10 + 2 Animal Kings

A long time ago I wrote about some kinds of spirits which dwell in the untravelled places of the world. I don't know how much I still like the idea of basically everything being a spirit of some kind, but hey-o, here are some spirits in the shapes of animals! They are the exemplars of their kinds, mostly-natural, that warp the world around them to better reflect their needs and natures. 

Here are the first 10 (plus 2 silly ones) I've been able to churn out.

Ankhegs - Growth
The Queens of Ankhegs are almighty insects, legs like tree-trunks and shovel-ended. Their mouths drip with Alkahest, the universal solvent, and their piercing cries can shatter glass at their highest and split the earth at their deepest. Thankfully, they are really quite lazy and love to luxuriate deep in the earth. They bully other Ankhegs into serving, and carve out enormous cave systems with grand pillars and vast halls. They are spirits of growth, and their lairs are always overflowing with plants which constantly fight  the long slow wars for light and nutrients that plants always fight, but in a constant, furious slaughter, fueled by the presence of the Queen of Ankhegs.
The heart of her lair is so choked with vines and roots and creepers that moving through it is more like swimming or digging like the worm does, and with her acid-slathered maw, the Ankheg Queen most certainly can dig through it quicker than you can...

Apes - Fire
The King of Apes, unlike it is commonly supposed, are not much bigger than their lesser cousins. They still need to climb, but they will still stand head and shoulders above other apes. The most marked difference will be their pair of extra arms, and the flames they hold in their second palms. They are mysterious, and hold deep loves for their flames, which they protect with all their might. Some say they are care-takers of the forests in which they live, and decide when it is time for fire to ravage the land, that new growth can begin. Their families are sometimes described as being almost entire cities of apes, with the Ape-King sat in meditation, clasping its flame in the highest branches of the mightiest trees.
The oldest legends say that it was the Ape-Kings who first plucked fire from the heavens, and shared the gift with man, but man spurned their generosity, and turned against their cousins, leading to their long divisions. More reliable sources suggest that, since of course Monkey's can't talk the whole story is ridiculous. The Ape-Kings are certainly not about to tell, the only interactions between men and Ape-Kings anyone knows about all end in charred and ruined villages, and haunting choruses of ape-song.

Badgers - Luck
Badger Kings are admittedly, pretty big, and they have great ridges of bone all along their arms and backs and flanks, the better to scour out their tunnels. Supposedly custodians of that most precious and mysterious resource, Luck, they hoard it like gold in their lair. You can't quite see it, but still, if you were to delve deep into their lair, you would find it, shimmering and glinting. The Badger-Lord guards it jealously, and its blood-lust is surprising and deadly. And they are quiet.
So very, very quiet.
As long as you do not threaten them in their lairs, Badger-Lords are somewhat amenable, even friendly, and there is more than one story about a wanderer clutching a badger-given charm which grants extraordinary luck.
The stories almost always end with the Badger-King coming to claim back the luck, with interest, with particularly deadly consequences, one way or the other.

Bats - Curses
Bat Kings are lazy, lazy creatures, content to while away days and days at a time in quiet contemplation, wrong-side up to the world. Easily the size of a man, they choose great caves in cliffs and mountains to hold their courts, and even men are sometimes permitted to enter to ask their questions of the Lords of Night. They pronounce curses, upon you, upon others, upon whomsoever they please, though mostly it is on the deserving (from the Bat-King's point of view). They aren't above bribery; and if caught in a relatively congenial mood, they might be offered full-blooded and vital livestock to break curses you happen to bear, or perhaps as an 'incentive' to speak against your enemy. Rarely do they take to the wing, but when they do, it is best to stay inside and look not at the sky for a day or two. The Bat-King can only Curse you if it sees you, though sometimes it can be very forceful in the matter, and its screech can stun even the largest beast.

Basilisks - Stone
Basilisk Kings are great wurms, snaking along the earth on tree-thick legs, dragging their mighty bellies, scouring the earth clean beneath them. They are like immense fleshy centipedes, pulling their lizard-bodies along on many many legs; claws like boulders, scales like breast-plates, gaze like a hurricane.
For the most part, the eyes of a Basilisk Lord are closed beneath stone lids, or what appears to be eye-lids at least. Their powers of petrification are so strong that they petrify everything they see, the ground, the trees, mud, man, monster alike. Even the air is susceptible to the gaze of a Basilisk Lord, and when a Basilisk Lord does release its eyes from their lithic prisons, it is a like twin spiraling coils of rock erupt from their heads, smiting all it touches to rock and covering the area in rubble, petrified air flaking and filling the atmosphere with dust.
Thankfully they wake but rarely. Like the rock itself, they see in the tectonic inevitabilities of stone and awaken only for those things that they believe must happen.

