A Description of Breminor's Fauna
Dedication and Acknowledgement
To his Excellency, Vorian, scribe extraordinary and undisputed master of all of the unknown, I dedicate this humble tome. It is through his Excellency's encouragement, and bounteous finances, that my ordinary endeavors were made possible. His Excellency will forgive the occasional excesses in poetic license and enjoy this for what it is, an accounting of things seen, and not, in this wonderful land.
I should note that the process for procuring the information for this Bestiary has been a long and arduous one. I have not so much been at the mercy of wild beasts, as I have been at the mercy of drunken and boasting warriors in dirty little inns in the Gods forsaken backwaters of this Land. On many an occasion I went out to seek the information for myself, but for information on those beasts that are rarely seen, and seem more a subject of conjecture and myth, I have had to consort. with the rudest of types in the rudest of places. This being said, the stories of beasts would hardly be colorful without the exaggerated halftruths of bragging warriors. As I have accumulated information on the world about us, I have come to appreciate the work of those that safeguard the environments in which the beasts live.
My work would not have been possible without the help of my good friend Tomaldror Tragan, whose trusty blade and humor kept my spirits up in the Western March, and without the concurrence of the Fellowship of Thoria, and its sister orders of Kaddon, Kippor and Kippon.
May the Gods keep us all.
Introduction - The Binding and the Beasts of Breminor
With the Age of the Binding and the coming of physical form to the remaining innocent mortals, so came physical form to the creatures of the Land. From the rough but gentle hands of Mylassa the Young sprang the physical bodies of the beasts of Breminor.
Every creature was a reflection of the coming together of the Gods in the Age of the Immortals or before. To the many creatures Mylassa the Young give intuitive qualities many times greater than those given to mortals. This was to ensure their survival in the land. Some were given great sight, such as the hawk, great hearing, such as the rabbit, great cunning, such as the fox, great nobility, such as the horse and great loyalty, such as the hound. And to others, her favorites, she gave even greater gifts: She gave them the gifts of thought and speech, the essence of mortals.
But as the binding was created, one of Amulon's servants was caught within it. It saw the beautiful land and the creatures that existed in it as reflections of He who goes Unnamed. And so Amulon created too, but not of love, but of hate. And so it came to pass that creatures of unbalanced natures came into the binding. Creatures that inhabit the darkest caverns, the deepest depths, the densest forests.
It was only just before the Binding was sealed that Mylassa the Young became aware of these creatures. Mylassa the Young demanded justice from her father, but little could be done because the Binding could not be undone. The Goddess feared for her creations.
As the Mortals spread throughout the Land and saw the greatness of nature, they also came across all manner of beasts. In their ignorance, the Mortals could not tell among the beasts those created by the hand of the Goddess and those inspired by Amulon. The result was that the Mortals raged against all of nature, destroying that which they could not understand and that which they feared.
The work of Amulon was done without Mortalkind even knowing.
Boar (The Takkel)
The Takkel Boar is the most sought after species of boar for royal hunts. It is a fearsome boar, as large as a bear on all fours. Nothing but the largest (and stupidest) war-horses will tackle such a monster.
The Takkel Boar forage the more remote forests of Breminor. The young are the size of large dogs. Some elders have been seen the size of a draft horse.
The Lords of the land hold a Takkel Hunt each year before the official hunt is opened by the Magnate. The object of the Takkel Hunt is not to chase down and kill the boar, but to take it captive for the official hunt in the days that follow. It is a foolhardy thing, and many a good man has been maimed terribly or killed in this endeavor. I spoke to one such unfortunate once. Without left arm or leg, he still dreamed of the great rewards for those that can catch the beast.
The Takkel Boar is also subject of local superstition. The Darkling Takkel, all black but for its razor sharp white tusks and glittering red eyes, is the most revered and feared of the Boars. Common folk say its sighting presages bad crop and famine. Locals shun it as they would Amulon itself. Woe betide he that claims such a sighting.
