Whisper-Nixes, Stormbeasts, Striga-Children

The Cold Woods beckon, and Whisper-Nixies chuckle in the dark, staring at you with iron-grey eyes.

Whisper-Nixes are small and unassuming. Their cheeky-grins and flittering, glittering wings (which only some of them have the wings, in fairness) are disarming if you have as much social awareness as they do, which is to say not very much. They giggle at you, never with you, and just kind of... hover about you, just out of reach; hiding behind corners and roots, following at a distance. They are small, only a few inches tall, and bedecked in fine, golden filigree clothing; its really quite beautiful.

The rest of them, is somewhat disconcerting though. They show too many teeth, and their fingers... well. Their fingers are as long the rest of their bodies, and have long hooked black nails on the end, like bony, knobbled fishing lines. These they insert into the back of your head, just under the bottom of your skull.

It will bleed horribly, but in all likelihood it won't cause any permanent harm or great pain to you. It will feel extraordinarily strange however, as the Whisper-Nix's fingers crawl up through your flesh and hook around your brain. The real pain comes when they tug out your memories as glistening golden strands of thread. The memories they steal can be of just about anything; they can steal your skills, your magics, your plans, your dreams. These they will take to sew together into clothes and homes for themselves in their tree-commune-fortresses.

The clothes they make and the homes they weave are essentially magical, as they impart to the wearer and the home aspects of the memory they represent. Memories of flight, falling, or of flying spells are sewn into their wings. Memories of great battles, or of particular combat maneuvers are sewn into blades. Memories of death are sewn into deadly poisons. Similarly, memories of child-hood homes are sewn into their houses, which then represent the remembered domicile, which the Nixes find absolutely hilarious by the way. They will tell you all about the things they have made that you can't remember, and cackle about it in flittering droves.

They might occasionally steal the memories of animals, but they're never as interesting as those of humans, so they prefer to leave them alone. These they take only out of desperation or necessity.

They are tricksters first and foremost. They have been known to infest a person and control them for days at a time, or perhaps take a commission from an arrogant mortal for a memory-glove that confers the ability to throw flames, then change their minds half-way through and blast the commissioner with said glove, whichever they find funnier at the time. Their plans will change at the drop of a hat, if they loose interest or find an opportunity for greater comedy.

The golden threads of memory can be reincorporated back into their original owner (or anyone else for that matter) by swallowing it all down. The thread will remain lustrous and gilded as long as its owner would have remembered it, and fade and disappear when it would have been forgotten.

And the Cold Woods beckon, and Stormbeasts spark and crash through the cloud-bruised skies.

Stormbeasts are serpentine dog-beasts that are made of lightning and usually live in the clouds, but sometimes they will journey down and live in your weapons for a time.

You can only really see their true shape when it is extremely foggy, or if you are with them up in their storm-clouds. They spark off of each tiny droplet suspended in the air, and they are always moving like the air itself. They can move slowly if they wish, but most of the time, they move fast. Altogether too fast. In the midst of a thunderstorm, you would not be able to distinguish their jagged bottle-fly dashes from tiny bolts of lightning within the cloud, or their mad dashes from the sky to particularly interesting landmarks from the lightning.

They only rarely visit the surface, bound as they are to the storms that sustain them, and their deadly weakness to grounding. They diffuse a little bit through everything they touch, up to its capacity. The static build-ups of the storm-clouds are both their life and their prison, and if they should ever touch the earth itself, in an instant they would be gone, dispersed throughout all the world.

Lakes are their favourite places to visit, as they skitter sparking and blasting across the water's surface, touching just lightly enough to shatter the water to steam, without risking grounding. A few even find their way to the sea, and they will happily waste almost all their time chasing ships and setting fire to the flammable parts, the tips of rigging, the pitch-soaked hulls.

When men wearing metal find themselves in a storm, this attracts not only the attention of the Stormbeasts, but also their curiosity. Metal holds for them a special fascination. It is like a black-hole to them, an unavoidable attraction. If they touch it, they are totally absorbed, and it is like being tightly bundled in a sack for them; not totally uncomfortable, but not totally pleasant either. For the wielder of said metal, it is like something out of legend; the metal sparks and flashes for the Stormbeast now living inside.

It will find this new experience only interesting for a small amount of time, diffused throughout the metal as it is; it is like when you dive into a pool only to now be all of the pool all at once. It will smash itself against the walls of its prison, batter the bars that contain it. Its lightning now blesses the blade or the armour, with all the destructiveness that might entail, if properly harnessed; but only as long as the Stormbeast remains caged. Sigils and wards can permanently contain the Stormbeast within the metal, though it takes them some days to gather themselves to escape by their own powers.

Even those Stormbeasts that do escape rarely survive much longer than that. Their storms will have moved on; left them all behind.

And the Cold Woods beckon, and Striga-Children cower from the light, dredging the last drops of fluid from dried corpses.

Striga-Children or Stirges, sometimes, are the particularly grim result of a Vampire siring a child, and being able to bring it to term before one of them bodily devours the other, which is to say, not very often at all. Thank gods.

Take a child, lengthen their limbs, fingers trailing the ground, arch the back, drain all colour from the skin; and then replace the face with the long thin face and round glass-shatter eyes of a mosquito. This is the Striga-Child. It is always cold. It is always hungry. It hates you. It hates its parents.It hates itself. Nothing else matters to it.

While you are marching down the long dark roads, a Striga-Child will stalk you from the darkness, never approaching, never leaving. It will smell you for scents of its progenitors, and pick off any stragglers and loners to drain their fluids. If they think they detect their parents on you (and they are very loose with this, they are exceptionally over-eager) then they may approach you in disguise. They lack the sorcerous powers of their creators, for now at least, but they can craft masks and steal clothes, and approach you. They are not as subtle as they think, but the rewards they offer will be tempting, and they seem much weaker than they are. The temptation exists to help them.

If they should ever actually destroy their parents and drain them of what little yet flows within them, they will finally become true-blooded vampires. This is their only wish. They despise their horrendous forms, their desperate appetites. They think things will be better when mummy and daddy are dead and drained. They are partially right, but only partially.

They aren't quite vampiric for now though, though they their parent's thirsts, and their vulnerability to sunlight, but none of their other weaknesses. They are as wild as their parents are civilised (or as civilised as they pretend to be). They act only in self-interest, and self-preservation. They have nothing, but promise as much as they think they can get away with. They rarely stick to it, unless forced to at sword point. They aggressively seek out opportunities to betray you, though if you are wary enough, violence will be an adequate shield for you.

They haunt the dark and cold barrens around their parent's lairs. The Vampires will attempt to hunt it down once they realise what it is they have created, as the Striga-Child itself hunts them. It grows slowly, but eventually it might eclipse the Vampires without help, and then become a Vampire of truly prodigious power. If they achieve this, they will be worse than their parents. Their demeanour is not changed by their ascension. Sometimes, the Vampires catch their spawn, and destroy it. They leave nothing, they take nothing. The thing is an abomination to them. They are shamed by it, and must leave no trace.

Every once in a while, a Striga-Child will lose its parents. It will never become a vampire now, stuck in its current piteous and hateful form. It will continue to grow, as do its appetites. Entire villages have been found as pulverised ruins, corpses either crushed or sucked hollow through spear-wound punctures. Usually the Striga-Child will be hunted by every hero in the land at this point. They have no upper-limit to their growth, they must be stopped before it is too late.

And the Cold Woods Beckon.

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