Stone Forest Snake
|Stone Forest Snake|
|Official Name||Stone Forest Snake|
|Common Nicknames||Stone Snake, Basilisk Servant|
|Habitat||Stone Forest, Teled Methen|
The Stone Forest Snake is often feared by the wider public and the inexperienced scholar as a fierce beast made of stone that haunts the Stone Forest of Teled Methen, and serves as the vanguard to the even fiercer serpent, the Basilisk. It is a remarkable creature when singled out, capable of tracking any who enter the Stone Forest and ensnaring individuals in the name of the Basilisk. They also possess a camouflage ability against rocky surfaces that make them difficult to spot--and feed the myth they are made out of stone.
The Stone Forest Snake has been known to the Altalar for centuries, but further information was steeped in myth. Where the Basilisk had a complex origin story, and later multiple theories as to how it came into being, the resident serpents of the Stone Forest were often ignored. They were simply explained as the Basilisk’s offspring, and for a while were blamed for the theft or vanishing of minor bones and more in Altalar society. Since the Basilisk stole major bones, it made sense to blame the theft of lesser bones on the Stone Forest Snakes. However, later observation by Altalar after the Consolidation proved that the creatures never left the Forest, and so as the centuries wore on, the creatures remained a mystery. After the Wildering, the region fell into Kathar territory, though early efforts to access the Stone Forest and end its mysterious nature met the Kathar with death and fear in their hearts. In recent decades, some Lesarra have paid top dollar for retrieving this serpent. This is a difficult task, but one that has revealed fascinating biology. As a result, some of the mystery of the serpent has only recently been peeled away, at least in scholarly circles, as most of the population still fear and ponder the magic of the dark, mysterious Stone Forest.
Stone Forest Snakes are between two and a half to three and a half feet long with varying widths with a weight of between three to five pounds. The head of the serpent is quite narrow, flush with the snake's body, coming to an end at an even more narrow snout. A Stone Forest Snake’s eyes are a dull yellow or green, and unlike most snakes, it has a normal jaw, lacking the ability to unhinge it for consuming prey. It is armed with a pair of short, venomless fangs, which it barely uses. The snake's body has no apparent pattern as their scales are a wide spectrum of grey, broken up by arbitrary and short, black lines. The Stone Forest Serpent can camouflage itself into the rock formations of the Stone Forest with extreme ease due to this pattern and remains almost possible to spot when sitting motionless.
Female Stone Forest Snakes are less common than their male counterparts, but they are also around three inches longer than the males. Since all Stone Forest Snakes are born in the Stone Forest, they do not vary in appearance. Scholars have been unable to confirm if being born closer to the Basilisk has any relation to the variation in their appearance.
Life Span and Development
The Stone Forest Snake has not been observed for any substantial amount of time, resulting in most details of their life remaining unknown. They are believed to birth 20 to 30 small, grey-shelled eggs every few years, with the mother leaving her eggs unattended. Within a few weeks, the eggs hatch, and the young move out into the Forest where they will grow to maturity within two years. Their diet apparently consists solely of insects and arachnids, but some have rejected this as their sole source of food, suggesting that they perhaps also feed on the carrion of the Basilisk. Furthermore, the number of Stone Forest Snakes in the Forest seemingly fluctuates, and scholars have difficulty figuring out why this occurs. Some have suggested that their numbers don’t fluctuate at all and that the serpent can hibernate when food is scarce, thus highly lowering the chance of detection given their camouflage. Their maximum age is unknown, and any specimen in captivity will gradually slow down and stop moving altogether within a month if it is not returned to the Forest.
Stone Forest Snakes are viewed as extremely disturbing creatures given their enslavement to the Basilisk. It appears that they do have a fairly passive mentality when left alone, hunting and eating their food or resting relatively motionless around and in the stone pillars and mist that make up the Stone Forest. However, when the Basilisk is in control, they have a markedly different mentality. They will slowly, carefully track an intruder into the Stone Forest, staying out of sight as much as possible, before enough members of its species have gathered. At that point, they will rapidly move in to trap an individual’s feet, and then limbs, against the stonework by “solidifying” their bodies. This effect is not magical but is, in fact, the incredible constriction of their internal muscles, freezing their form and making it very hard to pull away. They remain in this position until the Basilisk arrives, though what happens after that is unknown.
Territory and Groupings
Stone Forest Snakes appear to travel in small clusters within 300 feet of the Basilisk. Snakes outside the 300-foot radius are often spread out, in trios at most. Stone Forest Snakes are otherwise fairly sedentary creatures, at least according to observation. The serpents do not leave the Stone Forest with the Basilisk, sticking to the familiar ground of their only home.
- Stone Forest Snake skins are rare and sell well in marketplaces due to their connection to the Basilisk and the Stone Forest.
- Ants burrowed into the misty, sandy, and rocky terrain are suspected to be the serpent's primary food source.
- Examinations of the Stone Forest Snake’s skull show an extremely unique brain structure, suggesting that the control the Basilisk has over its lesser brethren is not a natural phenomenon whatsoever.