Basilisks are the largest land reptile on Altus. They are part serpent and part lizard, with the advantages of both and powerful magical abilities as well.
A basilisk has a body with a long, serpentine tail and torso which it uses to move. It also has four flat limbs shaped like triangles and made of soft skin with a bony edge. It uses these limbs, which are no more than 1m long and 1m wide, to help it move through water and to take down prey.
A basilisk's body is covered completely with rough hide, often coloured green or yellow. The hide is covered in bumps and points which are hard enough to use as weapons if it slams into an enemy. Its body is a uniform width except for the last 20-40cm of its tail, which narrows rapidly. Inside the tail are stores of fat and nutrients.
The head of a basilisk is like a lizard's. It has long spines of cartilage which are connected to the jaw bone and connected via a colourful flap of red and purple skin. Its jaw is pointed, and rimmed with sharp teeth. Its eyes are sunken and can be covered with thick scales while it is fighting to protect itself from harm.
Basilisks have two additional magical powers. Their eyes can channel strong psychic magic which can temporarily paralyze prey who look at the basilisk, even indirectly. The paralysis wears off after a few seconds, but that is all it takes for the prey to be snared by the basilisk's powerful jaws. Their second power is magical fire which a basilisk which is being attacked will summon. The flames emerge in a powerful burst from its hide and sear anything that comes too close. The flames will subside after a few minutes if left alone, and take a day to recover fully.
Basilisks spend their days in shallow water such as rivers, watering holes, and mud wallows. They lie in wait for passing animals to take a drink. When they do, the basilisk emerges and tries to attack a paralyzed creature, inflicting lethal damage. After it has a single kill, it will drag the creature back into the water where it feasts.
A well-fed basilisk emerges from the water to bask in the sun, where it can use its frills to fan its body and keep insects off. If threatened, it will use its frills to frighten potential aggressors. During such excursions, a basilisk is still agile – its serpentine body can lunch up to 10 meters in a second to strike.
Basilisks have developed a taste for mortal races, often attacking in groups of two or three to drag off stragglers who go to fetch water. Being relatives of Rendiols, Basilisks are highly intelligent, capable of problem-solving and thinking ahead. By injuring rather than killing children, a basilisk can attract more mortals to its lair, where it will ambush and feast on them. Some basilisks have grown so headstrong that they walk into towns and massacre those within.
Reproduction and Lifestyle
Basilisks live in groups of three to ten in caves or burrows, but normally hunt alone. They are social animals, with the largest males having exclusive breeding rights. Defeated males will often wander alone, trying to find another pack with a weak male to usurp.
Basilisk eggs are up to 50cm in diameter and tough to break – making it unnecessary for mothers to watch the eggs before they hatch. When a nest hatches, the basilisks emerge and are already able to start hunting on their own. Males and females are comparable in size, although females grow faster than males, and are adults by the age of one, while males only reach maturity at three years old. Basilisks will live for between ten and thirty years.
A cabat is a small, shelled creature with a tough skin on their oval body. Their heads are inset into their bodies, and they have a powerful jaw attached. They use ten separate insect legs to walk around on.
Their incisors are only useful against enemies that are within a few feet. If they are given a chance, a Cabat can entirely strip the flesh from a creature's body, or snap a bone in half.
Their shell is just over a centimeter thick and segmented, allowing the cabat to turn its body 60 degrees in each direction. The cabat is able to roll itself up into a small, tight ball when threatened.
On the front of its inset head are a pair of angled red eyes. These have excellent sight during the day, allowing them to see prey from up to half a kilometer away. At night, their eyes have much longer thermal vision, which can be distracted by fires or magic.
Their ears are built into their skull, so all vibrations on their shell can be heard. Their hearing is comparable to humans.
Their shells are normally dark grey or brown. Some female cabats have a lighter shell that can also come in hues of pale blue or dark green.
Cabats are a pack animal. Groups of 6 to 12 roam the forest together, hunting and foraging as one. Because they are fairly slow runners, cabats prefer to stay in dense forests or jungles where their small size can allow them to hide.
When hunting cabats will try to take prey by surprise. If they can latch on, a cabat will try to bring down its prey, allowing other cabats to sink their jaws onto its neck. Cabats do not often attack large enemies who might hurt them, unless they are very hungry. Favourite targets of Cabats are cattle, sheep, boars, and mortals. When carrion is present, a family of cabats will eat without hesitation.
