Deep within the shifting sands, natives whisper of creatures trapped within ancient tombs, their insane wails audible through feet of solid stone seals.
Read, now, as I delve through the mystery and bring forth the facts about the Tah'k Mumz'kar; the Bandage Beast; The Mummy.
It took four weeks of careful chipping, easing and levering, but the five-man excavation crew led by professor Trimley finally broke through the final stone seal in the tomb. Once they pulled aside the sandstone door, the ray of mirrored sunlight which had lit their way thus-far reflected off several more mirrors within, showering the inner-most chamber with a golden light. Gold reflecting off gold - the treasure in the tomb was significant. The square room was scattered with silver, jewels and precious objects. In the middle of the room rested a large pillar, which held three Sarcophaguses up vertically.
The crew's attentions were soon diverted at the sight of movement, however. Greed aside, they now put their focus on the entire room itself.
There were three figures, in total. Each loosely wrapped head-to-toe in bandages of the color of tar. Amber pinpricks of light shone forth from small gaps in the wrappings, centered where their eyes should be. The first of the figures was pacing slowly, in a limping gait from the left of the room to the right just several feet away from the tomb entrance the crew had just opened. The second figure was another eight feet or so back, walking in the opposite direction of the first. Nearly a dozen bandages around the midsection of the second creature appeared to been partly unwrapped, and at a cursory glance seemed to have caught onto various weapons which were a part of the treasure trove - golden-hilted swords, silver sickles, ceremonial sceptres. The figure was dragging them across the floor as it paced slowly. Deep grooves, carved into the sandstone floor suggested that it had been dragging those weapons for years.
The third bandaged figure was in the far corner of the room, facing the walls. It stepped once to the left, waited a second, then stepped to the right, continuing this pattern like a horse stepping in the corner of a paddock, driven insane with loneliness. All three of the figures appeared to ignore the excavators completely.
It took only two seconds for the five men to take in the scene before them. On the third second, The four diggers screamed in terror and fled - Professor Trimley stood perfectly still, frozen in fear and ignorance of what was before him.
As though activated by the workers fleeing, the front-most creature finally turned its amber gaze to the entrance, then it shifted its head to stare at the second bandaged figure. A wispy, cracked voice from beneath the material echoed through the entire room, uttering 'Dukhrat.' with a sense of finality.
The second being reacted to this single word violently - suddenly it turned, its limping gait changing into a nimble burst of speed. It flew past the frozen professor and chased down the four workers, easily gaining on them. As it neared the diggers, the hoard of weapons which were attached to its wrappings arose, the bandages acting as though they were a dozen dextrous appendages. The workers were soon caught, and within seconds were gruesomely reduced to dissected mounds of bleeding flesh. The creature did not stop hacking and slashing with its weapons, until its victims were not even recognisable as human anymore, at which point the now bloody and bent weapons suddenly dropped to the floor in unison. The second beast turned and began walking back towards the tomb with its original hobbling pace, weapons scraping against the ground with a grating echo.
In the meantime, the first creature was focused upon Professor Trimley. The black-bandaged figure had turned from its original path and walked steadily to the terrified scholar, stopping just one pace away. From this closeness, the professor could see that the bandages around the beast were constantly moving; tightening, flexing and loosening, writhing like a snake. That same voice echoed from behind the material once more, 'Khra Vk'shrau Nuir Vequis?'
The professor was at a loss of words - the beast was speaking in a long-dead language. He couldn't decipher it. In a stuttering voice, he replied, 'I don't understand...' To which the beast turned to its gaze to second companion and spoke, 'Khra Rhalshi Tir Raul?' The second creature shook its head and replied, its own tone slightly deeper but still as eerie, 'Nai Shraik.'
Once more, the first beast turned back to the professor and spoke, 'Kre'kta Jujaile kore.'
At this point, Professor Trimley was extremely irritated at his lack of understanding. Driven by terror and frustration, he clenched his fists and yelled at the creature, 'I can't understand you!!'
There was silence for a half a dozen seconds as the professor and the beast exchanged stares, and then the creature rose it's left hand to rest on the professors paralyzed face. The second its bandaged hand touched Trimley's face, the wrappings around its arm sprung into action, slithering forth and wrapping around the professors head and tightening like a python. The professor flailed wildly as the bandages wrapped tighter and tighter, both suffocating and crushing his head, but the beast did not even notice the blows which were landed upon it.
In one minute, the professor went limp, dead, but the creature did not stop there; it kept tightening slowly, until eventually the skull cracked and caved in, crushing the head into jelly.
The bandage beast released its wrappings from the humans face and turned to stare outside the tomb door, before shifting to glance at its comrade. The world was open to them... It was time to see what had become of it.
The third creature did not move through the entire event. It never noticed the five humans. It never noticed its freedom. It merely kept pacing left and right in its own corner, crazed beyond thought.
