“The beast stood two meters at the shoulder, its ghost white eyes even with mine. Its scales were fanned in warning, flushed red and twas making the most awful, gut churning growl. I saw those long, razor sharp talons dig furrows in hard rock while those thrice damned eyes watched. No clue what it was thinking but it was definitely thinking. Seemed to judge me and thank the Ayr I measured up. A flick of its tail and it was gone, back into the shadows. I never run so fast in my life.”
-Eod Ka, Luxi Warrior and member of Anhur Company
Also Known As: Growlers, Nakarui, Syncarna
Hazard Level: High
The Grommen or Growler is a well known apex predator found across Aeldos. These terrifying Syrinals, sharing characteristics with both reptiles and birds, are believed to be distant relatives of the Bellatori. Encounters with the species have spawned a thousand conflicting stories. Some stories attribute a malevolent cruelty, characterizing them as remorseless monsters while other stories portray them in a friendlier light, saving caravans or villages from other dangerous wildlife. A third vein suggests they’re little more than clever beasts, dangerous but driven primarily by the biggest meal they can find. Grommen Matriarchs can grow to up to 3.5 meters in length
Grommen anatomy is curious; they share a hexapodal body structure with other Syrinals but have mostly evolved into quadrapeds. In the majority of specimens the medial has fused into the forelimbs, strengthening their fore strength. But this isn’t always the case; in some specimens the medial arms remain separate but underdeveloped with a forelimb fused into a single, surprisingly durable blade-like tip and is used for hunting, defense, climbing, and balance. The precise trigger for this species variation is unclear, but seems to be found most frequently, though not exclusively, among guardian males. Grommen hides are extremely resilent, covered by rows of hardened scale-feathers; thick, short, featherlike growths that move reflexively to shrug off blows and can be fanned to increase the appearance of size. Grommen coloration varies significantly from plain earthy colours to almost prismatic. They can also fan and flush their scale feathers different colours as a warning to opponents or an attractant to mates. Grommen tails are long and sinuous with females bearing two to four rows of feather scales while males have none.
The species demonstrates exceptional strength and speed, well beyond what would be expected for animals of their size. In addition to challenging most other species for land speed, a single blow from a Grommen can lay a Tollam flat, their bite can pierce hardened steel, and attacks made with their medial limbs can bisect an unarmoured target. Despite these frightening physical capabilities, it is likely their intelligence that prompts the most fear.
Grommen are tactically intelligent and even demonstrate a level of strategic knowledge, carefully selecting and cultivating hunting areas to allow for ambush points, and even setting complex traps. Grommen are also adept at adjusting their schedule to hunt prey, often attacking when targets are least able to defend themselves. Profiling Grommen hunting tactics has proven impossible as they demonstrate an incredible adaptability, utilizing a variety of methods to capture prey.
The species is sexually dimorphic, with female or “Matriarch” Grommen growing significantly larger than males and demonstrating advanced senses, intelligence, and aggression.
Grommen hunt in quads, organized around a dominant Matriarch and her consorts, and use their exceptional intelligence to isolate and ambush prey. Stealthy, cautious, and precise, they demonstrate a frightening understanding of human behaviour. A single quad of Grommen can destroy a well armed caravan, devastate a local community or even hamstring a legion.
While best known for their eponymous growl, Grommen possess the full vocal range of the Syrinal family, able to replicate nearly any sound they have heard, including human speech. They utilize this ability to lure, distract, and disorient prey.
Grommen breed infrequently, laying clutches which are attended to by a single male while the quad continues to hunt and defend territory. Guardian males are often smaller than other Grommen, but no less lethal for it. Though they are not a populous species and demonstrate low fecundity Growlers can be found across Aeldos. They are long lived, often surviving for over a century, each quad amassing a notable history. They prefer to den in secure areas and are fond of difficult to reach caves and deep ruins. More than one intrepid ruin-diver has been scared off a dig by their presence. In the absence of appropriate shelter they have been known to carve burrows out of rock using their steel like claws and powerful limbs.
Like many creatures of Aeldos, Grommen are capable of entering a state of reserve or torpor to conserve energy. Elder Grommen and those who are located in areas with scarce resources are able to ‘sleep’ for months at a time without food, though when they awaken they are often desparate to eat and extremely dangerous to any entity they perceive as food.
Human attempts to tame or train Grommen are rare and successful attempts even rarer. Bellatori experience far fewer problems as Grommen respond well to Bellator presence and communication.
Grommen are obligate hyper-carnivores and eat up to 80% meat. They regularly hunt large prey such as Daedon, Elk, Mastadon, Auroch and the occasional Human and supplement this diet with fungi and fruits.
Live specimens, hatchlings, and skins from these dangerous predators are uncommon but highly sought after and fetch high market prices. True domestication of the species has proved impossible as captive Grommen are either extremely difficult to control or sterile.
Perceptions regarding Grommen vary considerably by culture.
– Ossandrians perceive the species as abhorent aberrations and hunt them aggressively
– Victrans and Granden treat the species as a challenge reserved for skilled arisocratic hunters
– Nehepi, particularly Dervishes, and Luxi both attribute intelligence and spiritual value to the species, seeing their cleverness and deadliness as traits to emulate.
– Vandar warriors frequently wear images or tattoos of Grommen as a sign of skill and Grommen skins are considered a sort of supernatural armour.