broken' person.) The size of a Breaking varies greatly. The entirety of the spectrum ranges from 120cm to 250cm, but the greater majority are around 180cm. They are very humanoid in appearance, but are terribly pale and thin. They have ornate and alien markings that line their bodies and appendages. Their skin is hard and smooth, almost like a plastic armor with defects. They do wear clothes that are typically worn and tattered, and almost always have a hood. They all wear a white mask with perfectly round empty eye holes and an indifferent empty mouth. If one were to look into those features, no matter how close they got, they would see 'something' that is constantly enshrouded in darkness. No one ever does examine them long though. Breaking have an aura to them that make them very forgettable. Despite their appearance, they are very good at never being seen or known until it is too late. Breaking are known worldwide and can adapt to any environment. They don't sleep, eat or drink. They merely have an innate desire to bring suffering. They can do this in two ways. The first is more passive. Breaking have ways of making people lose their inhibitors. Everyone has something about themselves they are embarrassed about or try to hide. Some things are as petty as a foot fetish and others hide desires to become work center shooters or serial rapists. Social stigma and repercussions are probably the greatest reasons people hide these desires. Breaking are constantly giving whispers that amplify these desires and breakdown any need we feel to squelch them out. It doesn't happen often, but looking into a Breaking's empty orifices will amplify this feeling tenfold. Often times people will seem completely new to those who thought they knew them. Many people become outcast by society or placed in institutions. There are many different results of Breaking's torment, but all result in the subject's internal conflict and regret. The second way is much more direct. Occasionally Breaking gain obsessions with people. When that happens the person will typically disappear without a trace. After kidnapping their target, a Breaking will torture them until they are satisfied. This can range from a few months to a few years before they move on with life. The Breaking hardly ever kill a target and if they do it is accidental. Killing someone means they won't suffer anymore. Breaking always try to leave their victims alive to deal with the physical and mental scars that they have imprinted. Whether the subject is driven to suicide is of no concern to them. As long as they suffer. More often than not, both of these effects will be applied, so when a person is released they merely get treatment as a self-abusive loon. Some say that a Breaking was born of a Human and that they mate with Humans or spawn from their suffering. They are their own species and do mate with each other, but they can also impregnate and be impregnated by Humans. Sex is the same as Humans, but the female doesn't carry. Instead during intercourse extra fluids are created that carry the fertilized egg away. The egg can grow underground or above ground and looks like an ordinary rock until it hatches. It doesn't hatch until it is fully grown which only takes about four years. If a human woman is impregnated she will give birth to an egg after 9 months where it will continue to grow until it hatches. Breaking are very tough and strong, but can certainly die as well. They are not bulletproof and do bleed and have hearts. Three of them to be exact. They die naturally around 100 years. Breaking are typically nomadic and will wander the earth, only stopping to satisfy an obsession. Some will set themselves up in large cities and use technology to their advantage. No matter what Breaking are extremely resourceful, being able to make shelters and tools out of almost anything, anywhere. They're also very determined and never give up on someone. Whatever effect they had on a person lingers with them. The words or images are ingrained in their subconscious, constantly reminding them what it is that haunts them. Most have trouble explaining it, but those that are truly tortured know the Breaking intimately. Most think that Breaking are just legends, but the better one knows of them the more they fear even hearing them again. Now that you know a little about them, pray that you never meet one, for they will drive you to your breaking point. Punomti - IntrusivePenDesperateSword (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Log date 23 4 26 With this, I, captain Hobsworth, announce the beginning of this traveller’s log, to document the sightings and studies of the legendary Punomti, the Trees of the green Man. Me and my crew are located in Holt’s woods, as caused by numerous sightings in this area. Search around the forest is still ongoing, but results are bound to appear shortly. Log date 24 4 26 It is with absolute certainty we announce we have found a specimen of the Punomti. The circular arrangement and fixed height of six oaks, which despite lacking apparent movement, has emitted a nauseating aura. The five trees all have the height of around four metres, their branches beginning outstandingly low on the trunks, and stretching remarkably long as well, entangled in each other. A camp has been established at a safe distance from the creature, and further observations are to be done following morning. Log date 25 4 26 The nausea caused by what we believe to be a scent emitted by the trees has become too much to bear, and several of my crew members have suggested a direct approach to this observation. Interaction, if even possible, will be attempted. Upon approaching the trees, a certain shifting occurred in between the branches, as if a strong wind was blowing. For the record, it was not. Certain branches closer to the one approaching them, bent downwards with agility and mobility like snakes, interlocking with each other to form a shape similar to that of a woman. If another om my spectating crewmates is to be believed, the form of the branches is akin to a woman