The Grashobaig are a species of giant and deadly snails. They are slow creatures with a powerful defense mechanism in the form of toxic secretions in their slime trail and saliva. They are typically found along the southwestern coastlines of Daen and coastal areas of The Far West, slowly moving in an endless quest for new food sources. The gastropod is diverse, from their color to the shape of their shell. It’s these shells, as well as their venom, that has driven the Grashobaig into rarity, as each product can be sold for a hefty price. It has not helped that the regions they are so prominent have recently become deeply embroiled in warfare on a scale unseen in perhaps centuries.
Grashobaigs are suspected as having three possible origins, neither of which is anything positive. The first is that they are the descendants of smaller sea creatures that hitched a ride on the great migration vessels of the Eronidas. Ailor and most Fin’ullen commonly believe this; however, the Eronidas took frequent and excellent care of their vessels in their exodus. As a result, others believe that the gastropod’s slime's corrosive aspect makes such a likely transplant impossible. However, others counter that some element when the creatures arrived in Daen then mutated them, making their slime far more acidic. This sub-argument has also spun off into other various theories; however, the most prominent is the belief that the Grashobaig were not transported by the Eronidas at all. Instead, simple northern sea snails were corrupted by the Void during the Fifth Void Invasion. They then moved south, aiding the demonic forces until the Cataclysm, when they then fled west, or close enough to it, seeking out other demonic allies and Void-soaked lands. This last detail finally ties to the last theory on the creatures. The Kathar themselves manipulated Void Essence into creating these beasts for the explicit purpose of damaging Altalar coastal terrain. This last belief is often believed by the Kathar, who likely originated the theory in the first place, as the glorification of their own skills.
Regardless of this, the animals were first actively known around 25 AC, when Polon and Altalar principality forces began to explore their mutually new terrains. In the Far West, a similar occurrence happened on the Sundial Isles and the Dread Empire's lands when Kathar and Suvial Altalar began to spread themselves out after the chaos of the fall of the Allorn Empire. Grashobaigs were, initially, a fairly common threat encountered along the coastline but, over the years and as the Altalar recovered their magical abilities, the hunt for these animals became easier. Eronidas, for their part, largely ignored the animal save for when it threatened the terrain of one of their own settlements in a similar position to the Kathar. However, recent events have seen the animal reach areas they never before touched. Whether actively assisting the Kathar in some inborn desire to aid Voidspawn or driven into new regions as their old areas were disturbed by wars, the animal now has a far greater spread, down the whole southwestern coast of Daen. However, this is a thin spread as the animal’s population has plummeted in the conflicts between the Dread Empire and wider Aloria, resulting in their active hunting and killing by anti-Void forces. Some suspect a large population of the animal to still live quite comfortably underwater. However, this is ultimately unknown. For now, at least, it appears the snail’s days above water are numbered.
The Grashobaig is a massive snail, reaching up to seven feet tall and twelve feet long with a weight of over 1000 pounds. The head of a Grashobaig is much like any snail but enlarged, except for its four red, bulbous eyes on long eye stalks that allow them great flexibility. The creature’s body, meaning its skin rather than its shell, is slimy, waxy, and comes in many tones ranging from a mellow orange to a vivid green. This skin is wrinkled and folded, mainly towards its lower body - or ‘foot’ - but is tougher than the average snail’s, giving it the general appearance of wet leather. The shell of a Grashobaig is one of its most infamous features and is notoriously valuable for many reasons. Averaging a diameter of six feet, a rounded Grashobaig shell is almost 20 feet in circumference and therefore makes up the majority of the creature’s size, as well as - potentially - its beauty. The shell has an almost iridescent, pearly coating but can be darker, nearing purple rather than pink, and appearing in either a spiral-shape or a conical formation. Their texture is often smooth but can have spikes emerging along and around the base or possess bumps and knobs. The shell of a Grashobaig is incredibly strong and capable of withstanding most blunt attacks, attempted piercing, immense pressure, and even large falls, meaning when a Grashobaig hides in its shell, it is incredibly hard to kill.