Foolishly, I followed Tomal on a visit to Sherna to find the treasure trove of the infamous pirate Shervul the Bloody. Never should I have gone, for these are things best left to find in the imagination. But Tomal, being the typical warrior that he is, gave me little option. Of course, it goes without saying that we did not find the treasure. But in exploring the umpteenth cave, we foolishly ran out of light. As Tomal tried to find our tinderbox, we were attacked by these creatures. They moved in the dark, scratching and flailing at us. We scrambled back the way we had come, Tomal swinging about him with his sword blindly. By the time we reached a cave with some natural light we were covered in scratches and Tomal's armor was smoking from some kind of acid. I think we were very lucky to have survived. One wrong turn and I would not have been able to finish this work.
With a fresh supply of torches we returned to the cave. On our way in we stumbled over a body. The creature had succumbed to Tomal's sword, and the warrior had not even known.
The beast is tall, about mortal height. It had a gray and hairless body with large pale eyes on either side of its head and a curious appendage, not unlike a trunk that served as a mouth. My scratches were due to the creature's scaly hands and feet, lengthy beyond anything mortal, and no doubt used for climbing cavern walls. The acid on Tomal's armor seemed to have come from the creature's proboscis.
I had to inquire in the local village as to the name of the beast. A couple of locals laughed heartily when we let slip that we were after Shervul's treasure. As to the creature, they called it a Briggar.
It perhaps no surprise that Drakes are mistrusted creatures - their association with the representation of Amulon as a mass of serpents is, perhaps, unfortunate.
It is said that the Drakes were once the trusted guardians of the great palace of He Who Goes Unnamed. It is said that Amulon came and corrupted some of the youthful, and that it was for this reason that the Drakes were thrown out by the great God. In their shame they found refuge in the searing heat of the Aronin Mountains. But as with all things, the Drake could not throw off their guilt or the incredible knowledge that they found they possessed by being present in the palace of the Gods from almost the beginning of time itself. For this reason, each Drake suffers the cycle of its ancestors, being innocent and free for a short time and then being thrown down out of the skies to the land and sea below.
There is much dispute as to the relation between the Drake, the Worm and the Sea Serpent. I believe that the Drake and the Worm are one and the same (although I treat the Worm in a separate entry). The Sea Serpent I put in a category of its own (hence also its own entry). From what I have seen, which has been at a safe distance, and what I have heard, it would appear that these beasts have two phases to their lives, one of play, when I call them Drakes, and one of burdensome realization, when I call them Worms.
When the Drake are young they grow great wings with which they fly, play and rage in the skies. It is in this stage that I have called them Drake, or the winged playing ones. Above the Aronin Mountains I saw two Drakes. They were so far up in the skies that they were but shadows above the clouds themselves. With their wings outstretched, they circled each other, turning within each others turn. It was like some immense dance. It ended abruptly as one of the two shied away from the other and sped towards the mountains. As they came in over the summits of the peaks, I saw them more clearly. They had long necks, serpentine tails, great taloned feet, and heads that seemed, for a moment at least, to smile lazy smiles full of dread incisors. Peasants regard the Drake as a bad omen, but I have not yet found a Seer willing to corroborate this view.
I have spoken to warriors who have fought the Drake and' they say that they are a formidable foe. Some claimed that their comrades had been carried off by the creatures, others that their horses had been pulled from under them. That these Drake have incredible strength there is no doubt, but that they would go out of their way to attack Mortals, I found this hard to believe. While my studies have indicated that few beasts attack without provocation, and warriors are prone to slashing before thinking, one source gave me reason for reflection.
On my travels, I spent some time in the town of Lathinor. For those readers who have not visited Lathinor, I highly recommend the city on the lake. It is a thriving city, albeit under Kaddor rule, at the edge of the wilds, and full of fascinating travelers, or should I say wanderers. In the Inn of the Sodden Log, I met a woman who claimed she had once befriended a Drake. She was a Phythan far from her home who traded me information for a good meal. She first caught my attention when she interjected into a conversation I was having on the Drake. Between mouthfuls of food, Sallia, for that was her name, told me her story, and of its truthfulness I can only say that, for all my skills, I could find no reason to doubt her word.
