In the world that was before, many religions used to speak of resurrection of the flesh, but never like this.
In the terrible reality that is our present, where Mankind has been pushed to the brink of extinction and lives now either on secluded islands or fortified strongholds, no threat is higher than that represented by the Fae, but none is more present than the so-called Eerie.
It is not known when the name came into use, likely by the end of the Eldritch war when these things first appeared. Records, as is always the case with such matters, are scarce and fragmentary.
But we know that Eerie began to appear during the War, after the main population centers fell.
If the Fae stay in the background, using their eldritch cunning and their misshapen wit to threaten the remnants of mankind, the Eerie are instead the foot soldiers, so to say, of the encroaching forest and the Queen of Thorns.
You will not find two that are alike, and yet you can recognize them at a glance.
No other beast or monster that came from the Old Country has the same wretched appearance: cursed flesh, charred black and broken around the joints and often the arms, disjointed mouth, with the jaw open due to ceaseless hunger, empty and beady eyes of burning embers, and distorted and twisted bodies are the tell-tale signs of an Eerie.
They crawl out of their hiding places in winter, with the Tide, when they swell in a skulking mass of hunger and hate and they move towards the coast to hunt and tear and devour, but they may be roused all year long, even during the summer sun.
Therefore, the traveler who steps into the forest will do better to stay prepared.
Eerie can have all sort of shapes and dimensions, ranging from a small dog to a hulking beasts many fathoms tall. They can be slumbering and slow but most are deceptively quick, especially when roused by hunger.
There are usually two kinds of Eerie, the ancient and the recent ones.
Ancient Eerie are by far the most common, and they have been out there since the end of the Eldritch War. One of the reasons why no prospector is greedy enough to go looting the still-intact cities swallowed by the Old Country is because every wall there is lined with flesh.
Flesh that listens, flesh that crawls and and flesh that has been given the shape of hunger.
Eerie are guided by their empty desire for meat, and they will attack any target, often until either the victim or itself is dead or consumed. Victims of ancient Eerie, though, can be considered the most fortunate of the two.
A recent Eerie, in fact, can only appear due to the direct intervention of the Queen of Thorns herself. That’s the reason why so many recovering parties get lost, never to return. They have stumbled upon something they were not supposed to discover, or perhaps they displeased the Wicked Fae, who dispensed the most tenebrous of her gifts and stripped them of shape and reason, giving them only a form that reflects their ceaseless hollowness.
In that case, it’s not just the flesh that is subjected to torment, but also the spirit of the unhappy fool. They will see their mind and soul stretched and twisted, spun on an infinite thread made of the bitterest steel, and then stretched and distorted to extract the finest of sorrows.
Made blind by pain and folly, they would only answer to the pangs of hunger and the whispers of the forest.
Their spirits can be liberated from this destiny, but only a Vestal, or a Venator that’s been trained in the arts of blood, can attempt anything like that.
As it happens, most Eerie simply met their fate with little regard for their souls, whatever their state it may be.
In order to defend themselves from the Tide, denizens of the strongholds in the forest and the places that can be invaded by the hooked fingers of Winter can count of iron and fire, other than the usual remedy that is blessed water.
Eerie have an intrinsic weakness towards everything that’s industrial or man-made in nature, hence the reason why the Tide always reaches human settlements already greatly weakened. Which should be a matter of concern, given how briefly any stronghold can be overwhelmed by it.
Eerie are weak against forged artifacts of steel, industrial-grade tools, and weapons inscribed with letters and numbers. Anything that symbolizes mankind’s ability to define, control and subvert the natural order is anathema to their cursed flesh.
Fire is also an acceptable way to deal with Eerie, even though these days it is quite hard to find something that burns hot enough to turn Eerie to cinders. Erepeople used to have flame-spewing cannons and cluster bombs that would turn the sky ablaze, but the secrets of their making are long-gone.
The average person will do better to carry with themselves at all times a flask (or more) of blessed water, made by a Vestal.
Depending of the strength of the water, it will cause stinging pain to the Eerie, often enough to allow you to escape, find a safe place, or wait for backup. Stronger water can be purchased from well-known thermal stations and most notable Vestals – the water produced in Belacqua is especially potent.
That blessed water, together with the one made by the High Seer of the Order, Mastra Verna, is the only one capable of sending an Eerie’s cursed flesh ablaze.
And when you are alone in the forest, with no backup and no easy way back home, that is surely money well spent.
So please remember that we live in a dangerous world, one where hunger has a form. Hunger has sharp talons, and it scrapes them against our door every night.
So be prepared. By industrial iron, by searing fire, or by blessed water, however you may.
But be prepared.
Author’s Notes: I am quite enjoying these shorts. This one almost turned into an advertising piece. I should have probably written them before starting the whole story, but what do I know… hack writer that I am. Thanks for reading.