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"Only a fool would think they are safe when they come face to face with a Bloodjackal. A lone beast is an admirable opponent to be sure, but nothing a respectable demon can’t easily fend off. The problem is most demons forget Bloodjackals hunt in pairs. And the other one will always be right behind you, exactly where you can never see it coming."


As with many of our discoveries, I stumbled upon this one entirely by accident. My initial goal was to head into the far northeast corner of the demon territory to explore the flora and fauna that live in the moors and grasslands there. I had stopped to camp by Lake Suketsu that lied just north of the wall of buttes that separated me from the magical and dangerous Blastlands. The sun had nearly set, its final rays painting everything a beautiful crimson, when I heard the high pitch howling of what I thought were Heathfiends echoing through the buttes.

For me, it was a comforting sound. Much like how humans are drawn to wolves, and faeries to foxes, us demons have an affinity with jackals. The subtype known as Heathfiends are by far the most common type of jackal to be found roaming the demon lands. They are best known for their incredible speed and stamina, allowing them to chase prey over fairly long distances. Heathfiends are considered "cute" by demon standards with long, lean legs, large pointed ears, and elongated snouts full of razor sharp teeth. Their tails, unlike other canines, are more similar to a cat's and are covered with short fur except for the large tuft of black hair at the very end. Most of their body is covered in a beautiful, deep brown calico coat of short fur, but their legs and face are black. Though they are not large canines, they appear more sizable simply due to their height, which can reach up to 3' / 91 cm at the shoulder.

Besides simply being a familiar favourite, Heathfiends are special to demons as they represent loyalty and love. Once Heathfiends turn around two years old they leave their parents to go find a hunting partner of their own. When they find this partner they will remain in a monogamous relationship until the end of their lives. If one of the pair should die, the other often dies not long after from malnutrition - they simply no longer wish to hunt prey or scavenge for wild fruits without their beloved partner by their side.

In hindsight, I feel a bit silly thinking that what I heard was Heathfiends because they are specifically suited to hunt and scavenge in the open plains. They would have no business roaming this rocky, mountainous terrain. But I wasn't entirely wrong - I definitely heard jackals.

What happened next was a bit of a blur. I saw a Two-tailed Mountaingoat galloping in the distance and a moment later caught two flashes of red pursuing it. I immediately dropped everything and rushed after them as fast as I could. Don't ever tell another demon this, but in that moment I wished I had some faerie speed, because I was only able to catch the very end of the hunt. But what I did manage to see did not disappoint. They were clever animals, relying heavily on flanking and circling around the goat that had to choose between either kicking its hindlegs or butting forward with its massive, curled horns. Their attacks were also well coordinated, yet hard to predict. The poor goat didn't stand a chance.

By judging their sizes in comparison to the Mountaingoat, I could tell these new creatures, which I've dubbed Bloodjackals, were a bit shorter than a typical Heathfiend and probably stood closer to 2.75' / 81 cm at the shoulder. Though they still had the characteristic large pointed ears and elongated snout, their build was much more muscular. My guess is that they rely on short, powerful bouts of speed to corner their prey in this rocky terrain, rather than a hunt of attrition that Heathfiends engage in on the open fields.

There were also two other very noticeable differences. One was the colouring of their fur. Like Heathfiends, their legs and faces were black. However, instead of brown, the Bloodjackal's fur faded from a deep crimson at their underbellies all the way to a bright red along the top of their spine. Amusingly, this fur at the very top angled upwards, giving them a short, mohawk-like crest from the back of their heads all the way down their tail. Additionally, their canine teeth were more pronounced and elongated, curving slightly outward and protruding even when their mouths were closed. I couldn't be sure if this was a functional adaptation or if these teeth served more as a display of dominance or virility. From the distance it was hard to see, but it appeared that their lateral incisors were enlarged as well to fulfill the role that their canine teeth once did.

The other key difference was this hunting pair was two males - one older and one younger. My current theory is that instead of mating pairs these Bloodjackals might form master/apprentice type bonds. Unfortunately, even after staying two weeks in the area, I never caught another sighting. The buttes, hoodoos, and other rocky structures formed a natural maze that made following the sound of the Bloodjackals' howls near impossible as they echoed and bounced before melting into the long shadows cast by the setting sun.

~ Sakino

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