Bestiary (Chanbara Setting)
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A Guide to the Creatures of Nikko
Honorable reader. Enclosed you will find a assortment of creatures I have catalogued during my travels. While I appreciate the letters I receive from many of you, I would like it to be known that I did not give up my right hand to a mountain hag just for fame and fortune, or my left foot to a Ayakashi for the thrill of it. I am a humble servant of my curiosity and while it has led me to be poor in appendages, it has left me rich in knowledge.
-Preface of Yatou Haan's Book The Common Man's Guide to Nikko
Ao Andons are agents of Kamen, the god of thieves, actors and weavers of stories. Their domain is scary stories and they gain power from the fear of other creatures. While not openly malevolent, they take joy in terrifying people they encounter, though do not cause physical harm until provoked. They appear similar to oni except appear to be made up of blue spectral fire.
On the Lantern Festival, where the realms of the dead are the closest to the world, it is possible to summon a Ao Andon into the Material Plane by telling 100 scary stories to a paper lantern. Defeating the Ao Andon, may lead to some boon from Kamen...
Ayakashi are great sea serpents that live below the waves of Nikko's coast. When exposed to air, black oily flammable liquid is excreted from their leathery skin, which can be used to light lamps and for alchemical potions and brews, making Ayakashi hunting a risky, but heavily rewarding endeavor. While over hunting has led to a decrease in Ayakashi population, the surviving Ayakashi are more intelligent and savage than their dead kin, making them a nightmare for seafarers.
The most feared Ayakashi is Jakugan, a one-eyed Ayakashi that somehow ignites its skin when attacking ships, forcing sailors to choose between drowning or burning alive.
Malevolent creatures that resemble massive centipedes with humanoid faces. Legend says that during the Age of Sunrise a warlord, fearful of facing Tatara in single combat on the battlefield, sent a prayer to the god Karsumi for the military strength of a ten thousand pairs of legs (as in troops). Instead the god gleefully merged him and his closest warriors with centipedes granting his wish. While the warlord was defeated by Tatara some of his warriors managed to scuttle away, their descendants terrorizing the denizens of Nikko to this day.
During the Age of War massive skeletons would rise from battlefields with close ties to the Polluted Realm, leading troops of zombies and undead on a warpath around the nearby area. While intimidating in combat, they would eventually fall apart into dust as their connection to the Polluted Realm weakened. While they are a lot rarer in the Age of Peace, they sometimes rise from long abandoned battlefields, leading local lords to hire help to clear them out.
Messengers of Takamagahara, Heavenly Hounds resemble large canines made of clouds. Loyal to a fault they hunt and tear through any foe heaven declares an enemy. Statues of Heavenly Hounds often adorn the front of shrines, a sign of protection and a warning to those who would defile sacred ground.