A bastard son and the demons who want his fractured soul. A weapon that can slay gods and the men who will kill to get it. Discover the vast world of abandoned immortality, divine emperors, dragons, and sea witches in The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons.
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The Monsters of Quur
By Senera Var
We once lived in an age of monsters.
The concept is hardly imaginable to the average Quuros citizen: it’s been centuries since any of these poor fools have had to deal with any threat more dangerous than bad food picked up at a local khilin. You can blame Emperors and generations of military leaders who saw killing mad God-Kings and adding their kingdoms to the empire as career opportunities. Now the only monsters Quuros citizens fear are the witches they are told bring demons to this world.
Never mind that witch-hunters and superstitious fear have killed as many Quuros citizens as any demon.
Don’t get me wrong: God-Kings were massively corrupt and massively powerful. Most of them likely deserved those messy deaths at the hands of Urthaenriel, or sometimes just the Quuros wizard’s Academy graduating class. If you think a Quuros Royal is bad, well, at least they haven’t (as far as I know) modified or created actual races to suit their perverse appetites. Ynis created the reptilian thriss from his human followers, and worse is out there.
Not everything God-Kings did was horrible beyond measure, just most of it. The whole reason Quuros horses don’t suffer from colic is because the God-King Khorsal changed the digestive systems of his favorite animal. (Which Quur promptly appropriated and bred exclusively once they took over.) Similarly, that’s why Yorans have a superior ability to withstand hypothermia and snow-blindess – because their God-King Cherthog wanted them to survive in colder climates. Mostly though? Yuck.
But despite what the average Quuros thinks, the monsters aren’t gone at all.
Everyone assumes these terrifying little bundles of nightmares are the creations of God-Kings.
Besides demons, they’re probably the threat that most Quuros take the most seriously. A creature who can assume the appearance of your loved ones in order to get close to you—who can shape change into, well, anything—who wouldn’t be scared? Of course, what terrifies most of the royalty and those in power is the idea that such creatures can read minds and absorb the personalities and memories of anything they’ve eaten. Yes, eaten.
And unlike most bedtime stories of that ilk, this particular variant happens to be true.
Naturally, most mimics can be found working as assassins for hire. They’d be popular as spies, but since most mimics also seem to be completely insane, trust me when I say you wouldn’t want to count on them for long term jobs.
And no, they’re not demons who have somehow figured out how to stay here in the physical world. Mimics were created by the vane. How and why are questions the vane aren’t sharing. One wonders if some experiment to create infiltrators and spies went terribly wrong. It’s possible – truthfully the number of mimics in existence is far smaller than most people realize, and mimics don’t seem to be capable of reproduction. So bespoke horrors created for unknown reasons.
Daughters of Laaka
The Daughters of Laaka (or kraken, as they are sometimes known) are absolutely the result of God-King manipulation. In this case, God-Queen manipulation, as the God-Queen of the Ocean, Laaka, created these creatures for unknown reasons. (A grudge? For spite? Who knows. Laaka’s petty at best.) The Daughters are intelligent, vicious, and are generally believed to be almost completely immune to magic.
Daughters of Laaka are naturally a bane to ships of all sorts, but they particularly seem to enjoy going after Zheriaso and Quuros slave ships.
Which honestly endears them to me more than a little. Like mimics, they seem to be one-off’s—immortal and incapable of reproduction. And thank the Veils for that, even if I do appreciate their taste in seafood.
These dog-like pack hunters were yet another example of Ynis’s overwhelming fondness for all things reptilian. Unlike most of Ynis’s creations, who died out or were hunted to extinction after the God-King’s death, drakes (and their handlers, the thriss) have endured. Some of these creatures have even gone feral, thriving in the Manol jungle and the island nation of Zherias. They operate in groups and are highly trainable; the thriss use them as guard animals and companions. You’ll never have to worry about one of these learning magic or knowing how to read a map, but they do seem to be pretty bright for animals. Anyone who encounters a wild pack of drakes is likely in trouble.
Mostly thought to be the occasional ornamental detail on some noble bit of heraldry, most would be extremely surprised to discover these creatures exist. Part lion, part eagle, and all ‘this really shouldn’t work,’ gryphons have been spotted living in the high altitudes of the Dragonspires. They’re the work of the God-King Nemesan, although why he created them and how he managed to make the capable of flight (again, this really shouldn’t work) is something I’d dearly love to investigate one of these days.
They might be dismissed as myth by most Quuros, but the miners who work in the mountains of the Dragonspires take them quite seriously. Fortunately, they don’t seem to be intelligent – just quite hungry.
Ah, dragons. Why to say about these unholy terrors? Most Quuros firmly place these in the category of myth, but there’s a reason the Academy continues to place dragons on their known threat lists. Their origins are uh…unclear. I’ve heard people suggest that demons are ultimately responsible for the creation of dragons, and I suppose that’s true—from a certain point of view. Quur hasn’t seen a dragon attack since the very beginnings of the empire, when Emperor Cimillion had his famous run-ins with Baelosh. There have been persistent reports of a dragon dwelling off the coast of Zherias, but most of such stories are well over a century old. Dragons seem to sleep or go dormant for long periods of time, which gives humanity more than enough time to forget how dangerous they are before they come roaring awake again.
The important thing to know about dragons is that they are evil, enormous, and perfectly capable of destroying even the largest cities with ease. Dragons have taken on God-Kings and won. If you’re unlucky enough to be in the area of these monsters, the best thing to do (and maybe the only thing to do) is run.
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