The Lurker Beetle is a R'unorian beetle of prodigious size and strength, used as a beast of burden and as a mount for R'unorian cavalry. While unable to fly, its enormous strength and armoured carapace make it an ideal mount when a rider can be found and the beetle can be trained. The Lurker's larvae, called pit worms, are occasionally used as food in poorer regions of the isles.
The Lurker Beetle is roughly a ped and a half tall at the "shoulder" and four
and a half peds long from
one end to the carapace to the other. It possesses six legs, and a hard, dark
blue carapace, much like that of smaller beetles. The carapace on a female
Lurker Beetle is a darker violet shade, with a pair of red stripes along the
back of the carapace. A hollow space behind the head of the Lurker forms a
natural saddle for a potential rider, while the rest of the shell is smooth and
almost mirror bright. The body forms a tear-drop shape, with the head at the
front and the body of the lurker tapering out behind it.
The head of a Lurker beetle is roughly a fore across both ways, with a set of fearsome "horns", about its mandibles. While these look dangerous, the Lurker actually uses them to forage for food, moving about leaves and grasses or dirt to find nourishment. The R'unorians use the horns to mount a harness for guiding the Lurker while it is being ridden.
From its early stages as a pit worm, the Lurker Beetle has three eyes, arranged triangularly. When the beetle matures, two of these faceted eyes are shifted to the sides of its head, where they can peer out behind the Lurker, warning it of danger.
Lurker Beetles don't seem to see in the same way that other creatures do. Thanks
to the arrangement of their eyes, a Lurker's field of vision is wider than that
of most creatures. They are capable of seeing both in front and behind
themselves, except where their own body blocks their field of vision.
Lurkers also seem to have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to locate food. This sense seems to be linked to their mouths, much like that of a snake, a Lurker can be observed to "taste" the air with its mandibles.
The carapace of a Lurker Beetle is very resilient to blows, requiring a great deal of force to penetrate. Even hammer blows have been known to rebound from a Lurker's shell. The underside of a Lurker is indeed weaker, but it requires such force to flip the animal that it may simply be easier to shoot the rider.
By virtue of its weight, a Lurker has quite a bit of push, but a Lurker beetle is also quite capable of knocking a man to the ground with one of its limbs, or pulling a substantial load, making a Lurker charge quite a fearsome sight. A Lurker is not a very quick creature, it requires a good deal of space to build up a charge. Once it has begun however, a charging Beetle is not easily stopped.
Territory. Lurker Beetles are found throughout the larger R'unorian isles, though they populate R'unor itself with the greatest numbers. On the island of R'unor, thee are wild Lurkers found in the Forest of Souls in small numbers, but otherwise they are found in stables for the R'unorian military, or on large farms.
Habitat/Behaviour. In the Forest of Souls Lurkers tend to roam in small groups of five to about a dozen, consisting of one male to every five females in most cases. When there are young present, Lurkers have been observed protecting their young and keeping them corralled in small depressions where it is difficult for them to escape until they've matured. While little is capable of harming a giant beetle, their larvae are quite susceptible, leading the adult beetles to guard them closely. The only creatures capable of harming the Lurker in its adult stage are the migratory horned drakes that occasionally make their way as far as R'unor itself, and the Forest Trolls.
In general, Lurkers are peaceful creatures, not easily driven to violence except in defense of their young or themselves. They forage for food in groups and tend to nest in areas with heavy foliage above.
Diet. The Lurker Beetle is not an especially picky eater, though it does seem to prefer its food slightly decomposed or viscous in some way. They feed on animal corpses, rotting fruit and other vegetable matter and are even capable of crushing small bones in their mandibles.
Domesticated Lurkers are often fed compost materials, with special emphasis on vegetable and fruit leavings.
Mating. During mating season, once ever other year in the spring, females lay a group of seven or eight eggs each communally which are then fertilized by the male. The eggs are roughly a fore-across initially and held together in groups with a viscous, sticky substance. The resulting larvae. called pit worms, hatch between two and three weeks later. When they hatch, roughly half the clutch will be devoured as pit worms are born ravenous. The white grub-like creatures possess no legs at this point, and are reliant on their parents for food, usually particularly rotten in fact.
After another four weeks, the pit worms have grown to roughly adult size, and they grow legs. A week later, having attained full adult size, their skin hardens into a shiny carapace and they leave the pit their parents have dug for them.
Usages. The Lurker is used as a beast of burden, pulling plows or carts easily enough, as well as by the Blaar'kr tribe of R'unor as mounts for cavalry. Lurkers choose their riders seemingly based on smell, they have a good temperament once they are bonded to a rider, but are otherwise evasive, avoiding just about everyone in the wild. Because of the need for smell, Lurker riders have been known to be quite fragrant, traditionally leading military compounds to house their Lurker riders away from everyone else.
In poorer regions, pit worms are farmed for food, by feeding the worms when they are born, they are prevented from eating their siblings, and a surplus is created. The meat of a pit worm is quite chewy, and tastes faintly like taenish.