The reclusive Monh-Rum is a wholly remarkable amphibian. Living most of its life in the Gotgavnynn hot springs network of the Northern Sarvonian Iceland's Coast, the beast's rock-like skin and tremendous size make it a very dangerous predator. Luckily, the creature is incredibly rare and very seldom seen outside of the hot springs, and even more scarcely seen out of water.
The Monh-Rum does not stand far from the ground, only measuring around a ped at
its tallest. However, what the beast lacks in height it more than makes up for
in length. The arctic amphibian measures about two and a half to three and a
half peds from mouth to the
tip of its tail. Almost half of this length is made up of the thick, strong tail
itself. The beast's four weak limbs protrude from its thick body horizontally,
as if they're more useful to keep the creature from rolling over than actually
moving its massive girth. Each limb is very short and ends in four equally small
digits. On land, these limbs seem only to play a minor role in the creature's
locomotion, aiding its snake-like slither. In the
water, however, they have been seen using their limbs often to help them
propel. However due to their small size, it is hard to tell how much the small
limbs actually help the beast's swimming.
The Monh-Rum's wide, flat head is shaped not unlike the head of a shovel and seems almost immediately connected to its body, with very little to no neck. Two small black eyes protrude from the the top of its skull. The creature's wide mouth is full of very small teeth. Despite their small size, the Monh-Rum's powerful jaws make good use of the sharp teeth. However, the first thing one notices when the creature's mouth opens is its wide blue tongue.
The tough skin of this gigantic salamander is somewhat of a mystery. Unlike most amphibians, which have smooth skin, the Monh-Rum's hide has much the same colour and consistency of un-worked stone. Thus, a careless passersby might pass one sunning itself near a lake and never notice the beast. Its colouration varies little in hue, staying mostly solid throughout the creature's body. The beast is occasionally seen at the bottom of clear shallow lakes, using its hide as camouflage in an attempt to ambush would-be prey.
The Monh-Rum's rock-like skin is very tough. Not quite as strong or dense as
stone, many an Ice Tribesmen has
found that piercing the beast's hide is a difficult task. This tough skin seems
not only to protect the creature from the other inhabitants of the Icelands, but
from the hot water from the Gotgavnynn network.
While usually incredibly passive whilst on land, the Monh-Rum has been known to chase attackers or would-be prey over very short distances. It is style of movement is more akin to a snake-like slither than an actual run, though it is aided by its short limbs. During this burst of movement, the beast can reach speeds matching that of a running human, though only for about a dash. Thus it pays to be wary around these seemingly rock-like predators.
The most dangerous ability of the Monh-Rum is its bite. Its saliva has a fast acting paralytic effect on the area which is bitten. Though this does not help the beast take down its smaller fish prey, it is tremendous help when attacking larger creatures or defending itself against a human or orc. Combined with its ability to move with short bursts of speed on land and its stone-like skin, the Monh-Rum's dangerous bite make the creature a hardy adversary.
Territory. The Monh-Rum makes its home primarily in the Icelands region of Northern Sarvonia, though have also been spotted south of the Gathorn mountain range. Though mostly seen on land, the creature is believed to spend most of its time in the water in the network of hot-springs that the Ice Tribes call the Gotgavnynn. Through this network of under-ground springs the Monh-Rum travel between various lakes and rivers. They have even been spotted in the summer sunning on ocean shores and islands. The large amounts of time spent in the hot-spring network or bathing in what sun there is seems to make due for the fact that most amphibians prefer a warmer climate.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Monh-Rum's temperament and behavior seem to vary wildly depending on whether the beast is on land or in water. This probably has a lot to do with its vastly reduced mobility outside of an aquatic environment. For this reason, the Monh-Rum never strays more than a few peds from water. Only during the short summer does the Monh-Rum leave the confines of the water, though it is unclear as to why exactly the usually water-based creature does this.
As noted before, the Monh-Rum spends the vast majority of its time in the Gotgavnynn network of hot springs that spread throughout the Iceland's coast. Due to the nature of the underground network, this means that the beast is very rarely encountered and its habits are not often seen. However, it can be found in some of the few hot pools formed by the Gotgavnynn network that have tunnel entrances large enough to accommodate the sizable salamander. It is more commonly seen in the larger lakes and ocean. In these aquatic environments the Monh-Rum is very aggressive, attacking would-be prey with abandon. This includes any orcs or members of the Ice Tribes that may be in the water. For this reason, new hot pools are viewed warily until it is determined whether the entrance is large enough for the dangerous amphibian to get through.
