Dondregh Species in Qet | World Anvil

Dondregh

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My love, hear me, I will defeat one such creature— for if I cannot, our love was never truly meant to be.
— A perished lover
  Dondreghs are fearsome monsters that reside within the peaks of Nipinoul, making the Gokh who live within them their frequent prey.  

Appearance

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Each appears as an emaciated human torso, covered in frostbitten skin. A round segment of its chest— where one would expect its heart to lie— is caved in, as if its heart had been scooped out by something more powerful. One will be quick to note that it lacks arms— at least, arms connected to its shoulders, as it walks on a set of three muscular arms attached to its torso in place of legs. Attached to each of these arms is a human hand with elongated fingers, the skin of each calloused on the bottom to allow for greater grip on the precipitous grounds they tend to inhabit.
Dohn-drehg

Habitat & Rest

Dondreghs are most common within the snow-capped peaks of Nipinoul: The Great Spine, though there have been reported sightings of them among other mountain ranges throughout Qet.     Dondreghs bury themselves in snow to rest, doing so intermittently, whenever they cannot sense prey nearby.
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Average Height
4'11"
Average Weight
107lbs
Their heads do not support the same features as humans, the creatures lack ears, noses, and hair entirely— however, they do possess two tiny black eyes that rest across from one another on the far ends of the head. Each is surrounded by lighter, leathery skin. Between these lies the "mouth" of the dondregh— a gaping hole surrounded by writhing human fingers that move about seemingly without reason. As if beckoning prey to place themselves within. These also serve to tear the flesh from their kills.   A faint orange glow emanates from somewhere within its throat, shining through the mouth. In thick snowfall, the writhing fingers cause this light to flicker not unlike a flame— luring weary wanderers nearer. One must wonder how, exactly, these creatures manage to survive among the mountaintops— as they move about by unsteady, shaky rhythms. This is especially dangerous when traversing across ice and snow, yet few have ever seen one slip.  

Habits

Dondreghs eat both man and monster— though they greatly prefer to feast upon human flesh. Regardless, they are feared even by other monsters— their magic proving difficult to fight against. How can one attack with their very blood freezing solid, yet alone defend themselves— or flee?   And this is where their terrifying strength comes from— the ability to greatly manipulate temperature. A fight against a dondregh is one of limited time— it typically takes a mere two minutes for one's body to begin to slow down, three for joints to freeze up, and four for death.

A Trial of Love

Dondregh are common targets for trials presented by a lover's clan to their suitors, if a suitor can best a monster as fearsome as this— surely, they would be not only worthy of but able to stand side by side their lover in marriage. Many, unfortunately, perish in these pursuits— most notably those who attempt the hunt on their own, which is seldom advisable.   Clans seeking to keep a member of another from marrying one of their own commonly present the trial of slaying a dondregh with one's bare hands— alone— as a way to decline suitors without outright saying so. This allows them to avoid conflict with the suitor's clan, especially if the suitor chooses to accept.
 
My hand is frozen to my side, my knee frozen mid-stride. I would close my eyes to spare me the sight of that horrid creature in my final moments were they not frozen wide open.
— An unfortunate victim
 

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Author's Notes

Feedback is very much welcome! Whether on the content, or the formatting! Please, point out typos if you spot any!


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Jul 4, 2020 03:21

I made the horrible mistake of reading this before going to sleep. I love you vivid description and blood curdling use of detail.

Jul 4, 2020 06:04 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thank you! Hopefully the nightmares have something interesting in them, at least!

Jul 4, 2020 05:12 by Tris (necromancertris)

This is magnificently creepy! I'm so glad there are no pictures of them xD

Jul 4, 2020 06:04 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thanks! For now, at least— I may draw one after summer camp.

Jul 5, 2020 11:32 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Well this is creepy and disturbing.   I really enjoyed the section about how clans will use the dondregh as a way to decline marriage proposals. That's such a clever detail and really brings the world to life.

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Jul 5, 2020 17:05 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thank you! Believe it or not, the whole marriage trial came first! I had alluded to dondregh in the Gokh article's section on relationships— though the whole subtle-but-not-really-subtle denial thing is new here.

