Not many Kithain are so feared for their animalistic savagery as the ﬁrst-dreamed of Dagon, the wild and violent merrow, the murdhuacha. These sinister aquatic Thallain are responsible for most of mankind’s stories of horrors from the deep, and still occasionally pluck mortal victims from the safety of dry land to feast on their bodies (or worse) under the ever-shifting waves.
The merrow pose a confusing problem to the Kithain who know about them. They are certainly cunning and intelligent, but their society appears to be nearly completely bestial; even the alien merfolk are far too human for their tastes. While on random occasions, collectives called “colonies” crop up, the society of the merrow seems to be primarily concerned with basic, animalistic survival. Woe to the poor fool who ventures into a merrow colony, which is often based in a downed ship or plane. He won’t be returning.
These Kithain seem to have a legendry that, oddly, coincides partially with that of the merfolk and partially with that of the Rokea. The primal merrow have often clashed with the weresharks, and such battles are often known to boil the waters pink with blood for miles.
According to the merrow, they are the dreams of Dagon, whom most Rokea would interpret as Qyrl. As their legends have it, the merrow were born long before the ﬁshes themselves. Dagon noticed the foam that rose up when he crashed into the sea from where he hung in the sky. Taking the piece of the sky from his mouth, he placed it within one of the bubbles, and the ﬁrst merrow egg was created.
Soon, the Fish-Father, Vatea, grew jealous and sent his ﬂedgling children to change the nereids in the Grottoes, and the usurper race of the merfolk was born. The murdhuacha have taken this affront personally ever since, attacking the peaceful merfolk at every opportunity.
The merrow, while animalistic, are not stupid, and are just as capable of communication, art, technology and progress as any other Kithain. Most outsiders believe they have just retreated farthest from Banality, deep into sub-aquatic lairs and completely inhuman lifestyles. Like the merfolk, their human blood seems to have grown fairly thin, although they will occasionally steal a kiss from a drowning sailor. Some argue that they are not Thallain at all, but something far older, and something far more sinister. After all, wherever they are, there can’t be enough mortal dreams to sustain them.…
The merrow are only barely human-seeming, and while the females can be strangely beautiful, the males are nothing short of hideous by human standards. Male murdhuacha, also called “Nucks,” appear to be completely skinless from the waist up. While this isn’t really the case (the skin is merely transparent, like that of a jellyﬁsh), it’s no less unsettling. The females have slightly more pigmentation, but usually in the odd greens or blues of their particular Apsarae. Since the Apsara of a merrow virtually never comes from a ﬁsh or whale or any other backboned creature, merrow tend toward hideous molluscoid pseudopodia, huge lobster tails, or, most commonly, a single, coiling tentacle as if from a squid or octopus. Murdhuacha rarely wear clothing, but often drape themselves in seaweed and kelp to enhance their fearsome look.
Lifestyle EditThe merrow are thought by many to be the unluckier of the mer who undergo the Rite of Vatea — which they, perhaps unsurprisingly, refer to as the rite of Dagon. A murdhuacha nereid, like her Seelie counterpart, is born in human form, and grows up in a human form, although merrow nereids rarely make it very far.
A female merrow lays up to six or seven hundred eggs in a (preferably human) corpse, unlike her live-bearing Seelie counterpart. Of the dozens of nereids that manage to hatch, the vast majority succumb to Banality, die of exposure, or are consumed by predators as the parents watch. Although this is hard for them, the merrow understand it is Dagon’s way, that the weak should die so the strong may live. When the time comes, the surviving nereids are taken to the nearest Grotto to undergo the Rite of Dagon, where their fate will be determined. If a ﬁsh or cetacean enters the Grotto, the merrow either leave or kill the emerging merfolk fry. But should the Grotto be explored by one of the sea’s other denizens, the child emerges a full-blooded merrow.
The merrow are rarely quite so beautiful as the merfolk, and their bodies can be the chitinous appendages of crabs or lobsters, the slow, brightly-colored tail of a nudibranch or, most commonly, a long coiling tentacle, as if from a octopus, squid, or even a Chulorviah. The name “Siren,” after all, means “entangler.”
- Nereids are virtually identical: slick-skinned, grayish babies with large, black eyes, webbed ﬁ ngers, and a need of their mother’s milk to keep them from drowning.
- Nixes are the most common merrow. They are hideous, elegantly animalistic Kithain that have abandoned all traces of humanity for the safety of the ocean ﬂoor. They have a grotesque look to them that would send H. R. Giger scuttling for his sketchbook. The skinless males are called “nucks” and the beautifully alien females are the “sirens” that sailors have feared since the dawn of sailing.
- Naugs are often very powerful and extremely savage. Eventually, an elder member becomes a draw on the colony, and at that point, the Thallain senior is chased from the lair and hunted down by the rest of the hive. If it dies, it feeds the young. If it manages to survive, Dagon most certainly ﬁnds work for this particular murdhuacha…
Birthrights & Frailties Edit
- Apsara of Dagon — The merrow’s Apsarae grant them powers much like those of their Seelie cousins — jellyﬁsh murdhuacha are certainly poisonous, sea urchin merrow are covered in sharp spines, and squid murdhuacha are often bio-luminescent, with long, ensnaring tentacles. The Storyteller can adjudicate the appropriate bonuses as usual. The murdhuacha also gain an extra dot in an appropriate Attribute, although it almost never goes into Intelligence (and never into Appearance if the merrow is male).
- Gills — Unlike the merfolk, all murdhuacha Apsarae have gills, and all can stay underwater indeﬁnitely.
- Pelagic Nightmare — The murdhuacha are as horrendous as the mer are beautiful. Even the better-looking murdhuacha are still a bizarre mix of human and cephalopod, jellyﬁsh, annelid or other creature that makes for an unsettling mix. Anyone looking upon a merrow for the ﬁrst time must make a Willpower roll or be frozen in shock for one turn. Usually, this is all the murdhuacha need.
- The Coldness — Murdhuacha suffer from the same curse as the merfolk, and Banality kisses them just as quickly. However, the murdhuacha enthusiastically call upon the Wyrd when dealing with humans, so as to procure warm bodies for their eggs.
- Out of Touch — These Thallain have no more contact with human society than do their merfolk cousins. They cannot purchase Streetwise, Drive, Firearms or Computer without spending freebie points or experience.
Views of Others Edit
Murdhuacha Nuck Chogol of the Lusitania Hive speaks:
- Land-Based Kithain — The damned merfolk are right — we do need their help. But rather than marching in and telling them what to do, it’s a lot easier to intimidate them into helping us. The waterlogged, half-eaten corpse of a child or girlfriend works wonders for one’s motivation.
- Aquatic Pooka — Mmmm…. Huh? Were you saying something?
- Selkies — Are they with us or not? Are they part of the ocean or not? Best make up their damn minds soon, before we decide they’re part of the problem.…
- Menehune — Back in the good ol’ days, we had these guys convinced we would eat their children if they didn’t sacriﬁce enough virgins to us. Joke’s on them! We took their virgins and ate their children anyway.
- Water Babies and Yunwi Amai’yine’hi — The dumbass merfolk still don’t know we’ve got relatives in the lakes and streams. We’ve got our allies in the Winter Camp.
- Prodigals — Father Dagon’s bastard halfspawn used to be our friends, but that’s all changed now. This Deepwater shit of theirs has got to go. The Rokea are also a problem we just don’t deserve. Stinking toothscales think they’re so superior.…