Posted on October 13, 2008 by JLaSala
Watch the rooftops, you never who, or what, may be watching you…
Created by Jeff LaSala
With Art by Brad McDevitt
Everyone knows what gargoyles are, but very few legends have survived the ages concerning these gruesome stone antiquities. One such story that has endured in some circles is that of the anomalous statue known as the Glaring Hunter. Though it is far less famous than its Notre Dame brethren, the Hunter is the only gargoyle said to appear, without explanation, in more than one place.
The earliest confirmed account of its existence came from a 14th Century anchorite in the north of England who described its perch upon an old abbey wall. An ancient scroll rumored to be one of the lost Gospels also made reference to “the Staring Demon” whose presence Biblical scholars say follows the steps of the Devil. Yet now, this particular gargoyle has been appearing in many different places across the world, more and more frequently—from Tokyo to Manhattan, from small town Middle America to rural Bavaria. Most legitimate scholars dismiss the Glaring Hunter as just another “sensationalist bugbear for paranormal fanboys,” while others maintain it is merely an elaborate architectural hoax. But none of these have ever laid eyes on the thing itself.
Though no authenticated photographs have been taken of it, the stone-carved Hunter itself is considered ghoulish beyond expectation. Its body is excruciatingly hunched, with sharp protrusions jutting from its spine like bladed vertebrae. The entire frame is emaciated as of severe malnutrition, yet its shoulders and hands are overlarge, with long digits curled into rending claws. Two arched masses only vaguely suggestive of wings hang from the shoulders to the figure’s taloned feet, presumably positioned to offset the forward-leaning body and anchor it in place.
The rare few who have been able to spy the Glaring Hunter in close proximity found themselves unable to effectively describe its face. Their hasty, fumbled narratives suggested a leering visage that stares directly back at the viewer as if the Hunter is the keeper of some hideous knowledge. Some have sworn that the gargoyle knew them and all their sins merely by the force of its stone-eyed scrutiny, while all swear that the original sculptor must certainly have been mad. The gargoyle always appears near the apex of its chosen building, on roofs or turrets far from casual view or easy examination. Night or day, the Hunter seems to maintain its brooding perch, a dark silhouette under the sky, unmoving and unafraid.
Scholars of the occult and law enforcement agencies alike have observed a surge of paranormal and criminal activity at the approximate time of the Hunter’s appearance, and many claim it is therefore an icon of ill omen. Others see the gargoyle as a lightning rod for evil, gathering dark forces from the land around it.
But another, more recent theory has also come to light: that the Glaring Hunter may be—as gargoyles were originally intended to do—warding off evil spirits. And that it appears only where evil has already taken root. Like its name implies, the Hunter seeks out the most depraved souls among humanity or the vilest demons that prowl the Earth wherever they take refuge—and there, from its lofty vantage, the gargoyle grapples with its victim. Whether it defeats its prey physically or spiritually, when the Hunter disappears again, it leaves quietude in its wake. Without exception. Is it, then, as some unpopular theologians submit, merely a grotesque angel?
If so…after all this time, why has its activity been increasing?
About Jeff LaSala
Jeff LaSala actually spends a lot of his time thinking about—if not writing about—monsters. Earlier this year saw the publication of his first novel, The Darkwood Mask (with Wizards of the Coast), an Eberron tale of gothic mystery, murder, and…well, monsters. He currently resides in the Bronx with his Argentine gypsy wife, tries very hard to dodge the rat race, and strives to find the time to do everything all at once. When not doing any of the above, he even writes RPG books for Goodman Games and lurks like a gargoyle over his own website, www.jefflasala.com.
About Bradley K. McDevitt
Bradley K. McDevitt is RPG Illustrator and Graphic Designer, his client include Wizards of the Coast, Postmortem Studios, Fantasy Flight Games, Mongoose Publishing and many more. He recently published a new game, Haiiii-Ya!, and you can find more of his art in the Clipart Critters series.