I’m actually very surprised that the Eusu had the top spot of the poll for so long and tied for it by the end. This is a creature of my own design, but it isn’t very complicated. Yet, it’s so entertaining to use this swamp monster whenever the setting is right and I want to terrorize my heroes. So, let’s get into the origins and behaviors of this top tier predator of Windemere.
The Eusu debuted in Legends of Windemere: The Compass Key and was made on the spot. All I had written in the outline was that Timoran Wrath was fighting a monster during the big swamp battle near the beginning of the story. Technically, it was a moat monster, but the Lich’s castle was in the Caster Swamp and I assumed he would hire locally. More importantly, I needed something big and strong and fast and deadly to give a barbarian a challenge. Not much of a threat if the Eusu loses its head in one casual thwack with Timoran’s axe. What was a powerful and dangerous swamp creature that I could base this monster off of?
*Nods to the top of the post*
I’ve always been cautious about alligators and crocodiles even when I was going to a lake that was in the north. This actually stems from me being at my grandparents and playing with the TV when I was a little kid. Stumbled onto a movie where a kid was being picked on and convinced to walk off a short diving board into a pool. As a bullied kid at the time, I related to him and was waiting for him to get free to seek revenge. Sadly, this was a horror movie or something. The kid screamed as he was swallowed by a giant alligator that apparently came out of the sewers or something. All I know is that I wouldn’t go near pools and showers were my thing for a couple of weeks. Yes, the Eusu was partially born from what many would call a silly childhood trauma.
Still, I couldn’t have this be nothing more than a large alligator, so I gave it one physical alteration. The Eusu’s jaw splits into four instead of two and all of them have the same immense level of crushing power. So you aren’t getting hit from above and below, but around the shoulders and knees when the mouth closes. Adding to the danger, I made this predator both strong and smart. It had the power to toss an experienced barbarian around and would jump back into the moat if things got too rough. Thinking back, I also made it able to accelerate underwater within seconds to get a leap that leaves only the tip of its tail in the moat. I believe alligators can jump like this, but I think they need more of a swimming start to get that height.
The Eusu would return in The Spirit Well and cause some trouble in another swamp. I hand them more as avoidable dangers since these weren’t taken to be castle defense. In the wild, an Eusu is much less likely to attack armed warriors and casters. They have plenty of food to choose from in their territories, which is dominated by an alpha male and has at least 6 females. Like they’re smaller cousins, they will eat anything that they can catch, but they don’t do the death roll unless their prey is struggling and very big. The reason is because their jaws slam shut with enough force to break bone and cut the victim to pieces. This is avoidable if you can manage to catch all 4 jaws and push back with enough force. Eusu do have the crocodilian weakness that you can hold the mouth shut easily, but you need to use both hands to cover the four slits.
Even though I can’t use the Eusu outside of jungles and swamps, I’m really proud of this simple creation. Yeah, it’s a slightly altered alligator, but sometimes creatures like these are the most fun to use. There’s a lot of real-world information that you can work with even though it’s a fictional creature. Needless to say, I’ll be looking for every chance to bring this predator back in future stories.