Conservation Status: (Caligo) Critically Endangered | (Dolos) Extinct | (Nevermore) Extinct
There are four kinds of Hanunah Turtles, each having evolved to the specific environmental conditions they dwelled in. One type thrives in or near bodies of water, often confused as islands or underwater mountains. Others sleep for centuries under piles of leaves and flora of deep forested areas or jungles, and the last kind prefers rocky and mountainous territory where they drain the resources of the environment in order to grow.
There is a rumor of a final kind, an animal god or spirit capable of altering the entire ecosystem of the land it has taken slumber in.
Long ago, a few Native American and Asian civilizations such as those found in some of the Hindu, Iroquois, Chinese, and African stories believed in giant World Turtles, some going to extent of believing the entire world existed on the back of a titanic turtle.
In Dolos, this has become a story, a myth, but in Caligo there is some truth to the old tales. These massive beings are extremely rare to encounter, but they are as real as the warmth of the sun. Some Kingdoms believe that the sight of a Hanunah Turtle marks the birth of a new ruler.
The Moving Mountains:
The Hanunah Turtles tend to sleep for the majority of their lives, absorbing the nutrients of the ground beneath by means of mere skin contact. They are often confused for an island or landmass due to the vegetation, animals, and ecosystem that forms on their backs when they feed for hundreds, and at times even a thousand years.
The Hanunah are immortal creatures only capable of dying by means of injury, starvation or dehydration. They are similar to lobsters in regards to how they keep growing the more they feed. Depending on how massive a Hanunah is, it is said that when some awake, the land for thousands of miles quake as they move to new nutrient rich soil. They are literal moving landmasses when awake, often taking not just the nature growing on their backs, but also the animal life with them.
Once these creatures find a nutrient rich area, they bury themselves with their claws and vibrate the ground underneath with undulations that resemble purrs similar to a crocodile's vibrations in water. For long periods of time they feed off the nutrients from the ground, killing the earth, but in a strange way serving as its replacement as plants, creatures, and life flourish on their backs.
In Caligo, some sprite civilizations worship these massive beings and refer to them as Old Whispers, others believe them to be good omens due to their need to find good and fertile ground, which in irony… they also destroy in order to survive. The Hanunah have three primitive eyes which remain closed at all times, unless they need to move. They mostly rely on sensing environmental conditions with their skin touching the Earth.
Recent centuries, majority of the Hanunah Turtles that have lived for thousands of years have found it evermore difficult to keep supporting their nutritional needs, especially as they become more massive. Ambrite Scholars have found the shell of a Hanunah to span nearly 300 feet according to some records with the largest on record listed at 328 feet. Ambrites believe that the mass of a Hanunah Turtle becomes too much for them after the shell reaches over 200 feet. The weight begins to kill them at this point, and they become less able to migrate to new territories when an area runs out of nutrients. Some grave sites are as large as cave systems, with the bones of a dead Hanunah being a core foundation of the infrastructure.
When size becomes an issue, they often starve to death, but in their death, their bodies enrich the land with nutrients. It is said that the death of a Hanunah marks the start of a new Eden as their corpses serve as the richest source of nutrients to turn the land they once absorbed, into vast forest or even a jungle. When they decompose, their bodies tend to take a long time and the smell attracts animals from far distances. Rumor states that an undocumented Hanunah, believed to be even larger than 328 feet, formed the heart of the Amazonian Jungle.
These beings are a cycle of life and death, a representation of the world. The surface of their shells are composed with solidified rock or petrified organic material with grass or trees growing on it. They have massive mouths with a large eerie tongue that sucks the moisture from the ground. When they bury their bodies, they use their tongues to absorb moisture in the soil. In fact, the tongue targets water sources and have been stated extremely long, but none of the Ambrite researchers have been able to locate a Hanunah that hasn't decomposed.
The Hanunah Turtle are capable of smelling new water holes or rich pockets of nutrient rich areas miles away. Though they are extremely slow, their armored skin protects them against most predators and weapons
Their vocal cords serve as a defense mechanism along with their sheer size to deafen any attacker. It is said that their screams can cause a human to lose consciousness.
The stories of a massive turtle always intrigued me, especially in tales where they bore some form of elemental power. I have always wondered what would be a cool way to bring a mythical creature like this to life, but with a twist that sets them apart. One day, I watched a documentary of possible life in alien worlds, and from there my wonder grew. My imagination erupted with new ideas of how a creature could feed and evolve. The Hanunah Turtle was the start of my curiosity leaving this world. The term Hanunah is named after the word that he Seneca people used for their mythical turtle. The Seneca are one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois League; it is an Iroquoian language as well, least according to some resources I found. It was spoken at the time of contact in the western portion of New York. A big thanks to Karlee Ludvik for bringing this beast to life, and Allen Gower for his brilliant exploration. Also, a credit to Gij for aiding in the early stages.
H.S. Crow has literary works appearing in all mediums of entertainment with a focus on fantasy, science fiction, and horror. He is an author traversing the breathtaking Caligo, a vast universe containing our dreams and nightmares. Notable books include Lunora and the Monster King, Stars of Glass, & the upcoming Drums of Fog.