Posted on October 7, 2008 by Flames
Our latest addition to the Halloween Horror series comes from author Jensen Toperzer.
This creature could be found in any number of fantasy or post-apocalyptic worlds, so be careful where you go exploring…
Created by Jensen Toperzer
A wasteland stalker (or Khyr-garuke, as the natives call them) is a terrible behemoth generally found in areas destroyed by some horrible disaster. As the name implies, they favor wastelands, though some have said that they lair in the shells of ruined cities. Some say that they are given rise by the maddened and terrified spirits of those killed in disasters; others that they are disaster made flesh, the very incarnations of the forces of destruction.
Stalkers are strange beasts, being huge in size (the largest known specimen is thought to have been fifty feet long, as judged by the distance between its tracks) yet silent of step. Indeed, most victims are slain before they even become aware of a stalker’s presence. Their bodies seem cumbersome and bulbous, seeming to consist of two irregularly shaped spheres; despite this they are almost graceful in their movements. Most have four serpentine limbs, covered in interlocking plates of some unknown substance, ending in four long claws arranged in a cross-shape. When the creature’s limbs are lifted, the claws lock together in a spear-shape.
Its head is eerily similar to a human’s in shape, though it lacks eyes, nose, or ears. Its mouth and jaw-structure, however, are nearly identical to a human’s, as are its large, square, pearly-white teeth.
A Khyr-garuke’s hide is peculiar indeed, being resistant to high-velocity projectile weapons yet vulnerable to bladed weapons. This makes them extremely difficult to kill, requiring careful planning – one must first find the beast, somehow evade its armored (and nigh impervious) limbs, then strike its main body with a weapon (most favor halberds, as spears seem to bounce off as well). Even this is unlikely to kill the beast. They do not seem to have blood, but instead, a poisonous black bile, which releases noxious fumes upon contact with the air.
Most victims of the wasteland stalker are “treasure hunters, those who enter the great wastes, seeking out the broken skyscrapers of cities long dead and dust. Said hunters are generally well-armed and forewarned, and all have come up with their own ways of dealing with the beasts. The preferred strategy seems to be “Run quickly and pray that another isn’t nearby.”
One interviewee states that he went to the lost city of Tara’varu in search of salvage. The other members of his expedition seemed to split off every so often. He simply assumed that the others had split up temporarily to cover more ground and perhaps have better luck in finding salvageable items; he only realized the truth when he found his last companion impaled on one claw of a relatively small Khyr-garuke. He did not know why he had survived; it seems that the stalker in question disappeared after that.
Much of the stalker’s ecology remains unknown. Their diet is not apparent, as their wasteland habitats are usually barren. Victims of stalkers are never consumed (hence why it is easy to tell when someone has been killed by a wasteland stalker).
About Jensen Toperzer
Jensen Toperzer is an English major currently attending McDaniel College. In her free time – of which she has very little – she plays Dungeons and Dragons, writes short fiction, and has limited success in finding steady employment. She keeps a blog at lucid-seraph.livejournal.com