Sallia claimed that the Drake had the power of speech, and from then on I was all ears. She went on to say that she had befriended a Drake, and that it had told her some of the secrets of its existence. My good friend Tomal had no doubts as to her honesty, but I think he was motivated by other things than fair play. Sallia confirmed that the Drake have two existences. In the first they are as every other beast in the land, playful, learning, instinctive and curious about Mortals. In the second they become recluse, burdened by the crime of their ancestors and by the energy and knowledge of the Binding and before. The Drake is without the burdensome wisdom of the worm, but not without the ability to communicate with Mortals and to think intelligently. They are in the first half of their lives, the shortest half. At some point, and Sallia said that even the Drake do not know when they are called by one another to mate. This mating takes place in the sky, in a reaching spiral that arches up into the great light and warmth of the Sun. Upon its completion, the two beasts plummet earthwards, ponderous with the sudden weight of understanding. It is as if the first half of their existence were ended. As the pair tumble earthwards, they separate. They undergo a metamorphosis of sorts, their wings shrink, and their presence becomes weighty with the guilt of ages. At this stage the Drake appear to begin the second stage of their existence, that of earthbound serpents, slow and ungainly with their eternal shame, finding joy only upon the birth of another Drake. As Worms they seek out caverns, or ruins as their lairs in which they give birth to their progeny and then, over time, become one with the land.
Theirs is a sad existence. There is great beauty in these beasts, and great shame.
Sallia also gave a reason as to the unpredictable behavior of Drakes vis-à-vis mortals. According to her, the temperament of the Drake with regard mortals depends entirely upon the first encounter with a mortal. If the Mortal acts in a paranoid manner and attacks the Drake, then that creature will be forever antagonistic towards mortals. It is for this very reason that I did not try to have a first hand encounter with these beasts. One cannot predict how they might react.
Amulon's corruption did not end with the race of the Kaddoran. The corruption went further, creating the most feared beast in Breminor, the Drax. The Drax are the riding beasts of the Kaddor, servants of Amulon.
A Drax is a four-legged animal which stands six to eight feet at the shoulder They have small, cold, dark eyes and short, rounded snouts full of fearsome teeth. At the end of their long, bony legs, they have round padded feet which are equally effective on sand, rock, and earth; however, it can be painful for the Drax to ride for extended distances on paved roads.
The Drax has a mane of thick, coarse hair, which covers most of its head, shoulders and back. Since the Kaddor ride without saddles, this mane acts as a saddle of sorts, giving the Kaddor something to hold onto and to use to direct the Drax.
The Drax have a keen sense of smell, though their hearing and sight are terribly deficient. Drax can be found wherever the Kaddor are.
When they fight, the Drax will bite and kick using their hind legs; occasionally, they will rise up on their hind legs to strike with their forelegs. The bite is accompanied by the added displeasure of paralysis. A single bite from a Drax may release a poison that can immobilize the strongest war horse within minutes of being bitten; the paralysis keeps the victim alive with little chance of escape. Repeated bites may cause cardiac arrest or pulmonary failure.
It is difficult for the Kaddor, who stand at four and one-half feet tall, to mount and ride a Drax. The Kaddor have a solution, however, and it lies in their relationship with the Drax. A Drax will respond to certain simple commands by its Kaddor master: it will lower itself to the ground so the Kaddor can mount up; and, it will allow itself to be ridden and directed by the Kaddor. In addition, the Kaddor use the coarse hair of the Drax's mane to bind themselves to their mounts.
As to how they came into being I can only surmise that the Kaddor, through the evil of Amulon, brought together a horse and a camel and from that union came the Drax. The more fanciful theory is that the Drax were a gift of Amulon to the Kaddor, formed of the seed of the beast that He who goes unnamed slayed to create the Aronin Mountains during the age of the Immortals.
Rumors abound about there being a way to cause the Drax to flee in battle. There is, they say, a thousand soldar reward to the warrior that proves one of these rumors true. Many a foolhardy thug has perished this way. The only somewhat successful method I have seen was the use of cleansing fire.
Eagles are the favorite of He Who Goes Unnamed. When Mylassa the Young created the beasts of Breminor, He Who Goes Unnamed asked for just one. One that could see all there was to see, fly above the mortality of the land and be the eyes of the great God.
Mylassa the Young wanted to please her father. The Eagles flew higher, faster and saw more than any other creature. And to some of the Eagles, she gave speech and thought. And to some of these she gave He Who Goes Unnamed all see eye.
