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Biroche: the False Earthstalkers

The camp was not hard to find, just slightly off the road and occupying a level clearing in the furrow of the mountain's spurs.

Oniake was within spitting distance of the campfire when he first noticed the -- beings? no, creatures.

Two sat in front of the campfire, arms moving as if they were bards spinning a tale although they spoke not a word to each other. Once they saw him they froze in place, limbs suspended in air as if made of wood.

Another walked into view, moving as if he had only had walking described to him by someone who in turn had only heard walking described to them by another person. His knees lifted far too high and the distance he traveled did not match the steps he took.

Oniake's flesh went cold and he gripped his cane until his knuckles cracked.

Each one had the same expression on their face -- a blank, wide-eyed stare and a mouth stretched open to show all their perfectly white teeth.

"Oh, good evening elder," one of the men in front of the fire said tonelessly. He had a flawless valley accent, yet his mouth did not change position once. His tongue didn't even twitch. He dropped his arms and bowed, head lolling. It was like watching a puppet dance on strings, the puppeteer forgetting to work the mouth.

"We ... don't get many visitors here," Oniake said in an equally flat voice. He knew he should run, but his whole body had frozen stiff. He couldn't even blink or turn his head away. "I ... just came to hear any news, to see what Earthstalkers were doing here." He did not move a muscle.

"Traveling, as usual." The other figure at the fire spoke, deeper but still monotonous. "Trading, trapping, surviving."

"Harsh winter," the standing one said, legs and knees jerking though he moved not a step. "We lost one man to the cold, and our horse delivered prematurely."

They spoke like Earthstalkers, looked like Earthstalkers. But they were not Earthstalkers.

"Kiatsu, who are you talking to?" This voice came behind, and was completely unlike the others.

Oniake forced his head to bend towards the sound and saw an exquisitely dressed woman step gracefully out of a tent.

Her face lit up and her bosom heaved when she saw the old man. "Oh, a good morning to you gracious elder." She bowed low, her movements far too graceful and her voice heavy with languor.

"He came for news," the first figure by the fire said, his mouth stretching even wider than before.

"Oh dear, I'm afraid we don't have much to tell. It's been such a long winter." The woman sighed, her mouth actually moving as she spoke.

She swayed as she walked, half dancing to the standing figure to lean on his arm coyly. She gently pushed his gaping mouth shut and stilled his jerking limbs, as if aware it was not a natural look. In fact, of all the creatures before him she seemed the most like an actual human, but missing the mark just barely.

Somehow that made her the most terrifying of them all.

"Kiatsu," she whispered, though not quiet enough to escape Oniake's ears. "Can I have this one, please?"

Oniake's heart began to pound. He knew very little of phantoms, but he had no doubt these ones intended to destroy him.

Without thinking he lifted his cane.

"By the strength of oak woven with the sky, let the light pierce your shadow. Your power is broken." He snapped his cane down on his knee and it broke as if it were a dried twig, cracking like thunder and splintering as if struck by lightning.

A wind blasted through the clearing, carrying the stench of ravens and burning flesh. The screams of a thousand creatures, human and animal, ripped the morning air apart.

Oniake fell to the ground.

"Please," he whispered as his strength faded. "Let it be enough, Itaalis."

He thought he could hear a distant rushing of wings. Then the smokey world turned dark.

Basic Information


They at first look only like a vague blackness, until they find an Earthstalker encampment and consume the life-force of the humans there. Each Biroche will take the form of the human they consumed and continue to act like them, though they do not always have the finest control over the illusion. They often move jerkily or illogically, walking in place or hovering off the ground.

As imitations of humans they physically represent humans, though their bodies often move in ways that seem impossible, such as joints bending backwards and mouths stretching too wide.

Genetics and Reproduction

These Biroche are generated from soldiers who died in the heat of hatred, usually in battle. Since war has plagued Tansa Province recently their population has grown significantly. That they specifically target Earthstalkers indicates either widespread xenophobia or the meddling of a powerful phantom or shaman.

Ecology and Habitats

These Biroche travel from village to village, finding outsiders and draining the life from them. They do not care for larger towns, even though they could have more opportunity there. Reports indicate that they stick to the mountains and nearby valleys. Recent discoveries of dead Earthstalker camps indicate a general movement away from the war-scarred country of the east toward the more densely populated and peaceful middle.

Additional Information

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

They are far enough into the physical world to lack a strong perception of life-force, which allows those phantoms and humans wary enough to hide from them physically. They have average sense of hearing and smell but excellent vision, allowing them to chase their quarry even at night.
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Scientific Name
Eidolae Birochea

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