Whilst Scrying the pits of hell the third time I spied a demon most foul; a beast of flame and horn and claw. Yet I saw that all was not right with this fiend of power as it was clawing at it's own head in agony. As I watched, agog and aghast, it's head crumpled inwards and split asunder. Out from the demolished skull I felt a beast of no form but malicious intent arise. Terror lanced through me and I realized something as I looked at the formless entity. The beast was looking back.
- Excerpt: Triblations of Lister Otticas; 603 ap
Pathways of the Pit; Book 3.
From the deepest bowels of Hell come the Gandacai. Before being cursed to the pit the Gandacai were creatures of the mortal plane; sentient beasts of tooth and claw which fed on all flesh. However, the Gandacai learned to feed on more than just the physical form of human and animal; they eventually unlocked the ability to tear apart and consume the very souls of living creatures. A crime against nature, the gods punished the Gandacai for this, stripping them of their mortal forms and sending them to be forever locked in the pit with no way out.
There, they became a plague even on demon-kind, the Gandacai had become ethereal entities which could claw at fiendish demonic minds. But still they yearned for the taste of mortal souls once more. For countless centuries the Gandacai were locked in the confines of hell, until finally, they learned of a way to bypass the law of the gods and return to the surface; and mankind was at fault. It was they who learned the fel art of demonic summoning.
Witnessing demons being forcibly wrenched to the mortal plane, the Gandacai devised a way that they could be brought up as well. Lurking in the shadows until the opportune moment, the Gandacai can penetrate and invade the body of a Demon, playing the role of parasite within it. While the Gandacai does not obtain control of the demon, it instills into the demon a sense of 'wanderlust', making it more receptive to the calls and rituals of summoning. It may take years until the inflicted demon is summoned by a mortal, but when it is wrenched through dimensions to the living plane of existence, the Gandacai is brought with it.
Once it is in the mortal plane, the Gandacai bursts through the demon's body, usually splintering bone and sending giblets flying all over the unsuspecting warlocks' laboratory. Entering the mortal realm grants the Gandacai a body once more, which rapidly grows into a pink-fleshed mockery of a human; all sinew, bone and jagged tooth and claw. Famished and overcome by soul-lust, the Gandacai will immediately seek out it's summoner. Circles of power and banishing spells have no effect on the Gandacai, and the luckless human will likely succumb to the powerful will of the creature, having his or her soul torn forcibly from the body and painfully consumed. What remains is simply a shell of a human, which the Gandacai will then assert it's will over, becoming the beasts' first puppet; all movements and actions controlled by it. Now sated, the Gandacai will gain it's bearings and rearrange itself. A master of deception and illusion, it alters it's body appearance to seem human. Fed and disguised, the Gandacai now sets out into the world.
One thing never goes to plan for the Gandacai, however; they inevitably find themselves inflicted with the same Wander-lust they originally instilled upon the demon they inhabited. Before long, they will find themselves with an uncontrolled urge to explore the lands of this world. They feel the need to tread pathways, sail the seas and explore the lands evermore.
Troupe of Swallowed Souls
Safe within the forest I observed the six gypsies as they welcomed a lonely traveller to their fire. As the night grew, the sound of laughter rose as the drink was handed out. I smelled roasting of pheasants and the music of a lute which nearly made me reconsider my position deep within the trees. Yet I remained here still. The moon hung high in the night when the lonely traveller stood, staggering with a laugh and stating that he needed to rest. It was at this moment that the leader of the gypsy clan rose and walked to the man. The gypsy seemed somehow... less human, and finally I realized he was warping before my very eyes. The traveller had no time before the gypsy had latched itself onto his head with clawed hands and sunk it's teeth onto his face. something was sucked away from the traveller - I could not quite tell what, but the life seemed to draw out of him, causing his body to slump, going limp.
The gypsy detached from the traveller and took a step back, and for a moment, all was still. Then, in a jerking motion, the traveller stood once more, raising up and rolling it's head and arms as though getting used to his own body once more. Then, eerily, the traveller and the six gypsies all turned their heads in unison, peering directly into the forest where I crouched, and smiled.
- Exerpt: Hunting The Occult; 1210 ap
Feverishly taken to follow the paths and roads of the worlds for the rest of it's immortal life, the Gandacai is often referred to as the Travelling Soul-Eater or the Wanderlust Vampire. It often finds itself taking on the guise of a travelling trader, or gypsy troupe. Occasionally it will take disguise itself as wandering militia or even simple farmers travelling the roads.