These gifts were the species undoing, of course. Mortalkind sought them and their offspring I the hope that they might capture the ability of the all seeing eye. Some hubris-ridden Mages in particular are responsible for the paucity of Eagles that now remain. I know some of their names and was sorely tempted to identify them in this tome. The editors and publishers would have none of it, of course.
Plenty of folk lore surround the Eagles. If an Eagle lifts a new-born lamb from a flock, this is considered a good omen. If a fox or wolf were to do the same the farmer would be sorely grieved, I would imagine.
The Fograith Moor descended along the slightly different line than their legendary cousins, the rarely seen Zargon Moor. In looks they are similar, although the Fograith has a larger and more primitive appearance. This is understandable, as they are the Zargon's lost kin.
The average fully-grown male Fograith stands approximately ten to twelve feet in height. It usually does not walk erect, only assuming such a position for fighting. Normally, they walk hunched over with their hands occasionally touching the ground.
Their bodies are large and muscular, and they are covered with a thick, matted hair which is usually dark brown in colon Their feet are wide and flat, with four toes, the smallest of which is about the size of a Mortal's thumb. Along with their four-fingered hands, which have opposing thumbs, they are able to move stealthily and quickly through the densest forest. Even so, they are not too bright and they make very limited use of tools.
Fograiths inhabit forest and hill caves, but do not stray too far from a well-traveled road. This is where they are most likely to find their food. There have been reports of Fograiths across the land. It is rumored that they also delight in a delicacy of Mortal's brains - I have no care to establish the truth in this claim. Many a hasty merchant has had his head ripped from his body by a Fograith.
The Fograith have an unparalleled antipathy for their kin, the Zargons. They will, apparently, attack on sight. This antipathy extends to mortalkind given their associations in myth and legend with the Zargon. A Bishop told me once that the Fograith have resented, for all time, the sagacity and nobility of their distant kin.
The Gulor is a ferocious animal that inhabits northern forests and mountains. It is the size of a small pony but looks like a very wooly cat. It resides in caves during the winter months and in the crux of lofty boughs in warmer times. During the cold months its coat grows a gray-white so as conceal its presence. It does no hibernate and is not afraid to venture in to a village to kill livestock or children for food.
The Gulor has a special ability that is useful both in attack and defense. It can emit a high-pitched wail or screaming, much like the caterwauling of the common cat, but one that causes much debilitating pain in the ears of other animals and mortals. The beast will use this to disable attackers or prey. Many an unwary traveler has fallen prey to a screaming Gulor dropping on rider and horse from the boughs of some great tree.
Some wanderers I have met say that if one travels the northern forests and mountains one should take a local mount and heed its instincts. They claim that local horses can scent certain animals hated to them, and the Gulor is one such beast. (See Horses
, for possible explanations of this claim.)
The coat of the Gulor, assuming one bests the beast, is warm and has the magical ability to turn gray or even white during colder months. Even the most reputed Chemysts have failed to explain how this can be.
Some warriors have chosen the Gulor as their symbol given its ferocious nature.
Of all the beasts in Breminor, the horse holds a position like no other with regards the Mortals. In this tome I shall discuss a few different breeds of horses, including the most famous of all, the Toraren Steeds.
I have heard that the Horses of Tholl are one of the most sought after in the land and are favorites on the black markets run out of Bowels. This is quite probable, as they are the best war horses to be had in the land. They seem to tower, not only from, stature, but also from breeding, hands above the rest. The horses are rarely given as gifts, for to give such a gift would be like giving keep and lands, and even the greatest of the lords of the land can barely afford the upkeep of their domains.
The horses are rare, and their whereabouts are seldom advertised. No one that I have come across can say exactly where the horses come from.
In the Codex the hero Valeron returns a stolen steed, proving that their worth has endured time. But even in that great document there is no mention of the origins of the Horses of Tholl.
In the Phythan forests I asked an elderly Knight of Kaddon if he knew of these great steeds. At the mention of their name his eyes seemed to water a little, as if he were recalling some wonderful episode of his past. He smiled and said, "Of course, they roam the Marshes of Camarra.” I asked him where these marshes were, for I had certainly not heard of them, but the old master just looked off into distance, a smile still playing around his lips.
I do know of certain individuals who own these great creatures, but who they are shall remain unwritten.
If Horses of Tholl are rare, the Thundel might as well be myth. And yet I have spoken to one. You might say that much mead has made me delirious, but I assure you that such an encounter did take place.
