A Tourist’s Guide to the Realm, Chapter 11: Less-Trafficked Luxuries (Excerpt)

	The swamps of Cyclidea aren't exactly a vacation hotspot, but that doesn't mean that they're not worth visiting! It's a great place to just be at one with nature, and due to the ever-present smell of decay you are guaranteed* to find lodging. And for those industrious types, the place is packed to the brim with alchemical ingredients! Just make sure to steer clear of the spikemanes. You would not want to accidentally hurt an endangered species, right?
	Enjoy activities such as swimming, hunting, and camping under the night sky. Just make sure to go in the winter if you are planning on doing that last one, the water level is too high in the summer months, what with all the extra water from the thawed out rivers (That is, unless you are one of the merfolk, in which case go right ahead!). Do not worry though, it is not actually cold during the winter; the ice thing is just a side effect of the nearby Mountain of Frost. And if you want to have a laugh, you can just shake a nearby tree and watch as the stench blossoms spring off!

* ScribeCo. makes no guarantees that you will find lodging.

Royal Bestiary, Chapter 14: Endangered Species (Excerpt)

	Possessing both a set of lungs and a set of gills, spikemanes spend equal amounts of time in and above water. Spikemanes are nocturnal creatures, using the cover of night to make up for their lack of camouflage. They hunt smaller creatures both aquatic and terrestrial, such as fish and small mammals. Their main strategy is to hide by a rock or in a bush and ambush prey. Interestingly enough, during the summer when the water level has risen, spikemanes will go out of their way to attack and eat stench flowers. They have even been observed attacking stench flowers when doing so would mean certain and obvious doom. It is not yet known why they engage in this behavior. 
	When threatened, the spikemane will puff out its spikes in all directions as both an intimidation tactic and to poison any particularly brave attackers, as its spikes are filled with a deadly toxin. The fact that the spikemane advertises its poisonous nature with its vibrant colors would suggest that it is trying to avoid being eaten by larger predators. However, to date, no larger predators that could feasibly hunt the spikemane have been found in its environment. It is therefore thought that the waters of the Cyclidean swamps may lead to a larger underwater area, possibly a large waterlogged cave. It is therefore recommended to avoid traversing the swamps during the summer, when the water level is higher.
	Spikemanes are a species that exhibits sexual dimorphism. The males have a thick mane of quills around their neck, while the females have a more uniform amount of quills across their body. While it was originally theorized that this was a mating indicator (with bigger manes signalling a better quality mate), and this seems to be somewhat true, further research has determined what seems to be a bigger reason for this difference. The male’s mane assists both in intimidation, and in blocking out crevices. This helps the male to protect the eggs. The female’s more uniform distribution of quills helps keep it hydrodynamic, allowing it to move faster and hunt better.
	When it is time to mate, spikemanes are very particular about who they choose to reproduce with. Females will decide potential mates based on mane size. It is unknown what criteria male spikemanes make mating decisions based off of, if any. Once a mating pair has been established, they will carefully engage in sexual intercourse. The female will then find a secluded area, such as an underwater cave, and lay hundreds of eggs. The male will then guard the eggs while the female hunts, providing food both for itself and for the male. On average, spikemanes live for about eighteen years.
Spikemanes are notoriously neurotic and anxious, and are prone to having panic attacks when cornered or trapped, during which they will thrash about wildly attacking anything that gets near them. They are intensely distrustful of any other creatures, including other spikemanes (excluding mates). 
	There have been several attempts to raise spikemanes in captivity, none of which have been even remotely successful due to their neurotic temperament. Most attempts to raise them result in either the spikemane killing the would-be owner (usually through poison, though there have been cases of mauling) or in the spikemane accidentally killing itself during a particularly bad panic attack. Efforts are ongoing however, as figuring out how to successfully raise spikemanes in captivity would be a huge step towards helping to rebuild their numbers in the wild.
	Spikemane quills and frills are potent ingredients for both poisons and potions, and as such they have been hunted for centuries. This has led to their population dwindling in numbers, and as such the hunting of them was banned 183 years ago. Unfortunately, there is still an active black market for their quills and frills, which the Royal Institute of Preservation has as yet been unable to stamp out.