gone missing in these very woods some time ago. The trees did not speak, naturally, but in the manner they all seemed to cooperate on making a single avatar of a human, one is tempted to believe they all may share a certain consciousness. The wooden figure stretched out its branches in the form of a hand, and seemingly oblivious to countless warnings and shouts from the rest of us, my crewmate took it with his. The womanly figure soon dissolved into a flurry of retracting and curving branches, until it all formed a single, large arm of sorts, wrapped around the arm of my crewmate. With one, abrupt movement, the wooden entanglement flung the man in a curve through the air, and violently lodged him into the top of the trunk of the northernmost tree. Despite being harshly wounded, he could still move, though his legs appeared to be locked in place. Several of the branches then proceeded to pierce his body, his throat being a particularly common target. His last breath was surrounded by the rough bark of knife-like branches. His mouth forced open by the branches, he to the great displeasure and shock of all of us, spoke. His voice was hollow and partial, it was clear the tree in which his body was placed had taken control of him, and was now using his animal organs for its own good. His words were as such, in a language from the Africas my closest companion happened to speak: “A curse lies upon me. I wish for it to be my own. Away.” His body then began emitting a horrible screech, and it was at that moment it became clear skeletal remains were standing atop each of the trees, some with more remaining rotting flesh than others. A faint, yellow mist appeared from the trees, from which my crew fled. The distinct smell of pollen wafted through the air, making it thick and soggy. I wish to run. But I cannot. One would think the pollen would be to make more of these horrible monstrosi_________________________________ In Speculo - redblood (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) In Speculo Sometime late at night when you pass the mirror, have you ever felt... Observed? Ever wondered if the eyes staring at you truly are your own? Maybe you’ve noticed your mirror image move in the corner of your eye even though you’ve been completely still. Don’t laugh, I’m being serious here. No, I am not saying that your mirror image is alive, don’t be stupid. I’m saying it has been replaced by something that takes on your appearance so that it can fool you. Your true reflection has since long been eaten by something that now wishes to taste the real deal beyond the mirror. In speculo, or the mirror image as we non-latin speakers would say even though it sounds a hundred times lamer, is an interesting creature to say the least. Where it came from, no one knows. Some say there’s another dimension at the other end of the mirror which is where they reside, but others suggest they are demons from the depth of hell. There are even theories that the human mind has a power strong enough to create things that otherwise wouldn’t exist in this world. Well, we can speculate about that all night long, but that’s not why you’re here, is it? Who cares where it comes from, you just want to know why you’re supposed to be terrified of it. Well, as long as you like keeping your eyes on your own reflection, you won’t have to worry. As long as you don’t take your eyes away from it for a single second, it won’t do you any harm. Actually you won’t even notice that it’s there. In fact, it could as well just be your very own reflection. You would never know for sure. In speculo can’t do anything for as long as you’re watching it, nor while you are away from any object that can show your reflection, but what would happen if you turn your gaze away from it? I’m glad you asked. You see, this is where in speculo becomes interesting. Maybe it reads your mind or observes your every day life for long enough to know you or maybe it just senses things from the deepest parts of your soul, if it isn’t a part of your soul to begin with that is. Whichever way it’s using to gather information about you doesn’t matter really, what matters is what it uses that information for. Once your eyes are averted, its shape changes to reflect who you are inside, or rather, it reflects all the dark parts of yourself. The parts you’d rather hide. So if you have no inner demons, congratulations, your in speculo won’t ever be able to harm you if you’d ever get one. Now you’re probably thinking ‘what? It becomes a stupid monster if I beat up some kids in school?’ So original. Well, it can become a monster, but probably not the beauty and the beast kind you are thinking of, or the ugly lizard humanoid that’s really not as ugly as people makes it out to be. As I said, its appearance changes and reflects your darkest parts. The parts you can’t stand about yourself, the things you fear, hate or are ashamed of. Every in speculo is unique, every in speculo is different, just like your fears and insecurities. Maybe once when you were just a child, you saw something you shouldn’t have seen. A horrible crime committed by your parents, a crime you never told anyone about. Something that might haunt you even today. Why didn’t you tell anyone? Why are you still not doing anything about it? You’re an adult now, do something! But you won’t, because you’re scared, and that fear is eating on you. Soon someone else will do the same. So when you feel a hand covering your mouth, don’t turn around, because you probably don’t wish to see those bleeding empty eye sockets staring at you, while a sewed shut mouth is trying to open itself to scream out everything that was never said. I wouldn’t want that to be the last thing I ever saw, but hey, I won’t judge you if you’re into that kind of thing. Turn around all you want in that case. What is your inner demons? What is nagging on your consciousness so badly it keeps you up at night? Whatever it is, that is what your in speculo will feed on if one ever attaches itself to you, that is the appearance it will take. Sometimes the in speculo will