The most distressing thing that can happen to a prophet is to be proved wrong. The next most distressing thing is to be proved right.
When Mokkus the Trickster stole ‘Tomorrow’s Loom’, the Skein of Fate, from the Celestial Void of the Divine Brethren, he flew once more, upon the Roc-King’s back through the nebulous, translucent Veil of the Brethren and emerged in the Kingdoms of Man. He had stolen Tomorrow’s Loom on a lark, for that was his nature, to keep the Divine Brethren from being able to spin the device’s threads and portend the future of Man, their Masterwork.
Much time had passed before the detached, lazing Divine Brethren discovered the theft of the Loom. The lore-ridden P’Cheela tribe shamans of the Great Grass Sea, sing of Mokkus’ exploits among the Kingdoms of Man during that “Lost Time”.
“The Trickster came upon the fields, and met his end, but his Prophet-Son was spawned in his stead”, We tell those who ask of Jul-Ghose.
Mokkus at first was fearful. After all, to steal one of the ‘Eight Tools’ of the gods, was brazen even for another god! Mokkus could not know whether the Divine Brethren were unknowing or already cognizant of his deed. As he flew, he glimpsed that incredibly vast area of plains, steppe and savannah which men called the Great Grass Sea. An ocean of grass, thought Mokkus, a perfect place to hide! And hide he did, leaping from the Roc-King’s back and landing plumly in a field of tall reeds. Shrinking himself to vanish into the undergrowth, Mokkus decided to explore his new surroundings. His travels did not long last however, before he witnessed a large praying mantis eviscerating a hummingbird in the undergrowth. Mokkus stopped and stared in glee, for the Trickster was sleeping when the Divine Brethren had created the beasts of the Kingdoms of Man and he knew not the nature of any creature. Mokkus had decided that moment that he would take the shape of a praying mantis and having done so, resumed his travels in his new form.
Soon after, according to the oral tradition of the P’Cheela shamans, Mokkus came upon another praying mantis. A female in heat. Unable to resist a female of any race, Mokkus obliged the willing creature, being perfectly able in his present form. At the climactic moment something unexpected occurred. As Mokkus issued forth his Divine Seed, the female turned her head slightly and with blinding speed bit into Mokkus’ head, nearly severing it with her first strike. Her next few bites, finished the job, and as Mokkus’ headless body spasmed, she began to eat the rest of the Trickster.
“When our children ask us ‘how can a god die’? the P’Cheela shamans say, we tell them that “In that moment when a Divine Brethren passes his Seed or Essence, only then do the gods feel mortality. For those few ecstatic seconds, they become flesh and bone, like us.”
Mokkus the Trickster was no more. And when his head split open and his blood issued forth, it sprayed the grass, and the grass animated and danced, it is said. Nothing except for a patch of blood was left, as the mantis devoured the rest of Mokkus completely, together with Tomorrow’s Loom, the Skein of Fate. When she finished digesting the god, she went on her way, disappearing into the trackless Grass Sea.
But The Trickster had one last trick, and got his revenge on the insect. The female mantis birthed her brood some time later, and Jul-Ghose, Son of Mokkus’ emerged, obscene offspring of a god and an insect! The freakish newborn was already only slightly smaller than its mother at birth, and shredded her body as it wriggled forth. As the mother mantis lay twitching on the verge on death, the Offspring of Mokkus hastened her demise by devouring her, as his first meal among the Kingdoms of Man, and ironically as revenge for his father’s ignoble demise. The creature then staggered forward, and began to grow as it moved. It did not stop growing until it reached the size of a bull-elephant several weeks later. Finally its growing ceased, and the freakish abomination began to look for nourishment.
“And so the The Mouth-Of-Gods emerged, and we the P’Cheela chosen”, we tell the unbelievers
The gods sent Thunderbell the Half-god, son of Avveid Father-Sky to find Mokkus and Tomorrow’s Loom but the simple-minded giant could not find either one, as the former was no more and the latter rested inside the deep throat of Jul-Ghose.
“Jul-Ghose”, exclaim the P’Cheela, “Which means ‘Rhino-Killer’ in the your tongue”, when they are asked The Prophet’s name.
