Monday, March 8, 2010

Hateful Glare: The Beholder Examined

"Well, it was as I was sayin', sirs. Me and Ninefinger Nev had been hired to help this crew--out-of-towners, but experienced-like--for this smallish delve. Easy break and grab, it seemed.

And so it were. At first.

Their lockpicker was at work on a couple of Thystaran strongboxes, when a scout--Northern feller, Hrarn, was it?--comes back from checking down-tunnel a peice, pale as a corpse. 'Fore he can get a word out,
it comes floatin' in. Never seen one before, but I heard plenty, and knew it for what it was soon as I saw it.

It comes in slow, unhurried-like--floaty--like its riding a gentle breeze, only of course there ain't no breeze and never would you get one big enough to move a monstrosity like that, anyhow. It's eyestalks are moving all about like its lost something and can't find it, and its one big eye is jerkin' and twitchin'. By the gods, sirs, it looked like it was nervous! Or maybe, paranoid might be more the like.

Anyways, it floats in bold as you please--unconcerned--paying us no nevermind, really. And its lips are moving like its talkin' to itself! Mumblin'. Couldn't make out no words, but it was like it was off in its own world.

Then, the captain calls for the mage, and that sound seems to snap the beast to. Its big eye focuses and the little ones quit squirmin'. The thing starts laughin'--gigglin'-like--high-pitched and crazy.  Then there's witch-fire 'round the eyestalks, and a cracklin' sound, and I dove for cover behind those strongboxes. And not a moment too soon.

I had my head covered, so I saw no more, but the screamin' started right quick..."

- Transcript of interview with Hout Gedry, conducted by Tuvo brek Amblesh, Magister of the Library of Tharkad-Keln.

"Exterminate, annihilate, DESTROY!!!"
- Doctor Who, "The Power of the Daleks" (1966)

By the standards of most intelligent beings, the creatures known as beholders are insane. They hold a hatred beyond reason of all non-beholder life, and spend their time either in gleeful murder and destruction, or in deep reverie, fantasizing about future horrors they might commit. A multiverse cleansed of every other living thing is their fondest wish.

Other beholders are not free from their violent proclivities, either. They hold strict and capricious ideas of racial and intellectual purity, which may lead them to turn on each either with little provocation. This leads to perhaps justifiable paranoia that any other beholder they may encounter is a would-be assassin. Only occasionally will a beholder emerge with the force of personality, intellect, and brute strength necessary to gain the temporary loyalty of others of its kind.

Beholders worship no deities. They refuse to acknowledge any power greater than themselves. The destruction of a vulnerable godling is one of the few tasks that have brought beholders together in the past. When confronted by higher order beings they may either become sullen and passive aggressive, or unreasoningly violent, and effectively suicidal.

Discussion of the biology of these beings is largely fruitless as their physiologies don't conform to terrene physical requirements. They don't appear to have organs in the usual sense, and sages believe that their substance my extend partially into other dimensions. Some have made the case that their peculiar mental processes may be a result of this.

Beholders have never been seen to reproduce. Some scholars hold that they propagate by budding, though admittedly with no evidence for this assertion other that some vague notion that their inner workings resemble animalcules writ large. Others theorize that they do not reproduce at all, and so there are only a finite number of beholders in existence.

If true, that perhaps provides a sort of twisted reason for their behavior. Unable to countenance lesser beings going on when their great race fails, they strive to bring an end to everything.


Anonymous said...

Weird and very interesting, excellent post!

Trey said...

Thanks! If I have a point with these monster peices, it's to brong more of a weird fiction feel to the beast in question.