Aaah, the Lethifold! One of my favourite creatures from reading the book as a child. Thanks to @zinfandelli for suggesting it as a creature, I was psyched to draw Credence with one. (And of course I saw the official design on the bluray just as I was about to start colouring, and had to change up a bunch of stuff from my sketch haha) Art blog: questionartbox
is the name often given to half-human, half-octopus creatures, though they may also be refereed to as octofolk.
Be very careful searching for images of this species because frankly a creature that is a beautiful human on the top half and gratuitous amounts of tentacles on the bottom half inspires a particular type of art from the internet.
Octopi, and cephalopods in general, have a number of abilities that make them interesting from a fiction or monster perspective.
Known to be highly intelligent
Willing to leave water
Associate with ocean floor, shallows, reefs and shorelines
Can change color
So you have a highly intelligent carnivore, master of disguise, that for some reason looks human on the top half.
Why on ‘Earth’ does this creature resemble a human?
Here is a simple octopus anatomy diagram for your consideration:
The octopus has no bones, but related species such as the squid and cuttlefish do have an internal shell, which serves a similar function. The Cecalia may have this sort of modified internal shell instead of a skeleton. This internal shell would allow the torso to be held upright, and additional internal shells may also allow the limb to move like a human.
However, this seems too simple to me. In the octopus and its tentacled friends, the mouth is located between the tentacles, and the eyes just above it. You are rearranging a lot of anatomy to move the eyes and mouth far away from their original position onto a humanoid torso, while presumably leaving the anus out of sight where it belongs.
That’s a bit… suspiciously simple.
Then a far more interesting possibility occurred.
The octopus is a master of mimicry.
What if the top half of the Cecalia is merely an imitation of a human torso?
I wouldn’t put it past a highly intelligent carnivore to mimic the upper half of an attractive human, especially if they have a culture that values shiny things you simply can’t mine under the ocean (gold and other loot)
It’s entirely plausible that the mouth of a Cecalia is still located between the tentacles like a regular octopus, with the real eyes just above the tentacles, but the ‘head’ of the octopus being reshaped to mimic a human. They may then attempt to lure humans into shallow waters to prey upon them.
The implications of such anatomy, where the humanoid torso is essentially an excellent mimicry, are:
The humanoid segment can resemble any humanoid, and can change
Different individual Cecalia could imitate the same humanoid at different times
A bold adventurer could ‘decapitate’ the humanoid torso and only seriously wound the octofolk.
Any voice the creature has is likely to emanate from its tentacle region.
They may leave the water for a short period of time but will always try to return there for a confrontation.
Octopi produce ink and have excellent vision. They are highly likely to be artistic.
But they have a completely different evolutionary pathway to humans and are unlikely to share the same goals, motivations to aesthetics.
If they have perfected the art of mimicking humans then they likely spend a significant portion of their time either preying on or scavenging from them.
Octopus eggs are cared for in batched of hundreds or thousands, and the newly hatched octopi are tiny when they emerge. Imagine all these tiny creatures innately trying to mimic humans but not quite getting it right. Nightmares, anyone?
So as far as an octopus mermaid goes, yes they probably would lure men onto the rocks, they probably would appear beautiful, they might not sing, but they are most definitely dangerous.
There’s been a lot of posts on what if the ability to bond was humanity’s special deal among all living creatures out there in space but… What if it’s not specifically our bonding (which imo is hardly likely to be unique in the universe) but the extent of our altruism?
What if it’s the strength of our drive to help and save and protect that makes us unique? Especially because we will direct it not just at our own species but also at others as well?
Imagine humans becoming known for investing a lot of time and effort into altruistic acts towards any species, sentient or not, where pretty much every other species would have long given up or not even considered it.
Imagine tales of humans-led ships flying into war zones to rescue civilians. Tales of human ships going out of their way into danger zones to rescue another ship and its crew, even though it’s a completely different species.
Imagine an interstellar version of the Red Cross or the WWF. Imagine humans not standing by idly when wars are hitting the weakest in an alien population.
Imagine Earth, despite being small and basically a Death Planet, becoming also known as a refuge, a place to go when nowhere else in the universe is safe, because there’ll always be someone there willing to open their doors for you.
Imagine humans getting other aliens to cooperate or help them in their efforts. Imagine humans rallying great numbers for big rescue projects, like evacuating a planet’s population to another bc the first planet is about to blow up or so.
Imagine humans doing things expecting no reward or benefit, just because it is “the right thing to do”, using the strength of community that brought us so far as a species, and doing if for anyone, anything we encounter, no matter how many eyes or tentacles or whiskers or jaws, and this to the great bafflement of many, many species.
something I’ve been thinking about lately in regards to character design is that you can never get 100% aesthetic pleasure in any design and have it be really INTERESTING. Which isn’t to say you can’t make interesting designs beautiful, but…if I refined my aesthetic taste in characters down to a purified ingot of just what I found most attractive, it’d be pretty boring to look at.
With monster designs especially you can get some pretty milquetoast stuff by just including what is most attractive about a beastly character. Usually this manifests in young/inexperienced designers making ‘scary’ designs that are nothing but oooooooo spooky sharp teeth ooooooh empty eye sockets oooooh antlers/tentacles/wings/stitches/strategically placed wounds on an otherwise conventionally attractive person oooooooo
You also see this a lot with that same group of artists translating popular horror or creepypasta characters into their style; the appeal of the characters is drawn to the surface, smoothing out into a bland attractiveness that obliterates the oddities and flaws that drew people to the character in the first place.
