The crib-womble is a dangerous fey beast, indeed; although it can subsist on fruit and insects, its chief goal is to sneak into nurseries like some kind of marsupial cuckoo, and steal infants, which it then devours. With each baby eaten, the crib-womble slowly takes on the form of a small child; perhaps five or six infants are sufficient to complete the transformation, at which point the crib-womble infiltrates an orphanage, to be raised as a human. Most crib-wombles, being horrible little beasts, grow up to be human politicians.
|A taxidermied crib-womble found in the bedding of one of River-Town's movers and shakers (who shall remain un-named); no doubt a kidnapping threat against the gentleman's children from persons unknown.|
The cause of mutation behind these strange ground-fowl is unknown, but certainly they are related to, if not descended from, wild turkeys. In fact, they greatly resemble large, horse-sized versions of the turkey, save for their single, luminous eye. The sinuous neck of the turklops bobs and weaves like a serpent as the glowing eyeball remains fixed upon its prey - chickens, ducks, quails, and any other small creature the turklops can chase down. And what could be better evidence of the rationality of nature? Just as cyclops devour men, so too does the turklops swallow ducks whole. Despite its size and strength, the turklops is not well-suited for riding, as it lacks all depth perception and tends to run into trees at speed.
Although Wampus Country is named for a predatory cat, and best-known for its owl-creatures, it is also home to a large number of serpentine species, some of which are far more noteworthy to the curious naturalist than the rattlesnake or hoop-snake, both of which seem plain by comparison.
First in our short survey is the Serpentree, a deciduous tree whose seed-pods are, in fact, poisonous snakes. During the proper season, the serpentree grows numerous snakes, then drops them to the ground, where they slither off in search of prey; sometimes the plant will drop snakes directly on passersby. The serpentree seed-snakes carry in their venom tiny fertilized seeds which are transferred to the bloodstream of creatures bitten. These seeds then make their way to the heart, where they implant themselves within the muscle and eventually grow into young serpentrees, killing the host. Sadly, the serpentree is just one of many deadly trees of Wampus Country, many of which use their victims' decomposing bodies as fertilizer for their young.
Another fascinating snake is the spring-snake, which can be manhandled and forced to compress itself lengthwise. Thus manipulated, the spring-snake is sometimes used in two ways: the classic trick is to stuff several spring-snakes in a box or jar (peanut brittle canisters are popular). When the container is opened, the spring-snakes erupt furiously. A more modern application for the spring-snake is to procure a smaller specimen, compress it - with that characteristic wrenching sound the vertebrae make - and stuff it inside the barrel of a shotgun, to be fired at an intruder. The tail of the spring-snake is very bony, and usually the firing of the weapon does not kill the beast, instead merely enraging it as it flies across the room and sinks its fangs into the target. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the spring-snake carries a painful paralytic poison.
Our third interesting serpent for this installment is a kind of small, inoffensive beast with tiny, needle-like teeth. Related to the garter snake (which, obviously, can be trained to bite its own tail and wrap around a thigh to protect a lady's virtue), this delightful amphisbaena is the suspender-snake. With a head at each end and a prediliction for clamping down on cloth, the suspender-snake is easily trained to hold up a pair of pants. At least one fashionable boutique in River-Town is selling these reptiles in color-matched pairs, knotted together, as "snake-spenders"; whether the critter becomes fashionable amongst the hoi-polloi remains to be seen.
The picture of the crib-womble comes to us from Jack over at TotGaD. The spring-snake is the invention of my Friday night group, and the other serpents and the turklops were created by the Boy (age seven).