Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Terror

Any monster other than that. Gods, any daelkyr-spawn other than that. Mind flayers, tsochari who wore living beings like clothes, tainted beasts from the Far Realm; any of those, Stheno could face and fight. But a hive….

“Lady Stheno?” Still unsteady on her feet, Argo dug her nails into tree bark to stay upright. “What’s wrong? What can I do to help?”

Nothing. There’s nothing you can do, Stheno thought, frozen in terror. She’d thought this nightmare extinguished centuries ago. Thought she’d never have to face the scents of paper and acid again, hear the buzz and the helpless pleas of prisoners begging to die, feel the alien flesh writhe, infesting her own-

A small hand touched hers.


A gray winter’s day unrolled in Stheno’s mind’s eye, soft white blanketing the horrific images into a silent, immobile landscape.

:Snow. Softness falling. Quiet….:

Stheno breathed as if she’d never tasted the garden’s air, looking down at Yui. “You shouldn’t see those memories, little one.” And wasn’t it amazing that she could hear her own voice? Back then, it’d been worn to a rasp from screaming…. “They’re too horrible.”

“I won’t look.” Yui shivered. “I just don’t want Aunt Stheno to hurt so much.”

“Aunt Stheno?” Argo murmured, eyes wide. “A nestling? I thought they were all… seeing memories?” She frowned, and eyed Stheno. “You’ve dealt with psiwasps before.”

“I have.” Gods; even now her voice was wobbly. “They aren’t like mind flayers. They don’t… infest and turn a body. They just,” oh powers, just, “use live sentients to… incubate their brood.” Her smile felt ghastly. She hoped Yui wasn’t looking at it. “For most individuals, the damage one brood does is enough to kill them.”

“So we have to get Fuurinkazan out fast,” Argo started.

Stheno shuddered, trying not to curl into a helpless ball. “I….” I can’t go near them. I can’t.

Still holding her hand, Yui almost shrank away. “Aunt Stheno was in a nest once. They hurt her.”

“People get hurt in fights-” Argo cut herself off, and looked faintly green. “You said… one brood kills most people.” The information broker gulped. “But you’re immortal. You heal.”

A/N: In case anyone missed it, Kayaba is a… well, you already know. 😉


42 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Terror

  1. That is not pleasant… And yet, she might have to help Kirito and company out, even if she is terrified of the enemies. Or just terrified on what might happen to Kirito…

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Add another plot the the gambit bad? Or, “We really need to think about stopping this “game” now because bigger teeth got involved.”

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Hmm, anyone know some really destructive magic? I think Ripley’s Rule is going to apply, “I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

      Because they sound a bit like xenomorphs, or certain wasps, laying eggs in their victims. And the larva eat their way out when hatched.

      OTOH depending on what is in there, “Remember, we don’t have a corporation worrying about collateral. Unlike those marines we want to blow this place up after we got out people out!”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It could be worse. There’s a fungus that can infect ants and change their behavior into exactly what is best for the fungus. While there are no parasites in this world that affect human behavior to this point, there are parasites that affect human behavior. The team could get there and find the people they are trying to rescue bound and determined to “protect their babies.” Since Stheno hasn’t said anything about it, I assume this is not the case.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. *pokes head up* I think I missed something. Do I need to go back and reread other snippets or is it just that he’s a bastard? Cause that’s what I got out of this snippet.
    On an unrelated note, I can’t wait to read all these snippets as an uninterrupted whole!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hm. Now I’m wondering about how to devise an Epic Spell which derives power from a group of willing people across the fourth wall. Preferably something in a dragon-slaying flavor. (Or maybe a dragon-hoard-stealing flavor. Because he might still be needed alive, but hitting him where it hurts is still a valid option.)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Tad Williams wrote a similar arc where the adventurer’s had to go into a hive (ants). Getting in was relatively easy, but it was a nightmare of hacking and slashing to get back out again. And yes, they wish they had brought more fire too–Cadrach could only make so many fire balls.
    Looking forward to the attack!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Think Kirito will lock in Aberration as one of his Ranger Favored Enemies after this?

    At this point he should have one or two, so the question becomes what are they?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Back in the day before the inventory tax laws changed, you used to have ready access to seventy years of sci fi, horror, and fantasy backlist. Many fans had read most of it. Gygax was one of these, and D&D is a fantasy kitchen sink that borrowed even more widely back in the day.

        Third edition sought tie classification of everything into the rules, and so there are types like undread, construct, and dragon. Outsider is what angels, demons and so forth were put into. Aberration is basically where the put Lovecraft mythos inspired stuff.