look like a deranged version of the person it possesses and other times it will look like someone else, someone the person feel like they’ve wronged. Is the in speculo a monster created from the deepest depth of hell? Or has the human mind somehow created a monster out of the guilt it can’t get rid of? Either way, make sure to always listen to your paranoia. If you think the reflection moved, do not take your eyes off of that person, because the person on the other side is no longer you. A Study of Weth - The Mood is Write (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) A Study of Weth As written by Dr. Jenin Voq, and completed by the Westinsor Anthropology Department It is my great honor to have been given the request to investigate the Weth people who have begun to live among us in the past hundred years. Even before the start of this project, I have always been fascinated by the Weth and their strange anatomies and culture. I hope that through this process of learning and sharing, all may come to a better understanding of our newfound friends: human and Weth alike. Accepted Names: Wetha (male) Wethae (female) Weth (plural/generalized singular) Etta (gender unknown) As a note on these names, the Weth often become offended when referred to as men, women, boys, girls, males, or females. Out of respect, I will use their preferred terminology. Habitat: Though known to inhabit human-occupied lands peacefully, Weth are originally from the floating city of Ywedd, where their unique leg structure offered stability in the uneven, cloud-like structure of their ground, rather than the clumsy, clicking pace commonly seen on the ground. Diet: It is unknown what Weth eat to survive, due to a cultural difference between them and humans. To them, eating in front of others or displaying food to someone for whom it is not offered is tastelessly rude. Thankfully, the Weth seem not to take offense to nearby humans eating or leaving food in the open. Pregnant Wethae have been seen openly gorging on stalks from the Eazade plant, which they call "Gow". The Eazade plant is known for being a killer because it stops the body's muscles. Likely, they ingest it as a pain reliever, though a singular bite would kill a human twice their size. While I cannot say with certainty what they eat regularly, I can describe their oral structure. Weth have short, pointed teeth not unlike the piranhas that swim in the murky tropics, however they also possess highly flexible lips with soft outer surfaces and tough inner surfaces. I presume this difference comes from scar tissue left by rubbing against their teeth. A Weth's dusty blue tongue is smooth, long, and narrower than a human's, ending in a blunted taper. After being donated a body by some locals, I discovered that the majority of the tongue rests within the throat rather than the mouth. The roof of their mouth is more ridged than a human's, and significantly softer, with the same being said for their lower palate, beneath the tongue. Gender Ratio: Wethae outnumber Wetha by twenty times. While normally this would be cause for concern among some monster species, the Weth genetics are carried only by the Wethae. A Wetha's role is only to deliver the XX or XY chromosome, and hybrids are fully functional, regardless of parentage. Only rarely do these hybrids display a father's features. Breeding: Primarily, these monsters mate for life, though there are exceptions who remain single, adulterate, or retain the adolescent promiscuous that typically comes before a life-mating. Wetha go into heat roughly once every three years (give or take as many as eighteen months) during their promiscuous adolescent stage, and most estrus couplings are rape. A group of sexually-enraged Wetha will travel together in a pack, seeking out Wethae to impregnate. Strangely, they will not enter the home of mated couples. The process I have seen for estrus versus mated couplings vary vastly. In estrus, the Wetha (usually three or four) will find a group of Wethae and bind their arms, then take turns performing upon each in a position that resembles pushing a wheelbarrow. Given the sexual dimorphism between them (primarily size, bulk, and primary and secondary sexual characteristics), mating can be incredibly painful for the Wethae. Wetha naturally have (thankfully) rubbery ridges and spines across the top that visually resemble a lamprey's teeth. These firm textures appear to be used to 'encourage' the Wethae to remain still. They do not harm her, but they are described as causing severe discomfort. Mated Wetha have eroded textures, described to me as 'pleasant' and 'exciting' by my human colleagues. I could not get a comment from a Wethae volunteer. Mated Weth enjoy sex much as humans do: for breeding and pleasure. They are very gentle, and show concern for each other during the process. During mated couplings, they will often experiment sexually: new positions, inclusion of 'toys', and even oral and hand-assisted activities. Their attitude towards breeding is fairly casual in that they speak freely about it, but their culture heavily encourages that the act itself remain behind closed doors. Gestation time is roughly two months within the womb, and after another month, the Wethae is able to breed once again. Lifespan: The Weth lifespan is roughly forty to ninety years: comparable to a human's, save that Wethae who experience frequent coupling tend to age and die sooner than those who either remain chaste or form a life-mate partnership. A Wethae lays an egg, and approximately five months later, the Etta is born (twins are rare, and usually fatal to mother, offspring, or both). Sex is impossible to tell at this stage, because they look like miniature pitch-black human infants, although with pointed legs and the Weth mouth structure. They entirely lack visible sex organs until they reach five years. At five years, Etta bodies begin to mature past the infantile stage and into pre-adolescence. During this time, their genitals appear and they grow up to three feet in height. During this period, it is not uncommon