|Official Name||Effhlekh Salamander|
|Common Nicknames||Soulmanders, Oasis Runners|
For centuries up until the Great Storm, the Effhlekh Salamander was considered a common sight across the wetter areas ofFarah’deen, yet in the years following the creature seems to have shown a sudden change that led to their survival with the Qadir and Songaskia. This Salamander makes its home in the same areas as it did before, however, due to the effects of the Great Storm, their population has fallen rather harshly. After the calamity, the Effhlekh Salamander began shifting in color when in the presence of lingering Soul Essence, a trait that has become useful to both the Qadir when needing to locate areas of repair within their constructs, and for the Songaskia College of Priesthood in locating and dispensing of the Great Rot of the world. Due to the drastic change in the geographical makeup of Farah’deen destroying most of the previous habitats of the Salamander, their continued survival has been largely reliant on the efforts of the Songaskia to encourage biodiversity and the expansion of all life within the deserts. Given their form as well as function, they are viewed negatively by very few and instead are recognized almost universally for their ability to survive despite the supernatural obstacles thrust in their way.
Records of the Effhlekh Salamander exist far before the Great Storm, with the Qadir recognizing the creature at the time as nothing more than a sem-amphibious lizard. For all intents and purposes, this creature was considered mundane, and there have been no reported instances of the expression of its ability to detect Soul Essence until after the Great Storm. These creatures were commonly noted around every river, coast, and oasis that existed within the expansive land of Farah’deen. There were few reports of domestication from this period in time and were instead considered to just be widely accepted as a wild and noninvasive species of salamander.
In the years following the Great Storm, the species dropped to critically endangered levels due to the calamity of the Great Storm decimating their population and the sudden shifting of the landscape causing vast swathes of areas within Farah’deen no longer being hospitable for the Effhlekh Salamander. Their continued survival in the early years was mainly due to the actions of the Songaskians and the surviving Qadir settlements in aiming to preserve the species within captivity. Within captivity it became apparent that the drop in population came with a different effect as well, the Effhlekh Salamanders began to shift to a stark white coloration whenever in the presence of lingering Soul Essence. Due to this discovery, the efforts by the Songaskia and Qadir people were redoubled in keeping the creatures alive, and slowly increasing the population over time.
As of the last recent check of the population of the Effhlekh Salamander, they have slowly risen to a sustainable population, and whilst they are still considered vulnerable, it is projected that provided another Great Storm does not occur and that the Qadir and Songaskia peoples do not suddenly become averse to the existence of the Salamander, they will no longer be within the threat of extinction within the next five decades.
Effhlekh Salamanders are versatile in appearance, ranging from four to eight inches in length with a tail that is almost always an inch shorter than their bodies. They have a diamond-shaped skull with a mouth that stretches along the top half of their head, accompanied by amber lidless eyes that sit on top of their cranium. Despite variations in color, all of these salamanders have several dark brown dots, about the size of a nailhead, that sparsely speckle their smooth skin. Their legs and webbed toes are built for speed, be it in water or on land, and will often use lightning-quick skittering or bursts of speed to catch prey or escape predators. These semi-aquatic salamanders are largely nocturnal and hunt for their diet of insects and small water-dwelling organisms during the late hours of the night. All Effhlekh Salamanders have a special sensory organ that will make their skin change to a stark white color when in the presence of high concentrations of Soul Essence.
Effhlekh Salamanders have been seen in three different varieties since their recent growth in population, with the differences being located geographically. Those who live in the wild by the coast have been seen with colors that are in shades of pale blue. Overall they have been seen to be the most average of the three different variations, with their bodies seeming to have adapted more for aquatic living, their eyes located partially lower on the head and the width of their torso being considerably thinner than their oasis and domesticated counterparts. These salamanders have been seen with patches of much more jagged teeth toward the roof of its mouth to retain prey, and it has been noted that of the three, the coastal variety does seem to be the largest, and have been seen preying on small fish that wander too close to the shore.
