''When the barbarians of Ice crossed the great mountain passes,they encountered very little in the way of resistance put up by the children of the Southern Plains. Most of the once lush fells and valleys of the countryside
had already been devastated by the arrival of a far greater scourge,
causing great famine and devastation to the land. The wretched people could not scrounge together enough food to survive,let alone marshall enough warriors to fight off the savages. Nay,they had been all but destroyed by a far more fearsome foe.
Preceeding the waves of invading Ice People,came great beasts that dwarfed any living thing of mother earth. Bloated,fell things of terror they were,wandering where the Ice spread it's cold arm. Where the native beasts like the deer and boar perished in the vile fields of ice brought about by the Ice,they seemed to thrive. All manner of strange types they came in,these demonic creations of the Ice,with no two kinds alike in any way.
The curious thing about them,was that upon devouring a large meal,they would fall into a deep slumber,awakening only when their vast bellies prodded them into awakening again. And then would their pattern of destruction continue again.
Ahh,how I wish that only a few of those brutes had come to blight our lands! Had that been the case,the local warriors would have been able to dispatch them as they slumbered. But with vast herds of them moving through our lands,there was very little we could do to stop their advance. Worse still,some of them will not be deterred from crossing into other lands by the rivers so common in our lands,possesed as they are of the ability to swim.. May the Godess of rivers swallow those vermin,should they dare to pollute her with their foul bodies!''- Eric the Wolf,King of the Iceni.
BEASTS OF THE ICE:Megafuna
A man of the south would expect the land of the Ice people,choked as it by the snow and ice,to be devoid of animal or plant life of any kind. This is not the case. Even in that land of never ending blizzards and snow falls,life thrives. Giant mosses and grasses,blessed with ability to endure the numbing cold,,thrive with grudging approval of the Ice,as do soaring ever greens. Feeding on these,are bizzare beasts of all kind that are in turn,fed on by predators. All have been twisted into unatrually large sizes by the malice of the Ice. The barbarians depend on these great beasts for food and other much needed neccesities. Not suprisingly,a way of belief has long been in existance,where the people of Ice revere the animals sharing their icy home as gifts to them by the harsh,yet benevolent Ice lord. For this reason,hunts have become something of a religous ceremony,with rituals done to appease the spirits of the beasts when they are slain.
The giant herbivores roaming the wind swept expanses of giant moss,consist of herds of Ishtat,Kamach,Hulork,Shator,Kisthar and Rashash as the Ice people name them.
Ishtat -Imagine a triceratops with that same bony frill and three massive horns,but covered in thick gray fur and you get a rough idea of what an Ishatat looks like. Then take away that beak shaped mouth and replace it with a long slender head shaped like a tapir's,from which hangs a long blue tounge covered with rough bumps that help the Ishtat to scrape off moss. Throw in a ridge of bony spines along the back and you have an Ishtat.
Only males have the three horns,though it is common to see some males with broken off stumps. They move in herds of females,each led by an alpha male. These males are highly aggressive and often battle with one another for controll of the herds,with some dying from injuries inflicted by the cruel horns of their rivals. Feared for their bad temper,these males will charge at anything they see as a threat to their herds.
For this reason,hunters riding their abombinations,are extremely careful to select females or calves trailing behind the rest of their herd,knowing that picking off stragglers will help them avoid the male. This is highly desiarable,for the alpha male is a truly fearsome opponent,standing 8 meteres at the shoulder and measuring 15 meters from nose to tail. Females are a little smaller,standing only 5 meters at the shoulder and streching 6 meters from head to tail.
Despite the danger involved in bringing down an alpha male or maybe because of it,there are some tribes that slay them for the smallest of their horns which they then turn into war horns for their chieftains. It is believed that these horns carry great power and that any who blow on them,will send terror spreading through the enemy during a battle.
Kamach-These creatures look like an apatosaurus crossed with an elephant.
Like the apatosaurus,these things have long serpentine necks and thick,trailing tails,but they also have the two broad ears of the elephant as well as the two giant curved tusk that protude from the sides of their massive lizard like heads. With these tusks and their forelegs,adult Kamach push down huge evergreen giants so that calves that are too short to reach the leaves,can enjoy them with the adults. They strip the leaves off the branches with their long,prehensile tounges and sometimes eat the bark as well,though this is not as prefered as the leaves.
Needless to say,these great beasts cause great devastation wherever they go pushing down trees and crushing moss with their giant feet the way they do. For this reason,they are unwelcome both by herds of other beasts and the tribes whose land they pass through.
A common method among the barbarians of Ice to disperse herds of these animals,is to mimick the keening wail of an abombination. It always works,causing great panic among the beasts. This is a mystery,as most herds of Kamach have nothing to fear from the abombinations,even large hunting packs. If threatened,the dominant femals of the herd immediately form a defensive circle around the calves,creating an all but impenatrable barrier around the vulnerble members of the herd. And given their size,(females stand at twenty meteres and measure thirty meters from chest to tail with males being half that size),even an enraged Ishtat male would think twice before attacking a herd of Kamach. Hunters always lure a Kamach away from it's herd before they slay it.
