Thank you for last week’s entries; the feedback has been amazing. I’m glad you’re enjoying my paranormal A-Z so far. I continue the A-Z today with;
G is for Gnarl
[Author’s notes: Today was meant to be Ghosts, but after writing 250 words on them, I came to realise Ghosts don’t actually exist in the Ancile world, and so I had to come up with something else.]
A gnarl is an ancient spirit that inhabits trees, taking its name from the word that means a rough, knotty protuberance; like the roots of trees. It is a distant relation to the spriggan; feminine embodiments of nature, that take on the form of tree-like women, to protect woodlands.
Whereas the spriggan is benevolent unless attacked or her home is threatened, the gnarl has a malevolent nature, liking to feed on the flesh of young women, particularly virgins.
It preys of girls and young women who cross its path, trapping them with its roots and branches, and then pulling them into its mouth, where its green acidic saliva breaks down the flesh and bones.
Like many prenatural entities, it is weak to the silver-obsidian alloy Reverard, and can be defeated with weapons made from the material. It must then be chopped into small pieces and burnt, to prevent the spirit inhabiting another tree.
However, to maintain the balance of nature, a new plant must be sown in its place.
The following in an Ancile Suppressor’s account of a confrontation with a gnarl.
Narrated by: Deborah Jackson, Yorkshire and Humber Unit Suppressor, October 23rd, 2007.
Transcribed by: Annabelle Harris, Yorkshire and Humber Unit Scholar, October 23rd, 2007.
|Image by Oliver Chipping|
We were first alerted to the case when the local police force contacted us. Often when a case has no reasonable explanation, a liaison officer will turn to us to see if there’s a prenatural explanation.
Over the course of two years, young women and girls in their late teens were going missing in the same area of woodland. At first, the police thought there was a serial killer at work. However, when bodies were found, they showed strange markings that were decidedly prenatural. The matter was handed over to the Ancile.
Luckily, Annabelle knew right away what we were dealing with – a gnarl – as it was the first entity she’d encountered when she’d joined the Order twenty years previously.
As I was the youngest member of the Order, at only 22, and met the other requirements to lure a gnarl, I was used as bait.
Dressed in plain clothes, with the rest of my team in close proximity, I entered the area of woodlands the gnarl inhabited, late at night, making it look as though I was taking a short cut home.
Even with my colleagues around me, as the sound in the forest echoed in the night-time quiet, I began to feel a prickle of fear along my spine.
Annabelle had told me what gnarls did, and though I was prepared for an attack, the creature’s appearance still caught me unaware.
I was in the darkest part of the forest when my foot became tangled on a tree root that was hidden under leaves.
When I tried to pull myself free, the grip tightened. It was then I heard the churning of ground and the rustle of leaves, as something besides me moved. I looked to my right just in time to see a long, sinuous limb slither out from the elm tree next to me. It wrapped around my wrist, and in combination with the root attached to my leg, started pulling me towards the trunk.
I cried out for help, and heard footsteps pounding through the forest. However, they weren’t quick enough to prevent me from being pulled against the tree, and that’s when I saw the cracks and fissures in the bark transform into a face.
A large mouth opened, the hole reeking of rotting vegetation, and it tried to pull me into its waiting maw; tendrils of sappy green saliva dripping between the jaws.
Right when I thought it had me, my colleague James burst through the trees brandishing his Reverard war axes. With quick, forceful swings, James chopped through the branches, and the gnarl let out a shrill scream, tightening its grip on me.
Soon the others came, and now the creature was out numbered. With the combination of the four of us, I was able to wrestle free from the gnarl.
We then set about chopping the elm up, and taking the wood back to HQ, where we burnt it in the furnace, to make sure the evil spirit within was destroyed.
That was my first experience with a gnarl, and I hope it’s my last.
Check back tomorrow for H is for Hoodoo, and if you're interested please check out my personal blog's entry G is for Game ofThrones.