Tara swung again at the beast, her hammer whiffing through the air. This time it had managed to dodge her properly, but then, sure enough, it disappeared.
Pop! The sound was almost comical, a jolly high-pitched popping sound like one that a small child might make, totally incongruous with the eyeless monstrosity that produced it. Her attention was drawn to its companion, who lunged forward with its girth and its gnarled maw gaping, five-way jaws ringed with teeth. She resorted to her shield to block the attack. Another pop sounded, as air rushed out of the way from the creature’s reappearance. Sure enough, it had emerged behind her; Tara managed to fend it off with a redirected shield, and tried to reposition for a hammer strike. A moment before impact her target vanished into thin air, disappearing through some secret spacial dimension.
“Aargh!” she fumed. A moment later the monsters had her flanked. A set of jaws clamped around her leg, protected from the crushing strength and wretched drool of the beast by stout armor. She was obliged that the creature let her go after being struck in the head with her hammer, but before she could land another swing its mate charged in, biting madly. When she heard the pop, she knew her quarry had slipped away, and another pop caused her second foe to disappear as well.
She turned this way and that, stance low, shield forward, weapon up. She saw that the two monsters had taken to the crest of one of the nearby hills. One seemed worse for wear, bleeding from the wound on its head. Its mate, corpulent and nervous, waddled in place as it shifted position to inspect the injury. She could hear them make strange noises, like a warbling click. As the mate craned its eyeless head to “see” better, it vanished with a pop, reappearing next to the other. It faced Tara, reassessing her location, and turned back to inspecting the wound.
These things only teleport, she assessed, even to move a distance of a few steps. She watched it disappear and reappear, listening to the pop a few more times. Gradually they spent more time sizing up her and less time on each other. She thought back, for she too was also preparing to fight again. And when they do…
The injured one vanished, and she heard a pop sound on her side. Shield still ready, she shuffled forward, putting its broad face in the creature’s way. She listened. She heard the first pop, and raised her hammer. When she heard the second one, it was, sure enough, right behind her at the moment her hammer was highest. When the hammer came down there was a resounding crack of broking skull, and the creature fell. “You sure like to strike from behind, don’t you?!” she yelled. “We’ll, I’m on to you now!” There was no pop this time; it lay still, breathing weakly.
In her mind she heard a psychic scream coming from her shield side, followed by a pair of pops of rushing air. Though still woozy, the bleeding mate stood over its fallen companion, fangs bared and screeching with sound and thought at Tara. Tara simply held her shield and hammer ready, showing that she was prepared to kill, but choosing at this moment not to swing. With a louder pop that before both monsters were gone.
She did not see them around, and after a moment, continued forward on her overland trek. When she crested a tall hill, she saw two round figures low to the ground quite a distance off, and the faint distant noises of the two predators comforting each other.
“That’ll teach you,” Tara scoffed, and left, disappearing under the crest of the mound.
Pathfinder RPG Stat Block:
This eyeless, two legged monster’s antennae quiver with activity. As it howls, five-way jaws open like a flower of teeth, and it moves instantly closer to attack.
Air Popper CR 6
CN Medium aberration (psionic)
Init +3; Senses blindsense 600 ft., blindsight 60 ft., scent; Perception +5
AC 19, touch 13, flat-footed 16 (+3 Dex, +6 natural)
hp 76 (9d8+36)
Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +9
DR 5/magic; Immune blind; SR 12
Speed 10 ft., teleport 45 ft.
Melee bite +9/+4 (1d6+3 plus poison)
Special Attacks great cleave
Str 16, Dex 17, Con 18, Int 5, Wis 13, Cha 12
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 22
Feats Cleave, Combat Reflexes (4 total attacks of opportunity), Great Cleave, Iron Will, Power Attack
Skills Perception +5, Stealth +15, Survival +13; Racial Modifiers + 4 Perception
Languages telepathy (100 ft.)
Organization solitary, pair, or startle (3–8 adults, sometimes with 1d4 young)
Teleport (Ps) An air popper is so called because it can teleport, popping as it relocates in space. This ability functions like dimension slide and allows the creature to teleport 45 feet as a move action. It can “double move” and run as though teleportation where its normal base land speed.
Air Popper Poison (Ex) bite – injury; save DC 14; frequency 1/round for 3 rounds; effect 1d2 Dexterity damage and 5 times that in reduction of all movement modes; cure 1 save. The save DC is Constitution-based.
The air popper is a voracious and dim-witted predator found across psionic lands in many environments thanks to its teleportation ability and general hardiness. It makes a delightful “pop” sound when it moves by teleporting, incongruous to its monstrous visage. Lacking eyes, it seems to sense its surroundings through some other means – the antennae are for its sense of smell, which is excellent, but it is believed the creature can sense the shape of space around it (possibly somehow tied to its power to teleport). Smarter than an animal (though dumber than a human), the air popper has no material culture. They can communicate telepathically with each other and others who make mental contact, but conversations reveal a simple mindset.
An air popper’s legs are small and weak, and the monster relies more on its ability to teleport than its ability to walk, even over very short distances. When it attacks, its poison reduces its prey’s coordination and mobility. The crystal growths on its back may be tied to its teleportation and sensory powers.
An air popper is a portly beast, about 5 feet long and weighing over 300 lbs.