If a corpse is large enough, a family of cabats will eat the outside first and live inside for anywhere between a few days to a few weeks while they feast. Sometimes they will lay eggs and continue on their way. Cabats will also eat fruits if they are easily available.
A cabat that is separated from its family unit can secrete a hormone that attracts nearby cabats to help it.
Reproduction and Lifestyle
A cabat can live for up to twenty years. Their family units, however, only last about ten. After elder members die, the younger cabats will often split apart and form new units, merging with other similar fragments to form new families.
Males and females generally form monogamous pairings that last until the death of one partner. Eggs are fertilized year-round, and laid in available carcasses, where the young cabats will eat and grow quickly over a few weeks. After they are full-sized, all the Cabats from a single group will travel as a family unit.
Cabats are not confrontational, and will flee from danger unless they are on the verge of starvation. They are intelligent however, and can work with or even help mortals in exchange for food, gold, or enchanted magical items. Gold and magical items are of no use to cabats, but they collect and horde them anyways.
Itiacs are insect-like creatures with a three part body – an abdomen, narrow thorax, and a head. Their body is covered with a 2cm thick armoured carapace to keep it safe. They have four narrow sword-legs that point out at angles so that two legs are in front of its body and two behind its body.
The head of the itiac is attached to the thorax via a narrow neck. It has a long head with a green bulbous sac on top, and four dark green eyes that face forward. It has two fangs and two incisors that can snap and draw in food to the itiac's mouth.
The limbs of an itiac are narrow with two bending joints. Legs go down and then bend up, and then down one final time with 120cm long armoured legs. Flaps of armour on the leg can slide apart to reveal a sharp serrated edge tinted light green. The leg itself is very narrow, only 20 to 25cm across.
Itiacs have a powerful jump which can propel them 25 feet through the air. On the ground, they are quick and agile. When climbing, they are equally nimble, on trees or rock faces alike.
Itiacs also have a powerful nighttime vision that sees as well in the dark as they do in the day, making nighttime ambushes common. Wounded and bleeding prey can be tracked up to 2km away, and itiacs will enter a blood-lust where they irresistibly follow blood to the source.
The sac on the head of an itiac secretes a powerful neurotoxin. When the toxin enters the bloodstream, it will cause the creature to become dazed and unable to fight back.
Itiacs are playful omnivores who leap along the sides of trees and mountains with ease. They live alone but frequently interact with other itiacs who they encounter. When an itiac meets an animal, it will often hunt it. If an itiac is not hungry or meets an animal it is not familiar with, it will frequently play with the terrified creature, headbutting it or gently biting it.
When they smell blood though, an itiac becomes a killing machine. It will blitz the bleeding creature and slay it with its poisoned sword arms which can slice many creatures in half. It then gorges itself on their blood, leaving the meat behind for scavengers.
If no prey can be found, itiacs will eat fruits, berries, and even the bread from human dwellings that they sneak into. Some itiacs will develop bonds with people who feed them, and will visit frequently and fight to the death to protect their friends. Nonetheless, if the food stops coming, an itiac might feel betrayed and decide to eat its old friend.
Itiacs are intelligent and adventurous. They will sometimes grow bored and journey for hundreds of kilometres with no purpose, returning home after they grow bored of travelling. Itiacs enjoy hoarding colourful treasures such as beads, shells, coins, and sometimes paintings or statues. Itiacs will try to wear whatever jewelry or clothing they find. Merchans have even been able to befriend and trade shells and beads to itiacs in exchange for coins and gems.
Reproduction and Lifestyle
Itiacs are born from egg-sacs containing hundreds of individuals. They emerge at once during the longest days of winter, where they can use the dark to hide from predatory birds, wolves, and mountain cats. These young itiacs are only 10 cm tall. They grow quickly however, and are soon catching small mammals to eat. From a single litter, perhaps 3-4 will reach adulthood.
As adults, Itiacs rarely live in groups. They prefer solitary lives, and are territorial. Nonetheless, itiacs who encounter each other while not hunting are friendly and will play with each other. Itiacs mate infrequently, but remain together for several months beforehand, hunting as a pair for the duration of their partnership. Once an egg-sac has been laid, both itiacs vacate the area while the eggs spend a year or more growing.
Itiacs live for between 5 and 15 years.