for their black skin to change color, starting with a small spot on the chest that grows outward to varying degrees, though their arms and legs always remain black from the knees and elbows. Common colors include dusty blues and violets, grey, and the rare earthtones. Finding a Weth at any age with a human-appearing skin tone is a sign of a rare hybrid displaying human parentage. Their sexual dimorphism between the sexes is not yet obvious in clothed individuals. Adolescence begins at the age of nine in most individuals. The Wetha grow to heights of five feet, while Wethae are typically three and a half feet, though some grow as tall as four feet. Wetha begin heat cycles starting shortly after reaching their adult heights, and Wethae require one more year before their bodies become fertile. It is during this year that they are encouraged not to run from the Wetha, and to claim one as her life-mate. The claiming process appears brutal towards the Wetha, but I have never heard any reports of pain. To claim a mate, a Wethae will slice the tips of a Wetha's textures away. Due to the lack of pain and bleeding, one can assume the ridges and spines have no nerve endings or blood. Once claimed, a Wetha will cease going into heat. During adulthood, the spines fall off unclaimed Wetha, and their heat cycles fade. Their ridges are intact, and this is the difference between claimed and unclaimed adult penises. There are few changes to the Weth during adulthood, save they occasionally grow broader (Wetha) and shorter (Wethae). Their wild instincts fade into calm, and they become pleasant neighbors. Finally, they begin to decline at seemingly-random points in their life span. Once they begin to show facial folds and wrinkles, it is usually assumed they will die in four to ten years. Other signs of their end-of-life decline include loss of mobility and flexibility, pain in the joints, and increasing ennui. Abilities: Although fae-like in appearance (described below), Weth lack any inherent magical ability. They have an increased ability to navigate soft or sticky terrain. They also posses sub-human strength and stamina, though their increased dexterity, vision, increased and accurate memory, and senses of smell and touch can lead to a prosperous career in alchemy, textiles, cooking, and more. Sexual Dimorphism: Wetha are typically five feet tall during adulthood, and weigh up to 120 pounds. They have broad shoulders, wide hands, and heavy thighs. They possess the genitals described under the Breeding section. Wethae rarely grow to four feet tall. Their weight is typically 45 pounds, but can grow up to 60 pounds. Differences from the Wetha include narrow shoulders, wide hips, and slender limbs that give them the appearance of dislocated pelvic joints. Among the Wethae, genitalia has a subtle outward appearance in contrast to the complexity within. Their outer labia are smooth and streamlined, giving them a neuter appearance until the individual is aroused or the labia are pried apart. Once the outer labia have opened, the inner labia (which resemble a wide, stretched rubber band) swell to three times their size, which aids in keeping the outer labia open. While Wethae lack a visible clitoris, comparably nerve-rich tissue is found within the inner labia and the soft flesh it surrounds. There are two holes in this soft, nerve-rich flesh: the urethra and the vaginal entrance. The urethra retreats during arousal, and the vaginal entrance gapes. Visually, this entrance is angled toward the stomach. I was not allowed permission to use a speculum for internal viewing. Appearance: Most of the Weth's physical traits are the same across both sexes, and can be described with relative ease. Their hairless and equally pore-less and smooth skin is naturally black, though may fade to another color as it moves toward the center of the body. From the elbows and knees to the fingers and toes will always remain black, along with their abnormally child-like snub noses, the skin along the scalp and in a line down their spine, and their entire tail. Their secondary colors range from dusty blues and violets to shades of grey, and the rare earth-tones. Discovery of a Weth with a human-like secondary skin tone is almost impossibly rare. Weth have massive eyes, always black, and vaguely discomforting. They have pupil and iris structures, but aside from shining a light into the pupil to reflect back in red or dissecting an eye from the body I was given, these structures were impossible to differentiate. Each eye is roughly two inches wide and one and three-fourths inches tall. Slightly less fascinating than their eyes, their mouths (described above, in Diet) are surprisingly small, and they have none of the overbite a human might, save in the rare occasions when they claim to use cutlery. Their ears are similarly small, but pointed and tear-drop shaped, with no visible lobes. They are positioned between nose and eyes on either side of the face, and can rotate and shift. Rapidly-wagging ears seem to indicate excitement, while ears dropped indicate ennui or terror, and ears partly-dropped display sadness. I assume increased movement and lift to the ears indicate more positive emotions, reflective of the energy taken to move them. Their arms resemble human limbs, though always have black from elbow to fingertip. Fingers end in pointed black nails that do not grow back when clipped, unless the entire nail is removed (I did not perform this: a volunteer performed it of his own volition, seemingly proud of the ability). Also of note, they have only three fingers and a thumb. Their legs begin to blacken and harden just above the knees, until they end in bone-hard points approximately where a human ankle might be. Their knees are subtle in appearance, with smooth skin around the joints that stretches and compresses without signs of folding. Due to the nature of these pointed feet, they struggle with navigating smooth and hard surfaces, and often plow the dirt floors inside their homes if they become too hard for their points (called toes among the Weth) to