I feel like with the number of them that have tried to ruin my day and hurt my feelings I should know more about hags. What are they even? It’s been implied to me that they’re a species (race?) of the fey folk (ironically sometimes called the fair folk) which seems like it maybe makes sense. They’re definitely full of magicalness which a common characteristic of the fey. They look spindly and sickly but you can wail on them all day with a whacking stick and it won’t hurt them and they’re stronger than a strong man (maybe a really strong man) so they don’t obey the laws of biology which is another earmark of faeries. They’re whimsical in their own sadomasochistic way as well, whimsy being one of the hallmarks of the fey, so there’s some strong evidence there of them being fey. On the other side of the coin though fey, even the evil ones, seems to be pro-nature and all the hags I’ve meet seem to love wrecking nature with their foul slimes and odors and tree-killing. Plus fey, even the evil ones, seem to stick to the wilds far away from the hand of mankind whereas hags seems to be all up in our business. So? Dunno.
I’ve also heard that hags are just witches who get all mutated and flagellated from doing too much witchy stuff. The way it works is that a woman makes some kind of deal with the Lord of the Thirteen Hells (or maybe his secretary if he’s busy) to become a witch and then if you delve deep into the dark arts you turn into a full-fledged hag? It’s like there’s stages you progress through – normal woman, then witch, then hag, then demon? The only hag origin story I know is a witch who got sad because a boy didn’t like her and so she tore her eyes and tongue out which transformed her into a hag. So that seems to support the hagification theory. But a person can’t become a fey creature right? Or is it like werewolfism? You get infected with hagness?
But wait, there’s more! I’ve also heard that hags propagate themselves by using their rumors and trickery to have what I envisage is weird rough sex with mortal human dudes so they can get pregnant and then have hag-babies. Or actually no, the babies are normal at first and they swap them with other babies so some sucker will raise their baby for them (I believe the hag eats the baby they stole) and then when that hag kid becomes an adult they turn into a hag. If it’s a girl anyway, I think if it’s a boy they’re just an asshole? Sidenote I would imagine the hags turn back into their normal forms right when the guy fills them up – which you have to admit is pretty funny. Admit it! This information does make it sound like hags are a “normal” race of things that need to throw down to reproduce, which doesn’t support either of the above theories.
I bet what happened is that way back in olden times there was a woman who’s beauty was renowned the world over (although keep in mind they didn’t bathe in olden times so, you know) and some jealous lady god (probably not Adariel because she doesn’t seem like the type but what other lady gods are there?) was like “huh, we’ll see about that!” and then slammed her hard with a curse that made her be ugly and haggish. End of story right? Wrong! In order to facilitate her revenge on the world Kralten gave this woman magic powers so she could torment people and do evil shit. Ugliness plus magic equals hag. And then she created other hags by vomiting in a stew-pot and all the women that ate the vomit-stew turned into hags and all the men turned into . . . orcs or something. Boom, did it, mythology mythologized.
Anyway, back to the hag at hand. After she was done snuffling over me like a truffle pig the bald hag grabbed the chain on my ankle and gave it a pull. She wasn’t able to snap it instantly like a piece of string, she had to exert herself, but she did rip the mooring (is that the right word, the ring on the deck of the ship that held the chain) out of the wood. It’s hard to imagine what it would feel like to be that strong. I mean it’s crazy, she just ripped a metal chain out of the ground. I suppose if you really wanted to analyze hags it shouldn’t be surprising that they do horrible things to us – they don’t look like us and they have abilities far beyond ours. If you were strong enough to crush a goblin with one hand what kind of monster would you be? There’s really nothing that brings out the cruelty in people like power.
I stood up and dusted off my crappy peasant dress “Well thanks for freeing me, I guess I’ll be on my way now.”
The hag was still holding onto the chain and gave it a yank, sending me stumbling and falling heavily to the deck of the ship – it was from the side too, which make it extra awkward and painful. She cackled at the sight – it’s a stereotype for a reason, hags love to cackle.
“You’re funny, I like you. What other tricks can you do besides telling jokes little flower?”
“I have to say, I find it annoying that you hags always call me little. I’m very tall for a human lady.”
She stalked forward in a weird hunched posture – I’ve never seen an hag knuckle around like an ape before, it’s very unsettling, which is probably the point – and I thought she was going to slap me or something but she just laughed in by face, blasting me with a stench that made my eyes water worse than any slap. She poked a claw into my chest.
“You. Are little. You are a weak little thing that can be broken at any moment.”
I punched her in the stomach with all my strength, which didn’t amount to much – although in my defense I was sitting on the ground, you can’t throw a decent punch like that. Also I never really learned how to throw a decent punch anyway. She cackled madly again.
“Oh, I do like you, hissing like a little kitty. I have ways of wringing away such deficiencies.” She grabbed me by the hair and put a claw against my cheek under the eye “How about I flay off your pretty face for starters?”
“I got my face scarred up badly once before. This big bitch kicked the shit out of me. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t react very well to it, but at that time I didn’t realize that it can fixed if you have the money. It’s not exactly easy, but it’s not hard either you know? I wouldn’t like it of course, but I’ve learned to be a little more accepting of these sorts of things – there’s a lot more healing out there than you’d imagine. There’s not a lot that can’t be repaired if you’re willing to pay for it. It’s a real indictment of the way the Kingdom is run that people are walking around missing limbs with and with harelips and shit – it can all be fixed. So, I would vote against you slashing my face to ribbons if I got a vote, but I would just get it fixed after you’re dead so it’s not a huge deal.”
