Flapbeat (Naga Sabit)
These aerial dragons are endemic to the regions surrounding the Gold Saucer, and have acquired a rather nasty reputation because of that simple fact. However, it should be noted here that they have not actually done anything wrong to contribute to said negative impressions; rather, the blame lies with a group of considerably unscrupulous humans. You see, the Gold Saucer does have a decent number of loan sharks lingering about its darker corners, and they are always very willing to loosen their purse strings when approached by a desperate gambler. Should the gambler fail to repay their debts, the loan sharks typically resort to some rather unconventional means to try and intimidate them into honoring the debt. If all else fails, a Flapbeat tail blade will be used to slit the hapless gambler's throat, and the foolish sucker's corpse thrown off a high balcony.
Given that Flapbeats are known to roost on the higher levels of the casino, attacks on people that wander too close to them are not unheard of. Thus, dead gamblers would typically be written off as suicide cases or Flapbeat victims, and everyone ends up going home with a spring in their step. For their part, the dragons are highly aggressive, which only serves to make the rumors more believable. So their ill-deserved bad reputation can actually be considered as a combination of biological and human factors.
In a fight, they only use melee attacks using their tails. While all healthy specimens will normally have a large, sickle-like blade at the tip of their tail, the blade is sometimes kept concealed as they attack. Apparently, some of the specimens will not resort to using their retractable tail blades unless they perceive themselves to be cornered. Be that as it may, their reflexes are nothing short of incredible, and the sheer musculature of their fleshy tails is equally as impressive. A normal Flapbeat will be able to maintain full control over its tail strikes even when fully agitated, which in itself suggests that they have a significant amount of intelligence to work with in addition to their physical endowments.
Flapbeat bones, however, are all hollow save for those of their spinal column. It was theorized once upon a time that their entire skeleton was hollow due to their aerial maneuverability, but this theory was quickly shot down by a simple dissection. The anatomists conducting the dissection did notice that the powerful muscles of their tail were also affiliated with those of their wings and breast, which explained the species' ability to fly about as they did. However, this unusual distribution of bone and muscle mass makes their limbs and other peripheral body parts particularly susceptible to physical blows, since the hollow bones of said areas would be easily broken when subjected to intensive strain. To simplify this description for those morons out there, Flapbeats basically have more muscles and bone mass centered about their chest, tail, and wings.
Rookie fighters may challenge Flapbeats if they can move faster than the dragons themselves (something that I find to be highly unpredictable).
Flower Prong (Drosera Senapang)
Of all the species chronicled thus far in my thesis, Flower Prongs are probably the hardest to describe. This is simply because they all possess one common physical trait, and are otherwise indistinguishable from one another. A biologist's task in identifying members of this species are further complicated by the fact that as a Flower Prong matures, it sheds the butter-yellow petals that would have been the aforementioned species marker, which of course makes it practically impossible to spot in the wilderness, let alone identify. You see, these carnivorous plants tend to take root in depressions on the ground, forks in branches of trees, and even in shallow swamps. Once they have anchored their tough, fibrous roots into whatever medium they happened to germinate in, they shed the large petals that protected their immature buds, and expose the long, trailing feelers which have developed. Then, a Flower Prong will grow several broad, white petals that it leaves spread out around it. The insides of these petals are sticky and as such, forest debris typically accumulates on the flat sheets of tissue.
Thus, a Flower Prong would have made itself resemble little more than a mass of debris by the time it matures. Given that an adult specimen's petals are highly sensitive to touch in addition to being sticky, any weight pressing down on the petals will cause the plant to lash out at the potential meal with its feelers. Much like the tentacles of a jellyfish, these feelers are coated in numerous microscopic stingers that are triggered by touch (nematocysts, if you had a peon of scientific knowledge in you). If the Flower Prong's prey continues to struggle even after the stinging feelers have wrapped around them, the plant will discharge copious amounts of paralytic pollen in an attempt to subdue the victim. This mode of attack is particularly dangerous, since their pollen can even paralyze the muscles of your diaphragm and lungs if you inhale enough of it. There have also been cases whereby the Flower Prong actually cast a Bio2 spell at its potential prey, but only a handful of such incidences have been recorded in recent years.
Rarer still are the incidents whereby Flower Prongs have fired seeds at their prey. Usually, they propagate their species by firing their seeds far away from their own rooting site, to avoid competition with their own offspring. However, if the Flower Prong somehow decides that its prey is formidable enough to warrant such drastic measures, it will utilize its feelers to propel a seed or two at the target. In fact, their species name, 'senapang', is derived from the Malay word for 'rifle', since apparently Flower Prongs were once rather notorious for their seed-shooting abilities. However, such actions are hardly observed these days, which does make me wonder if the species has actually adapted somehow to environmental changes since they were first named. Given that they are only found around Gongaga, some have also questioned the way by which a Malay name made its way into the books for this species; the Wutaians are the last living speakers of the tongue.
From a taxonomic point of view, Flower Prongs are classified as a species of sundew. Unlike their sessile, docile cousins, however, they do possess the ability to move, even if the motions are restricted to their feelers only. There has been some debate of late as to whether the feelers of a Flower Prong can be considered as a means for locomotion, since older specimens have been observed to use said appendages to grasp nearby branches and pull themselves into locations where there is more sunlight, or where the soil is richer in nutrients. Little to no opposition has been put up against the theories, though, since few scientists have actually bothered to study this fascinating plant species. I myself specialized in the four species of Unknown, and so the only true expert regarding Flower Prongs would be Professor Tabo, from the university of Wutai. He is a professor of botany at the ancient institute, and has spent eighteen years studying this particular carnivorous plant species at the very least. This devotion to his true passion is indeed admirable, given that he managed to publish not less than fifteen academic papers and journals even as he was carrying out his research into Drosera Senapang.
If Professor Tabo's missing left leg is any indication, only experienced fighters should bother trying to track down and take down a Flower Prong. they might be weak, but their camouflage makes it close to impossible to see them until it is - more often than not - too late.
Formula (Diomedea Impulsus)
Formulas are the last surviving species of albatross on Gaia, since the last of the non-violent albatross died in captivity some eight years ago. True to their nature as a fish-eating avian species, they can be found in vast flocks around the Junon coast. Also, they are highly territorial and will fiercely defend their nests from any perceived threats to their eggs and/or chicks. In fact, this species was one of the major factors influencing the decision by ShinRa to build that horrible eyesore of a tower over at the Junon coast. The idea had been to utilize Formulas as a natural defensive force for the tower, which sounded fine and dandy on paper (as most idiotic ideas tend to be). However, that decision has returned to haunt those dumb fucks in administration for quite a while now, since the birds turned out to be a little... too territorial.
Well, it was mostly a repeat of the drama of the underwater mako reactor. You know, the one involving the Corvette eels and Diver Nests? Yes, it was that bad. Sure, the Formulas began building their nests using the tower's spindly girders once they had determined that it was not a dangerous place to make their homes at. Oh, all we had to worry about was a bunch of electrocuted workers at first, but then the Formulas became steadily more aggressive. Soon, there were frequent cases of workers being quite literally torn apart by ravenous specimens, and the tower itself was damaged by the specimens as they began scrounging for nesting materials. Wiring, electrical insulation, and even PVC piping were all stripped and used to line their nests, the electricity coursing through the tower's conducting components not affecting the birds much.
As you should be able to deduce from the above paragraph, a Formula is somewhat unaffected by electrical discharges. However, sufficiently powerful Bolt spells will be able to penetrate their naturally-occurring grounding properties, and thus they aren't immune to lightning. To their credit, even the great birds themselves seem to be aware of this fact; our contacts among the Junon fisher-folk have reported that the Formulas all leave the tower during lightning storms, and as such, we have had to resort to stimulating a thunderstorm if the tower is in need of repairs. This has not stopped the assaults on our workers, though, since some of the more violent specimens will normally try to go in for a quick kill as soon as they see humans approaching their homes.
Now, Formulas all possess a powerful capacitor organ that can generate high-voltage electrical surges. They also have complete voluntary control over this organ, which allows them to discharge electricity at will during a fight. It should be noted, also, that it was the capacitor organs of Formulas which gave E. Marx the idea for his renowned Marx impulse generator. This apparatus has been useful in various types of physics experiments, and so Formulas probably are rather important contributors to the development of our knowledge of electricity in a way (alongside the Battery Caps, whose ability to produce terrific amounts of electricity remains awe-inspiring even till today, and the Crown Lances, whose natural affinity for lightning were the inspiration for the first circuit resistors).
As a matter of fact, a simple experimental set-up can be used to visualize the mechanism by which a Formula fires up its rather infamous Blue Impulse and Cross Impulse attacks. This is none other than the Jacob's Ladder, or 'ladder to heaven'. Basically, the experiment consists of observing how a high-voltage electrical arc travels upwards between two wires, almost as if it was climbing between them. A Formula uses a similar means to channel the electricity from its capacitor organ to its claws and beak; a powerful electrical arc will be struck between their metal-saturated tendons, and elastic deformation of the tendons will channel the voltage towards an appropriate outlet. The aforementioned attacks can be devastating if used underwater, since they can swim, and most other species aren't capable of withstanding such levels of electricity.
Moderately-experienced fighters may challenge a Formula, since their reflexes are somewhat sluggish due to a significant amount of nerve over-stimulation by the electrical currents circulating within their bodies.
Foulander (Sphinx Orientalis)
Unless you are a dunce, an ignorant idiot, or a plain, stinking fool, you'd probably know what a sphinx is. And unless you are a myopic, ignorant fool, you'd realize that several species of sphinx are still surviving on Gaian soil this very day. How about that? I actually used the word 'ignorant' in two consecutive sentences; something Professor Gast wagered I couldn't do. Suck this, professor! Anyways, Foulanders are an oriental species of sphinx, the geographical distinction being similar to that of the long-extinct species of Wutaian dragon known traditionally as the 'Loong'. While the Loong were a colorful species of dragon, the Foulanders are probably their sphinx equivalents, given that they actually have multiple layers of fur, all of which may be of differing colors and shades.
Traditionally, the Wutaians used to worship the Loong as symbols of longevity and also as harvest gods of a sort. However, the Foulanders were revered more for their apparent sentience, and their fondness for children. Here, it should be noted that the species is not a child-eating one; rather, members of the species are known as caring parents and kind souls that protect children from harm. In fact, cases of children being rescued from burning buildings by a Foulander are not uncommon in Wutaian lore, and there have also been documented incidents of Foulanders helping to keep families warm during especially cold weather. Therefore, the prayers devoted to this species are typically backed by a desire for a child to grow up to be matured, kind, and wise. However, I personally believe this to be a whole load of crap.
