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The Blue Mage's Book of Fantastic Beings
Thread Creator (Edited on
I thought I might post this here and give this forum some fresh blood. While writing my Sands of Time story, I've mentioned more than a few of the monsters from FFVI in its pages. Whenever I brought a monster into the story, I always wanted to give it its own backstory, talk about it, explore all its interesting monster bits. The monsters are usually just a diversion or nod back to the game, however, and it wouldn't be proper to fill pages of my story up with info on them.
So, to get that bug out of my system, I decided to start writing a sort of companion piece to Sands of Time. Whenever I bring a monster into the story, however briefly, I am going to write up a little bestiary entry for it here. The entries are written by Strago, FFVI's resident monster lore expert, 14 years after the game ends. I have written these entries in a similar style to Jorge Luis Borges's "Book of Imaginary Beings", which I am fairly certain was actually one of the source materials for Square when they were first pulling creatures from myth and folklore, and a wonderful little bestiary in its own right.
I just started this a week ago, so I have some catching up to do, and am writing about an entry a day to get all the beasties I've referenced so far covered. No knowledge of my other story are needed, since this is written from Strago's perspective, and my story is a distant prequel, forgotten by the people of the present for the most part. There are of course references to my story as Strago talks about the history of some of the creatures, but they are small and everything is explained within each entry as if he is talking to someone who has never heard of the creature.
So, here is my little FFVI bestiary thing. If you liked the "Best of the Bestiary" fragment lore from FFXIII-2, then this will be right up your alley. Oh, and there are no illustrations, despite my mentioning of it. That was just for flair. Now...if one of FFO's/FFS's many talented artists reading this wants to whip up something for an entry they like...by all means, unleash your inner Relm! I'll be sure to post it here alongside the entry.
The Blue Mage's Book of Fantastic Beings
by Strago Magus
Illustrated by Relm Arrowny
Compiled by Cid del Norte Marguez
My name is Strago Simonius Magus. I am what you would call an expert in the field of monsters. This book is my attempt to make a complete and accurate bestiary of all the fantastic beings that have inhabited our world, both in the present and in the past. A Blue Mage by training and heritage, it is my foremost desire and goal in life to study, observe, and learn from all the strange and wondrous beasts that roam this world of ours.
And yes, to hunt them.
For many are the creatures that inhabit our planet which would strike me down without provocation or remorse, and I must always be ready to slay them in their turn. I have been blessed with the powerful and magical blood of the ancient Magi, and am well equipped to handle myself in the wilds, even in the extreme age I now find myself.
Even more fortunate for me, I have roamed both the world as it was and the world as it is now, seeking out her forbidden histories and secrets to their fullest. In my younger days I traveled the world seeking adventure, hoping to hone my skills as a Blue Mage. My magical blood calls out to the wild, and when that call is answered, I feel a resonance within me. This resonance gives rise to new, sometimes strange abilities, known as Blue Magic. These unusual and unpredictable powers more often than not have no magical basis outside of my own reproducing of them, but magic they are called nonetheless.
But I digress. Give an old man his diversions, if you may. For many decades, I sought out monsters and learned from them. As I grew in years, my ability and desire to travel far from home diminished, until one particular adventure ended that dream for what I thought would be the rest of my remaining life. I will come to that tale in its own time, as it, too, has a place in this bestiary. What is important is that through a strange series of events and tragedies, I once again found myself traveling the world with a group of warriors, you may have heard of them, and the dormant fires of the Blue Mage were reignited within me.
Shortly after my rebirth as a practicing Blue Mage, the great Collapse befell our world, and for a time, I was lost in my own dark thoughts of loss and regret. Thanks to my wonderful granddaughter, whose peerless works populate the pages of this bestiary and truly bring it to life in a way only her touch can, I was returned to the world of the living, so to speak. But it was a strange world, unlike the one I remembered. All manner of horrid abominations now roamed the land, seas, and skies. Many lost monsters were now found, and great beasts thought extinct were revived. It was a nightmarish zoo of predator and prey, the hunted and the hunter. But I am a hunter by trade, and I gained many new skills as I rejoined my warrior band in their heroic attempt to save our slipping world.
And yes, as any school child knows, the world was indeed snatched from the brink of destruction. For many this was a time of blackest despair and hopelessness, but I will not lie -- a part of me reveled in this newfound feast for my mind and body. There were more monsters than I could count, and more varieties than I had ever thought possible, all with powers I had never dreamt could exist. It seemed all the dead, forgotten, and mythical beasts and demons of all the ages of the world had been released in the Collapse.
Even after the defeat of that foulest of fiends, the God of Magic, these aberrations persisted, and I spent several years hunting them down in an attempt to bring some normalcy to our struggling world. I would say I succeeded fairly well, with some help from our ever humble warrior-heroes on occasion. Now, ten years later, I am very old, and fear I only have a few years left to me. The world is at peace, many of the more dangerous creatures have been dealt with, and I find myself with little to do but reminisce on my past exploits.
This bestiary is my last, great contribution to our world. I have spent countless years delving into the deepest secrets of our past to uncover all that there is to know about the menagerie of monsters that inhabited our world, and now I have put that vast knowledge down in writing. Many are those who have helped make this work a reality.
My granddaughter, Relm, with her inimitable ability to speak with and control all manner of beast, as well as her prodigious talent for bringing those creatures to life with her brush. Without her constant support, I would never have had the energy for this undertaking. Her limitless optimism and exuberance is the fountain of youth that allows me to live each of my own days to its fullest.
The Ex-Imperial scientist, and fellow historian, Cid, whose tireless efforts to unlock the secrets of our world has opened up avenues of study for me that I would never have suspected still remained on this planet. If he outlives me, I entrust this work to his care, for there is no other soul alive who is more attuned to my own passions than he. I sometimes wonder if there isn't a little Blue Mage in him as well, for his fanaticism and uncanny ability to understand almost any mystery I put before him truly seems magical.