Royal Bestiary, Chapter 7: The Flora-Fauna Middleground (Excerpt)

	Another organism that has consistently vexed those who seek to classify and categorize the natural world is the stench blossom. Stench blossoms spend most of their lives remaining almost entirely immobile, usually only moving to eat. In fact, they appear to consistently be in a state of half-sleep, which explains why they never actually sleep. However, despite their proclivity towards remaining immobile, stench blossoms are capable of remarkable leaping speeds and distances when they feel threatened. Some scholars theorize that part of the reason they remain immobile for most of their lives is in order to save energy for these vital moments of survival. 
	To feed, the stench blossom simply emits a foul-smelling odor resembling that of decaying meat from the flower on its back. It then waits for insects to be attracted to the scent of death. Once the insects start to swarm, the stench blossom uses its tongue to snatch them out of the air and consume them. To obtain water and keep hydrated, the stench blossom simply absorbs water vapor from the humid air into its skin along the subdermal “roots” across its body. The flower on its back also aids in camouflage, as it bears a resemblance to the flowers that sprout in the Arnoldson tree, the trees that the stench blossom resides in.
	Stench blossoms do not mate, and in fact do not have genitalia or biological sexes. Instead, they reproduce in the way most plants do, via pollination and creating seeds. They release pollen during the winter and release seeds during the summer when the water is high, so that they may float away to new areas. Once a seed reaches a viable patch of soil, it will begin to grow into a juvenile stench blossom. At first the juvenile is rooted to the ground via a stem in a womb-like structure, but once it has grown its flower it will detach and climb the nearest tree, where it will likely remain for the rest of its life. On average, wild stench blossoms live for about twenty to twenty-five years.
Depending on who you ask, stench blossoms are either incredibly dumb animals or incredibly smart plants. They have no ability to improvise, and will simply continue to perform their instinctive actions. However, these instinctive actions are more complex than those of most plants.
	While it is not necessarily difficult to raise stench blossoms in captivity, attempting to do so does come with a substantial upfront cost. This is because they will refuse to reside in anything aside from the Arnoldson tree. Because of this, anyone who wants to keep stench blossoms must first obtain and near-fully grow an Arnoldson tree, whether through simply waiting or though druidic magic. However, for those who are able to afford this investment (and who can deal with the smell), stench blossoms are incredibly easy to raise. They require almost no upkeep aside from making sure they have water and that there is an ample supply of flying insects to feed them. Those who do raise stench blossoms know that they can be a useful source of alchemical components, as their pollen and petals are potent ingredients for potions of warding and protection.
	People do not really hunt stench blossoms in the way they hunt animals, as there is no need to. They only move if you startle them, and they’re not exactly hard to find if you know what you’re looking for. Searching for a stench blossom follows the same formula of searching for a rare herb.

Myths of the World, Chapter 5: Etiological Myths (Excerpt)

	While the swamps of Cyclidea are not currently inhabited, archeological digs have shown that they once were. Remnants of homes, clothes, tools, and more have been found. From these discoveries, some of these people's myths have been brought to light, the most famous of which is the story of the Spikemane and the Stench Blossom, which has been translated and transcribed below:

	“Spikemane was swimming along, when suddenly they smelled something foul. They looked up and saw Stench Blossom, lazily eating flies without a care in the world. This show of laziness angered Spikemane. After all, why should Stench Blossom be allowed to laze about when the other creatures of the swamp have to work to survive? So, Spikemane hatched a plan. They would climb the tree, and knock Stench Blossom into the water below, before eating them. Not only would it teach Stench Blossom a lesson, but it might also rid the swamp of Stench Blossom’s odor. But when Spikemane tried to climb the tree, they fell down. They tried and tried and tried, but they just couldn’t get high enough. Frustrated and embarrassed, Spikemane stormed off in defeat.”
	“After that, Spikemane was moping all day, until they thought of a plan. They could go and meet [untranslated]! Surely [untranslated] would be able to help. The other creatures were all afraid of [untranslated], saying that those who went to meet with [untranslated] were never the same afterwards. Spikemane didn’t believe those stories though. Spikemane was brave, and Spikemane would get what they wanted.”
	“And so Spikemane went to see [untranslated], deep, deep, deep underwater. Spikemane explained the problem they had with Stench Blossom, and [untranslated] listened carefully. [untranslated] did not speak, but Spikemane knew what was being suggested: [untranslated] wanted to make a deal. [untranslated] would raise the water level of the swamp for half of the year so that Spikemane could get their revenge on Stench Blossom. In return, however, [untranslated] would take Spikemane’s sanity. Spikemane, so blinded by their hatred for Stench Blossom, eagerly took the deal, and there was a great scream that filled the night.”
	“To this day, [untranslated] has kept their promise. The water levels rise and fall each year, and when they are high, crazy old Spikemane seeks vengeance for the laziness of Stench Blossom.”