Gaaka-den are slender, eel-like animals with knobbly skin. Adults of both sexes usually grow between 35 and 50 feet long. They have a row of spines running down their back, a set of bioluminescent scales running down the dark stripe on its sides as well as hanging off of "feelers" at the end of its tail, and most strikingly a gaping maw full of rapier-like teeth. Like the majority of wildlife on Larine, the gaaka-den has unblinking, wide yellow eyes in order to see in low-light conditions. On each side of its body nearby its head are two stubby hand-like fins. Scientists were initially unsure what purpose these "fins" served, but it is now believed they help to steer a gaaka-den's movement. The gaaka-den's skin usually comes in dark blue, grey, or bronze coloration, but white gaaka-den are not unknown.
Like the Ashkathi, gaaka-den skeletons are made primarily of cartilage, making them relatively lightweight for their size. Their stomach is large, but their inefficient digestive system means that most food is low in nutrients to gaaka-den, and thus they must eat large amounts in order to survive. Their tendency to eat inedible materials like metal and stone is a contributing factor to this.
BehaviorEditGaaka-den are aggressive even during mating and from a young age after hatching. Adult gaaka-den are usually solitary animals, only coming together to mate. However, juvenile gaaka-den are known to hunt in packs from time to time.
Gaaka-den are predatory and will eat anything smaller than its mouth. This makes the gaaka-den feared throughout its range. Because gaaka-den do not chew their food, preferring instead to snatch it up and swallow it whole, they do not have a preference of what they eat, but it is believed that they have taken a liking to the taste of Ashkathi, as proven by their tendency to live in areas close to Ashkathi habitation. A gaaka-den that hatches before the rest of its clutch will even eat the other eggs in the clutch.
Gaaka-den in cultureEdit
The gaaka-den has featured prominently in Ashkathi folklore all across Larine. The name, while typically translated to "trench beast", can and has been translated to "trench dragon", "Larinian leviathan", or most tellingly, "trench demon". In early pre-Ashkai folklore, the gaaka-den was revered as a god of death. Even after the rise of Ashkathism, the gaaka-den has been seen as a vital yet terrifying presence in the Larinian oceans. During the Larinian New Year, the gaaka-den plays a pivotal role in scaring away evil spirits that cloud the New Year's coming, while protecting the good spirits.