Basilisks are large reptilian creatures native to the Trembling Waste, in Tor-Sarikaan of the Skorne Empire, apparently at home within its strange shifting boundaries. Few creatures can withstand a basilisk’s withering gaze, one of the most dreadful attacks of any creature inhabiting the badlands surrounding the Skorne Empire. Only the skorne intentionally confront these creatures, regularly pressing them into service as warbeasts.
Basilisks are stout bipeds the size of an adult trollkin. They have large claws and a vicious bite that can deliver mildly paralytic venom, primarily used when hunting. When its eyes focus on a foe, a basilisk unleashes a wave of rippling power that causes the air to shimmer as if turned into a flow of heavy liquid. This unnatural wave of entropic energy inflicts indescribable pain on living creatures: skin sloughs from bone and muscle tissue falls apart as if roasted. An enraged basilisk’s stare can shatter stone, melt iron or turn an armoured man into a pile of bloody flesh and melted scrap, and those who catch its full brunt often leave behind nothing more than a handful of fine dust.
Basilisks are extremely territorial, and their control of their claimed territory in the Trembling Waste is virtually unopposed. Despite sharing the Waste with all manner of fierce beasts, their ability to kill with a mere look cements their status as apex predators, though some bold creatures might raid their nests for eggs if unattended. Female basilisks, called kreas, are more aggressive than males, and their ferocity only increases if a male basilisk is nearby.
When not hunting or defending their nests, basilisks spend much of their time maintaining their burrows or basking in the desert sun. Basilisks lay eggs in shadowed crevices and stay close enough to drive off anything that imperils the nest.
The capture and conditioning of basilisks cost a great deal in terms of time, material, and lives. Even so, properly conditioned basilisks remain in high demand, both for the destructive power of their gaze and for the unique powers they develop under the cruel tutelage of the beast handlers. Captured young and properly trained, basilisks are receptive to commands and can be handled with reasonable predictability. Paingivers attach hooks to their mouths in order to control and direct them while outside of a warlock’s influence.
Female and male basilisks are employed differently in battle and require specific and different procedures. Since basilisk females fight with even greater ferocity in the presence of a male, the two are often fielded together on the battlefield to increase their effectiveness.
Male basilisks, or drakes, are conditioned from an early age to harness the power of their gaze and keep the creature under control. Paingiver beast handlers take great precautions in the early stages of conditioning and are able to limit the number of deadly accidents.
For centuries the skorne did not bring female basilisks, known as kreas, to battle; they used them only for breeding drakes. Unleashing the full potential of basilisk kreas was a triumph of the beast handlers, for they are capable of mystical feats beyond those of drakes. Skorne chirurgeons sew shut each krea’s eyes to focus her power, heightening the ability of her other senses to detect her surroundings. This mutilation does little to dampen their aggression and seems to have no effect on their ability to perceive their surroundings.
The blinded krea’s destructive gaze turns inward, building to a critical threshold of energy radiating from her body. This aura is different from the blast that once poured from her eyes, sapping the strength of enemies and slowing their movements as if they were trapped in a thick fluid. This aura is also defensive in nature, as the slowing effect halts projectiles. The aura is strongly amplified for several years after they give birth. Handlers suspect this power is used in the wild to protect their young from predators.