Great-hand

Great-hand

The Old Town of Edinburgh is honeycombed with cellars, passages, and tunnels. These subterranean labyrinths are home to ancient horrors long forgotten by the residents. Great-hand is one of these.

Great-hand lives in the tunnel beneath the Royal Mile, stretching from the Castle to the Palace of Holyrood. Once used by soldiers for surprise attacks, it eventually fell into disuse. Then Great-hand moved in and the passage was abandoned completely. Nobody ever left the tunnel alive.

The only thing that has ever been seen of Great-hand is a hand – an enormous grisly hand, with fingernails like the claws of an eagle. If that hand is attached to a body, none have seen it.

After a while of avoiding the tunnel, a piper declared he would cross the tunnel, playing his pipes the whole way to verify his progress. Taking his dog along with him, he entered through the cave near the Castle, and the sound of his pipes could be heard traveling underground as he went down the hill. Then, at the Heart of Midlothian, the music stopped. The attending crowd went back to the entrance of the cave to see the dog running out in abject terror, completely hairless. The passage was blocked up from both ends.

Similar stories are told across Scotland involving haunted caves, foolhardy pipers, and dogs shedding their hair with fright. They are cautionary tales warning of the perils of the underground.

References

Fleming, M. (2002) Not of this World: Creatures of the Supernatural in Scotland. Mercat Press, Edinburgh.

Guiamala

Variations: Ghiamala

Guiamala

The Guiamala is found in the African kingdoms of Gadoua and Giaca (or Gadda and Jaka), east of the kingdom of Bambuk. It is a huge animal, taller than an elephant but not as bulky, and capable of moving swiftly. It is a sort of camel, having a long neck, a camel-like head, and a dromedary’s hump or two on its back. Its legs are incredibly long to allow it to stand over 20 feet tall. For defense the guiamala is equipped with seven straight, pointed horns, each about two feet long. The horns are black, covered with tawny hair and a black point. The hair falls off after the horn has grown to a certain length. The hooves are cloven like an ox’s.

Guiamalas are not picky eaters, and will eat thorns and other low-quality browse. They also eat very little, allowing them to survive in arid areas. They are docile and harmless and could feasibly make good pack animals. Their flesh is edible and tender.

References

Delisle de Sales, J. C. (1769) Dictionnaire Theorique et Pratique de Chasse et de Pesche. J. B. G. Musier, Paris.

Labat, J. B. (1728) Nouvelle Relation de l’Afrique Occidentale, t. IV. Pierre-Francois Giffart, Paris.

Gold-digging Ant

Variations: Formica maior, Formica aurum

Gold-digging ant

Herodotus originally placed the Gold-digging Ants in the sandy deserts in the land of the Dards, in India, within the Persian Empire. Some later sources, such as the Ortus Sanitatis, move them to Ethiopia. Their story is the same regardless of location.

Gold-digging ants are smaller than dogs, but larger than foxes. Pliny specifies that they are as large as an Ethiopian wolf, and the color of a cat. Skins of those ants brought before Alexander the Great were like panther skins. In the Ortus Sanitatis, the gold-digging ant is given a form unlike any ant – indeed, unlike any living animal, with a rounded, bird-like head and four legs with long talons. These ants are exceedingly fast, strong, and dangerous.

Most importantly, gold-digging ants excavate their nests in an area rich with gold dust. The sand they bring to the surface is full of the precious metal, making them an attractive target for treasure seekers, but they also fiercely defend their gold from anyone who would dare take it.

To steal the ants’ gold, camel caravans approach the nests on hot summer mornings, when the ants are safely underground. Gold sand can be quickly scooped up into bags, but the ants soon catch the scent of the intruders and hurry to the surface. Without a head start for the camels, the ants would easily catch up and dismember them.

Whatever the nature of the gold-digging ants, it is agreed that they definitely weren’t ants, and most likely were some sort of mammal. Suggestions include the hyena, whose Persian name resembled the Greek name for the ant; and the Siberian fox, whose digging and ferocity parallel those of the ant. The most compelling argument is elaborated by Peissel, who identifies the “ants” as Himalayan marmots whose tireless digging would have brought gold to the surface. Herodotus’ usage of murmex for ant may have muddled the distinction between ant and marmot.

References

Cuba, J. (1539) Le iardin de santé. Philippe le Noir, Paris.

Herodotus, Macaulay, G. C. trans. (1890) The History of Herodotus, translated into English. Macmillan and Company, London.

