The following is an account of Esserius of Iann, Wanderer Scribe Primus of Orthrus. It details the 10 most deadly predators native to the planet, each responsible for huge numbers of human deaths over the millennia that humanity has occupied Orthrus. Written in the latter years of M34, it is still considered the preeminent guide to the more deadly wildlife of this death world. Esserius of Iann, as a Wanderer Scribe spent little time in the cities and most of his life wandering the wilds. There was no greater authority on the monsters that dwelt there, and few since have written so extensively on the subject.
…and so it is we arrive at the pinnacle of predation upon Orthrus. I have reserved these entries regarding the fauna of our planet for the latter pages of this work due to my distaste, and aye, my fear for these beasts. I dare say, in our glorious Emperor’s broad and brilliant domain that spans the heavens, there may be more vicious creations, but I doubt there is such a concentration of them in any one place. Each of these monsters has been responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of Orthrusians and so you will excuse my reluctance to write their names, though for completion of this work, I must. Let us start now, so that we may end soon.
The Greater Tertiree is a vile beast. On its hind hands (for this strange entity has remarkable delicate-looking hands ending all four of its limbs) might stand as tall as a man, but its slight stature hides a deceitful and wretched character. It has long been surmised that its sensory perception is greater than almost any other animal, with its compound eyes and long, always alert ears that can apparently detect prey over 10 miles away on the savannahs and in the edges of the great forests where the Greater Tertiree dwells. It has no nose and there is no room in its mouth for a tongue thanks to the eight rows of razor sharp teeth, so presumably it takes joy from feeding purely from the sensation of being full. They often hunt in packs, but are most dangerous when they are moving solitarily as their pronounced barb that ends its tail makes a perfect ambush weapon. Too many young men and women from this world have breathed their last breath with that vile weapon stuck in their chest. Its only saving grace is that the Adeptus Mechanicus’ Biologis corps now employ a synthetic variation of this poison in some of their work, though even this benefit to our Imperium does not redeem them in my eyes for I have too often witnessed the epilogue of their victims.
When walking through the mountains of our world, it is wisest to stay on the paths cut by our ancestors for they have overhangs and deep, small caves for us to hide in. Stray too far into the open air and you may see too late the giant shadow of a falling Kotodor. It has been theorised that these are truly ancient monsters on our planet and it is easy to see why when you consider their enormous size and strange anatomies. On its back are two great wings with which the Kotodor cannot fly. Instead, these appendages allow it to adjust and slightly delay its fall, as the monster hunts by dropping from the peaks of mountains and flattening its prey with its armoured undercarriage. It uses dextrous hands to pick up its prey and it feeds by consuming its catch whole. The Kotodor has no teeth, but instead it has plates and muscles in its throat that crush and grind its food. The mountain chains of Orthrus are filled with these beasts so the next time you walk in their footfalls, keep an eye out for the shadows, and if one appears above you, think it not an errant cloud, and instead run on instinct for cover.
I’ll confess, when I first laid eyes upon the Spotted Rygerofin, I found the animal to be amusing and sympathetic. When, a day later, I came across a caravan that had been devoured by a pack of one hundred of the creatures, leaving 20 young men and women dead, I realised that even the sweeter-looking animals of our world are often deadly. One on its own is fine, and their diminutive stature has even made them pets among our wealthier citizens, but two or more of them and they become a threat. When they mass, they are capable of felling even the largest beasts of Orthrus. What’s more, they are everywhere. I have seen them bullying other animals at a desert oasis, hopping through the canopies of our forests, roaming the savannahs and scaling the mountains. They are little thugs when they have numerical advantage over anything else breathing that is around them, and what’s more, they can deliver a headbut like the strike of a power maul, and they have a bite which cuts like power sword. That beak of theirs makes a popular hunting triophy, but if the Spotted Rygerofin see that you’ve taken it, they will avenge their confederate with furious and too often fatal assault.
The Antopalder is one of the most curious beasts to roam the Savannahs and wetlands of our world. It is an evolutionary throwback and almost certainly the living ancestor of several other species, though none of those are as deadly as this strange monster. Frankly, everything about them is ridiculous, and one would think that such a thing as this would have died out or evolved further, but it hasn’t needed to for one very good reason; it is an incredibly efficient killer. This comes down to the fact that it employs a great range of hunting methods depending on its surroundings. It can ambush from rivers and swamps, chase across open plain, and even drop down from rocks and cliffs. The strange rear limbs have been witnessed being used as clubs, spears and also used to help the Antopalder leap to extraordinary lengths or heights. They feed regularly and often, and because of their array of talents, they have no difficulty in adapting to any prey. They are fascinating, though it is foolish to get too close or stay too long when studying them – those tusks can rip through the armour of a Chimera (yet another trick it has learned).
