Midgard - Gullfaxi Picture

These 3 meter tall animals are named after the mount of the giant Hrungnir in Norse mythology. Like the horse, Midgard's Gullfaxi's has a golden mane, or rather, a pair of them: one on each of its long tentacle arms. Although they cannot run as fast as horses, they are herbivores that walk on four of their six limbs.

Gullfaxis live on a tight schedule. Midgard's days are roughly 11 Earth days long, split into approximately 5.5 days of sunlight and 5.5 days of darkness. For the sake of this description, we'll divide the animal's schedule into Earth days. On day 1, the Gullfaxi group of four (on average) leaves the Nifleheim caves in the early morning. For the next 4 days, the Gullfaxi will travel great distances among the tall spires of Midgard's western hemisphere.

The purpose of this travel is solely to seek out the rare trees that are scattered across the desert. These trees produce the nuts that are their primary source of food. These nuts grow in clusters and have an extremely tough shell, yet grow about as big as a plum. But other creatures rely on them for food too and will swipe at anything that comes close to the branches. Rather than risking a nasty cut on their tentacles, the Gullfaxi reach forward using their long but sturdy primary beaks to grab a nut. Afterwards, they use their tentacle to move the nut to their even tougher inner beak that acts like a nutcracker. Once the shell broken, the Gullfaxi can feast on the rich protein within.

After hopefully finding enough food for the whole Midgardian day, the group travels in a complete opposite direction from their cave shelter. Once far enough, they urinate together onto the sand. Once finished, then they can resume travelling to their cave. If they did their "business" too close to home, it could not only cause sanitation problems but also attract the attention of predators looking for their den.

Gullfaxis must be back to their cave before the 6th day which is the beginning of Midgard's night. Once the suns have set, the desert can be very cold and the animals do not have any fur to protect themselves from the dropping temperature. They will also need plenty of time to rest their legs and feet from their long walk across the sand and their occasional run from predators. Finally, the cave provides them with ample amount of cool fresh water to drink. Gullfaxis have many adaptations similar to dromedary camel, including the long legs to travel vast distances faster, the feet that spread out so that they don't sink in the sand and a hump on their back. Unlike the dromedary however, the hump does not contain fat but is instead filled with litres of water. The primary portion of day 6 is used to drink lots of water that is collected using the mane on their tentacles that can form a bowl when dry. By opening their primary beak wide enough, they can bring a bowl full of water and drink away until the hump is filled once again to its maximum capacity.

Day 7 to 11 is entirely dedicated to sleep. Their only defense to the cave predators, such as the Garm, is the large eye pattern on their hump that give the impression that they are always alert. For persistent predators Gullfaxis must use whatever energy they have regained to kick, stomp or run away from their attacker. The Nifleheim caves are dangerous, but it's the only available protection from the freezing wind for these tall animals. As long as they don't nest too far in the cave, they won't have many encounters with danger.

"The Gullfaxi was originally intended to be just a link in the evolutionary chain of the Hexabison (of which it is distantly related). Recently, I thought that having a desert planet without an alien camel would be kind of a wasted opportunity. So I decided to use the design to create a new creature that had mixed traits of a dromedary, a macaw, a squid and the spinosaurus. I'm glad to say it turned out exactly how I envisioned it. It was originally going to have a domesticated subspecies for the Midgardians, but this feature will be given to another relative of the Gullfaxi called the Sleipnir".

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