Peissel, M. (1984) The Ants’ Gold. Harvill Press, London.

Pliny; Bostock, J. and Riley, H. T. trans. (1857) The Natural History of Pliny, v. III. Henry G. Bohn, London.

de Xivrey, J. B. (1836) Traditions Tératologiques. L’Imprimerie Royale, Paris.

Gremlin

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Every unexplained mechanical error, every mysteriously malfunctioning engine, defective wheel, gas leak, fuselage weakness, cockpit damage, and avionics glitch can be blamed on gremlins. These little machine fairies are the modern equivalent of the ancient dwarfs, but they destroy instead of build.

Etymologies for “gremlin” disagree, and are probably all apocryphal. One suggestion holds that it originates from the antiquated Old English gremian, “to vex”. This is related to the Irish Gaelic gruaimin, “grumpy little fellow”, which comes from gruaim, “gloom” or “ill-humor”. Another suggestion is a shortening of grinning goblin. The French grelon or “hailstone” indicates some meteorological confusion. Edwards adds the German gram or “worry” to the mix, from which the diminutive gramlein can be derived. Finally, Fremlins beer may have had a hand in inspiring gremlins.

Similarly there is no consensus on gremlin appearance, but it is generally assumed that they are small, six inches to a foot in height, and humanoid in appearance. They are skinny and nimble enough to move about through complex machinery. Known colors include green and blue-grey. Some have horns, others have pointed ears; webbed feet and suction cups have been suggested for yet others. Clothing is optional, including nudity, pilot gear, breeches and jackets, and even spats and top-hats. They eat treacle and honey, and drink fuel, sucking tanks dry.

Gremlins were first identified by R.A.F. pilots, especially on Maltese airfields in World War I, although there is evidence to suggest that they have been around longer than that. From there tales of the gremlins and their deeds spread throughout the piloting world, until they became a byword for any unexplained mechanical issues.

Gremlin activities range from juvenile pranks to outright destructive cruelty. They view all airplanes as an affront, and do whatever they can to ground them. Some gremlin subspecies specialized in specific forms of mischief. Mole-like Cavity gremlins dug holes in runways, Incisors teethed on wires, Jockeys guided birds into airplane windscreens, and Optics glowed over bomb sights.

While gremlins have faded from the aerial popularity they enjoyed during the war, the preponderance of technology in our modern world has only given them further targets to mess wgsgnslfgnsogdkfjgluiw4v8r93428RQVNWAELIVJWBKkjdhzseuwy5ycjdft3534bsrg5566fgdfgcbvgbc

<strong>References</strong>

Dubois, P.; Sabatier, C.; and Sabatier, R. (1992) La Grande Encyclopédie des Lutins. Hoëbeke, Paris.

Edwards, G. (1974) Hobgoblin and Sweet Puck. John Sherratt and Son, Altrincham.

Gigelorum

Variations: Giolcam-daoram

Gigelorum

The Gigelorum or Giolcam-daoram is the smallest of all known creatures. It makes nests in the ears of mites, and as no description of it has been given, any depiction of it will be purely conjectural.

References

Campbell, J. G. (1900) Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. James MacLehose and Sons, Glasgow.

Robinson, M. (1965) Some Fabulous Beasts. Folklore, Vol. 76, No. 4, pp. 273-287.

Guariba-boia

Variations: Howler monkey snake

Guariba boia

Guariba-boia, the “howler monkey snake”, can be found in a wide stretch of the Amazon river, from Fonte Boa in the west to Urucurituba in the east, and in the lakes of the Rio Negro. It excavates tunnels in murky river bottoms, and hides in mud or thickets of water-plants. Usually its voice is the only sign of its existence.

As the name implies, a guariba-boia typically has the head of a howler monkey (guariba) on the body of a snake (boia). Sometimes it has the body of a howler monkey and the paws of an otter, and rarely it has the head of a sloth (although such a feature would seem hardly intimidating). Guariba-boias grow to about six meters long.

Guariba-boias announce their presence with loud, resonant howls that sound like an entire troop of howler monkeys. They roar from below water, and their calls are particularly loud on rainy nights.

While not as big as boiunas, guariba-boias are armed with needle-sharp fangs and lethal venom. Death by guariba-boia bite is swift and painful, after which the creature swallows its victim whole. A guariba-boia does not regularly seek out human prey, but will overturn canoes and kill the occupants if hungry enough.

References

Smith, N. J. H. (1996) The Enchanted Amazon Rain Forest. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.