Author's Note: I made this as a kinda Wikipedia style biological summary of Fatalis with speculative features and explanations for its abilities. Do note that this is heavily speculative and mostly based on my very basic understanding of biology and general observation with these monsters. It is all labelled so you can skip to specific parts if you want.
1.Size and appearance
Vaal Hazak is an average-sized Elder Dragon (Hexapoda) native to the Rotten Vale of the New World. The largest adult Vaal Hazaks can grow up to 26 meters long and weigh up to 13 tons but most individuals are between 18 to 20 meters and 9 tons. Their scales smokey silver with a darker grey colour on the underbelly, limbs, and tail. The large eyes are neon yellow. Most of the time, however, Vaal Hazaks cover themselves in shrouds of rotting flesh which hides their shape and shade.
Vaal Hazak possesses multiple traditional Elder Dragon traits. For example, they possess four limbs, four of which are short and slender, with an erect posture indicative of more derived species, for terrestrial locomotion while the remaining pair situated above and partially anterior to the first pair of walking limbs have elongated digits with partial connecting membranes, remnants of wings. The scales are large, thin and overlapping, bearing a striking resemblance to fish scales. A single line of tall forward-curving hooked osteoderms run from the neck down the back and to two-thirds of the tail. Similar structures run down the chest, limbs and underneath the tail. The Vaal Hazak’s true form is often concealed by layers of collected rotting flesh which attach to its skin via the aforementioned hooked osteoderms and adhesive secretions.
The skull is unusually deep and narrow, with the eye orbits being situated close to the narises. The eye orbits themselves are extremely large, holding large light-sensitive eyes beneficial for a cave-dwelling animal. The upper jaw curves upwards and bears long conical teeth that are the largest at the tip of the premaxilla and reduces in size as they move posteriorly. The lower jaw has a similar arrangement with larger teeth at the front and smaller teeth at the rear. The skull bones are very reduced posteriorly to the orbit as the temporal and supertemporal fenestrae (openings) enlarging with the former spreading to the upper jaw and removing some of the bones, which reduces structural integrity and muscle attachments but also decreases weight and increases gape, letting Vaal Hazak open its jaws up to almost 180 degrees. The tongue is highly modified with twin reinforcing ossified rods running along either side of it and bearing jagged calcified projections, resembling a second jaw with teeth. Overall, the jaw anatomy appears adapted for catching small, slippery prey with long, pointed teeth and then dragging the whole animal down the throat with the tongue, facilitated by the smaller posterior teeth. However, Vaal Hazak has only been seen feeding indirectly via absorbing effluvium.
2.Corpse adhesion and preservation.
Vaal Hazak’s skin secretes slimy substances allowing the rotten flesh to attach to its skin alongside the use of hook-like osteoderms. Vaal Hazak also emits acid through its skin, a bi-product of drinking from the Vale’s acidic pools. This acid kills most bacteria and preserves the flesh for camouflage and to feed acid-resistant effluvium.
3.Respiration and Effluvial control
All Elder Dragons convergently evolved a respiratory system analogous to birds and flying wyverns (as well as Earthly birds), consisting of un-inflatable lungs and four pairs of air sacs: Cervical (Neck), Anterior thoracic (Chest), Posterior thoracic (Waist), Abdominal (Abdomen). Air moves through the lungs air sac, nourishing the lungs with fresh oxygenated air with every inhalation and exhalation and unburdening them of stagnant air (Best explanation:
). This system of air sacs feeds Elder Dragons the oxygen intake needed for their metabolism and reduces overall weight.
The air sacs also serve a dual purpose for aiding in Vaal Hazak’s control of effluvium (yeah, modified air sacs are gonna be a bit of a crux for this series though it’s not entirely without backing, real-life air sacs were/are pretty versatile, they likely evolved to aid in breathing but then developed into weight reduction which led to flight and some diving birds even use them as shock absorbers). The air sacs are closely attached to the walls of the thoracic and abdominal cavities with small cavities filled with permeable membranes leading to the skin in between the overlap of the scales. When Vaal Hazak inhales by expanding its chest cavities, the overlap of the scales open up and ambient effluvium bacteria and the effluvium gas they generate through their respiration are absorbed into the air sacs where they are stored and fed by the Vaal Hazak’s high levels of bioenergy. The bacteria also travels into the bloodstream through the lungs and then permeates across its body where they release the energy they gain from cellular respiration to feed Vaal Hazak’s cell which in-turn purify it into bio-energy and shares it back with the bacteria, revitalizing it. The rest of the bacteria inhabits Vaal Hazak’s coat of flesh. Vaal Hazak can also breathe out the effluvium gas in its respiratory system in the form of a powerful concentrated beam through the tracheal opening in its throat, a mechanism reminiscent of the fire breathing in Fatalis.
While this might be a net loss in energy for the bacteria, Vaal Hazak provides a safe and stable vessel for it, allowing it to spread more effectively. However, the effluvium is ultimately serving Vaal Hazak unwittingly as the bacteria doesn't have the will of its own. Vaal Hazak is also able to spread some sort of chemical pheromone or perhaps some of its bio-energy into the ambient environment onto the skin of infected monsters, attracting the effluvium within them to the surface where it is drawn towards Vaal Hazak in channels due to magnetic fields generated by sets of weak magnetic organs located near the air sacs (A good explanation of how something like would work: https://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterHunter/comments/334pz1/does_zinogre_have_fleas_or_do_thunderbugs_have/). The bacteria and gas are then absorbed into the respiratory system once it’s close enough.
The process by which Vaal Hazak survives with high concentrations of the dangerous effluvium is unknown though it is possible that it’s bio-energy fills and pacifies the virus.
