The ladroni (/ləˈdroʊni/) is a large stranger characterized by its noodle-like arms, rubbery body, and its eye markings which appear to be crying blood. Its skin is thick and rubbery, and covered with a film of grease, while its flesh is pinkish and spongy. Its body cavity is filled with a chunky, foul-smelling chyme, the odor of which wafts out through the mouth, giving the ladroni's breath a sour, nauseating stench. This inner bile is duplicated from the stomach contents of nearby ladroni and human beings, and thus, sometimes contains chunks of undigested food (which take little time to dissolve away in the chyme's harsh acidity). The ladroni's mouth is lined with sharp, uneven teeth, and is separated from its body cavity by a constricted, valve-like structure, which prevents the ladroni's inner contents from spilling outward.
The ladroni possesses between two and four pairs of long, pliable arms, each ending in a hand that, on a superficial level, resembles a human being's, with a thumb, and three to five fingers. These worm-like fingers behave more like tentacles than human digits, and individual fingers are capable of curling and uncurling in entirely opposite directions. Despite the relatively thin width of its arms, the ladroni possesses incredible strength, and can lift objects weighing several hundred pounds without displaying any noticeable strain.
Although the exact coloration varies depending on region, 93% of ladroni display yellow or orange colors, with white, black, pinkish, or pale blue varieties forming the remaining 7% of individuals. The ladroni's eye and lip markings are slimy to the touch, and leave behind a faint stain when rubbed with vigor.
The ladroni's thick skin and rubbery flesh give it great physical durability, and it is unaffected by extremes of heat, as well. When its inner chamber is punctured, the ladroni is able to coagulate its chyme around the point of injury, and within seven to eighteen minutes, this substance becomes thick enough to prevent further leaking. Over a span of several days, these scabs thicken and reform as flesh, with only very slight loss of color noticeable under careful inspection. Large wounds, however, can nonetheless prove fatal if the ladroni is unable to regulate the loss of inner bile.
The ladroni's deep, smooth voice resonates upwards from its throat, and when it talks, its lips flop up and down in an out-of-sync, puppet-like manner. Despite its crude mannerisms, the ladroni's language is melodic and poetic, and although this stranger does not spontaneously speak in human languages, it is capable of mimicking phrases for a short time after hearing them. The ladroni's tone always sounds happy, as though it is forever on the verge of laughter1.
The ladroni appears in enclosed underground spaces, such as natural caves and crevices, closed-off basements, sealed-up tanks, and empty cavities left behind by less than thorough city workers. Despite this broad range of environments, the ladroni only generates within spaces which have remained untouched by humans for at least 57 months, and displays a strong preference towards locations in close proximity to human activity, such as subways.
When it first appears, the ladroni starts off tiny, and grows larger in swells, like a small balloon being filled with water, reaching full size in four to six days.
The ladroni possesses an oblivious but joyful disposition. It spends its days squirming and writhing in place, and slips its arms through cracks and holes in the walls of its chambers, grasping at any object it can reach. While the ladroni possesses great strength, its motions are crude and clumsy, and it cannot turn handles, open doors, or perform any other feats of dexterity, except by rare accident.
The ladroni is a highly social stranger, and groups of ladroni press against each other, stroke one another with lewd affection, and reach inside each other's mouths to tickle at their tongues and throats.
The ladroni vomits in frequent but irregular bursts, covering itself and its companions. When one vomits, any nearby individual is always quick to lick it up in some perverse parody of social reciprocation. Its vomit is corrosive enough to damage organic matter and most minerals, although the ladroni itself remains unharmed by this causticity. Due to this bile's corrosive effect, the ladroni has a negative impact on the structural stability and chemical purity of its surroundings. Over a long enough timeline, it causes large gaps to appear beneath the foundations of buildings, and can even contaminate groundwater in heavily-infested cities, raising the pH to a level that makes plant growth impossible.
ROYASUVODRI LADRONI: 0.01% of ladroni are born with two mouths, one on top of the other, and possess similarly duplicated eye markings, with the second eye marking appearing beneath the first. These ladroni are known as royasuvodri ladroni. A royasuvodri ladroni is capable of generating small volumes of bile in random pockets and cavities around it2, such as inside of tiny holes in the ground, in the gas tanks of cars, or inside of people's stomachs (usually in minuscule volumes, but 0.13% of the time, in a quantity large enough to cause illness). Rarely, it co-generates bile in the tear or saliva ducts of humans or animals in microscopic amounts. Otherwise, its behaviour presents as normal. There is never more than one royasuvodri ladroni within a three mile radius.
The ladroni appears able to perceive the location of sensitive individuals, and even when separated by a wall, it slides its hands across bricks and into the smallest cracks in a desperate attempt to reach through to the other side. When face-to-face encounters do occur, the ladroni approaches with a lolling tongue and gushing laughter, and wraps its long arms around the sensitive to either drag them forward or lift them into the air.
Physical contact with a ladroni causes extreme nausea3, and as such, when touched or attacked, sensitives almost always begin to vomit involuntarily, an action which delights the ladroni.
Although the ladroni tends to spend some amount of time playing with captive sensitives (sometimes inadvertently strangling them in the process), it always consumes any sensitive whom it has captured, and does so by leaning its head back and opening the valve-like structure in its throat to drown the sensitive inside its body. After eating, the ladroni displays obscene glee at its bodily contents, and laughs with pleasure as the sensitive pounds against the inner walls of its body cavity. Due to the ladroni's acidic contents, corpses always deliquesce in full, with even bones dissolving down into mushy pebbles.
Few sensitives are able to fight off even a single ladroni, as knives do little to damage the ladroni's flesh, and all blunt impacts bounce off without inflicting harm. Although gunshots do pierce its skin, the ladroni uses its long fingers to plug these holes, and its companions often join in, as well, to aid their wounded brethren. While the ladroni is not indestructible, even the most violent, gushing wound does nothing to dissuade its assault, and it desists only when its last sputtering gasp has belched up from its throat.
The ladroni affects even non-sensitives, who experience nausea, digestive issues, and a slight decrease in metabolic speed within its proximity.
As the ladroni ages, it begins to vomit more and more, until it drains itself completely, unable to replenish its bodily contents. The ladroni itself is indifferent to its death, and a deflated ladroni continues to slither its arms around its surroundings, until its tongue hangs loose and its movements cease altogether. Its corpse bubbles away into a warm-colored bile, and leaves nothing behind but a putrid stain and a lingering smell.