THE GOPAG TURTLE ("WALKING LOG", "JUMPING LOG")

APPEARANCE - CATEGORIZATION - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING - USAGES - MYTH/LORE

The Gopag is commonly known as the "Walking Log" and is sometimes called the "Jumping Log" due to the jumping habits of some of the smaller forms in particular.

Actually a turtle, it has the appearance of a log with moss growing on top. Its shape comes from both sides of the shell, growing around the animal and forming a cylinder. This animal comes in a wide range of sizes. Most types are omnivorous though there are also herbivorous and carnivorous varieties. While most varieties of this animal are harmless, some are extremely dangerous. It is said that a man who sits on a dead moss covered log in Nybelmar might never stand again.

Below you might find a quick reference list for the local names of these animals: Kopak (Krar), Gopag (Santharian, generic of Gopak), Tortus (Krath'melarian), Rockwalker (synonym for Tortus in Krath'melarian), Tortus (Tartacus- Zhunite), Testudo (Korweynite) and Chelonia (Anpagan).

Appearance. Gopags look like dead logs with moss growing on top. They have two large holes on each end, one for the head one for the tail. It has two pairs of small holes underneath one pair in front the other in back for its 4 legs. The tails are short and stout. The necks are elastic: too short for the head to come out when fully retracted, but can reach half the shell length beyond the shell when necessary. Normally the head sticks just far enough outside the shell to make the eyes visible. The shape of the head varies between types. All Gopags have beaks with nostrils in front (towards the top of the head). The more predatory types have longer beaks. These animals have four feet with six claws on each foot. Most of the shell is like bark in appearance and touch. The back of the shell is thicker and green with a very rough texture similar to small stones. This texture varies in some Gopag species. Return to the top

Categorization. Gopags come in many different varieties, which can be split up as follows:

Territory. The locations where Gopags can be found are dependent on the species you look at. For further details in this respect see the Categorization section. Return to the top

Habitat/Behaviour. Although all types are slow on land, those that hunt fish can swim fast. Gopag all have a lunging ability which makes them able to attack any animal within a diameter of twice its body length. If the first lunge misses, the prey will most likely get away so it tends to wait till they get close.

Most Gopag species live about 200 years. The smaller varieties by and large have a shorter lifespan.

Hunting Large Gopags.
Though large Gopags are difficult to stalk and especially to kill, several distinct styles have been developed:

Diet. The diet of the Gopag varies considerably between the different species. For further details see the Categorization section. Return to the top

Mating. Most Gopags will mate for the first time at age four. Thereafter the mating ritual will take place every spring until the Gopag dies. The two notable exceptions to this are the Kosth Gopag, which begins to make in the first year of its life, and the Giant Gopag which will proliferate every seven years.

In early Singing Bird, the female Gopag will begin to show reddish spots on her back. Males interpret these signs as an indication that the female Gopag is in heat. If two males arrive at the same time they will fight until one of them gives up. The spots on the female’s “bark” disappear soon after mating occurs. Eggs are laid in a circular pattern in pairs and are about a tenth of the shell length of a full grown Gopag. The mother sits on the eggs until they hatch and the newborns are ready to begin their adventure on the dangerous Nybelmarian continent.

Hatching time varies. The Allffaenath and the Kosth Gopag eggs hatch in a couple of hours after they are laid. The Essalui and Escandian eggs usually take about two weeks to hatch. The Giant Gopag takes three to four months to crawl out of its protective shell.
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Usages. While smaller types are often kept as pets the shells of Gopag are well liked by those who use bone crafting and by those few who are strong enough to wear heavy armour made from these animals. The hide trader Occillo had a very profitable business making armour from Giant Gopag shells. The giant Oog is said to have worn such armour made from several Giant Gopag.

Various parts of the Gopag are used to fulfill different purposes:

Allffaenath Gopags are also often kept in farm fields to eat insects that would otherwise devastate crops. They are at times kept in yards and homes to control insect populations.

The meat, though edible, is seldom eaten due to its extremely sour taste. Recipes that use Gopag meat are usually very heavily sweetened. The Viaquis for instance have a ritual delicacy (which most outsiders find quite revolting) where the Gopag meat is cooked in honey and olive oil. The Compendium’s correspondents in eastern Nybelmar say the meat is sometimes also marinated in ale or R’unorian brandy.
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Myth/Lore. The Gopag is often typecast in local fables either as the dim boy of the class (since these turtles tend to be very heavy and slow for their size due to their dense shells) or a patient elderly Arathrian plotter. Similarly, young women searching for a husband among the Sharosar are told to act like the Gopag, to wait patiently under the canopy until their prey is most unsuspecting and vulnerable. In much the same way, Arath officials teach their sons never to strike until the target is in range and never to move against their Emperor openly unless victory is certain.

There is a myth among the Viaquis that their ancestors when they first arrived in the southern forests of the Earth Peninsula after escaping Menemronn's destruction hid themselves from the 'little mountain men' (also thought to be a myth by many scholars) inside the empty shells of Giant Gopags. Soon the ancient Viaquis started building homes, even entire villages, from strange combinations of these giant shells using their magic to shape and mould the hardened armour of dead gopags - or so the legend goes. Perhaps there is some truth to this rather fanciful myth, for contemporary Viaquis architecture, with its characteristically elongated domes, is indeed reminiscent of these mysterious animals.

The Alffaenath Gopag is thought by many people to ward off evil spirits since those that own them get sick less often.

People on both sides of the Zsharkanion Peaks chastise boys who have too inflated an idea about themselves and will rashly volunteer for tasks beyond their abilities by telling them not to be like the Zsharkanion Gopag and assume responsibilities they cannot handle.

The Viaquis, who have always been a superstitious folk, regard causing the death of a Giant Gopag an omen of terrible misfortune. Even today they are quick to expel people who might have killed a Giant Gopag to avoid bringing bad luck to the community – even if the death had been accidental or not fully substantiated.
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 Date of last edit 2nd Singing Bird 1666 a.S.

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