Monday, March 13, 2017

Wermilith

"I don't care how much they offered you for it--get rid of that damned thing!"
Gnosiomandus

The first Wermilith was discovered just prior to the Second Cloud Incursion, although there is an unverified allegation that was put forth by Gnosiomandus that one of his students uncovered a Wermilith prior to the First Cloud Incursion. Since Gnosiomandus left Wermspittle some time ago and is not expected to return any time soon, if ever, there has been no progress whatsoever on ascertaining the veracity of this claim and it has been deemed academically spurious and inconsequential by the Council of Unnatural Affairs.


What Is Known
  1. The myriad 'eyes' covering each Wermilith seem to be similar to Purple Amber. In fact the first ones to be examined were mistakenly thought to be simple votary carvings and when an 'eye' was removed it was discovered that these things are in fact some sort of fossil or pupal-state living creature.
  2. Wermiliths have so far proven to be impervious to acid, fire and electrical discharge.
  3. Anyone sleeping within 300' of one of these things tends to be harassed by nightmares that defy description even by trained oneirosophists.
  4. All conventional divination and prognostication magics reveal only that the Wermiliths are deeply enchanted, oneirically toxic, and do not originate on any of the Known Worlds nor any of the common Adjacent Worlds. More than that cannot be reliably verified as those attempting deeper inquiries suffer various and sundry backlash effects including but not limited to madness, being rendered comatose for weeks at a time, or loss of all memory.

What Might Happen Around Wermiliths...

  1. Roachers appear to be drawn to a particular Wermilith, entering into a strange trance-like state as they mindlessly skitter around it at a distance of 30' to 90'. Masses of up to a hundred of the creatures have been reported and they are doggedly persistent. Only extremely bright lights, actinic weapons or fire has so far driven them off, and that only temporarily.
  2. A nearby Wermilith has attracted the attention of an Ungezeifer who has sent (2d4) Cacozombies to retrieve the thing. If the Cacozombies are destroyed, another (3d4) will follow in under an hour. If necessary another 3d4 Cacozombies will attack whomever possesses the Wermilith every 1d4 hours until, after the fifth wave, the Ungezeifer will come calling personally.
  3. (1d4) War-Grubs of Nhorr guard the entrance-way to a mostly abandoned tenement where a spell-caster has been experimenting with a recently discovered Wermilith. It is unclear whether the spell-caster summoned the war-grubs or if they came at the service of someone...or something else. Could the Wermiliths have some sort of connection to Nhorr?
  4. An Interstitial Insectoid wishes to sponsor a small group of dedicated professionals to recover a Wermilith from a rival Thysanurian anti-librarian. If the group could be so kind as to eviscerate the Thysanurian in the course of the recovery effort there will be a bonus. Unfortunately the Thysanurian not only knows the group is on their way, it has known for at least a week and has taken what it feels are appropriate counter-measures...
  5. A local sorcerer and collector of peculiar antiquities, Julixian Vall, has discovered that his recently purchased Wermilith is in fact a fake. Now (1d4) Octovoidal Transvectors are hunting him with bad intent. He didn't look closely before, there wasn't time, but glued inside the remaining fragment of his fake Wermilith is an octagonal talisman cast from some sort of gray metal. Perhaps the creatures will leave him be if they are offered the talisman? Will he willingly part with the new-found talisman? Will your group leave him much choice in the matter? [The creatures will attack anyone who attempts to assist the targeted sorcerer.]
  6. One of your group has met a pretty young thing who does everything in their power to convince your group to help them retrieve their master's rightful property...which turns out to be a Wermilith...and the Eloi is actually an infected thrall in service to a Fungal Tyrant.


