Meazels were a murderous, malevolent race of wretched recluses that cared only for wallowing in wistful self-pity. They responded to intrusions on their lonely gloom by killing the offenders or afflicting them with a wicked curse or terrible illness.
Meazels were humanoids that stood between 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) tall, and weighed approximately 80 pounds (36 kilograms). The same meazel could have a skin tone of light gray to dark green, and their dark, greenish-gray hair was waxy and thick. Irregular patches of an angry red hue coated the bodies of 85% of all meazels, caused by a noncontagious skin disease that gave them a leprous and disfigured appearance.
Most meazels had clawed hands and webbed digits that suited the boggy areas they normally occupied, and their sickly skin was contrasted by their jet black eyes. Male and female meazels did both exist, but the two were practically indistinguishable.
Mean-spirited and malicious, meazels were near universally despised by surface dwellers and underground residents alike. Heinous hermits that they were, they were rarely encountered outside of their foul lairs, and in such cases when they were it was almost always to inflict suffering. Greedy, cruel, and vindictive, meazels made poor and unreliable allies, being one of the few creatures that near all intelligent subterranean races would work together to combat. Their loathing for other beings extended to other members of their kind, and so the only way to productively interact with a meazel was to make them an unwitting pawn, else convince them to temporarily combat a greater foe.
Meazels themselves were self loathing and filled with bitterness, spending most of their existence contemplating their own terrible lives. Attempting to adopt a young meazel, otherwise known as a whelp, was a fruitless task more likely to backfire than raise a productive member of their patron civilization. The cruelty and callousness of a meazel was so baked into their very race that raising them to be benevolent was impossible, only resulting in a high functioning psychopath.
Three types of meazels existed, but all had a a small share of common skills and habits. The most iconic weapon utilized by the meazels were their garrote wires, used to strangle the unsuspecting humanoids that came across them. They rarely attempted to attack directly, always making use of stealth, or occasionally ranged weapons to kill.
The original meazels were immune to even the most sickening diseases, and their very presence was practically accursed. A strange curse hung off them, weakening those who stood too close to them. Their very blood carried a dangerous pestilence that caused terrible pain to those they could contaminate via blood to blood contact.
Swamp dwelling meazels had numerous features that helped them to live in their favored environment. Webbed feet allowed them to maneuver the marshlands with ease, and jagged claws let them rip into prey easily, although they still commonly made use of garrote wires. Most deadly was the feature that gave meazels their name, their plagued claws. While the original meazels also suffered from the ghastly affliction, their descendants' claws spread the supernatural disease to others, causing weakening fortitude and movement. While not every meazel suffered from the physical effects, nor were any of them actually debilitated by it, it presented them with a deep hunger. Victims of the disease were not transformed into meazels but exhibited a similar gluttony and skin condition.
Shadowfell meazels were an entirely different brand of creature that lacked many of their signature abilities, although still present was their general build, hatred of others, and use of the garrote wires that undeniably marked them as meazels. Meazels from the Shadowfell lacked the evolved characteristics of the normally swamp dwelling varieties, but instead had powers of their own. The corrupted meazels moved through shadows, both literally and figuratively with ease, stealthily skulking through darkness as well as teleporting through it. Anywhere within 500 ft (150 m) that the meazel had seen before could be instantly arrived at, along with whatever thing or person they had with them at the time. However the effect had a dangerous after effect on the unfortunate victim dragged through the darkness. The curse of a Shadowfell meazel bestowed to their targets was a beacon of darkness that lured nightmarish creatures toward them. Undead and Shadowfell natives within 300 ft (91 m) could sense the mark's location for up to an hour, but by the time the hour had ended many would have already been killed.
The miserable meazels despised company and rarely associated with any other intelligent life. Meazels only worked together if stuck in a position of mutual danger and even then they were incredibly untrusting, and untrustworthy. Keeping wild beasts however, was a common occurrence among meazels, such as drakes or spiders to serve guard animals or pets. Meazels with access to some kind of magic may use rituals to summon elementals and bind them to their will.
If a meazel didn't seek to kill and eat someone they would often simply attempt to steal from them without being noticed, although they looted bodies anyway. A meazel's sense of value was strange and arbitrary in certain ways. Despite being greedy they saw no value in precious stones, only gold, silver, or other types of currency. While they would steal things like armor or weapons even though they couldn't properly use some of them, they did not recognize magical objects as valuable. Although all races hated the meazels they had traditional enemies in the orcs and kobolds.
Despite their antisocial nature, meazels were known to work for, maintain relations with, or establish cults dedicated to certain deities. Often these gods were enemies of Baalzebul like Levistus, who promised to rid them of their curse, or deities like Garagos who were dedicated to savage destruction.
Meazels normally resided in marshes or subterranean caverns, but they would make their homes anywhere that was damp, dark and cold such as a sewer system. Likewise more shadowy meazels occupied places where the Material Plane and Shadowfell were connected, loitering around crossings to the Plane of Shadow. A meazel's bed was composed of all of their possessions, while anything else such as bone, jewels or magical items, were kept in sacks carelessly thrown around their filthy abodes. Their squalid lairs were overrun with pests and vermin that often made for a quick snack and served to consume anything the meazels didn't want.
Although meazels could subsist on other types of meat, their ravenous hunger could only be sated by consuming the flesh of sentient humanoids. Normally they dragged their killed prey back to their lairs in order to safely consume them. When the infrequent urge to mate crept its way into their minds, meazels females would give birth to one or two whelps, who became independent at three years old and fully matured at six.
The first meazels were created in ages past during a terrible plague that practically destroyed a city in the resulting rage and chaos of the outbreak. Prayers, magic, and conventional healing methods could do nothing to cure the ailment blighting the civilization. The plague inflicted terrible and near infinite hunger and could kill most people within a few days. When the suffering caused by the disaster was at its peak a soothing and intangible voice made an offering to the afflicted. Those starved by the plague would be given access to a limitless food supply, and no longer would the people be killed by it. This deal with the devil turned out to be truer than most suspected, as the ominous benefactor who had made the offer was actually Baalzebul, the Duke of the Seventh Hell, Maladomini.
Whether or not the victims were made aware of the archdevil's nature and simply were too tortured to care was unknown. In true devil fashion Baalzebul was despicably true to his word, preventing the plague from killing those afflicted, but leaving them with the sores and hunger that were its symptoms. The first half of their deal was also upheld, but also corrupted in the cruelest of ways. Like ghouls or gnolls, normal food could hardly sate the unquenchable need to consume, and only the flesh of sentient humanoids could satisfy a meazel's hunger. This revelation was found after the original meazels searched far and wide for the respite from the hunger they were promised.
It would appear that Baalzebul's curse was not unique, or at least was a unique variant on a type of corruption. Meazels of a different quality could be made without interference from the Lord of Lies, although their powers were drastically different. Shadowfell meazels were created when, in an attempt to escape the miseries of their previous existence, embittered individuals entered the Plane of Shadow and were warped by its influence. The intense negative emotions they harbored when first traveling to the Shadowdark eventually twisted them, staining their souls with a powerful dark energy.
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