Posted on October 19, 2008 by Flames
The latest addition to the Halloween Horror series is from game designer and author, Monte Cook (Worlds of Their Own, Ptolus). Monte took a short break from researching his latest project for this bit of horror.
There are things in the deep best left alone, things that are very hungry…
The Kragethogil and the Reapers
Created by Monte Cook
Sometimes, the most terrible thing is that which you never see. The kragethogil dwells deep underwater, a monstrously vast, ghastly abomination of spiny tendrils and sightless eyes. No one knows precisely what it looks like, because the creature never comes to the surface, and never confronts its prey.
That’s for the reapers to do.
Through a horrific psychic intrusion, the kragethogil spawns tiny extensions of itself within the minds of swimmers and fishermen straying into waters they should have avoided. After a brief and bloody gestation, the telepathically implanted larva takes control of the host and transforms it from within, assimilating its flesh into its own. The result is a reaper.
Although no two reapers appear exactly alike, each is a creature of dark scales and sinewy, waving limbs. The original body’s bones become pliant and flexible, more tentacles than arms. Obscene mouths erupt across the entirety of the host’s flesh, all the better to steer the new body toward its sole purpose: To feed.
But it is not their own hunger the reapers seek to sate. Each of them feeds for the kragethogil that granted it life. The psychic monstrosities of the deep have for so long focused their attentions on honing their minds and traveling to deeper and deeper levels of consciousness that they have lost all ability to perform natural bodily functions. They can neither feed nor digest. Their nourishment comes to them through their numinous link with each reaper as it feeds. The reapers are their mouths and their digestive systems.
By night, often in the radiance of a pale moon, the reapers slither, shuffle, and squirm their way to shore and fall upon those living near the water like a wave both ill and unexpected. In this way, they can pass over a small coastal fishing village and when they recede, the place lies silent and dead. The reapers strip a home, a lonely lighthouse, or an entire town of all flesh—livestock, pets, and people—leaving behind only grisly bones and discarded belongings. The kragethogil require all the food the reapers can find.
Attacking from the darkness, reapers noiselessly grasp their victims with writhing limbs, clenching mouths tearing and devouring flesh before the creature gets a chance to die. The weapons of men break uselessly upon the thick hides adapted for the pressures of dark depths. Their bloody harvest gathered, they return to the sea and the silence they find in its embrace.
Only a single reference in a very old mariner’s chant mentions these terrors. You’ll likely hear it only on chill moonlit nights and only from through the clenched teeth of the saltiest of sailors. “The screams of the dying dole the reapers’ castigation.” Some wonder that the phrase might suggest that shrill sounds of great volume and intensity might bring them pain. Enough might even drive them off, although no account of the stories ever describes such a thing. Perhaps the reapers are more than the mouths of their kragethogil masters—perhaps they are also their eyes and ears as well, and a high pitched noise causes them pain, not the reapers.
About Monte Cook
Monte Cook has been creating monsters for a living for 20 years, starting in 1988 with Creatures and Treasures II for Iron Crown Enterprises. In 2000, he co-designed the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. In between he wrote a lot of game products for ICE, TSR, WotC and more. After that, he started his own game studio, Malhavoc Press. Today he writes both games and fiction, and is currently hard at work on the Very, Very Secret Book of Conspiracies, a tongue-in-cheek nonfiction book about JFK, aliens, CIA mind control, and still kookier stuff than that. You can find out more about Monte at montecook.com.