What People Are Saying: Rumors
  1. Wermiliths are some sort of weapon sent into Wermspittle by the Purple Hordes to prepare the way for their masters to finally claim the city for the Purple Clouds.
  2. These are some sort of secret Pruztian counter-measure originally meant to be deployed against some other secret Franzikaner uber-weapon during the last war.
  3. These things are the vengeful spawn of some hideous god-thing that is a rival to the Purple Clouds...either that, or they are residual fragments from the Nightlands.
  4. Wermiliths have no connection to the Clouds, but rather are semi-living relics of some lost civilization yet to be discovered out past the boundaries of the established camps in the Purple Forest.
  5. Everyone else is completely wrong, these things are merely astral anchors intended for use in plumbing the depths of the Violet Abyss and were crafted by some long forgotten cult that was wiped-out decades ago.
  6. These aren't werms at all. They are in fact seeds. Unreal seeds that will eventually sprout into horrid things that will seek to kill or enslave us all.
  7. Some disgraced Franzikaner Noble bred these creatures as a way to preserve the souls and memories of his lineage in the face of the Revolution and one day soon the Wermiliths will awaken in order to facilitate the return of these despicable aristocrats.
  8. These are merely the precursors of an invasion by forces never before seen among the Known Worlds.

What People Are Doing...
  1. The Council of Unnatural Affairs has posted a reward for the recovery of any further Wermiliths, Details of the reward are vague and subject to negotiation, but the Council has a reputation for being generous to a fault, so this does little to dampen anyone's enthusiasm.
  2. Curiosity Seekers have started to scour the less-traveled and picked-over areas of the cities looking for Wermiliths. So far only a few have disappeared.
  3. Three Verminista warlords have denounced the Academy and its puppets for attempting to thwart the will of their so far unidentified benefactor. Each of their stories conflict significantly, so few take them seriously at this time.
  4. So far every Nomad that has seen as much as a photograph of a Wermilith has closed-out all their accounts and left the city as quickly as possible.
  5. A band of Cuckoos has taken out an ad in the Whisperer to announce that they've uncovered a cache of no less than six Wermiliths. They are attempting to set up some sort of auction to determine who will get access to the newly uncovered Wermiliths.
  6. There have been reports of a Deep Purple Smog prowling the Near Deeps close to Schroedinger and Cave's shop. Local Authorities claim it is an entirely unrelated incident, but others aren't so sure...



"If coming events are said to cast their shadows before, past events cannot fall to leave their impress behind them."
Helena Blavatsky

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ectolichen


"...[untranslatable]...dwelt in the steaming fens of the newmade Earth: a mass without head or members, spawning the grey, formless efts of the prime and the grisly prototypes of terrene life . . . And all earthly life, it is told, shall go back at last through the great circle of time...[end of fragment].
Excerpt Six from the Yvvonik Book,
as compiled by Ruther Valdrix
for the Second Polar Expedition,
Imperial War College,
Pruztia


Fantomists cultivate this fetid, foul-smelling corruption of primordial life in their deep defiles and buried redoubts. The undead seek it out as though it were some sort of necromantic balm to ease their agonies. Mediums, Lichtmongers and Gleambringers seek out wild patches of Ectolichen left untended behind tumbled walls or well-shielded from the sun's blasting light by the ruins of the Jumbles, the overgrown plots of de-commissioned cemeteries or the crypts left cratered and shattered after the last war; venturing into dangerous areas for a chance to harvest even a small amount of the stuff for it is incredibly valuable to them in their work. Mannikinnieri, Geppetorre, Pupeteers and their ilk have been known to use Ectolichen in some of their worst creations. There are Distillers and Candymakers reputed to include small amounts of the stuff in their more potent concoctions. Seamstresses and Gardeners are also interested in this stuff, but no one is sure just why, all anyone cares about is that they will sometimes pay a good bit to take delivery of a small quantity of Ectolichen. It used to be a hanging offense to distribute Ectolichen to a Miasmister or any of their sordid brethren, but times change, old laws go out of vogue or get replaced with new ones, and while hanging is no longer condoned as a form of execution thanks to the Midwives and their Alraunes, it is a question for the courts whether the old restriction still applies beyond a few old fashioned vigilantes and the occasional mob armed with pitchforks and torches. Discretion is, as always, a professional virtue among those who seek to make a profit subverting the old laws.

Cold and dewy, one would never suspect that this stuff is related to various strains of pseudo-plant colonies that arrived from one or more of the nearer Greenhells, or possibly there is some [so far inconclusive] evidence to suggest a slight connection to the fungal infestations of Yellowholme, as well as a form of lichen brought back from one of the ill-fated polar expeditions. No one is entirely clear on where this stuff actually came from, whether it arrived in Wermspittle in its current form or if it was in fact modified, twisted or somehow deranged from its natural state by some unregistered tinkerer, clandestine Chymist or [as some have whispered] a Comprachico renegade.

