Gargantuan Stoneback Phant
|Gargantuan Stoneback Phant|
|Official Name||Gargantuan Stoneback Phant|
|Common Nicknames||Stonebacks, Mountainbacks, Phantom Dunes, Sand Titans|
|Habitat||Deserts of Farah'deen|
Having been named for their immense size and partial rocky coating, the Gargantuan Stoneback Phant is both a remarkable and feared titan of a creature from the deserts of Farah'deen. It is common for Stonebacks to be mistaken for dunes or rocky hills while resting. When mobile, however, their thundering footsteps and immense size make them stand out like a sore thumb among the landscape. Stonebacks have had minimal impact on the world, other than having been a thorn in the sides of Qadir and Songaskia settlements for as long as the dragons that once soared the skies were. However, in stark contrast to the dragons, the Stoneback Phant remains a menace to this day, and is responsible for the demolition of cities and more lives than one can count.
The Stoneback Phant is native to Farah'deen, and has been depicted in Seraph wall murals which suggests that they've remained unchanged since then. As far as word of mouth goes, they've existed as long as the desert itself has. Since settlements first dotted the sands of the desert, they've been feared and avoided by locals, as killing one is typically more difficult and riskier than it's worth. Their population was kept in check by dragons, who were once the Stoneback's sole predator. The Red Hunt, however, removed this predator and subsequently doubled the Phant population. These beasts still strike fear in the hearts of desert-dwelling wildlife and men alike, and wander from oasis to oasis laying waste to nearly anyone and anything in their paths.
The Gargantuan Stoneback Phant is truly an immense sight to see. With the largest specimens standing as tall and wide as the largest galleons, Stonebacks are some of the largest creatures known to have ever lived on Aloria, save for the dragons. The largest weigh in at an earth shattering 100 tons, and the smallest can weigh around half of that. Stonebacks resemble gigantic sandstone mammoths with stubby tusks and a hide of condensed stone that coats the entire body like very thick sandstone-like scales, with craggy spines sprouting from the creature's hunched back. This thick outer coating makes killing one of the beasts a nearly impossible feat, as it is nearly impossible to damage one from the outside. The coating has its downsides though, the most detrimental of which being the sheer weight these creatures are forced to endure. As such, the bones of a Stoneback are very thick, and its legs are overly muscular. The only conventional way to injure a Phant is by entering it through the mouth and causing damage to the organs. There are only two recorded instances in recent history where a band of men have successfully slain the immense creatures. A mature Stoneback stands tall enough that it can be seen for miles in every direction and large enough that it can trample some of the most concrete structures, albeit with great effort. The elephants are too large to sprint, and though they move slowly relative to their size, their walking speed matches that of a sprinting human due to their long strides. What makes them most dangerous however, is their semi-nimble trunk, which is lined with jagged rocks. This makes it an ideal wrecking ball, and it can be controlled at will to crush and even grasp onto buildings.
It is impossible to tell the difference between male and female Stonebacks from one another aside from their reproductive organs. Externally, males and females are indistinguishable. While all Stonebacks generally look the same, a keen eye can tell them apart by tracking the pattern of spikes formed on their backs, which are unique to each individual.
Life Span and Development
Stoneback Phants, while having a reproductive cycle typical to that of a normal mammal, have a rather unique way of conceiving eggs. If the female Phant has an egg ready, the male will mate with her. Mating seems to be seen as nothing more than procreation to the simple beasts. After mating, the male leaves the female to die. The female must lay down in order for the male to be able to mate, which unfortunately means that she will never be able to walk again as Stonebacks are unable to stand back up after laying or falling down due to their immense weight. After the child is conceived, the mother will lay there for a year, during which she will slowly starve to death. The infant Stoneback is birthed by the mother's corpse, and will defend itself to its own death. At birth, Stonebacks are generally sailboat sized. The child will be forced to defend itself until adulthood, which is reached after nearly thirty years. Since females only ever give birth to one child during their lifetime, all Stonebacks are hermaphrodites and can change their sex at will in order to maintain a sustained population. This process takes six months. Phants die of old age at after around a hundred years of living, and collapse to decay and leave giant skeletons littering the desert. Their stones are eroded away and eventually becomes nothing but the desert sand itself.
The Gargantuan Stoneback Phant has never been shown to possess any sentient form of intelligence, though they have basic problem-solving capabilities through the use of their trunks. They are primal and aggressive by nature despite being herbivores, and are both too large and too vicious to be considered for domestication. Stonebacks are hostile towards anything that they come across while wandering the desert, including other Phants of the same gender. Encounters between two Phants will always result in an epic battle to the death, the loser being knocked off its feet and left to starve.
Territory and Groupings
Stoneback Phants are solitary and nomadic, with no defined territories. Instead, there are general areas that they frequent. They migrate from oasis to oasis for food and water, and destroy anything that blocks their path, making the areas between oases a dangerous no-man's land littered with ruins and skeletons of those who dared venture into it. Despite a lack of defined territories, all non-reproductive encounters between two members of the species end in violence.
- The scales of a Stoneback grow from the skin as hairs do. This often leads to debate among linguists over whether or not they should be referred to as hairs rather than scales.
- Dragons were able to hunt and kill Stonebacks with relative ease. Their ability to fly rendered the Phants defenseless, and allowed them to slowly cook their prey from above.
- A resting Stoneback can easily be covered in sand during a sandstorm, which essentially disguises them as giant dunes while they rest. They breathe through their trunks which they stick out of the ground. When they wake up, they leave massive holes in the sand, giving the illusion that the dune that was in their place simply vanished. This causes some to refer to them as "Phantom Dunes".
- Stoneback skeletons are used as landmarks by those who traverse the desert, as they sparsely litter the sands as if it were a graveyard for giants.