Now, anyone who has actually been inside the Da Chao statue would have seen how random fires tend to start over large fissures in the ground. The statue itself was carved out of a mountain's stone face - indeed a wondrous feat of engineering and architecture - and as such, several natural gas channels and hot air vents were accidentally disturbed during the excavations. This, coupled with the pyromaniac tendencies of a Foulander, have often led to sudden explosions and fires in the tunnels carved into the solid granite, and thus the small fires that are often seen are usually little more than the remnants of a Foulander's fire.
Obviously, for such a species to thrive in fiery environments, they must possess some measure of fire-proof properties. Truly, their fur is capable of withstanding even a Fire3 spell at full power, and the multiple layers can even deflect a continuous flame barrage. In fact, Foulanders have even developed the ability to trap fire between the layers of their fur as they prance around. This is usually followed by a rapid charge at an enemy, accompanied by a powerful discharge of the trapped flames. I have only seen such an attack being carried out once, and it was nothing short of beautiful! The Foulander in question actually managed to release the fire it had accumulated within its fur in an elegant, spiral-shaped pattern, and the velocity of its charge only served to increase the impact of its Flame Dance. Yes, the move was named 'Flame Dance', since few other words can express its sheer elegance in a fight. Otherwise, they will use their dainty-looking claws to swipe at an enemy; not too shabby, given that their claws can also trap heat and flames like their fur.
In the olden days, some blasphemous poachers did manage to hunt down a Foulander. Eventually, the fur wound up in a chemist's hands, and he determined that the fur contained an unusually high amount of silicate minerals in it. As a matter of fact, the chemical composition of the sample was surprisingly similar to industrial-grade asbestos. This discovery let the cat out of the bag with regards to a Foulander's fire-proof properties, and also managed to explain why Wutaian priests that worshiped these creatures tended to die of lung problems after several years of exposure to them. It is also notable that a Foulander's fur, much like asbestos, has some amount of usefulness as an electrical insulator - which was why primitive Wutaian electrical appliances actually featured wires with woven insulating layers that had been made of fallen Foulander fur.
Moderately experienced fighters might challenge a Foulander.
Frozen Nail (Scolopendra Glacialis)
Insects, or even arthropods in general, are rarely found in extremely cold locations. However, these larger-than-life centipedes are rather commonly found in the many rocky crevices which are scattered all over the Great Glacier. Easily reaching up to six feet in length, they do not have as many legs as their smaller, more tropically-inclined relatives. They do, however, make up for this apparent shortcoming with their horrible temperaments and sharp limbs; a Frozen Nail's legs are sharp enough to pierce solid blocks of ice such that it could scale frozen cliffs if it so chose to. These creatures are also one of the reasons why traversing the Great Glacier's icy terrain is highly dangerous - their tendency to hide beneath snowdrifts and within crevasses allows them to ambush any fools that may be clueless enough to wander about the frozen wastes without being vigilant.
Now, Frozen Nails are probably one of the best examples of a species that has a partial elemental adaptation. Since they are also the first such species I shall elaborate on in this manuscript, I shall spare you the lecture on your dreadful ignorance. Obviously, you wouldn't know what a partial elemental adaptation is now, would you? So, a partial elemental adaptation simply means that an organism is physically associated with one of the magical elements to such an extent that it basically becomes a partial manifestation of the element in question. In this case, Frozen Nails are partially ice-adapted, and hence are composed mostly of an incredibly hardy type of living ice. Due to the partial nature of their adaptation, their icy nature only extends as far as an impressive tolerance for sub-zero temperatures and the ability to withstand melting at room conditions.
From that, it should be clear that a member of this particular species has no immunity or even resistance to Fire-based attacks. As I have already mentioned in the paragraph above, their elemental adaptation only enables them to survive in their native habitat and prevents them from melting should they be exposed to room conditions. Thus, they are affected just normally by Fire-based spells, and this has probably been the death of many an assuming idiot. For heaven's sake, don't tell me that all ice-adapted organisms are weak against Fire! That's about as ridiculous as saying that all homosexual men are physically weak and like to dress up in drag. For the love of Mako...
Moving on with the discourse on the Frozen Nails' weakness, the species has displayed a surprising lack of venom glands. Instead, they secrete a peculiar enzyme into their prey as part of their saliva, that will liquefy all the prey's innards. This enzyme is only effective at temperatures between minus thirty to about twenty degrees Celsius, and so is an astonishing example of how a species can adapt to its natural environment at a biochemical level. Here, the biochemistry we are referring to is not the biochemistry of the organism as per se - rather, I am referring to how its non-homeostatic functions have also adapted to the harsh climates in which the species has evolved. Snake venom, for instance, remains potent even when frozen, but the Frozen Nail salivary enzymes are rendered completely inactive within minutes of the ambient temperature changing beyond the normal active range.
Combat-wise, these large arthropods are rather impressive. Given that they are little more than sentient blocks of moving ice that happen to have a centipede-like shape, their abilities in a fight are indeed to be respected. They retain an amazing amount of mobility despite their ice-encrusted joints, and have a respectable set of reflexes about them. Hence, an agitated Frozen Nail can actually take several swipes at you before you could even blink, and when the liquefying enzymes get to work... suffice to say, not much of you will be left.
Another interesting aspect of these creatures is their ability to regenerate when put through grievous bodily harm. Here, their regenerative properties are not limited to those which are commonly seen in gastropods (slugs and snails, in the common ignoramus' book), but rather, include the ability to recover from almost complete physical destruction as long as there is an abundant water supply and the surrounding temperatures are low enough. I myself have witnessed this bedazzling phenomenon once in my laboratory; Lucrecia and I practically dismembered a few Frozen Nails, and partially melted several others using focused and amplified Fire3 spells. We then kept them in an extremely humid and cold chamber (about minus eighteen degrees Celsius, if my memory serves me correctly), and voila! They actually managed to regrow all the limbs and organs that we had damaged, and the semi-melted specimens actually managed to re-form parts of their exoskeletons before expiring. Granted, the odds of a Frozen Nail being melted in the wild are extremely low, so we were thoroughly impressed by what we observed.
Only experienced fighters should bother challenging Frozen Nails, due to their tendency to hunt in packs and also the harsh conditions of their natural habitat.
Gagighandi (Naga Basilisk)
The (allegedly) great explorer and scientist Ipsen Ornitier once detailed a species known as Basilisks in his incredible manuscript, 'Beasts of Gaia'. According to him, these creatures had the ability to turn their prey into stone merely by making eye contact with them, and also tended to immobilize prey by spitting out large amounts of sticky slime at their intended victim(s). He also claimed that they were reptilian by nature, and that specimens could be obtained by hatching a chicken's egg beneath a petrified toad. Such practices are obviously impossible from a scientific point of view, but I sometimes do find myself wondering if it had been possible sometime in the mysterious, long-forgotten past.
I recall that during my undergraduate years, one of my lecturers was quite fond of reminding us that science could not possibly account for everything that existed and transpired within our universe. She used to tell us that while science had enriched the lives of mankind, it had also managed to ruin our spirituality and belief in things that we could never, ever comprehend. Back then, I was not alone in thinking that the dear woman had more than several screws loose in that skull of hers, but as time goes by and I ascend to greater heights of scientific knowledge, I find myself acknowledging that she had indeed been right to a certain extent. While we have made incredible advances in the various fields of science, there are some things within this wondrous world of ours that we cannot even begin to make sense of.
It is for that reason, and that reason only, that I have spent my time digging into 'Beasts of Gaia' - after all, a man of science is meant to be objective, and I shall do whatever I can to ensure that no opportunity to amass more knowledge has slipped by me.
Now, onto the actual topic on hand - the Gagighandi. Similar to the Basilisks that Ipsen had described, these rather small-sized dragons are among the inhabitants of the Gongaga forests. Since they have only been encountered about thirteen times in the last fifty years or so, it is theorized that they might be phobic towards humans, have a low birth rate, stand on the edge of extinction, or maybe even a combination of all three factors. Most eyewitness accounts are usually of a rapidly-moving dragon disappearing into the forest, too fast for a human tracker to follow. Only three of the thirteen documented encounters with a Gagighandi have involved an actual fight with a specimen, and they did live up to their names as relatives of the legendary Basilisks on those occasions. Anyone who doesn't believe me can kindly suck my cock and then take a peep into the Bobo Inn over at Gongaga; the stone statue of a man which stands in the lobby was once the owner of the inn.
I cannot provide much information on this intriguing species due to their rarity, but from the eyewitness accounts, it is clear that they can channel petrification spells out of their eyes. Given that most dragons rely heavily on eye contact to feed, hunt, mate, and socialize, it is possible that Gagighandis are merely a species that went one step further on the evolutionary track with regards to the eye contact aspect. Here, it should be noted that we can be said to be living in a world of dragons, since Gaia probably has more than its fair share of endemic dragon species.
No conclusive battling advice can be provided here, since I myself have yet to encounter one of these puzzling creatures.
Gargoyle (Petrificus Agares)
As with the entry on Gagighandis, I shall once again make a reference to 'Beasts of Gaia'. Ipsen's description of a Gargoyle is as written below:
"Winged beasts of Stone, Gargoyles are formed from the souls of the victims of an Agares. When an Agares feeds on its victim's pain, it also drains a slight amount of the victim's life force. The drained life force is of course, negligible and can be regenerated over time, given proper rest and nutrition. However, if said victim is actually drained of its life force to the point of death, it shall be morphed into a still creature, and grow the wings and fangs of demons. Then, it shall remain dormant until an Agares - not necessarily the one that killed it - comes and claims it as its own. Agares always travel with a petrified Gargoyle, miniaturized and wrapped up in its cursed robes, ready to Rise at its master's command, to serve the foul creature's whims. Should an Agares set its Gargoyle upon you, never look into its eyes, for they have within them the spells of Break and Gradual Petrify, which will turn you into stone."
"Gargoyles are fiercely loyal to the Agares that claims them, for reasons unknown to man. In fact, a scholar once commented that they are rather like, 'Pets that love their abusive masters, regardless of whether or not their love is reciprocated by the wretched being that claims mastery over them'. Hence, it is a common battle tactic to stage feints against an Agares, to deceive the Gargoyle into jumping in front of its master, for you to kill it. You see, Gargoyles often take flight during a battle, and crawl on the high-vaulted ceilings of the abandoned castle which they inhabit. They will proceed to descend upon their master's enemies in a flurry of claws and razor-wings, often with deadly effects. They are protective of their Agares masters to the point that they will cast Stona upon a Petrified Agares, to free it from its Petrification."
