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Bestiary: grave hag

Bestiary: grave hag

Although the ghouls are the most common corpse-eaters we encounter in our trade, the grave hag is the one most dangerous to humans. Unlike a ghoul, which attacks a living being only when it enters its territory, a grave hag can even get into a commoner’s cottage to look for food. Remarkably smart, it can observe inhabitants, learn their habits and sneak into a household when no one expects it. It kidnaps children and takes them to its hideout, which is usually located somewhere near the local graveyard. Grave hags have been known to target huts located on a village’s outskirts, ones inhabited by a lonely old man or woman. The monster has no difficulty with killing such a person, thus acquiring food for another week or two.  

One has to be very careful when fighting a grave hag. The fight usually takes place on the monster’s hunting grounds, which it knows very well and will exploit every possible advantage. That’s why the element of surprise is key: if a hag is not expecting an attack, one professional slash of a silver blade should suffice. However, if an ambush is not successful, one should be ready for a long battle. A hag is very resilient and quick, and a wound caused by its claws is a certain way to become poisoned by cadaverine.

One thing is certain: a grave hag is one of those monsters that a witcher should slay without any hesitation or remorse. It’s a highly intelligent predator that actively preys on humans. It’s every witcher’s duty to eradicate that species.

Vreni of Montsalvat, a Witcher of the Cat School

…it was a bad time for Toussaint back then. The knights did not care for the Five Virtues, the current vintage of Est Est turned out be a sour rotgut, and the merchants demanded five florins for a loaf of bread. Still, the greatest malady of all was the graciously reigning prince Maximillian, who instead of ruling and taking care of the country, would rather almost exclusively focus on satisfying his lust. No woman was safe from him: a peasant, a married townswoman, or a noblewoman from an influential family – if a lady caught the prince’s eye, he would not rest until he bedded her. To most folk of Toussaint a lecherous prince was a great burden, but what were they supposed to do about it?

One day, Maximillian was riding through the village of Vermentino (the very same which nowadays is famous for its vineyards) and decided to stay there for a night. Peasants knew their lord’s reputation, so they hid away their daughters and wives. Still, it didn’t take long for a drunk prince Maximillian to feel a need to satisfy his lust. He went from one cottage to another, banged on the door, but no one would let him in. The ruler threatened that he would burn down the whole village. And who knows, maybe Maximillian would be true to his word, if in a drunken frenzy he hadn’t arrived at the local cemetery.

He saw there an old woman, her back crooked with the weight of years, hiding in the shadow cast by the graveyard’s wall. “Well, that will do…” thought the prince and quickly jumped at the old woman, hoping for a few moments of merry buggery. However, it was not an old lady, but a grave hag, a terrible monster that feeds on human carcasses, but is deadly dangerous to the living as well.

Who was more surprised by the encounter – the grave hag or prince Maximillian – no one knows. Suffice to say that the next ruler, Hubert, was crowned ten days later. Whole Toussaint breathed a sigh of relief.

“Tales of Sansretour” Jean-Baptiste de Villemaur

If you ever happen to be passing by a graveyard and you hear a moaning resembling a lamentation of a distraught mother, don’t come any nearer! It can be a grave hag, a very smart beastie that lures the careless in such a way. Instead, spit over your right shoulder, make the sign guarding against evil charms and carry on with your journey. If it is indeed a hag, you will avoid a terrible death. And if it is a normal grieving woman, you will at least leave her alone with her pain, instead of invading her privacy like an arsehole!

Kresimir, a pellar from Velen

Piotr Kucharski

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