The Baniop, also called the "Bloodjumper Frog" or "False-Frog", is among the most feared and reviled members of its kind because of its ghoulish habit of consuming blood. Worse still is the alarming tendency of Baniops to swarm in groups of fifty or more in a feeding frenzy, enabling them to suck men or even larger beasts dry. Baniops are only known to live in the Falsejungles of Chuu, located in northern Nybelmar, where the local Meelaimada men, understandably, regard them as cursed.
Appearance. Let's start with a quote: "Why? Why did they have teeth?" - Delirious Frog Victim, while being carried away by healers...
|Image description. The colourful Baniop, also known as the "Bloodjumper Frog". Picture drawn by Val O'Neil.|
To all outward appearances, the Baniop looks like an ordinary frog. Its
colouring is something of a deviation from the norm, being bright blue with
large red stripes starting at the tops of its eyes and running down the creature’s
back. It is by no stretch of the imagination a large frog; two of them could
rest comfortably on the palm of a man’s hand. The eyes of the Baniop are rather
disconcerting, being green with a curious pattern of coloured lines. The eyes
bulge out from the sockets, which themselves protrude from the top of the
Baniop's head, and have a distinct shine to them, unlike the rest of the body
which is simply slimy.
Its feet have sticky pads which enable the Baniop to hang from branches and sturdy leaves, while its powerful legs enable it to jump distances up to three fores in length and up to a fore in height from a standing start. The Baniop has, instead of the typical frog's elastic tongue, a set of rather sharp teeth, which it uses to feed. These have a tendency to fall out and are replaced by new teeth after a short while.
The Baniop is known for its stomach capacity. It can actually eat itself to
death, since its stomach is more flexible than the rest of the frog’s body. A
wet popping noise is usually associated with the phenomena of a tree frog
bursting, and is usually cause to stay away from the source of the sound, lest
one unwittingly leads more frogs to a messy death. The Baniop also has an
uncanny ability to sense living animals. Whereas some creatures (like ducks)
might be confused by a cleverly constructed fake, a Baniop is not. Some
postulate that they can actually hear a creature’s blood pumping. The Baniop
also possess a remarkable ability to suck blood. Much like blood-sucking
insects, a False-frog will drain a creature of its blood after biting. The frogs
form a tight seal with their mouths, and then drain their prey of its blood much
as one would suck an egg.
Territory. The Baniops are found exclusively in the Falsejungles of Chuu, where their amphibious nature is of great use during the occasional flood-rains that inundate the forest floor. The Falsejungles may be found near the northern coast of Nybelmar, southwest of the Ivyieth Mountains and north of Sarthera. Due to the efforts of the Meelaimada to kill these frogs, they are not found with any particular proximity to settlements of any reputable size.
Habitat/Behaviour. Baniops roam in loose groups of individuals, numbering two dozen at the very least and three score at the most, clinging to trees like over-painted mushrooms. Once they discover a target, the Baniops will descend like a living rain to bite the unwitting victim, using their feet to stick to the hide of the unfortunate prey.
Diet. The Baniop is not picky about what it eats, since it actually consumes the blood of its victims rather than their flesh; they do however tend to go after larger animals, including Meelaimada unlucky enough to run afoul of a hungry pod. Baniops do have an unusual taste for the cadensis cats that are their main predators, and the sight of many dead frogs usually indicates a fight between some cats and several groups of Baniops. To feed, a Baniop will land on a creature, cling to it with its feet and bite. The Baniop then sucks the blood from the wound until it runs dry. Oddly enough, Baniops have never been reported to feed on shed blood, nor have they been seen to feed on deceased creatures, leading some scholars to suspect that "they like it hot". The late Citon Tyurs, a noted bestiary researcher, believes that Sarvonian tales of bats "drinking" blood may have started with exaggerated stories of Baniops or at the very least were exacerbated by such tales.It is presumed the Citon met his unfortunate end while studying the Baniops after sending his most recent batch of notes upon which much of this entry is formulated.
Mating. Female Baniops lay a multitude of eggs numbering between fifty and eighty, sometimes even up to a hundred on a large leaf. The males then fight over, to the point of using their teeth, the right to fertilize these eggs. Baniops can be very dangerous during this season, since anything that moves and has a heartbeat is considered a potential aggressor. Travellers are warned to be especially careful in the later parts of Awakening Earth as frogs have been known to be more aggressive than usual.
Usages. Meelaimada folk will often try to lure Baniops into pits, usually with a sick or wounded anima as bait, and then harvest the frogs for their stomachs, which are used as waterproof pouches. Several stomachs can be used to make a larger pouch, if sewn by overlapping them at the seams. These stomachs must be treated, most often with a mixture of the blood found in the stomach and lake oil, in order to keep them elastic.
The saliva of the Baniop is also harvested, because it acts as a blood thinner and is sought after by healers. Applying Baniop saliva to a wound will prevent it from thickening and beginning to scab, and is useful if there is debris caught in the wound. Care must be taken to use this sparingly however; if the wound is too large an inability to scab over may lead to disease or death from blood loss.
While non-Meelaimada have been known to use the Banops solely for these elements, a Meelaimad will purify the corpse, usually by suspending it from a tree in the wind and sun or by smoking it over a fire with various herbs. This practice is said to "purify" the creature, in order to render the remaining parts fit for use and presumably free of whatever curse the Meelamada. Researchers have noted that the smell of a Baniop being smoked is quite unpleasant, and should be avoided if at all possible.
Myth/Lore. The Meelaimada tell that the Baniops were not always as they were. They once were frogs that ate the juice of the fruit of a certain tree, believed by some scholars to have been the keelo tree, that grew within the Falsejungles in abundance, and were known for the beautiful singing noise they made to attract mates. When the jungles began to rot and decay, so did the trees, which ceased to bear fruit. The frogs, now lacking food, began to die in great numbers, leaving corpses scattered across the floor of the jungles like flower petals after a storm. After a short while, they could no longer hear the frogs singing. The Meelaimada believed that all the frogs had died without the fruit. When it was discovered that the frogs lived, the Meelaimada were perturbed at the change that ad been wrought in the creatures. The frogs now drank blood instead of juice, and are held as a sign by the Meelaimada of their curse and of the downfall of Chuu.
Researchers have had difficulty categorizing the Baniop, in part because of the difficulty in obtaining whole specimens. Its anatomy and feeding habits, among other details, leave the question of whether or not it is a true frog rather hotly debated by bestiary experts.
Researchers. The (once again) presumed late Citon Tyrus, whose notes were invaluable in the creation of this entry, Compendiumist and researcher of the "unmundane" is the last person known to have done any significant research on the subject of Banops. However, because of previous lack of communication on the part of Master Tyrus as well as the rather humorous and unprecedented event of Tyrus interrupting his own funeral service there has been some hesitation to actually pronounce him dead again.