The catoblepas is a giant creature that lives in wet areas with plenty of rot - in Morgrave this means the Hungering Lands up north and the southern jungles. The catoblepones from these two areas are different species - the swamp catoblepas can grow up to 13 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 10 tons, while the jungle catoblepas can grow to 9 feet and weighs "only" up to 4 tons. Only the jungle catoblepas has been domesticated by the Krag-a-Krachi
. Most catoblepas riders and tamers are Dwarves, because they are naturally resistant to the catoblepas' poisonous musk.
The catoblepas is a very dangerous animal. It has a massive knobby ball of hardened flesh at the end of a long tail, a rotund body covered in ruddy fur about the shape (but not size) of a buffalo's, four stumpy cloven legs, and a long neck with a heavy warthog-like head at the end. The head is so heavy that the catoblepas is only capable of looking down. The catoblepas' underbelly is a rough grey skin like its tail - it makes it look like the creature has mange but even healthy catoblepones have this skin. It's also an incredibly smelly animal - its musk is so foul that it can make people go sick for days at a mere whiff of it. This stink is due to the food that catoblepones eat; the creature's digestive tract is so weak that it needs to eat food that is already partially decomposed: rotten flesh and rotten plant life. If this wasn't enough, the catoblepas is also capable of rotting flesh, including that of a living person, at a glance. This is apparently a last resort which uses much of the catoblepas' energy, but try telling that to families of the tamers who were turned to fetid corpses in mere moments.
Domestication and Use
In order to safely tame or ride the catoblepas, a few precautions are taken. First, potential tamers and handlers are subjected to small amounts of catoblepas musk over a long period to develop a resistance to it; this period is significantly short for Dwarves, who are naturally resistant to all types of poisons. The eyes of the Catoblepas are also covered with blinder. The creature has an excellent sense of smell, so the Krachi have developed a system of commands through touch and smell. Domestication is a long process, because the catoblepas is not particularly smart, but after a couple of years the catoblepas can follow about a dozen commands and memorize a few procedures.
So why all the effort? For the most expensive material on Morgrave. Gromril is contained in small amount in the soil of the Viscera, a small area of the Krag-a-Krachi
jungle. The only way to remove the gromril from the ground is to plant trees, which absorb it along with their nutrients, then pulp the trees and separate out the gromril paste. The best way to tear down and haul trees is by using catoblepones. They also power the pulping machines.