A dark shadow falls over the still waters of the swamp, and for a brief instant every sound made by a living creature ceases.
Unbeknown to them, the party of Brave People wading in the shallows in hot pursuit of a small band of defeated human soldiers, have themselves unwittingly become the prey.
‘‘Agerai’’ in the Eshal tongue,would literally translate into ‘‘sudden death from above’‘. For millennia,these voracious demons of Eshal folklore and myths have been regarded as the only things in existence that the Brave People truly fear . And not by the Eshal alone. Driven by a hunger for the flesh of all water-dwelling beings, the Agerai are a menace to every single one of them, from the burliest Curd tribal fighter,to the most doughty and fearsome Eshal warrior there is. Even the Lurdi are not exempted from the fate of ending up as Agerai dinner from time to time. But for some horrible reason unfathomable to even the most learned scholar among the Brave People,it is the Eshal they seem to revel in devouring, savoring ‘‘our noble flesh as if it were the most succulent Groll or Great crab meat’’ as one terrified Priest who was fortunate enough to survive a harrowing Agerai attack on his little party, so eloquently lamented. Indeed, the Agerai are sometimes referred to by some Anura and Curd rebel bands, not unkindly, as the ‘‘Eshal slayers’‘.
The Agerai are winged creatures that roost in the huge boughs of the banyan giants that are abundant in Tarrod’s numerous mangrove swamps. Gruesome looking things, they would make one think of grossly oversized pelicans with draconic blood thrown in to amp up the hideousness scale.
Two scalloped, leathery bat like wings with a vast wingspan of twenty five feet that sprout from an Agerai’s back,are its distinctive feature,often completely enclosing its body when folded, making it appear as if the creature has decided to garb itself with a sinister, all encompassing cloak. The rest of its frame is streamlined and sleek, bereft of all excess fat and muscle that might impede its flight. This means that the Agerai is a wretchedly emaciated looking thing, with its sharp,angular bones protruding from its dirty grey skin like large sticks. A hardly noble or pleasing thing to look upon, but this skeletal frame does serve it well in its hunts. The body is devoid of anything resembling hands or fore legs and ends in two powerfully muscled hind legs that end in feet webbed like a ducks, but topped by a cluster of five tentacle-like appendages that that allow the Agerai to hold on to the most slimy amphibian hide, giving them an advantage over other predators armed with claws instead. More so,as the tentacles are immensely strong,with each roughly being the girth of a fair sized boa and python. If need be,they can crush the life out of the fully grown Eshal,though this is something the Agerai are loath to do. Reluctant to feed on anything already dead,they prefer to swallow their prey alive. This is where the other most important killing tool of the Agerai comes in. Perched on a scrawny, mottled neck, the Agerai’s head is an unsettling combination of gavial and pelican physiology.
Divided into two parts, the upper part of the Agerai’s skull is elongated and contain an extremely long, slender jaw filed to the brim with numerous rows of sharp slender teeth that can spear a wildly thrashing eel-man with ease. The lower bottom jaw on the other hand is extremely different, being nothing more than a vast sagging pouch of lurid green skin so immense and elastic than it is capable of holding a cow, making it well suited for its purpose. When an Agerai ensnares its prey in its coils, it uses a deft movement of its very flexible neck to release the struggling prey into its huge bill pouch which it subsequently swallows alive after reaching its treetop dwelling.
An Agerai ambush is truly the stuff of an Eshal’s worst nightmares. With its malevolent cluster of gleaming yellow eyes that are found on either side of its head,the Agerai can gaze in more than one direction simultaneously. Furthermore, its myriad orbs are capable of seeing past the distortions caused by the play of light on water, allowing it to judge with frightening accuracy exactly where an Eshal swims. Once a pack of Agerai out on the hunt have spotted a small Eshal party,they swoop down as one, and plunge into the water in pursuit of their prey. With their wings folded tightly to their sides and their webbed feet plowing through water with ease, they are as at home in the water of they are in air, endowed as they are with the ability to remain submerged for over thirty minutes. Facing a monster as agile as he is on his own turf, the helpless Eshal cannot do much to escape the reach of those fearsome tentacles that snake out to grab him as swift as any snake.
But the Agerai is more than just a versatile predator to in the fearful imagination of their favoured prey. Eshal that have encountered these creatures, are adamant that they are more than mere animals, insisting that the Agerai possess a demonic cunning.
And indeed they seem to have the uncanny ability of predicting the precise actions and movements of their prey. Eshal striking out at a slavering Agerai, find their weapons torn away from their desperate grip by a deft snatch of the Agerai’s coils,lending support to the popular belief that the Agerai can read the minds of their prey. The only attempt in living imagination ever made to debunk this notion was by a skeptical Cuada and even that ended in utter disaster. Pointedly ignoring the Eshal convict tied to an elaborate snare disguised as massive pile of algae,the Agerai chose to swoop down instead on the Cuada and his escort of warriors hiding behind a large river rock, and slew them all, leaving only the Cuada corpse uneaten as if to hone in the point that it was very much aware that the sly salamander man was dangerous to eat, despite never having encountered one before.
Embarrassed by the untimely death of one of their brothers at the hands of a creature previously seen by them as no more than a dumb brute, they immediately declared to the Brave People that the Agerai were as the old Eshal tales have always stated, malicious souls of slain evil doers come back to feed on the living.
The savagery of the Agerai is not limited to shredding their prey. Extremely greedy for new domains to call their own,warring colonies frequently fight to the death over the best roosting spots,with the victorious colonies devouring the defeated one. The superstitious Eshal claim that this is the Agerai settling old disputes and grudges from a previous existence in their present one.
With the recent incursions of humans into Eshal swamps, men too have begun to see this monster and experience the ferocity of its savage attacks. Slow and ungainly in the water, these clumsy mammals are even more of inviting target than any Anura or Eshal, making it impossible for large groups of human soldiers to conduct raids against Eshal bastions of resistance without attracting the omnious attentions of the Agerai in areas where these creatures are rife.
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? Responses (6)
The critters are interesting, though not clearly presented. Some annoying punctuation errors mar the post. You can (and have) done better.
Some things bother me though. Given your other posts, it seems odd that a) there is this much 'land' near their territories, b) these trees are everywhere, c) that trees this big can be supported in a swamp where soft soil will cause them to fall. These critters must be able to dive in and swim some, like any number of sea birds to have their fearsom and dangerous reputation. And if these things are everywhere, why do the Eshal leave the safety of the waters?
It needs to be linked to the other posts of the Eshal's world via free-text.
The critters are interesting
Mangrove swamps are prevalent in the Eshal home-world and as we know, these swamps are often capable of supporting large trees like the banyan.
As for the Agerai being everywhere, I did imply that was the case. Like any species of predators there are certain areas where they are especially found of congregating , namely the places where mangrove swamps can be found.
I can picture it exactly me'thinks. Is it similar to the Sunderbans, vast mangrove forest of the Bay of Bengal?
Also, the physical description is excellent. Interesting creatures, I'm enjoying reading up on the watery races of Eshal.
These are really cool, though I'm thinking something big enough to swallow a cow is going to have a lot more than a 25' wingspan unless heavily salted with magic.