The hornbeak trask, known in the indigenous language of Zu as karshar, is a species of voracious predatory reptiles native to the southern continent of Zu. They have since spread to Immoren, and are most commonly encountered in Cygnaran and Ordic ports, where they travelled as pests in the holds of trading ships or occasionally as ill-chosen pets by sailors. The appellation 'hornbeak' suggests to some scholars that multiple species of trask may inhabit Zu, but the matter is unclear.
The size of a large dog, hornbeak trasks resemble a lizard, including leathery skin whose colouration might provide camouflage in their native jungle habitats. They are endothermic and ovoparous, hatching from large leathery eggs in the manner of a lizard.
Hornbeak trasks are hypercarnivores content to consume any ready source of meat it can find: rats, stray dogs, gobbers, and even, on occasion, larger prey. A hungry hornbeak trask will consider virtually anything that moves as a food source, including large birds. On the hunt, they are tenacious stalkers capable of surprising speed and agility. They can unhinge their beaked jaws to take surprisingly large bites out of prey.
The hornbeak trask’s hunger is matched only by its sloth after feeding. The trask will usually withdraw to somewhere it thinks is secure, such as a hollow tree or a burrow stolen from another creature, before glutting itself. At this point, the creature lapses into a torpid, almost harmless state.
A trask that has gone more than a few days without food enters hibernation. In this state, the trask requires neither food nor water and slowly loses weight. No one knows just how long a trask can go without food, but anecdotal evidence suggests they may be able to endure months or even years of deprivation. Some scholars suggest that this behaviour is an adaptation to cyclical and regular diminishment of available prey in its native environment, but little is known in Immoren about the ecology of Zu.
Trasks will often become attached to an individual who provides them with food, but this bond can grow tenuous if a trask feels that its provider is not holding up his end of the relationship. This bonding has led some to surmise that trasks might live in packs in their natural environment.
The hornbeak trask’s adrenal glands may be used in alchemical production, just like the adrenal glands of the burrow-mawg. Alchemists have taken some interest in the trask, finding that certain organs make fair substitutes for components usually gathered from burrow-mawgs. However, since the trask is only somewhat less irascible than a burrow-mawg, and much rarer, this fact is little more than a curiosity and not a source of serious revenue for any notable alchemical manufacturers.
The indigenous peoples of Zu consider hornbeak trasks possessed of the spirits of the dead sages who have decided to linger in the world. Sorcerers of certain tribes value their intelligence and loyalty and often choose them as familiars. They bestow a the ability to move very quickly for short bursts but at the cost of increased hunger.