The Thornkiller is a mobile plant predator that consists of a lumpy body about 10-20cm in diameter, from which sprout very long (1.5 – 2.5m), thin, tentacle-like appendages. The “tentacles” look like the thin branches of a thorny bush, giving the creature its name.
The Thornkiller lives in an ordinary bush, which it will use as camouflage. To the casual observer, its branches will look like the normal branches of any kind of thorny brush. The beast senses its prey by vibrations of the ground. When an unsuspecting creature gets too close, the tentacles will suddenly become active, and latch onto the victim, entangling it. Its sharp, thin thorns will dig into the victim’s flesh and begin to drain it of its blood, which the Thornkiller consumes. The victim will die from blood loss, and its carcass will eventually rot and fertilize the ground for the plants that the Thornkiller lives in. Some Thornkillers inhabit small burrows in the earth or small caves, where their tentacles will often be mistaken for dangling roots or vines, until the they attack.
The Thornkiller’s victims are usually small to medium sized animals, however large specimen can easily attack and kill humans or other animals of the same body mass. It only has animal-like intelligence and is mostly driven by its instincts. It is an ambush predator and will not pursue an animal that manages to break free, but its tentacle-like branches are quite strong, and struggling will usually only cause deeper wounds and thus hasten the loss of blood.
Thornkillers do not generally live in proximity to human settlements, because humans will invariably kill and burn them whenever they find out about a Thornkiller.
The creature reproduces by growing seeds like most other plants; a short time of blooming in spring is followed by the growth of the seeds on the main body of the creature. The seeds look similar to chestnuts, but their thorns are much harder and sharper. The animal will drop its seeds on to passing animals, if possible. The seeds get entangled in their fur, and will thus get carried away from the parent Thornkiller. After some time, the first tentacle-like vines will grow, and the seed will start to drain blood from the host animal. This will provide the nourishment until it has grown large enough to move on its own. This first victim is not usually killed; instead, the thornkiller drops to the ground and seeks out a nearby bush which it will make its home and where it will await a new victim.
Intelligence: Low (Animal)
Weapons: Thorny tentacles – trap and tangle victims and bleed them to death
Armor: None. Vulnerable to fire. Small size makes it hard to hit.
Inspired by a dangerously-looking thorn bush on my way to work. First written on 2002-01-18.