THE MOONMOUTH WORM

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING - MYTH/LORE - RESEARCHERS

This beast is known all over the Aeruillin continent, though it resides only in parts of the Sveltash Desert. It is a up to a dozen peds long worm-like creature that generally feeds on smaller desert animals. The name "Moonmouth" derives from the mystical bright light coming from behind the monster's teeth, which has a dazing effect on its prey. Although this monster seems to exist in quite some numbers, one cannot find it easily.

Appearance. This worm-like monster can grow up to over twelve peds in length and an adult is usually a bit smaller than a ped in diameter. The Moonmouth has a circular mouth hole that opens wide in a symmetrical way, until it is about one and a half peds or more in diameter. The first one to two peds of its body are swelling as well, though it doesn‘t reach the size as the opening. With this mouth it can swallow animals up to the size of a goat, or, as lore tells us, very big individuals even a man, although this was never seen confirmed. The beast is able to do this quite quickly and to suck prey into it, so at smaller animals are drawn towards it into the mouth. There they are trapped with four rows of sharp and backwards pointing teeth which prevent a once caught animal to escape. These teeth are around a palmspan long. The weight of a grown out adult is estimated to be from eight to ten pygges.

The Moonmouth has only one set of bones, the spinal column, which helps it manoeuvring in the deeper sands. Growing from the spine close to the head is also a half of a ped long flattened horn with a sharp top, which leads to the assumption that Moonmouths use it to dig their tunnels.
The monster has no eyes, but because of its special senses there are none necessary, for it has different means to locate its prey.

The monster's smooth skin is dark brown with stains of even darker brown (but not black), and it has small humps and very tiny holes, which are hard to see on its shiny surface. Young Moonmouths have a light pink skin with stains of dark pink. These beasts usually have unique colour patterns on their back with which researchers can say how old the monster is or if they have seen this monster before. These patterns are often broken due to scares caused by struggling prey, which managed to injure the Moonmouth's skin.

Some jewel-like stones are embedded in their skin behind the horn. They are extensions from their spine and penetrate the skin when the monster gets older. Another of those stones can be found behind the monster’s third row of teeth. Return to the top

Special Abilities. One of the main capabilities of the monster is to dig tunnels in loose sand and to form a permanent tunnel network out of them. They are preventing the tunnels from collapsing with a strange, sticky fluid, which is produced in the tiny holes of the skin.

What gave the Moonmouth its name is its ability to produce a mystical pulsating light inside its mouth. It comes from a source behind its teeth and has an addling and dazing effect on those who see it. At night, when the Moonmouth hunts, it seems to paralyse the prey. Humans who have faced a monster and survived it tell repeatedly, that they saw the moon in its throat.

Maybe its most remarkable feature apart from the dazzling light in its mouth is its special sense for vibrations. It allows the beast to detect movements on the surface of the desert while it is in its tunnels. This is not only how they know when there is a larger or a smaller party crossing over the desert; it can sense the movements of its prey while hunting and so determine its location. It is not known, how far this sense reaches. It is estimated that they can feel a larger vibration at the distance of three dashes; smaller prey, which causes less vibrations, might pass at a closer distance. Although, rumours don‘t cease, that this applies only for dawn and that in the night there is no limit. It may depend as well from the depth in which the beast moves; it is said, that its tunnels reach up to 70 peds deep and that they are able to detect from there movements above their present location, however, there is no proof of this assumption.

Larger caravans seem to provide some shelter from attacks maybe because the many different vibrations caused by such a large group is fairly unknown to the worms and even prevents them from locating a single prey.
Return to the top

Territory. Moonmouths roam mainly in the northeast region of the Sveltash Desert on the continent of Aeruillin.
Return to the top

Habitat/Behaviour. Moonmouth tunnels are around one ped high and the up till now longest discovered part was four leagues long; sometimes they are close to the surface and sometimes they reach more deeply into the sand. In them they have caves where their females put their eggs and food. There is a central circular den in each tunnel network with the diameter of up to thirteen peds.

The only time a tunnel can be investigated is when it has collapsed. The fluid used by Moonmouths to harden their tunnels has partly withered and is not gluing the grains of sand together anymore, making the system inhabitable for the worms; so many "rooms" and "hallways" are preserved for further use of those tunnels. The often-intact entrance to these collapsed tunnels are often used by rare travellers as a resting place that is easy to defend, and covered from unwanted looks.

