Snugs, or slumber-cats as they are more commonly known, are small, fox-like creatures from the woodland surrounding the town of Sparrowstitch in the O’Shrafe Drifts region. The have large ears, deep russet fur and long, bushy, prehensile tails which they can coil around themselves to form a comfortable nest.
Due to their habit of sleeping for twenty-three hours a day and their unusually high body temperatures which average 64⁰C, (almost double that of a human,) snugs are widely used by the people of Sparrowstitch as a means to warm their beds. The snugs are placed in their owner’s bed and are traditionally fitted with a leather collar and a pouch of lavender which leaves a pleasant smell on the sheets.
Wild snugs can usually be found in hollow trees and the abandoned burrows of other creatures. Much of their lifecycle is still shrouded in mystery and it is widely believed, due to their unequalled need for sleep, that they live their lives in the dream world, their physical bodies acting only as a means to keep them anchored in reality. This belief is strengthened by the fact that snugs have no digestive systems or genitalia. It is thought that any nourishment their physical bodies require is somehow obtained whilst they sleep. Their reproductive process however is still in debate. Each snug has a womb-like organ within their chests in which their young gestate and they are able to conceive their offspring without any physical contact with other members of their species. This has led many to believe that snugs are asexual, reproducing without the need of a sexual partner. Others however believe that snugs fornicate in the dream world.
During the first six weeks of their lives, snugs are fully awake and extremely active. During this ‘awake’ time their bodies are sustained by two large glands on either side of their neck. These glands constantly leech a cocktail of nutrients, fat and adrenaline into their systems, keeping them alert. Young snugs spend these first six weeks searching for a suitable den in which to spend the rest of their lives asleep. During this time they double in size and develop a bony growth on their foreheads known as a nightmare crest.
The nightmare crest is a snug’s only defence mechanism, an appendage which prevents their predominately unconscious-selves from becoming an easy meal. Through it they can project waking nightmares into the minds of any potential predators that come too close, sending them running in the opposite direction. This telepathic gift of hallucinogenic projection is possessed only by snugs and by a race of carnivorous humanoids known as the mirage that live within the sand dunes of the Hoax Desert in the Hollowburn region.
The nightmare crests of domesticated snugs are filled away, preventing them from accidentally inflicting their owners with lurid dreams.
Despite their ability to project nightmares it is said that those who treat their snugs kindly will be granted pleasant dreams. There are numerous accounts of snugs joining their owners in their dreams or leading them away from painful recollections. Snugs are also said to often appear to psychics during meditation where they act as spirit guides, helping the psychic along their path to clairvoyance.
In the late twenty-second century, the Earl of a town called Smudgedale near the Pheonixhelm-Sanintale border developed an unhealthy obsession with snugs. The Earl had suffered from insomnia and, after a visit to Sparrowstitch, his wife had gifted him with a snug, hoping that it would help him sleep. The Earl had placed the snug in the bed between himself and his wife and that night he had, in his own words, “Slept as deeply as a miner reading philosophy.”
The following day the Earl had given a handsome sum of money to two of his servants and had sent them to Sparrowstitch with strict orders to purchase every available snug in the town and bring them back to his manor house. Two weeks later the servants had returned in a holk-drawn wagon which had over two-hundred sleeping snugs loaded on-board.
The Earl had been delighted and he had placed the snugs all over his manor house. At night he was rumoured to have slept with up to fifty of the creatures, forcing his wife to sleep alone in an attic bedroom.
The Earl’s growing obsession with snugs gradually became an unwholesome mania and he spent his days locked away in his personal chambers, talking to his snugs. He longed to see the dream world in which his beloved pets spent their lives and he begged them to take him there. Eventually he renamed his manor house ‘Slumber-Cat House’ and ordered his wife, two sons and staff to leave him.
Over the next six months, the doors of Slumber-Cat House remained locked and the Earl became a complete recluse, not even leaving his house to purchase food. Fearing for his health and what remained of his sanity, the Earl’s wife had begged Smudgedale’s local sheriff to break down the doors of Slumber-Cat House and have her husband transported to Mount Bedlam where he might receive some help. After much deliberation the sheriff had agreed.
Inside Slumber-Cat House, the snugs had dramatically multiplied in number and every available space was now covered with their sleeping forms. The collective sound of their gentle snoring was said to be deafening and a path had to be cleared through them in order to search the house for the estranged Earl. The Earl was eventually found asleep in his bed, covered in a mound of snugs.
When the Earl’s wife was unable to rouse her husband from his slumber, a witch doctor was summoned. The witchdoctor’s diagnosis was that, for reasons unknown, the Earl had fallen into a deep coma. The Earl’s wife however was convinced that the snugs had finally led her husband into the dream world as he’d requested of them and, whilst there, he’d either become lost or he was unwilling to return to the waking world.
The Earl never awoke again and upon his death over a decade later it was discovered that he’d left Slumber-Cat House and all of his possessions not to his two sons but to his beloved snugs.
Slumber-Cat House still stands to this day and has become a tourist attraction for snug-lovers from all over the Known Expanse. It is still legally owned by the descendants of the Earl’s original snugs who still slumber on every available surface.
The image of the snug included in this post was very kindly created by my very talented friend Zowie Rothery. She created the model using air drying clay and hand painted it using gouache paint. To see more of Zowie’s amazing art work, click HERE. All likes on here page are very welcome.
Next time I will be detailing another creature from my own imagination which I briefly mentioned in this post – The mirage, a race of telepathic carnivores which hunt amongst the sand dunes of the Hoax Desert.
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