Gung-Ho, my lifetime companion and friend, and fellow hunter and Blue Mage. Whenever I faltered, he was always there to lift me up, either with his sword or with a kind word(or a rude one!). You left this world before me, my friend, but your spirit will always be by my side. I dedicate this work to you and your memory.
All of the warrior-heroes, the Returners: Terra, Edgar, Sabin, Locke, Celes, Cyan, Gau, Setzer, Gogo, Mog, Umaro, and of course, Shadow. Without their efforts both before the fall and afterwards, I would never have found myself in this position. Each of them also brought to the table their formidable knowledge and experience with the more violent beasts of the world, and saved me much time and effort in hunting these formidable foes by myself.
And last, but not least, Maduin, the mighty Esper whose great work,
An Esper's Compendium of Magical Beasts
, was the source for many of my theories and histories. Without his own prodigious attempts to uncover and catalog the history and beasts of the ancient world, both before and after the War of the Magi, I would be as a blind man poking around in the dark. I wish I could have talked more with this kindred spirit, this warrior-historian of a bygone era. But his world is no more, and all I have left are the dusty relics of his forgotten past.
I have said enough. Let this work speak for itself, and hopefully both enlighten and entertain a curious world for generations to come. I have much to be thankful for, but of all the things I have done in my life, it is this great work that I hope will become my legacy.
--Strago Simonius Magus
Thamasa, 14 AF
Haunting the abandoned caves of Narshe before the Fall are the enigmatic Vaporite, so called because of their vapor-like bodies that seem to have no form at all. Also called Spritzers by those in the Figaro region, these clumps of magical gas are relatively harmless to normal folk. One could wave them away as easily as a puff of smoke.
As a mage, I have had the unpleasant experience of seeing the more deviant side of these spirits, however. For centuries, it was a mystery what kept the gas clumps together, and how they fed or reproduced. Once magic was rediscovered, and people began applying its proven existence to the natural world, the mystery of the Vaporite was solved. These creatures were living magical conglomerations, like giant amoebas. They normally fed on the tiny amount of ambient wild magic that permeated the world before the Fall. Once they fed enough, they simply split into a new Vaporite, fully-formed, and the process continued. With the loss of magic, so too did Vaporites gradually fade away and die out. I doubt there are many who would miss the pests, who were more annoying than they were interesting.
Normal people that lack magical power took little notice of these creatures, and being non-magical, the creatures took little notice of them. But put a mage in their midst, and watch as they would flock to him like flies to a carcass. Singly, they were not much of a threat, but when a concentrated source of magic presented itself, watch out! Swarms of the pests would attach themselves to the unlucky victim, and in a few minutes all magical power would be drained. This usually resulted in unconciousness at the least, which is an unfavorable condition in the untamed deeper parts of the Narshe Mines, where more flesh-hungry beasts lurk in wait.
Although these creatures primarily inhabited the mines of Narshe before the Fall, they were also known to appear on the outskirts of Mt. Koltz, albeit rarely. The ones that appeared there were usually referred to as Spritzers, although the creatures were identical. Why they seem focused on the mines of Narshe was a mystery until I uncovered the great book,
An Esper's Compendium of Magical Beasts
, by the legendary Esper warlord and historian, Maduin. He, too, studied the strange creatures, and theorized that the creatures originally coelesced from the first wave of wild magic that rushed out from Crescent Mountain on the day magic was brought into the world. Where the waves grew thick along the ancient laylines of elemental power, magic condensed into various tangible forms. Depending on the environment, many strange entities were born. The cold air and falling snow of the Narshe Mountains were given a sort of primordial lifeforce by the wild magic, and thus Vaporites began popping up wherever particularly cold eddies of wind howled through that deep valley.
During the year after the Fall, Vaporites were only rarely seen . This was not due to lack of magic to feed on, though, as the chaos following the Fall drastically increased the amount of ambient magic in the world for the short year before magic ceased to exist altogether. During that time, the intrinsically unstable nature of the loosely formed Vaporites underwent a sort of hyper-evolution. Where once the small, bluish clouds gathered, now great golden masses of uncontrolled magic grew like weeds. These super Vaporites, called Psychots, were extremely violent and would suck the lifeforce from anything they encountered, magical or no. The proliferation of such dangerous vermin was part of the reason Narshe had to be abandoned after the Fall. Unlike the regular beasts that lurked in Narshe, these Psychots could pass through solid rock and house walls. Like phantom arrows, they struck without warning or mercy, stealing the lives of countless victims while they slept, ate, worked, or played. Thankfully, once magic vanished, so too, did the Psychots, as well as their lesser forms, the Vaporite. Now, these strange spirits of pure magic exist only in annals such as these, and as they were pure parasites that added nothing to any ecosystem they were found in, this can only be a blessing.
-The Red Fang-
There are few beasts as ferocious and tenacious as the dreaded Red Fang of Jidoor. These battle hounds have roamed the plains of the western continent for centuries, the lost pride of a lost era. With their crimson fur and bloody disposition, these creatures have earned their names through countless fatal encounters with unwary travelers. Their poison fangs and terrifying cries have earned them a place in the nightmares of many a Kohlingen child, and to this day they remain an ongoing dilemma for our peacekeeping efforts.
What may come as a surprise to many non-Jidoorans is the fact that these dogs were once domesticated war hounds of the Jidoor army, trained to serve their masters faithfully. The times when any human could hope to control the Red Fangs has long since been buried in generation upon generation of feral regression. The only hint of their past servility is their higher than normal intelligence and seemingly impossible strength and abilities. Only a strict, human-guided regiment of breeding for savagery and brute force could have produced such perfect killing machines as these, and only master trainers could hope to tame them. It is a shame the secret of training these deadly predators has been lost to us, for the only predators these creatures have on the plains between Jidoor and Kohlingen are themselves. Even man is just another type of prey to these abominations.
The actual name "Red Fang" may seem appropriate enough in its own right for the beasts, but according to Jidoor records, this was actually the name of the brigade that bred and commanded them originally. At some point the brigade was annihilated and forgotten by history, but the hardy dogs managed to survive and spread across the entire western coastline even after their masters were destroyed. Nowadays, their intensely efficient breeding has allowed them to survive even the most thorough attempts at eradication, and they have become the apex predators of the western plains.
