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Landsharks

Digging through solid rock as easily as a fish swims through water, landsharks are one of the most dangerous predators aboveground and below. Nevertheless, these creatures have been trained to act as both mounts and diggers by the dwarves of Tarchannenalt--creatures whose obstinacy is as indomitable as the stomachs of landsharks.

Physical Characteristics and Anatomy

 

Landsharks are large quadrupeds that can burrow through ground at high speeds. They resemble a massive armadillo with large spikes (called fins) sticking out from the heavily armored plates that landsharks have naturally.  A landshark's fins are incredibly durable, and as thick as the armor coating its back. They are named for the large dorsal fin on their back. The fin usually breaks through the ground before a landshark surfaces, providing the only warning of an imminent attack. Over time, the fins are filed by the stone the landshark travels through and become razor-sharp.

 

The hardest armor on a landshark's body is the armor shielding its head, and a headbutt from a landshark is enough to incapacitate most creatures. Their claws are sharper than their fins, and can as easily rend through stone and metal as they can flesh and bone. Although their legs are relatively short, they are powerful and designed to push the beast through stone headfirst. When aboveground (or surfacing), a landshark can use its powerful hind legs to leap through the air, although this is a technique they use sparingly.

 

Landsharks possess a tremorsense, the ability to detect movement through the vibration of the earth, and use this while tunneling to pinpoint the location of any prey or predators around them. They possess a powerful sense of smell and hearing, but their eyesight is not as good as many creatures, and they rely more on their tremorsense.

 

Landsharks have a powerful stomach that can digest practically anything. They are incredibly resistant to poisons and bacteria, and anything their stomachs cannot digest is usually successfully passed through. A particular species of landshark is capable of vomiting their powerful stomach acids to use as a weapon, and also as an aide to tunnel through rock and mineral veins. A landshark's bite is powerful enough to break through most creatures' spines, but if a creature is wounded by a landshark's bite, then it generally falls ill and dies from the plethora of bacteria living in each landshark's jaws.

 

When aboveground, landsharks are capable of either rolling into a ball and tucking their armored tail under to cover their belly, or burying themselves in the dirt so that only their armor plating is exposed. Usually when threatened, a landshark will simply burrow to safety.

 

Landsharks can live for up to 80 years in captivity, and dwarves generally keep them as mounts. Landsharks are generally about 8 feet long and their tail extends another 4-6 feet, although larger specimens are common. They weigh over a ton, and their armor plating becomes more dense as they age, resulting in increased weight. Many larger specimens are over 3 tons in weight and over 15 feet in length.


Behavior and Diet

 

A landshark's capacity for food is limitless. They can literally eat every moment of the day, and generally eat as they move. Landsharks hunt by sensing the vibrations of their prey. They burst through the ground, kill with a powerful bite, and then burrow deep into the earth, dragging along their prey and eating as they go.

 

Landsharks are generally solitary creatures, but during mating season (which occurs every 5 years), groups of 2-4 females will congregate around powerful bull landsharks to form a deadly school. The females create a den where they lay clutches of 5-6 eggs each. After the eggs are laid, the bull landshark departs and the females remain. The females become voraciously territorial, killing everything within dozens of miles, gorging themselves, and dragging carcasses back for their unborn children.

 

The blind hatchlings feed on their mother's milk for the first month of their lives. During this time, the mothers stay within the den, feeding on the rotting carcasses. Children get their first taste of meat from the month-old carcasses littering the den. The family pod departs the den after eating the last of the carcasses. It is now that the landsharks are at their most vulnerable. The mothers have starved themselves for the last 2-3 weeks so that their children can eat, and the children have yet to develop a shell hard enough to turn aside the fangs and claws of predators.

 

One of the "best" predators are dwarves, seeking to increase their stock of tamed landsharks, they frequently hunt these pods to steal away hatchlings. Other predators are merciless and from each family pod, only 2-3 landsharks will live to adulthood.




Language and Communication

 

Landsharks have no known language, but speak to each other in deep barks and growls. Dwarves swear by their intelligence and their ability to follow orders, but most creatures believe that the only thing dwarves teach them is to not eat dwarves.


Habitat and Environment

 

Landsharks are most often found within 20 meters of the surface, and are much more common in arid plains and deserts. Although they do not enjoy the heat, they can take shelter deep underground and hunt at night. Landsharks have no problem with treacherous footing of mountainous terrain, as they can burrow directly into stone to gain improved footing. Although landsharks can swim, and can hold their breaths for a considerable amount of time, they would rather burrow under riverbeds.


Magicks and Abilities

 

Landsharks possess no known magickal abilities, and possess the abilities of an intelligent beast, therefore lacking the intelligence to master universal magicks.


Known and Unknown History

 

It is believed that armadillos are the ancestors of the landsharks, although other theories include komodo dragons and platypuses. The magicks unleashed after the Sundering of the Seal of the Archmagi affected the evolutionary cycle of many creatures.


Subraces/Relatives

 

Some landsharks developed the ability to spit their powerful digestive acids, becoming something else entirely.


Notable Creatures


Crasher - The mount of the dwarven earth priest, Egari Endrhom.



Concept Art