penetrate. History: [After stating he would ask about history, the researcher disappeared. Above are his prior findings, instead we, his fellows, have opted to include the accepted history, offered by a bluntly-spoken elderly Wethae who claims to have been present during the events described.] We lived among the clouds. Our city was beautiful, and would have stayed that way, except a bunch of smoke came up, and none of us could breathe. We had to leave, so we began to evacuate, mostly by jumping and hoping, but some of us were smart and used cloth sails to keep from smashing onto the ground. Eventually, the city moved enough that we weren't in a dying panic, and the ones left above made a platform that could lift and lower people. A few people stayed up there, but us idiots who didn't go back up when it moved to safer skies were left when it started to cross the ocean. Anyway, from there we started to breed so our children or grandchildren could go back to our city when it next passes over us. We're here out of convenience, because you humans have food, water, and shelter readily available for us. We just have to offer skills and be nice. [Although this recollection does not include the full history of the Weth people, it may offer insight to whoever might read this.] Bearasite - Zombie Turtle (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Classification: Parasite Designation: Bearasite Appearance: Bearasites start their lives as a worm-like creature no longer than half an inch and no bigger around than a few millimeters. They are the pink-grey of pale, decaying flesh, but this appearance is only temporary. The majority of their lives they look nothing like that. They range in size from one foot tall (30.5 cm) to three feet tall (91.5 cm) and are covered in a soft, cuddly fur. Their eyes are generally round, black, and glassy with cute, round ears high up on either side of their head. Short rounded muzzles protrude from the front of their faces, though their mouths do not open. They have no teeth. Their arms and legs are relatively the same length and typically they do not have hands or feet; if hands and feet are present they typically lack definition. In short, their chosen hosts are children’s teddy bears. They do not look like anything that should be feared, in fact they look comforting and soft. Behavior: Shortly after hatching they wiggle their way into the world, drawn towards the life force of children in the same way migratory birds are drawn toward the southern hemisphere. Once finding their first victim they make themselves part of their victim’s daily life. Embedding into a favorite teddy bear, they spread out, growing until they’ve woven themselves into the very fabric of that beloved toy. They go everywhere with the child, becoming his or her best friend and slowly leeching the child’s life force all the while gaining more musculature. The bearasite gradually gains the ability to move the stuffed animal, but lays still with the dulled life force of an adult is nearby. Parents believe their child’s imagination is developing quite nicely and rarely notice anything off until it’s much too late. The children become lethargic, and sickly. They’re taken to the doctors, and the doctors are unable to find anything physically wrong with them the parents are advised to allow their children to rest. They’re put into bed with their teddy bear for comfort, giving the bearasite the perfect opportunity to finish the job. Once the last ounce of life has been drained from the child the bear gets up and walks away to find another child in need of a cute, and cuddly teddy bear. Weaknesses: Unknown. They do not starve. They cannot be hacked to pieces. Fire seems to slow them down, but preliminary tests show they eventually crawl out of the ashes. Lifespan: Unknown. As of now there is not enough information to determine a lifespan, though it appears they do not age. IT REFUSES TO BE FORMATTED Emote Changeling - AmerillaRose I'a O Pelemaka - Lovelessesbutterfly (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) I'a O Pelemaka vary greatly in size and looks, but there are averages and there are consistencies. Made of rock and lava, these women were spurned by their people and bare their hatred openly. Often times stirring the volcano's to erupt themselves. On average they are between 7-8 foot long due to their tail, and almost resemble a mermaid and/or siren. Their screeches cause the earth to rumble, though barely audible to humans. It may sound like a low humming in their ears. Color's also vary somewhat. But all of them are made of similar substances, just like how each layer of earth that magma makes is slightly different than the next, and sometimes it can be completely different. But all have similar colors to them. Tending in the black/grey and Orange/red color scheme... where their skin is most likely to be a mix. Their hair is typically lava/magma as well as their tails, and they seem ti have an armor that covers their body made of stone. Not touchable by human hands, unless you want to lose one, these vicious beauties have lived their second lives out in the volcano's of the Hawaiian islands. If one of them could be weighed, the average weight would be around 300 pounds. They do have hands, but they can only grab rocks to put into the magma or eat. Their sharp teeth, able to break down any rock, and their throats able to handle the most heated temperatures. Most anyone would be scared of a beast like this. One that can literally melt you just like lava and magma can. Not only that but their red eyes and sharp teeth do add a bit to the fear factor. Werewolf - Hisoka Kobayashi (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Untold Origin of the Werewolf Many people believe that werewolves are nothing more than a made up myth.That they're just terrifying ,bloodthirsty, fictional creatures. Used to scare kids and teenagers, so they won't stay out late and get into any trouble.Unfortunately,they all have no idea just how wrong they really are.There is nothing fictional about werewolves