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Steel Moth

Glittering in the rings' light, the moths took off from the branches of the redleaf. Their wings sliced at the crimson leaves which, blown by the wind, fell across the embraced lovers...
— from The Silverleaf Maiden, a romance by Sif Garin
    Almost absent during winter, these insects are a staple of the Winterlands and all the lands to the north of the continent during the warmer seasons. Their sharp glittering wings and their moonlight dances have inspired artists and authors in their works, and the presence of Steel Moths at celebrations is seen as a sign of good luck. Despite the danger they can present to careless people out in the wild, they are, for the most part, seen as harmless occurrences.   Steel Moth Stats

Steel Moth {1 (3)}


Motive: Defends itself or breeding site
Environment: Any wilderness in the North of Pannark.
Health: 2
Damage Inflicted: 2, AP 1
Movement: Long
Modifications: Defense speed as level 2 because of size. May deal damage directly to armor.
Combat: It is unlikely that they will be found alone and, as such, they will act together to protect themselves:
In addition to the normal attack during a round, a clutch of at least four moths may act together to fly around the target and deal 4 damage with their sharp wings (Speed Defense roll) to a single target or deal damage to a worn armor, reducing its bonus by 1 (Speed defense roll to avoid. Add the level of the armor and subtract the number of moths attacking). Armor reduced to 0 bonus in this manner is destroyed. Steel Moths are afraid of fire and characters wielding it receive an asset to defend against their attack.
Interaction: Steel moths will seldom attack unless provoked or their egg site is being threatened. In addition to that, anyone carrying fire may attempt to persuade the moths to fly away for a short period of time. Otherwise, Moths act like animals.
Use: The party is travelling the wilds when they accidently stumble across a clutch of Moths laying their eggs.
Loot: Steel Moths carry no coins or wealth, but fresh laid eggs may be worth some shins to curio collectors or exotic chefs.
Intrusion suggestion: The Moths work together to impair a character's movement. they cannot move this round and the difficulty of their speed defense rolls is increased by 1
 

Anatomy

  Adult Steel moths have a central cylindrical main body covered in rigid dull grey hair, making them look like they're covered in iron filings. They can reach a wingspan of 30 cm - although the average is about 20 cm - with blue and teal double wings with a metallic sheen. The edges of the wings are white and smooth, and sharp enough to cut through most things with ease. They can maneauvre the fore- and hindwings to be able to fly and cut at the same time.
Their wings glimmer in moonlight, as if they're made of metal, although this is due, in part, to natural bioluminescence, rather than simple refraction.  

Ethology and Reproduction

  Steel moths mature underground during winter, in eggs laid just under the first frosted layers. When ground dwelling creatures disturb the eggs at the start of spring, the sacs burst and launch the miniscule grubs into the air in clouds of glittering mists. Some of the cloud is blown by the wind into nearby trees or shrubs, some attaches to the fur skin of the creature and the grubs are carried to new plants as the creature continues to rustle into vegetation.
Regardless of how it happens, part of the grubs makes it to trees and brushes where they will start by piercing into leaves with a rigid tongue and feeding on the sap as their wings grow. Over a few weeks, the grubs' skin hardens into the main body, their hair grows and their wings develop without the need for metamorphosis.

Once their wings fully develop, the Moths take off in groups and start cutting into the bark of trees to access increasingly large sap channels in plants. They usually remain in tight groups for protection until the end of summer, at which point the groups disperse and the Moths fly high at night flashing and glimmering their wings to attract mates.

When the first ground frost starts, the moths will look for parts of the frosted soil which have recently been disturbed to lay their eggs, so that they're easily covered by ice and dirt when the temperature falls. They are know to use walking paths and roads with little winter use leading to the incidence of travelers lung in the spring months.
After egg laying moths usually last only for a few days more. The ochre dust of their remains paints entire sections of open areas and can be used to mark the start of winter.  

Uses and Domestication

  Due to their short lifespans, Steel moths are generally seen as pets, although a few people have managed to keep moths in cages for a short time longer than the summer seasons.
Some creatures are known to hunt and eat Steel Moths but, because of the way they rapidly decompose, they are not part of the human diet. Some chefs are known to have developed ways of extracting unlaid moth eggs and using them in exotic recipes, but such people are rare.

Curios

What happens when a steel moth dies - Despite the name and general aspect, a steel moth yields no metal when it dies. Immediately after dying, the wings start turning to reds and ochres in growing patches before rapidly crumbling into thin rust colored dust; the whole process takes less than a minute from death to dust. The same happens to their insides over the next hour, even as their husk dries and becomes brittle.
In the past, skilled investigators were able to capture the moth's dust and confirm that they aren't, in fact, made of steel or any other iron alloy.

Traveler's Lung - Travelers that walk paths where Steel Moths have laid their eggs are advised to wear scarfs or other face protections. Breathing in the grub clouds isn't usually deadly but they may cause an illness known as traveler's lung, which may last for a few weeks. The symptoms include: Shortness of breath, general fatigue, light sensitivity and yellowing of the eyes, and hair and nail discoloration.

Early spring festivities - Droarsens are known to be immune to traveler's lung, going so far as to coax Steel moths into laying their eggs in and around the city of Droarsi. This way, the bursting grub clouds are added to the early spring festivities of the town.

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