Hags! Part the Fifth - [Skitter, Matron, Scypho Hags]

Skitter Hags
Among the uninitiated in hag lore, it may seem that Skitter Hags are actually many, many different types of Hag, though to the learned, it is obvious that Skitter Hags are one unwholesome whole, with many, many sub-types. These sub-types are dependant on the insect the Skitter Hag has merged with.

The appearance of each Skitter Hag is unique, none have incorporated with their chosen bug in the same way, even when they have chosen the same insect. The powers they receive from each are broadly the same; a poisonous sting and gossamer wings for Wasp Hags; many thin legs, superior climbing skills and a venomous bite for Spider Hags; a maddening resistance to death for Roach Hags. The list of Skitter Hags is as long as the list of insects that creep and crawl in the dark nooks of the world.

Though, while each Skitter Hag will benefit from powers befitting their other half, they do, as always, share a stable of other Hag-Powers. They have some innate connection to insects; not as strong as the Murine Hag's connection to vermin, but strong enough that they can be persuaded to fight for her. The main and most loathsome power a Skitter Hag possess however, is her transmuting embrace.

A Skitter-Hag's lair will have one, or perhaps several rooms, adorned with shelves bowing beneath the weight of large glass jars, fitted with filthy cork stoppers; and within each jar is a person the Hag has transformed into an insect. The longer she embraces you, the more and more you transform. It starts within, where the changes are not noticeable except over a long period of time of slowly worsening illness. Then, your limbs and extremities will warp and stretch into insect appendages, your skin toughens into slabs of chitin, your spine bends and stoops, forcing you to the ground. The changes are never uniform, much to the amusement of the Skitter Hag. Some will not fully transform their prey, and cackle and giggle in glee at the half-person half-insect abominations that writhe and flail about their home, strangers in their own body, unknown to their own limbs.

All told, the transformation from man to insect takes about a minute, and a long, long painful minute it will be.

It is hypothesised that each Skitter Hag's insect half is chosen rather than innate due to the powers demonstrated by the oldest Skitter Hags. It seems that their insect-portions are not fixed, as one has been observed to be able to change and combine insect-forms as and when and how she wishes. Insect limbs pop and stretch from her back as others warp into new forms at a moment's notice. A Grandmother Skitter Hag's appearance is even more abominable than the younger Hags, as she warps and writhes between forms, and for nightmarish moments she will be combinations of insects that nature never dared dream of.

Your best chance when battling a Skitter Hag is to distract her with birds, particularly owls. She seems to have an inordinate and compulsive hatred of any animal that feasts on insects, and will break from any combat to pursue them to the exclusion of all else except mortal hurt.

Matron Hags
Sometimes, you will find a small cottage in the forest. It is finely dressed with a neat garden, a pleasing thatched roof, a bright lantern by the door. A voice will call out from within, withered and croaking; "Come on in deary, I have a whole pie to offer you if it would please you!" You do have business in the village on the other side of the forest, but something in your head convinces you to go in and see what is on offer. An old, old woman sits deeply in her rocking chair, sedimented in the cushions and blankets. In deeper rooms beyond, you can see hulking shapes only something like men move in the dark. "Deary, why don't you take a seat? I only wanted to offer you some pie..." You pull up a chair, despite your panic as the deformed and monstrous things from the depths of the house emerge into the light, bringing through the pie, red and pulsing. "Why not try a bit deary, its fresh out of the oven..." You see the meat within, still screaming a long and silent wail before you are forced to eat by a will not your own, as the creatures guffaw to themselves. You gorge yourself on the pie as all your muscles scream out not to, and the Matron Hag politely requests that the creatures that she is referring to as her 'children' to line up before they have their meal...

Legends say that when the first fey became corrupted by the long slow march of time and rot they twisted and deformed into the first Matron Hags. Stories tell of a women so overcome with vice that even when Belial himself came for her, he recoiled in shock; and that unwanted even in death by the reaper himself, the woman lived on as the first Matron Hag. Tales whisper in the dark corners of the most wretched taverns that even the gods themselves turned their back on the Matron Hags and their unspeakable progeny. Only two things are agreed upon, the Primacy of Matron Hags, and their mother-like relation to all other kinds of Hag.