And if their man-made brutality wasn't enough, the flowing magical energy and shifting landmasses of the Collapse have added a new dimension to the twisted legacy of the Red Fang brigade. After the Fall, the Red Fangs managed to find their way into the mountains of Narshe, much to the horror of the already beleaguered inhabitants of that region. Through some infernal combination of genes and magic gone wild, the Red Fangs interbred with the Silver Lobos of the north to create an even more deadly and bloodthirsty monster. These hellhounds were dubbed Red Wolves, and were even more vicious and bloodthirsty than either the Red Fangs or Silver Lobos, if it can be believed. It was not long before the entire population of Silver Lobos had been driven to extinction, and now only the eerily glowing Red Wolves remain to prowl the harsh terrain of Narshe.
I have worked hard with Locke Cole, Kohlingen's most famous resident and hometown hero, to eliminate both the Red Fangs and Red Wolves from our world, but we have met with only limited success. The engineering of the ancient breeders of Jidoor was truly something to admire, however begrudgingly. Very few creatures were able to adapt and thrive in the new landscape that was created after the Fall as successfully as the Red Fangs and Red Wolves. It seems however much we reduce the Red Fang population, the Red Wolf population more than makes up for our efforts. Soon, there will be no more Red Fangs, and only Red Wolves to contend with. Whether this is a good thing or just the next chapter in the enduring tragedy of the once illustrious Red Fang brigade remains to be seen.
If there is a lesson to be learned from these menaces, it is that not all of the horrors that plague our world were caused by gods, magic and madmen. Sometimes the most difficult problems to solve are the ones well-meaning humans create for themselves.
It may seem strange to include such a seemingly harmless creature as the Leaf Bunny, commonly called Leafers by locals, in this compendium. At first glance, the Leafer appears to be nothing more than a large rabbit with oddly plant-like ears, hence the name. They adore cabbage more than carnage, and are quite commonly kept as pets by the small children of Narshe and Figaro. Their thick, fluffy coats make them adorably soft, and their habit of resting in nests of leaves like some sort of bird can only be described as "cute."
Make no mistake. The Leafer is a predator. It enjoys vegetables when presented with them, but one look at its teeth will tell you to true story of this cuddly chameleon. Two vicious incisors that look more at home on a Silver Lobo greet foreigners who try to get a little too friendly with the animals, and they have been known to hunt in packs in the dark hours of the night, searching out very un-cabbage like meals.
But, they are mostly harmless when treated as the wild animals that they are. Humans are certainly not their prey, and they will only bite if they feel provoked. The people of Narshe and Figaro know these creatures well, and are so adept at handling them that outsiders are understandably confused and appalled when the dog-sized rabbits nip them with their cruel fangs. They are easily domesticated, and a tame Leafer is no more of a threat than a housecat, it is true. This is the mistake outsiders make. Treating all Leafers the same. A wild Leafer is a wild animal, and will act as such in the face of a stranger hand near its mouth and throat.
As far as their place in this bestiary goes, it should be noted that wild Leafers do, in fact, pose a very real threat to travelers making the long trek between the frozen hills of Narshe and the burning deserts of Figaro. They are not vicious, but they are numerous, and it is hard for a person not versed in their habits to act calm in the face of a swarm of these vermin. The Leafers hunt in groups out of their own protection, not being the most fearsome things singly. If a human attempts to get too close, even if it's to shoo them away, the Leafers pack mentality will trigger a most unpleasant encounter. Even a modestly-armed hunter or full-grown, healthy adult is more than a match for one Leafer, but a dozen of them can be dangerous, and in extreme cases, even deadly. It is rare, but there have been instances of particularly ill-mannered travelers being taken down and killed by the angry beasts.
A traveler must remember just two things when dealing with the Leafer. One, it is more afraid of you than you are of it. And two, it has been here longer than you have. The plains of Figaro have been home to these creatures for as long as any man can remember. Encroaching civilization has had zero impact on their habits and habitats, and as far as they are concerned, humans don't even exist in the natural order of things. Let them be, and they will not bother you. Try to force them to be anything beyond the wild animals they are, and you will be in for a very un-adorable encounter.
(It should be noted that this entry was written by me before the Fall, during my first dabblings into the idea of a bestiary. I felt no need or desire to change it, because it gives a glimpse at the lives of these poor creatures unmolested by the stark perspective of our present world. As much as I dislike unhappy endings, this entry would be incomplete if I did not inform the reader of a fact they are surely already aware. There are no more Leafers in our world. Being a benign, harmless looking thing, these sweet, innocent examples of a simpler, less dangerous world were very quickly wiped out by the strange new monsters that now roam the island-desert of Figaro. Their incisors, more than capable of fending off the stray cat or dark wind bird, were no match for the brutal heirs of a dying world.)
On the day the world crumbled, many grotesque creatures crawled up from the forgotten depths of the earth, eager to explore their newfound freedom. One such ancient aberration was the Crawler. Although they are technically worms, their gigantic size lends them a distinctly snake-like appearance. Only their slimy skin, stubby feet, and blind, questing feelers remind us of their true caterpillar-like nature. But what place does nature have when speaking of these abominations?
Poison-covered skin, acid blood, lethal bite, and a bottomless appetite are the hallmarks of the Crawler. An uninformed traveler might look at these things as overgrown pests, to be squashed like the bugs that they are. And it is true that their soft, invertebrate bodies can be smashed with the stomp of a well-placed boot. But to do so is to court a very quick and unpleasant death. Even if you manage to sneak up on one and squash it, you will be surprised to find both your boot and foot missing in a few moments. Their blood, somehow contained within the sac of sickly-green skin that is their body, is highly corrosive and will eat through almost any material as easily as the Crawlers themselves. Only the sturdiest of metals, such as mythril and crystal ore, can safely survive an encounter with Crawler blood.
