The Watchers

The Watchers are almost a complete enigma. They have the appearance of billowing, ghostlike blue humanoids with gaping dark holes for eyes. They stand upon hilltops at night, often in groups of several dozen or more. Their primary activity is, as their name implies, watching. The entire group will stand staring fixedly at a single point for hours, until just one of their number suddenly notices something more interesting, at which point every one of them will turn their gazes simultaneously to match.
There are accounts of certain hilltops, once the sun has dipped beneath the horizon, sprouting crops of Watchers just as other hills might sprout crops of mushrooms. No one seems to be able to agree on their significance (whether good or ill) or even their origin. Many insist that they are the spirits of dead, other say of trees, others say they are simply natural occurrences like the stars. There is a hill overlooking the Institute’s main building that has had a consistent crop of Watchers ever since the very night that ground was broken. Our official conjecture is that there is no coincidence to this fact, that the Watchers only occur in places where there is something to watch. Official investigations will continue until anything more useful is revealed.

The Walkers

The Walkers are an apparitional migration that occurs on dark nights in remote areas. They stand over one hundred feet tall, towering on their long and spindly legs. Hundreds will be seen crossing dark fields in the distance, few humans having ever had the opportunity to see them at close range. They move in such tightly packed masses that it is difficult to even place how many legs each possesses. To see a herd of them at night is supposed to signify the coming of an important, yet unexpected, change.
Until recently, no attempt had been made to apply scientific method to studying the Walkers. Law protected them in many states, classifying them as endangered wildlife. Lately, however, the Institute has managed to persuade the Texas state government to allow a small team to approach the herds, if found. Though little has yet been discovered about the Walkers, we do now know that they are tangible entities, and not hallucinatory or spirit phenomena. They move so quickly and in such an erratic manner that it has proved impossible thus far to track them. More information will be presented as it is confirmed.

Golems: 'Unliving'

Similar to the living golems only in that they are constructed, the unliving golems are not, in fact, alive. They are put together from primarily inanimate parts, with maybe one or two biological parts (generally human) loosely attached. Their purpose is along the lines of servant or automaton. They are created for a particular task and then sent about completing it. Some part of their make-up is usually symbolic of or conducive to the individual golem’s task (a golem made entirely of twigs and flint might be ordered to set a fire every night, a golem made with bricks might be told to build a house). Once it has completed what it was created to do, any part of the unliving golem that remains will fall apart.
Sadly, creators of unliving golems are often not the most scrupulous of people. Unliving golems have been made with the charges of killing, harming and destroying far too many times. As an unliving golem will continue about its appointed duty until it has accomplished it, with no better way of destroying it that of the living golems, this is quite a problem. The Institute has a room in the basement filled with lead crates containing such negatively charged unliving golems. As one would imagine, it is quite a crime to create such a thing, and sadly, many of the unliving golems continue to attempt their grim goals well after the one who set them is gone.

Golems: 'Living'

Called golems for want of a better term, they are animate constructions. The ‘living’ golems are built out of part inanimate, part biological material. The creator then, somehow, imbues the golem with a life force and soul of its own (though presumably also ‘borrowed’ from another being, just as the golem’s other parts are). They are living; breathing creatures with the same needs (food, drink, entertainment) as all other beings. Cutting one open reveals multiple moving, pulsing organs: some made of stone, or felt, or wood, or flesh. However, as they are constructed, not born, they do not seem to be evincing any need for or capability of dying.
Who is creating these creatures, and how they are doing it, is yet a complete mystery to the Institute. Though numerous attempts have been made to dissect or destroy the golems, all that has been learned is a little about their physiology, and nothing about their mortality.

The Crow

The Crow is hardly an animal of extreme rarity, so not much will be said about its living habits here. It differs from the Raven in many ways; though size, social life and language are some of the most scientifically noted. The reason for it being mentioned here is its extreme significance.
If one sees a single crow, that crow is representative of the Author. Two crows are acting as scouts. Three crows are invariably up to something mischievous. Four crows have formed a lucid plan, which they are now enacting. Five crows gathered together are telling stories to one another. Six crows have located a hidden path (perhaps a ley line) and are following it. Seven crows are most likely in or causing trouble, which is probably for the sake of distracting an outsider from their secrets. Eight crows together are invoking or summoning something. Any murder of crows larger than these groups is in fact made up of smaller groups of crows in these configurations. Neither is seeing seven crows, for example, a guarantee that they are making trouble—it could be a group of two and a group of five seen in close proximity to one another. One must pay close attention to the crows’ individual behavior, and how they interact.
Another way that the crow is important is in its relationship to the dead. All a crow need do is perch upon the grave marker of the deceased, and it can know the entire life history of that person, plant or creature as if it had lived it itself. Crows have an incredibly complex social system and language. The Institute is currently developing a program to understand the language of crows, that it might document such information.

