Sewer Bloat Fly
|Sewer Bloat Fly|
|Official Name||Sewer Bloat Fly|
|Common Nicknames||Bloat Fly|
Horrifically mutated insects equipped with acidic bile whilst carrying the debilitating Mind Rot, the Sewer Bloat Fly is among the most feared predators of the Regalian Sewers. This scavenging fly has a body the size of a fist, thought to be the result of exposure to Void Essence or alchemical runoff, making it a terrifying sight to behold. It's highly defensive behaviour, coupled with their fast reproductive rate makes Sewer Bloat Flies very difficult to contain or remove from any one place. This creates a big problem for those who dwell in the Regalian Undercity; it is becoming increasingly difficult to prevent these insects from taking over more and more of the sewer systems, eventually rendering them completely uninhabitable.
The Sewer Bloat Fly is a relatively new creature to Aloria, only being documented in late 304 AC. They have not been seen by all that many people; they reside mostly in the eastern and lower branches of the Regalian Sewers, yet have been known to stray into other sections and levels. They do not typically try to leave the sewers as there is significantly less food on the surface and are made easy targets by larger predators. Their origin is open to speculation, but it is generally agreed upon that their existence came to be due to corruption in some way by Void energies, altering them over time to their current size and menacing demeanor. Another proposition is that they were the result of mutations from alchemical runoff, traces of which are still found in the sewer waters to this day. Regardless, these flies have become infamous for their deadliness, and sewer dwellers endeavor to stay as far away from them as possible. Lone flies are often killed if seen, and corpses are burned to prevent the hives from spreading. Despite these efforts, the Sewer Bloat Flies continue to slowly but surely infest more and more of the Regalian sewer network, creating uninhabitable regions and driving out existing residents. There is talk of a large-scale extermination operation, but the sewers are far too violent and unstable for enough people to come together and complete the task—until then, these flies will continue to be a serious problem.
The Sewer Bloat Fly is among the biggest of flying insects, with a massive wingspan that can grow to be anywhere between six to eight inches wide, and a fist-sized body that weighs roughly as much as an orange. Their bodies are often coloured in various shades of dark grey, though sometimes they can develop mutations that lead to discoloration, creating shades of brown and on the rare occasion, dark purple. Their wings are transparent and paper-thin, and reflect a metallic red colour in dim light—one of the several dissimilarities that distinguish the Sewer Bloat Fly from its more manageable cousins. These creatures have three distinct body sections, as with all insects: the head, thorax and abdomen. The head of the creature is round and features two massive compound eyes which dominate the majority of its ‘face’. The mouthparts are made up of two sponge-like pads grouped on the end of a single moveable stalk, equipped with small barbs and spines. This is used to mop up blood, slime, and rotting tissues. The pads excrete an acidic saliva to assist with the feeding process and breaking down of larger nutritional intakes, and is capable of dissolving biological material such as skin and hair. The thorax is a small body segment that connects the abdomen and head. This segment is covered in hairs and sports six legs and a pair of wings. Their ‘feet’ are covered in bristles and tiny hooks that assist in gripping surfaces that seem smooth to the naked eye. The abdomen is the largest part of the fly’s body at three and a half inches long, with hairs that recede slightly towards the back and underside of the body. This section houses the majority of its organs, and as such sports a slightly thicker (but very brittle) exoskeleton which is extremely resistant to both heat and cold. Because of this, Sewer Bloat Flies tend to fly at a slightly upward-tilted angle when newly emerged.
Sewer Bloat Flies are not a very diverse species in general. They are almost all female; male Boat Flies live and die for one purpose—to procreate. Due to their confinement to the Regalian sewer system, there has not been much chance for any subspecies to develop. These odd flies do, however, show a tendency to mutate over longer periods of time. Most commonly their color will change as they age, but many other seemingly random mutations can occur as well; the limbs can grow or deform, the wings can bend and twist, and even extra compound eyes may form. These more extreme mutations are almost always are detrimental to those affected by them, and so the flies in question normally die prematurely.