Of course, the worm's innards are only a problem for those brave and hardy enough to survive an encounter with a living Crawler long enough to draw blood. For far too many, attacks comes from behind and below, the Crawler hidden from their eyes until the moment of death. Just as they silently crawled from their subterranean world on the day of the Collapse, so they continue to hide beneath the surface until ready to strike. The method by which a Crawler hides is a still a mystery to this day, as is the way it lives its life when not preying on its victims. Even the best hunters such as myself can not detect a Crawler until it decides to reveal itself. And by then, it is usually too late to do more than fight for survival.
It is for this reason, combined with the fact that their own acid blood eats away at their corpses until nothing is left, that even after a decade of research, I know little more about these ravenous vermin than I did on the day I first encountered them. What is known is little, and much comes from ancient analects, but every fact is important if we are to combat their threat. And they are a very real threat.
The Crawlers inhabit many different regions of the world, from the southern continent of Jidoor to the northern wastelands of Narshe and the island of Doma. It is my suspicion that they appear on such a large area of our planet, far more than any other creature, due to their subterranean lifestyle. These beasts surely survived just beneath our once-peaceful land in interconnected tunnels that formed a network stretching across our planet like a web. When this web was disturbed by the Collapse and exposed by the countless cracks and fissures of that day, the Crawlers swarmed out in countless numbers like a hive of angry hornets, eager and hungry for new kinds of flesh to devour.
This theory is supported by the fact that Crawler-like monsters have been observed deep underground, in the lost catacombs of Karnak between Figaro and Kohlingen. Called Figaro Lizards, or more colloquially, Figaliz, by the scholars of Figaro Castle, they are much like the Crawlers above ground, both in their serpent-like appearance and love of flesh. As dangerous as the regular Crawler is, these deviants are even more brutal, and their skin is strangely resistant to magic, as I have had the unfortunate experience to discover. It is this powerful barrier against magic that leads me to believe the Figaro Lizards themselves are not natural creatures, but genetic experiments gone feral in the absence of their Magi overlords.
With the help of the Figaro Castle scholars, as well as the records left by the people of Karnak, much has been learned about the Figaro Lizards that I believe can also be applied to Crawlers. As I mentioned, the Figaliz's, to use the local name, strange magic-resisting properties imply a human hand in their genesis. Records from Karnak suggest they were used for surprise attacks against oncoming Magi, and even Espers. Their magical defense would have aided them quite handily against an unprepared mage or Esper, and their acid blood I suspect could even eat through a soldier-class Esper's skin, to say nothing of the tender human flesh of a Magi. A fact that lends credence to my theory is that most of the other unusual monsters that live in the Karnak catacombs are also resistant to magical attack, as were some of the lingering magical constructs that still patrolled the ancient castle proper while magic existed. It truly was a different world during the War of the Magi, and one I am glad remains locked away beneath the waves.
Now, the Crawler has no such magical defenses. But I believe the Crawler was the original basis from which the Figaro Lizard was created. They both have similar abilities and appearance, right down to my own resonance with their hallucination-inducing venom. This strange substance causes the victim to weaken considerably in strength, but without any of the usual signs of poison. During an especially close encounter with the creature I was inflicted with this venom myself, and to my surprise I came away from the experience with the ability to duplicate its effects perfectly as Blue Magic. I have called this ability Dischord, and it has proved one of the few positive things I have uncovered about these menaces. It is this shared venom, identical under examination, that has led me to claim the beasts share a common origin, and that clues to the Crawler's origins can be discovered by studying the history of the Figaro Lizard.
Another clue to the lost story of the Crawler is that no man had ever seen a Crawler before the Collapse, and yet they are one of the most common threats to travelers of our new landscape, and were common enough to be used as a template for the ancient Figaro Lizard. This means, to me, that in the past Crawlers were quite common beasts. What happened between the ancient past and now that forced the Crawlers to hide away deep underground for a thousand years is a mystery still. The only clue I have is a single statement left in Maduin's text,
An Esper's Compendium of Magical Beasts
The Crawler, as this plague-worm has come to be known, poses a serious threat to the stability of our new world. Ever since they crawled out from the ether-infused muck of the Jidorikan mud, they have caused nothing but destruction and mayhem. This squirming chaos continues to spread to every corner of our world virtually unchecked. We few who have natural protection against the Crawler's formidable and unnatural abilities have decided to rid the world of them once and for all. If our plan succeeds, in just three generations the Crawler will invade the surface world no more, and be left to its own devices in the sightless underworld it came from."
Whatever Maduin's plan was, it must have succeeded, and for that I give my thanks. It is up to the few of us in the present that are capable of combating the creature effectively to continue the work of past warriors, and rid
new world of the Crawler menace. The loss of magic seems to have weakened their desire to come to the surface, but their numbers are still at dangerous levels. A single concentrated effort to eradicate them like that of the past is what is needed to stem their tide of mindless destruction. I have discussed wide-reaching plans of extermination with King Edgar, Cid, and Setzer, and they all agree that proper application of modern technology can more than make up for the lack of magic and Espers we now find ourselves burdened with. It is my hope that these three great mechanical minds of our world can bring about the permanent solution to this crawling horror that our magical predecessors were unable to find. I may not be alive when their plan is put into action, but I believe and hope, as I always have, in the power of mankind to solve even the worst problems of our world.
(Note from Cid: I am happy to report that at the time this bestiary was compiled and made available to the public, several years after Strago's death, we were successfully able to resolve the Crawler threat for good. No more will the world suffer from these nightmares from another time and place. The Crawler is dead.)
-The Over Grunk-
There are many strange beasts in this world. Many take the form of animals, alive and moving with intent, and their threat is readily perceived. But our world has always been home to living things that defy simple classification. Not all are a result of the cataclysmic release of magical energy from the Collapse. Many have existed since the War of the Magi, and yes, even before magic itself changed our world forever. The Over Grunk is one of these oddities.
