This is kind of a new feature I’ve decided to start posting here on the BrokenEye Media blog. I’m starting a series of illustrations depicting various mythological and folkloric creatures, both well-known and obscure (but mostly obscure) that I think are interesting, with a description of each in my usual turgid, irreverent, aside-laden parlance, in the tradition of mediæval bestiaries. However, unlike mediæval bestiaries, I’m abandoning all pretense of having anything to do with beasts allegedly found in nature, and I will not be going way out of my way to shoehorn an unnecessarily preachy and ridiculously contrived lesson on woefully outdated middle-aged quasi-Biblical morals into each description (which they did, because mediæval theology was weird). So if the Word of God as (allegedly) taught by the (allegedly) natural creatures (allegedly) of His Creation is what you’ve come here for, I’m afraid you’re going to leave disappointed, but I doubt that it is. So, without further ado, here’s the first entry in the Bestiarium:
Mythos of Origin: Australian Aboriginal mythology
Type: Monster, Bogieman, Humanoid, Abhuman, Assimilative, Hematophage, Tentacled
Habitat: The canopies of fig trees
This one is probably one of my favorites because of how… creatively horrifying it is.
Though it can be described as the Aboriginal version of the vampire, the yara-ma-yha-who actually has very little in common its European brethren. True, it is a monstrous humanoid that sucks the blood of humans and can transform them into one of its own in the process, but the similarity ends there… which isn’t nearly as reassuring as it may initially sound.
This little red man makes it home in the branches of fig trees where it waits patiently and surprisingly stealthily for some poor, unwary traveler to pass by. When they do, the yara-ma-yha-who strikes in an instant, ensnaring them in its long, tentacular fingers lined with tiny lamprey-like suckers which it uses to slowly drain their blood. Not that it needs the blood for sustenance, mind you. It’s just that prey that’s weak from blood loss tend to be much less likely to resist or fight back. Once the creature’s hapless victim has been rendered nice and languid, the yara-ma-yha-who unhinges its toothless jaw and swallows them whole. After taking a drink from a nearby stream (because its important to stay hydrated), the monster takes a nap, it’s prey imprisoned—weak but very much alive—in its distensible stomach. When it wakes, it vomits up its victim, their skin ever-so-slightly redder, their build ever-so-slightly shorter than before.
If the victim is lucky, they’ll merely be sent on their way (feeling utterly horrified and no doubt somewhat violated) with the knowledge that they should stay away from that tree, lest they be caught and swallowed again. If they’re not lucky, the beast will skip the waiting, grab them again and repeat the process right then and there, swallowing and regurgitating them again and again until they’re completely transformed into another lurking yara-ma-yha-who ready and patiently waiting to prey on innocent travelers.
So yeah, kinda like a vampire, but a thousand times more abhorrent and not even remotely sexy. Unless you’re into that, I guess, though the knowledge that there are actually people who are into that (whatever the hell that is) just makes the whole thing all the more abhorrent.