By the freezing Northern Seas, Tomal and I were aided by one such steed. We had been in pursuit of the Snow Crab, when we were cut off from the snow-covered sand by the rising icy waters. The Crab had led us a merry chase as it slid into the gray seas. We stood there on a lonely outcrop, watching the ice 'laden seas move slowly, ominously near. Before we had even noticed, the water was as deep as we were tall and we would not have lasted a moment in that cold. So we stood there as the swelling waters ground broken floes against our rock. Tomal casually noticed that our outcrop was some 200 yards from the cliffs and safety. He suggested jumping from floe to floe, an idea that did not appeal to me whatsoever. As we stood there, contemplating the gray all around us, a form rose from the ocean before us. Tomal's sword was out, and we waited for some monstrous sea beast to come out at us. Instead all that surfaced was something that resembled a wet horses head. We looked at it, and it looked at us, and then it started to laugh, if you can imagine a horse laughing in an almost Mortal way. And as it laughed, so too did Tomal, and then I did also. It was as if our position had become so absurd that all one could do was laugh.
Then the horse came out of the water and stood on the rock with us. It was a mottled graygreen color and seemed to be mostly covered in seaweed. Its appearance was quite unpleasant. Then it spoke and asked us if we wanted to get back to the shore. It spoke in a gravelly low voice, choosing its word carefully, as if it had not much opportunity to practice speech. I was so amazed that all I could do was nod my head. Without any further words, I jumped onto the back of the horse and it half swam, half slid to the shore. I could not help myself from asking if it were a Thundel. It responded that it was and that the Thundel adapt themselves to the environment that they are in so as to remain anonymous. I was left on the shore and the Thundel went back for Tomal. When it came back to shore I wanted to ask it many questions, but it turned and slid into the waters.
We returned safely to our camp and horses, grateful and amazed. I cannot say why the Thundel should have saved us, except perhaps it knew that in the back of my mind I had hoped that the Thundel were not just but myth.
Perhaps the most famous and mythical of the rare breeds of horses, the Toraren Steeds are the steeds of heroes and Gods. There are but rumors as to this noble creature, favored horse of Mylassa the Young, Goddess of the living earth. There is, according to legend, no way of telling this creature from another horse unless it wishes to reveal its identity to its owner or rider.
Mylassa the Young was so pleased with the ordinary horse and its courageous and noble disposition that to one of her favorite mounts, Toraren, she gave the abilities of limited thought and, most importantly, limited foresight. These abilities have passed through the generations but are not revealed innocently. For the horse to reveal its true identity it must deem its owner to be worthy. Speculation holds that some of the more famous war-horses of history have been Toraren steeds, keeping their riders out of harms way through seeing the future.
Rarely seen, they are said to be small, with gray-green skin and long, reaching limbs. Mummified babies in Sherna are called Mullai, "the little shrunken ones". The Molai's hands stealing shiny objects that catch their glittering eyes. They are found all over Breminor, their resilience and chameleon abilities enabling them to exist in almost any environment. They seem to hoard for no reason, but the peasants seem to think they hoard for Banthas Drak.
They steal only that which they can hold inside the palm of their hand (coins, keys, jewelry, etc.), hence the tendency to curse the Molai when things disappear. The most effective way of getting rid of this pest I have heard of is to place a bouquet of brightly colored and sweet smelling flowers in the doorway to the house. It seems that they cannot tolerate the sweet smell and sight of newly cut flowers. The scent of pine does the same during the winter months. Some less than reputable characters indulge in the extermination of the Molai for exorbitant amounts of Soldars, and are notorious for pocketing trinkets themselves before they are through.
The Molai's natural enemy is the cat. A sudden arching of a cat's back can mean that the Molai are about. They can be chased with a lit torch, for it is only with flickering, changing light that they can be seen, for they loath fire. It is rumored that some mortals have managed to train the Molai to steal for them.
Many years ago I boarded with a miserly fellow outside Thrune. He used to keep many cats and dogs, and now I know why.
Some say that Sea Serpents are Drakes fallen to the waters of Breminor. I have to take issue with this suggestion. The sea serpents that I have seen and heard of have no wings that would enable them to fly the great distances that their land cousins can.
