Kvarckutya - The Basilisk Dogs

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DEMON OF THE FIRST CIRCLE, PROGENY OF SHE WHO SURMOUNTED THE OMPHALOS

Six-legged dogs the size of a horse, the kvarckutya were made by Stanewald in the days she was called the Answer to the Earth. They blend well into darkness, save for a telltale glint of reflected light; for the skin of a basilisk dog is obsidian, and the only colour on them are the long spines of green quartz that line their backs and heads, and which form their deep-set eyes. While they are swift runners and well suited for travelling long distances, the basilisk dogs despise any who bid them be ridden. They hold this hatred not because their spined backs are dangerous, though it is true that the angles of their volcano-glass bodies and the points of the crystal spines are lethally sharp, and must be covered over with specially treated leathers inset with steel to be safe to sit on. No, their emnity stems from the fact that sitting astride a kvarckutya or having it bear a burden is to mute its voice, for they use vibrations of the green quartz crystals along their backs and heads to speak. Being silenced is a torture for the basilisk dog, though they hold no special eloquence or intellect. It is simply because speech reminds them they are above the rock that composes their forms. Having their voice denied to them fills them with the fear that their progenitor’s eye will turn upon them, and that she will take pleasure in the shattering of their stony hides.

The crystalline bodies of the basilisk dogs are brittle, and easily shattered by enough force. To do so is a dangerous prospect, however, for the shards of crystal that ricochet from such a wound are sharper than any mortal sword or dagger, and can easily be fatal to an unwary attacker. A single blow will not kill a kvarckutya, for their forms are made up from many sheets of crystal, and they devour rock and stone at a prodigious rate to regrow lost layers. On the streets of Malfeas, there is profit to be made by those who can survive the flying shards a basilisk dog sheds, and not uncommon is the sight of a blood ape armed with a crude macuahuitl made from kvarckutya spine-shards and a torn-off branch of Malfean vegetation.

Sorcerers who summon these demons do so for a variety of uses. Perhaps the most surprising on the surface is their role as sentinels and bodyguards. It is not as mad a prospect as it seems, however - a basilisk dog may not be able to touch its ward for fear of cutting them, but by interposing its body between them and any attacker it makes for a formidable defence, and its claws and teeth can slice through steel with terrible ease. Their voracious appetites for stone and rock make them useful as miners, and a kvarckutya can devour a tunnel wide enough for a man to crawl down as fast as he can follow them along it. Finally, their use as a source of materials is obvious; sorcerers bring them to creation to use shards of their skin. Whenever a basilisk dog holds still for several minutes, it sheds shards of skin and crystal spines when it moves again, leaving a terrible mess of quartz and obsidian wherever it stood. While these leavings are mostly worthless, there are always sharp-edged shards amongst the debris that can be put to use as tools or weapons of exceptional quality. When shards of a shattered stone or crystal draw blood, a basilisk dog can squirm through the gaps in the Yozi’s prison, leaving only shed spines and fragments behind as it escapes.

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