"Gargoyles, despite their impressive abilities, are rather weak if they are fighting against people with anti-Petrification abilities, often provided by special combat apparel. Hence, it will be easier to defeat an Agares and its Gargoyle if you are immune to Petrification, since then, you could focus your efforts on finishing-off the Agares before it makes your life more complicated. Gargoyle Charge and Aerial Slash attacks are rather weak, and can be ignored while you beat-down their master."
"Being creatures of Stone, they are proof to Earth-based magic. Their weakness, however, lies in Wind spells of sufficient strength. Never forget this, that even the mightiest of mountains will be eroded and weakened by the strongest of gales, for this logic applies to the world of monsters also."
"To be challenged by experienced fighters only. Since they appear alongside an Agares, experience is a prerequisite to battling them."
This account of a Gargoyle is accurate to an appreciable extent, although there are several discrepancies with regards to how it meshes with our current knowledge of the species. Firstly, no Gargoyles have been found in any of the castle ruins on Gaia (they are native to the Northern Crater). Then, there is the question as to just what an Agares is. Carolus Linneaus clearly knew something about the Agares species, since he even included the term as part of a Gargoyle's scientific name, but no reliable records of an Agares have been found outside of Ipsen's own work. Note that I said no reliable records of an Agares have been found; most of the available resources on the species are either too vague to be of use, or are too far-fetched to be taken seriously (Ipsen's own account non-withstanding).
For the sake of being concise, I shall not elaborate further on the properties of a Gargoyle. However, I shall include the entry in 'Beasts of Gaia' that concerns the mysterious creature known as an Agares. All that should be noted about Ipsen's entry on Gargoyles is that they do NOT harbor a weakness against Wind spells, and that Earth-based magic can be rather effective when used against them.
Agares (Magus Agares)
"Originally formed from the soul of a fanatical castle librarian, this demon is rather Mage-like, and is highly-proficient in magic. It carries a Grimoire book in its left palm, and this book is invaluable. It is also nearly impossible to retrieve, because a living Agares never surrenders its Grimoire, and a dead Agares turns to dust together with its Grimoire."
"An Agares' Grimoire contains spells of destruction but also of healing. As of today, seven hundred years since the Agares were first encountered, only three Agares Grimoires have been successfully retrieved from their holders, and these books are all within the collosal libraries of Lidblum and Alexandria. Only scholars, or those who have defeated an Agares, have the ability to read the Grimoires – they appear blank to anyone else who peruses their pages."
"Agares are sadistic monsters. They always appear alongside a dormant Gargoyle, which they will awaken using the Rise incantation. The savage Gargoyle will then maul the Agares' victims, while the Agares itself sits back and casts deadly spells from behind. Gargoyles are monsters without souls, that can only feel anger and pain. Agares, however, are perceptive to any emotions around them, and feed off pain."
"An Agares' magical attacks are all spells that Gargoyles are rather unaffected by. They often cast Fira, Thundara, and Blizzara spells to stun a target for their pet Gargoyle to finish-off. They can also cast Bio and Paper Storm, the latter of which is more of an immediate danger, whereas Bio is a subtler method of killing, by Poisoning its target."
"An Agares that is exhausted will use Osmose to drain energy from its victims or even its Gargoyle, so sadistic is it. Physical attacks are also mostly-ineffective against an Agares, whose robes are woven with several Dark spells that protect its black soul. It even has the ability Freeze, to incapacitate victims. Agares frequently freeze a victim limb-by-limb, to draw-out the victim(s) pain, all the better to satisfy their sadistic lust."
"They are only found in the Forgotten Continent, in an abandoned castle which I discovered with Colin. Thank God they are confined to the castle…"
"Agares are only to be challenged by expert Mages."
Some references to the long-buried nations of Lindblum and Alexandria are present in the entry, and so from that, we should acknowledge that the Agares species possibly could have existed during the golden ages of the aforementioned nations. Otherwise, they are regarded as little more than a myth by most of the modern scientific community, at least until more concrete evidence of their existence is unearthed. None of the supposedly deadly Agares grimoires have ever been found, too; it is a possibility, however, that the strange books might have been destroyed during the witch-hunts that took place during medieval times, if they existed to begin with.
Garuda (Condor Pseudosentius)
Garudas are the last surviving species of Gaian condor. They are majestic avian creatures with a three-meter wingspan, and which are often considered to be deities by some of the Wutaians who live close by the Da Chao statue. One of the possible reasons why they are so highly revered may be the fact that their bodies are humanoid to a certain extent; popular cultural depictions of a Garuda would typically portray it as being much like a bird-headed man with a muscular physique and large wings on his back. The Foulanders that can be found at the statue may be immune to Fire, but Garudas are immune to both Lightning- and Ice-based magic in addition to those immunities that form part of their aerial nature.
No person in living memory has actually seen a Garuda's nest, and no one probably will. The renowned avian specialist Dr. James Harding once tried to approach a Garuda and ask it for permission to follow it home, but was politely turned away by the condor. From that, it should be clear that this species possesses at least some semblance of sentience as well as intelligence. However, they can be brutal if angered; the numerous skeletons littering the bottom of the Da Chao statue serve as rather graphic reminders of what will happen to those who piss a Garuda off.
Despite their apparent bipolar nature, they are quite sporting and will often enough accommodate requests for a friendly bout of sparring. While sparring, Garudas will abide by a strict honor code, which includes bowing before a match, not striking a fallen opponent, and also not hitting someone whose back is turned to them. In return, they will expect their opponent to behave in an equally chivalrous and honorable manner. Otherwise, they will unleash the entirety of their bestial fury upon the person who disgusted them - there is an actual documented occasion whereby a particularly enraged Garuda actually sodomized the man who tried to land a blow on it once it had fallen onto the ground. Needless to say, the man died of a massive rectal hemorrhage within two days of the incident (something that isn't surprising, given how much physical power a Garuda has at its disposal).
I, however, stuck by their battle rules and actually managed to kill one of them.
From my perspective, their battling style relies more on swift and surgical strikes to critical body parts rather than brute force. Highly admirable and complex, but not as efficient as it could have been when he tried it against me. You see, I started the battle by casting a powerful Slow spell on him, which effectively cut his speed in half. From then on, it was a simple matter of moving in and hitting him at the right spots to deaden his nerves. Unfortunately, I overestimated the resilience of that particular specimen, and he perished shortly after the bout. His peers that had witnessed everything, however, were impressed with how I had handled the fight - they claimed that using a Slow materia was perfectly acceptable since I was a human weakling, and that it had been a while since anyone had taken down a Garuda in a fight. Till this day, I have a beautifully sharp Garuda feather mounted in a glass case on top of the filing cabinet in my office; a souvenir which they gave to me after carrying their late friend away.
I wouldn't advise any inexperienced fighters to challenge a Garuda in a death match, though; even with the Slow spell hindering its movements, the blasted thing was still considerably fast on its feet.
Ghirofelgo (Rhinoceros Titanothereus)
Ghirofelgos are yet another fine example of how not carrying out an ecological impact survey before beginning construction works can be a massive pain in the derriere. As with the Dorky Faces, Yin and Yangs, and several other strange species, they were first discovered when the ShinRa mansion was built above a network of subterranean caves at the outskirts of Nibelheim. Initially, these creatures were thought to be a humanoid species, but the killing of, and subsequent dissection of a specimen revealed that the actual organism was a rather small, quadrupedal (read: four-legged) thing that hid its true body behind the huge blade protruding from its cranium. Truly, it resembled a miniature rhinoceros, but with large, fleshy growths on its back and head that made it appear as if a human-shaped creature was actually riding the large, guillotine-like structure growing out of its skull.
Now, in order for the tiny creature to hold up its disproportionately large head for prolonged periods of time, common logic would dictate that it either has extremely strong legs, or the ability to levitate. Since common logic is sadly highly uncommon in actual fact, I shall instead nip this intellectual evil in its bud by stating a Ghirofelgo's mode of locomotion. A Ghirofelgo can actually levitate to a certain extent, and thus its legs are rather weak in comparison to its unsurprisingly developed neck and facial muscles. Obviously, the development of such an imbalanced set of physical properties was caused by the lack of dependence on their legs for locomotion, and their habit of swinging their heads rapidly from side to side as they charge towards potential victims.
Since their cranial blades weigh about eighty kilograms each, getting hit by such a creature is highly ill-advised (I end up having to desecrate the sanctity of my thesis by stating the blindingly obvious, alas). Once they have hit a target with sufficient force to take it down, they will hover in place above the fallen creature and proceed to devour it using their fang-lined maws. Should a downed victim attempt to roll out of the way, the hungry Ghirofelgo shall temporarily cease to levitate, thus bringing the entire weight of its cranial blade down upon the hapless being. To date, only one person has managed to evade an enraged Ghirofelgo's free-fall slam, if my memory serves me right. However, he did lose his left arm to the Ghirofelgo.
In actual combat, downing a Ghirofelgo is a rather straightforward process; all it takes is a powerful Gravity spell to bring it down to the ground. This will prevent it from moving any faster than the speed of snails, and as such, its offensive capabilities will be reduced to tossing its head about to try and broadside you. Any idiots reading this thesis, however, should be wary of the swinging head move, since it is still strong enough to smash through a brick wall even though the Ghirofelgo has been grounded.
Only challenge a Ghirofelgo if you have at least some experience fighting heavyweight species that can dish out one-hit knockouts.
Ghost (Ectoplasma Sentius)
Much like the boring, generic Dragon, Ghosts are not a particularly exciting species. For quite some time, there was a fierce debate over their taxonomic classification; after all, how does one go about classifying something that is arguably already dead? In the end, they were classified as another form of Mako mutation, and given the genus name Ectoplasma - till this day, I suspect that someone who was a big 'Ghostbusters' fan was the one who conferred that name upon them. Prior to that, they were studied without a valid scientific name, by a questionably deranged character named Frederick Griffith. He had once been known for his investigations into the nature of DNA, but for some reason he decided to go and pursue the study of Ghosts once the buzz about DNA had died down a little.
It was from the research of Frederick Griffith that most of our modern-day knowledge of Ghosts was obtained. His first significant discovery was that they were undead creatures, which of course led to the theories regarding the nature of undead creatures when subjected to certain spells and magical attacks. Hence, we now know that all undead creatures are extremely vulnerable to curative and restorative spells. Then, Griffith also discovered that Ghosts were rather sensitive to sandalwood fumes, and this has become the standard test to determine if an organism is a subspecies of Ghost or not. How he arrived at that particular conclusion is an interesting story in itself, but I shall not touch on it here since I'm sure none of you nincompoops will appreciate it - the sandalwood bit doesn't even involve anything religious, just so you know.
