From a distance, the Slorghia is difficult to spot. As an unwary ship draws closer to it however, its massive bulk looms out of seemingly nowhere. A vast translucent mass, the Slorghia resembles nothing so much as a grotesquely over sized jellyfish. Its body consists primarily of a massive semi-circular sphere from which trail vast tendrils. Each of the latter is as long as a cable and has the girth of a large barrel. Occasionally, the corpses of sailors in various states of digestion can be seen suspended within its body, their faces bearing an expression of frozen horror.
Ages ago, and in a time now only vaguely recalled in fairy tales, lived a mighty wizard named Griganth. He was born as the eldest son of a mighty lord who ruled with an the island that is now called Banhosea with an iron fist. The sire of Griganth had great hopes for his son and had desired that he would become as imposing and ruthless a monarch as his father. When at a tender age, his son begun to demonstrate a natural and prodigious talent for the magical arts, the king took it as a good sign. He was absolutely sure that his son was destined to become a mighty monarch who would conquer the surrounding islands using the great magi that someday would be his to command. Alas, for the old tyrant, these aspirations were not shared by his son. It soon became apparent that Griganth preferred to immerse himself in esoteric matters to the exclusion of all other matters. As his magical arts developed, his passion for the arcane took on increasingly unusual forms, even leaning towards the bizarre.
The time finally dawned when Griganth's father passed away and the throne of the land finally passed to his son. As his father had foreseen with dread, Griganth chose to shun all affairs of state. While his kingdom increasingly fell into the clutches of ambitious nobles and generals, Griganth zealously pursued a powerful obsession that had dominated his thoughts for the past decade. Ever since he had begun to tap into the arts of the mentalists, he had begun to develop a deep interest in exploring the cognitive and sensory experiences of non-human life-forms. In particular, he'd begun to speculate about whether non-human organisms were truly mindless constructs as the clerics of Jove had always insisted. Was it impossible for all non-human life-forms to develop and experience those cherished cognitive perceptions that humans understood as 'thoughts' and 'emotions'?
Once he found himself in command of the kingdom's resources, Griganth allowed his curious urges to seize control of him. Throughout his kingdom, his minions were sent to procure the expensive ingredients and reagents that his latest magical experiment would require. Ignoring the protests of the few courtiers who were yet loyal to him, Griganth had resolved to paddle out into the sea and pry into the minds of the jellyfish that congregated in the shallow coastal waters off Banhosea during the warm summer months. Some of his courtiers had warned him about the dangers inherent in carrying out so ambitious an undertaking. Penetrating into the consciousness of so primitive and alien an organism as a jellyfish was something that no mentalist had ever dared to undertake. After all, there was always the danger that the ancient instincts which so utterly dominated such a primitive life-form might be able able to completely subsume the consciousness of a probing mentalist. But Griganth cared not for their petty and unfounded concerns. So gifted a mage as he would take a historic first-step and blaze a trail where none had previously existed. Nothing would prevent him from reaching that goal.
Unfortunately for Griganth, both the worst fears of his supporters and the deepest hopes of his foes would be fulfilled on the fateful day that he put his plan into action. Griganth's alchemist had finally prepared the concoction that would enable his lord’s mind to temporarily leave his body and enter that of a jellyfish. However, due to a generous bribe offered by an ambitious noble eager to ride the throne of its incumbent, the alchemist had deliberately neglected to add certain vital reagents. Thus it was that on the day of the grand experiment, something horrifying took place. To the accompaniment of the forced cheering of his courtiers, Griganth boarded a boat that was paddled out into the sea by a group of soldiers. As the small vessel made straight for the heaving mass of a jellyfish shoal, Griganth drained the potion that his alchemist prepared. The amethyst crystals held in his hands then glowed as he cast a spell that activated the magical properties of the potion he had had just drunk. Immediately, Griganth's mind departed from his body and forced itself into the body of a random jellyfish.
As his mind entered the jellyfish, its primitive instincts swiftly devoured his own consciousness, destroying the individual that had once been Griganth, just as the treacherous noble had hoped. By ensuring the omission of the vital ingredients that had been designed to prevent Griganth’s consciousness from vanishing into the primeval instincts of its new vessel, the usurper had effectively seized the throne for himself.
