Ugly is as Ugly Does
Ugly comes in many forms, and I have yet to decide which is the most abhorrent.
Ugly is the creature I keep calling Wart. It helped Brigitte and Shevik with mutilating the horse carcasses for meat and with burying what was left. It helped with digging the defenses we constructed for our redoubt of several nights. It even brought us water while we worked, although I am not convinced that it hadn’t drank some of the water and backwashed very heavily in the process. It accepted the chain shirt I told it to put on, so as to keep it from dying precipitously in the middle of the mission we are performing for its ugliness. It even seemed to have a vague understanding of its role in holding the potion and using it to heal a fallen comrade when necessary. So, of the various uglies I have recently encountered, this one, at least, was the most useful.
The ugly remnants of what must have been a beautiful castle in the great Coryani style made me both lament and rejoice in the glory of the past ages. If the thing had been destroyed 200-250 years ago, then likely it was destroyed during the Milandisian revolt, and thus is a visible reminder of their treacherous insurrection against Illiir’s chosen Emperor. Nonetheless, one could still imagine the valiant legionairres of that bygone age manning the ramparts, cleaning the stalls, and being ever vigilant to defend that selfsame Emperor. I can imagine the fight that must have ocurred here, as the Milandisian rebels overcame the defenders, who should have died to a man. Yes, this forgotten keep will not be forgotten by me, and in that the brave Coryani who died here may have a bit of immortality, and this I think is the most glorious Ugly.
The ugliness of the buglike creature that Praetorius discovered in the ruins is difficult to describe. Like a large caterpillar, but with numerous tentacles coming out of its face, one might imagine it to be a creature manufactured by a madman. The carrion within its little warren of death, and the way it crawled around might make shivers down the spine of even the greatest gladiator within the arena. Its touch brought Praetorius to a standstill, and he almost looked comical standing like a stone statue as the rest of the group continued to attack the disgusting beast. It died relatively quickly, which makes me think that this was the least dangerous Ugly I have seen in a while.
Nature is not something that I usually consider to be ugly, and I trust that Saluwe knows that. However the vine creature we encountered, with its grappling fronds and agressive nature was an ugly manifestation of Saluwe’s might. All of the gods exhibit beauty and ugly within their realms, even Blessed Illiir, but thankfully, in our lives we tend to experience the beauty more often, which makes the ugly that much more apparent when we happen upon it. This was the nature of the vine creature, which seemed to rapidly dispatch both Helton and Ip. The irony of nature attacking Ip with such prejudice is not lost on me, but I wonder if it has ocurred to him. I must also note that while looking into that room, it appeared peaceful and safe, so as uglies go, this one was the most deceptive to note.
The last ugly, and the one which Praetorius seemed most “taken” by was the hideous bird-woman beast. Its large raking claws and deceptively sweet song were in stark contrast to one another, and yet somehow there seems to be a melding of them, just as the parts of the creature itself have been melded together. I do not know if such a creature is natural, or was created with magic, but I do know that if those creatures ever exist in abundance, then mankind, all of us, are in trouble. Which makes me class this as the most dangerous ugly of late. Not because we were at such peril to the creature, certainly not when it was all by itself, but if a large group of those creatures, a flock per se, was to descend on a town, the damage would be immeasurable and probably complete. So, yes, the most dangerous ugly.
Avarice, greed, cupidity, rapaciousness… Whatever you call it, it is an ugly facet of man and beast. A child will horde more candy than it can consume, simply to have it and others may not. Men will do the same with food, liquor, horses, gold, and even women. What ugly part of man is it that causes this? Is it a part of man at all, or is it a part of all creatures? For even the bird-woman beast had a horde, as have other creatures in my experience. They will horde things for which they have no use, and with no intent to provide them to those who can use them. Wart was threatened with death for taking something that was not his. Those that threatened him did so solely for money. He who purchased the item from Wart most likely took advantage of his innocence and purchased it for a pittance next to its worth. Why not pay the value? Of course, why did Wart need to steal? In Wart’s case, subsistence might be the answer, and the wish to survive and subsist could arguably excuse such theft. I will need to delve into the following of Cadic and see how exactly that is explained. But what would excuse the wizard from fooling Wart? Nothing. He did it for greed. There are men who kill for the sake of killing, and men who do it to defend their own lives. Some do it for Emperor and country, or just for their own family, but many do it out of greed. To take what that man had, his gold, his food, his woman. The SK himself, sitting on his island is guilty of this sin, perhaps more guilty than most, for not only does he send his bloody and rapacious followers out to bring the arcanists of the world to him so that he may have as much of the power as possible, but his followers will kill those they cannot have. The ultimate in greed then is to want all of a thing, to the exclusion of anything else. And so, greed, by whatever name, is the most destructive ugly.