Upatthic Hags

By Bill Browne, Mike Holmes and Ryan St

Something overheard in a sea-side tavern:

As a traveling merchant, I get to see all manner of strange things, having been to most of the cities of the Living Gods. But there is something from Karaiish that is extremely disturbing. Upatthia, goddess of rain and storms, is queen of the forces of nautre and the most beautiful of all beings. She is also vain and dangerous, and nowhere is this more apparent than her creation of the misshapen Upatthic.

As I understand it from the locals, the moment a child is born within Upatthia's dominion she receives a vision of the future. If the beauty of that child would rival Upatthia's own, she lays a hateful curse upon its down-covered head. At first, the baby seems normal - though its skin is dry and flaky. As it matures its eyes become slits, its first words are hisses, and prominent scales begin to form. It wriggles through holes and tight spaces with ease, and takes a liking to the damp and dark.

When it becomes apparent that Upatthia has laid her curse upon the child, most parents leave their child at a monastery or orphanage. Some lovingly raise it, keeping it sheltered from curious neighbours and hateful children. A few are left in temples to Upatthia, where the priests raise the children for whatever fell purpose Upatthia has for them.

Most Upatthic, however, evntually slink into the wilderness where they live hand-to-mouth, eating live rats with jaws that distend further than they should. By adolesence, the Upatthic is clearly inhuman - thick scales, hooded lids, a cleft tongue, fangs, claws and a rudimentary tail mark it unmistakably. Most who encounter an Upatthic attempt to drive it off with shouts and thrown rocks - which typically anger it and move it to violence, even if it wasn't already mad with hunger.

Some communities of Upatthic exist, eking out a meagre existence. They either have a confrontational relationship with nearby villages and farmers, or an uneasy truce. In rare cases, Upatthic have continued to live with their parents well into adulthood, but retain little of their language skills or reasoning.

This was what one sea captain told me happened to a daughter of the Name Sluduri. They tried to raise this daughter, but after years they became less able to reason with it, and word of it's existence has gotten out. He released this being to the wilderness, and for a time it dwelt amongst it's own kind, and wandered some… or so everyone guesses. But in the end, it returned to the name, and this time brought along some of it's new friends. And now they all live, at times, in the cellars beneath the Sluduri estate.

So this Name doesn't know what to do. Rumor has it that he has quietly offered a reward for anyone who can take care of his problem for him. He's a rich man, so the rewards should be great for such a difficult conundrum.