The Banded Hakom makes our rivers and coastlines its home and it also makes them an incredibly dangerous place to be. An amphibious monster with a vicious, and indeed paralysing bite (thanks to a toxin secreted from its jaws) it has developed a taste for humans over the millennia that means they will pursue any traveller for miles if necessary (this is not something it appears to do with any other food source). It does have one particularly curious feature though, that is as uncommon on our world as it is, I am informed, common on most others. Upon its feet, it possesses claws that rip and slash at its victims. Most other beasts rely on gripping or stomping, but the sharpened claws point at a unique evolution upon our world that unfortunately makes the Banded Hakom even more deadly. The saying goes “May you be bitten first’ among the nomads that risk the coasts – it is a wish of good fortune, hoping a speedy and painless death, rather than being ripped to shreds.
There are almost no species on the planet that can challenge the sheer bite power of the Lonar. Its traditional hunting method is to propel itself up from the deep at an almost unreal velocity before clamping its jaws into the belly of its prey and then ripping chunks out of it until it expires before the Lonar then feeds. Unfortunately for those who try to traverse the seas of Orthrus, the Lonar does not distinguish between boat hull and its more typical food, and so many have been sunk in the middle of the ocean, their crews and passengers then devoured. Only boats lined with expensive adamantium hulls stand a chance of coming out of an encounter with a Lonar unscarred. While its jaws and speed may appear to be its most potent weapons, it also possesses a pair of long tail-like appendages that are in fact incredibly powerful sonar detectors making it impossible for their quarry to hide from them.
The largest predator in our oceans, is the Halew. It drifts serenely in currents and one might imagine it to be akin to the ancient giant beasts that were said to swim in Terra’s long boiled away seas. But the Halew is instead a vicious ambush predator that swims into shallow waters from the deeps and launches itself with terrifying speed at anything moving on the shore and swallows hole everything that it can fit into its cavernous mouth. Curiously, while it attacks sea-going boats, it does this not for food but its own apparent entertainment. It crashes and spins and tosses vessels like a canid with a ball. No one really understands why it doesn’t devour the sailors as they spill into the water, but who can fathom what sort of manias and fancies can pass through the giant mind of such a beast. Strangely, it does not possess teeth, but its young are born live with large defensive teeth that drop away from it as it ages.
Of all the beasts I have encountered in the wilds of Orthrus, I do not believe any to be so ugly as the Giant Newmea. It is a hideous creation on every level. Not only does it present a monstrous visage with its sickly pink skin, wild hairs and frankly hideous face, but the way it devours its food is the stuff of nightmares. It dwells in the rivers of our world and only ventures out to feed. It will leap at its prey, pin it down and crush it with claws and the weight of its body. Once crushed sufficiently, it uses its large mouth and gripping fangs to pull the body into its digestive system where it will slip into the large appendage at its rear where its food is devoured over the course of several days. Stories have been told of men and women still screaming from inside its digestive chamber as it crawls back into the murky river waters.
All across the wilds of Orthrus, caves provide shelter for humans venturing beyond the city walls, but be wary of deeper caves for in these dwell the Seliel. These giant invertebrates dwell in the dark and hunt through motion detected through vibration and moving air-currents. Its favoured trick is to secrete a sweet smelling orange bonding agent from the glands close to its beak before returning to its slumber (it folds down the feather-like construct on its back over itself for protection and heat retention). Later, when some poor beast or person gets stuck fast in the monster’s glue and begins thrashing around trying to regain freedom, the Seliel will awaken, move ponderously towards it, and then use its beak to peck them apart and feed. Beware deep caves.
It is perhaps cruel irony that humanity introduced one of Orthrus’ most fearsome predators to the planet themselves. The Lykos’ ancestors were the canid that accompanied the first men and women to our world. Once faithful companions and working beasts, over the years they escaped to wild and became feral hunters that now roam in packs across the planet. On a world full of dangers, humanity supplied one of the most dangerous themselves. They have adapted to every type of territory and now count venturing humans as a favoured food. What’s most fascinating is how they have learned to live with, avoid and even hunt the other land-based beasts on this list. And what does it say of us that one of our most noble friends looked upon Orthrus, and took the planet’s side against ours?
And there you have it. I don’t profess to be much of an illustrator but I had loads of fun with this lot, and it was nice to get the watercolours out again. What’s next for Orthrus? I suppose we better jump into histories and languages next, but we shall see. In the meantime, enjoy your hobby time. Onwards!