Once, aboard the good ship Dunalia, we saw a sea serpent leap from the Sea of the Damned and glide on or above the water in a dazzle of light and color. A sharp eyed sea dog claimed that he could see what looked like wings. Sea Serpents are perhaps more dangerous to Mortals than many other creatures: this is because, according to a retired sea dog, the sea serpents confuse the hulls of our longboats for whales, their favorite prey. There is many a sea shanty about a sorry ship being crushed by a towering serpent.
The Sea Serpent is most beautiful by moonlight, as I became aware as we left the Sea of the Damned. It had been a gray day with little on the gray horizon to excite those on board the ship. After dinner I had turned in, longing for the breakwaters of Thrune and a comfortable armchair. About midnight I was roused from my sleep by Tomal, who said he had a sight for my tired eyes. On deck the crew was silent, spellbound; Tomal pointed out over the gentle seas. By the light of the silver moon the sea serpents had gathered. They seemed calmed, gentle as the shimmering sea itself. Whether they played or courted or loved, I could not say, but as I watched them curl their slender bodies around each other, and touch face to face, I was moved to tears and great joy.
An old man told me once that a famed individual of years gone by used the secret of the Molai to acquire a fortune and a manor house. He told me that this person, Lord Arkan of the province of Sherna, was really a petty thief from Thrune until he stumbled across the secret of the Molai. I had heard of Arkan, the lord who led many a raiding party into the Isle of Sherna. This old man said that he had heard that Arkan had, on one of his thieving outings in Thrune, tripped a magic and found himself seeing all manner of heretofore unseen things. In particular, he was suddenly aware of movement all around him. He peered closer, and saw the Molai. He watched them pick, almost imperceptibly, at his belongings. Arkan unrolled one of his blankets and deftly trapped the Molai one by one, beating them with a cudgel. The next day the thief went to look at the creatures he had killed the night before. The blanket was heavy with their weight, but when he opened it up, all he could see was the blanket. Yet when he put his hand into the blanket he could feel their cold and scaly bodies. He took one to an alchemist customer of his who soon realized the potential of such a creature's skin. Arkan made the cloak himself, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Vornir are the more fearsome cousins of wolves. They are faster, more intelligent, more daring and more vicious and are often portrayed as Amulon's eyes and ears. Legend says that they are the terrible result of the mating of a Hound of the Aronin and a common wolf.
While the Vornir will hunt at all times of the day, they prefer the twilight hours. Their sense of smell and hearing are unparalleled. They are fearless pack hunters, drawn to the nearest warm blooded beast or mortal.
I have only met one traveler who has been attacked and survived. He had been travelling the moonlit night, perhaps foolishly, when they had attacked. He fought the pack for ours from the back of his cart after his horses had been ripped to pieces. He showed me the side of his head, devoid of ear and hair and open to the skull, where a Vornir had leapt the wooden sides of his cart and almost pulled him to the ground. He told me that they did not give ground and kept at him no matter their wounds. At day break the remaining Vornir disappeared into the early morning mist. He was a powerful man, frightening in his presence and calm. I bought him another drink and quickly left. Later, I found out that his name was Durvan Gall, reportedly of the Order of Konlar - those who are better left to themselves.
The Vornir roam the moors and highlands. They are rarely seen in colder climes. They say their howl presages death.
As the great tusked beasts of the arid lands of Dunalia are called to their secret graves, so are the Drake are called to be at one with the land. And once the great creatures have found their lairs, they become Worms, more serpents now than the Drake they once were. In their great solitude, they contemplate their existence and burdensome guilt of the eternal treachery. After a time immeasurable to mere Mortals, the Worms physical being becomes one with the living earth. According to Phythan Sallia, the Worms welcome this death, for as spirits they go back to He Who Goes Unnamed and they are forgiven, and fill the position of guardians of the Gods.
As with Drakes, Worms are unpredictable with regards Mortals. It is said that Worms are even less accepting than Drakes. This, I suppose, is understandable, given their unfortunate metamorphosis from innocent and care-free Drake. Myth would have us believe that Worms may impart knowledge to those who are deserving. I'm not sure I would want to get close enough to find out if I was deserving.
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Version Date: 29 August 2000 Primary Author: Matthew Shears