Usually the Moonmouths roam in groups of one male and three or four females. Although their numbers are not so few they have a lot of room to move in the desert because different Moonmouths dig their tunnels on different depths. Sometimes a young male comes into another male's tunnel system and then they battle each other for domination over territory. Although their battle is very brutal no Moomouth is killed in it. It is said, that the battle of two males can be so boisterous, that it feels as if small earthquakes occur and the sand of the dunes shifts quicker than normally.

Moonmouths spend their lifetime, which is around 50 human years long (as researchers found out from their patterns) making and improving their tunnels and spreading them if possible.
Return to the top

Diet. The Moonmouths' diet consists of small desert animals like dune mice, groundbirds an occasional goat and even desert plants. They mainly eat what they can find, including unlucky humans if they get hold of one - or so it is said.

These monsters have an interesting way of protecting their food from other Moonmouths and other animals that can in any way penetrate the “storage room”: One Moonmouth comes to the carcass of an animal (or it just bites a living one thus leaving it to bleed to death) and takes it with its teeth and carries it deeply into its tunnel where it spits a fluid on that animal. This way food can be protected for days in the desert. The Moonmouths eat only on the surface and only when it is night outside. They take the prey and bring it on the sand again to eat it.
Return to the top

Mating. Nothing is known about the mating of these beasts. Many agree that the Moonmouths are just too dangerous to study.
Return to the top

Myth/Lore. If you ask any inhabitant of Dion about Moonmouths, he will surely tell you this story:

The Curse of the Moonmouths. 'The Goddess Mermaria created strange creatures in the sea to help travellers cross the waters. She put in them a wreath of jewels that had the power to show the way for each ship that crossed the Burning Sea at night. Years had passed and Moonmouths were almost a different race in that time, with their culture, underwater homes in the Burning Sea, and they even spoke an own language, though it was so different from ours that we might not have realized it as such. But as all races they started to want power and they realized that they had power too. So when their ruler died they put up another one; evil in his soul desired power and wealth. He started to envy all other races that could freely walk on the surface of the earth.

The regent of the Moonmouths ordered to attack each ship that was sailing on the seas, some of them did so but the others opposed, those were banished by their king. So began a civil war in which no one took advantage. Finally the Goddess Mermaria got involved and stopped this war by banishing all Moonmouths that had followed the king into the desert. She cursed them also by not allowing them to ever feel the touch of water again. Many years have passed and the beautiful voices they had had turned into terrifying screams and they forgot that they had been sentient beings. But they never got rid of their hatred of other races so they still attack them as worm-like creatures. No one knows what happened to those who didn’t join the king, some say that they still roam in the deepest depths of the Burning Sea.
Return to the top

Researchers. Iberias, a trader of Shan’Zarathan, was one of the most known adventurers of his time in Aeruillin, living around the 8th century b.S. He crossed the Sveltash Desert without fear on his way to Nys, the town at the eastern shores of Aeruillin. His encounter with two Moonmouths during one of his travels made this monster, which lived so far only in the lore of the adjacent tribes, a reality. For the first time its existence was proven. Sadly Iberias found his death through another of these monsters around 750 b.S. The reports about the death of one of his companions, his own experience with one of them, his drawings and especially the parts of the monster he brought back to Nys made him famous. One of the men reported:

“We all fought for our lives there. It was the scariest thing in my life, you know. When one of the beasts just crawled out of the sand and opened its terrible mouth. There was Iberias, right in front of the beast not moving his muscles. I just jumped and pushed him away, thus exposing myself to the danger. Those terrible teeth jumped for him and took a bite out of him, you know! I took his axe and slashed the monster myself to tiny little pieces thus saving all of my company except one.

Iberias himself describes his experience like this:

”I stared at the monster's mouth. It was opened and I saw a bright light coming from it. Something happened to me. I felt my eyes burn, but others said there was no flame in them. I tried to escape but for some reason I couldn’t move. Then I fell to the ground and suddenly my eyes were normal again. I don’t know what happened next because I fainted.”

From this story and many other tales about Moonmouths that were told to them later on by other people, men all around Aeruillin concluded that Iberias was in some way disabled and incapable of defending himself from the beast. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 11th Dead Tree 1666 a.S.

Information provided by Arceon View Profile