Scary Monster Information: The Nuckelavee
Human history is full of monsters. And by history, I mean legend and mythology. Everyone knows history's monsters: Hitler, Stalin, and whoever created crunkcore. I mean the monsters that made humanity fear the dark. These creatures create fear and despair in the heart of the animal that rose to the top of the food chain by killing everything it saw because, fuck guys, we didn't create the nuke yet.
Today we are going to talk about one of these creatures. A terror that brought terror upon the people full of terror because it liked spreading terror.
We are going to talk about the Nuckelavee.
Illustration by Scott Purdy
AHHHHHH WHAT IS THAT?!
What's a Nuck-ahhhhhh!
Illustration by Kitsune-aka-Cettie
The Nuckelavee is a monster from Orcadian folklore. Specifically, it was an elf. Nowadays, elves are dainty motherfuckers who have pointy ears and scoff at humans and dwarves and wish to commit genocide on orcs, but in Germanic mythology they were sometimes malicious towards humans and were often grouped together with fairies, who were really malicious toward humans.
The Orcadians feared the Nuckelavee, to the point that they feared saying his name. He was their Satan, if Satan were less of a pussy. The Nuckelavee was described as being some kind of skinless human-horse hybrid. Its head was that of a man, only ten times larger. It had a wide mouth and a single red eye that "burned with a red flame", because why hold back when you're fear incarnate? The Nuckelavee was similar to a centaur, though its human torso was on the back of the horse's body. Imagine a human rider fused with a horse and you’ve got it. Another feature of the feared beast was that it was skinless, "its entire surface appearing like raw and living flesh". It was said that its thick, black blood could be seen coursing through its veins as its sinewy muscles writhed with every movement it made. Its long, ape-like arms hung down to the ground and "from its gaping mouth spewed a foul, black reek". In other words, it wasn’t getting a date anytime soon.
The Nuckelavee was a creature of the sea, but it would occasionally go to land to dick over humans because fuck you, that's why.
The Nuckelavee was "a creature of sheer evil". Its sole purpose was to plague the islanders – "a task from which it rarely rested". Its breath alone carried a venom that would kill crops and livestock. It brought droughts, spread diseases, and left the toilet seat up. This guy was a huge dick, is what I'm saying.
What would drive the Nuckelavee bat shit, however, was the burning of kelp. The burning of seaweed into kelp was a tradition among the Orcadian people. In other words, they did it all the time. The smell of burning kelp threw the Nuckelavee into such a rage that it would go and spread a disease called "Mortasheen", which killed horses. The disease would spread, killing livestock all over the islands.
Only two things could keep the monster in check. One was fresh water. Crossing a stream when it was chasing you would keep it off your back. The other was an entity called The Mither o' the Sea. Mither, by the way, was the Orcadian pronunciation of "mother". The Mither was a benign force, a representative of the summer sea. She had the power to calm storms and grant life to every living thing. Her nemesis was another god-like being, a winter spirit called Teran. According to the folklore, her battle against Teran lasted weeks and "manifested itself in devastating storms that churned the sea into a boiling froth". Mither always won and bound Teran to the bottom of the ocean until winter returned.
That's right – it took a powerful being of summer to keep the Nuckelavee in check. The Nuckelavee looked at other supernatural creatures and went, "Do you even lift?"
Recently there was an "allegedly true" account of a "man" meeting "the" creature. A man called Tammas was out late at night on a road by the seashore when he spotted something big heading towards him. He decided to face the thing, ignoring any horror movie tropes telling him that was a bad idea. And it was. It was the Nuckelavee going "'Sup?"
Tammas went "nope" and moved towards a nearby loch. The Nuckelavee tried to grab him, but Tammas made it to the loch and splashed some fresh water on the creature's foreleg, forcing the monster back because, shit man I just got the hoof clean don't dirty it! Tammas ran towards a rivulet. All he had to do was cross it and the skinless beast would leave him alone so he could catch the last season of Arrested Development on Netflix. As the monster made to grab him, Tammas managed to cross the rivulet in time and the monster backed off, cursing Tammas and his love of canceled but beloved shows.
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