Jul 6, 2020 03:30 by Simo

This is all kinds of creepy. The mouth description is something that will likely haunt my dreams, what a "polite" way for declining a suitor, indeed!

Jul 6, 2020 17:29 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thank you! Hey, it removes the awkwardness of saying no at least.

Jul 6, 2020 03:43 by Bob O'Brien

Really creepy description - which is to say a really good description of a really frightening apex predator. And I really like the idea that hunting and killing one of these is a "proof of worthiness" pre-marital test. But it also raises a question. If they are a "common target" for these hunts, this would imply there are a bunch of these things around. And that, in turn, suggests that something must be known about their lairs, mating behavior, and possibly even growth/lifecycle. A bit of this info could be interesting.   You might want to rework the very first sentence though. I'm certain you mean that both Dondreghs and Gokh live "within the peaks of Nipinoul", but it is possible to read your words as "Dondreghs prey upon the Gokh who live within them" (which would be a really strange parasitic / symbiotic relationship). Dondreghs are fearsome monsters that reside within the peaks of Nipinoul, making the Gokh who live within them their frequent prey.

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Jul 6, 2020 17:39 by Grace Gittel Lewis

I didn't go into it in this article, as this is explained in Monsters— how they reproduce and grow is already known, as all monsters do so the same way. Reproduction is by a sort of division— the monster splits to create new monsters, which arrive fully grown. Each grows in power the more they eat, but don't have a physical growth cycle— they are effectively immortal. Lairs I could probably add something about here though, thanks!   Yeah, I can see that! I'll think about that— personally I think the sentence is fine but you are right, it can be misread.   Thanks again!

Jul 6, 2020 08:53 by Juan Belío

I did not read the introduction and the whole body horror stuff caught me off guard. I'm not normally one to be scared. but this was certainly unsettling. The arms from the torso? Kind of funny. The fingers in the mouth? Nightmare fuel. Very cool and inspired design and I like that it's a testament of love like the classical kill dragon,but much more disgusting. Also, I wholeheartedly love your organization and design, the native and mesoamerican style, alongside with the color palette (even if it's a bit happy for what you're explaining) make for a wonderful atmosphere

Jul 6, 2020 17:39 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Jul 6, 2020 13:31 by Chris L

Okay, this thing is horrifying. I really liked this article. So if the task of killing one is given to a-hole suitors, what happens when said a-hole suitor actually brings a dead dondregh back? Is that a sign of worthiness, or does the lover's clan go "Oh no, now we have to follow through with a wedding? Crap!"


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Jul 6, 2020 17:41 by Grace Gittel Lewis

It's only the "do it barehanded, alone" bit that is used on undesirables— otherwise it is still a common target for good and bad suitors alike! For those who go alone and survive? That's an impressive feat, though how the clan reacts to it would vary. Some may gracefully accept what has happened, others may allow the marriage begrudgingly— some may attempt to kill them before it can happen.

Jul 14, 2020 19:18 by R. Dylon Elder

I experience such joy when finding writing that's actually chilling, and that's not just a pun. I really liked how you slowly build the visuals of the creature. I pictured seeing in a blizzard perhaps, each detail outlined more as it nears a kill. It's almost like a buildup of tension on its own. Excellent work.   So as an apex predator, it seems so inspired. I don't know if you intended it ir if it was a source of inspiration but good god. The use of magic as kind of a venom? Lots of predators have it, and it slows the prey down, much like these fine beasties. This is the first time I've though of ngfinding evolutionary traits that could develop in fauna within a magical world. That's glorious man. fine work. I also like how its unique in attracting its prey, using the fingers to mimic fire. That's special and so beyond the classic "looks like a naked woman" cliche.   Love it! On to the next!

Jul 14, 2020 21:37 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Are you sure it's not a pun? Thank you! I've had these guys in idea form for a while now, but they were only "fearsome" and I knew they were hunted for marriage.

Jul 14, 2020 22:01 by R. Dylon Elder

Ok just a little bit, but truely if they started fearsome, They leveled up... oof. Love that tradition as well. Kind of intense lol

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