Hags! Part the Third - [Lunar, Murine, Briar Hags]

Lunar Hags
Many are the cultures that link the  moon to madness and primalness; the most wizened of scholars have correctly traced this superstitious belief to the terrible Lunar Hags.

Their homes are always in the loftiest of places, where there will be no obstruction for the moon's light. They dance and cavort in the soft, white light, shrieking and howling. They shower in the blood that drizzles from the offal they offer up to that distant white disc. They feast on the earth and mud which is graced with the light of the moon. They are of course, fucking insane.

Of all Hags, they are the most shunned, the most hated, the most feared. There will be no villages near the home of an Lunar Hag, or heaven's forbid, a coven of Lunar Hags. No one is desperate enough to risk staying near their homes.

If you were foolish enough (bravery is no excuse for approaching the home of a Lunar Hag) to try to reach a Lunar Hag's home, you would first notice that something was off while you were still some ways away. You wouldn't be able to place it until later, when the madness becomes more apparent, and trees start to sprout eyes, and the earth moans through loamy mouths and squirrels the size of bloodhounds with teeth made of ice start to quiver and shriek at your passing. Of course, the worst is yet to come. The truly abstract nightmares only manifest much closer to the Hag's home.

[grinding teeth pulsing flesh running fangs over the grain of the meat tear out a garden's worth of ribs and throw it into the darkness it swirls and flows look deep it is dark and deep so deep you could lose yourself in it imagine its depths imagine what lurks in its depths feel the man behind you his hand reaching out to touch you the knife in his hands the blade biting deep and the crimson running]

The nightmares follow the Lunar Hags wherever they go, but they are strongest in the light of the moon. All of the Hag's magic is stronger in the light of the moon, at least as far as is observable; it does seem that the Lunar Hags will try much harder when the moon is still full, and they are positively lethargic when it is new. The illusions and curses they manifest do seem to be created somehow from the light of the moon, so the debates rage on as to whether the Full Moon is as necessary for the Hag's magic as they seem to believe. On the brightest of moon-lit nights, it is said, the oldest Lunar Hags can spread their madness with merely a word.

One thing for the self-determined heroes who think to challenge a Lunar Hag to remove their vile stain from the world, and who believes that they can win by merely assaulting the Hag on the nights of the New Moon; do not let the Lunar Hag drink. Deep in their lair, possibly though not always on the roof, is the Hag's Moonlight Distillery. It soaks up the soft light, and slowly condenses a pallid, gently glowing milk. For the Lunar Hag, it is as glorious as the light of the moon itself, and they will be invigorated by it. As far as has been told, none have ever been able to drink it but the Hags themselves, so it is unknown if it would have any effects on the mortal races.

Furthermore, if you now plan to begin your assault with the Distillery, do not look into the mirrors that adorn it and reflect and focus the Moonlight. Despite the janky and haphazard construction of the silvery edifice, madness is all that awaits you if you gaze into the mirrors as they distort your form in their sheen. All your worst flaws and faults will be magnified, and unable to look away, you will be trapped forever in the reflected nightmare of what you thought was you.

Murine Hags
Amongst the many deplorable individuals of Hag-kind, there are few as deplorable as Murine Hags. Their hovels are filled fit to bursting with crude wooden cages and hutches, and the walls are riddled with holes and tunnels. The Murine Hag you see, is not the only inhabitant of this foul construction, far from it. For the Murine Hag, her vile pets are her whole world, and she will dote over the many hundreds of rats, weasels, ferrets, rabbits, flightless birds, snakes, spiders, and all other kinds of hateful vermin. The whole place is thickly crawling in the worst kinds of fauna, and you would even hear the crunch of the fleas and lice underfoot as you walked.

Though all kinds of Hag will elicit disgust from the peoples of the villages near-by, few can incite the same levels of sheer revulsion that Murine Hags do. Even as far away as these neighbour-settlements, levels of vermin and pests will be unmanageable. Crops will be blighted, all but the most secure stores ravaged, and even cats and small dogs will be found gutted by the street-side. And even then, it will be a light infestation compared to what keeps company with the Hag.

Where-ever the Hag goes, they are always attended by swarms of these particularly vicious and blighted beasts, the ground runs thick with them, and she can seemingly will more out of the very earth when she desires, though whether this is some work of hag-magic or simply her inexhaustible supply of attendant vermin is as yet unknown. So thick is their bond with the most worthless dregs of the animal kingdom that particularly old and powerful Murine Hags can even themselves burst apart into a swarm of the beasts, particularly to escape death. As long as even one of the result tide of animals can escape, so can the Hag, who can then reconstitute her form from the escaped creatures.

