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Blackbone Arehel

Prompt 4 of WA Summercamp 2020: Write about an apex predator in your world. How does it hunt and survive?
"Yeah. Tying your shoelaces is a great idea to not fall on your face. I'm just trying to warn all of you. Even if you were to breathe on the bark of a tree here, you might get yourself in big trouble."
-Namaria Kroniva, Gwyn Caretaker
Chances are you've seen skeletal paws hanging from a branch before. It's both a blessing and a warning. There are many reasons for people to not venture blindly into a forest at night. The children of Heryzue know that it's best not to climb any trees in the wilderness. The friendly nicknamed Treehuggers tear the roots and cave in the earth in a blink of an eye, only for anything near to fall prey to its long arms and its fearsome jaws. Many ignorant visitors seeking the friendly shadow of oak have found themselves struggling to escape as the ground crumbled beneath their feet.

A Blackbone Arehel is dangerous not only because it'll tear you to shreds in an instant, but also because you never know where it will come from, you'll always have to move carefully and sleep with one eye open.

Basic Information

Anatomy

The Blackbone Arehel has very pronounced features: its body is hulking, with very wide shoulders and covered in dark grey fur, especially around the arms, where it gets very dense. This is due to the fact that the Arehel has a folded arm bone structure that can then extend and retract to exert incredible force and augment his burrowing and attack range. To the observer, this looks as if the bones of a skeletal arm come flying from the wrist.

Its legs and tail are considerably smaller, which allows it to walk as a quadruped, but also sit comfortably on its rear to use its arms or to eat comfortably. Its jaw extrudes forward in a muzzle that allows it to reach the interior of the trees in search of small rodents.

The Blackbone Arehel receives its name from the fact that its bones are colored in a very dark hue. These bones are sometimes visible under the fur, but aside from the arms, the part that's always exposed is right under the eyes. This head bone allows the Arehel to cover its eyes if it's exposed to extremely bright sources of lights since it could have a fatal effect on its sight.

Genetics and Reproduction

Since Arehels spend most of their time hunting and burrowing alone, any male and female that have reached adulthood and enter in contact will most likely attempt reproduction before parting their separate ways. If the reproduction is successful, both the male and the female will get pregnant with at least one child each. The gestation period is of around 10 - 10 and a half months, during which Arehels tend to keep a low profile and maximize their hunt by pulling the least number of trees possible. Once finished, both the female and the male give birth to the child through a cavity located under the anus.

Growth Rate & Stages

Once born, an Arehel grows its fur around the first three weeks of life. As its bones grow strong by feeding on the prey hunted by the parent, the arms slowly fold and release from the dense layer of fur. This usually happens between the first two or three years of the cub. Once it reaches maximum body size around the fifth year, the parent and the child separate and the child learns to thrive by itself.

Ecology and Habitats

Blackbone Arehels are always found under forests of great density, where the trees are more abundant, mainly those in cold climates, given that the fur of an Arehel protects it from losing heat. This mainly situates them in Heryzue, especially the bigger forestal zones such as The Gwyn.

Arehels are feared by the population. Everyone that lives inside the Gwyn knows that it's better not to touch any tree. Most other species usually evade them, since their aggressive nature and extensible arms give them an essential edge in combat. This is particularly true for subterranean animals, that usually do a half turn if they can sense an Arehel in the proximity.

Dietary Needs and Habits

The diet of an Arehel consists mainly of smaller animals that live inside trees, such as rodents or birds. Even then, the Arehel is not afraid of going for prey of any size it if has the chance, be it other subterranean species or greater herbivores that feed on the leaves atop trees.

In the cases where an Arehel doesn't come upon other animals, it'll start to pull trees and eat them whole. If it eats a considerable amount of bark for an extended period of time, its bones will turn slightly brown, which is a good way to recognize a hungry or not well-fed Arehel. In any case, an Arehel has the intelligence to eat the fruits and burrow the seeds, since it understands that it will slowly turn into a tree that can be used again.

Biological Cycle

The differences between the Hot and Cold seasons on the climate of Barenae and Heryzue are not clear enough for the Arehel. However, on the Magic season, an Arehel will tend to hunt less by pulling trees, since whatever is on the surface is imbued by magic radiation and tends to be more energetic and disposed to fight for its life.

Additional Information

Uses, Products & Exploitation

There's those that believe that hanging an Arehel's hand on the branch of a tree will allow to grow it strong and ageless. In the rare instances where somebody manages to kill an Arehel, its fur and skin are collected to use as material for parapets on the Outer Section, and its bones are used as trinkets and, sometimes, as key pieces in rituals associated with hunting and strength.

Children's bedtime stories that are meant to warn them about the many dangers of the forests, often include Arehels, leading the protagonist towards their demise. There are also some fables that depict the Arehel as a trickster, using pretty words to lure its prey into its mouth. That's why they're usually associated to fear amongst the children and a good reason to help them behave, even in cases where it's unlikely an Arehel would lurk under an exact tree.

Facial characteristics

Somewhat canine, the muzzle ends in a collection of exposed and jagged blackened teeth. Under the eyes is a mobile bone that covers the eye in case the Arehel is exposed to extremely bright light.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Dense forests, cold climates

Average Intelligence

Medium-high, but no signs of sapience. Knows to avoid those who are warily touching a tree and to plant seeds to regrow trees.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

While its sight as a subterranean predator is not exceptional, its hearing is more than capable to hear anything through minor layers of earth. However, the Arehel's most significative sense requires contact with the root of a tree. Once the Arehel touches the root, its senses allow it to determine any subtle movement of anything that enters in contact with the tree.
Links
Paw Image
Scientific Name
Rebolias Perenea
Lifespan
20 - 35 years
Average Height
2.7 - 3 meters
Average Weight
200 kg
Average Length
2 m
Average Physique
Very bulky, wide-shouldered, forcing the Arehel to burrow effectively and make use of previously carved tunnels.

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