|Common Nicknames||Devilmole, Void-Tunneler|
Norlda are notorious tunneling mammals similar to moles and gophers, with notably high intelligence. Mutated during the Fifth Void Invasion, they are now one of the many dangerous creatures encountered by the Sihndar Race in their travels and missions across the continent. The animals have a high resilience to natural toxins and poisons, and an excellent sense of smell, although they also have bad eyesight and poor digestion. They are often pests that are a detriment to Sihndar agriculture, but they also have value to alchemists for creating anti-toxin concoctions.
Norlda were once common, subterranean-dwelling mammals that lived beneath Drowda, that had also expanded out to most of Drovv-controlled territory. At this time, they were much smaller, but could still be a problem as their tunneling could burrow into basements, and undermine Drovv structures. And yet, some were even tamed and kept as pets, though this practice was uncommon. When the Fifth Void Invasion arrived, these were some of the first animals mutated by Void Essence. While a few grew to truly monstrous proportions, the majority became as they are seen today, and joined the Void horde in their march south. Many died when the Cataclysm took place, including the most mutated of their number, but some survived back in their homeland. Over the coming decades, they reproduced at an incredible rate and made up a lower, but essential part of the Drowda food chain. To the Sihndar, the animals became more like pests, as their tunneling tended to disrupt settlement foundations and citadel walls, along with the fact that they competed with the Sihndar for edible plants like the Eluhwa mushroom. This has remained the case to this day, with frequent clashes pushing them back from Sihndar-controlled areas, while they resist the force brought to bear against them from the natural world, their predators many but their numbers remaining high.
Norlda have greatly grown in size since their innocent days before the corruption of the Void, now reaching anywhere from between two and three feet in length with an approximate weight of 100 pounds for most members of the species. Their head is small with a flapped snout, small rounded ears, and two sets of orange-ochre eyes, both close to each other on each side of the face. Their mouth possesses dull front teeth made for chewing dirt and vegetation, and sharper incisors in the rear of their jaws, to utilize as weapons in both defense and offense, against foes. Their neck is of a medium length, pushing the head forward from their squat bodies, which have six limbs equally spaced apart. The first two sets of legs have four claw-toed feet, with the hind legs possessing five clawed toes on each foot. The animal’s body ends in a stubbed tail. Their skin is a dirty brown with speckles of gray and black, and sports many petite hairs on the surface which are densest around the legs, the back and along the face. Their most unique adaptation, likely thanks to their Void-tainted homeland, is immunity to most poisons and venoms due to a gland found close to their heart. Simply called the Nor Gland by scholars, it produces an anti-toxin that is pumped through the bloodstream when it detects a harmful substance. This is most often used to fend off the venom of the Drow Giant Spider.
Norlda have a stark gender divide, with males existing at a ratio of 4 to 1 against females. Females are thus prized and not often seen outside of Norlda nests, though there is little gender dimorphism in the species. As for visual diversity, Norlda coats are unique to the individual, with offspring sometimes possessing patterns inherited from their parent’s coats within their own.
Life Span and Development
Norlda are always born in litters of two to six. They are pink and virtually naked during the first few weeks, where they gain all of the needed nutrients from their mother's milk. Over the next two months, they continue to grow, and their coat develops its common colors. Once their teeth come in close to the end of this time, they are forced to eat regular food, being weaned from what their mother provided before. From here the Norlda is considered fully mature and can go on to live for 20 years, though most die prematurely.
Norlda have been noted for their high level of intelligence and capability to organize. They seem to have some capability to rationalize; the mammal is able to avoid common hunter traps seemingly on purpose, as well as carefully select their nest sites for the most essential attributes. They are also capable of excellent organizational skills, storing food neatly, and keeping adequate room in particular areas of their tunnels for nesting while also having a vague caste system. Younger males serve as workers and collectors of food both underground and on the surface, while older males serve as lookouts and soldiers, attacking threats to the nest or attacking interlopers in their tunnels. Females overall do little if no work, the nest-mother in particular barely moving unless provoked to action. Instead, she simply issues orders through a series of snorts and physical movements from her den, growing to a large size and producing multiple litters alongside the lesser females. However, despite this high intellect, Norlda are fierce and wild animals. Early attempts to train them by some Sihndar failed due to an intense bond the giant rodents have with their nestmates and their species as a whole. When approaching solitary Norlda, it is best to move very slowly and demonstrate that you present no threat, else their calm demeanor can grow ugly, and fast.
Territory and Groupings
Norlda operate in nests of 80 to 200 focused around their nest-mothers and the females. The nests are found underground in the forests and plains of Drowda, with a few even reaching into subterranean caves beneath mountains. Smaller dens are sometimes built closer to Sihndar settlements, given the relatively easy access to food, but these are often disrupted and cleared before they grow too large.
- Surprising many, Norlda are truly omnivorous rather than carnivorous and eat large amounts of Eluhwa. This diet is due to the Nor Gland, the Void sacrificing the ability to digest well for the anti-toxin substance.
- Drow Giant Spiders as well as other insectoid monstrosities on Drowda have been known to wait until a Norlda nest is well established before forcing the Norlda out and taking over the perfectly formed tunnels and rooms for themselves.
- Norlda leather is a traditional fabric found in many Sihndar objects.
- The Lirranna region is well known for having almost no Norlda within it, decades of the massive arachnids that dominate the area having culled the Norlda to a scant few thousand, while external populations lurk at the fringes of the territory.