On violent animals

By Abner Terrawood

There exist in nature many violent creatures, and just as many types of violence to which a creature may resort. There are predators which hunt and kill their prey, animals which fight each other over territory or mates, and those which fight for their lives against men or beasts which mean them ill. A pack of wolves bringing down an ox, a cat devouring a mouse, and a bull goring a man with its horns each fight in their own way bearing the marks of its nature and way of life.   In the sea outside of the Colony of Flint, there live giant lobsters the size of people, which when provoked can be aggressive and deadly. Despite the strange, terrifying nature of these creatures, much can be observed of their way of life from the way in which they fight. In short, they fight like wolves. I have witnessed firsthand a battle between citizens of Flint and a pack of these creatures, and it is indeed apt to refer to them as a pack. Many animals, when confronted with a foe, will either press the attack, exerting all their being to end their prey in a single moment, or else turn and flee in the hope of avoiding danger. The same behaviors are observed in people unused to violence when forced to fight. They will either attack unreasoningly or flee unreasoningly, depending on the magnitude of the danger. The lobsters, by contrast, fought cautiously and as a group. They neither charged at us nor fled the scene, but held their ground, forcing the enemy to come to them. When engaged they sought not only to attack but to defend, baiting us forward and seeking to give their fellows an opening. In the case of wolves, these sort of behaviors speak to two facts. Firstly, they live in groups, with each member willing to risk their lives for their companions, Secondly, they regularly fight enemies capable of posing enough of a threat that they must be capable of thinking of their own safety when engaged in the hunt.   With regard to the first observation, one must ask how these creatures, which are not of a species normally thought of as intelligent or capable of forming their own society, came to live in such a manner. One possibility is that their way of fighting represents merely a temporary alliance driven by instinct, with these creatures banding together when threatened, and then going their separate ways once the danger is past. Alternately, they could be hatched from the same brood, and possessed of an attachment to their siblings that drives them to band together as a clan. Finally, and even more interestingly, such behavior could result from the free choice of unrelated individuals, who choose to come together and form lasting bonds. If this were to be the case, these would be remarkable creatures indeed.   As for the question of what danger leads these animals to become skilled at fighting, the most obvious is that they fight against each other. If they are opportunistic scavengers, as is hinted by their emergence from the water in the aftermath of the wreck of the Obsidian Dancer, then their conflicts may be over especially rich sources of food. If, on the other hand, they form lasting groups, then they may fight to defend their territory from other such packs, or even fight each other for rank within their group. Another more disturbing possibility is that their skill in combat is the result of them hunting, or being hunted by, something even larger and more dangerous than themselves.   It is said that everything is larger in Torakand. If this is true, then we must be prepared for these differences in size to be matched by less predictable differences in these creatures’ behavior and habits. A lobster the size of a person is not simply a normal lobster multiplied a hundredfold, but rather an entirely new sort of beast, one which by necessity takes on entirely new sorts of behavior. And by analogy a land in which such creatures live is one which is different than any we have known before.


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5 Nov, 2018 18:53

The top of my head just came off. Social lobsters? I don't know how to express my joy and satisfaction. This makes me want to join the explorers guild and study social lobsters. Two things are holding me back - first that I know that before I started the study, I would be distracted by some other Flint wonder, and second because I have to wait until I complete my study of lobster spirituality.

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