Apex Predator of the Sands
Thunder in the Wastes
What was that?! Thunder?! Oh Divines, please don’t let it get closer…
Atop the dwindling food chain of the Parched Expanse is coiled a predator unlike any other. The Parched Eel, a serpent with close relations to the aquatic eel, swims the dunes and sandbanks without ever breaking the surface. The average size of this species tallies up to 150 to 200 pounds of weight, anywhere from 14 to 20 feet long, and 1 foot to 2 feet wide and tall. Hunting and hunted in a constant battle for the limited foodstuffs, the Parched Eel is the apex of this "ecosystem" of Fauna, yet falls short of the mystical influence Sophonts bring to battle. Many folks argue that because of the environment of this expanse, the fading number of Parched Eels seen in the wild, and the ability for Sophonts to hunt it so easily, the Parched Eel was never really on the top.
May I remind you folk that this beast shoots out lightning to hunt and kill its prey. Last I checked, lightning is not a staple for your hunting methods.
Anatomy of the Hunt
Mysteriously evolving at a quickened pace, the Parched Eel developed entirely new organs to deal with the harsh environments of the expanse it called home. Some consider this to be a feat of the natural world striving to survive against even the Divines, but some others call it mutations developed from newly awakened reserves of Arcane energy, or Glow. Here is a list of what has anatomically changed to differentiate the Parched Eel from a common eel:
- Intense muscle and antenna structure to help navigate the Parched Expanse
- Eyes have fallen to disuse and are completely blind or non-developed.
- Sensory organs developed along the spine and belly of the body to pick up disturbances and movements in the sand up to a mile away.
- Energy-generation organs reversed into holding the energy created by the scales and antenna moving through the sand.
- Scales harden, especially for females, and adapt to the constant flow of lightning-like energy.
- A thin membrane forms under the scales to protect the innards from the constant energy flow. This membrane causes the skin of whoever is harvesting a dead Parched Eel to tingle.
- The beast’s system adapts to release the charged energy regularly, to avoid potential harm to itself or other Parched Eels.
All these organs working in harmony allow for the beast to hunt down prey, and strike with the power of a thunder strike, and paralyze that which doesn’t fall to the immediate force of an explosion.
Endangered, or cheated?
While the Parched Eel may be on the top of the dwindling food chain for now, the outlook for the species as a whole is poor. Parched Eels suffer from a variety of issues that are cumulating into a slow reproductive cycle. They are: infertility due to damage or infection caused by hunting and combat, lack of suitable mates, overhunting specifically targeting the females for their hardened scaled, poisoned bait food left in abandoned traps, and an overall slow egg-to-juvenile period of 19 months.
Sophonts are blind to the damage they are doing by overhunting for scales to make into garments or armor, careless poisoning and abandoning traps and snares, and invading nests and territories. Precautions and research with the aid of the Arcane magics could lead to the saving of this species. Otherwise, they will die away within a few short years.