An equally infamous facet of the Grashobaig is its venomous trail, originating from glands in the snail’s tail and mouth. Like most common snails, this creature leaves a trail of slime in its wake as it travels, but the Grashobaig imbues this slime with the venom it produces. This means any unsuspecting creature that touches, ingests, or likewise comes into contact with a Grashobaig’s slime trail suffers from the venom's effect. The venom this creature secretes is incredibly deadly to most Fauna in Aloria, as well as most Alorians. In high doses, the venom constricts the muscles in the neck and throat, asphyxiating the victim, while in low doses, it can simply lead to fainting or short-term breathing problems. The creature’s trail is not its only source of offense, however, as it is also capable of forcibly “spitting” this venom through a collection of short tubes in the skin around its mouth. The trail also serves another purpose, as it is corrosive to organic matter, in larger amounts, including fauna, and helps the Gashobaig break down plant matter as it eats. This is also done to animal carrion if the Grashobaig lacks its traditional plant diet. The slime is potent for as much as a day after it has been excreted
Grashobaig are hermaphrodites, meaning they possess both sets of reproductive organs, so there is no gender distribution nor sexual dimorphism. However, this does not mean the species is not diverse as there is instead a large amount of intraspecies variation among all Grashobaig. The main noticeable variation between the species is the shape of its shell (conical or spherical), but its skin tone can also differ from yellows to oranges to greens.
Life Span and Development
Grashobaigs, who are given the female role during mating, lay a cluster of up to ten fist-sized ovular eggs after breeding, setting them safely in tree hollows, rocky holes, or dried tidal pools before leaving. They hatch relatively quickly, taking just up to a week in most cases. The babies that emerge are miniature versions of their parents and grow rapidly, approaching full size within five to ten years of being born. During this period, they also share the same area as their siblings but around or at the age of three, they move out into the world as the area they live in is unlikely to support such a large toxic group of animals for much longer. Later in life, should two Grashobaig seek to mate, one will take on the role of the male and the other the female (as they possess both sets of organs) before the process repeats itself over again. The only noticeable physical change that occurs when Grashobaig age is their skin tone, which fades each year until their death. When a Grashobaig dies, they also stop secreting their natural poison, and their skin becomes safe to touch. Most Grashobaig corpses are harvested and eaten out of their shells by other animals or those working for collectors and merchants. The shell of a Grashobaig barely degrades through weathering and time even once their owner has died. While most are taken in and used by Humans, some are claimed by the surrounding wildlife and used as habitats for other, smaller animals. The Grashobaig can live for up to 30 years.
While the Grashobaig is a wild animal and cannot be tamed, many see them as a relatively passive species. Not inherently hostile, the Grashobaig usually only acts in self-defense or passively kills other organisms through their venomous trail. They are slow, as most common snails are, sleeping for almost twelve hours a day and spending the rest moving around to find grass and other fauna to eat. To many, the species is therefore rather boring, as they are so big they need to preserve energy sleeping (and are therefore mainly seen standing still), and when they do use energy, it is only to eat. Being an omnivore, a Grashobaig is capable of digesting both Flora and fauna as well sentient Races, but usually only does the last if no other food source is available. In all cases, the creature breaks down the organism with its toxic secretion first before consuming it. When provoked, the Grashobaig will behave either defensively, offensively, or both, and it is rather unpredictable, which it will choose to do. If threatened, especially by attacks outside of their sight range, most hide in their shells due to their almost indestructible properties. Others may begin spitting venom at their attacker or spinning quickly to spread their corrosive slime in a defensive barrier around themselves.
Territory and Groupings
The grouping of the Grashobaig changes as they age. Younger and smaller members of the species usually travel in groups of three or four after the age of three. Older and larger Grashbaigs tend to isolate themselves and act more independently, mainly so they do not need to compete for territory or food with others of their species. As the species constantly need to eat, food is often scarce among larger groupings, meaning Grashobaigs occasionally journey in so-called ‘flocks’ of three to ten members to find new, more bountiful pastures.
- Grashobaig shells and flesh are almost as valued as the animal’s poison. Ithanians, who remain quite partial to many odd meals, will often pay top prices for the flesh of this large snail. At the same time, its shell can be broken up (though with some difficulty) and used for all manner of decorative, artistic, or practical purposes.
- A simple technique for killing the Grashobaig was discovered in 213 AC when an Eronidas managed to temporarily blind the great snail with fire. Proceeding to cut off the eyestalks, it was then an easy task to drive spears through the snail’s flesh.