None of this is inherently bad (draw what u like), but it is boring. It took me a really long time to realize that I had to flavor my designs with elements that would be unappealing on their own, that didn’t always push my buttons in juuuuust the right way. 100% aesthetic appeal is like eating sugar straight out of the bag: you get tired REAL quickly. It’s not until you add salt, spice, maybe some heat (which are also flavors you probably wouldn’t scarf down on their own) that it actually begins to get tasty.
⚙️🦑Giant Mechanical Squid 🦑⚙️
Mechateuthis is a mechanical giant squid named after “megateuthis”, the largest squid species. It’s arms, tentacles, beak, eye pupils, and mantle fins are driven by 8 hand cranks. Each crank controls a different motion. This imaginative use of steel was made possible by mechanical artist Barry Crawford with the help of a grant from Burning Man Arts & a successful GoFundMe campaign. Barry’s mechanical squid premiered at Burning Man 2015 and now part of Bay Area Maker Faire 2016. What do you think Nation??? 🥇❤️⚙️
➡Join The Largest Octopus Fan Club⬅️
Work doodle of burned Beyond Birthday and Nu, my favorite shinigami. I have a headcanon where she’s responsible for him having Shinigami Eyes (and I have taken liberties with her design seeing as we’ve never seen her in action).
Beholder I loved the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manuals as a kid, and still do! In many ways it helped facilitate my love of world building. One creature I always found a little odd was the Beholder. Despite its rather simple appearance this beast could pack a powerful wallop. Just had some fun “reimagining” one.
So, a lot of people really liked the post I made recently about the kickass Ambassador Thorn fucking some aliens up. (Thanks!) But I figured I would post this one that I did back in 2009, because it’s simultaneously similar and completely opposite. Enjoy.
— * —
Special Ambassador Harrington stepped onto the alien spacecraft for the first time since its arrival in the solar system, his suit telemetry telling the Secret Service agents about the nervousness that his face denied. They had stationed themselves in the hall ahead of him, angular black metal walls towering above the enormous men.
After consulting on an encrypted channel, the Secret Service agents reported that the atmosphere on the ship had been adjusted to match that of Earth - both in pressure and composition. The President’s own advisors had suggested that Harrington remove his helmet in this situation as a sign of trust, but when it came right down to it he didn’t trust them, not at all. Still, he knew the importance of diplomacy… sighing, he released the helmet and pulled it off. The air smelled somehow metallic, but not bad. Nodding to the Secret Service agents, Special Ambassador Harrington walked into the “conference room” to face the nightmare beings.
The creatures would have been right at home as horror movie special effects, all tentacles and eyes. They had a layer of mucus over them, and barbed spines along some parts. They were green. The anthropologists had assured the President that they were emotionally and morally similar to humans, although that seemed little comfort without knowing which humans - Mother Theresa, or Hitler? Harrington noticed that they didn’t seem to be wearing any kind of space suit - his advisors had said they were incompatible with Earth’s atmosphere.
“They can… breathe… in this air?” Harrington was asking one of the agents, but a device in front of the aliens replied in a monotone. “We change ourselves. We adapt ourselves.” Recovering like a true professional, the Special Ambassador smiled. “So good to talk to you! On behalf of the United Americas, I want to say it is an honor to meet you.” “We are pleased to meet you. Our home was destroyed long ago. We have traveled far hoping to find a new world. We are tired. Earth would be ideal.” Harrington shivered involuntarily. They wanted the Earth. “You said you can adapt yourself, can’t you live on any planet?” “Some. It is very difficult. Some are easy. Earth is ideal.” Cold sweat was running down his spine. These things, on Earth. Where would they live? Would they be taking over? Kicking humans out, maybe even killing them? “Where… would your people expect to stay on Earth?” “We are tired. We have lived too long. We have traveled long. We have not found other ideal planets. Our people will stay here. Orbit Earth. We are tired. Earth is ideal for repopulation. Continuing the species. Our children would stay on Earth. In homes. In schools.” Harrington was at a loss. He smiled weakly, flipping through mental cue cards in a desperate search for the appropriate response. What do you say when hideous tentacled monsters from a distant planet announce they want to send their… spawn… to reproduce on your planet?
“We can provide technology. We can provide for our people. Your people. Our children. Food and power are easy to provide.” With the odd syntax and emotionless translator it was hard to tell, but Harrington suddenly felt like this was less of an invasion, and more of a plea for sanctuary. They almost seemed to be begging. He looked at them again, trying to find some basis to gauge their motives off of and failing. If nothing else, they at least didn’t seem to be hostile. Harrington relaxed somewhat, but still found himself at a loss for words. “We are tired. Soon we will be too tired. Our home was destroyed. If Earth is not home for our children destruction will be finished. We have traveled too far. We have lived too long. We will not find more ideal planets.”
He wanted to say something. Could he do this, invite an alien species onto Earth? He subvocalized a message to the President, to be transmitted along with the live feed. Two simple words, PLEASE ADVISE, that carried a slightly different meaning: I’m in way over my head here. “Look. Our first child. We change ourselves. We adapt ourselves. We adapt our children for you.” Tentacles extended, holding a tiny infant. The child could have almost passed for human - fingers a bit too long, green skin, but still close enough to trigger the biological empathy inside Special Ambassador Harrington… he had always loved kids. Before he even knew what he was doing, without having received a reply from the President, Harrington lifted the child into his arms.
The sneaky bastards have a secret weapon, he thought as the infant burbled and clumsily grabbed at his nose. We’ve already lost this battle. Harrington smiled at the alien invaders. “She’s beautiful.”