They spend their time in equal parts wallowing in the filth of their disgusting 'pets', hunting with them for meat of any kind, regardless of how long dead it is, and in brewing and fermenting all kinds of poisonous muck. Their greatest joy after their animals, is the diseases they create. Her most prized possession, after her pets, is the crusted and creaking 'cookbook' of all the poisons and ailments she has made. Long nights are spent creeping through the villages near her home, smearing corrupt oils and unguents on the pillows and mouths of the unfortunate occupants, whose last few days will be spent screaming and wailing. The Murine Hag's second most horrific gift is this perverse creation, and she will practise it in whatever container she can. Horrific tales have reached ears far and wide of the basement of a Murine Hag that was home to many unfortunate souls the Hag seemed to have been keeping as living incubators for her unwholesome pestilences. Their misery was not prolonged.

Fire seems to be the greatest tool to wield against a Murine Hag. Not because she herself or her home are particularly vulnerable to flame, indeed the crust of dirt and filth they both accumulate seems to shield them from it to a degree, but it serves more to destroy their swarms of vermin, who crackle and curl up rather satisfyingly in the cleansing flames. Should irreparable harm befall her menagerie, the Hag will be overwhelmed by grief, to the point of catatonia if enough of the blighted beasts are destroyed. This is easier written than done, of course. She does have oh so many of the bastards...

Briar Hags
Sometimes, out in the woods, you will come across a high topiary wall, like that of the hedge-mazes of the more luxuriating and lucred nobles. It will always be out of place, and quite large, encircling a field's worth of forest, hill-top, or valley. Grand trees and stones choked in lianas and creeping vines peek out over the foliage, but you can't quite get a good look from ground level. A vantage point (and a good one at that) would reveal the entire floral spectacle that awaits beyond.

Every colour can be seen, especially the shades of green. There will be impeccable rows of vegetables and fruit trees. Inexpressibly beautifully trimmed bushes and hedges flourish alongside the most perfectly arranged rock gardens. From here, you would be able to see, and probably smell, all kinds of delectable fruits and prizes to be taken. Unless you clambered down from your lofty post and invaded the garden, you would not be able to detect the thick, cloying pollens, you would  the dizzying arrays of sensory overloads, the tantalising morsels on every twig and leaf. Nor would you see the reclusive Briar Hag who tends to it.

Briar Hags for the most part, will keep to themselves, walled inside their verdant paradise. They have a schedule, you see, and deviating even a little is liable to spell disaster. The hag will follow their carefully planned out itinerary to the very second if they can; the vast majority of which is spent gardening. They grow all kinds of plants,  there are examples of every known mundane kind, several magical ones, and some unique to their own gardens, even from other Briar Hags. The Hag's Garden is her life, and if it were to be destroyed, she wouldn't know what to do. Some have speculated that the true reason for their distraught at the idea of the loss of their gardens is the absolute havoc it would play on their schedules.

And it is this need, this furious requirement to stick to the plan and to tend the garden that breeds their paranoia and maliciousness to strangers, and particularly to trespassers. There are wondrous things to be found (or rather, stolen) in Briar Hag gardens to be sure, but few are those that will ever enjoy the fruits of such an endeavour. The few who have entered and left and lived to tell the tale, speak of the plants around them coming to life to assault them, thorns, roots, and vines sprouting from the ground at the Hag's command, wooden figures stepping free from trees to grapple and restrain them. Someone who witnessed such a break-in from outside the boundaries of a particularly old Hag's garden, describes her power to 'step into' the plants she grew, and 'step out' again from other plants, seemingly as if they were merely next to each other, and she were walking behind them.

There are also tales beyond counting of those that survive their encounters with the Briar Hag, escape with their booty, and are struck down by terrible curses and sicknesses. This type of tale is often the more graphic, and more gleefully told.

And yet, there are a rare few who are able to spirit into and out of a Briar Hag's garden with their prizes intact, and that escape the Hag's distant retribution. Never many, but enough to spread tales of the wondrous things that await the thief bold enough to brave the Briar Hag's domain, and to tempt the brave and foolish to replicating their feats and plunders; apples from whose cider can be distilled a potion of youth, pumpkins from which entire castles have been fed (or occasionally built), saplings which have grown into mighty trees many hundreds of feet high. And also, a curious tale, of someone who stole from around the neck of the Briar Hag herself, a green, though otherwise perfectly preserved, thumb. They never did tell what it was that compelled them to cut off their own thumb to replace it, but one thing is for sure; their garden never did look more beautiful before then...

Others in the Series

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

No comments:

Post a Comment

Recent Stuff

Cafe Prost and the Little Red Notebook

The Jackalope is here, and requires a SACRIFICE. Anne requested the following gift: The Coffee House - Cafe Prost! It is well known i...

This the gud stuph right hear