Fantasy and Horror: The Elf Eater

Ityak-Ortheel.

The elf eater.

A monstrous entity from hell, that resembles a shambling mushroom with three elephant like legs propping it up. Tendrils coil around it, snatching up everything it can and feeding it into a mouth full of shredding teeth. The howl the creature emits sounds like metal screeching, the only sound it ever makes, propelled forward by endless hunger.

Created by the dark god Malar, Ityak-Ortheel exists to devour elves, a race he despises for an ancient transgression. Men, women, children, warriors, civilians, they are all fair game.

This creature sounds like it belongs in the horror genre but it is from the Druidhome trilogy of books, a fantasy series. I recently read those very books and it got me thinking, there are some really terrible monsters in fantasy settings. Usually the darker side of it is glossed over, only mentioned once, then it reverts to being a typical fantasy enemy to overcome.

The dungeons and dragons monster manual has some truly terrifying creatures in it when you really consider the implications.

  • A gibbering mouther is an insane blob of eyes and teeth that seeks out the fluids of intelligent beings. While it attacks, it babbles away horribly.
  • Beneath the ground, in the Underdark, slaves toil for the dark elves, a miserable, cruel and short existence.
  • There is a great war between the abyss and hell, waging at all times, that threatens to destroy the universe.
  • The chaos hound is a demonic entity that devours the souls of the faithful before they get to their heaven. After a lifetime of service and belief, it is stolen from them through sheer bad luck if they happen across the chaos hound at the wrong time.

Whoa! Now that is all prime horror material right there.

I think it remains fantasy when the horrific parts are only hinted at, when you really start to go into it, you cross into horror or at least fantasy horror.

Example,

Your hero stumbled across some Illithids, who enslave the minds of others, while adventuring. He kills the foul creature and the people are free. It’s mentioned the villagers were compelled by the monsters psychic powers but we keep it brief, more for framing the conflict than really explain it. That’s fantasy.

If you really go into depth about the horror the villager thralls are in, how they are compelled into acts that they find horrifying but have simply lost control of themselves, you are in horror territory. Fathers forced to feed their children to the elder brain that rules the town, mothers willingly impregnating themselves with alien spawn to carry on the next generation of tyrants.

The same scenario but it swings from one genre to the other depending on how you approach it.

Fantasy horror is few and far between, I really would like more. See a need, fill a need, I think that will be the next novel I tackle. A fantasy horror!

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