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They resembled cornugons, the only difference was their color and the size. They could be found in various colors: red, white, black, green and blue.
In battle, they relied on their claws, but the elder ones could possess some magic abilities, such as opening a gate between the Nine Hells and the Prime Material Plane, and some lesser confusing spells.
During the Time of Troubles, a group of thirteen abishai were marooned in Unther. The Cult of the Dragon in Unther considered this a blessing from Tiamat. Each of the thirteen maintained a lair in the Underdark below the city of Unthalass. In truth, Tiamat did not send them as a blessing; the thirteen enjoyed their freedom from serving Tiamat, and the high priest of the Cult was blackmailing them into following his orders lest he send them back to Tiamat in Hell.