A Digression on Monsters [timeless]
Several of you have asked about chromodons and nendrai. As
a prelude to the next section, here’s what I know about them
off the top of my head. It may or may not be wholly
Both creatures are among the most fearsome monsters of the
World Tree. Do not think that all our monsters are like this!
A chromodon is a pack of eight housecats, or housecattish
things with big jaws of sharky teeth. Each pack is a single
person, one mind split among eight bodies. Actually you
don’t usually see all eight bodies together — they usually
spread out for safety. “Spread out” might mean a thousand
miles between bodies!
They’re smart. Their bite is poisonous, I’m pretty sure.
Oh, and they have some magic too. Like, they can improvise
spells comparable with my best spell or better, using any
combination of arts at all (or at almost?). At the rate of
three or four a second. It takes me eight or ten
seconds to improvise one spell. And chromodons
never run out of cley. And they do this coolly and
collectedly and sensibly.
So fighting one of a chromodon’s bodies is like fighting a
small horde of pretty decent sorcerers, who are all casting
Now suppose you win that fight — you kill the one body.
(Which is pretty hard, ’cause the chromodon can keep casting
spells on it for a little after it’s dead, and can teleport
it around or heal it or stuff, I think.) Anyways, suppose
you’ve killed the one body. There are still seven more
bodies to deal with.
And those seven are very, very upset. ’cause a chromodon
needs all eight bodies to reproduce.
You’ve just castrated but not otherwise inconvenienced a
very powerful monster. The remaining 7/8ths, plus zir
unhappy mate, and any other creatures that a very powerful
monster might recruit as allies, are now on your tail. And
you don’t even know where they are, ’cause they’re a few
hundred miles away somewhere.
The best advice on dealing with chromodons: go a long long
way away and outlive them. They only live forty years or
so. Even non-Zi Ri do that.
Nendrai are worse.
They’re big ugly lizardly sorts of people — even the
smaller varieties are the size of a large Gormoror up to a
small horse, and the larger varieties are pretty big. They
like getting things from primes. They
have long lashy thin tails. Some of them have multiple
heads, which is bad, or forked tails, which is far, far worse.
They’re pretty scary just physically. They have ridiculous
vitality — a good warrior could stand being stabbed through
the heart five times before dying, say. A small nendrai
could probably handle ten times that. A big one could
probably handle a hundred.
But the real danger is magic. They can improvise Mutoc
spells — spells of change — at degrees of complexity
ranging from “exceedingly good” (complexity 40! With my
best spell being 20.) on up, and with power to match. They
have only two restrictions: (1) no Healoc, and (2) the
nendrai casts the spell on the target by touching the target
with its tail. Like chromodons, their magic doesn’t cost
Which makes them really nasty enemies. There’s an awful lot
that you can do with a complexity-40
Mutoc-plus-anything-but-Healoc spell. Like … You can
turn a rainstorm into a rain of poisoned hail. You can turn
an acorn into iron. You can turn a forest’s acorns into
darts and make the trees hurl them at your enemies. You can
disguise a town as just about anything. You can teleport
several people dozens of miles. You can graft a spell
instantly. You can wholly transform someone’s loyalties.
You can turn a fire into a devastating, semi-controlled fire
elemental. You can change the recent past, e.g.,
unscrewing-up a screwed-up attack. You can turn someone’s
armor into scorpions. You can turn someone’s memories of
their native language into scorpions too, I think, which
renders them (1) stung about the head by insects, and (2)
incapable of conveniently asking for help.
On second thought, that’s maybe a bit more than complexity
40. 40 will turn a person to air, but turning a person to
fire is 45. Turning a specific set of memories to
living animals is more like complexity 60. Which is
beyond the reach of many nendrai. Vaisessasilmin
living by us is a member of the species
N. magus, which Broon said was the kind that’s
good at magic. She might well be able to do it.
This does not please me greatly, having someone physically
and emotionally capable of such… sitting at the bottom of
the Verticals selling trinkets to farmers.