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I must say I’m relieved you survived your excursion in Lamordia. Also, I wouldn’t worry overmuch; I’m sure the Baron’s soldiers will eventually tire of looking for you. Since hiding in the basement of a safehouse can get quite dull (as I well remember!) I thought you would appreciate a little light reading material.
Thinking of Mordenheim’s wayward creations got me thinking about the nature of corruption. It seems as though corruption from a person or thing’s original purpose is a not uncommon occurrence in the Mists. We’re all familiar with notable examples like Blackroot, of course, but the once noble treant is hardly the only such case.
Travelers through the unspoiled wilderness may have encountered the elusive dryad: an innocent forest spirit tied mystically to a single virgin tree. Folk legend holds that harming the tree harms the maiden, and should the tree perish, so too will the dryad. (Folk legend also holds that driving a knot on said tree will compel the spirit to become your bride, but I suspect the latter part of the tale has more to do with woodsmen starved for feminine affection than actual fact.)
But what happens if the tree is not merely cut down, but hacked to pieces, sliced and planed, rendered into dozens of boards, and then hammered together with iron spikes to fashion a pigsty, fish stall, brothel, or other shelter of slaughter or vice? Are fey spirits not just as prone to malevolent haunting as human spirits?
They are. Such atrocity can give rise to a splinterwaif: a dryad spirit twisted by hatred and abuse. These hideous creatures lurk in slums, junkyards, and alleys, stalking children and the infirm to drain the life force of the living to sustain themselves. Only small, woody shrubs remain where their victims once stood.
Stats for the splinterwaif can be found in the Monster Manual III.
2) Midnight Unicorn
Many outlanders I’ve spoken to have told me stories of the noble unicorn: a creature of purest innocence, which dwells in forest glades and blesses those it deems worthy with protection and healing. Legend has it that the touch of their horn can banish any impurity, even poison or illness.
The only such being I’ve encountered was far from these legends. Its coat was as black as coal, and a fierce malevolence burned in its glowing red eyes. The silver horn spiraling from its skull sported wicked barbs along its razored length. Most disconcerting of all was the unearthly shriek that it accompanied its arrival. When it vanished, just as suddenly, the silence was nearly as terrifying.
If I had to guess, I would suspect that unicorns are occasionally drawn in by the Mists just as Outlanders are. Their close connection to the land, like elementals, eventually seeps into their very being, and they find themselves twisting into a hateful mockery of their former selves.
Black unicorns can be found in the Monsters of Faerun compendium.
3) Boxwood Defenders
Once, on the invitation of Lord Pennybore, I travelled to Darkon to attend a large dinner party. Woefully, it turned out to be an ambush, as Pennybore (in reality the hidden Blackburn-Bruce scion I’d been hunting for nearly a year) had laid out an elaborate trap to kill me.
Perhaps most terrifying was his hedge maze. Filled with blind turns and dead ends, as well as dozens of boxwood sculptures, each trimmed to the shape of a fearsome soldier or diabolical beast, it was very nearly my tomb. The sculptures came to life, and I found myself pursued, unarmed and unarmored, through an unlit maze, stalked by living extensions of the hedges themselves.
I’ve heard that such creatures can be created by skilled mages, but I fear that exposure to too much wickedness (and the tainted nature of the Mists themselves) can lend these guardians a cruelty they would lack in their ‘natural’ state.
To add boxwood defenders to your haunted mansions, check out the topiary guardian statistics in the Monster Manual III.
Religion is a powerful thing. When twisted by grief and neglect, that power can be terrible indeed. Although rare, I’ve encountered more than one instance of a religious idol persisting even after the death of the congregation that once worshipped before it.
Regardless of the tenets of the original faith, these fallen icons mar their features beyond recognition and pursue eternal vengeance against those they hold accountable for the loss of their faithful. (I assume there’s a convoluted reasoning at work, but typically this category includes everyone they meet.) Dripping spectral blood from their ruined visages, they strike fear into the hearts of those they assault, and madness in the minds of any unfortunate enough to touch their ectoplasmic vitriol.
Fortunately for most, these cyclopes tend to be somewhat unsociable. They are most often found in the wild, isolated places their faithful once gathered, haunting the sites of their former glory. Unfortunately for you, these are just the sorts of places your profession sends you to time and time again.
Renegade religious statues use the rogue eidolon stats from the Monster Manual II.
Scholars have gone back and forth on the corrupting nature of the Mists and the truth behind outlander tales of unadulterated versions of some of our more common monstrosities. If nothing else, these sorts of discussions make an interesting diversion when one is hiding from overzealous law enforcement. If you continue to have difficulties, send word in a return missive and I shall see what I can do to find a suitable escape for you.
In the meantime, good luck and happy hiding,
Frankie “Farshot” Drakeson,
Lord Mayor of Carinford-Halldon
Frankie Drakeson is a retired rifleman and the current mayor of Carinford-Halldon in Mordent. He is married to Gwendolyn Drakeson, making him Nathan Timothy’s grandson by marriage.
Jim Stearns is a deranged hermit from the swamps of Southern Illinois. In addition to writing for the Black Library, he puts pen to paper for High Level Games and Quoth the Raven. His mad scribblings can frequently be found in anthologies like Fitting In or Selfies from the End of the World, by Mad Scientist Journal. Follow him on Twitter @jcstearnswriter, or listen to Don, Jon, & Dragons, his podcast.
Picture Reference: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/156218680804888437/
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