Now, Ghosts are partially aerial, but do not possess a weakness to Wind spells like their living counterparts. Instead, they are extremely vulnerable to Fire-based magic, since their bodies contain a significant amount of Mako. Thus, any heating of a Ghost could cause it to burst into flames, which of course is fatal to the organism (if that was not obvious enough). However, they are not susceptible to extra damage from Holy spells, though some imbeciles seem to think is the case. Taking them out is simple, really; a basic Fire spell will work well enough.
From an offensive angle, these creatures are also quite lackluster. The most they can do is swipe at you with their rather weak hands, or cast Drain spells at you. Other than that, they somehow have the ability to cast Fire spells also; something which is puzzling indeed, given that they are especially weak against that very magical element. I should warn you, though, that their Drain attacks are possibly hazardous if cast by an entire swarm of the undead organisms - Frederick Griffith himself lost his life to eight Ghosts that used Drain spells to attack him continuously.
Even rookie fighters may easily defeat a Ghost, provided they have a decent command over Fire spells.
Ghost Ship (Ectoplasma Erasmus)
While these distressingly rare creatures are officially classified as a species of ghost, many within the modern scientific community are now of the opinion that their present taxonomic classification might be erroneous. This is due to the fact that the last few documented encounters with Ghost Ships have provided us with ample evidence that they actually liquefy into a murky silver substance upon being killed, as opposed to dissipating into a gaseous mass like most Ghosts do. Alas, no one has managed to carry out the sandalwood fumes test on them to see if they are at least partially related to Ghosts - god knows how their classification was done if this simple litmus test wasn't even used on them. However, the fact that they seemingly melt when defeated suggests that they are more alive than undead, and gives room for the possibility that they are related to the strange creatures known as the Unknown.
Since it shall be quite a while before you arrive at the Unknown section of my thesis - I'm assuming most of my readers will read at the speed of slugs - I shall briefly explain about the Unknown species we are discussing here. You see, there are actually four species of Unknown, which have been named with numbers (ie - Unknown 1, 2, 3, and 4). If I had mentioned earlier that Ghost Ships are distressingly rare, the Unknowns could be considered as being catastrophically rare. They are aquatic organisms that tend to live at depths of up to eight kilometers, but which also been known to stray up to the abyssal plains (about two to six kilometers deep). Incidentally, most of the Unknown sightings have been reported at depths of about half a kilometer, which gives rise to the possibility that most of our encounters with these bewildering species have consisted of confrontations with ailing or dying specimens.
Here, it is the Unknown 4 which we are focusing on. In their apparent natural state, Unknown 4's resemble a constantly moving mass of silvery liquid, and as such have been compared to a living pool of mercury. Also known as 'Devil's Silver' by seamen, this species of Unknown is the only species which will liquefy upon its death, whereby it loses control of its fluid body and merely spreads out like a spilled cup of liquid. The dead creature will also lose its silvery coloration and take on a copper-like tone once it dies, which is probably the most reliable sign we can look out for. One thing that continues to make us scientists confused - and which I shall go deeper into once we reach the relevant section of this thesis - is how a marine organism could have evolved to have a fluid body despite being being subjected to underwater currents. While such a physical configuration is undeniably resistant to the terrific water pressure at the depths which these creatures come from, it is most probably highly unstable, especially as it approaches the surface of the ocean.
Due to the similarities between these two species, we have begun more thorough investigations into the true nature of a Ghost Ship. Unfortunately, them being aquatic organisms makes it close to impossible to carry out a sandalwood fumes test unless the specimen being observed is captured. So far, the prodigious marine biologist Frederick Aldrich - who became known for his work on Architeuthis dux, or the giant squid - has been the man spearheading the research programs, and has been living in ShinRa's underwater reactor for the last six months or so. To date, he has actually managed to capture one Ghost Ship, though the specimen died shortly after capture due to injuries sustained when it was being trapped. He did, however, note that they possess the ability to turn living organisms into undead creatures, and also that Ghost Ships tended to use radial electrical discharges to try and stun their prey.
As an aside, he did note that Ghost Ships seemed to prefer attacking with Lightning-based magic. He also commented that they could actually direct their electrical assaults in a particular direction, which could possibly account for at least a few of the oceanic phenomena known as 'Saint Elmo's Fire', whereby sailors reported see a glowing ball of light out at sea; such an ability could be used to lure prey towards themselves, he theorized. Beyond that, we still know very little about the species itself, since no specimens have actually been encountered further than five kilometers from the underwater Mako reactor.
Unless you own a submarine or underwater Mako reactor, you wouldn't be fighting one of these creatures.
Gigas (Pseudohominidae Lunatone)
J.R.R. Tolkien was one of several writers whose works featured trolls - he wrote The Lord of the Rings, in case you happen to be illiterate - and also one of several writers who drew inspiration from Gaia's native wildlife. Here, the species in concern would be a dull-witted yet considerably strong creature whose appearance is rather primate-like, and which is known as the Gigas. As with most of the other species endemic to the Northern Crater and its surrounding regions, not much is known about the Gigas. However, it is important to note that this is not so much due to their rarity, but rather, the fact that they only come alive once a month.
You see, Gigas are considered by some zoologists to be mithril-based organisms. While a Castanets might have an exoskeleton that is practically saturated in mithril, Gigas could be regarded as walking mithril stockpiles. The magical substance itself forms the bulk of their bodies, and is what gives them their natural luminescence. From there, the reason for their limited mobility should be clear - their physical composition involves so much mithril that they cannot move unless a full moon is present to activate the mithril (refer to my entry on the Castanets for clarification on how moonlight initiates the fire-proof properties of mithril, if you happen to be an amnesiac).
Curiously enough, despite being composed almost entirely out of mithril, Gigas are not fire-proof. This puzzled zoologists for a long time - as most mithril-based organisms tend to do - until it was discovered that their affinity for mithril involved an adaptation to the earth itself. Hence, they remain vulnerable to fire-based magic, but possess an immunity against earth-based spells. The photochemical reaction responsible for the activation of mithril's fire-proof properties do not occur in a Gigas, and are substituted for by several biochemical cycles that resemble the aforementioned fire-proofing processes. Here, the enzymes involved in activating the mithril merely serve to make it pliable and more like living tissue rather than rendering it immune to flames.
Lucrecia and I did try to catch the Gigas in action during our expedition to the Northern Crater, but our attempts were thwarted by a cloudy night. It didn't really take us long to locate a open area where several statue-like rock formations - dormant Gigas resemble mithril outcroppings - stood, and so we waited for the moon to come... As the clouds covered the moon, we despaired and cursed at the sky, but to no avail - those dratted thunderclouds resolutely refused to move away from the moon. For a few brief moments, however, they did shift, resulting in the Gigas all waking up for that short period of time. I can assure you of one thing - zombie horror movies have nothing on the sight of several dozen Gigas all slowly coming to life under the moonlight. Alas, the clouds soon shifted back to cover the moon, and the partially-awakened Gigas all returned to their stony states.
While I myself have not witnessed, let alone documented their combat abilities, Gigas were somewhat well-studied by Carolus Linneaus. He noted that they were capable of utilizing the power of the moonlight itself in a fight, and that their attacks were often powerful enough to shatter boulders even when not focused.
Only experienced fighters should challenge a Gigas, by virtue of their very habitat.
Gighee (Panthera Seductus)
While most of the species that inhabit the Northern Crater tend to remain within its shadowy confines for the duration of their lives, Gighee remain a notably horrifying exception. These felines are a deadly species, and their tendencies for wandering up to three kilometers past the Crater's edge makes them a hazard even to those few brave souls that eke out a living out near Gaia's most dangerous piece of real estate. A quick glance would probably make you think that they are a startlingly pretty species, but if you actually managed to kill one... I'm sure that you would vomit upon seeing just how hideous their faces really are. Some have theorized that the ancient myths regarding Sirens were probably related to the Gighee, and I'm inclined to agree with them - little proof exists to contradict said theory.
Now, Gighee are not a particularly well-known species save for their homicidal tendencies. No one in the history of science has actually studied them thoroughly, and for good reason - they are among the few species of monster out there that actually rape their victims.
Gighee are a hermaphroditic species, and all of them possess ovipositors - an appendage for depositing eggs - that are located where you'd find a penis on a normal feline specimen. They also possess musk glands that secrete a highly potent pheromone that can alter the consciousness of their potential prey, and allow them to carry out the dirty deed. You see, Gighee eggs can only be incubated in living hosts, and the newborn specimens often chew their way out of their host as soon as their jaws mature. Since Gighee have a fondness for eating rocks - giving rise to theories regarding them being lithovores - their offspring usually chew through the host's ribs to make their exit.
If I remember correctly, a movie called 'Alien' utilized this concept for the way in which newborns emerge for the fictitious species of monster in it. Very commendable, given that the research on Gighee is rather limited and obscure.
However, there has been at least one case of a Gighee rape victim being saved by surgical removal of the implanted eggs. Nonetheless, he committed suicide shortly after the procedure was completed, due to the severe mental trauma that he had gone through. Apparently, the aftereffects of the Gighee pheromones were more long-lasting than science has thought them to be. After all, they have already been proven to be capable of making sane, healthy individuals think that the grotesque countenance of a Gighee is actually a pretty face, and so further investigation into the matter would probably be an interesting endeavor, if at all possible.
Don't bother challenging a Gighee - they tend to hunt in packs, and you'd most likely be reduced to a pile of raped guts before you could take them down.
Goblin (Magus Deprivus)
Once a widespread species, Goblins have now been hunted to the brink of extinction. They now only exist on a small island known as Goblin Island, as well as another nearby island named Round Island.
I didn't even bother tracking some down and studying them, since I recall seeing an episode of 'Chocobo Dundee' where the show's presenter actually punted a Goblin who was harassing him. See how useless they are?
Anyway, here is some reading material on Goblins, since Ipsen was infinitely kinder to them in his manuscript, 'Beasts of Gaia'.
Goblins are annoying, snot-nosed pipsqueaks that are indigenous to the Evil Forest and the nearby Gunita's Basin. They belong to the Mage family, and the genus Magus, since they do share many physiological similarities with Goblin Mages and several other Mage creatures. However, they lack the ability to use magic efefctively, and instead use crudely-fashioned Knives to defend themselves (Self-defence is usually necessitated by them angering other creatures that could normally kill them). They move in groups, and will often swarm anything that they think is within their capacity to defeat. They do use magic sometimes, namely, the ability Goblin Punch, which produces a shower of sparks even when they strike the softest of targets.
Bloody useless spell if you ask me, unless you're in dire need of special effects at a show or something.