Fungal Hominid: The Ambulatory Fungus

The Ambulatory Fungus shares characteristics with both mushroom and jellyfish. Which of the two it bears actual relation to is still a mystery, as one has yet to be detained. Even the habitat is unknown, and it has been suggested that the Ambulatory Fungus should be classified as more of a Crypto zoological curiosity than an actual catalogued species, despite the existence of legitimate documentation.
The Ambulatory Fungus has most frequently been spotted strolling along city sidewalks. It is always walking forward with some purpose, leaning into its swift gait. Though it walks at a reasonable pace, and even obeys all traffic laws by pausing in the appropriate places, witnesses are usually too stunned by its appearance to approach it. Because if its mysterious nature, rumors and legends have grown up around it. Some cannot help but imagine it a hoax, perhaps a costumed prank. Others surmise that the Ambulatory Fungus makes its home in the city, camouflaging itself as mold when at rest. To see it is supposed to signal good luck to those who have had long streaks of bad.

Fungal Homind: The Mushroom People

There are two forms of fungus-like hominid known to the Institute. Members of the first species are called simply the Mushroom People. They are small, ranging from two to seven inches in height. As a mechanism for self-preservation, their large white heads sport a false, mask-like face. Though the mass of the head appears to be high in the face, behind the stylized eyes, the true eyes and brain are concentrated down in the end of the ‘chin’. Not very much is known about the Mushroom people. They live in small colonies among the roots of immense trees. They are mute, and have no fingers or hands in any form. Thus, though they appear to posses an advanced intelligence for their size, they are entirely incapable of communication. Broad arm gestures are used among them to indicate general meanings, but otherwise they seem quite devoid of language.
The Institute has mounted several expeditions in order to attempt capture of one or more of the Mushroom People, but efforts have so far been fruitless. When a Mushroom Person feels intimidated, it sinks down into the Earth seeking safety. To capture a single Mushroom Person is useless, for without the accompaniment of its entire colony, the Mushroom Person will soon melt into a foul-smelling black sludge. Thus, details of constitution, diet and reproduction are still far beyond our grasp.

The Huddled Folk

The Huddled Folk (thought to be a confusion of the Norse name ‘H├╝ldrefolke’, meaning ‘hidden people’) are humanoid in appearance. Their most notable feature is a white mask, made of bone, which they wear constantly. The mask has come to be known as a symbol of personal identity (hence the variations that appear) and a signifier of the moon, their primary deity. They live in the wilderness of Norway, miles west of the city of Hamar. Despite the frigidity of their native habitat, and their obvious ability to craft, they remain entirely naked at all times of year. Nearly all of them keep their hair cut very short, which is also attributed to their reverence of the moon.
For centuries, there was debate over the humanity of the Huddled Folk. Though they appear very like naked men and women, there is usually a single flaw in their physiology that attests to their true species. It can be something as small as a feather growing among the hair or porcupine quills sprouting from the back, or it can be the mutation of entire limbs or torso. Some extreme cases have found Huddled People with additional eyes or mouths, or even absent shadows. Each Huddled Person has a uniquely mutated trait, which might be looked for beneath the mask if it is not immediately obvious upon the body.
It was finally decided, in the religious turmoil of the 1400s, that they were in fact inhuman and lacked souls. This belief was held up until 1917, when the horrific experimentations of Amadeus Barnabus Yorke upon the Huddled People forever informed the world otherwise. Since then, it has been an extremely delicate situation to attempt any sort of study of them, and the Institute, while held in high esteem, is still awaiting approval for an official expedition.


The Proboscine Goat

The Proboscine Goat is close relative of the domestic goat, speculated to have evolved from the very ancestor that humans first captured. The source of its name is obvious, having to do with its unusually long, hollow tongue. The Proboscine Goat is an animal of the plains and low scrub lands. It travels in small family herds, males and females taking equal responsibility for the young.
The purpose of its unique proboscis is manifold. First, and most obviously, it uses its tongue for eating. The Proboscine Goat, unlike its close cousins, is an incredibly fussy eater. Rather than ingesting the low foliage found in either plain or desert, it instead consumes the tiny, colorful flakes of Snowflake Algae that live among loose grains of sand. The tongue’s purpose is to allow the goat to avoid consuming as much soil as it does algae. It suctions matter up through its hollow tongue, much like an elephant with its trunk. Spanning the inside of the tongue is a cartilaginous grid, similar to a whale’s baleen, through which the algae, because of its paper-thin shape, can filter. A second muscular opening in the tongue releases the algae into the back of the goat’s mouth, where fused tooth-plates grind it down. The sand and other particles that cannot filter through the cartilage built up and are eventually ejected from the tongue in plumes.
Near the end of the Proboscine Goat’s tongue is a fleshy bulb, covered in small and equally fleshy ‘spikes’. The purpose of this bulb is mostly for grooming, for which it is quite effective. Like many mammals, group grooming is an act of bonding within the herd. The young, who have developed neither length nor fleshy bulb for their tongue, are groomed in turn by each of the adults. The absence of this fleshy bulb in the young helps suggest one of its other uses, which is sexual. Proboscine goats, like most mammals, bear young roughly once every year. Due to their migratory nature, however, the weather and food supply cannot be relied upon for consistency. Therefore, the herd abstains until it deems the climate proper, then inducing heat in one another by way of a special ‘grooming session’. Proboscine Goats have an unusually short gestation period, so that the young are born helpless, but well within the time of plenty.
It is not surprising that the tongue of the Proboscine Goat should be seen as an amulet of virility. To dry it and drink through it is supposed to be of great advantage to the user, in all matters sexual and romantic. The dried tongue is also used as a kind of divining rod, supposedly curling and writhing when it approaches fresh water and food. The Institute is investigating the verisimilitude of this last claim, as it could prove exceedingly useful on expeditions.

