Petunia Species in wow that's a lot of stars | World Anvil

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Petunia

wow that's a lot of stars is a sci-fi setting about adventure, exploration, and discovery. Every person, place, and thing has a story to tell, if you listen closely.   Setting Intro | Visitor's Guide | Author's Intentions

The Sagarian Unicorn

The trembling beneath our feet was our only warning. Petunia was coming. It had to have been a year, maybe more, since the last time her rage called upon us. I grabbed two of the younger kids and set to coralling the others inside as Reyes rushed to secure the gate. The living wood creaked into place, and two others helped to wind the vines around latch and secure the weak point.   They'd barely finished by the first crash. Petunia threw herself against the barriers surrounding our community. Through the window, I could see her horn marking her location, with flower stems twisting around it and blossoming into red-orange starbursts.
 

Description

Petunia is a particular specimin of a creature commonly called the Sagarian Unicorn. Native only to Sagaria, the hefty ungulate is a rare encounter in untamed region. Despite little human intervention, there have only been perhaps 100 different unicorns seen. They seem just at home in the tall grasses in Sagarian planes as in the thick jungles and forests, frequently able to smash their way through most impediments to their progress.   They survive by being hard to kill. Their massive hooves and stury horn can pack a punch, and their thick hide is tough as armor. In places where their skin folds over, dirt finds a home and various plants decide to grow. These unicorns' age is often estimated based on how much floral growth covers their hides -- the more growth, the more years the creature has survived. Petunia is estimated to be at least 40 years old.  
Her run made our little house shake, the wind chimes tinkling in fervor until Petunia broke face-first through the gate. She got caught, briefly, in the criss-crossing vines that served as reinforcement, forming a deep green net across the grey of her thick hide.   Her massive bulk was as tall as our house, made larger by the garden growing out of her. Once the rage has left her, birds, monkeys, and insects will come to sample the nectar she provides. But now, all creatures flee else be trampled beneath her lumbering feet.   Now, her anger has focused on us, and the six little houses we called home.
 

Interactions with Humans

Few humans dare to venture through Sagaria, so interactions with any unicorn have been limited. Yet Petunia in particular has become a recurring view. In most cases, she's docile as long as invaders keep their distance. She'll happily munch on grasses as birds snatch the insects drinking nectar from the flowers growing along her back. Smaller mammals rest easy at her side, trusting her to keep predators at bay.   If a person gets too close, she'll begin a territorial show of aggression. She'll make a chuffing sound by forcing air through her nostrils and scrape at the ground with her hooves. If these warnings are ignored, she'll charge at the invader, either forcing them away or killing them if they're particularly unlucky. She never gives chase, however, and as long as the invader leaves her sight, she'll return to her munching.  
However, every so often, she enters an enraged state, which none can escape. She'll charge anything she sees, smashing through trees like they're paper and tossing aside boulders as she tears through the countryside. Creatures that can't escape her wrath are trampled or gored, their bodies left behind for scavengers. Should she set her sights on you, she won't be satisfied to simply scare you off, and she can run a lot faster than the average human.
It was originally believed this behavior was part of a mating pattern, but it's proven too irregular to be related to biological cycles. It's now theorized to be a symptom of a neurodegenerative disease from Devali's soil, similar to how it affects humans.
 
Reyes grabbed the shotgun and gas mask from their chest and ran to face down Petunia. I held the kids close, shielding the eyes of the youngest even as I watched unblinking. Reyes' first shot hit Petunia's shoulder, exploding in a puff of smoke.   She turned to face him, scrapping divots in the ground as she prepared to charge.
 

Appeasement

What few communities dare to live on this continent have come up with means to handle a raging Petunia. Many of these small villages already have borders to help fend off predators. Whether made of thorned shrubs, sharpened logs, or even living trees molded to form a fence, it will often merely slow Petunia down rather than stop her outright.   Some have found ways to deter her with force. Even in her rage, she seems to respect a formiddable opponent, and thus far, no bullet has caused her true harm. Others, however, have found craftier deterrents. Most notable is one community that has cultivated a particular type of mushroom along its barrier. When threatened, this mushroom releases a cloud of spores that makes most mammals sneeze uncontrollably.   Even Petunia finds this unagreeable, and once these spores make their way to her nasal passages, the constant sneezing makes her second-guess her target.  
Reyes fired his second shot, hitting her in the face. The powder reached her eyes and she smashed her face into the nearest tree in a misguided attempt to clear her vision.   Then she sneezed. Once. Twice. The force knocked over two chairs outside. Reyes reloaded and aimed the third shot, but he didn't need to fire. After the fifth sneeze, Petunia decided to give up on this venture. Her rumbling gallop echoed back out into the forest. And we were safe.


Cover image: by Aaron Lee, Nick Ong, Norah Khor

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This article was written as part of Summer Camp 2023. Follow the link to learn more.


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