and this is their untold origin.It was during the 15th century, on the night of a full moon when the trouble all began.A young 14 year old boy and three of his male friends, had snuck out late at night to go to an old woman's home. The woman was said to be a practitioner of black magic but the boy was a skeptic and his friends were to foolish to know better.They had decided to steal an item from her home.More specifically a book.The boy's friends distracted the woman while he quietly snuck into her home and stole her book of spells and rituals.With the book in his possession he met up with his friends and to pove that magic was fake he choose a demon summoning ritual.After following the instructions the young boys to their surprise ,summoned a wolf demon that swiftly attacked them. The boys friends were torn apart by the demon and the boy was being attacked by it when the witch appeared.She quickly cast a spell temporaily binding the beast and told the boy that she would spare his life but at a cost.She told him that he would have to accept whatever punishment she chose to give him for stealing her book.Scared for his life he accepted the deal and the witch undid the ritual that summoned the wolf demon forcing it to return to the depths of hell.After the wolf demon was gone the witch told the boy that his punishment would be a curse.Noticing that the beast had bitten his right arm she decided to curse him to become a violent, supernatural beast.A beast similar to the one that had bitten him but his transformation would only occur on a full moon.Otherwise he would appear to be human but rapidly heal like the wolf demon.He would possess all of the demon's strengths and weaknesses.The boy grabbed the silver cross he wore around his neck and started to pray.So the witch added onto his curse that should silver ever touch his skin again that it would harm him.She told the boy that his curse would be complete by the rising of the next full moon.Also that if he bit or scratched anyone that they too would be cursed for the rest of their life as well.The frightened boy quickly got up and ran away as the witch stood there laughing because she knew no one could help him. Legend has it that when the next full moon came.That an almost demonic,beastly howl could be heard in the distance and in the light of the full moon.A large,unidentifiable beast covered in thin, silver fur that when it stood on it's hind legs was 10 feet tall was seen in the woods.It was said to have piercing yellow irises surrounded by black sclera,3 inch long razor sharp claws and a head three times the size of a man's.It's body had the physic of a well muscled warrior as well as large wolf ears twice the length of a normal wolf's ears and a long wolf tail.It's hind legs resembled a longer version of a man's legs.Although from the ankles down were large wolf paws that had six toes and it's front paws were more like the clawed hands of a man.It's forearms were somewhat longer than a man's arms and it's face was hairless with a short snout giving it an almost human looking face.It's large,sharp teeth protruded from the sides of it's mouth and the bridge of it's black wolf-like nose was wrinkled as well as it's forehead.It's body always smells like a mixture of skunk and rotting flesh.Unless it gets it's fur wet then it smells like wet dog,skunk and rotting flesh. After the creation of the first werewolf many more began to appear and over the centuries much has been learned about them.Such as, due to their regenerative ability they are said to have a life span of at least 1,800 years to 2,450 years, unless killed sooner.Most of them have pale grey skin but some have black or light brown skin and unlike the stories they have three eyes.As well as two hearts and thick stomach with a second set of two and a half inch long fangs to go with it.The males are said to easily weight over 900 pounds while females weight about 600 pounds.Their gender ratio is believed to be 8 males to 5 females with their habitat mostly being the forest and mountains.When it comes to mating they mostly mate when in their human form but they will also mate when in their wolf form.Their mating begins with the male and female fighting eachother. Only after the male proves he's strength does the female allow him to mate her and like wolves after mating they are tied together for awhile.In their human form they are known to be anywhere they choose so it's safe to say that their habit is really nearly anywhere.Werewolves are swift running,agile predators with a keen since of smell as well as keen eyesight and hearing.As powerful as they are even a strong man armed with a gun, almost has no chance against one.So if you're ever unfortunate enough to come face to face with one you'd better hope that it kills you swiftly. Anyone who knows the truth knows that, if you should survive a werewolf attract you will wish for death. PART TWO: THE ENCOUNTER REVIEWS AND CRITIQUES Untitled - The Punomti - IntrusivePenDesperateSword (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) T’was a dark night, darker than most, in which the moonlit forest seemed to bustle with more shady forms of life and undeath. In the center of the dim wooden sea, stood like an island, a single hill, atop which was built a grand mansion. Its windows flowing over with hopeful light, and the voices from inside cheering and chatting to the beat of elegant but festive music, the mansion shone like a beacon in this remarkable night. Indeed, inside the marvellous mansion, dapper gentlemen in pressed tailcoats and ladies wearing only the most glamorous gowns and frocks, mingled and rubbed shoulders in their ornate masks, with countless servants rushing to and fro, and the elegant, the particularly splendid Master of the mansion and his beautiful Lady overlooking it all. On a party like such, where all and everyone invited were free to enjoy the great beauty assembled in the mansion, love was bound to occur. Every once in awhile, between the grand tocks of the grandfather’s clock in the main staircase, a couple would find