Bestiarium: Rompo

rompo
Name: Rompo
Mythos of Origin: African(?) and Hindu mythology
Type: Mammalian, Skeletal, Chimæra, Vermin, Scavenger
Habitat: unknown

Imagine if you will that instead of being the product of thousands of years of emergent storytelling, coming up with mythology was somebody’s job, presumably at some sort of firm. Now imagine that one of the people working at that firm—let’s call him “Jerry”, just for the sake of the scenario—woke up one morning with a hangover and it suddenly realized that he was supposed to have a big presentation today of the mythical creature he’d been working on. Jerry calls the office, and discovers to his horror that the creature department had a major server crash during the night and they’ve lost everything. Desperate, Jerry hastily throws something together and prays to whomever it is he prays to that nobody would notice.

Now, that scenario is, of course, ridiculous. But if that were to happen, the result would probably come out looking something like the rompo.

There’s very little information I’ve been able to track down on the creature, but I do know a few things. It has the front legs of a badger and the back legs of a bear, the head of a hare, the ears of a human, and the torso of a skeleton. That’s 4 different animals, and a skeleton.

It feeds on human corpses, so it falls squarely within the criteria for what’s traditionally classified as a “bad” creature, but then again, the phrasing (“corpses” rather than “people”) suggests that it doesn’t actually kill anyone for its meals, preferring to nosh on whatever dead people it finds just lying around. So… less something a king would send a brave knight in shining armor to slay, and more along the lines something an undertaker might call the Orkin man to set traps for. It isn’t so much a horrible monster as it is a vaguely creepy pest.

What really gets me is its voice, described as “crooning”. Now, I know that this word originally meant a sort of soft, melodious humming, and that that’s probably the sense in which it’s used here, but I can’t help but imagine the freaky little weasel monster wandering around a graveyard belting out Fly Me to the Moon or Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.

All in all, the rompo always struck me as a bit rushed, hence my little story about Jerry and his workplace dilemma, but nonetheless I consider it another one of my favorites. It feels lazy and forced, but with such earnest conviction that the resulting bathos lends it a certain charm. It may not be the sort of monster that you scream and cower in fear from, but it is absolutely the sort of monster that one might dress up in costume and attend a midnight screening of (if monsters worked like movies, which they don’t), and in my book that’s just as good.

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