There are many species of monsters which stalk the lands of The Star-Runner Chronicles world. Forests can be especially treacherous places, in fact, because even the greenery may be out to get you! In particular, one should beware of the bushes…for some have a taste for flesh! (P.S.: Sorry for the lack of creature portrait this time. I just didn’t have it in me this week…)
Man-Eating Bush Fast Facts
Creature Type: Plant
Elemental Type: Herb
Elemental Weakness: Fire
Size: 2 to 5 feet tall
Weight: 16 to 40 pounds
Habitat: Forest, the gardens of obvious villains
Diet: Meat, especially unwary travelers
Subspecies: Nom-Berry, Asshole Azalea, Bad Seed, Nibble Weed, Fool’s Pot
Most Applicable Tropes: Plant Mooks, Man-Eating Plant
Sometimes, when traveling through the woods, it seems like there’s something waiting to eat you around every corner, behind every tree, under every rock, hiding inside of every bush…But, what if even the bushes are trying to eat you? This is exactly what goes on when you are traveling through the territory of the dreaded man-eating bush…
Appearance and Anatomy
The man-eating bush is a perfectly camouflaged killing machine. It looks exactly like any normal bush with its body densely covered in branches and leaves which sense out victims by detecting their body heat. Beneath its clever camouflage is a round, woody body with a huge mouth filled with three rows of razor-sharp, thorn-like teeth. This mouth is only revealed when the bush attacks its prey. Behind that mouth is a stomach filled with powerful acid which dissolves its food, bones, hair, and all. As it cannot digest metals, it gathers any dissolved metal in a special organ beside the stomach and hacks it up as a large pellet. These metal pellets are actually quite valuable to those who know how to separate the different metals for commercial use.
This menace is not rooted to just one spot, however. It is able to pull its roots up from the ground and slither along on them from place to place. This allows the man-eating bush to chase after its prey at speeds of up to fifteen miles per hour as well as creep along and stalk a victim through the woods.
The man-eating plant’s wooden skin is flexible, but strong enough to take direct hits from large caliber firearms with only minor damage. This, along with the thick covering of tangled branches around its main body, makes it very hard to kill with conventional weapons. Instead, if one wishes to successfully defeat this heavily armored creature, one must attack it with fire magic, flame-based magi-ammo or enchanted weaponry, or a flamethrower. Even then, it still can take quite a beating before finally succumbing to the flames. Generally, the rule is that you don’t stop attacking until its ungodly high-pitched squeals go silent.
Man-eating bushes are strict carnivores. They do absorb water from the soil through their roots, but they do not photosynthesize like normal plants. In fact, their leaves contain no chlorophyll at all and their green color is just for camouflage purposes.
Though people are their favorite meal, they have been known to eat a variety of wild animals. The smallest specimens will eat such creatures at badgers, rabbits, and wolves. The largest, however, have been known to devour bears, deer, and even moose. In the event that these voracious creatures extend their hunting grounds to a farm, professional mercenaries are called in to deal with the threat. It is not advised for anyone lacking mid-level fire magic or real combat experience to tangle with these creatures, as the inexperienced and ill-equipped are very likely to end up as plant food.
Man-eating plants do not sleep. They are awake and actively searching for food at all hours of the day and night during the spring, summer, and fall. They are able to sit still for many days at a time as they scan the area for prey, and only move to give chase or find a better hunting spot. They only sleep during the winter. At that time, they dig their roots deep into the ground and fall into a state of hibernation so deep that even being set of fire won’t wake them.
Every spring, man-eating bushes gather deep in the woods to mate. However, there is no competition and there are no elaborate mating rituals to be seen. Instead, they simply gather together, grow flowers all over their branches, and shake furiously to spread their pollen to each other. Once the man-eating bushes have exchanged pollen, they then go their separate ways and in two weeks’ time produce seeds. These seeds are dropped over the course of the next week and those which are lucky enough to germinate instead of being eaten by miscellaneous wildlife grow into new man-eating bushes within a matter of days.
Incidentally, it is advised that human, orcish, goblin, and gremlin women of child-bearing age stay away from the deep woods during springtime if they are not using merkwier amulets. It turns out that if a woman of one of these races inhales man-eating bush pollen while fertile, she will become pregnant and eventually bear a child who is half man-eating plant! Such beings possess the same intelligence and emotional capacities as their mother’s race with the added ability to speak to plants, but also can eat nothing but meat, possess voracious appetites, and grow very sluggish (even down-right lazy) during the winter months.
That’s it for this week, folks! Join us next week for…well, I’ve got a couple of ideas, but it’ll be good, I promise! If you liked this article, others under the Monster Manual and Magic categories might be right up your alley. Also, be sure to check out a free sample of The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner (.mobi for Kindle, .epub for basically every other device) or Wolfie Star-Runner Plays with Hellfire (.mobi, .epub), and grab the books from Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo if you enjoy them. You can also check me out on Twitter at @DanielleVFreman or poke around my Pintrest page if social media is your thing.
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