The salamanders that have been seen by oases have been identified differently, their colors are far more in shades of yellow and brown, with a slightly thicker skin as well as larger body overall, some even reaching past eight inches in length. Their tongues also seem to be considerably longer than the others, and their diet seems to be primarily focused on insects or even smaller frogs. The final noted variation is with those that were bred in captivity by the Qadir and Songaskia people, their bodies and features seeming to have adapted quite simply to live in captivity. Whilst they are not as large or as sleek as either of their relatives, the organ inside their body that is responsible for detecting Soul Essence seems to be abnormally large, and their ability to detect and shift in color when near Soul Essence seems to trigger from a further distance away. The webbing along their claws and body seems to be less intense than that of the coastal and oasis Soulmanders, though they do still seem to be semi amphibious.
There seems to be an even distribution of males and females within the species, as there are no obvious or foolproof ways to identify males over females. It is speculated that females tend to have more brown spots on their skin than males, but males have been found with many brown spots before so it’s not a reliable identification method. The only real difference is their reproductive organs, but that involves examination beyond a cursory glance.
Life Span and Development
Effhlekh Salamanders live for a surprising amount of time, up to 20 years for males and 18 for females, though scarcely live that long in the wild due to environmental hazards. These salamanders mate once a year for 2 weeks, usually between the months of January and February, during which the salamanders are very active and can often be found in the water. During the mating season, female salamanders will first lay their batch of eggs in a safe place underwater, be it behind a rock or in an alcove, and will then secrete a special pheromone to attract males to the eggs’ hiding place.
The females then stand guard over their eggs, overtly aggressive to any passing threats, while the males will come by to fertilize the eggs and then stand guard with the females while the eggs develop. After three weeks, the tadpoles will hatch and be less than an inch long and have gills, surviving off of eating insects near the area in which they were born. Three to four months from hatching, the tadpoles will officially become juveniles and grow a set of legs as well as a now elongated tail. After a further nine to ten months, the now fully mature salamanders develop lungs while retaining their gills, letting them take their first steps on land and their last steps to maturity.
The Effhlekh Salamander is an opportunistic predator by nature, though due to its size, it poses no active threat to any humanoid individual. When faced with anything that can be potentially perceived as a threat, they flee swiftly by skittering across the nearby terrain to find a hiding place that aptly fits with its coloration. At first, the process for capturing these creatures was quite difficult, yet over the past three centuries of study as well as keeping them in captivity, the process has become partially easier for both the Qadir and Songaskia. For the Qadir, it usually involves a complicated system of clockwork arranged in a fashion to entrap the salamander when it lays down to rest, yet with the Songaskia, the process is far easier. It has been noted that whilst they tend to flee from most larger creatures, they strangely do not flee when in the presence of an Ordial Mage, and instead will allow themselves to be treated in any way barring the active harming of the Soulmander itself. When caring for these pets, they must be provided a similar habitat to where they were taken from, and on top of such, they must be supplied with clean water and a vast enough space to wade in. However, it should be noted that any physical contact with the creatures should not be done through direct contact, due to observations being made that any direct contact with the skin has led to the same shift in white being localized on portions of their body as well as a noticeable shortening of their lifespans. Once they have been properly domesticated, however, they are considerably less skittish around their handlers and have even shown signs of depression when they are left alone for days on end.
Territory and Groupings
These salamanders are not particularly territorial or cooperative, instead of focusing on protecting and hiding from the elements and predators at all times except during the mating season. They stay in the same general area where they were born, though riptide currents can sometimes displace coastal tadpoles.
- Whilst many have attempted to spread the rumor that the Songaskia despise these creatures, any individual who knows any information whatsoever knows that to not be the case.
- These creatures were one of the first shared bits of knowledge between the Songaskia and Qadir people after they came to a peaceful settlement, with both sharing their methods of caring and capturing the creatures. It is even said that whilst the two peoples may be at odds in any respect, they both recognize the value in preserving this species' existence.