Is it a plant? An animal? Or some hybrid? At first glance, it certainly seems like a plant - long green vines connected together by a thick stalk rooted in place, small orange buds of growth, tipped with poisonous thorns, and no apparent way to move or feed or see or feel. This is all a ruse, however, and if one watches the Over Grunk long enough, you will see that it can move, and move quite fast, when there is a need. And it certainly does feed and feel, for it is a pure carnivore, feeding only on meat. The barbed orange growths both paralyze its prey, poison them, and drain them of their blood. It should be noted that it feeds on the carrion left by other predators more than living flesh, though, and is not quite as malevolent as its potent capabilities would suggest.
The name "Over Grunk" may seem a bit odd to the uninformed, and is actually just a slang term invented by locals. Its proper name is the Paraladia, but it is almost universally known as the Over Grunk due to the immense popularity of the alcohol, which is also called Over Grunk, distilled from the thick juices that flow in its veins. Quite poisonous in its pure state, when properly prepared it is considered a delicacy of the Kohlingen region. Not being one to drink anything besides tea myself, I have asked Setzer how such a fiendish substance can be fit for human consumption. The Gabbianni ancestral home has always been one of the great centers of wine and spirit production, and Setzer himself has prepared the Over Grunk on numerous occasions. I quote him here, for his words explain the allure of this foul drink more than mine ever could:
"There is nothing quite like Over Grunk. The texture, the flair, and yes, the danger. Half the pleasure of this drink is knowing that you take your life into your hands every time you drink it. Did the winemaster properly distill it? Is it really as safe as they say? What if I drink too much? What if it's actually Mandrake blood? These questions are for cowards. Let them stick to their childish drinks of juice and milk. For a drinking man, and for a Gabbianni, there is only one remedy for our ills. And that is Over Grunk, and more Over Grunk! As green as a Malboro's heart and as hot as a Bomb's behind! If you weren't a brave man before taking a sip of this elixir, you will be afterwards. Now then, where's that barmaid...another round for everyone!"
I must admit, the creature has its fans. And therein lies half the danger of the Over Grunk. There have been more deaths due to foolish drunkards wandering into their domain in hopes of gathering their vital fluids than all other Over Grunk attacks combined. Being mostly sessile by nature, the Over Grunk prefers to hide in the shadows of the deeper forests, waiting for its prey to come to it. I have never seen an Over Grunk venture into a single ray of sunlight if it could help it, and I have never in all my years seen one outside of their secluded forest homes. Like many beasts, the Over Grunk is only a real threat to the ignorant or overly brave. Or to the inebriated, as the case may be.
When the creature is threatened and it has no recourse but to fight, a wondrous transformation takes place in its behavior. Where its normal state is that of an innocuous plant, waiting patiently for a meal to stumble close by, when agitated it moves with lightning speed and animal like ferocity. There have been reports of Over Grunk vines extending almost one hundred feet to either dissuade a predator or pursue an unusually swift meal. If you are unlucky enough to venture into the murky heart of some of the largest, oldest forests on the Kohlingen continent you may find yourself surrounded by an entire army of crawling, creeping Over Grunk vines. I have personally witnessed a single specimen of unusual proportions grab a Harpiai right out of the night sky and drag it down into its forest lair. But such occurrences are rare, and the loss of magic has seen an end to the more aggressive strains of Over Grunk.
Many avid drinkers have mourned the loss of the more magnificent examples of the Over Grunk since the loss of magic, claiming only the largest, most violent samples make the best wine. I am not one of those types. If I could, I would rid the world of all Over Grunk, even if it meant ridding the world of one of the few pleasures its people still have from the old days before the world fell. I know my opinion is an unpopular one, and perhaps I am showing my age by sharing it with my readers. My granddaughter, who has also taken a liking to the drink since coming of age, would no doubt call me a "fuddy-duddy" at this juncture. Nonetheless, I have always been adamantly against the pointless problems caused both by alcohol and the methods used to make it. Setzer and I have had many arguments about this in the past, and they will probably continue straight to my deathbed.
But, I digress. If there is one thing my readers should take from this entry, it is that the Over Grunk is a harmless, albeit unusual, creature that only exists in the places humans never travel. They are only a threat to thrill seekers and drunkards who invade their remote territories with the express purpose of hunting them. Just stay far away from Over Grunk, and you will have nothing to fear. That goes for the drink, too.
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Thread Creator (Edited on
Flying high over the area between Figaro and Kohlingen is the dreaded Harpiai, also known as the Marchosias. These enormous, violet-hued and violent-minded birds have always been striking examples of the monstrous animals that inhabit some of the more inhospitable regions of the world. They look like eagles, but their size, nearly ten feet tall with a thirty-foot wingspan, is so out of proportion with the everyday bird of prey as to make the comparison almost laughable.
Before the world fell, these giant birds inhabited the highest peaks of the Karnak mountain range that once separated Figaro from Kohlingen. They only rarely came down from their mountain perches, and sightings of them at all were almost non-existent. Those halcyon days of peaceful traveling ended when the world's landmasses shifted. Mountains fell, oceans rose, and many habitats were changed or lost forever. People tend to think the Collapse mainly affected the lives of us humans, but its effects were acutely felt by every living thing on the face of the earth.
The Harpiai was one such victim of the shift. The Karnak mountains sank into the sea on the day the world fell, and the Harpiai that survived the cataclysm were forced to flee to the lowlands of the newly formed Kohlingen continent. Where these magnificent birds were once stuff of legends, now they posed a very real threat to the populace of that region. Countless lives were lost as the Harpiai struggled to find new prey for their endless gullets.
Unfortunately for us, the Harpiai was more than happy, and more than capable of, feeding on humans. The sheer size of the bird makes a human being the perfect meal for them, and a man can be as easily snatched off the ground by their huge talons as a Leafer would by an ordinary avian predator. And a normal human is as defenseless against this monster as Leafer. The best course of action to take if you spot the all-too-familiar shadow of a Harpiai circling towards you is to run for cover and crouch down, and pray your decreased size makes you a less-appetizing morsel. For make no mistake, if you see a Harpiai it has surely seen you, and total escape is no longer an option.
