|Didactylos the Cynic|
A round of "Are not! and Are so!" ensues.
After a bit Didactylos takes the elven women aside and tells them what they want to know in full view of the other aghast philosophers.
"The dreaded nuckelavee is a manifestation of pollution and filth, be it the natural decay of a red tide or the intrusive pollution of sewage and other urban waste, or-" he says with a meaningful glare at the crowd. "-the gutless cowardice of others. A nuckelavee is a living irony—a carrier of disease and a spreader of corruption that unleashes its wrath against other sources that bring corruption into the world. I suspect the corruption spread by nuckelavees only serves to further their own sense of self-loathing and overall rage. While nuckelavees might, incidentally, carry out vengeance for the victims of such pollution, defending the denizens of their rivers, swamps, and bogs is not their primary drive, for they revel in inflicting the very corruption they hate and enjoy little more than watching their enemies sicken and die."
"Folktales tell of talismans to carry—fetishes of seaweed garlands, horsehair soaked in brine, or vials of sanctified seawater—or of prayers to recite to ward away nuckelavees or convince them the bearer is innocent. I can't vouch for any of these stories. Probably a load of aurochs' dung."
"Mean-spirited fey, nuckelavees ride forth from black waters to wreak bloody vengeance upon those who despoil nature despoilers."
One of the others pipes in with a shout of "Spurious romanticism!" at the cynic's words to which Didactylos responds with something completely undignified, before continuing on with a "Who's telling this anyhow!"
The women learn that Nuckelavees spend most of their days asleep in flooded hollows and sea caves, waking only to gnaw on bitter plants and algae, their primary form of sustenance. With their unnatural metabolisms, nuckelavees can survive for weeks on only a few bites of aquatic plant life, and are content to lie in torpor for months or even years. Possessing a supernatural relationship with the waterways in which they reside, these bloody fey know when harm has befallen their home or its denizens.
Regardless of what sparks a nuckelavee’s wrath, once one of these avengers’ ire is garnered, it gallops forth not just to correct the offense, but repay the pain. Only once blood and tears have quenched the fires of a nuckelavee’s rage does it willingly return to the water, often carrying with it some grisly trophy of its vengeance.
All nuckelavees are infected with mortasheen, a highly infectious wasting disease capable of wiping out the populations of whole islands. Despite the monsters’ obsession with defending natural waterways and the life therein, their interest seems to end at the shoreline. Nuckelavees have no interest in or apparent love for terrestrial beasts, especially those tamed and kept by the objects of their anger. Horses, cattle, and other livestock often prove the first casualties of a nuckelavee’s rampage, with those that aren’t left slaughtered in gory tableaus being infected with mortasheen and inevitably passing it on to their owners.
"Now bugger off! I'm missing the buffet!"