The Tah'k Mumz'kar - from which the slur ' Mummy' is derived - is an undead beast borne from millennia of solitude and poorly performed death rituals.
A common mistake made by people is the thought that a Bandage Beast is a well-preserved ' zombie', much of its flesh and bone still intact. The truth, however, is that the Tah'k Mumz'kar is made when a poorly preserved mummified corpse is left to decompose over many centuries. As the body deteriorates, the herbs, preservatives and oils react with the material and turn it into a blackened color - more than just aesthetic, this reaction makes the material extremely fire-retardant. As the body decomposes, the bandages soak up the essence of the corpse, storing its soul and its remains within the material. Ironically, the rituals in which these corpses were preserved were meant to aid the soul in passing on to the next life, yet instead it is captured in the wrappings surrounding it. Through countless centuries of imprisonment, the inert soul caught in the bandages manages to adapt, and take on the bandages as their own ' skin'. All that remains within the wrappings is an echo - a ghost of a ghost, which remembers its past life and realizes that it is now no longer what it once was.
Once a Tah'k Mumz'kar is born, it is quite sane and would be able to be communicated with. Unfortunately, nearly every bandage beast is held within ancient tombs which have long been sealed from the outside. They are prisoners within their own mausoleum, unsleeping and unheard for centuries. Nearly all go at least partly mad. Some lose all sense of sanity and become nothing more than animals.
Surviving an encounter with the Tah'k Mumz'kar
Some Bandage Beasts can be communicated with after a fashion, however most are part-crazed and have a warped sense of logic. They still partly believe themselves to be kings or pharaohs, and as such they expect to be treated as such. Respect will be met with neutrality, and scorn will be met with hostility.
Any strong display of emotion will infuriate a Bandage Beast as by emotion, they are reminded of the life which has long passed them by.
The language barrier may be a difficult thing to cross, as the language that a Tah'k Mumz'kar knows will likely have been dead for centuries. Still, if communication is possible - whether by miming, hand-signs or knowledge of their language - one may be able to escape an encounter with a Tah'k Mumz'kar without so much as a scratch.
Sometimes, however, a crazed, territorial or just cruel Mummy will not even give the opportunity for communication and will attack from first sight. When this happens, beware! While the Bandage Beast may seem to be of humanoid shape, this is only because their ' echo' remembers them being human. If it so wishes, it may collapse and appear to be nothing but a pile of dirty wrappings in the corner of a room.
The Tah'k Mumz'kar's most enjoyed way of killing is by using a mortals weakness against it. Suffocation is a favorite, as the Bandage beast uses its own wrappings to cover the breathing passages of a living creature and patiently wait until the life is taken from them. Some even wait for hours, watching and feeling as the corpse turns cold.
Other methods of offense used by the Tah'k Mumz'kar are to wrap their appendages around each of the limbs and attempt to tear a creature apart. Additionally, they may pick up objects or weapons with their wrappings, and use them to attack.
Any strips of material torn from a mummy will dissolve into nothingness over the space of about ten minutes, and the tear that the mummy had suffered will slowly re-stitch itself strand by strand, taking between ten to thirty minutes depending on the severity.
Do not even consider fighting a Tah'k Mumz'kar in the traditional sword-and-spear methods - you are not fighting a humanoid, and nor are you fighting a corporeal foe. Essentially, you are fighting possessed material and an echo.
Bludgeoning a Bandage beast will certainly make it collapse into a shapeless pile of material - after all, it only weighs as much as its wrappings - but it will not damage the creature at all, and the Mummy will either reform into a human shape, or continue ' slithering' onwards in its raggedy form.
The only way a slashing weapon will injure one of these creatures is if you shred the material into hundreds of miniscule pieces; and even then, you should be sure to watch all of the pieces of the material, to make sure that they all dissolve. If a strip does not dissolve, it means that the ' echo' of the creature is still attached, and if ignored, the material will slowly stitch back together. Naturally, once reformed the Bandage Beast will want revenge.
The Tah'k Mumz'kar is superbly fire resistant - the chemicals used in the treatment of the material and the body act as a powerful fire-retardant, and as such it will not catch alight. Due to this fact, fire is as ineffective as bludgeoning a Bandage beast. Surprisingly, Water is perhaps the best thing to use when faced with one of these monstrosities. If the bandages of the Tah'k Mumz'kar are soaked, they will become too heavy and saturated to allow the possession of the material to work effectively. Thus, a soaked Bandage beast cannot hold its humanoid shape, nor can it wrap around anything tightly, or pick up objects. The only thing it can do is slither away and find a suitable hiding place until it dries. In this soaked state, an attacker - if it catches the bundle of bandages - would be able to tear apart the material with nothing more than a letter-opener if he wished. The Bandage Beast would be completely defenseless.
