Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,

A Digression On Bonstables [21 Hivvem 4261]

Thelvion sounds quite sure he's a prime. Nobody's ever thought that he could possibly be lying. But he's got this mysterious concealed shapeshifting thingie about him, and he sounds utterly and convincingly ignorant about it ...

Nendrai aren't the nastiest, wickedest monsters on the World Tree. They do deserve their own superlative -- the most imposing, is probably a good one. The nastiest, wickedest monsters on the World Tree are the bonstables.

I don't actually know much about them, but this is what I remember.

They're capriforms naturally: they look like anthropomorphic goats. Except they're bald-headed and shiny-headed. Their tails are long and, I think, have a poison stinger.

Except they're shapeshifters. They can take any prime shape. (Or, for some reason, the shape of a shiny silvery bird, which I suppose is useful as an escape shape.) I understand that their shapeshifting power is hard to detect or analyze magically... it might not even be magical.

They're also quite persuasive. They can persuade themselves as well as other people. If a bonstable is imitating a Rassimel, it will persuade itself that it really is Rassimel, or good enough anyways. It takes a very clever person or spell indeed to figure out the truth. Even fairly drastic measures, like mindreading, only work if you ask the right question.

Of course, when one day's truth turns inconvenient, the bonstable will persuade itself of a different one the next day -- and never even think it was lying or being inconsistent.

I hear they can persuade other people exceedingly well too. Not by magic, just by convincing.

They are, supposedly, indiscriminately libidinous, and fertile with all prime species. The children are always bonstables.

They are known for sneaking into cities, doorwaying other monsters in, ruling in terribly destructive ways, spreading prime secrets to monsters, and generally doing the worst things imaginable. And being quite proud of how well they're doing.

They're not very dangerous physically, no more than an ordinary person. Once you discover the bonstable, it generally stops being a problem. But that usually takes decades, and by then your city-state's a puddle of limp harpy-eagle dung.

[No, this isn't veiled political commentary. -bb]

Whichever god made bonstables keeps revising them, too. If your city's bonstable-detector is three hundred years old, it probably won't detect this generation of bonstables. Or so they say, anyways.

Anyways, this is what I was thinking about when Thelvion, Esory, Rhedwy, Irigatur, and I were heading to Prof. Gostegg's office. I usually don't like Rhedwy very much, but I was awfully glad to have someone with big pointy teeth and bigger pointier spells prowling underneath me, looking very dangerous.

Not that bonstables are actually very dangerous when you find them, as I said.

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