Tag Archives: bestiary

A Modern Bestiary – T is for Trowe

  T is for Trowes, and I don’t mean britches, though many Trowes wear them, and so they spare us the sight of that which no woman can find enticing. They are thought to be barrow wights by some, but are not ghostly. Merely invisible when they wish. Some consider them close kin to trolls because they too are creatures of the night. Others think them a form of the undead. But sunlight does not burn a Trowe, as it will a vampire. Nor will it turn one into solid rock.

  Now a rarity even in the Orkney Isles, and sometimes the Shetlands, the Trowes are dwarf-like in appearance, being short and somewhat misshapen, low-browed creatures.

They mainly go barefoot and cannot be shod by a cobbler working with any type of hide less resilient than that of a dragon. Their toe nails, you see, can drill right through boiled leather. Besides which, a Trowe with a howe to maintain soon grows annoyed by the need to remove his shoes or boots for the sake of digging in the dirt or tunneling into the dark red sandstone of the Orkneys, using his natural assets.

Some there are who live in sea caves, or atop rugged sea mounts, preferring those which offer them a solitude untroubled by the presence of humans.

  One such rocky pinnacle, the so-called Old Man of Hoy (Hoy being the island itself), was actually named for the Trowe who calls it home, although most modern men have long since forgotten about him.

Another group of Trowes guards the Yesnaby cliffs on the Isle of Hrossey. 

The most-feared of the Trowes is the Hogboon, which once haunted nearly every old mound to be found in the Orkneys. The word itself is a corruption of the Old Norse term haug-bui, or sometimes haug-buinn. It can be roughly translated as “mound-dweller” or “mound-farmer.”

An especially unpleasant Hogboon once inhabited the most famous mound of all, called Maeshowe by modern men and Orkahaugr by the Vikings.

 Maeshowe is a passage tomb, built nearly five thousand years ago. The Vikings never succeeded in evicting the so-called Hug Boy or Hog Boy of Maeshowe, who possessed amazing strength of both body and body odor. But tourists have now accomplished the feat using cameras and cell phones and loud, silly questions!

The Trowes and the Hogboons, however, should not be considered true Fae. They are instead hybrids of men and mound-dwellers! For long before ever the Vikings showed up, there were men here. Smallish, dark-haired, clever men.

And women too, of course. They were Pictish, and wild enough to give even the Roman legionnaires a real run for their money. Hence Hadrian’s Wall, built to keep the nasty buggers out!

 Much inclined to go naked in battle, especially during fair weather campaigns, it was the Picts’s custom to paint themselves bright blue with woad, which only made them more frightful to look upon. Worse, it did nothing to ease that personal aroma problem, also horrific to the bath-addicted Legionnaires.

The Romans never did succeed in conquering Pictland, let alone the Northern Isles. In 875 A.D., however, the Vikings invaded. They did take over the islands, and many a Pict went into hiding. Some moved into the mounds, where sharing close quarters with hogboons all through the long dark winters of the Northern Isles (and remember – the winter wind can scour them at 130 miles per hour, come January)… well, nature took its course.

One result? The Trowe has now acquired a taste for certain human forms of music and dance! For fiddlers, in particular.

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, for example, are the favorite musicians of many a modern hogboon!

And since the Fall, there are more than a few Trowes living here in the New World. You will find them in the Mother Lode, where old gold mines offer them shelter and privacy near enough to what they had at home in Faerie.

Some old mines offer much more than others, however.

The Black Bart Inn, in San Andreas, California, for example, has a dance floor in its basement that IS an old gold mine, wherein much music is made. And tales are told of a ‘ghost’ who pulls many a prank on customers and bartenders alike.

I cannot say whether this mischievous spirit is truly a ghost or a Trowe who has taken up residence in a congenial tunnel. No need to worry overmuch, as the haunting of the Black Bart Inn has never resulted in serious injury to a human, although on at least one occasion, it did lead to flying pie in the restaurant. A rude remark by a tourist led to the pie case being yanked open by unseen hands, and the contents being flung in all directions. Without whipped cream, so it could have been worse. Or maybe just a bit tastier.

If you should wander into an old mine up in the Mother Lode, however, and happen upon an odd ‘face’ in the rock…

  Beware!

You’ve certainly stepped into a Trowe’s howe!  Save yourself. If you can, run. If you can’t, bring a fiddle along, or least a bit of fiddle music you can play – Alison Krauss and Union Station, for example – and be polite! Because no one is likely to find your bones if you trespass upon a Trowe’s hide-out and don’t even bother to carry an I-pod!

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A Modern Bestiary – F is for Fachen

1126931186_imefairy32  I can’t even look at them!

The Fachen is a creature better known to men as Peg Leg Jack, although he has no Peg.  In fact, he’s something of a Halfling, since he has only one arm, one leg, and one eye.  That does not make him a hobbit, however, regardless of his other name:  Direach Ghlinn Eitidh, or the Dwarf of Glen Etive.

fachen 1

Nor does it make him the giant shown here!  Fright was the mother of this exaggeration! 

It’s also something of a misnomer to use the pronoun ‘he,’ for the Fachen is neither male nor female.  It is hermaphroditic, and capable of self-gratification and self-fertilization if it cannot find a willing partner.  Such arrangements do not lend themselves to a balanced and rational outlook on life.  Hence its frightful reputation.

The creature is also surprisingly agile despite its lack of symmetry.  It can hop along with all the speed of a galloping horse, but its single arm is an unsightly mess – muscular, yes, but mangled, and some say it’s withered in comparison to its leg.  Worse yet, the arm juts out from the middle of its torso, rather than one side or the other.  Its foot also emerges from the body at an awkward angle.