These poor bastards are weak towards, and terribly afraid of, fire. So if a group of them is advancing towards you with naughty intentions, wait till they come close, and roast the whole damn swarm with a well-aimed Fire spell. Don't feel guilty about it - they reproduce like germs, and there are too many idiots in the world, anyway. Here, I feel compelled to quote a famous sideshow owner:
A sucker is born every minute - Phineas T. Barnum
Idiots and Fire spells aside, Qus dislike eating Goblins. They claim that the flesh of Goblins is stringy and tasteless, as well as grossly inadequate for sustenance since they are skinny little sticks. I've tried it once, and I can assure you, eating Goblins will literally leave a foul aftertaste in your mouth.
If you defeat a Goblin, go and hang yourself. They're the weakest creatures on Gaia, I swear.
The locations referred to in Ipsen's manuscript are no longer on any maps of Gaia, and so nothing much can be said about those, either.
Golem (Golem Golem)
While they may not be quite as hard to damage as compared to their armored cousins, Golems are nonetheless formidable foes in combat. Why is this so, you might ask out of your ignorance? Well, it has a lot to do with the fact that killing a Golem as it prepares to attack is nothing short of suicidal, given that they have bodies like living black holes. Somehow, the ordinary Golem is capable of bending the laws of physics to a certain extent, whereby they can generate matter out of apparent nothingness - this truly bewildering phenomenon is suspected to be related to their singularity-like bodies. As one might expect, no one save for utter idiots bother troubling Golems as they mind their own business in the winding valleys of Cosmo Canyon.
As a side note, it has been theorized by several prominent biologists that Golems are manifestations of gravity-based magic. No one has managed to debunk this theory to date, and so it remains the most widely-accepted theory regarding a Golem's physical nature.
In the words of the renowned physicist Alan Lightman, there is a possibility of matter being spontaneously generated at a subatomic level, provided it disappears with sufficient haste. But of course, he was referring to the domain of the subatomic particles, and even 'sufficient haste' as he postulated would have been somewhere in the order of microseconds, most probably. So for the moron who sent me a letter refuting my paper which completely destroyed Sir E. Brum's theory on Golems and Armored Golems being related by means of allopatric speciation, read this - do the fucking mathematics, or at least understand the goddamned numbers, before trying to trump my theories with poorly-researched arguments.
So, Golems are capable of firing projectiles at those foolish enough to confront them, and the firing is done using their fingers. You see, a Golem's body is hollow, and its fingers somehow look as if a gangster from Don Cornhole's (or was it Corneo?) mob had chopped the fingertips off. Hence, their fingers are actually open-ended, and can serve as firing tubes for the mysterious projectiles that can do a nasty bit of damage if they meet their target. Alan Lightman's axiom has therefore been violated, since we aren't discussing anything behaving at a subatomic time scale - the Golem Finger Shots have been known to remain solid for at least a good ten seconds before disintegrating.
Besides the mystifying Finger Shot, Golems can also utilize the devastating Megaton Punch - even deadlier when you consider their habitat in the Cosmo Canyon area. Landslides have been triggered by their punches, and often enough, the Golem is buried alive with its opponent. However, this is of no consequence to the Golem, whose thick exoskeleton allows it to even withstand a one-ton impact without flinching. This is because if the creature's exoskeleton cracks even slightly, the gravitic singularity within its body will rapidly compress any matter that is within close proximity of the Golem, and so even if a mountain of rubble traps one of them, it would most liekly be able to literally shrug off the damage.
When I studied them - briefly but meaningfully, I assure you, my dear idiotic readers - dissection was indeed a tricky task. I had to figure out a way to split open the Golem's shell without actually being clsoe enough to get ensnared by the black hole that seemed to be the core of its body, and so it took me a while before I got a suitable idea. Simply put, I superheated the Golem's metalloid exoskeleton with a Fire3 spell, and then cast an Ice3 spell on the aggravated creature. Its exoskeleton cracked open in multiple areas, and the crater formed as its intrinsic gravitic singularity exhausted itself was no less than fifty feet in diameter - truly an impressive feat!
By the way, kindly do not be so stupid as to try and Manipulate a Golem - they don't have a brain, as far as science can tell.
Only experienced fighters with the means of ranged offense should take on a Golem, at the risk of being literally sucked into oblivion.
Grand Horn (Hippowdon Bipedalis)
A hippopotamus is a quadruped, and members of the genus Hippowdon - the taxonomic group for Gaia's horned hippopotamus species - possess a similar number of limbs (in case you remain a dunce, quadrupeds have four legs). However, the exception to the rule would be the Grand Horn - arguably one of the deadliest species within the genus. Native to the regions surrounding Cosmo Canyon and also Gongaga, Grand Horns are capable of splitting granite boulders in two with a casual headbutt. Some have even charged at their prey with such force that they were unable to alter their course when said prey sidestepped them; those Grand Horns typically ended up getting stuck by smashing a large cavity into the side of the cliff which they had tried to trap their prey against, and died while trying to free themselves from the stony prison which they literally ran headfirst into.
Despite their sheer power, Grand Horns are relatively docile, much like the Golems which roam Cosmo Canyon. They prefer to put up threat displays and intimidate potential threats into fleeing rather than fighting, barring of course the occasions whereby they are hungry. In fact, their very names are misleading - they have among the smallest horns of the various Hippowdon species, being less endowed than their cousins the Cripshays or Dual Horns. Grand Horns do not even have teeth to rival those of the Edgeheads, and so from an anatomical point of view, they aren't quite as distinguishable as compared to other members of their genus.
The true strength of a Grand Horn, though, lies in its arms. While the species' horns and teeth are pathetic in comparison to those of their brethren on other parts of Gaia, Grand Horns possess incredible brachial musculature. Here, note that a typical arm or frontal limb has only five muscle bodies surrounding its proximal portion - typically the triceps and biceps, or some variant thereof. However, Grand Horns possess eight muscle bodies around their arms, making their arm structure resemble a bastardized attempt at quadriceps muscles being malformed around the same bone like Siamese twins. Not only that, their front limbs are longer than their rear limbs, giving them a distinctly bipedal tendency as opposed to their kins' quadrupedal nature.
If you really want to aggravate a Grand Horn, though, all you would need to do is to strike them in the face. Grand Horns go absolutely berserk if hit in the face, and will begin a bloodthirsty rampage until their adrenal glands temprarily get fatigued and cease the production of adrenaline. Considering that they can easily block an entire canyon pathway - twelve feet across - by spreading their frontal limbs out sideways, you'd definitely be hard-pressed to escape an angry specimen if you fled into confined areas.
Why did I mention that, you might ask? Well, I'm hoping that some of the imbeciles reading this would actually TRY to slap a Grand Horn in the face.
Moderately experienced fighters could take on a Grand Horn, provided their reflexes are good (after all, the Grand Horn is a hippopotamus at its very core - hardly the fastest of animals).
Grangalan (? Halkieria Terraabscondus)
During a solar eclipse, some people like to place eggs on the ground to watch them 'standing up' as the moon crosses between the sun and Gaia. This is merely a play on gravity, and no magic is involved. Of course, we also know exactly what lies within the eggs - standing or otherwise - as a mixture of albumin and yolk (white and yellow for the infantile mind). However, neither of the above explanations can be applied to the bizarre organism known as a Grangalan, which resembles a huge, floating egg with a crudely-formed face on its 'shell'.
Colorful and always silent, Grangalan are ovoid creatures that linger about the Cosmo Canyon and Corel areas, harassing travellers by following them around and making the occasional humming noise. If provoked, a Grangalan will either fire a strange, silvery disc at its attacker, or let loose with a bright flash of light from both of its eyes, that temporarily blinds whoever is stupid enough to be looking at the Grangalan. Nothing much can be said about the nature or mechanism of these attacks, since Grangalan typically self-destruct when they sense someone else being within five feet of their shells - the force of the explosions, however, has been measured as being about the same as that of ten sticks of dynamite being simultaneously detonated.
If the Grangalan's outermost shell is somehow damaged sufficiently, the shell will simply fall off to reveal a smaller Grangalan within it. This smaller Grangalan is known as Grangalan Jr., and the third - even tinier - Grangalan is often known as Grangalan Jr. Jr. Sometimes, an undamaged Grangalan will even split its own shell open to release both of the hidden Grangalans during a battle, and this is often followed by a threefold explosive attack - the Grangalan Jr. Jr. seem to explode with even greater force than a full-sized Grangalan, oddly enough. Due to this strange physical feature of theirs, Grangalans have been immortalized in a type of wooden doll known as the Matryoshka doll. I'm sure even an ignoramus like you has seen one before - the doll's top and bottom parts can be separated, to reveal successively smaller dolls within it (all identical, and with intricate craftsmanship for some of the prettier ones).
The real question pertains as to whether there is a different creature within the Grangalan Jr. Jr., but it looks like this question will remain unanswered for some time to come - Grangalan are immune to petrification, Stop, and even Death spells.
Since no one has actually managed to get close enough to dissect a Grangalan without them exploding, it is just theorized that they are brachiopods. For the arty-farty business graduates who might be reading this, brachiopods are bivalve creatures whose shells hinge in the top-bottom orientation as opposed to the left-right orientation. Nonetheless, this classification remains purely theoretical, which of course explains the question mark in front of their genus name.
Don't bother challenging a Grangalan unless you are proficient in ranged combat.
Gremlin (Critter Halithosis)
Made famous - rather imaginatively and inaccurately - by the 'Critters' movie series, Gremlins are probably the most annoying Gaian animal as far as electronics are concened. They were originally found only about the Whirlwind maze, but the advancements of human technology have lured many of these beasts into closer range of civilization. Despite their inquisitive nature, however, Gremlins remain elusive to most humans, and prefer to tamper with anything even vaguely electronic during the night, when most humans are asleep. Typically, the only clue to a Gremlin's involvement in mechanical vandalism would be the lingering stench of their filthy maws - hence the species name, 'halithosis'.
It is notable here that they aren't quite as foul-smelling as Marlboros are. Gremlins are much cleaner and smaller than Marlboros, so they don't actually smell that bad in comparison - try imagining an unwashed football player's armpit, and a decaying leper's corpse, and you'll get the analogy, I think. Provided of course, that you know what an analogy is.
Now, Gremlins have long claws that seem to be formed out of a naturally-occurring insulator material. Thus, they can happily and cheerfully tear into electronic devices without any fears of electrocution. In addition to that, Gremlins have magical abilities that allow them to generate a type of energy field that scrambles most electrical signals. Hence, this unique disruptive ability, coupled with their nocturnal habits, have led to them being blamed for any sort of electronic malfunction by mechanics and technicians.
