Art by, Mel
Danger Level: Moderate
Likes: Its owner, Being fed
Dislikes: Intruders to its territory
Attack Method: Traps its prey in its mouth and slowly digests it.
Most sightings of the runicate will be of a single bulbous, translucent head amongst the trees. It bobs at the tip of a long stalk, mouth agape and black eyes bulging, like a shocked plastic bag. Much like plastic, its skin has a scrunched appearance. Its tubular stalk is segmented. The base of the stalk is rooted in the ground, under which it tucks its small body and stubby legs. If necessary it can uproot itself and teeter to a new location where it will take root again, though its vestigial eyes and lack of other prominent senses mean it needs to be led there.
Runicates have no teeth. They digest their prey by trapping it in their mouths and slowly melting it down with powerful acids before they swallow it into their disproportionately tiny bodies. They grow rapidly from puppy size to their full height of approximately nine feet over the first three years of their lives.
Runicates are given to notail children shortly after hatching. They imprint on their owners for life, able to detect them by smell and touch. If a runicate picks up the scent or feels the touch of anything but its owner, it will lash out and try to bite. For the first few years of its life this is harmless as runicates are too small to do any damage, though it grows more of a problem with age, encouraging owners to isolate themselves.
By placing a hand on the runicate its owner can lead it anywhere and instruct it to plant or uproot itself. Once planted, the unique ability of the runicate comes into play. It will sprout additional heads underground to follow trails of food left by its owner up to a kilometre, which will pop out of the ground wherever they are instructed to and remain there. While notails have bred the ability to digest and swallow out of these secondary heads, the instinct to snatch up any passing food in them has remained, making them incredibly useful for guarding territories. Since the food cannot be digested the runicate’s owner can take their time patrolling the territory guarded by the heads to see what they’ve caught and subsequently choose whether to set it free or feed it to the main head. If required to move, the runicate must retract all of its additional heads and uproot itself, and its owner must regrow them all once they have found a new spot for the runicate.
These properties make the runicate especially useful as a capture creature for notail R-classes.
Lunicate: This variant especially bred to fit the L-class can be made to imprint on an entire area so it will only attack anyone not from it. This can be done by rooting the lunicate in the centre of a settlement for a week. If taken to another settlement successfully and left rooted for another week it will re-imprint on its new territory.
Uwunicate: Bred for the pet trade, this subspecies is immediately recognisable for its ‘closed’ eyes and mouth and far longer legs. The uwunicate will grow to a maximum height of 4 feet and is far less territorial than its capture creature cousins. In fact it must be hand fed as it will rarely seek out food for itself. It is also far more mobile, but will happily take root in a garden and sprout additional heads for decoration if instructed.
Cerberus Syndrome: The runicate can sprout many additional heads that can spread up to a kilometre square around its main head.
• The uwunicate can be used to catch unwanted insects around the house.
• Wild runicates, known as wunicates, are all but extinct due to being highly dangerous, but notably had much greener skin than their notail-bred descendants.
• Runicates can be very affectionate. They usually show affection by bumping and nuzzling, even wrapping their long, smooth necks around their owner.
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