A hulking monstrosity, Jul-Ghose survived and thrived amongst the tall-grass savannah. The ‘lost world’ of the Great Grass Sea, provided the juggernaut prey aplenty. Though usually ambushing and crushing antelope, Jul-Ghose has been seen taking down rhinos on rare occasions. The rhinos of the plains, not as tough-skinned as their southern cousins and slightly smaller give some trouble to Jul-Ghose, but he has thus far emerged from such clashes none the worse. Jul-Ghose wields his powerful, steel-drill fore-arms with brutal effect on all beasts of the plains. The animals fear him, and the few human tribes stay well clear of the ‘green god’. All except the P’Cheela, who have discovered Jul-Ghose’s secret, and have devoted their lives to the Prophet. Because of the undeniable power of Tomorrow’s Loom, Skein of Fate, Jul-Ghose, who’s intellect usually allows him little room for thought aside from hunting and feeding, will occasionally be shaken by uncontrollable epileptic fits, collapsing involuntarily in the savannah.
“The Prophet hunts, then preaches”, say the P’Cheela as witnesses to Jul-Ghose’s spasms, “He tells of our future”
The Monstrosity then begins to speak prophecies in the most ancient and forgotten of human tongues. This is the effect of the power of one of the Divine Brethren’s ‘Eight Tools’, for the Skein of Fate slowly reveals the future of Man, through its only available vessel, the mantis, Jul-Ghose.
The Prophet preaches at random intervals, sometimes days apart, other times, he can go years without his epileptic seizures. There is no rhyme or reason as to when the Loom activates, though the P’Cheela have been unsuccessfully trying to predict the ‘Days of Prophecies’ through patterns in the beasts behavior. What the P’Cheela have done successfully, being one of the few tribes dwelling in the vast hunting territory of Jul-Ghose, is master the language of the Loom’s prophecies! It took them ten generations to decipher it, and ten more generations to truly understand the language. Now, the secluded, primitive, and some say deranged P’Cheela, may be the only humans in the world, who truly know the future of Man! Not even the gods, the Divine Brethren themselves!, having lost Tomorrow’s Loom, are capable of knowing the truth. The P’Cheela, believe that Jul-Ghose is the Divine Brethren’s Prophet, and that he was sent to teach the P’Cheela and make them the wisest tribe of the Kingdoms of Man, and favorite of the gods. Unwisely, it has not dawned on the P’cheela’s shamans, that the prophecies may be may be much greater in scope, affecting the future of all Mankind. They truly view and translate the prophecies as if they apply only to them.
Jul-Ghose, when not speaking prophecy, stalks the savannah. It cares naught that the P’Cheela revere it, for if one of the tribesman gets too close, Jul-Ghose does not hesitate in devouring one of his “devotees” as readily as he would an antelope. Those few outside the Tribe of P’Cheela that have seen Jul-Ghose and lived, simply call it The Abomination or the Juggernaut Seer. Jul-Ghose cares naught. It stalks the savannah, an obscene blot on Nature’s canvas.
During its epileptic seizures, while spouting prophecies, Jul-Ghose cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons or any spells! Such is the power of Mokkus seed! However this immunity is non-existent when Jul-Ghose is conscious, which is almost all of the time. It is unknown what Jul-Ghose lifespan could be. It has existed for eight thousand years, according to the P’Cheela’s reckoning. When Jul-Ghose goes epileptic, this can last several minutes or an hour or more. During these times the P’Cheela, if aware, guard the Prophet with demonic fervor, from any that would attempt to take advantage of the chittering, helpless hulk.
Tomorrow’s Loom Skein of Fate, one of the Eight Tools of the Divine Brethren, it was the device used by the gods to discern the future of Man, their creation. Though Jul-Ghose is difficult to miss, it must be noted that the Divine Brethren by nature are lazy, aloof, constantly distracted, full of hubris, and have not attempted to find the Loom in earnest, choosing to believe the simple-minded half-god, Thunderbell, that the Skein of Fate and the Trickster were nowhere to be found, and gone forever.
Brood of Jul-Ghose These are hundreds of Cat-sized mantids, birthed by the asexual Jul-Ghose. When not riding atop their sire, they crawl among the grasslands and the P’Cheela. These children of the Prophet are the creatures the P’Cheela bond with, in bizarre and elaborate rituals and ceremonies.
