Unterlands Besitary Vol. 1

joybird

This is a creative written work I wrote on my forum and am reposting on here for archival purposes.


Evening all, just wanted to share some creature entries I made for a series I’m slowly developing called Unterlands. It’s set in a universe where after humanity has advanced to the point of flying islands and lazer weapons, humans have returned to the Earth which was previously nuked thousands of years prior. They are quickly taken over by a race of giants that are the mutated descendants of the humans abandoned on Earth at the time of nuclear holocaust and the series mainly takes place on a large island called Ymiria, the only surviving fallen sky island that is rich with strange and wonderful fauna which we will be discussing today. I will be using AI images to somewhat depict what some of the animalia looks like, I know it’s in bad taste to some people but I just want to visualize what I came up with.

Joybirds/Sorrowbirds

The Joybirds are a species of giant bird located in Old Growth Forest of Southern Ymiria. Standing at almost 7ft tall they are an imposing beast to come across and that you do not want to as in a pack they are an extremely vicious and bloodthirsty bird that kills other animals for fun though also for food though they prefer the ever plentiful kaygo nuts. When tracking prey it’s believed some sort of low-frequency communication is used through the bright violet bugs attached to them, which also makes Joybirds very purply in appearance, as they have awfully good coordination despite not making any sounds and only bleating their awful cries when their prey has been killed. Another terrifying thing about Joybirds is their intelligence; believed to have the same intelligence as a 10 year old, they have brilliant problem-solving skills and can create somewhat complex strategies when needed, one Joybird was even smart enough to pick a lock apparently though this is hearsay.

The bugs that attach themselves to the Joybirds are called Mudgies and have a symbiotic relationship with the Joybirds as they are off the blood, guts, and waste usually covering Joybird plumage, giving the bird almost always a very clean appearance despite having ripped apart another animal minutes previously. The more Mudgies a Joybird attracts the more alpha in a pack a Joybird is considered with each Joybird attempting to be as brutal and violent as possible in order to attract more of these bugs so they can increase their rank in their hierarchy. It’s very unlikely to see a Joybird not in a pack, usually because Mudgies are way more likely to be attracted to a pack of Joybirds than without, and if a Joybird is without a pack then it’s to be assumed it has been outcasted or has grown too old to the point where Mudgies are no longer attach themselves to its plumage which tells other Joybirds that their former friend is on their way out and is best abandoned for the sake of the group. A Joybird who enters this unfortunate stage of metamorphosis is quite cruelly been dubbed as a Sorrowbird. Unlike their contemporaries, they are a lot less violent and live off their favourite nuts while letting out sorrowful cries that wish for their glory days before exile. To travellers, they are not really a threat and are sometimes used as easy food despite their meat being less than desirable. Despite the previous statements they are spiteful creatures and will not hesitate to destroy Joybird nests they find and if lucky murder the Joybird chicks within as Sorrowbirds are very emotionally charged and the fact they will most likely return to Joybird status maddens them, causing them to want to ruin the chances of other Joybirds from ever succeeding. Thankfully for most Joybirds, Sorrowbirds are quite rare as Joybirds are usually killed within a few days of becoming one, usually by other carnivores, who see them as easy prey since they are now alone, or other packs of Joybird which aren’t their own who like to kill them for no other reason than they enjoy crushing the weak.

When man used to live in the Heavens Joybirds used to be quite common, to a point where they were common in all parts of the known land and they came in different colours with various attributes too, so prevalent to the point where wars had to be declared against populaces of them that barely did much to quell their numbers. Thankfully for humanity when the heavens fell, like most creatures their numbers fell drastically but in the last hundred years, their numbers have grown back drastically to a point many in Southern Ymiria are getting worried and consider cullings akin to those of antiquity.

Shales

This image wasn’t in the original post and was made courtesy on Sandr_

Huge, majestic, and beautiful to look upon, Shales which used to be a common site when man resided in the Heavens are now a fairly rare creature for those on the ground to witness. By all means, they are not near extinction, far from it, but they very rarely ever come down from the sky as they get most of their nutrients from the clouds high above. Maybe on a very clear day if you look close enough you’ll see a dot moving around, it’s safe to say that’s a Shoal, though sadly most likely a close-to-death one as Shoals almost never fly in clear skies as they need clouds to survive.

Appearance wise they are very unique. Whilst having a usually crimson whale-like body, most of it is covered by large, imposing, and terrific shells of every shape and colour. Despite them not really having next to no natural predators in the sky, the shells are more used for hibernation when food is scarce or when the weather becomes too cold to sky effectively, however, they must always keep moving and its only effective to an extent. These shells develop slowly after birth, at least that’s what’s assumed as no one has documented a baby Shale up close before because no one knows really where these majestic creatures nest.

