Painted an image of an Unman today, thought I’d post it with an excerpt form the Hag Tree – just in case anyone fancied a read:
Gabble huddled below the windowsill breathing heavily, his head thudding with the rush of his blood.
Again the sound echoed across the silent square outside…a strange guttural howl that made the hairs on Gabble’s neck and arms stand tall with the chill of fear. A moment later, this bestial cry was followed by a second, more distant retort.
“Is it wolves?” Gabble whispered through spitless lips.
“Worse.” growled Bo. “Now keep quiet.”
It was only now that Gabble noticed the glint of steel in the woodsman’s massive hand, the glint of a knife. What could be worse than wolves?
Again the howl sounded, this time it was closer, from somewhere within the square.
Despite his fear, Gabble had to see what had so spooked his guardian. He raised himself so he could peer over the windowsill through the weave of brambles along its sill.
The square was now heavily in shadow but fingers of sullen light still clawed the ground. Gabble noticed a movement on the far side of the square, a number of dark shapes shifting through the half-light. They moved with strange loping gaits, keeping a tight pack formation like seasoned predators. But these were not wolfen shapes, there was no dog-like sleekness to their form, they were hunched and ran like gangly monkeys. A horrifying realization gripped Gabble, chilling his blood; these creatures were men!
The pack paused at the fountain and for the briefest moment one of their number lifted himself to full height, his body adopting the familiar stance of a man. As he stood, sniffing the air, the man’s head and shoulders were for a moment held in a beam of anemic light. His naked skin was smoky blue, as if stained by ink, and his long, greasy hair hung like dead vines around his head.
Gabble gasped in horror as he beheld the thing, its human form so feral, so savage.
The man’s head twitched, turning to face them. His eyes glowed with a sickly red light, like a lantern in thick mist, and his mouth hung open letting the bright fleshy snakehead of his tongue loll from his lips.
Gabble was frozen by his gaze; it was as though the man could see him, his eyes piercing the shadows and brambles with their ghoulish light.
And then, as another distant ululation went up from the silent streets, they were gone, drawn into action by the desolate cry.
Gabble remained transfixed, his eyes locked on the point where seconds before the fire-eyed man-thing had stood.
It was only when Bo wrenched him to his feet that his trance was broken.
“I told you to keep quiet,” the woodsman fumed through gritted teeth.
Gabble cowered under Bo’s fearsome glare.
“I’m sorry Bo; I just wanted to see,”
“And did you boy?” snarled Bo. “Did you see? Did you behold those wretched tortured things?”
Gabble was cowed by Bo’s anger.
“Well then, that is punishment enough for your disobedience.”
“They were men,” murmured Gabble, the horror of the fact still raw in his mind.
“They were unmen,” replied Bo, pulling Gabble back from the window by his collar. “They are the descendants of the poor souls who survived here after the Jezawrath’s passing. They are tainted by the pestilent stain she left, warped by her hateful essence. They are no longer men, they are beasts, savage and cruel and hungry.”
“I’m sorry,” said Gabble again, not daring to meet Bo’s scowl.
“We will stay here tonight,” said Bo, his anger beginning to dull. “It will not be safe to be out after nightfall. But no fire, no talking, do you understand?”
“Yes Bo,” replied Gabble with a timid nod. Never in his life had he felt such a sudden and desperate yearning for home.