Animals
Table of Contents

Throughout the wilds of the Empire, animals dwell beneath the forest canopy, on the mountain slopes, in the placid lakes and rushing rivers, and practically everywhere else one could seek to look. The vast majority are natural creatures, but some few are strange beasts born of sorcery or calamity, not quite spirits but more than merely mundane.

Shiryōmengani

Also called ‘mempo crabs’, shiryōmengani are all that remains of a cursed bloodline of Wamori samurai. Centuries ago, the head of the bloodline abandoned the Wamori’s dedication to avoiding bloodshed and forsook their oaths to the Council of Sages. They imposed cruel taxes on the peasants under their care and instigated a rebellion against the Itsumaru, seeking to restore rulership of the clan to Wamori hands.

Their uprising was shortlived, for few of their brothers rallied to their side, and they were stripped of their name and forced to flee before the might of the remainder of the Wamori Family and the magical prowess of the Itsumaru. Taking refuge in the swamplands of their home province on the Negurakori’s southern border, they withstood assault from their former brothers for some weeks. Before they were finally crushed, the Sage of Void invoked a terrible curse upon them as punishment for their bloodthirsty betrayal, dooming them to be reincarnated as the lowly creatures that scuttled through the very swamp to which they had fled. Perhaps the Sage’s own kharma was poor, however, for his curse has since plagued the Negurakori, making monsters of the former samurai.

In the year following the rebellion’s defeat, crabs the size of dogs began appearing in the swamp, whose shells resembled the bloodied mempo of the fallen once-Wamori. Stalking silently through the sluggish waters of the marsh, these creatures soon began preying upon the fishermen who plied those shadowed depths. With each mortal killed and eaten, the crabs grew in size and ferocity.

More terrifying than their crushing claws and slashing legs, however, is the curse they still bear. Any mortal slain and devoured by the shiryōmengani does not pass into the Sojourning Realm correctly. Instead, their spirit is marked by the curse upon the crab, and the memories it sheds in preparation for return to the Wheel are all tainted with terror and bloodshed. Even worse, when the time comes for the spirit to be reincarnated, it cannot do so properly; rather, the curse’s pull is so strong that the spirits of the crab’s victims are drawn back to the crab itself, becoming trapped within the creature’s iron-tough shell, where they form a new face leering out of the monster’s back. While trapped, these spirits bolster the crab, granting the victim’s own strength and vitality to its slayer.

These trapped spirits may only be freed by destroying one of these crabs and immediately performing funeral rites for the imprisoned ghosts. To defeat one of the shiryōmengani is a dire challenge, however, for over the centuries they have feasted on countless peasants and samurai alike, and the greatest of them have grown to the size of a bear, sporting hundreds of blood-stained faces bulging out of their nearly-impenetrable carapaces. Even the most numerous of them are dangerous foes, as massive as a large dog, with powerful claws and tough shells.

The memories of those slain by the shiryōmengani also pose a danger in and of themselves, disturbing the dreams of all who encounter them with visions of violence and filth.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License