More often than not, however, the stories are probably true - Gremlins are playful spirits by nature, and so will not hesitate to demolish anything mechanical and/or electronic that they can get their grubby little paws on.
I myself haven't managed to track down a Gremlin for examination - the buggers are that good at hiding themselves.
Grenade (Exploda Metallica)
Once again, I find mysself unable to describe in detail a species that is still in existence. This time, it is the Grenade, a metal-skinned relative of the notorious Bombs that float about Corel. As with many other denizens of the Northern Crater and its surrounding regions, Grenades have so far proven themselves to be adept at not being found when it suits their purposes - if they could actually comprehend basic logic, that is (which is probably more than I could say for most of this manuscript's readers).
As such, I leave this excerpt from Ipsen's excellent text for your perusal here.
Evolved Bombs, Grenades aren't explosive, but are much deadlier than, their flaming counterparts. Being Aerial due to the volatile gas mixtures within them, Grenades often hide between high-up stalactites, deep within the tunnels dug by mining moles, inside the bowels of the dormant volcano, Mount Gulug. They can hide rather well in the shadows, and the only sign of their presence is often the faint, reddish glow of their slitted eyes. Their metallic skin is proof to harpoons and arrows, but at the same time, is highly flexible and can tear easily. The single antenna on their head is used for inter-Grenade communication, and it was proven during Beadle and Tatum's experiment that Grenades who had their antennae severed were less efficient attackers, due to the lack in communication between themselves.
You see, Grenades are rather militaristic in their attacking patterns. They always atatck in groups, often from above their quarry. Once the group's members are int he right positions, they will rain Firaga and Flame spells down onto the heads of the poor souls that they have surrounded. Hence, Beadle and Tatum's experiment proved that the attack and flight patterns of Grenades with removed antennae, were less efficient then those of Grenades which retained their antennae. If you encounter Grenades, you will hear a piercing whistle being emittes now-and-then as steam is vented from within their meallic bodies, through a long, pipe-like projection that dangles beneath them. This is actually their means of communication, and this was also discovered during Beadle and Tatum's experiment.
If their Fire-elemental spells are ineffective, attacking Grenades will use their communication assemblies as a Cannon, which they will use to bombard their targets with debris. The debris is fired by using compressed steam from within their bodies, which will fire the debris as it moves along the Cannon's 'barrel'. In fact, their usage of steam pressure to fire their Cannons has inspired several inventors to try and design airship engines that run on steam instead of Mist. To date, no successful designs have been created for the steam engine.
Being Aerial, they are proof to all forms of Earth-based magic. They also harbor a partial immunity to Fire-elemental spells, due to their high-temperature metabolism. That being said, they are greatly-weakened by Ice-elemental and Wind spells of sufficient strength. Be careful of using Blizzard spells against them, since cooling spells of insufficient strength will result in their metallic skin cracking, and this will cause a release of their volatile internal gases into the surrounding air. Unless you want a rain of exploding Grenades falling down over you, use a Blizzaga spell. This is because even though they have the same internal gas composition that bombs have, they cannot detonate instantly, due to their metallic skin. So, they'll be more likely to go BOOM! at ground level rather than in mid-air.
Qus have, on the rare occasion, caught and eaten Grenade skin. They froze the Grenades first, and then they cut the frozen explosives open and removed the entire contents of the thing. The flavor of the skin was described as being spicy, with a hint of alcohol in it.
Grenades should only be challenged by experienced fighters, due to their speedy movements and fatally-efficient attacks.
The only notable differences in Ipsen's account of a Grenade from present-day descriptions would be the apparent presence of an antenna on them, along with their nesting in a volcano. Mount Gulug itself is a mythical place, and has never been actually found - to date, three different volcanoes have been found that fit the description of Mount Gulug from their exteriors, but none possess the extensive subterranean cavern systems referred to in 'Beasts of Gaia'. Beadle and Tatum, however, did conduct some experimentation on Grenades by severing their antennae, as recorded in some of the more ancient scientific texts.
As such, more research into the nature of Grenades would be prudent.
Griffin (Aves Quadrupedus)
Griffins are presumed to be extinct, since the last recorded sighting of one dates back to some eighty years before the publication of this manuscript. Hence, I hope you have the brains to appreciate yet another snippet of Ipsen's magnum opus.
Well-known Aerial creatures native to the Donna Plains, and even the nearby Fossil Roo, these creatures are rather docile. They prefer to flee rather than to stay and fight, though they aren't absolute slouches at fighting. They can be domesticated, and are excellent pets as well as guard animals. They are just as good for travelling when compared to chobobos, though they move much slower due to their greater mass and tendency to run after smaller animals that catch their eye. This is why, if you're planning on riding a Griffin, you should carry adequate food supplies for yourself and the bird. It'll be a rather time-consuming journey, and also a tiresome one if your Griffin keeps flying off-course. Hedgehog Pie meat is readily accepted by most Griffins, though this is a matter of preference. Try out different meats with you Griffin, and if it nuzzles you like a dog would, you'd know what it loves to eat.
Heck, my pet Griffin had a liking for Gysahl Pickles!
In terms of fighting ability, Griffins are more than competent. Despite being hollow-boned and timid, they can deal a painful Tail strike onto whoever raises their temper. Their whip-like tail can even break through skin and bones, if sufficient momentum and velocity is attained prior to the strike! Their magical abilities are of the Wind, just as they are creatures of the air. Griffins are known to cast Aero and Aera spells, which can blow a target away if they muster enough energy into casting the spell in question. They can even heal themselves and their allies, using a spell which I have named, White Wind.
As with all other avians, they are immune to Earth-based magic, and at the same time, weaker against Wind spells. Strong-blowing gales have been proven to be capable of snapping their hollow bones, and it is not uncommon to find dead Griffins lying around with numerous broken bones, after a devastating storm, such as the one that resulted in the destruction of Madain Sari.
Other than all that, Griffins are affectionate creatures that enjoy being in the company of others. Play with your Griffin daily, and it will be the friendliest animal on Gaia, to you. Some Griffins have been known to enjoy playing with balls, so try playing fetch one day with your pet Griffin.
Griffins can be challenged by moderately-experienced fighters.
As a side note, Fossil Roo was only recently rediscovered, along with a large population of Gargants - truly an exciting breakthrough, given that little to nothing is known about Gargants!
Grimguard (Magus Defendere)
The Temple of the Ancients is guarded by all manner of strange and stranger creatures, and the Grimguards are no exception. Proficient in various types of magical attacks, they tend to act very agrgessively towards intruders - despite their relative weakness in a fight. Physically, they are impressively suited to the task of temple guardian, though, since their right hands are actually flat, rounded appendages that resemble a living shield. In fact, the right hands of Grimguards are resilient enough to even withstand a direct hit from a Fire3 spell without any charring - truly a significant feat of biology. Literally on the other hand, their left arm is shaped like a long pike. This is used by the Grimguards to channel their magical attacks like a discharge electrode, or even as an excellent perforating weapon.
Now, Grimguards were the inspiration for the dynamo - the device and not the detergent, you idiot! - since they are electrically-adapted, and can only derive energy from their internal capacitor organs as long as they remain in a state of motion. Hell, Lucrecia and I quite literally got a nasty shock when the specimen we had trapped and tied up managed to obtain enough energy from the friction its bonds generated to break free and start attacking us from the back of our rented pickup truck (for the record, that was my first ever automobile accident). We tried to sedating the creature after that, which didn't turn out too well - the impact of the dart on its body gave it enough stored energy to overwhelm the tranquilizer, and so we ultimately had to kill it rather than risk drawing more attention to ourselves in the Temple's hostile grounds.
We ended up killing it by beating it over the head with a rock - apparently, its internal dynamo couldn't process the kinetic energy from that.
While Grimguards may utilize Ice and Bolt spells in combat, casting those spells back at them would be rather fatal to them. This is because their electrically-charged bodies can be rather easily overloaded by sustained disruption of their biological circuitry, and so using those spells against them is advisable. However, if they get their shield-arms between the attack and their bodies, the spells will be ineffective. Hence, it is best to aim for the Grimguard's pike-arm; something more easily said than done, since a Grimguard's reflexes are literally as quick as lightning. If you manage to strike their pike-arms, though, their own spells might backfire on them, which could easily kill them (we actually killed three of them with one Bolt spell, by attacking when they raised their arms to cast spells at us - they became like lightning rods for our own spells).
Thankfully, their stamina leaves much to be desired, since they apparently cannot store charge for prolonged periods of time. So you could actually just let them exhaust themselves into being immobile, before beating them over the head with a large rock. Yes, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, you dickhead.
Even amateur fighters could handle a Grimguard, if they had even an ounce of common sense and the knowledge to back it up.
Hard Attacker (Quillianita Oleum)
Distant relatives of the Hedgehog Pie, Hard Attackers seem to bear some surprising resemblances to gastropods despite their mammalian nature. Known to inhabit parts of Gaia's ocean which are infamous for their dangerous coral reefs and rock formations, these considerably bizarre creatures have only rarely been sighted out on the open ocean. Before more specimens were caught and subsequently dissected, it was thought that Hard Attackers were a deadlier breed of puffer fish, but further investigations have disproved that theory. You see, they possess actual, septate hearts with more than just two chambers, and lack gills - definitely not a fish, in case that wasn't obvious enough for all you members of the moron orchestra.
So, the apparent reason why they inhabit the more treacherous stretches of ocean has to do with their method of locomotion. You see, Hard Attackers do not swim that well, and prefer to remain exposed to air rather than being submerged. Hence, their bodies actually contain copious amounts of organic oils that make them about as buoyant as Palmer of the ShinRa Space Exploration department. If you were wondering just why this is so, kindly go and exorcise your demons of stupidity by reading up on simple density. It should therefore be clear that the reefs and rocks about their nests serve a protective function for them, to prevent them from being swept away by the tides.
If confronted, a Hard Attacker may actually inhale gallons of air before releasing it through its posterior respiratory openings, thus allowing it to propel itself forward like a missile. Given that its skin is covered in numerous spines and sharp fins, a charging Hard Attacker could do some considerable damage if it hit something as soft and destructible as a human being. Also, they can discharge large volumes of black oil to blind an attacker, which gives them plenty of time to escape - the oil may rise to the ocean's surface, but it is nonetheless sticky enough to trap anything stupid enough to get doused in it.
Some of the other interesting biochemical interactions of Hard Attacker oils include severe toxicity and spontaneous heating. Here, it should be noted that Hard Attackers can actually manipulate the chemistry of their oils to produce poisonous discharges, or even stimulate combustion of the oils within their bodies to render themselves steaming hot. As a matter of fact, a heated Hard Attacker could easily cause the very sea water around it to begin boiling - no mean feat, given the colligative properties of water (dig out a chemistry textbook, you useless bums).