She let go of me so should could step back and really laugh at that – sometimes you need your whole body to really give a good belly laugh.
She shook her head in a disquietly human-like gesture “You are something else little kitty. But I believe I said that joke time was over, I told you to entertain me another way.”
I launched into singing the Ballad of Nanny Grunch, a happy little tale about a woman who becomes unsatisfied with her husband’s genitals so she turns him into a minotaur to get some sweet bull action. This is course doesn’t sit well with the local populace so they chop off her head – she doesn’t die though, and through a series of grotesque events her head ends up biting the mayor’s wife on the ass and the wound becomes infected and she dies while having sex with the mayor and instantly turns into a ghoul. The ghoul wife rips the mayor apart and then she and the head go on to further revolting and perverted adventures. It’s not a good song for my register and the composition is a mess but seemed like the only song I know that might appeal to the interests of a hag.
She flapped her arms in a weird approximation of clapping “Magnificent! Magnificent! You’re not a little flower or a little kitty at all, you’re a little songbird. I shall keep you in a cage and have you sing for me and feed you bread crumbs.”
“Does this body look like I eat a lot of bread?”
“I don’t really know any other songs like that, he only reason I know that one is because some drunkards were singing it a tavern one time – I’m more of a classically trained singer. Besides, it’s about time.”
She bared her bent and broken teeth angrily “Time for what?”
Martialla was dry as a bone when she made her attack. She must have clung to the side of the ship for a moment and used her magic to dry off her clothing – which was a clever move because even invisible it’s going to be hard to sneak up on someone when you’re sopping wet. Too bad it didn’t work. I don’t know how the hag detected her, maybe she could smell her, but she turned at the last second just as Martialla appeared in mid-thrust. Instead of taking the twisted creature in the back the hag grabbed the blade of Martialla’s sword and shoved it to the side – losing three fingers in the process. I’ve seen quite a bit of hag-blood at this point. Sometimes it looks normal. Sometimes it hisses and steams and gives off noxious vapors. Sometimes it’s thick and tarry. Sometimes it purple or green. This hag’s blood looked like water with a reddish tint or like a really watered down wine, it dripped off her hands like a bucket with a hole in the bottom. And because everything with hags has to be awful the severed fingered writhed on the deck of the ship like blind worms.
Can we take a quick moment for me to ask about invisibility? Why does it go away the instant you attack someone? It makes no sense. It can’t be the physical motion because you can run and jump and make all sorts of wild motions while you’re invisible but it doesn’t go away. You can even “attack” a training dummy or punch a wall without the invisibility going away. But the second you come at a person, not even a person, a living thing, not even a living thing because it happens with undead too, the second you attack a . . . being, the invisibility goes away. What kind of sick joke is that? What does that even mean? How does the “magic” know that you attack someone, and why does it care? I don’t want to know much of anything about magical theory but I’d like an explanation of that. Does “magic” think that it’s unfair to let people attack other people while they’re invisible? Is magic a thing that can think? It’s frustrating because there seems to be no logic, which I guess there isn’t because it’s magic.
Martialla fell back with a cry as the hag slashed at her with its claws and I dove forward to crash into the back of the hag’s knees. We all went down in a chaotic tangle and I managed to get the chain around the hag’s neck as Martialla struggle to control her arms. In this sense having the chain hooked to my leg was actually helpful since I could use my legs to help pull – with my two arms I was almost able to match one of the hags while Martialla dealt with the other one. Martialla drew a dagger and stabbed whenever she could as well. It was a slow messy awful death, the kind that happens often but that they never include in stories of heroic battlefield murder – I think it took a full minute before the hag was dead. The tongue that lolled out of her mouth was obscenely huge, no joking it was probably as wide and thick as my arm and had to be close to a foot long. It wasn’t even flat like it was supposed to be, it was round like a snake. We rolled away from the hag and lay on opposite sides of her like exhausted lovers after a spirited roll in the hay.
“Just like old times eh? Only best friends kill hags together.”
“Don’t . . . . just don’t Ela. You could talk birds out of trees, in fact I’ve literally seen you do that, but you can’t get me Ela. I’m ungettable. This is . . . . this is just the way it has to be.”
“You’re pretty fucked up from the fight before, I could probably take you right now.”
She snorted “With that? A chain on your leg?”
I pulled a short blade out of my secret pocket and popped up stabbing at her. She was certainly surprised but she had reflexes enough that managed to get her knife in the way enough so that she only got stabbed in the hip instead of in the chest. That was basically my only chance, I’ve never been the fighter that Martialla is – after she avoided that initial deathblow she was able to wrestle the blade out of my hand and strangle me half to death before stunning me with a hard kick to the back of the head. She stood up wearily and gazed at the blade slick with her blood.
“Where the Hells did you get this? I took all your magic pouches.”
On my hands and knees coughing I managed to choke out “You know me Martialla, I’m full of surprises.”
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa, eyeless hag, Baron Saltwheel, Baron Harmenkar, Colonel Tarl Ciarán’s wizard soldier, Victor, Beharri, Cebuano, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company