On land the beast is very passive, lying very still for much of the time. It is so still, in fact, that its tough skin makes it seem more akin to a rock than to a salamander. This manner is adhered to even should potential prey venture near. However, it will attack any prey that ventures too close to the beast's mouth. It will also retreat to the water if it senses any danger from potential hunters or predators. Unfortunately due to its poor eyesight, hunters from the orc or Ice Tribes have found that sneaking up on the creature is relatively easy.
Diet. An adult Monh-Rum's diet consists mostly of various fish, but they have been seen eating numerous small mammals, including the hrugchuck mouse, rheeah, pinnip seals and the young of various other mammals. Their strong jaws allow them to eat even the hard-shelled flyer crab. Though its not common, particularly large specimen have been known to feed on orcs and humans of the Ice Tribes. Monh-Rum in the earlier stages of their development seem to be completely herbivorous, consuming only the hardy moss found in Iceland lakes.
Mating. Due to the fact that the beast spends such a vast majority of its time underwater, very little is known about the Monh-Rum's mating habits. Even on the rare occasions that two creatures have been observed together on land, reports suggest that their intentions were anything but amorous. Such evidence leads one to believe that what courtship and copulation habits exist are done completely within the confines of the water.
Infant Monh-Rum are only found in the waters of the Iceland's lakes. The earlier stages of development seem to have the creature as fish-like, and gradually the Monh-Rum gains the tough skin, strong limbs and lungs of an adult. It is not entirely known how long this development takes, though judging by the long lifespan of these animals it could be quite a while indeed.
Since infant Monh-Rum have only been found in lakes, it is theorized that all egg laying is done in lakes as opposed to the Gotgavnynn network. This makes sense, since the early developmental stages of the beast are without the tough skin to protect it from the hot waters found in the hot spring network. It is also postulated that the eggs hatch early in winter since the young can only be found after the lake's surface thaws, and the infants found are already partially developed.
Usages. While the Monh-Rum is a dangerous foe, the Ice Tribes consider them a rare boon because the meat of this beast is surprisingly tender and flavourful. The head is un-edible due to the dangerous saliva, but the rest of the body is considered a delicacy and is used as a reward for brave hunters or warriors. The tough armored skin of the beast is highly prized amongst both the Ice Tribes and orcs of the Icelands. It is often woven into the furs and pelts of the tribe's most prized warrior or leader, helping to protect them against blows. The danger of the animal combined with how rare it is make these prized suits a very scarce treasure.
Using any part of the head is considered taboo by the Ice Tribes, and is thought to bring Aleshnir's ire. This taboo is so strong that even the monotheistic followers of Kor'och adhere to it, though that may be mostly due to tradition. The Rhom-oc orcs will occasionally harvest the poison, if they think they can get enough of it, and use it to coat their arrows.
Myth/Lore. The Ice Tribes consider the Monh-Rum to be the love-child of both Zundefor and Aleshnir to spite the earth god, Ertemmir. However, Ertemmir used their trick to his advantage; blessing the creature with gifts of his own.
According to Ice Tribes mythos, in the eternal conflict between the gods, Aleshnir became jealous of Ertemmir's complete dominion over land. Thus, Aleshnir and Zundefor mated, creating the Monh-Rum: beast with the freedom to leave the water. Ertemmir, enraged, blessed the creature with a rock-like skin to foil would be predators, while simultaneously blessing the beast with its poisonous mouth to kill both the beasts of Zundefor's and Aleshnir's domains. The tribes tell this story about the Monh-Rum:
years unknown, the god of earth, Ertemmir, mocked the Aleshnir for her
beast's inability to come up onto land, which was his domain. But Aleshnir
grew weary of Ertemmir's bragging ways. He spoke often and loudly of the
Aleshnir being completely unable to enter his realm for all her beasts'
might. Stewing on her anger, Aleshnir made a pact with Zundefor. Together
they spawned the Monh-Rum; blessed with the ability to leave her watery
realm, and venture forth into Ertemmir's dry domain. Occasionally, one can
see the beast lying on land, openly flaunting Aleshnir's defiance of
Ertemmir. Angered by this outrage, Ertemmir blessed the beast with its
poison, allowing it to defeat many of Zundefor's champions. This is why we
never take the beast's head. We dare not risk the god's wrath in stealing
the gift that gave his triumph over Zundefor."
It is not entirely clear why the Ice Tribes do not view the using of the Monh-Rum's skin as a slight against the earth god like they do with its head, though a theory exists that could be that it stemmed from the Ice Tribes' aversion to the poisonous saliva. Thus, the myth of Ertemmir's wrath may have been created after the tradition of ignoring the beast's head.