However, something unforeseen and entirely inconceivable also took place. Through some caprice of fate, some remnant of Griganth lingered behind in its new vessel. The morbid, all consuming urge to explore and analyse the minds of other living things which had driven him to such a dire end, now remained as tenacious and ever and stubbornly refused to be consumed by the instincts of the jellyfish. On the contrary, it effectively merged with the invertebrate’s natural instincts to form the mental nuclease of a entirely new being. From henceforth, it would seek to penetrate and understand the minds of creatures alien to it just as Griganth had once done with creatures alien to him. More ominously still, the inherent magical prowess once held by Griganth, lingered behind together with the insatiable curiosity that had given it shape and form. The magical prowess that Grigant had accumulated throughout his life, simmered within the body of the jellyfish, struggling to adapt to the suffocating confines of its new vessel.
Before the terrified gaze of the onlookers gathered on the beach, the jellyfish rapidly swelled to the size of a small whale, the unintended result of Grigant’s magic gathering within and transforming a vessel that had never been designed to hold its potent energies. Screaming in horror, the courtiers abandoned the now mindless and vegetative husk of Grigant to its fate. As their retreating wails died away, massive tentacles pulled the small boat carrying Griganth’s former body beneath the waves. Before the horrified escort of the king could even scream, the massive tentacles closed around them and thrust their thrashing forms into the gelatinous mass of the horror that had attacked them.
Following this disaster, the courtiers who had witnessed the creation of the abomination, swore to never reveal the truth of what had truly taken place. Instead, they put out the false report that the king had drowned in a tragic boating mishap. But once again, fate would intervene and shatter the secrecy surrounding the birth of the mysterious monster that the usurper had unwittingly brought into existence.
A few months after his coronation, terrifying reports begun to surface about a giant jellyfish that attacked small boats. As larger ships begun to go missing, people started to refer to the entity as '‘Slorghia’’ which meant 'terror of the shallows’’, a reference to the monster’s propensity for lurking in shallow coastal waters. At last, distressed by its assaults on his trade vessels, the king who had usurped the throne, despatched a large fleet to slay the creature. After the fleet had succeeded in locating it, a blistering battle commenced. At last, wounded by the cruel harpoons discharged by the ships, the creature fled, so grievously wounded that the victorious sailors who had vanquished it, assumed that their quarry would eventually perish. Sadly for their hopes, its innate magical nature enabled it to recover swiftly from its wounds. But wary of the ships that had hurt it so terribly, the monster chose to flee the waters of Banhosea. Ever since then, it has lurked in the various coastal seas of Acqua, lying in wait for new victims whose minds it can acquire and integrate into its own.
Driven by the urge to explore the minds of other living things, upon capturing its prey, the Slorghia extends mental tendrils which remove all the cognitive patterns and thoughts of its prey just before its digestive juices consume them while they are still alive. Its unique ability to absorb the consciousness of its prey has enabled it to access the memories and emotions of the more complex organism that it has encountered. Thus, prior to digesting its victims, the Slorghia removes their conscious minds, leaving them devoid of all self-awareness. Hence, dominated by its need to absorb and immerse itself in the emotional and cognitive experiences of sentient beings, it attacks ships and then ensnares the unfortunate passengers with its tendrils. Intelligent sea-races like mermen are also favoured by it as prey due to the fact that they like humans are also sentient beings. Slowly, due to its incessant accumulation of alien minds within itself, something truly peculiar has begun to alter the nature of this abomination.
Gradually, the Slorghia has begun to develop a vague sense of self-awareness. By absorbing the consciousness of other beings, it has begun to understand its own existence as distinct entity. This revelation has had an unexpected effect. For the very first time in its existence, it has found itself yearning to experience its range of acquired experiences by communicating with other sentient beings. However, it is completely unable to communicate with the sentient beings that it captures, an impediment that causes it something which we would recognise as frustration. Hence, as far as sea monsters go, the Slorghia is a true oddity, even by the lurid standards of Acqua.
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? Responses (4)-4
The jellyfish from Hell.
Wow - this is quite the critter! And an excellent 'fate worse then death.'
I loved it all, excellent background story and I can't wait to plug it into my game.
Very well written and thought out!