Bears - Strength
They almost seem to be made from stone, so tough is their hide, their fur is like bark and twigs, knotted and cruel. Teeth long as swords, claws like spears, and their eyes are glossy and black.
Twice as tall as even the largest of their mundane cousins, their treads shake the ground as they casually tear trees out from the earth and toss them aside like garbage.
Their strength is, needless to say, ferocious. They shred plate armour-like tissue and batter stone to rubble under the immense pounding of their wrath. Despite their utter dominance, they are not wicked; they are mostly content to sit and chew up bushes in their great mouths and guzzle cows. People have even been known to approach them, and with proper gifts (very large gifts) and demonstrations of strength, they have been known to teach even humans the ways of the forest.
But that's also not to say that they never get angry.

Crabs - War
Great living fortresses with shells of coral-reefs and claws the size of people, though often much of their features are covered in the mighty swarms of mundane crabs that cover them thickly, and that swarm about their feet. In great sideways drifts they march along the sea-floor, conquering all in their way. Once a slaughter is completed, and the flesh of their foes eaten, great shrine-piles of bones are built and set to wander the sea, tumble-weeds of the dooms of hundreds.
The Crab Kings love war beyond all reason. Only twice, two Crab Kings were seen to be fighting each other, two-hundred years separating both sightings. It was the same pair of Crab Kings, fighting the same war.
They are not totally belligerent though. They have been known to enter into mercenary contracts with devastating efficiency.
The rate with which they turn against their old masters at the end of said contracts does not bear thinking about.

Goats - The Occult
Horns that spiral endlessly (literally), cloven hooves that spill smoke from their contact with the earth, eyes which branch in fractal patterns. Their fur ruffles forever in an endless ethereal wind, and comes in all manner of shades darker than black. They are not bigger than other goats, but you would not need that to recognise that they are something other. Proud they walk the depths of the woods, supremely confident in the power and worth of the dark secrets they know, written in the empty spaces behind their eyes.
Sometimes, they share their knowledge with the outcast and the vulnerable. Sometimes, they share their knowledge with the greedy who bring them many gifts for the knowledge the goat holds. Sometimes, they step into the darkened cells of the condemned, and off them them power and the means of revenge. Whenever they release their secrets, it is always in the name of chaos and tragedy.
Once in a hundred years, all 13 of the Goat Kings will commune together at the top of a hill crested and crowned with great stony spires.
No-one knows what they do. Perhaps we should never know.


Rocs - Wait, hang on
Hey... these are just Bird-Kings. What are you doing putting this in the list? Surely there can't possibly be birds even greater than Rocs? Preposterous.

Scorpions - Fear
Look, Scorpions are terrifying as they are. Twinned claws, arcing sting, many many legs; it isn't hard to see why Spirits of Fear take this form. The first sign you will see of a King of Scorpions is a strange pillar of stone, curved in a quite improbably way jutting up out of the sand. Perhaps there will be other such stones just protruding from the dunes. They like to bury themselves in the sand whilst they are dormant, and burst forth to destroy trespassers and prey. Their legs are many more than other scorpions. Their sting strikes with such speed that it needs no venom, and turns the very desert itself to glass when it strikes. And their claws snip through stone as easily as flesh. Oh, and don't look at their mouths. Please. Luckily for us, they are few, and they are mostly loners, and rarely encourage great swarms of their lesser fellows. Rarely.

Sharks - Death
Normal sharks can taste death on the water, Shark Kings can taste the intent of death, even hours before it happens. Dread omens of slaughters yet to happen. Large even as Sharks are large, they lead great demon-packs of deadly predators in slaughters of blood and frenzy, even tearing out the bellies of ships in their blood-lust. At least, only some of the time. Long days will pass when the Shark King and its court are content merely to swim long, lazy circles. The Lairs of Shark-Kings are mighty coral reefs of sunken and ruined ships, spires of shattered masts and halls of splintered hulls. It doesn't bear thinking of what they used before ships were made...


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