The northern cardinal’s scientific name is Cardinalis cardinalis. A group of two or more males in called a conclave. Every few years, a very large conclave will gather. The cardinal that wins the election will become the bird pope, and grow a coat of pure white feathers with a crest that is much larger and tinged with gold.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Sparkwort
Zeusoflorea electrii

The sparkwort is capable of generating an electric charge, which it uses in the wild to deter predators. As an ornamental, it can be an enticing and luminous addition to a garden, but can also be highly dangerous: large specimens are capable of producing fatal shocks and interfering with electronics, and they also act as literal lightning rods during stormy weather and are infamous for starting brushfires.

Wandering sproutella
Sproutellium lawrencii

Be sure to stake this beautiful perennial once it reaches about a foot in height, or it will begin to wander at night, creeping silently about on leglike roots. An episode or two of wandering are harmless, but if allowed to wander freely the sproutella will eventually enter its sexually active phase, in which male plants develop razor-sharp flower-darts that can cause painful wounds, sepsis, poisoning, or death in some sensitive individuals. Female plants, for their part, will become bolder and attempt to climb over houses and fences, eventually becoming brazen and attempting to batter down barriers (and people!) with heavy, woody, unfertilized seed pods.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

King Manuel’s Hopemelon
Rotondea lisbonicca

Bred by Dom Manuel II, the last king of Portugal, during his exile, this variety of hopemelon is particularly large and easy to grow. Easily recognizable by its purple-and-white aproximation of the Portuguese royal flag, it is also the most potent hopemelon easily available to gardeners. It might be advisable to start with a weaker variety like the Prince Charlie or Leo’s Oscar, since the King Manuel can produce sky-high, unrealistic, and dangerous hopes very easily.

Roswell Eclipse Pod
Feedmi seymourii

The most popular—and most dangerous—of the extraterrestrial pods first cultivated as ornamentals in the 1960s, the Roswell Eclipse will only germinate during a total eclipse of the sun (though cuttings can be taken at any time) and requires the fresh blood of sapient beings to grow. Most are satisfied with immature pods that require only a few weeks of blood; larger specimens are very dangerous and capable of hunting and devouring prey on their own. Do not listen to them if they beg for food; whatever they offer you, don’t feed the plants.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Screaming witchweed
Vvitchiviparus eternus

Despite the name, the mature plant produces more of a moan than a scream, though some designer varieties can speak certain words in a variety of accents instead. Hardy up to 1000º but will wither from frost, strongly-presented hemlock boughs, and sundials. Long-period perennial that will regrow forever at intervals of 500-1000 years.

The Spriggler
Gonophorium maxidillae

Heirloom variety first cultivated in 882 BC, though its modern common name dates from the 1615 Congress on Malefic Growths. The Spriggler is a hardy vine that will provide shade and nitrate fixation, as well as woody if edible okra-like pods. However, in addition to needing water, bright sun, and pH-neutral soil, The Spriggler also requires one secret per day, whispered into its roots, for maximum growth. Try McSpriggans, a newer Scottish cultivar, if you have fewer secrets to give.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Polychrome Cardinal
Cardinalis chromaticus

Cardinals are known for being brightly colored, and the polychrome cardinal takes this to an extreme by appearing to be a different color to each person who sees it. One observer may see a brilliantly blue bird, another may experience it as lime green, and still another might see candy-cane stripes or leopard spots.

While a number of obvious morphological cues can help an experienced birdwatcher establish that they are looking at a polychrome cardinal, the mechanism by which the birds evoke different colors–and, rarely, patterns– in observers is totally unknown. The only constant seems to be that all polychrome cardinals are perceived as being the same color.

Except for females and juveniles, of course, which are mostly brown.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

It is a magpie like no other, for its existence is mostly in the mental realm. Rather than shiny baubles to decorate its nest, it will steal thoughts, memories, and even skills from the minds of the unguarded. It will arrange its trifles in its nest, and if pushed will defend itself using them. More than once, the magpie has plucked a memorized spell from the head of a wizard, only to cast it to devastating effect upon intruders.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Clusterduck
Anas myriadanas

The clusterduck is a waterfowl that is capable of making local, temporary, quantum clones of itself. These quantum ducks are indistinguishable from ordinary ducks, but they randomly come into existence and snuff out of existence.

It appears that the number of quantum ducks is tied to the mental state of the clusterduck. There are more when it is stressed or disturbed, and fewer when it is content. Breeding clusterducks tend not to generate quantum clones, as ducklings imprinting on them are easily confused.

Clusterducks tend to form pair bonds for life, and the drake will generate more quantum clones when his hen is raising ducklings. It is still extremely unclear how food ingested by the quantum clones winds up in the stomach of the clusterduck prime, but extensive lab testing has proven this to be so.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Cavyclysm
Cavia malauspicium

The cavyclysm, also known as the doompig, Guineadoom, and a variety of other appellations, is a South American rodent that is closely related to the common guinea pif (Cavia porcellus) but considerably more magical.

Magic springs feeding Lake Titicaca are believed to be responsible for the cavyclysm’s divergence, but due to predation by larger animals and especially by Inca sorcerors they evolved the ability to project a “bad luck field” around themselves. As a result, things tend to fail or go horribly wrong around a cavyclysm, helping to protect them.

Though distinct from the fields of other similar creatures like the doomchilla, cavyclysms are favored as pets by wizards for the same reason: being in close enough proximity to one grants a certain immunity to its effects. They tend to be more docile than doomchillas, but the fields they project are far more unpredictable and particularly affect mechanical objects.

NOTE: It is extremely unwise to carry both doomchillas and cavyclysms! While one might think that they would complement each other, in fact the interaction of their doom and bad luck fields causes extremely unpredictable effects!

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Doomchilla
Chinchilla malum

The doomchilla is a powerful magical species of chinchilla, immediately recognizable by its nightmare-black fur and occasional (≈33%) appearance with two heads. Native to the Andes like its non-magical relatives Chinchilla brevicaudata and Chinchilla lanigera, the doomchilla has traveled throughout the world due to its usefulness to magicians.

Doomchillas attract doom to all around them; that is their only natural defense in the wild. They are ill omens of misfortune and quite often death, and some translations of the Book of Revelation describe a “stampeding of doomchillas” at the opening of the seventh seal. However, by keeling a doomchilla on or about their person, a magician can benefit from teh doomchilla’s immunity to its own ill omens.

In other words, bad things are more like to happen near a wizard with a doomchilla pet, but less likely to happen to them.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

The larva of an enigma moth is more commonly known as a riddling worm or riddleworm. They thrive on riddles, puzzles, and conundrums posed by others, but aren’t able to pose any of their own. They tend to congregate in bookstores, libraries, college campuses, and debating societies. Anyone who’s ever handled an old book of riddles has probably seen their empty egg casings and the spidery filaments of doubt they leave behind.

Once enough small riddles–or perhaps just one great corker of a riddle–have been devoured, the riddleworm will spin a cocoon from the threads of stories and pupate, emerging as an enigma moth. They are so named because they must pose an enigma before the end of their ephemeral life, requiring the ensuing raw confusion to lay their eggs much in the same way that the riddleworms feed on it.

Enigma moths whisper their conundrums quietly but so insistently that most cannot help but hear.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!