"Paleotera" by Pawel Parol
*The Paleotera first appeared in Sandbox Adventurers #6 Monster at the End of the Nightmare
Paleoteras are responsible for some of the most puzzling mass disappearances throughout history. Villages abandoned overnight, galleons adrift at sea with no crew to be found, and denizens of entire city districts vanished. These are all signs of a paleotera.
In their natural form, Paleotera are an amorphous black oily sludge. They usually travel around by subterranean means, utilizing sewers, underground rivers, or even traveling through coarse sand. The paleotera has a central nucleus about the size of a bean. It can move through any space large enough to accommodate the nucleus.
These abominations can slumber for decades or even centuries before rising to consume any living creatures they can find. Along with the creature’s flesh – which the paleotera dissolves with acid, absorbing the result into its own mass – they also absorb the creature’s memories and knowledge. Anything the creature has ever thought, seen, or imagined becomes part of the paleotera. While they will consume any living thing to satiate their nearly endless appetite, many paleotera grow to prefer humanoids, craving their sentient knowledge as much as their flesh.
Paleotera can shapeshift at will, often choosing an appearance it believes will frighten its prey the most. As a paleotera develops over time, it can create drones that become part of its collective mind. These drones can kill and consume prey for the main paleotera mass, thus protecting it from harm. When the paleotera changes shape, it assumes the movement characteristics of whatever it is imitating. For instance, if it imitates a Harpy, the drone can fly.