Lair of the Bellowes Beaste
Sir Palomar, covered with filth and torn by the cruel thorns of Destinen Wood, considered the strange tracks he found before him. He and his squire, Richelm, had been lucky to elude the supernatural terrors that hunted in the forest, but he knew that their luck could not hold much longer.
As the two men lay hidden in a sheltered bower within one of the forest’s thorny thickets, they began to hear a horrible wheezing noise, as of some massive bellows. They were not alone in the thicket! A massive beast lumbered from among the thorny growths, apparently undisturbed by the briars. In form, it was similar to a leopard, but its chest was much larger that the creature’s spotted body could possibly require. The thing’s head was like nothing he had ever seen before, a skull-like mass, covered with rows of barbed spikes. As it moved, its massive chest pumped in and out, like a bellows rather than any normal beast’s body. Noticing the two intruders, it immediately drew forth a mighty breath and projected a powerful gust of foul air. Strange fibrous tendrils belched forth, clinging like cobwebs to each of the men, trapping them in place as the monstrosity advanced.
Trapped, Sir Palomar struggled to draw his weapon. The thing might kill them, but it would taste his honest steel!
One of the least-understood of nocturnal horrors is the vile species known as “Bellowes Beastes”. Generally solitary, these abominations can be fearsome predators. Drawing a mighty breath, it vomits forth a mass of fibrous webbing before it advances on its opponents, unhindered by its own web-like secretions. Grasping foes in its powerful front legs, it tears at their flesh with the barbed projections that flank each side of its skull like-head.
Legends describe the Bellowes Beaste as a creation of the dreadful Twystened Sidhe, the dark ruler of Destinen Wood. According to these little-known tales, the Dark Lady of Destinen bred the vile beasts to serve her in a bid to seize power among the elves of the Unseighlie Court, but her ploy was discovered and she was magically bound by the elves’ grim Horned Lord, forced to dwell forevermore within the forest whose creatures she had perverted to her ends.
Pets of the Twistened Lady
Bellows beasts are not nearly as stealthy as their smaller cousin, the leopard. Easily detected by their loud breathing and the exaggerated, bellows-like movement of their massive chests, these creatures are clearly a perversion of the natural order. The jaws of bellows beasts are actually fairly weak, being adapted to spray the disgusting phlegm that they use to ensnare their prey. Those beasts that have grown in the wild are often fearlessly aggressive toward foes their own size or smaller, but avoid opponents that appear to be too strong for their webs to hold. For that reason, foes mounted on horses or who otherwise appear to be unusually large will not be attacked by these creatures. Some bellows beasts have been subjected to the bizarre attack training of the sadistic Gardein Hwit, and will viciously attack almost anything that they meet, attempting to cripple each of their foes before moving on to the next.
Bellowes Beaste Oyle
Despite the strange beauty of the ungainly creature’s spotted coat, its fur is not normally used for any purpose, as the creature unfortunately secretes an oily material that permeates its fur and keeps its own web-like phlegm from sticking to it. While the beast remains alive, the oily residue is fairly innocuous, but it tend to become rancid soon after the creature’s death, giving off an odor as pungent as it is appalling. Efforts to clean the malodorous residue from the coat have been only partially successful; apparently, the fur soon becomes brittle and loses its luster without the preserving effect of the oily material.
Although no common practical use has been found for the remains of these rare creatures, some alchemists have been able to prepare the oily goop that coats their bodies into a malodorous unguent. The resultant paste, known as “Bellowes Beaste Oyle” serves well for waterproofing objects, repelling insects, and preventing objects from sticking to each other. If smeared on the skin and clothing, it makes the user impervious to webs and other sticky materials. Unfortunately, this resistance wears off long before the foul scent associated with the unguent fades so few alchemists are willing to extract it and fewer people are willing to cover themselves with it.