What is known though, and when humans are most likely to see them, is that Shoals fly close to the ground when they are about to die, which they usually do on mountainsides and hilltops for reasons unknown. For ancient tribes when it did happen it was seen as a sign of celebration as the whale’s meat could last them a whole month before going bad, though wars broke out on who claimed the carcass too. When the bodies decayed usually the shell would become homes for tribes once the external skeleton was cleared out and it has been documented when several Shoals have died together at once, which is an extremely rare occurrence, their collective shells have been used to create villages for next to no cost.

As stated earlier, Shoal meat is highly sought after. Ancient tribes fought for it as they needed it just to get by but in the modern world only the elite and noble get the chance to indulge in this delicious and fatty meat which is so rare to come by that any commoner seen trying to steal from a Shoal corpse and is caught usually by law gets put to death as next to Tair root, Shoal meat is one of the dirtiest trades there is in Ymiria.

Vantapes

Found on a few tropical islands off the Southern Ymirian coast, Vantapes are a devilish and terrifying carnivorous creature that attack in the night yet can not be found in the day. They look like small monkeys and act like it too, being very social creatures and swinging around branch to branch; they would be also identical if it wasn’t for the fact they hate fruit and constantly crave flesh.

A Vantapes fur is a shade of black so dark that in the late hours of the night, they are almost invisible, they would be the perfect killers if that wasn’t for their large orange eyes which are the only warning you’ll get that they are approaching (that and they can be awfully noisy when sneaking). They usually only go for small to medium size prey, making them mostly harmless to humans and the like, but there has been many a heartbreak when a baby has been snatched by one of these fiends never to be seen again. 

No one really knows where they go in the day, with the samples of the creature collected usually being found out in the open than in any elaborate burrow. However, it’s known they dig into tall trees and store food for later in there, with many a skeleton unfortunately found in wood chopped for timber. Traditionally these skeleton trees were seen as bad luck and left to rot but with the trees on Ymiria’s tropical islands being of the highest standard no one really cares these days. 

For many years Vantapes have made popular pets, mainly due to their excellent stealing abilities. They have become so much of a nuisance in this manner that in recent years owning them as pets has been outlawed but many a criminal do not care and the practice is kept up to this day as they are too useful not to have and traffickers of these apes get a pretty penny for their trade. Due to how trafficked they are and the fact they sometimes escape capacity they are considered an invasive species in some parts of the known realm, as in some areas they are thought to be apex predators and have led to declining numbers of Ymiria’s wonderful avian species. Last fifty years, especially in Southern Ymiria, there have been bounties to hunt down and kill these destructive apes, with five silver coins per cut tail, though fraud has led to tails of other creatures being butchered off as well…

Hoobah

A baby Plains Hoobah

Hoobah are large, peaceful, mammals that can be found in fields all over Ymiria. They spend all day sleeping, eating forage, and travelling, with little to no care in the world. They do have natural predators but usually they take caution as in a herd Hoobahs can be brutal to fight against, their massive weight usually being used to suffocate attackers. As you can assume their biggest threat ends up being humans who breed them for livestock.

Physically speaking, they look like large bears and have a distinct green fur that emulates the texture and shade of most common grasses found over the land and can camouflage to match the grasses of new patches of land they come across which can take two to three days to actualize and is when they are most susceptible to predators as with camouflage they are usually mistaken to be grass mounds by majority of predators.
While they have a bear body, their head resembles more that of an elephant, with big flappy ears, a trunk, and tusks albeit very small ones that serve little use in combat.

Due to being such a widespread species, there are various breeds and subspecies of this creature across Ymiria. The Plains Hoobah, as described earlier, is the most common and peaceful of the Hoobahs. It’s the species used for livestock also, with domesticated breeds usually being less hairy and fattier overall, and as long as you get your grass seed in they are very easy to keep and turn a profit on at market. Arctic Hoobahs are a completely different story: their tusks are long and sharp, they are highly aggressive to those who threaten them, and there has been many an unfortunate case where someone has bumped into a camouflaged snow-covered Arctic Hoobah in a snowstorm and have met their demise. Island Hoobahs used to exist on remote islands though unfortunately are believed to have gone extinct, skeletal remains show they were much bigger than other Hoobahs, had way bigger tusks and like Plains Hoobahs were mostly peaceful, but were most likely driven to extinction for their ivory and meat, with being on relatively small islands not helping either.

Hoobahs are not only used by humans as livestock but as a means of moving cargo or carriages over long distances also as they are surprisingly strong and as long as they are fed in adequate hay can be put to work for hours. Arctic hoobahs are used for travel too but usually for riding as they are temperamental creatures and can’t be trusted with loads of cargo on them, their tusks make them good for snowploughing too!


Originally posted by Khastle on the Mariana Bay Forum on 4/6/2023 (https://forum.marianabay.com/threads/unterlands-bestiary-vol-1.106/)

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