A Bestiary of Gushémal

Section 2: Beastly Races

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Table of Contents


Section I: Sapient Races

Section II: Beastly Races


 The Holnesh

“Some will probably doubt the propriety of my byname ‘the wise’ when they see that I have included a mythical creature such as the holnesh into this compendium. After all, there has never been any proof of its existence beyond the wild tales of those who claim to have survived an encounter with it. Be that as it may, I find the tale of the holnesh thoroughly enjoyable.

“The first report can be found in a foliant written by a monk in the twenty-second century after the Elven Flood. Heeshvalant claims to write from testimonies and reports in texts far older than his own time – which is already remote enough that this may easily be a fake. The monk writes that a wolfpack was terrorizing the city of Brasigle, roughly where Cayaboré is found today. A wizard was called in to destroy the wolves, yet the magic wielder deemed his payment insufficient. And so he altered his spell to merge all the wolves into a single, powerful creature with multiple heads that he sent into Brasigle to gorge itself on the people. A further part of this spell was that each sapient being swallowed by the creature would become a new head of the holnesh, without any control over the bestial urges. Thus the citizens were to be punished for their miserly payment.

“Heeshvalant does not tell whether this holnesh was destroyed. Considering that he was a monk, this text was probably supposed to be a warning to all misers in his flock. Nonetheless I must say that a wordsmith has been lost when Heeshvalant chose to don the holy robes, his tale makes for fascinating reading.

“A different version is related by a nameless pirate of the Thousand Islands, by my judgment living in the late twenty-sixth century after the Elven Flood. (I believe so for several side comments indicate a large number of refugees recently having come into both Ibrollene and the Islands; the most likely source of this is the onslaught of unbelievers who conquered the peninsula of Arrufat for themselves.) The holnesh only appears in a small portion of the book which documents the entirely unpleasant life of said pirate, who also seems not to have very well understood the finer points of orthography.

“Rather than a wolfpack he tells that this holnesh was created from a rather ordinary hydra by a renegade priest who wanted to avenge his own expulsion. Although descriptions are rare, it seems this holnesh was actually reptilian, and its ony connection with the usual tales is that each sapient being consumed became a new head. The pirate tells that the renegade priest was the first victim – a suitable development -, before the creature went on to ravage the countryside and finally the temples where the priest had come from. A successful rampage it must have been, since the pirate claims that the creature had more than fifty heads by the time he arrived on the scene.

“It might easily be exaggeration, of course, but on the other hand it is somewhat credible how he describes that this enormous weight turned to a disadvantage to the holnesh. It could not move very fast, its heads continuously became entangled with each other. And thus the pirate with his crew managed to kill it, and have an entire temple complex already cleared of people. Interestingly, he spends a lot more time describing his looting than he ever did on the holnesh or the fight.

“There have been several other documents which seek to prove the existence of a holnesh. The most amusing – and completely unbelievable – example of this was written by someone who claimed to be a holnesh himself! To be precise, an elf who was swallowed by a holnesh and then told his story to the actual writer, lacking hands in the bestial form.

“All in all, very enjoyable. If someone might find actual proof – such as the body of a holnesh or a captured one – I might even begin to believe in it.”

Lestrovar the Wise
Imperial Palace at Sirap, Ibrollene