Merrin Weed is an invasive vine that has several central pear-shaped locuses which control the plant. Each locus is a dense 2m - 5m tall collection of plant matter and energy reserves and typically contains a central stalk rising an additional 1m - 3m above it. The thick walls of the locus protect it from harm and are covered in poisoned barbs. The base of the locus has a ring of up to twelve 25cm meristem tissue that can grow long vines. The vines are also barbed and can constrict or grow up other plants, burrowing roots into them to drink nutrients from them. When threatened, the locus can strike at those nearby with its large stalk, or can launch a limited number of powerful poisoned darts. The locus has nerve feelings in its vines and can protect them from harm by shooting darts
The entire plant is very light-sensitive and will grow towards the light as it overtakes nearby flora. Once the native plants have been killed, long vertical strands of tissue grow that absorb light. At this stage, the Merrin Weed is likely the dominant plantlife in the region, and will begin to spore.
The "heart" is a special part of a collection of plans. It is up to twice as large as the locuses and only grow in a small percentage of plants. This is capable of using magic drained from the air to assists its reproduction or to release jets of magical acid and poison clouds to protect itself while it spores.
Reproduction and Lifecycle
A merrin seed is generated in centre of the heart. Then, it is passed along channels within the roots of the plant and eventually emerges from the tip of the plant a long distance (up to a kilometer) from the original ovum. The plant grows a locus and sends out small vines that grow in size. Once the new plant has grown to maturity after about one year, it will begin growing new locuses at the ends of its vines to further spread. A well-nourished weed that finishes killing its surrounding plant life will eventually grow a heart that produces spores to spread the weed once again.
Merrin Weed thrives in volcanic, nutrient-rich soil. It can survive through mild frosts, allowing it to continue growth soon after spring begins. It uses plenty of water and enjoys sunlight, making it difficult. This makes it well suited for Iridia and Morata, while it struggles in drier climates like the Sungrass. The spread of this invasive plant has been a cause for great concern in Ijhier, where the laying of a new heart could quickly destroy hundreds of acres of forest before being notices.
As a Drug
Merrin Bloom is the very rare substance produced within the ovary of the Merrin Weed. Because of the plant's love for volcanic soil, it is hard to grow elsewhere, making its collection difficult.
The Merrin Bloom is a yellow mulch which is mixed with mild acid (typically urine) and then dried for a week before ingestion. The intensity of the acid also increases the intensity of the effect. Those under the influence experience colourful hallucinations, difficulty concentrating, and a rush of adrenaline
Rocephadons are a large land herbivore with six legs, armoured plates, and a fat tail. Their feet are broad with three small nails on the front of each foot. They have an armoured beak protecting their mouth and teeth. Three flat bones called “horns” shield the rocephadon's neck from predators.
Rocephadons rely on their size to keep them safe from predators. They are very unlikely to notice an approaching hunter, as their senses are very poor. A rocephadon can only hear things that are a low pitch and close to it. Its ears are located within small holes on the sides of its head behind the horns. It's large brown eyes are also troubled by poor vision at long distances.
The armoured body of a rocephadon is made up of 40 different unique plates spread across its back, tail, and legs. The plates are segmented and allow the rocephadon free movement in all direction. The armour can be up to 10 centimeters thick and can resist even strong blows from swords.
They are a fairly intelligent animal that will enjoy taking a break to play. They express a range of emotions, including happiness, sadness, anger, and confusion. Interactions with mortals are also common, and they will even make friends and remember faces of hunters who they need to stay away from.
Rocephadons enjoy a diet of grazed grasses, roots, and fruit. They will spend up to six hours every day eating, and can consume 300 lbs of food per day. Extra fat is stored whenever possible, and a rocephadon will not stop eating if there is good food. Rocephadons in captivity, however, will become lethargic and will eat only 100 lbs a day, losing weight and becoming much smaller.
When frightened, a rocephadon will lowers its beak and present its horns like a flat shield. It will then either hold its stance if worried, or charge if it thinks it can successfully trample its target. If a battle erupts, it can bludgeon enemies with its horns and tail. When hurt, a rocephadon will try to run away back to its herd. If an entire group of rocephadons is worried, they will stampede.
There are no animals that regularly prey on rocephadons due to their size, but injured, young, or old rocephadons are easier for predators to bring down.
Reproduction and Lifestyle
A rocephadon is born live from its mother, and will stay with her, drinking her milk until it is one year old. By that point, it is able to fend for itself. Male rocephadons will sometimes fight for dominance, and the alpha male will have exclusive mating right with females.