The limbs are arranged more like this fachen 5

 

fachen 2  than this.

But both of these are well wide of the mark.  The Fachen does not wear clothes, as such.  Instead it sports a thick mane of black or blue feathers which may or may not form a tuft or a crest at the top of its head.

fachen 4

This crude image comes closer to the truth, especially where the attitude is concerned.

The Fachen, you see, is willing to eat anything.  Anybody.  And if it has time, and it isn’t too hungry, why, Peg Leg Jack likes to play with his food.  That means torture and torment and frequently, slow dismemberment.  Therefore you’d be well-advised to avoid the Fachen.  Do not on any account attempt to go to its aid as you might a wounded veteran or a human handicapped in some other way.

It would be wise to take care at the zoo as well.  Since the Fall, the Fachen stranded here have adopted the same kinds of mimicry as their lesser brethren, the Ellyll. They dare not spend much of their magic on that, though, and therefore seek out the company of creatures whom they can easily imitate.

flamingo

No one thinks twice if they see a flamingo standing around on one leg!

If they conceal the one arm with their feathers, the glamour required is not all that taxing.  The bright pink, even, can be achieved with a bit of food coloring, Peg Leg Jack being pretty much useless at filtering brine shrimp out of the water.

Flamingos do not seem to mind the additional company either.  Perhaps it’s because of the birds’ propensity for group sex.  They won’t breed until the flock is large enough to allow it, which is why zookeepers sometimes resort to placing mirrors in their cages, to make the flamingos think they’ve achieved a reproductive quorum.  A few Fachen hiding out in the flock can make all the difference, and the Fachen are willing participants.

flamingo 3  Fachen babies can also be concealed among the flamingos’ chicks, without even needing the pink food coloring.

As for their origins…we do not speak of that.  I will say only that they were made, not born of Nature, in the same fashion as the Fiji Mermaid once so beloved of P.T Barnum.  Or Frankenstein’s monster.  Their maker has been punished for this, and as far as I know did not survive the Fall.  Or if she did, she is still trapped in Faerie, beyond our reach.  I wish the Fachen were as well.

A Modern Bestiary

It’s been some time since I was able to post anything here. Magical murder and mayhem… what can I tell you? Some days, it takes up all my time.

Fairies! Faugh! Trouble on the wing!                     1126931186_imefairy32

Perhaps the most useful thing to do would be to provide you with information about the Fae themselves, or at least the ones you are likely to encounter here. Those, like me, who were swept up by Titania’s cataclysm and stranded here.

Bestiary_2841692b

                                 But not this sort of invented nonsense!

While there are many Fae who did not survive that hard landing, and others still who never made it out of Faerie, a great many different varieties did. They’ve been changed, of course, by their experiences here, but the basics remain the same. And lately I have seen other bloggers doing an A to Z tour of their obsessions…er, subjects of interest.

phonecian

        No! Not the Phoenician alphabet! Does that look phonic to you?

I’ll be using the Roman alphabet, and therefore moving literally from A to Z.  I cannot promise to post items daily but perhaps we can start with a creature once little known but now distressingly common here.  I refer to the

             Alpluachra joint eater

We were discussing invisible creatures, after all, in my last post, and this is one such.  It is entirely invisible on all spectrums, including the magical, and it has no choice in the matter. The image shown above, therefore, is a work of the imagination. The true alpluachra cannot be said to actually have a physical appearance.  Therefore the image shown below is also well off the mark.

alpluachra photo form  More like Bride of Chthulu, I’d say.

This Fae is also known as a Joint-eater or a Just-halver.  These names are related to its nasty habits, but are somewhat misleading.  It does not feed on its victims’ joints, or on the person it infests at all.  No.  It moves in when a human falls asleep by the side of a spring or waterway.  It is said to appear in the form of a newt and crawls down the victim’s throat.  Once settled in, it proceeds to feed on the food its victim has already eaten.

So…something of a cross between a tapeworm and a salamander.

 The red newt’s rather cute!  red newt

tapeworm head   The tapeworm, less so…

The process is painless at first. The human host is never even aware of these parasitic Fae until they begin to grow and reproduce. Then the victim develops a pain in the side and insatiable hunger.  The multiplying alpluachras wriggle like mad while the human host becomes ever more emaciated.  Eventually the victim dies of starvation no matter how much he or she eats.  Perhaps you’ve seen such. I’m told they are quite common in the Horn of Africa these days.

Ethiopian

This man might well be the victim of a Joint-Eater.  Or of senseless human political systems you won’t find in Faerie.

They’re changing, of course.  It’s the Madison Avenue hype, I believe, and the endless advertising of food and other consumer goods, all of it mixed up with images of sexual import.  This, for instance, is an ad I’ve seen in Los Angeles, where the Unseelie Court is now conducting a thriving business, deliberately infesting starlets with weight control problems:

new newt

None too appetizing, I’d say, but hey – tell it to all the wannabe Kardashians!

So how does one get rid of these alpluachras?  It’s actually pretty simple.  Salty snacks will do the job.  You eat enough pretzels, potato chips, or peanuts and then all you have to do is doze off next to another water source.  The pests will get even thirstier than you are and go for the rehydration option.  Meanwhile, the snacks will restore your spare tire.

The criminal aspects of all this, however, remain the subject of debate among the Fallen.  Humans, too.  As I’ve noted, some of this is voluntary.  Yech!