The Stell is a creature of legend, more common in the earlier days before wild magic became so pervasive, but now mostly found wandering the Deadlands. These massive creatures wander on long, tapering legs which carry their sloping bodies high up towards the clouds. They have a short, powerful neck that holds up a huge skeletal head. Their face is marked by two deep pits which serve as eyes and the skull tapers downward into a beak-like projection which curves towards their chest. Their heads are constantly angled towards the sky, making many people believe that they are looking for something in the heavens, but most likely this angle is kept so that the Stell can collect condensation from the cloud cover which it walks through. The collected water will then seep down into its body and keep it hydrated. Their source of food is mostly a mystery, but it is theorized that they may gather sustenance by occasionally eating flying creatures that pass too close or linger too long on easily accessible areas of the creature’s woolly hide.
Legend has many wild stories about the origin and purpose of Stells, but they are mostly reasonable creatures (aside from their gargantuan size). Despite stories, offspring are most likely produced through regular mating. Travelers through the Deadlands report instances of strange sounds which carry through the area, making the very air reverberate with the low, lonely sound. While unconfirmed, it is believed that these calls are made by Stells seeking mates. By studying several Stell foals seen over the years, it can be gathered that they grow up walking underneath one of their parents. As the parent gathers water from the high cloud cover, it drips the water down its beak to the offspring. The foal follows its parent until it is old enough to begin collecting condensation on its own, at which point the two Stells go their separate ways.
While Stells are unheard of in most regions, they are not impossible to find in the Deadlands and some bands of travelers looking for a safe place to settle will brave danger and climb the legs of a Stell. Once they have reached its back, they will use a combination of sturdy materials like canvas, any pieces of wood they were able to haul with them during the ascent, and even the Stell’s own wiry coat to build shelters. A sure-footed person can be sent along the Stell’s neck to collect water from its eyes, and bands who have lived long enough on a Stell have learned how to attract birds with skillfully crafted whistles, and even how to harvest edible plant life from the various plants and fungi that often catch and sprout in the thick growth of the Stell’s coat.
While these settlements are easily defensible, the people must be careful of the Stell’s growth. Contrary to legend, Stells do not “ascend” to a homeland or crash into the sky. Their growing bone beak eventually becomes too long and pierces their huge hearts, killing them. While most settlements are aware enough to clear out when their Stell becomes too old, some are lax in keeping track and find themselves hurtling to the ground along with their expired Stell.