Wherever it came from, whatever its provenance, Ectolichen is a valuable commodity because it exudes ectoplasm that is unlike anything produced by any other living thing; it is somehow undifferentiated and free from the lingering imprints and emotional pollution that taints all other forms of the stuff.

But not all patches of Ectolichen are clean and clear of untoward influences; indeed most are contaminated or spoiled by contact with rats, vermin, or scavengers...those that aren't sabotaged by vindictive rivals or vengeful cultists or other meddlesome, bothersome agents of destruction. Many patches of Ectolichen spawn twisted demi-spectres, aberrant apparitions and misshapen phantasms or worse...and there is always worse to be discovered in Wermspittle. Some patches of Ectolichen seem to produce Irrlichts and Weirdlights, which has led some scholars to surmise and hypothesize that this stuff might give rise to various forms of these types of entities...or perhaps it has some other role in the pseudo-life-cycle of these things. No one knows as yet and wherever there are argumentative, inquiring minds, hastily-assembled expeditions and academic skullduggery is never far behind.

Efts, Blupes and Figments, Low Shades, Gloomswallows and Gloomshadows have been known to prowl or congregate around patches of Ectolichen in order to feed on the ectoplasm. Small clutches of Zoogs, usually the Blue variety, will also sometimes nest near a patch of Ectolichen in order to suckle their young on the ectoplasmic miasma that surrounds the stuff. There are many creatures, animals and beasts that have reason to visit these patches, or to lair near them, or to hunt around them for those others drawn to these places...but the most numerous sort of creature or entity attracted to these sites are the immaterial, the insubstantial, the wisps, geists and all their ilk.

Those without material form, the wandering spirits of the forlorn dead, the lingering vestiges, the lurking shades and hungry ghosts and all the other innumerable forms of undead and unborn and all things in-between descend upon these devil-ridden, demon-haunted, wellspings of raw ectoplasm as though they were some sort of oasis in the midst of a vast, harsh wasteland and in their conflicts and contentiousness render these once placid spaces into centers of pestilence and virulence.

Beware even the slightest outcropping of this seemingly innocuous stuff, for it portends horrors and terrors best left unseen, unmet and left to their own devices unless one is properly equipped, suitably trained and well prepared to confront unnameable, unspeakable things...



“To destroy wonder and mystery, is to destroy the only elements that make existence tolerable.”
Clark Ashton Smith

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The White Orchard (Wermspittle)


But it is here that all concerns of men go wrong, when they wish to cure evil with evil.

Sophocles, The Sons of Aleus

Once it was just another small memorial park, one of those quiet little places wrapped around by a wrought iron fence and with those obligatory stonework gates at each of the three entrances. You know the kind; stout, ponderous and oh so very Pruztian and blocky. Even after the ironwork was stripped away during one of the Occupations or the ornamental statues were broken during the Siege, those heavy stone columns remained steadfastly in place, solemnly marking the boundary of their tiny domain.

Originally it was called 'The Alesian Gardens,' but no one calls it that any more. The old garden beds were overrun by Red Weeds after the Franzikaners abandoned Wermspittle. The Pruztians burned the place to the ground and planted an orchard on the site. The Red Weeds returned, but by then the Pruztians were too busy pulling out of the city to do much about it. Due to an all too common bureaucratic oversight the place was left to its own devices for several decades until an outbreak of the Porcelain Plague forced the local authorities to bury hundreds of unknown, unregistered, unclaimed bodies in the neglected orchard.

Perhaps that was when it all began. Many people think so, but there are other factors to consider, such as the unwholesome influence exerted upon the Orchard by its proximity to the Glowfield. Others like to point out that as part of the original plan for the Memorial Garden there was supposed to be a modest gazebo placed at the center of the place so all the pathways would intersect neatly and all visitors would be confronted by a bronze statue of a warrior holding aloft a glimmering fragment of what is described in the records as 'a fragment of a meteorite's heart.'

It remains altogether unclear whether the statue was ever completed, let alone installed. Despite some measure of curiosity among various academics, not much more is known about this obscure, mostly deserted place.

One minor note; it is said that the trees in this orchard are as restless as the plague-dead tangled up in their roots.



"Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places."
Motto on the Vault of Disreputable Texts

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