|Official Name||Temple Orphan|
|Common Nicknames||Solang Horror|
The Temple Orphan is the greatest horror which stalks Solangeria and is responsible for the vast majority of deaths among explorers who dare to venture into its deep jungles. Temple Orphans are relatively rare, but seek to draw intruders to them with their mimicry, especially those who enter Solangeria’s mysterious ruins. Various mythical tales as to their origin exist among various peoples who have made contact with them and survived. Temple Orphans carry their name because, while passive, they emit a whine which sounds eerily similar to a crying baby. As soon as their prey comes close enough, the sound stops, their head turns, and death follows shortly. It should be noted the Temple Orphans do not actually hunt their prey for sustenance; these creatures have never been witnessed to consume any of their victims or indeed any food at all. It simply kills for the sake of killing.
Temple Orphans have been encountered throughout Solangeria’s history, first by a crashed Qadir ship centuries before the Cataclysm, then full nation-funded expeditions from Farah’deen and later the Altalar, likely sometime during the Grandening of their Allorn Empire. All parties found themselves unable to pierce the jungle for long before a Temple Orphan or some other horrible monster from their exploration records appeared to push them back to the coastline. The only people who battled the Temple Orphan to some degree of success were the Songaskia, when they came and pushed their way through the continent with fire and hundreds of slaves. Hundreds of these slaves died, but the expedition was allegedly able to harm one of the Orphans and still retreated with more information than any others before them. As for the Ailor and the Regalian Empire, a wayward merchant ship bound for Ceardia was blown off course and crashed on Solangeria in 130 AC. Unaware of the danger, they went inland to seek supplies and instead came across a ruin. They then heard the cries of an infant which lured them closer to investigate. Not thinking any infant could be alive in these empty lands, the captain stayed back and ultimately could only watch in horror from a distance as his sailors were ripped apart by the screeching and murderous Temple Orphan - he fled when the creature turned its eyes to him. He was later picked up by a Regalian trade vessel, driven mad from the things he had seen. Regalia immediately marked the land off their list of possible regions for expansion and turned their back on the terrifying continent. Even today, the Temple Orphans are rarely seen in Solangeria. The majority of encounters result in the death of anyone but the Temple Orphans themselves.
Temple Orphans, while extremely alien and bestial, have surprising humanoid traits. They stand at around seven feet tall, though their constantly bent necks hide their true height of nine to ten feet. They also hide their upright height by crouching low to the ground to the degree they are at Dwarf heights. Temple Orphans, as previously mentioned, have very long necks upon which a humanoid head rests. Long black dead hair is suspended from their scalp, and two narrow solid white eyes are rested on their face, with what appears to be the remnants of a nose and a massive open jaw with huge, sharp teeth. Their eyes are crusted by the remains of some sort of black substance, likely their strange tar-like tears. Despite this residue and their appearance of being blind, they are clearly able to see in the light of day. Their skin always looks wrinkled, old, and cracked, but does not seem to age. There are records in the Allorn Empire of a specific Temple Orphan which lives close to the coast in the small Upaqanxbalka Ruin, with a metal arrow lodged in its head at a horizontal angle. In 278 AC, an expedition near this ruin recorded the presence of the very same Temple Orphan, be it with a much more rusted arrow lodged in its head, but it was unmistakably the same creature. Scholars dare not speculate whether they simply don’t age or are actually immortal.
The rest of their bodies are built for carnage. Their upper body is covered in long wiry hair and some odd feathers, though they always sit crouched or hunched forward, scraping the floor with their hands. These hands have long sharp black nails on long, thin bony fingers. Their torso looks emaciated, with thin bones protruding all over their body, particularly the spine, ribcage, and hips. Their legs resemble bird talons and are similarly thin and weak-looking, though this is deceptive. They move with incredible speed when they have found prey and will try to tear them to pieces with their sharp claws and their sharp teeth, though a few horror stories speak about how they can specifically just knock a Human’s head clean off. Their bodies ultimately end in a long and hairy black tail, though it is often hard to tell whether it is a tail or just stray hair from their back due to their hunched posture.
Origin and Diversity
Temple Orphans all look the same, though some have a slightly darker tint of gray skin while others may have some wounds on them like a missing limb or the aforementioned arrow lodged into them. In total, approximately six Temple Orphans are recorded, though scholars speculate at least twelve exist; the rest just haven’t had any explorers survive their encounters to report back. There seems to be no distinction between gender, nor do they reproduce. The creature’s behavior is entirely enigmatic.
Life Span and Development
No Temple Orphan offspring has ever been seen. No Temple Orphans have ever been seen encountering each other or indeed wandering anywhere near 20 miles from one another. The creatures are assumed to have longevity at the very least, and practical immortality at worst.
The Temple Orphans seem to possess some sort of intelligence, though it is obviously very far gone in an almost impossible state of hysteria and insanity. In some ways, Temple Orphans behave akin to how one would expect a woman imprisoned within a house of torture her entire life before suddenly discovering she could kill her captors and anyone else. When the baby crying sound they make stops, they lunge and scream with shrieks and vile gurgling noises at whoever is too close, akin to a fit of primal rage. The Temple Orphans seem hostile to any living matter except for plants and butterflies. Some species of butterflies have been seen resting peacefully on the back of the Temple Orphans before continuing along. They are also excellent hunters, gifted with the ability to climb ruined walls, ceilings, and trees with ease. Besides that, they seem never to sleep or even wander away from the same location where they always are, unless it is to give chase.
Territory and Groupings
Temple Orphans normally don't seem to leave specific ruins dotted across Solangeria, which leaves scholars to assume their natural territory is those ruins. Why they specifically live in those ruins and what they do in them is unknown, all that is known is that they do not eat, sleep or even interact with most of the structures around them. They simply just kill any moving thing which comes close to their territory, and as their territories can be vast, just stepping foot on the continent is dangerous. No two Temple Orphans have ever been seen close to one another so nobody truly knows what will happen if they do meet one day. The creatures are thus assumed to be entirely solitary and likely also few in number.
- While the origins of the Temple Orphans are entirely enigmatic, some scholars theorize they are somehow the degenerate remnants of the Third Civilization. Something so powerful and similar to The Wind Lady statue in body build seems real of a possibility.
- It is not known why Temple Orphans never leave the same room/corridor/street of a specific temple complex. It is often just assumed they have some sort of connection with the place and refuse to leave for whatever reason.
- Strangely enough, if a Temple Orphan is lured away from their living site, they stop making the crying baby noise and instead sound like a sobbing old woman, also producing their black tears.