Little is known about what lies in the lands of Gana-Eeshtar, but the Fâraknud are one of the creatures that have made their debut known to those who live above ground. They fascinated the eyes of those that saw them for the first time due to their rock-like appearance and magma-like interior, bringing up the question as to what their nature was. These odd creatures, now identified as beetle-like insects, were first found by Dwarven miners five centuries before the Cataclysm. Their reputation has bounced back and forth as to whether or not they were harmful to Dwarven society, but they have been accepted into all societies since then. Today, they serve as untamed creatures that can be found in the deep underground of the known Dwarven Holds, or in the possession of eccentrics or blacksmiths that have sought them out.
The Fâraknud were fostered in the depths of Ellador for centuries before the Dwarves found them sometime around 500 BC. Located in the depths of the then-young Skorr Hold, Dwarven miners largely ignored the animals at first and instead simply viewed them as fellow diggers, tunneling through the rock as the Dwarves did. Over time, some noted that the creatures appeared to be seeking out metals, or at least their tunneling quickly led to them. The animal’s natural heat, produced by highly complex biological processes, was also lauded as a unique method of heat, forging, and steam creation that Dwarves could harness. This, they did with earnestness, as the fiery insect was docile, and seemed to largely ignore the Stout Folk. However, the Dwarves might have done better to note where the insects were coming from, though this was not apparent until many decades later. The Dwarves and the Fâraknud coexisted for the years to come. Due to their nature as troglobites, their existence was reserved to Dwarven Society. The creature remained unaffected by the wars of the Dwarves, until they brought upon the wrath of Frisit. During Ellador’s transformation into an icy tundra, the Fâraknud retreated deeper underground because of the drop in climate. The Dwarves, uninterested in wasting resources for chasing after such a trivial cretin, left them to their devices. A century passed since Ellador was transformed into the frozen landscape it is today, and no sightings of the Fâraknud were made. Another century later, the Hold of Skorr made expeditions to their mines to dig even deeper in search of more resources. After decades shrouded in mystery, the Fâraknud were uncovered once more. Unlike their first time being discovered, their second arrival was marked with terror.
While the Dwarves were thrilled by the return of the Fâraknud, they were not the only ones to come out from below the Hold. The Dakkar, Constructs in the shape of rock-like beasts, came with the Fâraknud to lay waste to the Skorr Hold en masse. The survivors of the Ostrey Hold forwarded the theory that the Fâraknud were the younglings of the Dakkar, leading to a mass hunting and extermination of the species. Despite the decrease in Fâraknud numbers within the Dwarven Holds, they grew every time the Dakkar surged through the caves and tunnels beneath Ellador. The eventual stalemate with the Dakkar allowed the Fâraknud to live where they once had without much trouble. The Dwarves studied them extensively during this time, and the earlier theories about ties to the Dakkar were discarded. However, it was determined that the species was native to the same areas deep within Ellador that the Dakkar were storming forth from. It was during this later time that Ailor traders returning to the gates of Aldruin found the Fâraknud on offer. Upon being displayed by the Dwarves, interest was generated, and a number were purchased by these outsiders. For the first time, the Fâraknud experienced the world outside of the caverns and tunnels they lived in. The traders faced difficulties keeping them alive in a habitat that they never experienced. However, swift innovation discovered a way to keep Fâraknud alive while aboveground. They had to be near a source of high temperature, so these traders kept them within modified lanterns. Despite being native to Gana-Eeshtar, this discovery of their ability to survive aboveground has let merchants showcase them off to the rest of the world. Today, the creatures are rare outside of Ellador but do exist in humid places or in special, elaborate domiciles built to suit their needs. With the Dakkar now firmly out of the picture, having retreated in the past few years, these insects are now considered the last remnant of that deep, unreachable world far below Aloria.
The largest Fâraknud ever known exceeded no more than the size of three Dwarf fists, or approximately eight inches in length, with a weight of up to sixteen pounds. They have a round head that extends several inches out from their thorax, which has a rock-like hood jutting over the top of it. This hood of theirs is what tells apart the male and females within the species. A Fâraknud has two eyes on both sides of its head, which can rotate and see around it. Their eyes take on an orange color which looks as if magma is flowing within their eye. Their mouth is located just below the front of their head, and inside the mouth are sharp, black teeth that appear jagged which are strong enough to chew through stone given time. This head is attached to a rotund body that makes them either spherical or oval-like in shape. Their rock-like shell makes them heavier as it is tough as stone, mostly for the fact it has been adapted to mimic the dense rocks which make up the entirety of their natural habitat. However, their shell has natural cracks in it which lets out light from within their bodies. The light has been discovered to be the result of a mixture of gases and liquids from within which causes a fire to burn within them which they can withstand. They are safe to touch and even hold, but anyone who comes across a Fâraknud and goes as far as to touch it with their bare hands feels as if they are holding a piece of metal left out in the sun.