Diviners- The PCs are approached by clergy of the worlds faith. They are asked to mount an expedition into the vast Great Grass Sea to investigate the P’Cheela tribes and the rumors that they are known as seers and prophets.
Visionaries- PC priest character gets a vision from the Divine Brethren. “Find Tomorrow’s Loom, and you shall be rewarded with great enlightenment!” The PC and his group must do considerable detective work to come upon the truth.
Big-Game Hunter- The PCs are approached by or hear of, a great game hunter, an Ahab of the savannah, who is intent on hunting down the legendary Giant Mantis of the Great Grass Sea. He is brash, but unwise and unaware. He knows nothing of Jul-Ghose’s true nature.
He knows of the Old Ways- As a character background, one of the PCs is actually a wayward member of the P’Cheela tribe.
Long Live Jul-Ghose- If Jul-Ghose is slain, one of his many brood, takes the monster’s place. Growing from the size of a cat, to Elephant size, in a matter of weeks, a new Rhino-Killer, a new Jul-Ghose arises. Though this one will not have the Loom in its throat, it would be quite the surprise for PCs who have managed to slay Jul-Ghose, to hear rumors of another colossus stirring, just as they return from the slaughter of the original and assumed unique creature. The P’Cheela are unaware of this fact as well, due to the original Jul-Ghose’s unchallenged reign of millenia. This new monster would be one more step removed from the Divine Seed and less powerful in each successive reincarnation as well as bereft of any prophetic powers.
P'Cheela, People of the Supreme Truth
The P’Cheela, their imagined bond with Jul-Ghose, their ties to his Brood, and their bizarre ways, will be written and explained by Citadelian Pariah in an upcoming submission, as it was during a chat with him the tribes and the brood first hatched. In fact they were his hatchlings, followed by my own disturbing vision of the Uber-Mantis Jul-Ghose.
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? Responses (23)-24
Great Job Muro... I should have the P'Cheela tribes mostly done by next week. Bleh, sleep deprivation.
I assme the tribe if need be would protect the Mantis from attack when it was healthy?
Yep, good point! They would not only defend Jul-Ghose when It was preaching, but also act as flies-in-the-ointment for PCs, if the P'Cheela believed they meant the Prophet harm. Furthermore, when Jul-Ghose preaches, his brood of huge mantids immediately scurry back to him, as if sensing his call and returning to the mothership.
Thanks for your vote Cheka! I worked a long time on this.
What no one knows is that many weeks ago Muro asked me what I thought of a giant mantis that ate rhinos and occassionally went into epileptic fits while spouting prophecy. My responce was simple, lay off the LSD.
I am very impressed with how this turned out and am looking forward to Pariah's P'Cheelas.
Some great visuals in there! I love subs that get my mind winding.
-Can the tribe ride the smaller Jul-Ghose brood? I would imagine over a few centuries they would have figured something out. Do they have any powers besides knowing when Jul-Ghose preaches.
-With such worship, not even the excrement of the Jul-Ghose would be overlooked. Like tea leaves in the bottom of the cup, how it lands and forms is probably open to speculation...and might be accurate.
-If Jul-Ghose is slain, maybe the brood actually could get the power if they ate him? If Jul-Ghose is ever slain it would be imperative that they get the body and feed it to one of the brood. This may have happened numerous times through the ages and the tribe probably knows this. And, if this this works, perhaps the tribe has eaten some of the Jul-Ghose...what happens to them? Can/does the tribe eat the brood that die trying to get some power or does the rest of the brood swarm onto one as soon as it dies? Somebody in the tribe would find a way to eat some at some point though, regardless of the risk.
Wow Strolen! Comments like that makes all the effort worthwhile
-The P'Cheela do not ride the Brood. The brood are approximately 1-2 feet in length. They do however allow the Brood to crawl all over their bodies in disturbing rituals. They hunt with the brood as well. More on that upcoming from Pariah. The P'Cheela have no "powers". They are merely a peculiar tribe of humans, who evolved in relative seclusion far from other civilizations. They do have peculiar abilities however. Again, more on that when Pariah He-Who-Whispers-To-Mathom gets the P'Cheela out as a submission.