The best plan is to simply not cross the plains of Kohlingen without a well-armed guide either from Figaro Castle or if you're lucky, a traveling mercenary visiting the Dragon's Neck Coliseum. Small arms are still only a minor deterrent to the thick-skinned creatures, but a heavy-grade Figaro-brand crossbow or one of the remaining machine guns or missile launchers of the defunct Imperial army will suffice to scare the birds into looking elsewhere for their dinner.
Wind-based magic was also once quite effective at disorienting and defeating the Harpiai, but with the loss of magic, mages like myself have found themselves in a sad state against the birds. It is disheartening to feel the acute lack of power my loss of magic has caused me, especially since it hasn't seemed to bother the Harpiai nearly as much. These birds were once masters of wind themselves, capable of conjuring massive whirlwinds with their wings, and even proficient in limited curative wind magic on the rare occasions they were injured. I once took pride in being able to mimic their abilities through the spells I called Aero and White Wind, but those days are behind me now. At least I can take solace in the fact that the loss of wind-power has made it more difficult for the Harpiai to flush out prey, and now at least the thick forests and high-grass plains of Kohlingen are safe from their raids.
A strange facet of the tale of the Harpiai is the history of its very name and the controversy it has caused in academic circles. We have always known the birds as Harpiai. Where the name came from no one knows and it is not of particular interest to scholars. Perhaps it shares its origins with a similarly named bird of prey, called the Harpy, which haunts my homeland isle of Thamasa. What is of interest to scholars, though, are several texts found in the Figaro library, where the name "Marchosias" was used by hunters of the time. We had seen the name before, but it was only until more records were unearthed in the ancient castle of Karnak that we realized the Marchosias and Harpiai were one and the same.
This may seem like a trivial quibble, but for scholars who's noses never rise from their books, these things matter. As more archaic names for modern creatures came to light, a schism began to form between those who thought we should drop our names and use the "proper" original names for the beasts, and those who felt the old names were obsolete and the modern names worked just fine. I admit, being an old man and more versed in ancient lore than most, I was one of the former, and we had many heated arguments between "Harpiaists" and "Marchosians". It all seems silly looking back, but we were men trying to make sense of a disorganized, broken world, and every semblance of order we could hold onto we did with a vengeance. Silly people, scholars...but our hearts are in the right place and our intent is harmless enough, I'm sure you'll agree.
In the end, Harpiai stuck with the common folk, and scholars mostly went with Marchosias. I write this book for all people, commoners and scholars alike, and so I give proper attention to both names here, as I usually do when multiple names exist for the same monster. Regardless of what scholars may decide is important, the true fact remains - these birds are a menace and extreme caution must be taken whenever traversing the Kohlingen plains on foot. Harpiaist or Marchosian, the bird itself does not care which you are. It devours all with impunity.
Few creatures' stories are as riddled with mysteries and folklore as the mighty Latimeria. Named after the legendary Latimeria, who's sleeping breath was said to cause the unusual currents of the Serpent Trench, these giant blind eels are perhaps one of the oddest "living legends" of the modern world. For little did the sailors who discovered the serpentine beasts know how close to the truth they were when they named them after the famous sea monster.
These secretive animals were only recently unearthed, deep at the bottom of the Serpent Trench, and given the initial name of Oceanus. As its likeness to the Latimeria of old became well-known, Oceanus was forgotten by all but scholars and its more fantastic appellation stuck. The first time the name Latimeria appeared in a published book was Cid's seminal work,
Our Strange World
, written in 981 PW, when he was a much younger man and more interested in the beasts of the world than the nightmarish machines of his later years. It is both strange and tragic how his passion for monster lore and technology combined in the bowels of the Imperial laboratories to bring about the ill-fated Magitek revolution. And even stranger is the fact that the Latimeria is, in fact, a forgotten spawn of another magical union. Not just any magical union was the genesis of these beasts, but the very first known to man. The Latimeria is an inherently magical beast, descended from a distant Esper progenitor!
It seems unbelievable, but the creatures we call Latimeria are directly descended from the Latimeria of legend, which itself was born from the union of two Espers. Yes, the titanic serpent as long as a mountain range and capable of devouring even the largest ships whole actually existed, and its presence can be seen today in the comparatively tiny(a mere fifteen feet long!) specimens of its bloodline we see crawling the shores of Figaro. But how could such a thing have existed? And who were the unfathomably ancient Espers that gave birth to such a monstrosity?
Even more unbelievably, I have the answers to those questions. Maduin, in his
An Esper's Compendium of Magical Beasts
, makes special note of the Latimeria of legend. The smaller ones we are familiar with were apparently unknown to him, but he was intimately knowledgeable of the great serpent that spawned them. He claims to have actually encountered the creature, and while he chooses to leave the incident shrouded in vagaries, citing the event as "personal fluff that does not belong in a proper bestiary," it is clear that the original monster is now dead, and has been for well over a thousand years, since before the War of the Magi.
With the help of unnamed Esper colleagues, Maduin explains that the original Latimeria was what was known during ancient times as an "Esperkin," or a monster born from the union of two incompatible Espers. What was meant by "incompatible" I am not sure, but I theorize it is related to the inherent elemental affinities all Espers possessed. He says Esperkin were sometimes intelligent, sometimes peaceful, but always monstrous in appearance, and always ostracized from both human cities and Esper homes as well. In the case of the Latimeria, it was neither intelligent nor peaceful, and as it grew to ungovernable proportions, it was forced to sleep forever under the seas near the former Serpent Trench. Some more fanciful legends claim it was actually put there to protect some forbidden artifact of divine origin, but I do not tend to believe such wild claims.
But who were the Latimeria’s parents? Maduin gives the names of both parents, but only the mother is familiar to me. The father was a seemingly respected Esper of extremely high rank named Genju, of which nothing is known to today's scholars or mages. The Espers were notoriously tight-lipped about themselves, and most of what we know today about their private lives and history either comes from Maduin's book or his daughter, Terra. Neither Maduin nor his book ever divulged exactly who this Genju was, and Terra does not seem to know, or is not willing to tell us, at the very least. She takes after her father in that respect.
