The Eaón Thróg (Styrásh for "Armoured Beast") is a small mammal that lives within fields of burning grass. Armoured plates protect it against the hooks of the grass, and the beast is immune to the toxin contained within each blade of grass.
Appearance. Sunlight is reflected in the beautiful korwyn gold plates that cover most of the animal's round body, only its soft underside is vulnerable. Each plate is two nailsbreadths thick and only the sharpest blade could pierce such a hide. An intricate pattern forms as the lines between each interlocking plate are examined, and it is rumored that the design tells the age of the creature with the more elaborate patterns being found on older beasts. The plates are smooth to the touch, with no depressions or abrasions to mar their surface.
Long nor'sidian claws extend from the feet of the Eaón Thróg, each one is a palmspan long and tapers to a fine point. They appear as though they were carved out of polished obsidian, with each claw glistening in the sunlight. A nailsbreadth in thickness, they are durable and not easily broken. Whenever the Eaón Thróg is not digging, the claws are retracted into the soft pads on the bottom of its feet. Small, black eyes peer out into the world from their place above an elongated muzzle. A spark of intelligence seems to reside within each orb, and a few people even believe that the creature is sentient. Flat yet thick teeth line the mouth in two rows, with the first row being slightly larger than the second. Upon closer inspection, a thick karikrimison tongue can be seen among the rows of teeth.
The creature's entire body measures a ped in length, with a fore long tail as a third of that length. The tail is thick and covered in golden plates as is most of the beast's body. It appears to be used solely for balance during a fight as the Eaón Thróg stands on its hind legs and attacks its foe with its claws. Unlike many mammals, there are no distinct ears upon the sides of its head; instead, a small hole exists where each ear should be. The creature stands only a fore off the ground, but it is heavy for its size. The females average around two pygges, and the males have been known to exceed three pygges.
Special Abilities. The most well known ability of the Eaón Thróg is its armoured plates. Each one is easily half a palmspan thick with a smooth surface that would turn most blades. The plates vary in size, with the largest ones on its back. Only the mouth and eyes are vulnerable, as plates cover every other nailsbreadth of the Eaón Thróg's body. The hooks that cover each blade of burning grass slide off the armour without harming the creature and are unsuccessful in tangling it as the plant would with other beasts. Without such armour, the beast could not safely reside in fields of the burning grass, and it would be prey for larger predators.
The creature has an immunity to the toxin found within each blade of burning grass that serves it well as it digs up roots. The toxin found within the roots is more concentrated than that of the blades, and it would be fatal for any other animal to consume. The manner in which the Eaón Thróg is able to remain immune is unknown, but many Ice Tribes believe that the gods granted the diminutive beast such a wondrous gift.
Though the beast lacks external ears, it has an incredible sense of hearing that can detect something approaching from many peds away. The Eaón Thróg will place the side of its head against the ground, and it is believed that it can sense the vibrations made when larger creatures walk upon the earth. In the past, such behaviour has been compared to that of a serpent as both animals have been observed listening in this manner.
Due to its consumption of a toxic grass, the Eaón Thróg is not edible. Anyone that attempts to eat any part of the creature will immediately become sick, the severity of the illness depends upon how much flesh of the creature was consumed. The toxin that has built up in the creature's flesh is not fatal, but it often causes paralyzation for up to two days.
Territory. The Eaón Thróg can only be found in Northern Sarvonia, as it makes its home within fields of burning grass. The creature cannot be found where the grass does not grow, since it would starve without those roots to feed upon. There have been sightings as far north as the Peninsula of Iol, but most of the creatures are known to be found in the Grasslands of Cahm'ha'dom.
Habitat/Behaviour. The behavior of the Armoured Beast depends upon the gender of the animal in question. The difference between the two is so drastic that aside from the similar appearance the genders appear to be two separate animals.
The Male Eaón Thróg
The male is a fiercely territorial animal, and he will defend his territory against other males. The territories of males are roughly one square dash in area, though there are territories both larger and smaller. The fights over territory are often brutal and can last for hours, but they are rarely fatal. The beast uses its sharp claws and strong teeth to fight as it stands on its hind legs, and each one attempts to gouge the underside of the other. A victor is determined when the other male is lying on his back with his underside exposed, and the victor chases the defeated male out of his territory and it will be a while before that particular male returns in another attempt to win the territory. A male will also attack any other male Eaón Thróg that it finds digging within its territory, as the roots of the Burning Grass are the only food the creature will consume. The males only stray from their territories during the mating season, other than those months a male will never stray from his territory during his lifespan of a few decades, unless he is defeated in battle. The ones that are too weak to win a territory soon die of starvation, and their corpses can be found along the edges of the field of burning grass. It is widely believed that they were attempting to find food along the edge, but the roots of the grass are scarce along the edges and it is a rare Eaón Thróg that manages to survive off such meager fare.
