Anyone who wishes to cross the deserts of Farah’deen will no doubt encounter this deadly reptile along the way - If they can spot it. This lizard is infamous for its venomous bite and perfect camouflage, capable of killing a victim in minutes while staying hidden amongst the sand. Outsiders easily underestimate the Hagaan, but most locals know to be extremely wary of this territorial animal, especially if they are traveling at night.
The Hagaan are an ancient species to Farah’deen, and have somehow managed to survive through the land’s countless dangers. Hagaan have been a common, widespread species of reptile across its deserts even when Dragons still roamed Aloria. Hagaan remained relatively isolated and unheard of within the dunes, canyons, and cliffs of the Eazim Desert and beyond for many, many years, except for occasional encounters with Qadir. These encounters were often lethal, and so the only information known about the creature was in myths and stories. During and following The Red Hunt, the Hagaan population soared. They gorged themselves on the corpses of dead Desert Dragons. It was then during the Great Storm, and the following fall of the Sariyd Empire, that the Hagaan population was plunged back into turmoil. Like countless other species of Farah’deen, the Hagaan numbers were reduced significantly within a number of days, throughout the continent.
For several years after, the Hagaan population stayed in a stark lull. Living in far harsher terrain than they ever had before, the animal just barely eked out a life for itself. However, the Hagaan soon received new prey. Marching Songaskian forces pushed into its territory, and it ate them. Qadir defenders rushed onto the battlefield and then off into the desert in desperate escapes. It ate them too. Both parties quickly realized the danger of the reptile and made steps to avoid coming into contact with it, but occasionally, some animals or poor soul was lost forever in the dunes. In the years since then, the Hagaan have remained a danger in the open deserts of Farah’deen. Despite these dangers, some Qadir have managed to use the lizard’s deadly venom to their own advantage, capturing Hagaan and extracting it to sell as poison. As a result, the animal now presents an incredibly lucrative opportunity for the greedy.
A Hagaan’s appearance depends heavily on where it’s found, as there is a lot of variation in the species between different regions of Farah’deen. There are several general features all Hagaan possess. They are between three to four inches wide and up to a foot and a half long from snout to tail which is thinned slightly toward its tip. A Hagaan weighs around four pounds in its adulthood. The head is the widest part, with many broad teeth used for crushing food, but two sharper and longer teeth with which they puncture the skin and inject their venom. Their slit eyes are a reflective yellow (due to their night vision), which can be used to detect Hagaan at night, as shining any form of light toward them will cause slight, white reflections in the sand. However, this usually causes them to skitter off and find a new hiding spot anyway. Hagaan also have a parietal eye on the top of their head, which is barely visible but allows them to sense predatory birds flying overhead. Their ears are small, slightly oval indentations on either side of the head. A Hagaan’s head also contains two small sacs, filled with their infamous venom. This venom is extremely dangerous, even in small amounts. Upon entering the blood, it finds its way to the victim’s brain and quickly gets to work cutting it off from the rest of the body, causing death within minutes. On a few occasions, a victim can survive its venom. In this case, the person affected will experience deep sickness and nausea followed by flu-like symptoms and a lack of interest in food or water.
Finally, it causes them to enter a near coma-like state for three days before the effects pass altogether. This venom is held within small sacs within the lizards head, and can, therefore, be harvested. This harvesting must be done within a few days of use, however, as it extremely volatile when exposed to air; becoming useless beyond that. Since Hagaan venom is so difficult to gather efficiently, it is exceedingly rare, and therefore very valuable within the black market. Below the head sits the body, which is slightly raised closer to the spine, and thin out toward the sides, making them appear rather flat. Hagaan are covered in a leathery, bumpy skin that they shed before each mating season with is colored tones of orange and brown, to blend in and camouflage themselves within the desert sand. They can be noticed while buried, however, by the black spots on their backs and random black stripes on their bodies in limited amounts.
The Hagaan can be found in nearly every desert in Farah’deen with two subspecies in addition to the common variety seen across the continent. The first of these is the smaller, more common, Al-Alus Hagaan located in the Al-Alus deserts. It is distinct for its orange coloration and its increased number of black spots compared to stripes. The second subgroup are Mooriye Hagaans which are much rarer, often the largest of the species with a thick tail and have a number of clear black stripes along their bodies. All types will never be found in large groups due to their territorial nature - except during mating season in winter.
Life Span and Development
Hagaan, once a year in winter, congregate and find mates. Once a mate is found, the two Hagaan will find a safe place to lay their eggs, usually being a cactus or other plant to conceal them from predators. While the female of the pair will stay to take care of the clutch, the male will often return to the congregation to find another mate and repeat the process. After about a month, the eggs are mature, and anywhere from two to ten Hagaan hatch. Hatchlings usually appear as simply smaller adult Hagaan, but often have malformed tails so must act more like snakes for the first few months of their life. During this time, the female takes care of them but at the age of nine months, leaves the children as their tails are properly formed, and they can now effectively hunt on their own. The average Hagaan lifespan is unknown but is suspected to be within the realms of fifteen to twenty years.
Hagaan are utterly independent animals except for during the mating season. Hagaan, during the day, often burrow themselves into the sand to remain cool, as the reptiles are cold-blooded, relying on their surroundings to keep their body temperature at a healthy level. During the day, they remain burrowed in one spot or in a cactus, in the case of the Al-Alus species of Hagaan. They usually keep their mouth open as they wait, so if something steps near, it can dart forward and snap it closed, catching its prey. During the night, however, they hunt. Hagaan are usually found prowling around their territory, searching for any intruders - including other Hagaan. Should it find something that it perceives as an edible food source or threat, it will bite it, injecting venom and killing the intruder in a matter of minutes, before eating it. It has often been observed that Hagaan are more aggressive at night than during the day, as the added heat in daylight makes them slower to think and move.
During mating season, in winter, Hagaan switch from territorial animals to social animals. It has been observed that hundreds of Hagaan will all gather in one place, covering the sands and hunting for a mate in a mass congregation. During this time they are still aggressive, perhaps more so, to any intruder and seem to act more like a pack. Should one Hagaan perceive something as a threat, or a food source, the rest of the Hagaan will follow and then proceed to eat the victim once the venom has killed it. This event is only true during mating season, as any other time, the Hagaan is aggressive toward almost anything, including other Hagaan.
Territory and Groupings
Hagaan are most often solitary until it is mating season, in which they gather in large groups and cover the desert sands to find a suitable mate. It is at this time that they are the most dangerous, as every Hagaan has a grander appetite. It is often observed that the Hagaan’s aggression increases tremendously during mating season, and they tend to swarm any source of food they can find. To add to the danger, Hagaan are very territorial and extremely indiscriminate about what they eat. It has been observed that one Hagaan will attempt to eat another Hagaan should it cross into its territory.
- The Hagaan’s poison is the most expensive on the market, costing up to seven-hundred regals per vial.