Miraculously, though, I have had the pleasure of experiencing the warm, maternal glow of the Esper matriarch myself, and have on more than one occasion been given a new lease on life by her unparalleled restorative powers. This mystery Esper is none other than the famous Phoenix, who's magicite was sought after by countless treasure hunters ranging from our own Locke Cole to even the Emperor Gestahl himself. And so Phoenix, one of the oldest and most revered Espers, brought into this world the dread form of the mindless beast, Latimeria. What twist of fate allowed such a thing to happen? How could the gods allow such a violent beast of pure destruction to be born from a being of pure love and life? I am afraid these questions even I do not have the answer to, and perhaps such lore is too taboo even for this bestiary.
What we do know now is that the death of the Latimeria was not the end of Phoenix's corrupted brood. Somehow it mated before it died, possibly with some other lost creature of the deep, and its descendants slithered first in the hidden abysses, and then later on the desolate shorelines of our world. Its similarity to the blind eel known as the anguiform cannot be denied, and it is my belief that it is some larger, prehistoric version of the anguiform that mated with the original Latimeria to produce what we see today.
Perhaps the oddest trait of the current Latimeria presence is the beast's ability to survive on land. It was only ever observed in the deepest parts of the Serpent Trench before the world fell, but as the Serpent Trench rose above water, soon too, did the Latimeria. Most aquatic life that thrived in the Serpent Trench was quickly snuffed out in that massive uprising of eons-old rock and sediment, but somehow the Latimeria persisted, and now finds its home on the shores and even forests of the great desert-island of Figaro. A strange end to a strange history if there ever was one.
A little about the habits of the latter-day Latimeria before I leave this entry. As its progenitor was magical in nature, so too did a small amount of magical essence survive in the modern Latimeria. Its ability to survive on land, despite not having lungs, is probably its most well-known unusual feature, and possibly has its roots in the ethereal genes of its famous ancestor. Even the loss of magic did not dispel this power, leaving me to guess that biology that has been warped and mutated by magic retains its unusual attributes even now, when magic itself has ceased to exist in the world.
While there was magic in the world, though, the Latimeria was capable of conjuring powerful tremors when threatened. And with its massive size and formidable jaws, one would think there were very few things to threaten the beast. The Latimeria has an unnaturally foul temper, however, and if one encounters it, there is little to be done but calmly walk away and hope it finds you uninteresting. If you so much as look at it the wrong way, it will coil up and strike like a snake, constricting its victim and suffocating it to death. If you choose to put up a fight, it would knock you senseless with its earthshaking, then bite your head off with its gruesome jaws.
Fortunately, the beast is as stupid and slow as it is powerful and temperamental, and a human can normally outrun them if they beyond range of attack. Once out of range the Latimeria will let out a low bellow that sounds like a wounded sheep, then it will crawl back to whatever dank hole it calls home. The monsters can be dangerous, but they are lonely, sightless creatures that only want to be left alone to wallow in their miserable lot in life.
I have personally watched these dislodged denizens of another world, and it seems to me they are more melancholy than angry. Ever since they were tossed onto land from there abyssal homeland, they never seem to be content with their surroundings, constantly wandering and wailing in the moonlight for a lost era. Are they crying for their dead mothers, the divine Phoenix and the mighty original Latimeria? Are they crying for a world that no longer holds a place for them? These fish out of water are one of the sadder stories of the beasts of our world, and I cannot help but weep alongside them as I watch them creep across an alien shore that is no more their home than the abyss is mine.
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-The Mad Oscar-
Of all the vile creatures that prowl the underbelly of our world, few are as loathed as the Malboro. Once thought to be a myth, they were re-discovered lurking deep underground in the Kohlingen area almost a century ago, and have quickly become reknowned for their disgusting appearance and habits. Comprised of almost nothing but a ravenous mouth dripping with poison slime and an army of flailing tentacles, they have confounded all classification, as well as the unlucky souls who have attempted to classify them up close.
Perhaps in an attempt to lighten the dark aura that surrounds this crypt horror, the people of Kohlingen have taken to calling it "Mad Oscar" in honor of one of the town's most infamous and addled residents. The mad herbalist Oscar, who has lived in his own little corner of the town for nearly ninety years, and still practices his unusual art to this day, was one of the first people to make a real attempt at studying the Malboro. It was Oscar who first ventured deep into the abandoned catacombs south of the town and found these grotesque balls of green mold, hanging from the ceilings like giant bats. It is rumored his early encounters with the monsters, before he learned their strange ways, is what caused him to lose much of his sanity.
What Oscar found in those forgotten tombs was a being that was neither plant or animal. It most closely resembles a fungus, or mold, but on a much larger scale. Roughly twice the size of a man, the Malboro spends its entire life roaming the pitch black halls of Kohlingen's underground cemetery system, feeding on what the gods only know. The labyrinthine cemetery was abandoned ages ago, and it was not until Setzer attempted to renovate them for his lost love that any human had ever attempted to explore them besides Oscar. How he got around the Malboro infestation he has never revealed, but I suspect he somehow managed to enlist Oscar's help, just as Locke did for his own lost love. Oscar has always been a morbid fellow, and the idea of courting death must have been quite amusing to him.
Oscar himself made out quite well, insanity aside. Many of his potions and elixirs are derived from the stuff he finds inside the tombs. The Malboro itself is an overflowing zoo of exotic and potent substances, many of which are magical in nature. It is doubtful Oscar realized the magical source of his herbal remedies, but as soon as I met the fellow I could see that he was, in fact, a practicing mage, even though he didn't know it himself! For as long as he practiced his craft, people called him a miracle worker, capable of such feats of healing that it amazes me he wasn't accused of sorcery and necromancy. I guess one of the advantages of being old is that people simply assume you are a wise man rather than a wizard.
