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Moths

"Secrets flutter on silver wings."
— Thripian saying
  A species of intelligent insect found throughout Thripia and on the banks of the Meleatte River. Moths, traditionally fed with the leaves of the sungold tree as larvae, are known for their remarkable ability to be trained and used for communication. Mothkeepers are dedicated professionals who specialize in rearing and feeding the insects to be used throughout the city as a way to send messages quickly and quietly. Many who make use of the creatures have their own signals and codes to be used in order that their communications remain secret.  

Appearance

Only small insects, moths have short legs, long drooping feelers and large, triangular wings which make up most of their bodies. They are covered in a sort fur-like fuzz and have metallic silver coloring that is tinged with a pale green-blue, though foreign moths are normally brown. Their wings have elegant, circular patterns which sometimes resemble eyes when full extended.  

Properties

Moths spend their early lives as worms feeding on the leaves of the sungold tree. Once they have grown enough, they surround themselves in a cocoon and emerge in their adult state. Like bees, Thripian varieties exhibit remarkable intelligence despite being only insects. Additionally, they live far longer than most other similar species do. They are capable of judging and avoiding dangerous situations, are believed to use the stars and moon at night to navigate, and will fly back to safe places; it is this which allows them to be trained to return for food and protection. Mothkeepers typically feed them nectar, sap, fruit juices or, in the initial stages of their domestication, ichor.   Individual moths are taught to perform certain actions such as fluttering their wings and standing in a certain position in a group. These factors, when combined, are used to send simple messages. Mothkeepers, depending on what needs to be said, will gather together a few select, specifically trained moths who will fly to a memorized location and perform their routine, usually to be rewarded with ichor. Depending on what routine is performed, which will be able to be identified by the recipient, a message or communication can be observed. Normally these are relatively simple and pre-rehearsed, frequently used signals using small groups of moths are common. Others can be more complicated and will use many moths and secret languages communicated by movements.  

Significance

To the people of Thripia, moths are a common and popular form of communication for sending quick, near instant messages, particularly among the wealthy and the merchant class as well as clandestine organisations such as the Cabal of the Black or the Guilds of Coin. They are particularly valuable for sensitive messages as they cannot be interpreted and travel fast which has led to their association with dark business, private affairs and secrets or mysteries. It is often said that many moths flying back and forth at night in Thripia is a sign that something terrible has occurred. Mothkeeping itself is an ancient profession which was merely inherited by Thripians and originated in the Aradin tribes who lived along the Meleatte.
Lifespan
~7 years

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Author's Notes

This article was written for the 2019 Summer Camp prompt 'write about a creature that is used as a beast of burden or transport animal'. The prompt was one of a few I knew I would struggle to fit into the Auric City. The setting being relatively low fantasy meant I had no intention of inventing a strange new animal which would mean I would otherwise be forced to write about something boring like camels or donkeys.   Instead, I chose to interpret the wording of the prompt in a very liberal manner and write an article I already had an idea for; moths, in this case. In a sense, they are 'transport' animals, I figure, as it is their role to 'transport' messages to and fro, even if they are not physically carrying something. Hopefully this flies (pun intended), but if not, oh well. I'd still rather do the setting my way. Thank you to anyone who has read and enjoyed this article.


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