Ahuizotl
Ahuizotl aqua
Family: Mammalian
Classification: Non-Sapient
Manifestation: Corporeal
Pronunciation: ah-wē-ZOH-tul

The ahuizotl (ah-wē-ZOH-til) is a small dog-like magical creature prevalent in the Baja Province. It has dexterous paws and a fully articulated hand on its tail, which it uses to snatch its prey, dragging it into the depths to drown it.

An ahuizotl is a mammal and breathes air. It has the ability to hold its breath submerged in the water for hours so it can better stalk its prey.

Ahuizotl live near bodies of water. There are river and lake varieties of ahuizotl and, while they prefer fresh water, they can adapt to salt water if necessary. They prefer to hunt via submerged capture but they are able to survive on land during dry spells. In this case, they will use their tail-hand to snatch their prey, holding it down with the front paws; a bite to the neck will usually finish the kill. In rare instances, ahuizotl will scavenge by following a pack of coyotes and sharing their meals.

The ahuizotl has the ability to mimic distress calls of a variety of young animals, including human infants. Ahuizotls use this cry to lure their prey to the banks of the water where they then snatch the victim, pull them in, and drown them.

Ahuizotls live in a pack with a dominant female, her mate and their pups, though ahuizotl have been known to adopt orphans and stragglers from other packs as well. A grown ahuizotl is about the size of a small dog.

A juvenile ahuizotl is called a pup. The collective noun for a group of ahuizotls is a pack.

Habitat

Ahuizotls live mainly in Baja Province near lakes and rivers. They can survive dry spells as scavengers but prefer to hunt for prey.

Biology

Ahuizotls are aquatic mammals and have a special bladder that they can use to store air and survive underwater for up to four hours. They have raccoon-like hands instead of paws as well as a fifth, fully articulated, human-like hand on the end of their tail. The fur of the ahuizotl has a blue sheen and is rubbery, water-resistant, and clumps easily, forming spikes. They are carnivores. They require high amounts of keratin and calcium in their diet so they tend to consume the nails and teeth of their victims first before moving on to the soft tissue.

Magical Uses

Ahuizotl fur may be woven into water-resistant clothing. The fur can be used as the cores of wands excelling at water and illusion-based magic, and their fingernails can enhance water- and grasping-based powers to a wand. Their air bladders can be fashioned into a magical mask that allows the wearer to survive underwater without air for four hours. Their assorted other organs can be used as components in potions and charms.

Defense

The success of an ahuizotl hunt is dependent upon the effectiveness of its cries as a lure, and any mage with a certain amount of pragmatic callousness may be too wary to investigate the sound. But should a cautious mage approach a body of water, wary of the ahuizotl, any of the various water-breathing magics will at least be helpful. However, an ahuizotl pack will not simply abandon a prey that fails to drown in the expected manner, and can outwait the water-breathing magic or simply render enough damage with their teeth that breathing underwater becomes a moot point. Aside from such drastic efforts such as evaporating, freezing, or turning the body of water to acid (creating other problems for the Wizard), it's suggested that a Wizard underwater and attacked by an ahuizotl select the largest of the pack, and gouge its eyes out with fingers or teeth. With the leader wounded, the pack has been observed to withdraw, however this is known to be a long shot since an unprepared Wizard is quite often a dead Wizard.

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