|Sand Striders, Sälesallon
|Westwynd, Altaleï and Fendarfelle
It is rumored that the Asha of the Dewamenet Empire rode the backs of scorpions the size of mountains, terrible beasts that could breathe fire, pierce city walls with their stingers, and tear even the strongest of lines of soldiers asunder with their claws. The reality is far more mundane, but still a sight to scare most warriors. Giant Scorpions exist in various populations across the west of Aloria, with one notable subspecies indeed domesticated by the Asha for riding. However, it does not dwarf any home or structure, and fortunately for the world, Giant Scorpions are uncommon in modern times.
Giant Scorpions have menaced the world for countless millennia. While reports suggest they once had a presence in the east, in the land of Farahdeen, none survived long in that distant location, despite smaller scorpion species thriving there. Instead, Giant Scorpions roamed the lands of the west, and were known to the early Teledden and Fin’ullen. However, it was the Asha who had the deepest connection to these segmented creatures. The Giant Scorpion served as a tool of scouts and warriors among the Dewamenet Empire, with a unique subspecies called the Seqherat having been bred for this purpose. Their spread across Westwynd was assured because of this close tie, and it might have reached further, if not for the war between the Asha and the Allorn Empire. The Estelley faithful broke the Asha’s great empire and cast their people down, while the Seqherat subspecies was hunted and thought almost extinct by the Allorn. In truth, the species was saved by scattered and now hidden surviving free Asha in small pockets of the newly formed arid desert that stretched across the former heartland of the Asha people. For millennia, they remained hidden in these lands.
Elsewhere, the spread of the Allorn Empire and Elves overall brought them into contact with more territories, and more species of Giant Scorpion. While the ancient kill orders against these beasts with an attachment to the Asha still existed, these species often survived due to gaining mutations that suited different regional environments which also tended to make them hazardous to possible attackers. Populations were also aggressively displaced by the vast spread of urban territory by the Allorn Empire, and thus it were the slaves tending to the vast plantations who had the most to fear from the occasional incursion by a desperate Giant Scorpion. When the Cataclysm and Wildering came, Giant Scorpions survived the events to once again reclaim a role in the food chain. The Seqherat reunited with the Asha people and were led to the Ashal Islands where they once again roam as the Mounts of warriors today. Wild members of the species still menace the deserts of Ithania, while other subspecies remain a threat in corners of the world. With the reformation of the Allorn Empire, it is likely that certain populations will be hunted to near extinction once again, but one never knows where such dangerous creatures may hide themselves.
Giant Scorpions sit between four to nine feet long, with a height from the ground of up to two feet, though their long tail curling up into the air often gives their body a taller appearance. Their proportions are also, broadly, that of mundane, normal-sized scorpions, with eight eyes set above their mouths, with two large claws attached to the end of front-facing appendages, eight legs behind that to support themselves, and then the large aforementioned tail curling forward up into the air. This tail holds their all-important stinger, known as a telson, though the potency of the toxin it imparts varies between the different subspecies.
Giant Scorpions have adapted to a range of environments over the millennia, and have unique visuals for each subspecies. The only universal trait of sexual dimorphism across the species is the telson, as males have a smooth telson, while females have a ridged telson. Below are a list of Giant Scorpion subspecies:
- Seqherat: Universally the largest Giant Scorpion subspecies, the Seqherat is also the only subspecies capable of being domesticated, and even then, only by the Asha. The species is known for their pale orange, yellow, and pale brown-tinged carapace, as well as for delivering a venom that is painful, but not lethal. They exist in the desert of Ithania and on the Ashal Islands.
- Fendar Scorpion: The Fendar Scorpion joins the other large arachnid and insectoid species of Fendar to roam the land. Unique for their entirely black or dark brown carapace, they are a rarer subspecies who have suffered substantially at the hand of the Bone Horrors and Giant Spiders, who drastically outnumber them. They exist in the medium spectrum of size, and their venom is highly potent, known for causing necrosis. They exist only on Fendarfelle.