How Oscar manages to collect the bits and pieces of Malboro leftovers is his own personal secret. I highly doubt he engages the creatures in combat in his frail and unstable condition. Even seasoned warriors have great difficulty subduing the monsters, and besides Setzer and Oscar, no warrior has much reason to bother with them. Malboro tentacles are a prized ingredient in many strange concoctions, however. But seeing as Oscar seems to have a limitless supply of them in his basement stores, nobody tries to acquire them the hard way. It is rumored that Oscar actually has a small farm of tamed Malboros in a secret room of his basement, and that is where he collects the majority of his ingredients. I have even heard him whispering to the walls the names of women such as "Carrot" and "Vivian" and "Cassie" in a very tender voice. It is a disturbing sight, and leads me to believe the rumors of him attempting to domesticate the beasts, as truly insane as that would be. Mad Oscar, indeed.
The oddest and most disturbing use I've seen for the Malboro, however, is in the making of fine wine. And I use the term "fine" very loosely. Where I find the use of Over Grunk fluids for drink appalling, the idea of using any part of the Malboro for human consumption is incomprehensible to me. These creatures are the very embodiment of creeping death and decay, and some scholars even theorize they are undead golems gone feral, and not actually alive at all. I must say, their arguments do have weight, and as with many aspects of the Malboro, even the fact of whether they are dead or alive is up for debate. And yet, that does not stop people from poaching them for all they are worth. It seems the more unusual and dangerous a creature is, the more eager the hunters of the world are to experiment with its innards.
Oscar himself has been known to drink Malboro wine on occasion, and I firmly believe that has contributed to his continued descent into madness. Malboros are poison incarnate, and no matter what delirious effects a person may experience by drinking their juices, it cannot be good for the body, mind, or soul. Oscar may be over a hundred years old, but his mind is almost completely gone now, and I question whether the consumption and handling of too much of the Malboro hasn't turned him into some kind of zombie. It is a possibility, I must admit, as the undead do walk the earth even to this day, and most of them are as mindless as Oscar now is.
The Malboro itself is such a vile thing that perhaps it, too, is a zombie of sorts. It certainly has the stench of death about it, and there are few things in this world more pungent than the breath of a provoked Malboro. Now, this next fact may discomfort my readers a bit, and for that I beg your forgiveness. This "Bad Breath" of the Malboro is something I have experienced first-hand, and amazingly, I was able to duplicate its effects as a magic attack of truly vomit-inducing proportions. It is not a skill I used often, but there is no denying the power of a Malboro's rotten stink against almost any foe, no matter how brave or mighty they think themselves to be.
The breath is obviously magical in nature, for no natural process could produce such deadly fumes. This leads me to believe the Malboro itself is a magical mutation. I have studied the poison of the Over Grunk and compared it to that of the Malboro, and found they share some striking similarities to each other. It is possible the first Malboro was born from a nest of Over Grunk vines that were subjected to a massive magical infusion. Seeing as the Over Grunk itself is a fusion of plant and animal, this theory seems like a plausible one to me.
An Esper's Compendium of Magical Beings
lends weight to my theory. In it, Maduin describes the monster as a warped creation of wild magic that was able to control the Over Grunk as if they were part of its own body. He only ever encountered one Malboro in his travels, but apparently the effect it had on him was a strong one, for he makes special note of the grotesque nature of the fiend as a warning to the powers of uncontrolled magic. Past or present, there are few things in this world that stand as proof of Bad Magic more than the Malboro.
Another interesting facet of Maduin's tale is how he says the creature was defeated. A great rift opened up before the Malboro, and it was plunged into the darkest depths of the earth, never to be seen again. Or so the Esper thought. Somehow, the demon must have survived its judgment, and squirmed into the cracks of the earth to await a time when it could be free to plague the upper world once again.
Kohlingen historical records show that the cemetery system it had been gradually adding deeper and deeper halls onto for centuries was suddenly abandoned roughly three hundred years ago. No reports of why it was abandoned, but I think it is safe to say the Malboro managed to finally worm its way back into the world of man. It is around this time that the myth of the Malboro started, and the cemetery was sealed off, dooming the Malboro to the depths for a second time.
What possessed Oscar to explore this place and expose the world to the threat of the Malboro a third time I will never know. His obsession with death was probably part of it. Setzer, too, suffered from an acute "love of death" for a time after the loss of the Falcon and Darill, and during those depressing years, he dug out large portions of the tombs with his own hands. So much of his love of Darill went into making his memorial, that the entire tomb system is now called "Darill's Tomb" in memory of both the woman, and the death-defying efforts of the man who loved her.
The Malboro lurks in these tombs quietly, always eager to snatch up the curious tourists who wish to disturb the slumber of the dead in an attempt to learn more about the famous warrior-hero-gambler-drunkard Setzer Gabbianni. Setzer has made no attempt to rid his beloved tomb of these menaces, or of any of the other nightmares that now call the place home. I think it is a part of his morbid sense of love that he leaves these monsters be. The tombs are his love song to Darill, and are an intensely private place to him. The monsters that roam its halls serve as the guardians of the dead, and serve it well. Darill's Tomb is no place for the living, and I assure you that Setzer prefers to keep it that way.
As for the Malboro itself, it is a mindless thing that does not think or feel beyond consuming whatever is placed within its reach. It has no brain that I can see, nor any sensory organs beyond its mouth and the array of feelers, whiskers, and tentacles that make up the entirety of its body. Love, and even emotion itself, is a foreign concept to this creature, and I honestly have no idea how it reproduces. It makes no sound to indicate it has a voice, or even lungs. Its famous breath is more of an explosion of magical gas than actual breathing, and I could sense no heartbeat on the rare occasions I have had to study the thing alive.
What is the Malboro? Is it a living entity, or a lifeless magical construct? A demon from another world? Senseless Death itself risen from the grave and taken physical form? I do not know, and now that magic is gone from this world and with it the one useful thing I have learned from the Malboro, I have little reason to subject myself to its grotesque form any longer. Leave the study of the "Mad Oscar" to mad Oscar himself.
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