The Female Eaón Thróg
The females are nomadic and exist in family groups. The oldest and therefore largest female is the leader of each group, and her dominance within the family is never contested by the younger females. They roam among the territories of the males, eating as much roots as they need, and are never attacked by a male. Immature males live within the group, and they often attempt to challenge a mature male for his territory. The dominant female will usually force the immature male to back down, but she is not always able to watch such reckless males and younger males have been known to die when confronted by a male twice their size. A male will be cast out of the family group when he reaches sexual maturity and forced to find a territory of his own. Females only tolerate the company of a mature male during the mating season.
Diet. The Eaón Thróg eats a fraction of its weight in burning grass roots each day. It is believed by many that the Eaón Thróg is harmful to the burning grass due to its consumption of the roots, yet Compendium writers have discovered through tireless research that the creature is truly beneficial to the grass as its daily diet of roots allows new roots to sprout. It will not eat the roots of any other grass, and it is said that the creature needs the toxin contained in the roots of the predator grass to survive. The armoured beast uses its sharp claws to dig up the roots, and they are easily crushed by its strong blunt teeth. Some people have claimed that they saw the Eaón Thróg consuming blades of the burning grass, but there is no proof to confirm these rumors.
Mating. The mating season begins in Awakening Earth and will last for several weeks. A female comes into heat once every year and will separate herself from her family group during this time. She will wander among the territories of the males, though she will attack any male that attempts to approach her before she is ready. It is during this wandering that each female acquires what can only be described as a male raquan (the word "raquan" has roots within R'unorian society and is often used to describe a gathering of damsels that fawn over a particular noble), that will normally consist of three males, they will faithfully follow her until she confronts them and performs the mating ritual. It resembles a dance more than anything else, and the males will watch mesmerized for the hours required to complete it. Once the ritual is complete, the males attack each other in a vicious battle to determine who will mate with the now ready female. Unlike the fights over territory, these battles during the mating season are fatal and only one male will survive. After several hours of fighting, the male will approach as the female lies on her back and exposes her underside to him. They will mate as many as a hundred times in the weeks they spend together before the female returns to her family group and the male returns to his territory. However, if the surviving male is too wounded to mate, then the female will abandon the male and renew her search for a suitable mate, drawing another male raquan in the process.
It is in Singing Bird that the female gives birth to a litter of up to ten cubs. They are born with their eyes closed, and they lack the armour that protects their mother. They will not develop their korwyn gold plates for several months and will cling to the underside of their mother as she travels with her family group. They feed solely upon their mother's milk and would die if they fed upon the roots of the burning grass. It is widely believed that by drinking their mother's milk, they slowly build an immunity to the toxin found within the grass. Up to half the litter has been known to die from both the plant's toxin and the hooks that are fatal to such a small creature. They will be able to safely consume the roots once they are a year old.
Usages. Only the Ice Tribes of Northern Sarvonia have discovered a use for these armoured beasts. It is dangerous to venture near a field of burning grass, so the men often send their children to explore the edges of the field as they search for the corpses of males that have starved. Several children have been known to disappear during such an expedition, and it is suspected that they ventured into a field of the grass when they saw a corpse of the beast just beyond their reach. The corpses that are recovered are often of smaller males, and several are required before a shield can be fashioned from the golden plates. Such shields are valuable as it is rare to find enough corpses to fashion one. The shield will be passed from father to son for generations and never sold, for it is believed that the favour of a god is carried into battle by those that wield a shield fashioned from the armour of the Eaón Thróg. Some have tried to fashion armour as well, but it was soon discovered that the plates were not flexible enough to allow movement.
Myth/Lore. The creation of the Eaón Thróg has been speculated, but to date no myths have been discovered that depict such an event. It is believed that the beast's immunity to the toxin of the burning grass was a gift from Zundefor, a god of the Ice Tribes.
In a time when the burning grass was sacred and the animals of Caelereth were forbidden from consuming it, only the Eaón Thróg did not partake of the delicious grass. The toxin was bestowed upon the grass by Ertemmir, the Ice Tribe God of Earth, as punishment for the beasts' disobedience. Zundefor believed that to punish the armoured beast for a crime it did not commit was an injustice that he would not support. He graced the creature with the ability to eat of the grass and survive. The grass became both sustenance and protection to the small mammal, as larger creatures could not venture within a field of the grass and survive. Favoured by a god himself, the armoured beast thrived in the beautiful grass and continues to do so to this very day.
Information provided by Vesk Lyricahl