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CREATED BY asiotusMEMBER GROUP: monster
NATURAL LIFE SPAN: about 2000 years
along the water's edge lurks a handsome stallion. it gazes upon you with tender eyes and you can't help but approach such a calm steed. coming nearer, something smells fishy, but that must just be the water; you think you saw some old fish bones back along the path you took. the horse shuffles its feet slightly as you raise your hand to pet its strong shoulder. under your fingers, its fur feels slimy. the horse turns its head to gaze at you. you lift your hand to stroke its snout, only you realize that you can't take your hand off the horse's shoulder. you feel the flesh of your palm tug as you attempt to yank your hand away. the horse begins walking towards the water. you look down as you struggle to hold your footing and see the horse's hooves are not hooves at all, but human hands. the creature is stronger than you, and it leaps into the water with you attached to its side. you begin to scream but your lungs immediately fill with water as the shape of the horse melts into an amorphous mass. perhaps it's the murk and the weeds, but you think you see countless tentacles grow from the dark shape as it surrounds you.
the true nature of kelpies is shrouded in mystery; even the creatures themselves couldn't tell you for certain, though as natural pathological liars, they may feel inclined to make something up for you. some believe they are actually a species of malevolent fey, while others are convinced they are lovecraftian horrors, many-tentacled cephalopods from the deep sea, another planet, an alternate dimension. what's known for certain is that they are masters of deception, often mimicking docile creatures at the edges of water to draw in prey, having a strong preference for humans as well as horses, strangely enough.
kelpies are solitary creatures, hunting and living alone, generally only ever coming together to reproduce. some kelpies might form a bond with another and might aid each other while hunting, though this is considered rare. early life is generally the only time a kelpie is surrounded by a large number of its kind, as they are hatched in a large brood. many get eaten by larger fish or even other kelpies while still very young. those that survive will naturally begin to learn to mimic and hunt other creatures, preying on other water creatures until they grow large enough to fool land animals. most will prey on those their same size or smaller, but some will manage to take down prey much larger than they are with some determination. those with a healthy intake of food can grow quite large rather quickly and it's speculated they never actually stop growing, but the process tends to slow down significantly after a kelpie reaches the size of a horse.
while kelpies are capable of learning how to speak, it's not a skill that comes naturally to them and can take many years of practice before it's mastered. singing often proves to be easier and can be used as a transition into learning how to speak, but one can blend into society efficiently once that hurdle has been overcome.
POWERSphysical capabilities: superhuman (low-tier) strength and durability, speed is dependent on the form a kelpie takes (ie, a kelpie copying a human would have the speed of a human, whereas one copying a horse would have the speed of a horse).
mimicry: a kelpie's most valuable asset, they are capable of morphing their bodies in order to copy land creatures, changing the pigment and density of its skin. the ability does have its limitations, as it relies heavily on the kelpie's knowledge of what it's mimicking and its own physical capabilities. for example, a young, very small kelpie could only convincingly copy creatures of similar size and is less likely to copy it with complete accuracy. mixing up body parts between different creatures is fairly common to those who don't study their subjects carefully. conversely, a much older, larger kelpie couldn't mimic a small creature very well, but is more likely to mimic their preferred subject with more accuracy. it's also quite difficult for a kelpie to properly mimic hair and clothing, and those who are clever enough will often use hair and garments from their victims to copy more accurately. the only downfall of this fake shapeshifting is they won't have some of the capabilities as the true creature. a kelpie copying a bird won't actually be able to fly and a kelpie copying a lamp won't be able to illuminate a room.
sticky fingers: their second most useful skill, kelpies can excrete an extremely sticky substance from their skin at will. this combined with the many suctions cups lining their limbs allows them to glue props to their bodies for a more realistic disguise, as well as to prevent their prey from escaping as soon as it touches the kelpie. they can also scale 90° and even upside down surfaces.
lungfish: while not as efficient as completely land-based lungs, kelpies do have a singular lung to survive for extended periods out of water, similar to a lungfish. most have trouble breathing on land if required to perform physically demanding activities for extended periods, and are capable of suffocating on land under certain circumstances.
cephalopod: kelpies are a highly advanced species of cephalopod, related to octopuses and squid but with a much more vast number of limbs. it is often difficult to determine the location of the head and mantle, which are small compared to the mass devoted to limbs. generally in a kelpie's "true" form however, (ie when it's not mimicking another creature) they are located near the center of its body. similar to octopuses, they can squeeze themselves through impossibly tight spaces and are renowned escape artists, making them difficult to study in captivity.
limb regrowth: kelpies are capable of regrowing lost limbs without much issue, though generally losing more than 1/3 of one's limbs becomes increasingly more life threatening (the more limbs lost, the more likely the injury is fatal).
euryhaline: kelpies are capable of living in both saltwater and freshwater.
WEAKNESSESkelpies are vulnerable to all the methods that can be used to kill a living organism such as a human (though they often prove more difficult to kill considering their vital organs are often not located where they might seem). such methods include blood loss, starvation, destruction of the organs, etc. generally injuries to the limbs are considered a nonissue unless a majority of them are heavily lacerated or completely cut off, leading to blood loss or even immobility due to a lack of limbs. the fastest method of killing a kelpie (though perhaps not the easiest) is to aim for its head and mantle hidden in the mass of limbs.
water-dependant: kelpies are naturally water-dwelling creatures and while they can remain relatively comfortable on land for several hours, they need to return to water every day to keep from drying out. drinking water helps negate this effect slightly but does not replace the need to completely submerge in water.
eyesight: while not inherently life threatening, kelpies don't have the best eyesight outside of water. that might have something to do with having a bunch of arms in your way most of the time. while some might choose to locate their heads, and therefore eyes, somewhere exposed to air while on land, others prefer to hide the most vulnerable part of their body and instead rely largely on touch and sound to navigate.
tasty: those brave enough to willingingly come near a kelpie claim they prove to be quite the delicacy.