themselves dancing together, bound by the combined forces of infatuation and the moment, their eyes locked at each other, and their next intentions far more hedonistic. So what would you then do, accompanied only by your dear in search of a place in the mansion to be alone in, hopefully a tad more romantic? Why, what better place than the mansion’s glorious gardens. Here, row after row of colorful flowers and every other blooming cherry tree make up the only thing separating the grassy paths around the back part of the building. The occasional bench lit by a single lamp post underlined the subdued and serene aesthetic of the place. Clearly, to those wanting to be alone with their date for the masquerade, the gardens seemed like the perfect choice. And it would be, had it not been for that in order to access this living artwork of romance, one would have to cross a conspicuously placed rectangular patch of grass, like a small outdoor hallway. Alone that may sound like nothing of any slight concern, although through means unknown to most visitors of the mansion, there stands a few trees in the way. ~*~ The old, wooden door creaked open. Click, click, said their shoes. They laughed and talked, innocently and ignorantly headed towards the garden. The garden. How I despised that place. It was nothing but enslavement and suffering and enforced conforming to their wretched aesthetic. Oh, how they all made me feel sick. If I of course had a stomach and a single body. Nonetheless, they were headed in my direction. Stepping on the dirt silenced their shoes. Finally. Lighthearted chatting filled the passage, marking the arrival of a couple. Like many others, they sought the charm of the gardens, but did nonetheless continue flirting all the way there. Compliments, gossip, and a banter-ish form of jokes scuttered back and forth between the two lovers. The man was, like most other gentlemen attending the party, dressed in what could be any other tailcoat, but with an assortment of shiny medals adorning his chest, and his face bearing, in between the wrinkles, a dashing scar. Their horrid conversation continued for what felt like an eternity, until the two intrusive fools at last approached me. The woman’s sickly long dress rubbed onto my roots. How I wished to just end the two of them right then. But of course not, a curse always has it catches, and I had to live with mine. I just couldn’t stand their flattering speech any longer. It was with utter relief I could finally approach them back. Conversation halted, and shocked gasps were quick to take its place. Before them, consisting of the entangled branches of the six trees, stood a woman. Woman in a rather broad sense, anyhow. She was still simply a writhing mass of branches of almost serpentine litheness. A writhing mass of branches that lend out its hand, staring longingly at the man with its wooden eyes. A chilly breeze crept through the area. The man took a protective stance over his accompanying lady, who stepped back instinctively. “What in the name of Asmodeus is this arboreal curse,” muttered the man to himself, before using the arm which stopped the woman from proceeding to draw his rapier. “Fear not, my lady,” he told her reassuringly, “whatever this infernal creature is capable of, I am certain I’ll be able to protect you from it.” Empty promises, the man gave. Flattered, but still anxious sighs, the woman returned. Hideous. Of course, a fight was nothing I was to pick. When I made encounters with people, I ensured it’d be on my premises. And they did not include swords. His words didn’t exactly calm me either. But what could he have done? He clearly didn’t know I could hear them. I’m curious about whether they would have acted differently, had they known. The “woman” put on a saddened face, only strengthening her longing expression. All of her facial details were, of course, hardly visible, due to her face being a writhing mass of branches. Still, something changed within the man. “...Perhaps it, whatever this thing is, wishes to tell us something?” He turned his face to the wooden creature, slowly lowering his rapier. “Ahem, we’re terribly sorry to have frightened you. I was wondering,” he paused, releasing his sword to be welcomed by the ground, “if we may pass?” Fool. Heinous fool. It was without effort my roots chained his sword to the ground, never to be recovered as long as I’m alive and my body isn’t all gone. It was with minimal effort my human avatar shot forward to morph into a hand and grab around the woman. It was with little effort the branches making up said hand shook off the man clinging to it. It was with a lot of noise I started devouring the woman. She attached to one tree easily enough, but her screaming. It was unbearable. I was as if paralyzed. The man, mercilessly flung into the nearby wall for his brave attempt to save his beloved, would have passed out, had it not have been for the in a morbid way revitalizing screams of fear and agony of his accomplice. Struggling to get on his feet, he rolled up the sleeves of his now slightly ragged suit in a desperate and futile attempt at tearing at whatever twig or leaf he could manage. To his surprise, as he got closer, the trees didn’t seem to move. Which he would have taken for granted any other day. He stepped up, and he swung with his bare fists, and he tugged and snared and tore. The trees’ bark and leaves were flung in all directions, as the man rummaged around in the labyrinth of wooden tentacles. By the end of his momentary rush of energy, he found himself standing atop the tree opposite of his lady. Said lady was also near the end of her screaming, unfortunately. With whatever left he had, he lept, threw himself over the disarmingly large distance. Her lungs were out of air, her voice out of power. But she could hold out her hand. And he could grab it. And I could grab him. I could, of course, crush him, and stop the current human nuisance to my existence for now, but I decided over it. Making things a bit harder for him would possibly be more enjoyable. If I had a brain that