"Jassa? Jassa!? Where are you?" Evan jogged along the sodden path through Redenbalg - the swamp which surrounded his home town of Hoven. His boots were filled with muck and his clothes were damp and clinging to his form. Evan's sister, Jassa-Glen was late back to town after gathering kindling for the house - it was getting dark, and a storm was coming in. Now several miles from town and with no sign of Jassa-Glen, Evan began to worry. A flicker of firelight caught Evan's eye out in the briny swamp and the young man gasped - could that be her? Steeling himself, Evan left the path and began trudging in through the trees. "Jassa!?" The light was moving slowly away from him - if it was his sister, she didn't hear him. Evan glanced back - the road was already out of sight and the marshes were notorious for disorienting a person. picking up his pace, he slodged through the ankle deep muck. Finally, Evan broke through into a tiny clearing. There, walking slowly away from him was what appeared to be a hunched over person garbed in black rags. No face could be seen. Held out high, the person was carrying an ancient looking lantern of rusted iron and streaky glass and inside it a small, yellow flame flickered, casting shadows all about. "Excuse me!" Yelled the young man, "I'm looking for my sister; she was on the road back that way. Have you seen anyone here?"
The black-garbed figure stopped and turned it's hood around to peer at the boy - no face could be seen beneath the blackness of the hood - even the lantern light couldn't penetrate the shadows. A whisper could be heard from beneath that cowl, but it was too soft to be understood.
Unnerved but determined, Evan stepped forth into the ring of light which the lantern let out. "Please, I need to know..."
Once deep inside the firelight something uncanny happened; The figure dropped the lantern, which plopped upright, unceremoniously on a pile of mud. Once the lantern struck the ground, the shadows around began to roil and swirl, snaking out in tendrils which defied the logic of the single flame in the area. Evan screamed as these tendrils gripped onto his own shadow and wrenched away a small chunk of it. As the piece of Evan's shadow was pulled away from his shoulder area, a chunk of his own flesh, clothes and all flew off him as though an invisible beast had torn a piece away from him. The flesh struck the sodden ground with a squelch. Terrified, the young man turned to run, but as more of those tendrils lashed themselves onto his body he found himself being pulled back - it felt as though the grip on his shadow was actually on his body! The young man fell to his knees.
The shadows made short work of Evan; the screaming man was reduced to a splattered pile of flesh chunks in the area, small enough for the local scavenging wildlife to pick at. Once Evan's Silhouette was torn away, the shadows swirled again, in a drain-like manner, sliding inwards to the lantern on the ground. Once Evan's shadow was fully consumed the candle-light within the lantern flared intensely for several seconds before sputtering down to it's previous slow flicker. In the silence, the figure of shadows picked up the lantern once more and slowly walked away.
In all ecosystems there are predators. This is also the case within the infernal realm. While there are vile demons and conniving devils aplenty, there are also those, such as the Gandacai, which prey on these creatures. The FlickerWikk is another such thing. A demonic parasite, these creatures exist as a single flame inside an iron and glass 'shell' - their lantern case. How they exist as flames and get their lantern case shells is not known - nor is it known how or even if they procreate. It is suggested that perhaps the FlickerWikk doesn't procreate at all and is something created by a cruel god, or perhaps a demonic experiment gone wrong. They lurk in the dark areas of the Infernal realm, preying on the tainted souls of unwary demons.
When they first start out, the Flickerwick exists solely as the flame, and possesses only a small radius of light in which to manipulate the shadows to feed. However, as they consume shadows and indeed the very souls of their prey, they gain in power, boasting greater control over their shadows and a larger radius of light to work with.
Once a FlickerWikk has gained enough 'fuel' in the form of shadow, it is able to actually manifest a corporeal 'servant'. A hunched figure of shadow which - at a glance - appears to be a featureless humanoid fully covered in black rags. When a FlickerWikk is able to create this form, it finally becomes mobile! The shadow-servant is able to pick up the lantern and slowly move - only ever at a walking pace. These creatures then roam; exploring. Sometimes a FlickerWikk manages to walk themselves right out of the Infernal realm, and find themselves on the mortal plane.