- Triton Scorpide: A unique subspecies, the Triton Scorpide has entirely forgone a stinger in favor of a plated, three-pointed tail spike which it uses to cause severe bodily harm. Their carapace is a dull brown or dirty-yellow with hints of black, and their additional gender dimorphism has females with flecks of white along their underside. They are found in isolated, arid lands of southern Westwynd along its border with Altaleï and in southern Altaleï as well.
- Sea Scorpion: The smallest, rarest and also the nastiest subspecies of Giant Scorpion, the Sea Scorpion is known for its bright blue and seafoam green carapace, as well as its crippling venom, capable of paralyzing prey as large as a cow for several hours. Their method of hunting is also insidious, stinging beach-dwelling animals, and leaving them to drown in the tide, before recovering and devouring the corpse. They live across the western coastline of Altaleï, and their rarity is thanks to concentrated efforts by the Fin’ullen and Eronidas to kill the creature. The resilience of the invasive Grashobaig has also left them vulnerable in more recent decades.
Life Span and Development
All Giant Scorpions are born from clutches of eggs. These pale eggs are about the size of an Eronidas fist, and while laid in a brood of between ten and twenty, only half will hatch. Why this happens is not understood, but some believe whatever mutations the Giant Scorpion underwent have affected their reproduction in some way. When a young Giant Scorpion hatches, it has a pale, nearly translucent exoskeleton in the color it will have when it fully matures. With a thin exoskeleton, they are less than a foot long, and promptly crawl onto the back of their mother for protection. Over the next two weeks, they stay with her, and molt for the first time after this period. Now a larger size, the first wave of departures come, as some young are able to go out into the wider world. Four weeks will pass, and another molt will see another wave of departures.
After the third and final young molt, at another four weeks, those who do not leave promptly may get attacked by their own mother, though few remain at this time. By this stage, their adult coloration is strongly showing through, and their exoskeleton is no longer thin and flexible, while their venom, if they possess any, has also begun to be produced. About the size of a domesticated feline or canine, they stay at this smaller size for between two to three years, having a fourth molt during this time. After these early years pass, the animal’s fifth molt is when their size begins to drastically increase. For the next three years, the animal will grow to their adult size, and are considered mature by the time of their tenth molt. Giant Scorpions are capable of living considerable spans of time, up to thirty years in the wild, while those tended by the Asha can live for forty-five.
Giant Scorpions, despite some differences in their level or presence of toxins, ultimately mimic their smaller cousins through playing the role of an ambush predator. Most Giant Scorpions will bury or mask themselves in sand or rocks, though the Sea Scorpion often hides in shallow water for short periods. They commonly strike with their tail to incapacitate an enemy before going in for the kill, though this does not always work, after which they resort to their claws. The Seqherat subspecies follows these traits when in the wild, but those kept by the Asha never hunt. Instead, they are fed and cared for, and trained to be ridden and interact with the sentient Races in a non-harmful manner. However, non-Asha cannot ride Seqherat due to a lack of familiarity of the Scorpion with the various Races of the broader world. The mentality of the Seqherat is fairly simple, though there is a degree of sociability within their species rarely seen in other, much smaller species. This is thought to be derived from practical concerns due to their large size in close spaces.
Territory and Groupings
Giant Scorpions are generally suited for solitude, and do not live in groups. Instead, each finds a simple burrow for themselves and generally stays there, apart from others of their kind. This is only different for the Seqherat subspecies, which lives in close proximity to others of their kind, even in the wild, often in large collective burrows, though each individual has a space within that is their own. Giant Scorpions do not possess a sense of territory beyond their burrow, but can and will attack other members of their kind outside of the mating season. Giant Scorpion subspecies also do not get along at all when they come into contact with each other, though that is thankfully a rarity.
- Giant Scorpion flesh is considered a delicacy to the Kathar, who often richly spice it.
- The Triton Scorpide subspecies is thought by some to have inspired the gladiatorial weapon known as the trident.
- There are tales of Giant Scorpions so large they could support a dozen people. Teledden horror stories suggest such animals were used in the ancient warfare between them and the Asha, but given the heavy emphasis on Living Metal among the Asha of today, this is doubtful.