The Rota Harrenga. Once a story used to scare the little ones from the wild rivers and deep lakes. Now, I know better.
It was a night just like any other, the fisherfolk and children gathered by the fire for stories and song. That night, we had a guest, Tarkis, the fur trapper and he brought rabbit and venison. And with the goods, he brought stories of the woods, in particular, the Rota Harrenga. It was a beast not quite a man, standing taller than any of us, with a head long like a horse but a mouth full of sharp teeth. Stories said it has colourful scales that could blind or mesmerize a man and lurk amongst the shallow waters. On capturing a person, preferably a little boy or girl, it cracks the head open like an egg and drink deep. And then it will lay an egg and retreat with the body into a cave deep in the woods. From this, births a new Rota Herranga.
Tarkis then sang a song, or chanted, or something. It was a language none of us knew. But he is a woodsmen and know of many things we don't. It was not a pleasant song. Harsh, painful to hear. It seemed painful to sing too. Unsettled, we left the fire for the night. That night, that first night, was the start of the terrors. What restless and horrifying dreams we had that night! It felt like worms crawling in our heads!
Tarkis left the following morning. We never heard or saw him since.
A week later, Burap's youngest disappeared near the river. We scoured the land and river for the boy but all we had left was his tattered clothes. Burap was inconsolable and vowed to hunt down the creature , whatever it was.
I was there that night that we camped by the river to catch the beast. It was deep in the night when we heard that song. That same song that Tarkis sang, yet, this was more guttural and throaty. I really don't know why, but the four of us started joining in. I didn't know the words yet I sang it. I didn't know what I was singing yet it came unbidden, unwanted. And those worms.. They crawled deeper.
Burap was the first to charge the source of the voice. When we got to him, his spear had found its target, embedding deep within the heart of a small Rota Harrenga. It looked exactly like the stories tell... Except those stories did not speak of the eyes. Those very eyes! They were the eyes of Burap's youngest! The small thing cried in pain and one word. One word. "Papa".
Burap screamed and thrashed into the water. He was wracked with grief and disbelief, but we all saw what was happening to him. His limbs were growing longer and his face! How did it melt to became that thing! It was not quite a horse but it was definitely not man! His clothes ripped and torn, his skin was peeling off in bloody strips to show oily scales and bone ridges. He was becoming the monster. Azar and Tak went into the water to restrain him. I could only run in fear and terror. I should not looked back but I did. Where once one Rota Harrenga stood, three of those things writhed in pain and agony. My friends, my dear friends became those monsters.
I sang the song that night. I sang that accursed song that night. I cannot go to the waters anymore. I dare not. I have not heard the song for many years now. My old village is now nothing but ruins and charred earth. Some people have gone in to burn the cursed place to the ground. And may it stay that way.
The Rota Harrenga is a monster that roams the waterways and hunts people. It has a very short lifespan - less than a month, and hence if left alone, the threat would die out by itself. But that's the surface of it.
The Rota Harrenga is a song virus, a malevolent intelligence that invades and breeds in the mind of the hearers. Perhaps it was a potent spell brought to life, or an alien form plucked from another plane of existence. It feeds on dreams and thoughts, gestating within their host for days before the virus transforms the host into the equine-head monster of legends. The trigger for this transformation is exposure to a substantial body of freshwater - river, lake, moat. If the trigger is not encountered, the virus can persist until the host's natural death. In this state, the virus remains in its reproductive state, and the host may unwittingly or unwillingly burst into song and story to infect others around him...
Edited by balhaza, 21 June 2016 - 09:17 AM.