Sep 17, 2014

Five Uncanny Beasts from the Secret Bestiary of Pope Innocent XIV

1 The Unicorn.

Contrary to popular belief, the unicorn is not a horse with a single horn growing on its forehead. It’s not even a quadruped, as pointed out by Thucydides in his treatise On the Nature of Hyperborean Megafauna.

The unicorn of the Aleutian Islands resembles a single-mast, seagoing vessel, with eyes on every flank and a glowing orange sphere atop the horn. At night, unwary sailors will often mistake the light for a beacon; and the unicorn knows how to trick them into dashing their ship upon some jagged rock. When the vessel has been wracked the unicorn rushes to the scene and feasts on broken wood and wet sails.

Ilya Komarov


2 The Hairy Sordes.

A flying beast and a cousin to the phoenix. It imitates all human voices with admirable precision, and on Wednesdays it likes to hide in church confessionals, where it hears out the penitents and assigns preposterous acts of penance, such as licking one’s elbows or sleeping under a gravid cow on a full moon night.

3 The Papegoja.

The papegoja is half man and half peacock. It can only be seen at night, for its man half greatly embarrasses him. The papegoja feels irresistibly drawn to britches and pantaloons, for it wishes to conceal its nakedness. Many a mysterious disappearance of gentlemen’s garments has been attributed to the papegoja.

It was known to the Persians under Darius I, who kept several papegojar at his pleasure-house in Pasargadae as they made excellent gatekeepers.

4 The Flying Blank.

Supreme annoyance to natural historians, who struggle to describe this marvelous beast, yet cannot find the proper words.

Paracelsus claims in his Fifth Book of Occult Philosophy that he once read a chronicle by Theophanes the Iconodule (which document is now lost) where the saint mentions a man whose cousin’s sister-in-law’s friend had at one time encountered a flying blank in the desert outside Damascus, and that the flying blank may or may not have imparted great lessons on the nature of the world.

What evidence remains of the existence of the flying blank is jealously guarded by the Ottoman Turks.

5 The Winter Faun.

A short-lived race that keeps to the woods of Normandy and worships rain, snow, and thunder. On the advice of Audoin, Theuderic III sent missionaries to the winter fauns to see whether they could be converted; but the brutes refused to speak in any known human language and clung to their ignorant ways.

Roberto Osti

Procopius wrote in his other Secret History that the winter faun is related to the dancing goats of Thessaly which, having mated with Persian papegojar escaped from the pleasure-houses of Darius I, then gave birth to creatures half-goat, half-man and half-peacock. On the mystery of how a creature can be comprised of three halves, Procopius has nothing to say.

Jaroslaw Jasnikowski


NOTES
1. Feel free to use these creatures in your fiction.
2. Thucydides, Darius I, Paracelsus, Theophanes, Audoin, Theuderic III and Procopius are all historical figures.
3. You can get a free copy of the Secret History from Project Gutenberg.
4. You should go listen to Howlin' Wolf now.


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