1.Feeding and diet
The feeding method of Vaal Hazak is largely a mystery. A hunter, the Sapphire Star of the Fifth Fleet recorded witnessing it absorb effluvium from an entire pack of Girros, leaving them as shrivelled cadavers while the Elder Dragon appeared to have been revitalized. Thus, the only known and confirmed method of feeding for Vaal Hazak is rather unusual, as it doesn’t appear to eat at all, directly absorbing effluvium into its bloodstream and then absorbing the energy from them which they are able to sustain themselves with due to their highly efficient cellular respiration and their low activity levels. The fact that the observed Girroses were killed after the effluvium was sucked out of them suggests that the effluvium bacteria might somehow actively keep their hosts alive if only barley or perhaps the pheromone Vaal Hazak uses to lure them to the surface somehow causes them to feast more viciously, killing their hosts in the process. It must also be noted that Vaal Hazak may be unable to process the meat found in the Rotten Vale and thus rely on the effluvium for sustenance and by wearing its cloak of flesh, it’s allowing the bacteria to break down and digest it’s food for it, somewhat like probiotics found in other creatures. The lack of a membrane on the lower jaw and of dental and mandibular adaptations for feeding on the food sources found in the Rotten Vale further shows that Vaal Hazak doesn’t and is likely unable to feed naturally.
2.Camouflage and defence
Besides providing an environment and food for the effluvium bacteria, the cloak of rotting flesh carried by Vaal Hazak likely serves the purpose of camouflage, allowing it to blend in with the rotting corpses of the Rotten Vale while resting. This serves two purposes: It prevents potential food sources such as Girros from fleeing at the sight of an Elder Dragon; It prevents frequent conflict with other aggressive apex predators like Deviljho and Odogaron. They also tend to sleep and rest under large piles of corpses to further this effect. However, Vaal Hazak is still highly capable of defending itself in a physical confrontation. While it’s physical capabilities is rather subpar for a creature of its size with average speed, strength and flight (Its ability to fly at all, such as when being mounted by hunters, with it’s reduced wings is, as of yet, a mystery), It uses the effluvium bacteria and toxin for self-defence. It is able to release clouds of effluvial gas through the same pores it absorbs the bacteria through to create a barrier of flesh-eating bacteria that would deter most aggressors and nullify the rest, being able to bring down an Odogaron with ease. The effluvium bacteria harm victims by rapidly consuming flesh while producing effluvium gas which seems to be cytotoxic (a toxin that kills cells). They can also contract their chest cavities and exude the effluvial gas from their air sacs in a long-range concentrated beam that infects and poisons threats. This is generally used against tougher or smart and more agile foes such as Deviljho and hunters respectively.
3.Reproduction and life cycle
There is no information regarding the reproduction and life cycle of Vaal Hazak though it is possible that they could asexually reproduce like Fatalis and Nergigante.
4.Blackveil Vaal Hazak
The Blackveil Vaal Hazak is a variant of Vaal Hazak that inhabits the Ancient Forest. While some claim that this is a subspecies of Vaal Hazak, it is likely that it is the same animal (genetically) interacting with a different environment. Instead of wearing solely rotting flesh, which is less commonly available than in the Rotten Vale, they also collect decaying vegetable matter. This habit leads to them accumulating fungal growth, which feeds on the rotting vegetation as well as Vaal Hazak’s bio-energy, across their bodies, even covering their eyes rendering them blind, though this doesn’t harm them too much due to their passive lifestyle. The fungus mixes with the effluvium bacteria, likely being immune to it due to the bacteria only targeting flesh and as the fungus spread its spores to reproduce, they also exude the effluvium bacteria and gas in vast clouds. The bacteria seem to form a symbiotic bond with the fungus, mixing in with the fungus’s structure and spores and feeding off of the energy generated by the Fungus’s respiration as well as Vaal Hazak’s bio-energy. As the bacteria are mixed in with the fungal spore, the production of the latter also seems to somehow stimulate and speed up the reproduction of the former. Vaal Hazak’s bio-energy also acts as a sort of super-fertilizer promoting growth and speeding up production of spores while its behaviour of blowing effluvial air through the pore in its skin stimulates the fungus, triggering a larger release of effluvial spore.
Classification and Evolution:
It is highly likely that Vaal Hazak descended from aquatic fish-eating ancestors considering the jaw teeth morphology resembles those of piscivores and the talons, while atrophied, are strongly curved, suitable for gripping slippery prey. The wing digits appear short and broad, suitable as paddles for moving through the water while the limbs are short and could be tucked in to reduce drag. The enlarged eyes are also very similar to those of deep-sea fish. Therefore, Vaal Hazak has been placed in the order Aquadraconiforme, one of the more basal orders of Hexapods though more derived than the sprawling Fatalis and relatives who branched out before Vaal Hazak and its relatives. Namielle and Chameleos also likely belong in this order, with similar traits like a similar body plan, broad fin-like wings, sharp pointed teeth, the ability to absorb and exude various substances and the presence of electric organs (*though the electric organs for Vaal Hazak are purely my speculation). However, it could be argued that these similarities are results of convergent evolution with Vaal Hazak being in a separate group from Namielle. Whatever their respective origins, it is possible that Vaal Hazak and Namielle were competitors, with Vaal Hazak being the older species, and Namielle out-competed it, driving Vaal Hazak populations to the Rotten Vale, likely as an accelerated version of the Elder Dragon death cycle though some individuals survived and adapted to the environment of the Rotten Vale by using the effluvium bacteria to their advantage.
Next one: Shara Ishvalda
Source: Original link
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