Last February a council of experts assembled here at Horror Delve to discuss their favorite fantasy weapons (https://horrordelve.com/2016/02/14/the-ultimate-fantasy-weapons-list/). This year another group has gathered to tell us of their favorite beasts to use such weapons against. I’ve always loved paging through Monster Manuals filled with bizarre beasts terrifying enough to send even the most stalwart of castle knights quaking in their metal boots. What follows is our experts’ takes on some of their favorite fantasy creatures.
Paul Genesse’s Choice – GRIFFINS (Iron Dragon Series):
Art by Kaitlund Zupanic
“Winged lions with the eyes, claws and beaks of raptors, griffins see you from miles away. They often hunt at night, crushing their surprised prey. They hold them down with their front talons while they eat them alive with their hooked beaks.
Griffins are the dominant beasts in the Iron Dragon series and everyone fears them. A group of griffins is called a “wake.” Greater griffins have draconic blood and are the true terror of the skies. The Lord of the Griffins is Mallar’zuk and he rules his kind with brute strength and magic.”
John Linwood Grant’s Choice – THE FINNFOLK:
Art by Ilya Repin (1875)
“There are darker things than mermaids. In the icy waters between Norway and Scotland, the Finnfolk brood and lust for the things of men – bright silver and the service of the flesh. Their males are cold-hearted sorcerors, able to steer boat without sail or oars, to direct the tides and shoals of fish; their females dream of a human husband to spare them from becoming witch-hags. From their sunken city of Finnfolkaheem, they rise to trick the world above. Some say that Eynhallow, an island in the Orkneys, was once their land as well, but that salt and the holy sign took it from them. Though there may be subtle hints of fin or flipper, they seem fully human at casual glance. Never cross them, and never bed them!”
Bob Freeman’s Choice – DRAUGR:
Art by Bob Freeman
“Mad must you be, all too witless, and lost to wisdom to rouse dead men.” — Hervarar Saga
“Draugr are barrow-wights who plagued the Northern Europeans during the Viking Age. With inhuman strength and magical powers, these undead were most often found in their burial mounds, continuing to guard their treasure horde long after they’d met their earthly demise.
They can enter the dreams of the living, control the weather, shape-shift, and even foresee the future, but they are deadliest when they take up arms and roam the countryside, slaying livestock and wayfarers, oftentimes immune to the weapons of their victims.”
Cyani Black’s Choice – WEEDY SEA SERPENT:
Art by Carlos Diaz Asenjo
“It undulates through the sea, a seemingly innocuous mass, its fronds and leaves waving gently in the current. Small glowing fish dart within, boldened within their sanctuary. Tantalized by this easy prey or perhaps seeking shelter themselves, other fish enter the mass only to discover that the leaves aren’t leaves at all, they’re fins. The fish are tiny glowing protrusions on thread thin fronds, laced with a potent toxin that paralyzes any unfortunate being it touches. And hidden within the center of the mass writhes a serpent. Its green scales hard enough to deflect all but the most vicious of attacks and its maw, lined with irregular, sharp teeth ready to snatch its prey to feed its voracious appetite.
Shawn Michael Vogt’s Choice – THE WENDIGO:
Art by Matt Fox (1944)
“Ah, the Wendigo. A cannibalistic beast that haunted the Algoquian peoples, associated with winter, the north, and extreme cold. The greed of the thing is legendary, its appetite never quenched, no matter how many it devours. Some say that its spirit may possess and corrupt man, turning the individual into an imitation of the Wendigo, one that lusts for the flesh of his fellow men. Emaciated, its flesh ashy grey, eyes sunken in its head, it smelled of the grave, its bloody lips writhing, teeth gnashing together in its hunger, its desperation to consume forbidden meat. Never allow greed or lust or envy to take hold of your soul, my friend, for one cold winter’s night, one dark chilly evening… The Wendigo will come calling, and leave a piece of itself lodged in your soul, and it will look out through your eyes, claw with your hands, rend and tear with your teeth.”
Barry Jacobs’ Choice – THE SKELETON WARRIOR:
“A skeleton is the ultimate symbol of death. Someone had to die in order for it to be seen. It is the fear we literally carry inside us. The primal fear of dying. That’s why they work so well in horror.
But what holds those old bones together? There’s no connective tissue, no cartilage, not a single muscle. How can a skeleton pick up a sword and guard a cursed pirate treasure.
The next time a walking skeleton menaces the heroine in your favorite pulp tale, take a second to thank the bad guy who spent hours with wires tying the bones together first.”
David T. Wilbanks‘ Choice – THE ZOMBIE:
“A multitude of fantastic beasts came to mind but none of them were particularly appealing to me except for ghosts but there are people out there who do not consider ghosts creations of fantasy so I went for the next best thing: zombies. I know they’re everywhere in books and film right now, and that many people are tired of seeing them, but in my mind you just can’t beat a walking corpse for high creep factor:
A recently deceased person, up again and shambling about, the only thing on its dull mind to consume living flesh–your flesh. It’s such a simple yet potent idea, but those are sometimes the most enduring ones.”
Brian Barr’s Choice – DRAGONS:
“Grabhin remembered the war his dragon kind fought against the humans, feeble creatures who feared the strength and numbers of his proud species.