Bandage Beasts are fully aware of their weakness to water, and as such they avoid it like the plague. As a matter of fact, a ring of water spread around a person - or perhaps at the entrance of a door - would make an effective ward against Mummies (At least until the water evaporates in the dry, desert heat), and seeking sanctuary from a pursuing Bandage Beast would be as simple as finding a large body of water - such as an oasis, or a fountain.
Although using water may be an excellent method of stopping a mummy, the fact remains that most mummies are found deep within tombs, in the driest wastes of the desert, where water is perhaps the most precious commodity. Does the defender wish to risk using their water, only to die of thirst a couple of days later?
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? Responses (19)-19
A small note: Mummification wasn't solely performed by egyptians!
Though this creature would most commonly be found in the desert, it could easily be adapted into... say, an ancient ruin deep within a rainforest, for example.
Lovely piece. It has some problems for me. So I am holding vote until some resolution.
There are lots of misspellings, some odd grammar issues, and bad formatting. These are things I do not normally associate with SE posts. Needs more editing really, it was released early.
You also don't need the RtU infront of it. Unless you add that to every RtU, you really don't need it.
I like that the Mummy is now a bound ghost. I do like the possessed black bandages. I like the two pinpricks of light for the eyes. I like that it is just a bunch of humanoid bandages. The motivational section is not that clear for me, other than just making it monsterous.
The water is a nice touch.
Why can't you just treat these things like any other spirit monster. Spirit wards, dismissals (ghost banishings), some static magic charms, and somesuch should provide some protection against these things. Thus lines of salt or somesuch proofing against maleveolent spirits might provide some respite against the Mummy. Of course, this does not stop the Bandage Beast from throwing knives and things at you.
Actually it might be fun that a holy symbol from long ago might provide some protection from the creatures, as they are protected by that culture's God of Life, thus safe from The Dead. Of course, now the talisman is just a pretty trinket, a lovely design of some antiquity still used in jewelry... much the way a celtic knot design is used in jewelry.
Phew - I just ran the spell checker, and realized how bad it really was, Moon! :D I wrote it up at 5am in notepad and copied it over when I got home from work tonight, so I didn't give it another look over :p I'll check & modify grammar in a moment.
Anyway, all that aside, about your other comments!
Black bandages: Aesthetic (Plus a psuedo-reason as to why it's fireproof)
Amber eyes: Aesthetic. Make it without any discernable eyes if you wish. I just always thought any creature with a line of sight should have an indication of where its sight is. 'Amber pinpricks' is as good as any :)
Bunch of humanoid bandages: Because the form of the corpse/human was humanoid. It latches onto its past life by trying to make itself look and act human.
As for magical wards/attacks: By all means. I intentionally left out magical remedies, simply because to be honest, I don't know what is the norm for attacking 'spirits', since I don't roleplay. I let it be assumed that magical attacks will work as per normal against a ghost/wraith/spirit.
Anyways... Grammar check!
As a side-thought: While I was writing this up, I wanted it to kind of have a feel of a very powerful bieng, but with a very exploitable weakness. I wanted the feeling that in a low-magic world, if you don't have any water... RUN!
Updated: Minor Grammatical tweaking ---
How long does it take for these to go insane? 5/5
Checka, go get a couple of cans of food, a few jars, some liters of water, and stay inside a dark closet for as long as you can. Stay in there until you have to get out. It should be a few hours to a day or two. Imagine not being able to leave for weeks, or months. Now extend that to years. So the answer, not long. To some degree, it won't take long.
What Moon said!
Depending on willpower and mental stability, it would vary. Also, take into account that the Bandage Beasts never sleep, so that will effectively half the amount of time it takes.
So really, there is only a fairly small opening of opportunity to find a completely 'sane' Mummy, if you go tomb-digging for one!
Why do I suddenly have this image of bold adventurers breaking into an ancient tomb...
'Voller, you hold the torch! Fralenno, you pull open the secret door! Golda, you stand ready to psychoanalyze the monster when it comes out!'
And now we are voting....
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Oooh... I like these things. I'm sure I'll find a suitably diabolical use for them, somewhere. *evil plotting* And I really like the description and intro story, it really sets these things up for me, makes them more than just monsters to be killed or avoided. I actually feel kinda sorry for these buggers...
Yep, what they said.
A very nice take on the classical mummy!
Whoa. You have made each of them unique, and most probably insane beyond recovery. Their real substance, and the powers are also cool (a neat touch of them being not vulnerable to fire).
What should I say? You have turned the mindless shambler into something different all along. Great work!
Woohoo! An alternative mummy, and a good one at that. Refurbish the undead nicely so that players always have to think hard when facing them. Not just: mummy -> burn. Skeleton -> crush. Zombie -> hack off head.
what manfred and Echo said!
I love mummy critters and scenarios. This is a great remake.