Historically, sailors used to send longboats of seafarers to agitate Hard Attackers whenever they ran short on oil for their ships' lamps. The oil was noted to be slightly less flammable than whale's oil, but much longer lasting once it started burning. Moreover, they observed that if small amounts of seawater were mixed in with it, it produced a soft green glow instead of the usual yellow flame. Hence, Hard Attacker oil became known as a useful commodity to be had in a pinch, since the green glow produced was somehow rather effective at revealing the glowing patterns on a Diver Nest's back. However, despite this useful trait, getting to the Hard Attackers proved to be too tedious to make it commonplace among seafarers.
Few people have bothered to challenge Hard Attackers, due to the difficulty of approaching them within their natural habitat.
Harpy (Pixie Toxicohydrus)
I'm quite sure that most of the world's women have been branded as harpies at some point or another - it's simply one of those facts of life. However, the true harpy that I shall be discussing here is species of venomous humanoids that are found around the Gold Saucer. Ever since that casino was built, they have become notorious for ambushing and killing gamblers who try to flee through the wild areas around the Gold Saucer's base. In fact, some have speculated that Dio - last name unknown - deliberately built his casino there to avoid customers running away once they got into the webs that his resident loansharks wove.
Now, Harpies are actually highly magical beings that are theorized to depend on draining the life energy out of their victims to sustain themselves. Even though they actually poison their victims to actually kill them, it was observed that none of the Harpy victims actually seemed to have anything changed about their bodies, save for the large concentrations of toxins in their bloodstreams. In addition to that, Harpies tend to press their hands to their victims' foreheads before said victims drop dead, which gives more support to the theory of them being energy-draining organisms.
However, the interesting part about the Harpy victims is that their brains, when dissected, seem to show signs of accelerated nerve degeneration. In fact, the damage caused to their brains by a combination of the Harpy's venom and magic seems to be startlingly similar to that which is observed in patients with Alzheimer's disease. So there are some scientists out there who have suggested that Harpies feed on memories rather than life energy, and no one really tries to shoot their ideas down. Indeed, the only proof that keeps the life energy theory above the memory theory is circumstantial at best, and so from my personal point of view, both theories have their merits until proven otherwise.
The one frustrating thing about Harpies, though, is their sheer elusive natures. Little is known about them save for what can be deduced from cadavers, and from faraway glances of several Aqua Lung spells. They also seem to use some sort of attack that utilizes a cloud of greenish gas, but we can only assume that the cloud is poisonous, or even gaseous to begin with!
Alas, few have survived encounters with Harpies - too few to make anything significant of in this entry, I'm afraid.
Head Bomber (Aves Bombardius)
These violent pigeons are native to Gaea's Cliff, and have been the bane of the Cliff's human residents for many a decade. Surprisingly colorful for their frozen habitats, Head Bombers are probably known best as the inspiration for that annoying video game, Angry Birds. In fact, the angry birds in the game actually do bear a resemblance to the Head Bombers, especially the yellow ones. As a matter of fact, the game's very mechanics were derived from the means by which these oversized avians attack.
You see, agitated Head Bombers tend to jump high in the air before dive-bombing the opposition using their heads, and so the game of Angry Birds was designed around this premise. Apparently, the game involves pigs stealing some birds' eggs - for whatever reason - followed by the birds going campus on them. So yes, a description of that infernal video game was actually helpful for my purposes. Another rather nasty tactic of the Head Bombers involves them bashing a target's head in using their powerful claws - however, they are rarely seen using this, seemingly in favor of jumping on their target(s).
Now, Head Bomber eggs are large and white, with yellowish specks on them. If unfertilized, the yolk is a pale cream color, whereas in fertilized eggs it is orange. Usually, a nest would contain three to four eggs, all covered in snow - not to kepe them cold, but to keep them warm. This is similar in principle to the building of igloos, where hard-packed snow is used to trap warm air for humans to inhabit them. If you couldn't connect the dots, though... I have nothing more to say to you, you waste of space. So, these cartoonish creatures are seldom found far from their nests, barring of course when they go for food runs on human habitations (in the case of Gaea's Cliff, that's the same village, month after month).
Stupid birds, they are, really. How they developed the ability and knowledge to use snow as such baffles many experts in the field, yours truly included.
Surprisingly nimble despite their bellicose appearance, Head Bombers also seem to be strong enough to cleave ice blocks into pieces using their bare claws (wings?). This makes them quite nasty in a fight, usually since most other creatures are slowed down by the cold environment where they live. Also, their feathers seem very capable of retaining heat. In addition to that, Head Bombers also seem to have the unique ability to leap over snow rapidly, making it near impossible for them to get bogged down in it. Thus, it could bbe said that anatomically and physiologically, Head Bombers are adapted incredibly well to their native environment.
Frozen Nails seem to be their natural predators, though, and Head Bombers generally avoid going near large crevasses for fear of being ambushed by those ice-adapted arthropods. Ironic, given that it's basically a case of the bird fearing the bug, but as with many other things in this ridiculous world, it is indeed the way things are. The reason for this was suggested to be their rather poor eyesight - Frozen Nails are already hard to see in the snow and ice, what more if coupled with the Head Bombers' absymal visual acuity.
Despite their annoying tendency to gather and ogle at villagers going about their daily lives, Head Bombers also seem to enjoy stealing things from th village up on the Cliff, and even ordinary housewifes are usually capable of scaring them off on a daily basis (literally chicken-hearted, it seems).
Head Hunter (Oligochaeta Pancung)
If you've ever heard of myths involving brain-stealing aliens or something else along those lines, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better living match than the Head Hunter. Resembling a long, dark green worm with a swollen head and two trailing mandibles, Head Hunters are among the most disturbing creatures one could come across in the wilderness surrounding Mideel. We shall explore the reasons behind this statement of mine, although I shall not go into detail on the precise mechanisms - I don't expect you nitwits to appreciate the elegance of them.
So, Head Hunters are not named as such without good reason. You see, they seem to have a fondness for quite literally eating brains, and so there's little doubt as to which body part they'd go for when attacking other animals. If you still couldn't get the point based on that sentence, then I am truly sorry for your stupidity - kindly go to the ShinRa medical services and get yourself neutered. That way your poisonously stupid genes won't get passed on to further pollute and desecrate this long-suffering planet.
With regards to their anatomical adaptations to their preferred food, Head Hunters are admirably well-equipped. Their mouths are practically like living vacuum seals, and their mandibles are strong enough to punch holes in the sides of most skulls that can fit into their mouths. Typically, they will dish out a blow to the victim's head, and then latch on to start sucking. Blaise Pascal, that legendary god of a scientist, once proved that the suction of a Head Hunter's maw was more than capable of popping open a beachplug's shell, and that in itself is no mean feat - beachplug shells are practically impenetrable if not subjected to high heat for some time.
Besides their physical capabilities in sucking face - they do prefer to use a frontal assault, since they can suck hard enough to drain your brain out through your eye sockets - Head Hunters also secrete powerful digestive enzymes that can easily dissolve skin, bone, and anything else in between. However, they rarely utilize these potent chemicals, preferring to use some good ol' fashioned suction to aspirate some tasty neural tissue. In fact, these enzymes are so potent that several times in the past, medical professionals have actually sought them out to be used in stripping flesh from bone to prepare skeletons for study. The preparations used, though, were all heavily diluted, to the point whereby the enzyme concentrations were measurable only in microliters.
The only curious thing about Head Hunters, though, is their unnerving ability to acquire bits of memories from any ingested brains. They can even regurtitate bits of memory, by making tortured-sounding vocalizations - lacking proper vocal cords makes even slurring through sentences a great achievement for them. Some Head Hunters have even been observed twisting their bodies into shapes similar to numbers and alphabets, though little repetition was noted. Thus, when the rather lovable writer Roald Dahl wrote his yummy children's book 'Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator', the scientific community almost unanimously agreed that the Vermicious Knids protrayed in the book could have been inspired by the Head Hunters (well, all they could spell was 'SCRAM', but the Head Hunters probably aren't too far behind them).
It should be clear now why I said earlier that Head Hunters are disturbing to encounter for yourself - their slurring speech is somehow rather eerie, if you were to hear it up close. Sometimes, in the night, if they manage to sneak up behind you, the creepy effect is even more pronounced.
Due to their considerable physical bulk and strength, only experienced fighters should challenge Head Hunters and be capable of hoping to survive.
Heavy Tank (Triceratops Torsiolocomortis)
The last living remnants of an ancient class of organisms known as dinosaurs, Heavy Tanks are exceedingly rare beasts that lurk around the ruins of the Gongaga Mako reactor. In fact, the reason why the reactor is in ruins is attributed to them - when the reactor was built, it involved some trespassing into their habitat, and so the enraged dinosaurs decided to swarm the reactor once all the noisy construction equipment had been removed from the scene. As a side note here, it should now be glaringly obvious that the Shinra Electric Company seems hopeless inept at conducting environmental impact surveys before they actually build anything - first the underwater reactor, and then the Gongaga reactor. Those idiots seem to lack any common sense, really.
I referred to Heavy Tanks as dinosaurs, and not animals. In case you actually had enough brain power to compute the significance of that statement, I shall supply you with some delightful information right here. You see, it was proposed that the existing taxonomic classification categories be augmented by a new kingdom; that which is to be known as Dinosauria. This is simply because most of the dinosaur fossils found seem to have impressions in the stone around them, suggesting that they were feathered creatures. Hence, based on anatomical reasons alone, dinosaurs seem to straddle the boundaries between being reptile and avian in nature. For the sake of my sanity and faith in humanity, though, I shall not elaborate further on this - hug your brachiosaurus plushies and sleep tight in your ignorance.
Now, Heavy Tanks are incredible in the sense that they inspired the creation of the wheel. This may sound absurd, but their legs are actually highly-adapted locomotive appendages that lack any form of proper joints. Thus, these amazing limbs can rotate in perfect circles, and the 'treads' which gave the species their name are actually thick webs of skin that grow out from between their leg claws. So a Heavy Tank is perfectly capable of moving forward like an armored tank would, complete with moving treads and all.
Lucrecia and I did manage to track one down during the course of our research, and we really were impressed by its combative abilities. Shockingly fast for something that moves as it did, the Heavy Tank very nearly managed to run us over. When we narrowly avoided being made into human pancakes, it somehow demonstrated a nearly perfect U-turn, and almost nailed us for the second time in ten seconds. Truly impressive, despite the fact that we managed to kill it in the end and dissect it!