The thorax of a Fâraknud is where their six legs come out from. Unlike other insects, their legs are bulky and allow them to withstand any external damage. It could be said that Fâraknud are closest to beetles as a species, but they lack wings due to their completely different behavior. All Fâraknud either have an obsidian black color or the rarer variations of mahogany. The internal organs of a Fâraknud are as unique as their exoskeleton. The source of the gas and the liquid within them are separate chambers that are connected that lead to openings just below their shell which expel the generated heat. The combination of their hard shell and their heat protect it from any other fauna that they come across. Finally, they can sense changes in temperature at a precision that those not born of fire or heat can. It helps them stay close to areas with high temperatures because if they stray too far and enter a cold area their organs will experience failure.
There is a healthy split between the number of males and females of the species. To those that know the creature well, they are also aware of the telltale sign of how to differentiate the male and female of the species apart. The rock-like hood of the Fâraknud changes in shape depending on what gender one is. For females, the formation of their hood tapers off into a rounder, flatter edge which is shaped like that of a trapezoid. On the other hand, the hood of male Fâraknud tapers off into two sharp points. These two differences are what helps the species in the process of copulation. Males use the two sharp points of their hood to stab at any aggressive or competitive members of their species. The trapezoid-like shape of a female Fâraknud’s hood is formed in this shape so that they can push back any other Fâraknud which they deem as undesirable. Upon closer inspection, males of the species have sharper edges to their rock-like shells. They are only known to be native to Gana-Eeshtar, so there are no known subspecies or any relatives on other landmasses.
Life Span and Development
The life of a Fâraknud starts when a female lays several eggs near a source of heat. In nature, Fâraknud eggs are laid by pools or streams of magma. These eggs are rock-like on the exterior, but in truth, the inside of it is soft to let the larvae break out once they are ready. At first glance, you could mistake the eggs of a Fâraknud as pebbles on the ground. Once ready, they break out of their eggs and feed on the minerals near where they spawn. They feed on igneous rocks for their high mineral value. It is because of their diet that they grow dense shells later in life, as they are born and grow up with a soft, orange-like body. After two weeks as larvae, they burrow into any surfaces within the caverns they grow in and resurface with their rock-like shells after another week. They are now adults at this point and continue to molt old pieces of their shell to grow harder, newer ones as they continue to eat. Fâraknud then proceeds to live on for twenty years from the time that they are born.
Fâraknud cannot be traditionally tamed, but the Dwarves that have lived near them for centuries have managed to keep them in their possession without any issues. They roam around the caverns they live and come across, and the tunnels which they burrow. They are apprehensive of other species when they are in a state of relaxation or what can be considered aggression, where they will lash back by either fleeing or biting whatever disturbs them. While their teeth are strong enough to crush rocks over time, it would take for someone who can’t feel pain to succumb to any damage to a Fâraknud they didn’t notice gnawing on them. Any Fâraknud that are owned by people live a relatively mutualistic life. As long as they are provided a source of heat and a diet of rocks, they can live alongside another species. Because of this, they can survive easily as long as they are in an environment that provides both of those factors.
Territory and Groupings
It cannot be said that the Fâraknud live in conventional groups, but they can and will live in the vicinity of one another without any complications. They are restricted to the deep underground where they are born, so they have evolved without a desire to be overly competitive over the territory in which they prowl. Fâraknud do not need to live with others either and can live fine if they are left solitary. It is in fact the ones that are solitary that grow the largest because of the abundance of smaller rocks which they can easily consume without any others taking from the source of food that they find. Their sense of travel is indiscriminate, burrowing down, up, and in any direction, if it meets their living conditions. They are sensitive to temperatures, so they tend to move towards the hottest temperature that they can sense. If a Fâraknud is brought up to the surface in an area where excessive heat is not readily available, they will remain in the same vicinity of a source of heat such as a torch or fireplace.
- Dwarves have discovered that the Fâraknud’s favorite food is Quartz. They appear to be attracted to the glimmer that the crystals give off, as well as the minerals which they readily provide.
- The fact that both Dakkar and Fâraknud have rock-like features and come from an underground place of magma and fire has led to abnormal theories from fanatics. The most prevalent one is that there is an entire world known as “The Rift” beneath the surface that spans across all of known Aloria, and that a day of reckoning is destined to happen between this underground world and the surface.