Initially, once released into the mortal world the Gandacai is able to take control of a single, soul-drained human shell, allowing it to perform basic functions such as travelling, fighting and stringing together a few words. As the Gandacai's grip on the world tightens, it's control of it's puppets grows. Not only are it's puppets able to perform more complex actions - even eventually gaining personalities of their own - it is able to take on additional mindless slaves. There are rumors of ancient Gandacai Paragons, controlling troupes of over forty Soulless puppets in the guise of travelling performers, storytellers and dare-devils.
Due to the limitations of the puppets, the Gandacai is on a constant search for a superior specimen of human to take as it's own. Thus, if someone of superior skill or power - such as a mage or seasoned warrior - finds their way into the Gandacai's grip, an inferior puppet will be sacrificed to allow it to control the newcomer. Sacrificed puppets share the fate with most of those who end up sharing their fires with the Gandacai - they are slain, cooked and eaten. While the soul of a living creature is what sustains the Gandacai the most, fresh meat is still a delicacy to it.
Attributes of the Gandacai
He was wanted on suspicion of kidnapping and murder so we hunted the merchant for days, and finally we found him on a misty dawn with two hired guards and an Ox, plodding down the main road with a wagon full of wares. The merchant noticed us coming from behind and smiled a wide smile, but he urged his braying Ox on, rounding a corner. Gustan and I hurried our mounts on and turned the corner not five seconds later, however all signs of the merchant had disappeared. It was impossible, as the road was plain and straight from here on. Even the braying Ox could no longer be heard. No one has heard of the merchant since.
- Records of the HoldenCourt Guard, 1011 ap
Captain Littun Vax
While the Gandacai boasts unnatural strength and speed in it's natural form, this is far from it's most prominent abilities. Adept at deception, the Gandacai is extremely convincing and is able to put anyone at ease. Additionally, it is a master of illusion. It is not only able to alter it's own illusion, but it hide itself and it's whole troupe from view when it wishes. It is able to make one see what is not there, or ignore what is right in front of them.
The Gandacai can sense life in the form of souls. They can smell it from a mile away, and hiding from them will do no good. The best course of action to escape the clutches of the Gandacai is to run.
The Gandacai travels the roads of the world, either inviting themselves to other peoples' campfires, engaging in conversations to passing travellers on the road, or making their own campfires and waiting for weary travellers to ask to share the fire. Once engaged, it will interact, entertain, barter or share food and wine with it's prey until they are at ease and their guards are down. It will then release the illusions surrounding it's form in order to feed. Using it's puppets to aid in incapacitating it's victims, it will latch it's teeth on the person, forcibly draining the soul and consuming it.
Some animals are edgy when a Gandacai is near. Dogs will cower and whimper, and in the presence of a Gandacai, no birds will sing. Horses, Oxen and other beasts of burden seem unaffected, and the Gandacai will put these to good use, hauling wagons and riding them.
The party has travelled for days and they have decided to make camp on the road tonight. Soon after lighting their fire a some figures appear down the road; Camels and horses carrying wagons of goods, and a wealthy looking merchant. He smiles widely, assuring the party that his 5 followers are merely hired guards to protect his wares. May he stay and share your fire tonight?
The Gypsy Camp
Once again on the road and travelling late at night, the party comes across what appears to be two gypsy clans sharing a campfire. This is actually two Gandacai masters and their puppets meeting up to share tales of their travels; and they are both hungry for souls. But can they be pitted against one another? perhaps one can be convinced to see what his fellow Gandacai soul tastes like, instead of feeding on the party.
The party has been asked to bear witness in the foul practice of demon summoning by an aquaintance; a bit of a security policy, so to speak, in case the demon is unruly. However, it is obvious that things are not alright, as the summoned demon immediately falls to it's knees and begins to scream in agony, it's skin bulging as though something is trying to burst through. Is the party ready to face a Gandacai?
The party has found themselves within the layers of hell itself. However, not only demons and devils lurk the fel pits. Inevitably, one of the party has been inflicted with a Gandagai spirit. If the party do not find a way to exorcise the spirit before returning to the mortal realm, it will burst forth from the party member's body, slaying him in the process.