For reasons unknown - especially since the FlickerWikk's flame is barely more resilient than a normal one - The FlickerWikk which enters the mortal plane often find themselves within Swamps, mangroves or damp caves. Without their normal diet of demonic souls, they have taken to eating those of mortals to fuel their fire. As such they lurk in the woods - though not too far from paths - and use their flame to attempt to lure curious travellers to it. Due to the fact it cannot chase prey very well, it finds that having it's prey come to it is far more efficient.
When the FlickerWikk has a potential victim enter it's radius of firelight, it commands the very shadows around it to latch onto them, tearing them apart chunk by chunk. Escaping the grasp of a FlickerWikk is not impossible - it just requires a burst of strength to break free of it's grasp and then one must get out of the firelight. Once free, the FlickerWikk is too slow to be a danger.
If someone chooses to fight instead of flee, they have a challenge. First they must get to the middle of the light radius. Next, they must realize that it's the flame itself, not the Shadow-Servant which is causing the damage (The Shadow-Servant will remain still unless someone threatens the flame. In case of this, the servant will attempt to draw all attention and attacks to it, instead of the lantern.) And finally, they must destroy the glass and snuff out the flame. A well thrown rock or shot arrow may be effective, however the Shadow-Servant will inevitably stand in the way unless it's otherwise distracted.
The FlickerWikk is always alight, and snuffing out the flame effectively kills it. Additionally, relighting a snuffed out FlickerWikk lantern does not ressurect the FlickerWikk - it will simply act as a normal lantern. The lantern's glass is waterproof but it is no hardier than a normal one.
During the daytime, it's powers are largely dampened and it's Shadow-Servant melts away to nothing, so a FlickerWikk will have it's Shadow-Servant place the lantern somewhere safe just before dawn - usually climbing the top of a tree and hanging it off the highest branch in a swamp. When night falls again, the FlickerWikk can re-summon it's servant to bring it down from the tree.
If one is clever, instead of killing a FlickerWikk, someone may be able to capture it by throwing something which strongly blocks out light (cloth or clothing won't work. Thick leather may be effective, and ideally an iron case or chest made for the task could be used.) While a captured FlickerWikk can never been controlled, it can make for a devastatingly effective trap.
Uses/Plotlings for the FlickerWikk
- While travelling the swamps in the daytime, one of the PC's notice an old lantern hanging off a high branch, and it seems the fire is still lit! Could this be a famed everlit lantern!? One of the PC's climb the tree to collect it. Let's hope they snuff out the flame before night falls...
- The PC's have just entered the dungeon of (insert villain here). As a safety measure, the Villain has managed to have a live FlickerWikk captured and placed in the first of the rooms as a trap for the unwary.
- The PC's have been asked to the Princes name-day celebration as a security measure as they think someone is going to try and assassinate him. The food has been tested for poison. The halls and corridors are secure from would-be rogues. But amongst the Princes nameday presents is an odd-shaped one: It's leather-wrapped and in the shape of a lantern...
- The PC's have managed to capture a FlickerWikk several sessions ago and wrap it up in leather. This session, they are being chased down by a vicious demon that they have little hope of defeating one-on-one. One of the PC's has a great idea though - to open up the leather and run like hell! How will the demon react when it runs into the clutches of one of it's natural predators - the FlickerWikk?
- The PC's are walking along a trail through the woods, late at night. Suddenly, they notice a faint glow through the trees. Should they go and investigate?
The FlickerWikk can be used in many situations and in many locations. Hanging on the wall of forgotten Keeps; Down in the lonely depths of a natural cave; encountered out in the middle of nowhere; used as a trap; used as a weapon; used as a bargaining tool or 'security' when travelling demon-infested lands.