There are many species of monsters which stalk the lands of The Star-Runner Chronicles world. Among the strangest, most infamous, most annoying, and—oddly enough—easiest to kill are the bird-type monsters known as bandersnatches. Join us now as we delve into detail on this dirty bird!
Bandersnatch Fast Facts
Creature Type: Bird
Elemental Type: Air
Elemental Weakness: Electricity
Size: 5 to 8 feet long, stands 3.5 to 6.5 feet tall, 9 to 15 foot wingspan
Weight: 6 to 12 pounds
Habitat: Forest and Bayou
Diet: Meat, especially the eyeballs, brains, and guts of unlucky travelers
Subspecies: Frumious Bandersnatch, Greater Katherfan Bandersnatch, Lesser Katherfan Bandersnatch, Speckled Bloodwood Bandersnatch, Deathswhore Bandersnatch, Northern Eyegobbler, Southern Eyegobbler, Dobson’s Brain-Picker, and Eastern Filth Phoenix
Most Applicable Tropes: Airborne Mook, Fragile Speedster, Glass Cannon, Personal Space Invader, Goddamn Bats, Eye Scream
Ah, the bandersnatch! In temperate forests such as the Katherfan Wood and bayous like those that dominate the northern part of the continent of Mu and the southern lands of the continent of Dalrue, they are the bane of every traveler’s existence! It was for this swift and vicious bird than ancient Dwarvish blacksmiths developed the devastating Vorpal Sword, and the existence of these creatures is basically the entire reason for the invention of goggles. But what is this ubiquitous beastly bird really like?
Appearance and Anatomy
Bandersnatches are often described as “killer storks” or “cranes from the Seventh Hell” by travelers and guide books aimed at them. They possess long, impossibly twig-like legs which are somehow capable of supporting their weight while standing on the ground or perched upon a tree limb; long, narrow beaks which are perfectly adapted to spearing eyeballs and piercing skulls; and freakish hose-like necks which move and bend in ways that no bird or beast possessing bones could possibly maneuver…and even in some ways that boneless appendages such as elephant trunks or octopus tentacles could never mimic.
Those twiggy legs of theirs end in talons which most would agree seem too large (and in some species, too heavy) for them. Often times, it is simply the length of the toes and the size of the enormous claws themselves (which can grow up to eight inches in length and be up to three inches thick in some specimens), but the Greater Katherfan and Southern Eyegobbler varieties have feet which are both too long and too thick to seem plausible to the average viewer. Their enormous wings also seem improbable and impractical for a flyer which lives mostly in wooded areas. Some say that this wing situation is a clear example of Origia trolling those who try to make pure, non-magical, logical sense of the world (you know, scientists). Others say that she just built them that way for no other reason than the Rule of Cool.
Of course, we cannot talk about these creatures without mentioning their universally filthy appearance. No matter what the subspecies, bandersnatches always look absolutely filthy and diseased. Their feathers come in the dirtiest, sickliest, and down-right grimiest color pallets imaginable and are often described as looking like they just rolled about in a garbage pile or crawled out of a pile of muck or just plain need a bath. Even their beaks, legs, and talons look grungy and unsanitary, and colors that one would expect to be vibrant or reflective (such as reds and greens) look gritty and nasty in these birds’ plumage. The only thing about them that does not look dirty is their glowing red eyes—which can see perfectly well in daylight as well as near total darkness, with some species possessing infrared heat vision.
Bandersnatches are oddly light for their size and strong for their weight. Even a relatively small subspecies such as the Frumious Bandersnatch (which weighs only six pounds and stands just four feet tall) is capable of lifting and flying off with a victim weighing nearly two hundred and fifty pounds! The vice-like grip of their talons has been known to leave bruises on unarmored targets, and even dent heavy steel breastplates. That, combined with the piercing power of their beaks, has earned them quite a nasty reputation among more casual adventurers.