Now, humanity was an afterthought.
Grabhin soared over ash-covered land and demolished castles. Brittle skeletons blackened by fire populated ghost cities.
If only mankind had been respectful. Dragons were humble creatures, unless provoked. Why didn’t humans take time to communicate with dragons, to come to their mountain peaks in peace?
Grabhin would never understand. Together, dragons and mankind could have ruled over the world together.
Now the dragons would have to rule alone.”
Matt Cowan’s Choice – THE DUNGEON MIMIC:
“These insidiously nasty creatures possess the ability to take the shape of inanimate objects, choosing forms designed to play on the greed and curiosity of adventurers. They appear as treasure chests, discarded cloaks, majestic doors, even entire structures at times, to catch their prey unaware. When their quarry moves in close enough, the mimic abandons the farce to open its previously disguised, enormous mouth to promptly devour them.” ______________________________________________________
PAUL GENESSE: Paul Genesse is the bestselling author of the Iron Dragon series, including The Golden Cord, The Dragon Hunters, The Secret Empire, as well as The Crystal Eye, and The Iron Brotherhood (forthcoming). He has also sold almost 20 short stories, is the writer and producer of the Star Wars and Steampunk Rock Operas, and is the editor of five volumes in The Crimson Pact anthology series. Sample his work at http://www.paulgenesse.com.
JOHN LINWOOD GRANT: John Linwood Grant lives in Yorkshire with a pack of lurchers and a beard. He may also have a family. He has been published in many anthologies and magazines, and is also co-editor of Occult Detective Quarterly. His popular website greydogtales.com explores weird fiction, weird art and even weirder lurchers.
Author site: http://johnlinwoodgrant.me.uk/blog/
BOB FREEMAN: Bob Freeman is an author, artist, and paranormal adventurer whose previous novels include Shadows Over Somerset, Keepers of the Dead, and Descendant. A lifelong student of mythology, folklore, magic, and religion, Freeman has written numerous short stories, articles, and reviews for various online and print publications and is a respected lecturer on the occult and paranormal phenomena. He lives in rural Indiana with his wife Kim and son Connor.
In addition to occultdetective.com, Mr. Freeman can be found online on twitter and facebook.
“We live in the midst of invisible forces whose effects alone we perceive. We move among invisible forms whose actions we very often do not perceive at all, though we may be profoundly affected by them.” —Dion Fortune
CYANI BLACK: Creator and destroyer of worlds, tormentor of characters, Cyani Black rules over several fictional worlds of fantasy, urban fantasy and horror. Her physical being resides in the wilds of Michigan with her cohort, minions and abyssal wolf.
When she’s not instigating chaos in her fictional universes, she’s playing with water and electricity – building miniature realms for her aquatic and lizardy minions. Wielder of the soldering iron of doom, she can also be found gutting amplifiers and various electronic devices. She also enjoys reading, gaming and roleplaying.
SHAWN MICHAEL VOGT:
I’m 39 years old, born and live in Texas, and I’ve been an avid reader since I was a tyke. A former reviewer of genre fiction and indie comics, I’m now writing my own stories, all taking place in the same Multiverse setting.
A couple of my favorite things include puppies, kitties, and eldritch horrors from beyond the Black Gulf of the Void. Howdy!
BARRY JACOBS: Barry Jacobs is a writer who lives in Brooklyn New York and knows too much about the 1970’s.
DAVID T. WILBANKS: David T. Wilbanks writes zombie and other fantastic fiction.
BRIAN BARR: Brian Barr is an American author. Brian has been published in various short story anthologies and magazines, including New Realm, Nebula Rift, Under the Bed, Queer Sci Fi’s Discovery, NonBinary Review, Dark Chapter Press’s Kill for a Copy, and Mantid Magazine. Brian collaborates with another writer, Chuck Amadori, on the supernatural dark fantasy noir comic book series Empress, along with Sullivan Suad and Geraldo Filho. His first novel, Carolina Daemonic, Book 1: Confederate Shadows, was published by J. Ellington Ashton Press in 2015. His second novel is Psychological Revenge: The First Super Inc. Novel. His short story collection, Daemensions, is also available on Amazon.
MATT COWAN: I’ve had short stories published by Dead Letter Press, Grinning Skull Press, James Ward Kirk Fiction, and read on The Pod of Horror and Tales To Terrify podcasts.
KAITLUND ZUPANIC: Kaitlund Zupanic never doubted what she would be when she grew up. She needed to explore her own fantasy worlds and create mythical creatures to live in them. The horses, chickens, dogs, cats, and many other animals she grew up with became her main inspiration, but her favorite creatures to draw lived only in her imagination. Kaitlund primarily focused on anatomy and animals in fantasy illustration. She honed her skills and branched out into oil painting. Using past and present masterwork painters as her new inspiration, she strives to make her fantastical ideas come to life in digital and traditional paintings. http://kaitlundzupanic.com
CARLOS DIAZ ASENJO: My name is Carlos Díaz Asenjo. Being a computer geek most of my life, I decided to move from my career as a future IT nerd to the art world. Preferences may change while growing up. I’m a fully self-taught artist focusing on Concept art and Illustration. My main goal is to make every single piece better than the previous one.