Horrors of the Mukkelev

By Deren Ozturk


An unearthly howl came from the sea as the sun began to set. The eerie sound echoed across the empty wetlands, shaking the ramshackle huts of the locals who had evacuated days earlier. A terrible tremor sent the birds from their trees, the critters back into their holes. A heavy silence then lay across the land, a signal that the worst was on the horizon.

First came the head, an abominable visage. The skin—or rather, lack of—was darker than the sky, offset by the glowing cyan orbs that were its eyes. Then came the second head, that of a beast. Its incomprehensible expression stared out onto the land below, gazing upon all who dared cross its path. At last came its body, a vile amalgam of human and horse, its exposed sinew and muscles the colour of an unfathomable abyss. It towered over the roundhouses and over the forest; a single step was accompanied by a cacophony of snapping trees. When it stretched to its full height, the sky stirred as though the clouds were bending to its will. An aurora of twisted greens and purples emerged in the darkened curtain of night, becoming the Mukkelevi’s crown. 

As it strided out of the sea, a mist, a visible stench rolled out from the water beneath it. From the swirling vapours came the silhouettes of people, of animals, of fae. Then came the bastions of light out of the hollows of their eyes—cold, blue spotlights that scanned the ground in front of them. None were creatures comprehensible to any moral human. They were the rotting shells of corrupted fair folk that now served their great master, searching the land of the living for victims to drag back into the Otherworld with them.

Black unnatural masses of birds swirled overhead; they were nothing more than an extension of the Mukkelevi’s own sight, vermin it used to see forever in all directions. Harbingers of the Mukkelevi, of plague, of death. Though its emergences were rare, those that lived in the region knew of its coming; their druids and soothsayers sacrificed their sanity to tune themselves to its energy to know when it would come, when it was time to hire heroes to fight it back.

Pitiful are the heroes who must contend with death itself.”

—Legends of Avallen, Chapter 16: Beings & Beasts

This tale is that of the mukkelevi (or nuckelavee), a dark being of Orkney, the northern isles of Scotland. In the legendary land of Avallen, the mukkelevi is one of the Ffieidd-Dra (fee-AYTH-dra), a family that includes draigs (dragons), cawr (giants), and other great abominable beings that rival the gods but seek only to consume all.

Inspired by Celtic mythology in Roman Britain, Legends of Avallen is a roleplaying game that takes you to this mystical island occupied by faithless invaders and provides everything you might need for the adventures you’d imagine in such a world. The short tale above is an example of the myriad quotes, rumours, poems, and stories within its rulebook that, in tandem with its gorgeous and haunting artwork, set the tone for this ancient and embattled land. 

Avallen needs legends—How will you forge yours?

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