In fact, Heavy Tanks make the long-extinct triceratops (Triceratops serratus) look positively mundane in comprarison. The fossil record shows that its dead cousins were rather similar to other existing creatures in terms of locomotion, and so there's nothing much that can be deemed as exciting with regards to them. The three horns and heavy neck frill are the only shared physical traits between the two species, it seems.
Unless you're both experienced at fighting and tracking, don't bother going after a Heavy Tank - you might end up lost or giving the poor dear indigestion.
Hedgehog Pie (Quillianita Asper)
Once again, I find myself referring to Ipsen Ornitier's manuscript for a description of a particular species. Here, the species is none other than the horribly putrid-smelling Hedgehog Pie (heaven knows why they're named as such, since they neither resemble hedgehogs nor pies). However, they are nonetheless among the most well-studied of the Gaian species, since they reproduce rapidly and in significantly large numbers. With their rather uncanny resemblance to President ShinRa in his red suit, Hedgehog Pies are notorious for stealing food from farmers and ranchers all over Gaia.
However, as with many other entries in 'Beasts of Gaia', the Hedgehog Pies were listed as being inhabitants of an apparently nonexistent location. Given that these pests have pretty much proliferated to live on almost all parts of Gaia - though their rarity varies - we can't even make an educated guess with regards to their original habitat. Perhaps one day a map of ancient Gaia would be unearthed, but until then, places such as the Eunoras Plains shall remain a mystery to us.
And now, feast your blasphemously ignorant eyes on this rather amusing entry.
Stinking beasts native to the Eunoras plains, Hedgehog Pies are plump little monsters that often harass travelers. They often attack in groups of two, and this could be a minor annoyance at worst. Since these creatures are such weaklings, they can be easily dealt with, and the only thing I'd have to warn you about when it comes to them, it the foul smell that they release when they are killed. It smells like a mixture of cat shit, stale urine, and sweaty armpits, and I'm sure any sane person would want to put several dozen feet between said odor and themselves as soon as possible.
Biologists theorize that Hedgehog Pies evolved this odor as a method to deter predators, such as the Serpions which also inhabit the Eunoras Plains where they live. After all, no one would like to taste that shitty smell, would they?
Hedgehog Pies are ferocious when it comes to attacking, and they have only three known attacks. Mainly, they will Ram you, and use every ounce of their fat little bodies in a Fat Press attack to try and incapacitate or stun you. I can assure you, the experience of being smothered by one of these putrid... things... is highly disgusting at the very least. It will take several days for the smell to wash off, too!
Their third attack is Pumpkin Head, whereby a cursed pumpkin is conjured and used to hit an enemy for the same amount of damage that the casting Hedgheog Pie has taken. In fact, the tradition of carving Halloween pumpkins was derived from this spell, for reasons that have been forgotten with time. So, kill the bloody Pie fast before it tries to give you a taste of your own medicine, pumpkin-flavored, of course.
Rookie fighters should be able to dispatch these stinkers to the underworld with utter ease.
I myself have never seen a Hedgehog Pie using this 'Pumpkin Head' move, though. Recent studies on the species have also yielded nothing on the subject, so maybe the ability to use it died out several generations ago.
Heg (Naja Sjambok)
If there's a species that almost anyone on Gaia can identify, it would most definitely be the cobra. Being a rare subspecies of cobra themselves, Hegs are distinct among snakes due to the ability to flatten their necks as a kind of threat display. Few have actually seen Hegs in person, since they are found only in the network of caves extending into the bedrock of Cosmo Canyon, and so little is known about them, at least to the general populace. However, Lucrecia and I managed to sneak into the caverns during our visit to the canyon, and obtained some truly valuable insights into this impressive species of snake.
While the king cobra is often referred to as the largest venomous snake on Gaia, Hegs are a close competitor for the title. This is because the average Heg seems to be about twenty feet long, but alas, no consistent measurements on a large sample size could be carried out due to those anal retentive goons at Cosmo Canyon. Hence, the Hegs will have to settle for second place, since the king cobras have been much easier to locate and study.
With regards to their abilities in a fight, I would say that Hegs are rather penis-like. That is to say, their length and secretions give them some potential to be rather damaging. A Heg has rather potent venom, but its true combat strength lies in its body musculature, you see. Out of the twenty feet that makes up its length, a Heg could easily use up to eight feet of it like a whip, to be cracked at the opposition. They may attack as described using either end of their body, and the whipping assault of a Heg would obviously be deadlier if the head is the attacking end.
When we were tracking a few Hegs, Lucrecia accidentally kicked a pebble, causing one of them to turn back and investigate. When the reptile saw us, it immediately sprung, and fortunately missed me (though it missed her too, alas). However, the sheer speed behind its whipping motion managed to leave a clean furrow in the sandy ground up to three feet away from where its fangs had landed in the dirt, and so we quickly got the hell out of there. If the Heg could literally crack itself like a whip to such speed that even ground which it hadn't touched could be affected, we seriously didn't want to find out just what it felt like to be on the receiving end of a Heg whipping.
So when we got back to civiliazation, we searched for a species name, and finally settled on 'sjambok'. Apparently, some African tribes once referred to their whips as sjamboks, and so the name seemed fitting for the species based on its attack speed. If only it had managed to hit Lucrecia, I probably would've given it a nicer name, but I guess we can't all get everything that's lovely and nice.
No one in their right mind would challenge them, since Hegs are too damned fast to actually fight with.
Hell House (Domicilia Jibakurei)
Another species of monster which is used to illustrated the concept of a Jibakurei (refer to the Deenglow entry, you morons!), Hell Houses are literally walking houses that can be rather dangerous to the average idiot Gaian living below Midgar's plate. Well, they so sometimes float, but mainly they will stick to slowly dragging themselves along the ground. Since it is impossible to capture a Hell House, we have no idea why they do this, and even logic fails us here - after all, it's a fucking house monster we're talking about here. How logical can that get?
The Hell Houses only appeared several years after Midgar was built, and so close to nothing is known about them. What is known about them is that they can apparently manipulate electricity and gravity with great proficiency, and that they use discarded construction materials to form their bodies. However, they seem to prefer using metals to form their bodies - electricity can induce magnetism, in case you imbeciles forgot that one basic principle of physics - since the electricity that flows through the metals can also serve as a powerful weapon in their hands. Much like the 2-Faces, a simple indicator of them using gravity in place of electromagnetism would be sand rising off the ground as the Hell House moved. Well, the fact that gravity-manipulating Hell Houses would float is another obvious point, but sometimes the obvious... is not so obvious, is it now?
When they attack, Hell Houses seem to be fond of engulfing their prey in the debris that they use to contain their essence. This is because they can then literally bring the house down around said creature's ears, which clearly would be fatal. After all, several hundred pounds of debris collapsing in on you wouldn't be conducive to living, I'm sure. Both variants of the Hell House are capable of this, though the ones utilizing electromagnetism would be more inclined to firing pieces of metal at you as opposed to immediately going for the Suicide Drop, as their engulfing attack is often referred to.
Interestingly enough, Ipsen does describe a similar creature in his book, which he calls an Armstrong.
The first Armstrong was formed from the 'spirit' of an old market that were burnt down. During the fire, several tramps and animals living there died, their numerous essences somehow joining to form this puzzling cross of monster-and-house. Hence, an Armstrong is immune to most forms of magic, since it is after all, a composite of several souls.
Armstrongs are hardy beasts, that possess the ability to fire cannon-shot at victims from a large cannon mounted as their 'nose'. These cannon shots can break bones and also smash through most barriers, so be careful when confronting an Armstrong head-on.
Armstrongs are also adept at magic, and usually cast Thundara and Berserk spells to incapacitate victims. They will then consume the victim, using their many needle-like legs to absorb all fluid from the victim's body.
They, despite having a multitude of legs, walk rather unsteadily. If an Armstrong needs to be crippled, go for the legs. Cutting Wind spells can sever most of an Armstrong's legs, and leave it sitting immobile. When desperate, an Armstrong will cast Matra Magic, in an attempt to weaken an enemy long enough for it to flee or deal the killing blow(s).
Armstrongs are native to the Forgotten Continent, and roam the vast wastelands there. They often linger close to swampy areas, and can be consistently found near watering holes.
These bizzare beasts should be challenged by experienced fighters at the very least.
Despite the differences in the Armstrongs (?) and Hell Houses, it is nonetheless fascinating to see that a similar creature has been observed before, even if the account of the encounters are somewhat dubious.
In a fight, Hell Houses are rather weak, though, as Lucrecia and I discovered during our studies of Gaian zoology. So even rooki fighters could easily challenge them and win, I guess - and my guesses are usually right.
Hippogriff (Aves Quadrupedus Equinae)
Now, this creature is more cryptid than animal, but has nonetheless earned itself an entry in my manuscript. You see, the sightings of Hippogriffs have been reported by very reputable scientists over the course of several centuries, I shall just note here that their very existence is still something to be proven, and that they apparently bear a great similarity to the Griffins.
Hungry (Bufo Oricolossus)
One of the more bizarre studies into the nature of hibernation involved toads being buried alive in blocks of plaster, and the Hungry are almost equally as strange. Large, omnivorous toads that look very much like oversized snowballs when they remain still - which is most of the time - Hungry are found only in the Frostbite Caves. As a matter of fact, they were only discovered somewhere about three years ago, when some advanced scanning equipment was brought up there to check for something else to do with the Northern Crater (it's all classified material, so fuck off).
I mentioned earlier that Frozen Nails were well-adapted to their environments. Well, if those creatures are well adapted, then the Hungry are perfectly adapted. Hungry are so well-adapted to their habitat that even a full-blast Fire3 spell can't melt their skins in the natural element, but will rapidly melt into a tepid puddle once you force them into a warmer location. You see, the magical field about them defends them from the magical effects of any opposing elements, whereas purely climate-induced damage would be especially effective against them.
A Hungry is also rather aptly named, despite the asinine nature of said label (although nothing is quite as asinine as Frosty the snowman, for the record). However, no one has really tried to approach them, since their mouths are easily five feet across, and their habitat cold enough to induce frostbite if you were to spend longer than an hour in there. Truly, the Frostbite Caves seem to be unnaturally cold in comparison to the surrounding areas, and so some prominent cold-climate explorers have theorized that there is some kind of natural force that watches over the cave; most of these explorers disappeared after trying to unravel the mysteries of the Frostbite Caves.
The only Hungry ever killed by humans was actually melted when it chased them almost all the way down the mountain, and so nothing much can be said about their combative abilities. Hell, even Professor Gast, that lazy old bastard, refused to let me go after them for research purposes.