Rocephadons live in large herds and will remain with their herd from the day they are born until the day they die. Herds provide safety in numbers, and allow young rocephadons to hide among the older, stronger ones.
When a rocephadon dies, its herd will often move the body into water or bury it so that it will not be eaten by scavengers. If new children are born, their entire herd will watch over and protect it, although the mother will still follow it until it is fully grown.
Occasionally, rocephadons will grow irritated with the presence of mortals. If this happens, an entire herd can stampede into a village, trampling and killing everyone inside. Though rare, these incidents happen a few times a year across the world.
A Soroloid is a desert-dwelling crustacean capable of moving over shifting sand with ease. It has an elongated torso measuring 60 cm long and covered with 24 segmented armoured plates each 2 cm thick and as strong as bone. At the end of the torso is a tail, also covered in armoured plates. At each of its flanks is a 40cm long fin which it uses to keep itself floating on sand as it glides, and can be used to push when running.
Soroloids have small heads at the end of a short, unprotected neck. They can retract their neck into their armoured shells so that it is completely covered. The head has two flesh-covered flaps of skin which it places on the ground and uses to suck moisture from large areas of ground at once. Hidden in these flaps is a circular mouth with a circular ring of teeth which it latches on to prey before grinding back and forth to tear out chunks of meat. Their eyesight comes from two large eyes on the front of their body. Although large, they are shielded from the sun's rays by a protective layer which inhibits their vision beyond about 10 meters, making them very poor at chasing prey.
The tail is non-prehensile but can be moved for balance. It also has two sensory antennae used to smell and detect subtle vibrations in the air.
Beneath the body and tail of a Soroloid are two fins made of stiff cartilage. While running across the sand, these are used like rudders to allow sharp angled turns even when running on uneven surfaces. A soroloid is unmatched in open desert terrains except by favebas.
The 48 legs of a soroloid are only about 5-10 cm long and attached to strong, muscular segments beneath the torso. If one of them is damaged, the leg drops off and re-grows later from the segment's bud. A soroloid will lose most of its legs over the course of its lifetime.
Soroloids possess very small brains and show no ability to learn or remember things more complex than the individuals in their family. Soroloids are poor at distinguishing species, however. They will readily leap out of the sand to attack Rendiols, and can sometimes follow Favebas thinking the faveba to be their parent. This trait is exploited by some neihmets, who rear soroloids as pets.
Since they live in small familial groups, hunting requires coordination. The largest member (alpha) of a group will identify a place to lay in ambush, and will bury itself in the sand. Other family members will take this lead to bury themselves nearby. When the alpha emerges to attack, the others will follow into battle. They surround and latch on to prey, eating it alive. Larger creatures such as oxen can sometimes escape with large pieces of flesh missing.
Soroloids possess a static charge in their tails which they will rattle in warning when threatened. They can discharge the static to inflict a painful shock.
Reproduction and Lifestyle
Soroloid females leave fertilized eggs buried near riverbeds and springs. When Vasta's rare storms hit, this clutch of 5-10 eggs emerge and form a new family group. Baby soroloids are only 10 cm long and are herbivorous until reaching adulthood a year after birth.
A family group will stay together. If two groups meet, they will merge together and mate. This process will continue as groups lose members and then merge once they become too small to hunt effectively. A single group might last 10 years or more before being forced to merge with another.
A Varsarill is similar to a squid. It has a central, cylindrical torso measuring about 1 meter wide at the bottom, widening to about 1.25 meters for its twin eyes, and then slowly narrowing over the remaining 1.5-2 meters. The tip of the torso has a pair of muscled flaps of skin which it can open and close to push water, allowing it to make short bursts of speed when underwater.
A Varsarill's sandy grey skin is made of a thin leather, often camouflaged with patterns to resemble rocks or sand. Because of its soft skin, a Varsarill relies on ambushing and incapacitating its prey in order to feed, as even a moderately-armed mortal can inflict painful or even life-threatening injuries. To counter this, each limb will violently attack using a localized nervous system if it is severed or injured, making the best defence to simply run rather than fight a Varsarill.
The very bottom of the Varsarill's torso has a strong beak which it uses to crush its grabbed prey's bones or exoskeleton (if applicable). The interior of the Varsarill's mouth is coated in a layer of mucus which host numerous bacteria. A creature which ingests or is infected with the mucus can develop painful infections which lead to seizure and often death.
