Big Head Mode is not conducive to effective scouting

I honestly love the classic Big Head Mode cheat effect in video games. There’s just something about it that always tickles my funny bone, and I think it’s something that more games need. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would really be as harmless in real life as it is in games. And so, here’s a story where this happens from the perspective of a banshee (or an ehdis-naeb, as they call themselves).

I originally intended this series to be similar to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games in that the “anomalies” are rather grim and dangerous, but after watching too many videos from the Failrace Youtube channel where game physics does a peculiar goes wonky, I seem to be leaning towards making them more absurd…albeit possibly still dangerous.

It was just another day west of the settlement known as Claddaghduff. The daystar remained hidden behind overlapping streaks of clouds, the wind that blew off the sea was biting cold, and the waves that lapped at the shore kicked up an awful spray that made the skin raw. The natives were at best indifferent, if not outright hostile. And there was always the chance that reality would randomly decide to invert itself.

Efioa had long since turned his ears down against the older generation’s complaints about the sea in this new world. New to them, not to him. He had been born here, not that the Fomorians seemed to make any distinction, and had learned to pay attention to the sea. Among the things he had paid close attention to over the last week was the “cursed island” of Cruagh, situated about two dwarven miles out to sea. He could have sworn that he had seen a giant metal shape disappearing behind it to the west.

Lacking anything better to do, he and his bond-sisters had elected to leave Omey Island and get a better look from the west of the Aughrusbeg peninsula. And so, with the spray kicked up in his face and the wind piercing his bones, he faced out towards the spiny northern flank of the island. It might have been his imagination, but it looked as though there was a large net hanging over something. He stepped forward-

He suddenly pitched forward as his head began to feel inexplicably heavier and larger. Sprawling on the rocks that covered the coast, he blinked and shook his head muzzily. The motion felt slower than usual. Had the clouds darkened, or was his eyesight fading?

“Efioa? Your head...” Nadia trilled. Carefully, Efioa sat up and began to feel his head. His aching neck felt normally...but then his hands traced over his chin. Had it always been that size? It must have been shorter. He traced his hands up his jaw. Still larger than he remembered it being that morning. His hands continued up towards his ears. They were still attached to his head...and yet they felt...further out?

“It’s much larger,” Nadia added. Did she sound amused?

“What?” Efioa noticed that his voice sounded higher than usual. He tried to stand up, and nearly fell forwards again as his head pitched downwards. As he staggered backwards in a vague attempt to keep his balanced, he began to realise that his eyesight was starting to clear up. Strangely, it felt as though his viewpoint was slightly higher, or else everything else had shrunk.

“As in, four times larger,” Naraic interjected. Unlike her bond-sister, she bore a seaweed-eating grin that would have looked more in place on a Fomorian than an ehdis-naeb. He slowly turned to give her the full intensity of his disapproving look, when something else caught his eye. Something potentially worse.

“Fomorians!” he called, pointing to the east. Just over the rise of a crest about fifty body lengths away, a Fomorian had reined in a horse and raised one hand. Glancing over his shoulder – the red coat of hair on the chin made it clear that this was in fact a male – the Fomorian moved the horse to one side and begun to swing himself off it. Behind him, two others did the same. All three were clad in nondescript overcoats, with the only distinguishing feature being the much darker skin and patrician bearing of one in the middle.

Naraic automatically reached for the dragon carbine slung across her back. Just enough to make it clear that she wasn’t armed with just a spear, but it was enough for the five-fingered folk with the fangs to briefly reach for their own guns. At a gesture and an unintelligible command from the dark-skinned one, they lowered their hands. 

“Wait, that’s one of the O’Rourkes. The Black Cat,” Nadia broke in, eyes focussed on the group’s leader. The Fomorian approached them with long, slow strides that belied his kind’s ability to move with sudden, vicious bursts of strength and speed. His hard, grey eyes resembled nothing less than the drier rocks that littered the coastline.

“Good day.” His accent was atrocious, as expected for a Fomorian, but there was nothing wrong with his grammar. Perhaps unnecessarily, he continued, “I am Aidan O’Rourke.”

“Good day. I am Nariac of Omey,” Nariac replied. She gestured towards Efioa. “We are simply trying to give my bond-brother a chance to release some pressure in his head so it doesn’t explode later.”

The Black Cat’s face did not change as he folded his arms, even as chuckles and smirks rippled through his subordinates after one of them translated it. Efioa, for his part, didn’t find it particularly amusing. After all, it was his neck that had to support the extra weight, and his neck was starting to hurt. And even a Fomorian couldn’t miss such an easy target at this range.

“It strikes me that you were watching Cruagh. Now why might you do that?” He briefly glanced past them towards the island in question. “Perhaps you saw a ship passing very closely.”

“We saw no ships,” Nariac replied, shaking her head in a manner that seemed unnatural to her fellow ehdis-anm. The Fomorian’s left eyebrow arched upwards in response, and as though to counterbalance this motion, his right eye narrowed. When he finally answered that, Efioa couldn’t hide the startled jerk of his head. If only because he nearly lost his balance again.

“Or, nothing that you’d recognise as a ship?” He glanced pointedly at Efioa for a second, who began to yellow with anger at both himself and the Black Cat. “We suspect that the Dwarven League, or somebody else, is trying to move in. And you’re right on their doorstep.”

Now that was far more important than somebody’s head suddenly becoming several times larger, even to the poor lamag who had to bear it. The dwarves trying to move back in was not an everyday occurrence in Connemara. 

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