|Common Nicknames||Void Dragon(ling)|
Shssisses are strange, highly slippery reptiles with an unknown background and very unique abilities. They have the ability to camouflage in Void-rich environments and can mimic speech, though some reports claim certain members have real intelligence and can talk properly. They are found both in the wilds of Drowda, where the Sihndar consider them an emblem of the Void, but also in the urban centers of the Dread Empire in the Far West. Here, the Kathar appear to have the animal domesticated as symbols of status and power, though the tales they tell of the creatures are quite outlandish.
The Shssisse has an unknown history, though the only presented truth is most likely a Kathar fabrication. They claim that they created the beasts by perfecting and manipulating the Void to transform humble and smaller lizards into the large, imposing, and sneaky Shssisse. However, scholars believe that the truth is far less gratifying for the Kathar. They postulate that the creature was mutated by the Void most likely in the Fifth Void Invasion and served the Demons in their army. However, when the Cataclysm occurred the beasts spread out, with those in the south at the tip of Daen being grabbed and spirited into captivity by the Kathar, while those in the north, perhaps guarding the Veil site or being held in reserve, became trapped on Drowda. A third theory, though unlikely, is that the creature emerged independently on Drowda as a result of Void Essence corruption, and some unnamed Kathar then traveled, trapped, and shipped the beasts back to the Dread Empire.
The mysteries don't stop there, as there is some question of when the creature was first positively identified. Most point to Sihndar tales dating back to perhaps 50 AC, where brave Sihndar warriors would encounter and be tricked by talking “Void Dragons.” As for the Kathar, the Shssisse first appeared in rumors of the Dread Empire within the Daendroc criminal underworld, likely spawned by Kathar traveling to Daen to spread the worship of the Void and other dark entities. The creatures have remained largely a rumor to Aloria at large, though they have been felled and examined by Sihndar in the past. The creatures most recently made an appearance though in the Dread War, where captives and slaves now freed with the turn of the Dread Empire inward reported some high ranking Kathar visiting conquered regions to be flanked by a pair of the beasts, cantering along like exotic guard dogs or pets. Today, the Shssisse remains a mystery and a rumor to many, though their existence is undeniable, and their dangerous powers make them quite the unnatural foe to tackle.
Shssisse are reptiles about the size of large dogs, standing at four to five feet in height, and five to six feet in length. Their heads are varied in exact shape and size, vaguely being crocodilian with exposed white teeth, but with a short snout and a prominent jowl or layer of fat that can be found under the lower jaw. Additionally, at the end of their snout there is a prominent single narrow horn. Their eyes sit above the mouth angled inward slightly so they can see directly ahead of them, but are capable of looking off to the sides, independently if need be. These eyes are large and tend to be dark blue, pale, or dark purple in coloration. The rest of the animal’s body is oddly vertical for a lizard, with four thick, four-toed and black-clawed feet supporting this body. A tail ends off the form, appearing very thin toward the pointed tip that some have compared to a prehensile whip. The animal’s back is covered in several uneven ridges, with three prominent, larger spines sticking up when compared to four or more smaller ones around them, the spines reaching the beginning of the animal’s tail but quickly ceasing. Their bodies are covered in sleek, dark purple scales, with the spines and horns usually colored black. Additionally, there are small splotches of black scales around these horns and spines. These scales however have a unique property that is one of the creature’s well-known traits: the ability to meld into Void saturated terrain. This camouflage only works when the creature is alive, as skinning and wearing the animal’s skin does not produce this effect. Additionally, Shssisse are said to possess a maddening venom that is not dispensed in a normal way. Instead, this venom is in their saliva, and their sharp, red-purple tongues can whip it out, essentially “stinging” their victim to dispense the venom. However, this is only hearsay as no such venom has been relatively recorded by Ailor and scholars within the Regalian Empire.
Shssisse, to the strangeness of many, do not appear to have male or female genders. The species is so rare that proper studies of sexual dimorphism or gender differences do not exist, and their extreme separation, especially in two very hostile areas of the world, has not produced enough information on this topic.
Life Span and Development
Equally mysterious is the Shssisse’s birth and life development. It is said by Kathar that when the creatures wish to give birth, three of them are required, not two. The mechanics of this are poorly known, but the end result is one to four fist-sized gleaming black eggs, which are completely smooth with a thick shell. The eggs are then abandoned by their creator, before the creatures eventually hatch, as miniature versions of their parents though they are lacking spines, their horn, and the claws of their feet. Still, it is said that within a fortnight, the creatures will have matured to their full size and strength. Most doubt this, but some believe that the creatures may draw energy from the Void in order to complete their maturation process. Regardless, they do mature quickly. Life spans for the reptile are unknown, but the Kathar claim that Huthek the Great has lived for some 110 years within the walls of the Kallaga Temple.
Shssisse are perhaps some of the most intelligent animals in the world, if all the tales told of them are to be believed. Their second well-known trait, beyond their unique camouflage, is their ability to roughly mimic voices at a variety of pitches. How or why this happens appears to be somewhat random, and some have even told tales from the Dread Empire of the creature’s possessing a sense of comedy or irony in how or when they repeat certain words or short phrases. There also exist unsubstantiated rumors of properly intelligent Shssisse, capable of rough speech all on their own. Most wonder if these are Kathar attempts to replicate the distant Sihndar tales of smooth-talking trickster Shssisse. But, the animals do appear to be mischievous or at the very least, tricky. Some Sihndar hunters have reported almost being "mocked" as they pursued their quarries and from the Dread Empire, there exist tales of the beasts propensity to sow chaos and mischief with one small whip of their tail, one thing mimicked at the right time, or one thing stolen from a table and either held in their jaws or in their tails.
Territory and Groupings
Shssisse exist in the wilds of Drowda, but also in the urban confines of the Dread Empire. Whether the creatures live in the nation’s twisted wilds, or perhaps even the Wolond Walds of Daen, is unknown. They appear generally solitary in the wild, but Kathar iconography and reports usually place them in pairs.
- Shssisse are named after the strange natural hissing noise they emit as a normal form of vocalization.
- Shssisse diets are unknown, though Kathar state the animals enjoy fruit and flesh, suggesting they are omnivorous despite their teeth.