Despite all of that raw power, bandersnatches are also surprisingly fragile. They maneuver very quickly and are quite difficult to hit if you are not a skilled marksman or spell caster, or lack superhuman speed (or at least a machinegun or the previously mentioned vorpal sword). One hit, however, and they go down almost disappointingly easily. When hit with fire from ranged weapons like bows or guns, bandersnatches don’t even recoil from the hit—they just get shot and fall limply straight down to the ground like sodden dishrags. No one knows just how they can defy the laws of physics like that, they just do…which is either disquieting or hilarious, depending on whom you ask.
If one is unlucky enough to be caught in one of these creatures’ talons, one easy way to escape (more often than not with one’s eyeballs still plugged into one’s head) is to put the creature in a headlock and twist. Their heads come off with disturbing ease and the pests die as soon as they are decapitated…Just make sure that you are not too far above solid ground or directly over some dangerous obstacle before going for it. Accidents have happened.
For some odd reason, bandersnatches have a great love of eyeballs. Whether they are stalking people, animals, or even other monsters, they always go for the eyes first and gobble them up with great relish. They will only eat the eyeballs of still-living prey, however. If they are eating carrion or even a creature that they managed to kill while trying to go for the eyes, they will not even touch the eyes and go for other body parts instead. Whether it is because there is some component of eyes plucked fresh from a living creature that makes them tastier or more nutritious or because bandersnatches are just twisted sadists is still up in the air.
When not eating eyeballs, bandersnatches prefer the brains, stomachs, intestines, livers, kidneys, and spleens of other creatures. Unless they are starving they will not eat skeletal muscle, and will only eat other internal organs if their favorites are not present on a carcass. Needless to say, being killed and eaten by one of these guys is not a pretty way to die.
Bandersnatches are not lone hunters. If a lone bandersnatch sees anything but the tiniest and easiest to kill prey, they fly away like a hungry lion is on their tail. Instead, when these monsters hunt, they hunt in flocks of no fewer than ten to as many as thirty individuals. These flocks stay together year-round, but aren’t actually very friendly or social. Competition between individuals in a flock is fierce and there are never any leaders around to turn the chaos into order. The only thing that keeps them together or mobilizes them into anything resembling an effective hunting group is the presence of prey, and the only reason why they hunt in groups at all is because even if five or six out of the flock end up dead, there’s still a chance that one will make a kill and the flock will get to feast. Of course, this method works best on lone, unprepared travelers or wild beasts which don’t have the advantage of weapons or magic…but it works.
Breeding is very frequent in this species, naturally, due to the risky nature of their hunting strategy. Bandersnatches breed after any hunt which takes out more than a quarter of the current flock. If only one bandersnatch is left of the whole bunch, that one will lay a huge clutch of ten to fifteen eggs all by itself!
The eggs hatch within twelve hours and the hatchlings reach full maturity in under a week, making them the fastest developing monster species on Earth. Bandersnatch parents don’t do much in the way of raising their offspring aside from incubating the eggs. After that, they let their babies hunt and forage on their own around the nest site until they’re old enough to fly and hunt larger, tastier prey.
Several attempts have been made to raise tame bandersnatches from eggs over the years, but these creatures tend to turn on their would-be handlers after just the first two days of life. The smart ones just release the hatchlings into the wild or kill them when it becomes clear that taming is impossible. The idiots…well, ending up blinded is getting off easy.
Bandersnatches are persistent and aggressive hunters, and if they sense the presence of their favorite prey (nummy, nummy adventurers) they will not hesitate to swarm the target. They have excellent senses of vision and hearing and instinctively recognize the sound of speech. In larger woods and bayous with an ample population of bandersnatches, one can expect to run into at least one flock of the buggers a day on a good run. A bad run? Well, let’s just say that you had better have a vorpal sword in hand, a strong mage who’s good with electrical spells, or a lot of bullets.
That’s it for this week, folks! Join us next week as we learn about another interesting monster species—the mimic! Until then, be sure to check out The Star-Runner Chronicles on Amazon.com (print and ebook editions available, coming to Smashwords in August!), peep in on my tweets on Twitter, learn about me at a glance on Pintrest, or just archive binge around here for a bit (if you liked this piece, make sure to check out my three-parter on werewolves or any of the articles under the “Magic” category). Also, mark your calendars for June 17th-21st, because Wolfie Star-Runner Plays with Hellfire will be free to own on Kindle for the first and last time!
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