|Common Nicknames||Firebacks, Crawling Embers|
While the cities of Etosil often come alive at night with the flickering of hundreds of candles, the hills and pastures of the countryside are often speckled with the glowing embers of the Phlarkie. A small amphibian with a natural affinity for fire, Phlarkies have a natural combustible compound that is created in a special organ located in their back. They were originally discovered when the first settlers arrived in Etosil, who were drawn to the mysterious lights that dotted the rocky terrain, only to find a bizarre six legged creature that was warm to the touch. Phlarkies are found across Etosil, found even in farmer’s homes as they lie among the embers of the hearth. They do not bother local citizens much more than simply being in the way and they do a wonderful job keeping the bugs away. Etosians have come to appreciate their little companions, and because of that, the Phlarkie is often considered one of the symbols of Etosil.
Initial discovery of the Phlarkie dates back to around the time of the Cataclysm, when the first humans began to settle on the rocky terrain of Etosil. First contact was initially fearful as the early Etosians saw the glowing of hundreds of Phlarkie who had gathered together for their yearly mating season; this lit a large patch of the rocky hillside in a dull yellow glow. After discovering that the source was a small amphibian and not some form of Elven magic as initially thought, the settlers left the small creatures to themselves. As Etosil developed over the next few centuries, the Phlarkies population remained relatively steady. This was largely due to the amphibious creatures not providing any problem to the Ailor settlers and dying off due to natural predators.
Resembling a lizard with three pairs of feet, Phlarkies are classified as amphibians as they lay their eggs in shallow ponds high up in the hills. Phlarkies have a slimy, soft skin instead of scales and are typically a dark brown or black in coloration, also possessing a bright red underbelly. The underbelly is used as a warning to other species attempting to eat it and is often shown when the animal feels threatened. The species can grow to be roughly a foot long if allowed to grow to maturity, and have a flat, spade like head. Their six feet end in round digits that are naturally adhesive, allowing the Phlarkie to crawl over the rocky terrain of their home with relative ease. They also have a sticky tongue which is used to catch insects. Finally, the Phlarkie has two special organs located on the backside of the animal. One organ produces a special glowing compound that the Phlarkie uses to attract insects and may act as a natural defense. This is due to the fact that the amphibian can shoot the compound out of its mouth. The compound can start small fires, and causes burns when it comes in contact with skin. The other organ does not glow, but instead produces another compound that is secreted by the species, keeping the skin moist and granting it fire resistance. This is utilized by the species as they commonly can be found sitting in fires to stay warm.
Males and females are similar in appearance. The only true way to tell them apart is to observe them during the yearly mating season, to see whether it lays eggs or fertilizes them. Other than that, the species is relatively similar across the Islands of Etosil, with minor differences between those higher up in the mountains being a darker black coloration. This is to absorb more sunlight to stay warm at the higher altitude.
Life Span and Development
Phlarkie mate once a year for a period of about two months. This typically begins in late May and ends in Late July to Early August. The season begins with males climbing to the higher parts of the foothills where standing pools often form after spring rains. They establish a ‘territory’, and begin to excrete a special pheromone that attracts the female to them. The female will lay a clutch of small eggs within a small space between rocks and then stand guard for the two weeks while the eggs develop. After hatching the tadpoles will slowly develop into juveniles over the course of a month, during which they will eat insects and algae that grow in the pond. They initially start with a long tail and no legs which develop around week two and grow to maturity by the end of the month. As they grow into their next stage, they begin to lose the function of their gills and crawl onto land for the first time. It will take another six months before the juvenile grows into a mature Phlarkie, at which point it will be ready to mate. The average lifespan of a Phlarkie is six years.
Phlarkie are rarely aggressive and only attempt to harm others when they feel threatened. They often choose to flee from an encounter than engage in a fight, but can spit a minor acid when it feels threatened. They have been shown to be able to lure their prey into traps and use their glowing backsides to attract insects at night to eat. Otherwise, they are a very lazy species and spend a majority of their time sunbathing or sitting in shallow pools.
Territory and Groupings
The only territorial nature of the Phlarkie is during the two month mating season that occurs each year; during this period the males of the species become increasingly defensive of their small section of pond. They have tendencies for familial units to remain in the same area together and often two Phlarkie that are sunbathing are related in some way. However, these groups do not act as a cohesive community and more often simply utilize each other to hunt for insects to eat, leaving once they have had their fill. A group of Phlarkies is called a Phalanx.
- If the tail of a Phlarkie is removed, it can typically grow one back in a few weeks. It uses this as a means of escape and Phlarkie are occasionally captured and farmed for their tails, which have alchemical properties.
- Children’s stories in Etosil say that Phlarkie live six years because they have six legs. Whether there is scientific backing to this is still up for debate.
- Rumor around Regalia is that someone flushed a Phlarkie down a toilet shaft on accident, and it has grown to be over seven feet long and lives somewhere down in the sewers.