Life Span and Development
Sewer Bloat Flies have a metamorphic life cycle involving pupation from a larval form into the adult winged form. The eggs—about two centimetres in diameter each—are laid in batches of up to five hundred on a rotting carcass, animal or humanoid. These eggs will stay on the corpse for two days or so before beginning to hatch almost simultaneously. Typically, the larvae are black and glistening and span two tenths of an inch when they hatch. These maggots will then burrow into and feed on the corpse upon which they were laid, and remain there for several weeks. The maggots will be ready to pupate in about two weeks of sustained feasting. By this point they will have reached several centimetres in length, and will be extremely swollen due to intense feeding to the point that they cannot move. They will then pupate, forming reddish unresponsive cocoons that will remain dormant for around about a week. At this stage the corpse will be easily identified as maggot-infested, as the tissues will not rot as they normally would, and the flesh will take on a dark sheen. This will continue to darken until the pupae are ready to emerge, at which point what is left of the corpse will be brittle and a blackish color, due to the amount of nutrients and water lost to the Fly’s growth process. Bloat Flies are sometimes used for this express purpose; to rid of decomposing corpses faster, cleaner, and more efficiently. After a week or so, the Sewer Bloat Flies will emerge. Only about half of those laid will survive to this stage—cannibalism is common amongst the maggots—but the number of hatchings emerging at once is always massive. The corpse will crumble as soon as the flies leave, and all that will remain is an untouched skeleton covered in a black dust similar to crushed charcoal. This dust combines with the damp in the sewers to create an uninviting mush that can transmit Sewer Maggots. The adult flies can live to be eight years old if female, but males will only typically last a few weeks before they are inevitably killed and eaten by their mate. This is not a problem, however; once a pair has mated, the female does not need to mate again for a year or so, and can lay several batches of eggs in between fertilisations. The adult flies normally feed on algae, rot, flesh, and refuse.
Sewer Bloat Flies are not particularly intelligent creatures, and are generally passive, albeit still terrifying. Despite this, when in large numbers or near hive territory, they become far more aggressive and instinctively attack anything that comes too close. Nobody has ever tried to tame these flies, but they are essentially untameable regardless; they are as cooperative and trainable as their cousins, the common black flies, which is to say, not very cooperative at all. These creatures are entirely instinct-driven and will naturally move away from any loud sounds or sudden movements, remaining passive most of the time. The only situation in which they become aggressive is when intruders come too close to their hive, in which case they will swarm to attack the creature, typically smothering them with their bodies and secreting the acidic biochemical they store in two prominent facial glands. This type of behavior could be described as self-destructive, as the acid can also harm other members of the swarm, and seems to be instinct-driven rather than consciously decided. The hairs that cover Sewer Bloat Flies’ abdomens are quite sharp at the tips, and easily detach from the body. This acts as a deterrent; these hairs cause itchiness if they become lodged in the skin, and when a sufficient number attach to one attacker they have a one in five chance to transmit Mind Rot.
Territory and Groupings
Sewer Bloat Flies normally scavenge and find mates alone, but almost always share a central hive area with other flies. If intruders enter this hive, any nearby Sewer Bloat Flies will swarm together and attack the intruder with the acidic biochemical, barbed limbs, and pointed hairs. This coordination is possible because of a loud, high-pitched buzzing sound that the flies can make to attract others to their aid. This noise is made by rubbing their wings against each other rapidly, and is an automatic, instinctual response triggered by the sight of an intruder near their central hive. Flies who hear this sound fly towards the origin, and attack the intruder(s).
- The Sewer Bloat Fly’s thick carapace has been harvested in the past in the hopes that it may be useful. Unfortunately, the material is brittle and refuses to bond with any known adhesive, making it useless to all but the most eccentric inventors. The acidic bile excreted from their facial glands, however, is rumored to have very interesting alchemical properties.
- Many mages and scholars have put time into discovering why Sewer Bloat Fly pupae tend to corrupt and then disintegrate corpses they inhabit. Nobody has determined the reason for sure, but it is thought to be a side effect of the Void essences that saturate them.
- Contrary to popular belief, Sewer Bloat Flies don’t carry Sewer Maggots; only the remains of maggot-infested carcasses are capable of transmitting them.