        Eberron is a D&D setting that is sort of magicpunk 1920s inspired. The 1920s is a common period for Call of Cthulhu and other Lovecraft inspired games, so that resonance is probably why Eberron has so many Aberration based enemies.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. To be fair, it’s also kind of the catch-all classification where everything that would normally be ‘animal + magic’, ‘bug + magic’, or ‘plant + magic’ goes if it’s gross but not formless enough to be in the ‘Ooze’ category. I say this because those types exist too: the ‘animal + magic’ types’re called Magical Beasts; giant (as in dog to building sized) bugs – and crabs for some reason – fall under the Vermin type alongside giant rats; and plants that get up, walk, talk, and/or eat people are under the Plant Creature type.

        But Rust Monsters meanwhile – which are basically cockroaches the size of dogs who eat rust and only rust and get ahold of most of said rust by using their giant bug antennae to cause any metal the antennae touch to rapidly oxidize into rust and are specifically noted to only be interested in picking fights with people if they’re carrying metal (most adventurers do of course, the sword and breastplate being very useful) and can be easily distracted by throwing enough gold (their favorite flavour of metal) over there and away from the party – are considered Aberrations. There’s some fluff about​ how Druids tend to think Aberrations are oogy and non-natural, but like Magical Beasts plenty of Aberrations breed true and have found niches in nature, they’re just usually grosser ones; And depending on the setting those Aberrations can be as naturally occurring as those Magical Beasts.

        Of course, epic magical beasts tend to get you into Godzilla-esque territory. High-tier Aberrations give you Lovecraft and the stillborn fetuses of dead gods. This is not a metaphor or hyperbole. Lovecraft’s Hounds of Tindalos and Leng Spiders are Aberrations, and that ‘Stillborn Fetus of a God’ is actually in one of the Epic Level encounters books from 3.5 Edition. Oh, and in Pathfinder (called 3.75 by many for good reason) Cthulhu is statted out. The Sleeper of Ry’leh is a diety, but his creature type is still Aberration.

        I know there’s a Nodwick comic that does a pretty good breakdown, but​ for the life of me I can’t seem to find it…

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yeah, but, depending, Cthulhu might be pretty low tier as far as Lovecraft’s powerful uniques go. Is Azathoth or Yog-Sothoth really the sort of thing you want to stat out for players to kill in a standard campaign?

        Doesn’t fit elsewhere might be half an excuse for importing all the Pokemon in as aberrations.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. Bunnies: “Wouldn’t it be fun to do a GUMSHOE based Eberron game? As in investigative, GUMSHOE mechanics, traditional mythos threats, and taking advantage of Eberron’s lower power levels?”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. And now for our semi-regular reminder that Kayaba deserves to be killed. Killed a lot. Slowly. And that certain dragons might need to be spit and roasted right next to him . . . okay, maybe for reasons we might not be able to kill them so can the heroes at least maim them?

    Also, might I add, being in a nest of monsters that use you for a living nest and being eaten alive from the inside with little horrors that burst through your body in a way that should kill you if you weren’t immortal . . . a situation that already sounds awful enough when you can succumb to your injuries . . . . thanks for the Nightmare Fuel.

    Next hive they invade, I bet our heroes will demand flame throwers.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Think I saw something about them on a nature show . . . I watch a lot of science, nature, and history programs . . . gave me another moment of “Well, I’m never sleeping again. Thanks Nature.”

        Also reaffirmed my belief that Mother Nature is a stone-cold psycho. I cannot decide if Space is part of Mother Nature or her weird-sort-of-friend-sort-of-something-else and their shared past time is seeing who can come up with the most horrible ways to die . . . . which Mother Nature tends to win because Space just tends to bath everything it wants dead with radiation or smash it with rocks or pull it apart with gravity whereas Mother Nature is a lot more . . creative. Through what Death by Space tends to lack in creativity, it does tend to make up for in the sheer scale of dead things it could produce.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. >“Well, I’m never sleeping again. Thanks Nature.”>
        Parasitic organisms are always interesting. Particularly those that needs to go through multiple species to complete their life cycle.

        But there is one really fun one: Cordyceps

        Now look at the canon intelligent humanoid fungus creature of D&D, the Myconids. And recall that they have the canon ability to spray any dead creature with its spores that proceed to grow into the corpse and animate it as a zombie.

        A perfect new threat for sadistic DMs to toss at players: Cordyceps Myconids
        Pray your healer has the capability to remove diseases..

        Liked by 3 people

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