could react to dopamine, that is. It was with little effort a few of my branches tore their held hands apart and flung the man far away, into the seemingly never-ending dark forest. I heard little more of him. And the woman? She died hopelessly ever after. Untitled - Poetlore (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Darren Arach had been following his target for a week, and he'd seen her enter this very party only a few short minutes ago. The fact that he had not been invited posed a bit of a dilemma for him, but not one he could not overcome. He had simply waited in the shadows until a single attendee appeared and using his charm and grace had lured the poor woman to her doom. He partook of the rejuvenating snack, and then helped himself to her invitation. Saluting her clean bones before making his way to the door, he bowed his head to the attendant at the door as he presented the invitation. Once inside it was no difficult matter to find the target, he could feel the tingling along his arms and legs that signaled her proximity. That awareness was the greatest thrill of this stalking that he engaged in these past four years. The sweet anticipation of seeing the shock and horror on her face was his reward, and the revenge of every male of his kind. He had never been one to succumb to the normal, and he was definitely NOT going to be some woman's meal. NO, that was not going to be his end. The very idea that he would not accept his fate was his greatest weapon against the females. Their arrogance and belief that all the males were a slave to the mating dance, that they could not control those urges, were the females' greatest weakness and one he had learn to exploit to perfection. There was nothing quite like the taste of a female's flesh, he could already feel the warmth of it inside his mouth, sending that now familiar tingling to all eight of his extremities. She was sitting in a dark corner, so predictable. she was stunning, as they all were but she had that smug look about her, and she was licking her fingers. She had just eaten, how very fitting. She would be more amenable to his charms if she was sated in that way. He sauntered over to her and smiled his practiced charming smile. "I see you have been partaking of the festivities," he said as he bowed and lifted her hand to kis her knuckles, "Would you perhaps like to have a go at seconds?' he asked looking up at her over her hand as his lips caressed those alabaster knuckles. "I would indeed," she replied as she stood and slipped her hand down to twine her fingers with his and lead him to her private little place. He just smiled as he followed her, his free hand sliding into the pocket of his jacket to wrap around the shooter located there. Once inside the room, she turned on him and took the typical aggressive posture of the females when faced with a mating male. He dodged her though and rolled across the room in an agile and practiced movement that had proven to be enraging to the females in the past. He smiled and tipped his head, "Now, now, beautiful," he said with a sneer, "Not so fast." Confusion masked her face, and he smiled even wider as he fired the weapon at her and he watched as the sticky goo grew and attached her to the wall. He tipped his head as he approached. "Quite the predicament," he said smoothly, "Whatever will you do?" He asked as he took his time to let her absorb the situation fully. "What do you think you are doing?" she asked with venom in her voice as she struggled to free herself from the goo. He leaned a bit closer and winked at her, "I would that is evident my dear," he said in that rich velvet baritone voice, "I am going to kill you...very slowly. Just like you have killed the mating members of our species for countless years." Her eyes widened and then flashed fire and indigence. He was undaunted, "You will find dear," he said as he produced a long knife, "That the more you struggle, the tighter the grip of the goo will become. Fear not though, I will not leave you thus forever." Moving to her side her slipped the knife into the goo and cut off her right arms above the elbow. He pulled them from the goo and went to sit on the bed and eat them while she watched in horror. That was the best part for him, their reaction to his enjoyment of the meal. "You females really do taste fantastic," he said as he finished and moved to her left side to repeat the process. "You know dear," he said as he returned to his seat on the bed, "If you females would communicate with one another, you might have known one of our kind was killing your kind and been able to protect yourself. Pity really that you are all so sure of your prowess, is it not?" She began tossing curses and insults of every color and kind at him but he just smiled, "Ah yes," he said as he approached her again and this time removed her legs, all four at once. "Still trying to intimidate me even though it is more than obvious you are going to meet your end soon enough. I rather enjoy watching it though, so do continue." Watching him slowly devour her was something of an oddity to her that had her suddenly interested in being mated. She turned her tactics to that end and actually begged him to mate with her. "Pity I am not even slightly interested, is it not?" He was used to this as well. Every single female had begged, and he had heeded none of them. "I do like the begging. Feel free to continue, though sadly we are almost done here." He slipped the knife into the middle of the good and sliced off her abdomen. He pulled the bulbous form from the goo and smiled at it. "Ahh the most luscious part," he smiled and knelt before her to partake of his feast. When he stood her eyes were glazed and though she was not dead, she was very near to being so. "Ah my dear," he said as he leaned closer, "You die too easily," he said as he shoved the knife into her heart and watched as life left her. He cut the goo away and finished the meal leaving nothing behind except the gooey traces on the wall and strolled back out to the soiree, a satisfied smile on his handsome lips.