Wayward Children of the Abyss (Part 4 of 5)
And though we hide within the very depths of this plane, fearful for the revenge of both our enemies, their spawn, and our own kind, brooding and waiting, we have seeded the depths with children of our own, and it is they who will prepare the way for us.
—Hymn of Sanguine Harmony, keketar protean of the Chorus of Malignant Symmetry
Children of Malignant Symmetry: Z’kaelii
Long considered a baseless legend among non-natives of the Abyss, the children of malignant symmetry have plagued the plane’s natives since literally the very beginning. Though small in number, as lingering remnants of the first phase of the genocidal conflict between the Maelstrom and the Abyss, the children are feared on a truly visceral level by demons—creatures of nightmare to a plane of the same. Named for their makers, they were an attempt by the heretical protean Chorus of Malignant Symmetry to embrace and devour the Abyss. Created neither to destroy nor to redeem its natives, they were meant to replace them…
Though possessed of a related form and a similar but significantly lesser shapeshifting nature as their ancient protean creators, the children of malignant symmetry were designed by paragons of creative insanity. In certain gross features, they dramatically differ from the Maelstrom’s brood. A freakish admixture of serpentine, insect, and arachnid traits, the children typically resemble great serpents with a combination of centipede and spider legs of varying size, scorpion-like stingers, insect mandibles, and often multiple sets of arms, usually a mixture of humanoid or arthropod.
Some sages of Abyssal lore compare the children of malignant symmetry to the merging of an imentesh protean and a bebelith although they were not born of such miscegenation. Unknown to virtually any creature still living, both terrible races were inspired by the form of one of the ancient Qlippoth, the first natives of the Abyss. Captured and bound in the early days of Maelstrom and Abyssal contact, the heretical keketars of Malignant Symmetry dissected, recombined, butchered, and reformed this first subject again and again in attempts to know and fathom the enemy that had become their creative inspiration in the absence of the Maelstrom’s voice.
The bebeliths were created by the children of malignant symmetry in imitation of their own makers’ proclivities. Or, perhaps, the children of malignant symmetry were themselves merely a stepping-stone in their creation. Either way, they were abandoned into the abyssal wilds; or simply kept in reserve should their vanished makers desire to revisit their earliest attempts. However, linked by more than ancient history and latter-day speculation, the children of malignant symmetry utilize bebeliths as both beasts of burden and the equivalent of trained hunting dogs, riding them into battle or directing packs of the creatures to corner and dismember prey.
Unlike bebeliths, the children of malignant symmetry are capable of creating more of their own kind both by conventional mating, with the subsequent birth of live young, and by the corruption of captured mortal souls and demons alike. In this latter method, like parasitic wasps, the children of malignant symmetry paralyze or bind their victims and forcibly implant eggs into their still-living, often conscious bodies. As the young hatch, they consume their host’s spiritual substance, growing and maturing until literally nothing remains, creating new clutches of their kind and eternally depriving the Abyss of a fragment of its original essence.
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