Attached to its Torso's bottom, close to the beak, are six stocky prehensile tentacles with suction cups which can seize prey and pull them into its beak. Further out, along the circumference of the torso's base are six tentacles of similar size but triple the length. Each of these longer tentacles is capped with a mimic of a small crab which is placed along the edge of the water to attract prey from land, or on the seafloor to attract fish.
As some of the simplest forms of life, Varsarills are only notable due to their size. Their intelligence is lacking, and they are completely immobile for almost the entirety of their lives except when searching for new places to lay in wait for prey.
A Varsarill attempts to find a lagoon with enough wave movement to disturb the surface but not enough to make it difficult to stay put. Alternatively, the freshwater variety will often make their rest at the mouths of rivers or the base of waterfalls.
Once in position a Varsarill will use its mimics to attract prey and then ambush by pulling the caught creature in and ensnaring it with the smaller tentacles. At that point, it bites and injects its mucus to bring down any prey that escapes.
A Varsarill expects prey to flee from it, and will not retreat until dead unless faced by a much larger foe such as a Rendiol or Leviathan.
Reproduction and Lifestyle
Varsarills reproduce asexually by laying floating egg sacks no more than an inch wide which are carried by currents until they find a stagnant pool to grow in. After a sack hatches, 12 Varsarills emerge and must eat and grow quickly or else they will be eaten by the fish that they someday hope to hunt.
Varsarills reach adulthood after about three years, and can live for 20-30 years.
Vixli are large land mammals. They have four legs, each with an opposeable thumb. Their head is attached to the front of their torso, with a 20cm long neck that supports its pointed head as it hangs above the ground.
It has two nostrils on the front of its snout that can flare up to 6 cm across, or squeeze shut completely. It has two eyes on either side of its head, and a short jaw for eating plants. Around the side of its neck and angled downwards are its small circular ears.
Its limbs are muscular, and can be wider than its head in adults. Its body is also rimmed in layers of muscle. Vixli also have a reserve of fat which is kept in a special sac of skin on its back. The fat can swell to weigh up to 100kg and be as large as an Vixlus's torso.
The skin of a Vixlus is thick, but many of its veins are near the surface, makings its hairy hide appear to be cracked by black lines. These veins are durable, but can be penetrated by the roots of a Zedeka plant, whose poisonous secretion helps keep away predators. A mature Vixlus will often loose all of its hair in favour of these plants, which it will groom and keep healthy.
Vixli have an internal poison processing organ which allows them to eat most poisons without harm, and allows Zedekas to grow on them harmlessly. Should an Vixlus become injured, the organ will cease to work. As it ceases, the Zedekas poison takes effect, causing the blood of the creature to overheat and expand. Within moments of the Vixlus dying, its corpse will spray fountains of boiling toxic blood in all directions.
Vixli are hyper-aggressive herbivores willing to fight with any animal to defend their parcel of land. Vixli that cannot find food will walk to another section of land and hunt down and kill any creature that might compete with them for food. Most animals know that killing a Vixlus on such a rampage will result in their own poisonous demise. Few creatures will therefore stay to fight a territorial vixlus.
Their diet consists of roots, low hanging fruit, and insects. They listen using their ears for tunnelling insects, and then dig them out with their front hands. If a burrowing animal has hoarded food, a Vixlus will dig out the burrow, kill the animal, and eat the stash.
They are aggressive with local sprites, who make sure to use the creature's liver in any dish prepared with its meat or its fat. Vixli are unable to be trained or kept as pets or as pack animals due to their habit of self-destruction.
Reproduction and Lifestyle
Vixli are solitary creatures that will ideally never interact with another Vixli in their entire lives. Males and females alike will fight for dominance, and chase away weaker creatures.
When a Vixli male reaches sexual maturity, it will begin to leave yearly deposits of sperm sealed within clear membranes which it attaches to trees. Each sac is between 10cm and 20 cm in diameter. These sacs leech nutrients from the trees, allowing them to stay alive for up to one month after placement. A female that finds these deposits will eat the sac, and will be fertilized internally. A baby Vixlus will begin to form within her fat reserves.
Gestation lasts for six months. After that, the baby breaks free from the mother, whose Zedeka plants have already burrowed into the foetus, giving it the same protection against predators that the mother experienced. The child will be chased away from home almost immediately by the mother.