- HaHa! sure, sounds good! The Prophet's scat-readings are performed by the elder shamans.
- Um..WOW..let me ponder this one a bit. You've boldly gone in a direction I have not yet considered!
Thanks for your comments!
Weird and colorful, as others have said.
Perhaps it is the child, that eats the most important parts (and with it the essence) of Jul-Ghose, that becomes the next monster. Note: if some of them eats the Loom, then it is clear. Whichever child eats the Loom should get the full powers of Jul-Ghose. As for humanoids... who knows.
All right, since the brood were kinda my children I'll handle these couple of questions.
No, the tribes would never train the brood as mounts. One because they're roughly the size of a housecat, and two because their extremely holy beast. I'll have more about the brood when I finish the tribes, which I'm working on when I'm awake enough to see straight.
Err, I don't know if they'd look at the excrement, interesting idea though.
The tribe thinks that Jul-Ghose is immortal. While this may or may not be true, this is what the tribes think, making it very unlikely that anyone would be able to eat any importent part of Jul-Ghose.
Citadelian Pariah has proved uncooperative during intense sessions of interrogation. Through bloodied lips, he just kept mumbling....Mathom save me! We are no closer to the truth I fear.
I did not read the other comments as to have a clear mind when I make comments of my own. First and foremost this makes me think of norse mythology combined with African Savannahs and illegal hunting. Those are the references that I have when I start reading your story, these are references that remain tied to the story as I read it.
I wondered while I read it WHY I did not consider this a true 5.0... Why it was a 4.5 from beginning till the end. The tale is decent to be sure, the visuals are great... What then detracted from the score?
I don't really know. I think that while a part of me found the story interesting and great, another part of me said 'This is background material. Jul-Ghose is too powerful and his surroundings too boring to provide fun and adventure'. That I think is why a great story ended up on a 4.5.
4.5 is not a bad place to end up. Poignant commentary as always AG! :D
Can you imagine a giant mantis rolling in the dirt while raving and foaming at the mouth? 5/5.
Looking at interesting ways to tell the future rather than listen to my English teacher I can across an interesting piece of trivia. The word mantis derives it's roots from the greek language, more particularly the word prophetes - or 'speaker.'
It's all been said! :p Great visuals and a lovely story. I just love the thought of having a party wandering through a savannah then almost randomly in the distance, a small herd of antelope start fleeing. Suddenly, from behind a stack of trees this enormous beast of an insect tears down on them, leaping on an antelope and biting its head off with no effort.
How terrifying! The PCs could try to attack and kill it or flee. Then, if they wished, they could endeavor to find out more about the mantis, or they could just shrug it off as a bizarre random encounter.
Awesome. How do you add the picture to the sub (and why don't other people do this? :))
ever so slightly overpowered, which is what kept me from voting it a 5, otherwise i think it is a brillliant piece.
Update: Updated Graphic
Just for the sake of the strangeness and originality of this sub, I applaud.
If I ever use this, it will probably be as a random encounter. Then, when my players go "wtf??" I can pull out the ready-made backstory to explain the whole thing. Even then, I'd hesitate before springing the monster on them, because I don't really need my players to be questioning my sanity . . . Beautifully written, stunning visuals, but a little too weird for my tastes.
Excellent work, Muro and Pariah. There is not much to be said, other than I dont understand one paragraph.
'During its epileptic seizures, while spouting prophecies, Jul-Ghose cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons or any spells! Such is the power of Mokkus seed! However this immunity is non-existent when Jul-Ghose is conscious, which is almost all of the time. It is unknown what Jul-Ghose lifespan could be. It has existed for eight thousand years, according to the P'Cheela's reckoning. When Jul-Ghose goes epileptic, this can last several minutes or an hour or more. During these times the P'Cheela, if aware, guard the Prophet with demonic fervor, from any that would attempt to take advantage of the chittering, helpless hulk.'
Did you mean is is only harmed while in a epileptic state? I don't see why they would need to guard it while briefly immortal.
Other than that, simply brilliant.
Also, i think you need a end tag for your bold, Muro. it seems to be making all of the comments bolded.