Friday, June 20, 2014

Thumbling (Red Bestiary)

They tell a story down in the Low-Lands about how there once was a couple living alone in a small but well-hidden enclave that had been hit hard by a plague that seeped up through the wells and killed everyone else off one autumn. The old couple only had to survive until spring, then they could either hire-on new hands or abandon the place and move on to the East. The months went by slowly as they waited out the bad weather, the biters and the mobs.

The old farm-steader sat and poked at the remains of their cooking fire one winter evening. His wife sat and spun wermfuzz into workable fiber. He leaned back in his creaking chair and sighed deeply. The wife, who still carried the scars of having battled muckwerms and stabberlings and still worse things in the defense of their modest enclave for most of her life stopped her spinning and glared at him with her one good eye. The silence lingered like a fart between them. Finally he cleared his throat and said; “I think it is sad that we have had no children.”

“Ach—but it has not been for lack of trying.” She scowled at him, then dismissed the matter and went back to her spinning. But the idea stuck I her mind; “Even if we did have one, there's not much of a life here for such a young one—they'd have to leave before they grew very big. You know they'd have to go on into the city like all the others.”

“I know.” He stopped poking the fire and went out to check the barricades and fences.

That night the wife fell ill. She was bed-ridden with fever and convulsions. In the space of fewer than seven nights she wasted practically away to skin and bone, save for her belly which swelled-up like a tumor that writhed and gurgled and tormented her badly.

On the seventh night she died as her belly ruptured and a viscous, bloody mass spilled forth. Six Thumblings, they had devoured the seventh while still inside the old woman, pulled themselves free of the gory mess and quickly scampered into hiding to lie in wait for the old farmer to return. They ambushed him. Ate him. Took his thumbs. They've been on the prowl ever since.

The story may or may not be true. Most people agree that it is, if anything, too gentle and too forgiving in its depiction of these once feared and now greatly despised and hated little people.

No. Enc.: 3d6 (5d20+)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 7 (A few may wear armor)
Hit Dice: 1d4 hit points
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 or weapon-1
Save: F2
Morale: 7

Tiny, dirty-minded, evilly disposed and vicious little people no taller than a grown-man's thumb, these wicked little folk lurk within the small spaces and out-of-the-way places, coming forth at night to cut off the thumb of their victims. During the Achuin Occupation hundreds of Thumblings served as 'Street Sweepers' who terrorized their former neighbors and persecuted their rivals. They switched sides prior to the First Pruztian Occupation, during which time a small cadre of Thumblings were used as special interrogators and operatives by the Military Governor. The Thumblings are hated and reviled for their collaboration with the occupying powers and they are the frequent targets of Todtenhilzig revenge-killings in retaliation for the extreme persecution they inflicted the doll-makers whom they tended to single out for torture and re-education.

SourceThumbling is from German folklore, and has two stories, Thumbling and Thumbling's Travels (also known as Thumbling as Journeyman) that were collected and added to the Grimm Brother's 'Household Tales' collection of fairy tales. These nasty little things do have a few minor similarities to Johnathan Swift's Lilliputians as well as the sort of Little People Mr. Machen featured in his excellent story The White People, but any such resemblance is purely superficial and unintentional on the part of the Thumblings.

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