Though very dangerous,the prize to be had is well worth the risk. A female Kamack can feed a tribe for two whole weeks and it's gorgeous pelt of shiny black can be made into cloaks and mantles that a chief would pay handsomely for.
Hurlok-It is hard to decide on whether a group of Hurlok is called a herd or flock.
This is due to the confusing nature of the beast. Hurloks resemble an emu swollen to fifty times it's normal size. With a few variations. Unlike an emu,a Hurlock has no feathers,but is instead covered with coarse brown fur that is very thick Furthermore,it has no wings at all,making it's twin legs the only appendages that it posses and gives birth to live young instead of laying eggs. Neither is it's diet what one would expect a bird to eat,composed as it is,of the bark from evergreen trees. Thus,it is anyone's guess what a Hurlok really is.
The barbarians of Ice of course,do not care if an animal is beast or bird as long as it makes fine eating. And this the Hurlok does. It's flesh is tender and succulent,unlike the tought stringy meat of an Ishtat or Kamah. It also helps that Hurloks are much easier to hunt than either Ishtat or Kamach. Though a rather fearsome looking creature with it's huge beak,the Hurlok is actually a timid scatter brained creature. When hunters mounted on abombinations are unleashed at a group of Hurlock,instead of attempting to hold together and fight off the hunters,they flee in all directions,making it easy for the hunters to bring down two or even three of the avian like things. The Hurlok indeed,is the closest thing the Ice Lands have to a turkey.
Shator-A large hunched animal,the Shator is what you would get if you bred a kangaroo with a stegosaurus.
Covered with a dark brown pelt,the Shator stands upright at a height of 16 meters on two powerful back legs. It's four comparitively slender fore arms are tipped with curved black claws that can easily shred an amombination or man apart. It's back is covered with rectangular bony plates that prevent an attack from the back and it's long,muscular tail is ridged with savage spikes that are tipped with venom.
But the most interesting thing about the Shator is the pouch like flap of skin that some of them have on their belllies. These are found only on males and have a unique purpose. Little Shator are kept in them. though the nuturing of infants has traditionally been a female responsibility in most of the animal world,the femael Shtor's duty ends when she lays a clutch of eggs during the mating season after copulating with a male. It is the male that cares for the hatchlings by depositing them safely in his pouch where he can keep any eye on them and satisfy their hunger with the moss he scrapes off.
Hunters out on the prowl for Shator meat,avoid the males with their infants who stay together in large groups for protection and instead stalk the females that wander alone. To avoid the horrendous claws and vicious tail of the Shator,hunters have the beast surrounded with thier quickest abombinations. By moving quickly enough to avoid the Shator's repeated strikes,they will slowly wear the beast down until it is too exhausted to fight back
Kishtar- A massive gigantic hairy centipede a hundred feet long and twenty feet wide,it feeds on moss and grasses and can strip an area bare within days.It's three beaks are not all that dangerous, but all other it's body it has tentacles with hooked stings on the end the size of billhooks,which cause nasty wounds and horrible pain.When attacked by predators it rolls into a circle and lashes out with the tentacles.
The Ice People have worked out that the way to kill it is to fire arrows,spears and tridents into it's body from out of range of the tentacles.It takes a lot of them to kill one adult, but it is worth the effort. The tentacles can be used as weapons,ropes, belts and torture impliments, whilst the meat of the creature tastes very good and can feed a whole tribe for days.
The creatures travel in family groups-one adult male,one adult female,and several calves,the calves being twenty feet long and three feet wide.
Interestingly,all Kistasr that one might spot,are female. Male Kishtar do indeed exist,but they are extremely small and live their whole lives in the reproductive system of the hulking female to fertilize her eggs.
Rashash-Easily the most feared of the Ice beasts. Even herds of Kaamch and Ishatat will give this creature a wide berth. And for good reason. In the tounge of the Ice People,it's name means ''death on the air.''
Roaming the snowy wastes of the Ice in small herds made of up breeding pairs that mate for life,the Rashash goes where it will,with no fear of either Ice folk or predators. Onlt the msot desparte tribe would choose to hunt them,risking the lives of it's best hunters and abombination beasts. And indeed,to the eye of a puny human,this creature seeps danger and dread.
It resembles huge bloated gas-bag on small,hinged legs,with females a deep purple and the smaller males a vibrant orange. Both sexes have a warm breath that can melt snow (and poison those around it.) It uses the breath to make moss/lichen ect that is covered by ice visible so that it can eat it. It has to warm this breath over hours, then let it out,so it is a one-shot weapon, but deadly,suffocating all within a fifty meter range. This viscous cloud cannot be blown away by even the strongest wind,but lingers around the Rashas that exhales it,forming a thick cloud. The thing comes in herds of up to twenty.
Though having no fur,the Rashas are able to keep warm in even the msot brutal blizzard,thanks to their bladder which generate a fierce body tempreature. The bodies of dead Rashas that are left behind by the herd,are cut up by hunters on a long trek that want to get their hands on the bladder that can easily make a man forget the blinding cold of the Ice Lands. Thus,cloaks and other garments made of this material are in great demand.
The egg sacs laid by the female are considered delecacies and are reputed to give one enhanced strength or vision. For this reason,in some tribes,there are group of hunters that are sent to search for these egg sacs that are normally laid under piles of decaying moss.