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Wailer

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Image:Scroll2.png "... when we finally cornered the monster, I was still struggling to accept that it was the very man I'd bought bread from that very morning. I wouldn't have believed a word of it if I hadn't seen that... thing bite some fellow's windpipe off. And it didn't stay quiet as we cut it down, either. Gods, it made me wish I was deaf."
- Syliran Knight, ca. 430 AV
Wailer
Valterric
FrequencyRare
Threat levelHigh when hungry, low otherwise
Major featuresShapeshifting, high intelligence, can mix with people seamlessly
AbilitiesPowerful jaws, scream, noise manipulation
Most common inCommunities, rarely in the wilderness


The Wailer is a shapeshifting monster generated by violent Djed storms during the Valterrian. The creature is essentially made of noise given physical form, and it feeds upon the voice of living creatures, seeking to devour their entire respiratory tract. Wailers are intelligent and elusive, infiltrating a community and committing serial murders to sustain themselves, though its kills can be seasons or even years apart. They are mostly known by their nighttime cries, and know no greater enemy than the god Rhaus and those with his gnosis, Audius.

Contents

History

Wailers were undoubtedly born from the Valterrian. It is said that the immense Djed Storms that rocked the world on that day caused lightning bolts so bright as to blind anyone who happened to watch, as well as such roaring thunder that could shatter the eardrums of anyone not killed by the discharge itself. It is likely that such elements mixed and brewed the primordial soup from which the Wailer rose. As a monster, it is the archetype of a whole new class of fiends, the Valterrics. Standing in sharp contrast to the powerful but unchanging Relics, lone creatures that do not understand man and enjoy stillness and solitude, Valterric monsters often mingle with people who are left none the wiser. They learn, adapt and evolve, each generation usually turning out to be stronger than the last. They may not boast the kill tally of the Relics and Fragments, but in the bigger picture they are more successful than either, as their numbers are constantly on the rise.

The first Wailers were not very good at living side by side with people. They had to exist on the fringe of society, as beggars or lowlives, limiting their interactions as much as possible to keep their fa├žade of humanity. Gradually, however, they picked up on the habits and the emotional facets of people, and the level of their masquerade improved dramatically. Nowadays almost anyone could be a Wailer in disguise, and most people wouldn't know unless they got to spend a long time living with the creature. They talk like people, smile like people, and while they ostensibly have no emotions other than hunger, self-preservation and sexual drive, they can fake most feelings convincingly. They are often heard of in dark fairytales, eating children gullible enough to trust a kindly stranger; which is surprisingly close to their actual modus operandi.

Appearance

Wailers in their natural shape are purely auditory beings, with no visual aspect. They are a cacophony of noise that is only heard, never seen. As a consequence, they would die immediately if exposed to the outdoors, where their sound essence would spread out and dissipate. It was only during the Valterrian that they managed to survive in the open without taking on an alternate shape. The Wailer only takes on its natural form in its infancy or when developing a new seeming. In both cases, it will do so in a rigid container that's been at least partially soundproofed, either by itself or its parent. A padded bottle is a perfect example of such. Once the Wailer has coalesced into a physical being, usually resembling a fetus of sorts, it will break the container and quickly mature in the outside world.

A Wailer can take on the guise of any sentient race, and occasionally animals as well. The quality of the seeming is very high, though a master of Auristics and people with multiple Lykata marks may notice something is wrong with their form. Wailers are intelligent enough to try and stay clear of such threatening people. Wailers have a very hard time changing anything about their form, though. Typically, they do not appear to age at all; it is common for them to pretend to leave their community, only to return shortly thereafter with a new seeming to resume the cycle without raising suspicion. Occasionally, there may be hints to their nature for the observant to pick up. For example, a faint noise can be heard when they are bleeding and their voice may sound a little fake when representing the extremes of emotion. They also dislike music without exception.

Behavior

Wailers are frightening, but their actual kill count is lower than most people would think. This is partly due to the fact they do not have to feed very often, and partly due to their intelligence. With their keen sense of self-preservation, they know better than to take unnecessary risks. They generally keep a low profile, except when hungry. The average Wailer can easily feed once every few seasons, or even less than once a year, though a pregnant Wailer will eat much more often over a period of about one season. Unfortunately, they can only feed off creatures with the ability of speech. Anything else, including most animals, would offer them no nourishment. As such, they are rarely found outside a city, except when traveling to look for a mate.

A Wailer is a parasitic being, and like every parasite it has no interest in destroying its host. It goes about its business trying not to upset its community more than it needs to. Even when selecting a victim, it will usually make sure it is someone who is little loved and generally won't be overly missed. Wailers are rational, methodical, mostly nocturnal hunters. They stun their victim with a burst of their secret, monstrous voice and then proceed to eat its respiratory tract, starting from the mouth and nose, then ripping out the throat and windpipe and finally cutting open the chest to consume the lungs.

When a Wailer is not hunting, it can be as kind as the next person. It will be a gracious host and talk philosophy with its guests. Wailers apparently love to hear the sound of their own voice. With their indefinite lifespans and hereditary memory, Wailers can become very erudite but are incapable of true affection and should be considered full-fledged monsters. There are people they will try not to consume unless they absolutely have to, but this is dictated by utility rather than any sense of friendship or love.

Abilities

A Wailer is a long-term shapeshifter, in that once it has shifted it will not commonly revert back for a long time. In fact, it is difficult and very time-consuming to acquire a new form and they will only do so when they need to change their identity for good. In every guise, they are physically very strong and healthy, with unusually powerful jaws and perfect teeth.

Their control over their voice is supreme. When they switch to their real voice, which has been described as 'thunder grating against your soul', they can paralyze weak-willed people with a growl or send out an explosive blast of destructive noise with a yell, which is dangerous at close range and can shatter glass even at a distance. They can also manipulate the perception of noise, and make it seem their voice or footsteps come from a different location. Elder Wailers can even cause auditory hallucinations in their victims. These are not necessarily used to kill someone, but also to protect their identities in more peaceful ways: Wailers generally do not kill unless they have to.

Reproduction

A Wailer can trick even a spouse into thinking it is a perfectly normal person, however the creature is always sterile and will never produce offspring with a sentient race. Instead, it reproduces by screaming into a fellow Wailer, thus impregnating it. Wailers have no true genders, so any pair of creatures can breed in such a way. They are moved by a powerful sexual drive that leads them to leave their communities every once a while, visiting other cities to reproduce. Their frightening nighttime wail is a reproductive call and usually means there are at least two Wailers in town. This in itself is risky for the creature, yet sexed reproduction greatly improves the adaptability, evolution and overall success of the species as a whole.

A pregnant Wailer is not distinguishable from a normal one except for the increased appetite. Once its term a complete, the parent will give birth to a litter ranging from one to five newborn Wailers by screaming into soundproofed containers prepared well in advance. The litter will mature in a matter of days and then scatter out, basically ignoring the parent. There is no motherly or filial love among Wailers, and in general a single community cannot support an entire litter, so the offspring need to move out. The majority will probably die before they can install themselves somewhere else. It is to be noted that a Wailer's offspring is born with all the knowledge of the parents; therefore, each generation literally gets smarter and more resourceful than the last.

Audius

Wailers are greatly sensitive to the gnosis of the god Rhaus. Musicians blessed with marks from the god can wound a Wailer by just singing or playing their instrument, thus bringing order to the chaos of the creature's noisy core. Those with Audius are a Wailer's natural predator and Wailers can get unusually aggressive when confronted with such individuals. There have been instances of several of the monsters actually teaming up to destroy a dangerous musician - a veritable rarity for a creature that usually shuns large gatherings of its own members.