She will always be the very epitome of  politeness. She will never raise her hand in anger. She will treat you with the height of her twisted hospitality. It is near impossible to resist what she asks you to do, she is ever so polite about it, she makes it sound so reasonable, why wouldn't you do this for the little old lady sat down before you?

If you could somehow resist her silken, honeyed words, you would see all the creatures and mishapen men she has convinced to be her 'children' coming out from every dark corner to throttle and destroy you, and even were you to triumph over them, the very house itself would come alive to tear you limb from limb; the ceiling beams snapping and coiling like snakes; wardrobes deforming into splintered maws; carpets unwinding to wrap about your throat. And through it all, the Matron Hag would merely sit and wait for the chaos to abate. Even were you to smash apart her whole home and leave her alone and defenceless in her chair, she would not fight, merely ask you very politely to leave. She will never raise a hand against you, you see. Even as your blade bites deep into her flesh she will not resist. Only her words can touch you.

Most of the time, she will merely sit and knit. She would not bother anyone, why she would not even harm a fly. She will create the most wonderful woollen clothes, and offer them to the children of the nearby villages that wander a bit too deep into the woods. She will say that she always dreamed of children, and she has made oh so many clothes for them, but her chance never came, would you make an old lady happy by taking a couple and wearing them every so often?

Of course, she will not mention that while the clothes are worn, she can whisper in the Child's head, and they find it all but impossible to resist her worm-words, no matter how dark the deed she asks them to do...

In the very lowest of whispers, the very foolish will speak under the influence of the strongest alcohols of a Matron Hag so old and strong, that she can even influence the behaviour of other Hags. But that can only be a story dreamt up by the most scattered of minds.

Scypho Hags
Scypho Hags are never done growing. Alone of all Hags, their form is always changing and growing more and more horrifying.

Underneath all the illusions and glamours the Scypho Hag will always wear (more so than any other kind of Hag) she is monstrous in the extreme; a blubbery, soft, and jellied beast. Floating flanges of dangling flesh hang in the air as if in water, and many, many long filament tendrils drift behind her, the jellyfish tentacles of her namesake.

Her favoured pastime is to appear beautiful and radiant to a man on the shore, and slowly, over days many times, seduce him, though never letting him touch her. Finally, when he is firmly a toy to be wrapped around her finger, the Hag will pull him into an embrace, where he will die. The Hag finds this just hysterical. No matter how many magics she plies herself with, they can never stop the virulent poisons and toxins in her tendrils from slaying with merely a touch.

In combat, these same tendrils will whip and writhe about in the air, stinging and slaying all about her.

In her seaside home, all kinds of ugly and misshapen ocean creatures and features will take root and nest in the rooms of her abode, floating as if the air were the liquid habitat they were used to. Her other favourite pastime is to lure people into her home, the creatures and oceanic plants hidden by her illusions until the guests are too deep in to ever escape when the magics are dismissed and the ocean hell they are in becomes apparent to them. For the more capable guests, the Hag can 'reach' her tendrils through the ocean barnacles and corals that crust her home, to strike down her prey.

Sometimes, she will find one of her prey is more than strong enough to resist even her toxins. She will delight at this, and wrap herself in the form of one most dear to the individual, before luring them to her Jellyfish tank. With just a push, the prey will tumble through the illusionary floor, and within moments, even the most invincible warrior will be overcome with the hundreds and thousands of stings the Hag's dear pets will inflict by accident, without intent.

As you may be able to guess, nothing gives the Scypho Hag more joy than the moment of realisation that crosses a person's face when they realise that what they thought they knew was wrong, as the ink of betrayal blots their mind.

As was said earlier, Scypho Hags never stop growing and developing, their forms never cease to become more and more loathsome. The more ancient Scypho Hags are whirling nightmares of toxic tendrils and jelly flesh, a cloud of dark smoke in the air, monstrous and inhuman beyond all imagining.

Unfortunately, their powers of illusion are never eclipsed by their monstrousnous. They are always able to disguise their true forms...

Others in the Series

Part 1 - Introduction & Eritheze Hags
Part 2 - Willow, Angler, and Brume Hags (with a little more Eritheze)
Part 3 - Luner, Murine, Briar Hags
Part 4 - Marrow, Byenic, Red Hags
Part 6 - Crose, and Whisper Hags, and Retuning 5e's Hags

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