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Common Jobs: Guard, Farmer, Archaeologist
Likes: Their home, Peace and quiet, Appreciating the sublime beauty of nature
Dislikes: Intruders, Strangers, Thieves, Bland environments
Attack Method: Slashing with claws, biting with fangs, and smashing foes with the bulk of their body.
Garduians do not have any innate conception of gods. However, upon learning of them, almost all start following at least one.
The physical appearance of a garduian is heavily dependent on the environment they spawn in. One growing up within an abandoned castle dungeon could gain a stony texture to their skin, with thickened limbs, while one from a river might develop limited gills and fins, with a longer and more aerodynamic body. Despite this variation, guardians are always primarily reptilian in their underlying form, usually resembling serpents or lizards, with four limbs and a tail. Upon creation, a garduian is about the size of a small horse, but they continue to grow slowly as time passes, unless they would outgrow their home.
Garduians aren't born like regular organisms, but instead spontaneously come into existence as infants in places that are 'significant' in some way. What exactly this means isn't clear, as garduians have spawned in places varying from ancient ruins, to underground lakes, to desert oases, but in all cases, a garduian will 'claim' its surrounding area, treating it with a sense of ownership that will last for the rest of its life (though the claimed area can potentially expand as time passes).
This can occur anywhere across the universe, though certain planets are seemingly preferred over others for unknown reasons, and it is extremely rare for a garduian to spawn in a populated area.
Garduians do require food and water to survive like most species, though less than would be expected due to their size. They further conserve energy through hibernation, a state which can potentially last hundreds of years without the garduian dying.
Garduians are strongly protective of the places where they grew up, to an almost religious degree, and many spend their whole lives staying within the same area, watching for any passers-by who would dare to trespass. Depending on the individual, they may simply obstruct the path of intruders and attempt to divert them, or watch them like a hawk until they leave, but the instant a garduian believes something to be a threat to their home they will become hostile, attacking until the intruder has either been run off or killed. The most aggressive garduians will simply charge at anyone who enters their domain indiscriminately, without caring to give a warning.
This ferocity is matched only by the level of care they display for their home. A garduian will have complete knowledge of every stone, every blade of grass or scrap of metal that lies in their domain, and much of their time awake is spent continuously checking that everything is as it should be. Any native wildlife in the area will be protected just as fiercely, as their wellbeing is seen as the garduian's personal responsibility.
Despite this seemingly one-track mind, garduians are still intelligent creatures, capable of reasoning and thinking about a large range of subjects. What they lack is an ability to introspect: They instinctively feel they must defend their home, that it is their purpose and duty. So they perform this duty in whatever way seems fitting, without really considering why. This point of view is exacerbated by their means of sleep: Whenever a garduian is low on energy, they enter a form of dreamless hibernation where the passage of time is imperceptible, until something comes close by and they wake once more. As such, a garduian is never left alone with their thoughts: From their point of view, they are always warding off intruders.
However, if the same person meets a garduian multiple times without offending them, it is possible to slowly gain their trust, and engage them in conversations about more personal topics. If one is then led to reflect on their own life and the world around them, a garduian can end up changing their perspective and no longer feel so attached to their home. This is often accompanied by an existential crisis, however, as the garduian feels they no longer have a purpose, and usually leads to them journeying across the universe in search of meaning. All space-faring garduians have undergone this change, and are far more open-minded than their landbound counterparts, though they still hold great respect for places of natural wonder and those who watch over them. If one manages to actually befriend a garduian, they will be highly loyal, and will express delight at the prospect of visiting new places with their friend.
For a long time, garduians were not considered a single species, but rather an archetype of sorts, a common pattern for anomalies to fall into. Every time an individual was found, it was considered a separate instance, with the cause assumed to be someone praying for protection over a volcano, iceberg, tower surrounded by storm clouds, or whatever location the garduian was found in. Creatures resembling garduians appear in the stories and myths of numerous planets across the universe, in the role of ancient protectors and safekeepers of powerful artifacts, but this too was written off as coincidence.
This changed quickly when aftiks first came into contact with garduians, as not only did it turn out the creatures spoke a language, they all spoke the same language, despite never coming into contact with each other. The species was quickly given official recognition, but due to their lack of interest in anything outside their homes, the absence of anything approaching a species representative, and the general inconvenience they caused travelers, they were not granted entry into the Federation, and many planets continued to consider them pests or monsters.
However, during an incident involving a sailor shipwrecked on a mysterious island, the garduian residing there was eventually convinced to leave their home and head out into the stars, where they and the sailor became minor celebrities. This garduian spoke for the sympathetic treatment of their species, and asked that others of their kind be not killed, but reminded of the universe's beauty, as they had been. As the news that you didn't just have to avoid these creatures trickled out, more and more were approached and persuaded to leave their homes, eventually leading to the formation of a council of space-faring garduians, able to represent their species in the galactic community.
In recent times, though many landbound garduians remain devoted to their homes, they have mellowed out somewhat, testing travellers with riddles or asking for small tributes instead of simply denying all entry. Some attempts have been made by altruistic parties to set up a network between these garduians, visiting them for casual conversations and delivering messages or trinkets between them, and a few elder members of the species have taken to seeking out newborn garduians and trying to raise them as family. It remains to be seen what the outcome of these efforts will be.
When asked for details of their origin, no garduian is able to recall anything from before they spawned. As they grow older, vague recollections of being inspected by something vast and powerful, or of feeling love followed by pain, begin to return, but it is impossible to gather any concrete story from these details.
None / Unknown.
Mystic knowledge: As well as the desire to protect their home, garduians come into the world with an intuitive understanding of many things they would never have been able to learn by themselves, such as deceiving others, the usage of tools and weapons, and death. This also includes a common language shared between every member of the species, which is described to sound "old-fashioned" and "overly grandiose" by those who can translate it, and similar affectations tend to colour their speech even after learning new languages.
There have been several cases where this knowledge extended to areas of the planet the garduian resided on, but this information is often strangely out of date, like recalling the existence of a bridge over a river that ran dry several hundred years ago. It is unknown why this is, or why only some garduians have this kind of knowledge.
• Despite rumors to the contrary, rigorous statistical analysis has shown that the presence of a garduian is not actually a sign that ancient treasures or artifacts are nearby. Instead, these items are simply more likely to be in the hidden and isolated places garduians spawn in, as if they were more accessible, they probably would've been found already. Please do not try to bargain with garduians for their 'loot', they will be confused and attack you.
• Due to being huge anomalous lizard-like creatures, garduians are sometimes confused for dragons. However, the two have very little else in common. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is the presence of wings, as even garduians living on mountain peaks or floating islands do not gain the power to fly.
• The maximum age obtainable by a garduian is unknown, as almost all of them die through either violence or starvation (most garduians will refuse to leave their homes even if no sources of food are present). However, there have been rumors of a massive serpent in the far reaches of the galaxy, residing on a mysterious planet that few can find. No such creature has ever been officially recorded, but explorers have occasionally reported hearing voices in their heads, just before being forced from the planet by extreme dangers such as earthquakes, floods, etc. One such message is included below:
"...The universe is full of so much beauty. No one person could care for it all. But that was his wish, and so I am here. We are here. To preserve what shouldn't be forgotten. He raised us, loved us, and asked for our blessing at the end of his life. I followed him through mirrored temples and caves of ice, mountain dunes and sinking isles, and I will not forsake him now."
The veracity of this report and its connection to garduians is hotly debate.
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