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Hanabake

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A plant-like magical beast, which are a sort of monster sub-class; they're creatures that have magical natures like true monsters, but are not sentient and haven't developed an intelligence to use their magic properties properly to take human form. The hanabake in particular is one of the several such beasts that, although rare in their natural habitat, were sought out by wandering alchemists and witches and transformed to suit their needs as attack animals. They make decent if shortlived soldiers if one is able to control them, and can be cheaply produced by any hag who knows what she's doing.

 

After being planted, the hanabake grows its tail out of the earth, which then sprouts and opens up to be a sunflower. In this gestating form, it relies entirely on sunlight, water, and soil nutrients just like any other plant, although it requires a devastating amount of the latter in order to build its active, mature body. Planting fields of hanabake can deplete the local soil to the point of making it completely unusable without other magic processes to restore it, to say nothing of what the mature hanabake will do to the above-ground wildlife when they emerge. The sunflower also holds the hanabake's reproductive organs, and it will receive and give pollen like any other plant in order to fertilize itself. If the sunflower tail is cut off before the body reaches maturity, sometimes the main body will wake up and emerge, but more often the hanabake falls into an even deeper sleep as its body starts to shut down and is eventually consumed by bacteria and local insects digging into its crumbling skin.

 

The gestation period lasts about three weeks to a month depending on weather conditions, and like most plants, the quality of the end product depends on the quality of the care given to your garden of taloned horrors. Ultimately though, when the hanabake emerges, it comes with only one directive: kill and eat. In this state, the creature is an unrestrained carnivore, and spends every sunlight hour searching, killing, and eating. Besides fueling its overpowered metabolism, this is also the means by which wild hanabake spread seedlings; its ovaries are placed to deposit new seeds in its droppings, which the hanabake instinctively buries, usually along with the remains of its recent kill.

 

In combat the hanabake has a tough outer carapace, which can vary in strength from strong wood to that of steel, depending on the breed and quality of its tending. The claws contain many heavy metals leeched from the soil, and can easily rip through the natural armor of most other creatures. The hanabake is incapable of activity if it can't photosynthesize, though, making them totally useless at night and weak during cloudy days. Their main drawback, however, is in their senses.

 

The hanabake is nearly blind, has awful hearing, and its nervous system is the envy of worms and not much else. Although it can hunt for prey using a mildly complex system of carbon-sensing glands and centuries of built-up instinct, these aren't much use in determining the exact angle necessary for their claws to strike their target. It's vision is more useful in combat, being complex enough to detect nearby movement, but it's still not useful for detecting hazards or distinguishing shapes. As a result, against agile prey the hanabake can seem clumsy, and its reflexes are a joke. However, in absolute terms the beast is strong, fast, and fairly tough, so in numbers or in thick vegetation they're very dangerous.

 

 

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