The Ossifris

The Ossifris is named for the helmet-like bone structure of its beak. Despite appearances, it bears no relation to the Hornbill family. It instead shares its genetics with the common North American Blue jay, and the elusive European Prispette.
The Ossifris is a predatory bird, living along wooden shorelines and utilizing the protection of its great helm as it burrows in the sand for mollusks, its favorite repast. Once found, it again makes use of its unusual bill and with it crushes the mollusks, as if wielding a hammer. When shellfish are rare, it will also consume frogs, small fish and voles.
As among many predatory birds, the female Ossifris is notably larger than the male, though somewhat duller in plumage. Pairs mate for life, a healthy span of nearly thirty years in the wild (a specimen has never been successfully raised in captivity, so its maximum possible lifespan is not known). Surprisingly, though perhaps because of its long life, the Ossifris will typically only produce two to three clutches of eggs in that time. They nest among the exposed roots of trees that overhang the water.
A complete mute, vocally, the Ossifris has a unique method of aural communication. Its bone helm is riddled with shallow channels and cavities. The bird will hold its head at a particular angle, beak held high and approximately 5 or 10 degrees from being directly vertical, and wait for the tiniest stirring of the air. At the appearance of the first zephyr, the unique system of channels begins to work, suctioning air through the beak end and out near the base of the skull. Once the process has begun, the bird can vary the sound and pitch by tilting its head or knocking it against nearby objects. The entire spectacle appears much like a dance. The resulting song is eerie, ranging from metallic to flutelike in tone. The birds fly with a strange bobbing motion, which also causes them to ‘sing’ at times—though the song tends to be far less elaborate. Both males and females perform the ‘song’, regardless of whether they have a mate or not (though mated pairs have been seen to ‘sing’ together, on occasion).
It is held that if one manages to obtain the skull of an Ossifris it can be played like an ocarina. If played by human lips, they say, one must be cautious—for it can wake the dead. Not just dead humans and animals, but dead plant matter as well. There exist legends that describe these occasions, where the Ossifris’ flute has been played and the foolish player’s house, dinner and dead relatives have all awoken back into life. The story generally ends with the reanimated beings striving to go about their ordinary tasks once more, despite their altered forms. As is usual in cautionary tales, the end for the protagonist is not a kind one. He either is driven mad by the advances of his skeletal darling, or is trapped within the new growth of his house as it strives again for tree-hood. It is interesting to note the frequent mythic ties between birds and the dead. The Institute has yet to obtain the remains of an Ossifris.


Illustrations from my newest book

Yup, I'm making a new book. No text yet, but the illustrations are finished.
Here they are, clipped out of their respective page like so many newspaper articles. I do not feel the need to upload the whole pages, as no one reads that sort of thing online anyhow, but I might upload the text separately as individual entries. I do seem to enjoy writing stories.
I'll also mention the title of the book here at some point, once I have decided what that will be.
They're drawn and inked by hand, then coloured on the computer.

(Yoink. The book is finished! Complete!
This is how I'm doing it:
I'll re-post each of the illustrations with its related text, one by one, in separate posts.
That will give me a chance to pace myself, because I'm really overwhelmed by school at the moment.)

And the book's title ended up being
The Ossifris: And other creatures of current relevance to the Institute.

(That being the Institute of Sub-Ocular Thaumaturgy, for the curious).

Tais-toi mon coer

I've been a little obsessed with this video lately. Okay, strike the 'a little' part. It's a music video/animation for the song 'Tais-toi mon coer' off of the newest album by Dionysos, "La Mecanique du Coer", a combination concept album and novel. The book, by the same name, is by band member Mathias Malzieu. The band website can be found here.
Now, despite my little obsession, I don't know French. Or at least, not very much at all. Thus I wait impatiently for the day that they translate the book.... or make a full-length feature film out of this animation (the band says they'll do it if they can get enough funding).
Until then, enjoy. I have. Many, many times.


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