THE ROSESNAKE

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

The Rosesnake is a small snake preyed upon by raptors (birds of prey) and other flying creatures. Its venom is often used in healing and medicine, even counteracting more harmful venom from larger and more potent snakes. They are found anywhere small mammals thrive, nesting in areas with poisonous plants.

Appearance. Rosesnakes are yellow-green snakes, long and thin, ranging from a half-fore at hatching and up to a ped and a half when full-grown. Hatchlings are no thicker than a length of yarn, and average adults are thick as a lady's wrist. They have a lovely identifying mark on the back of their hood, resembling a blue flame consuming a black (sometimes brown or grey) rose. Rosesnakes have long thin layered thorns on the last sixteenth of their tails, forming a glittery gray club that rattles and clicks when the snake twitches its tail. Its fangs are the same glittering grey of the thorns, rather lovely. Return to the top

Special Abilities. The Rosesnake’s digestive system cannot handle mammalian diseases, nor poisoned flesh. Its venom detoxifies mammalian flesh, even restoring it to full health if it gets bitten alive. While its fangs are still deep in the tissue, the Rosesnake beats its revived-or at least cleansed-prey senseless and swallows it whole. Some reports of doubly-sized versions of these creatures restoring the life to humans and elves have been noted, but they are likely only exaggerations of the truth. A Rosesnake would have to be doubly the size of the largest corpses ever found to have enough venom to revive a dead mouse, let alone a human. They are sometimes caught by overprotective parents, forced to bite their children at every bruise and sneeze. They live less than a day in captivity, usually going mad and beating themselves to death with their own tail. They absolutely refuse to breed if captured.

Newborn snakes can eat dead flesh, poisoned or not, and have a mammal-like variety of teeth until the end of the first month of life, when they drop off and their club is completely grown in.
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Territory. Rosesnakes are poor hunters and need both poisonous plants or other venomous snakes around to survive, as well as mammals sizeable enough to eat. Anywhere at these conditions a few Rosesnakes can usually be found around, collecting corpses and dying animals. Some have been seen on polluted banks and beaches eating nearly-dead waterfowl and fish, though this is often a desperate act at the end of a dry season when there aren't enough mammals to go around.
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Habitat/Behaviour. Rosesnakes are docile when left undisturbed, but slice and beat viciously at those who try to capture them. They spend mornings warming up in their dens (burrows in and around poison plants) and spend the rest of the day sliding around the forest, searching out food. They live either alone or in groups, not remotely smart enough to care about territory or mating fights.
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Diet. Rosesnakes scavenge for fresh corpses and sick or weak animals, cleansing and eating them on the spot, though sometimes they drag it home dead if there are hatchlings. On few occasions, when food is scarce, they swarm rabbit dens and actually strangle and beat entire warrens. This often precedes the end of a drought or a plague and is thought of as a good sign except, of course, for those who make their living off of angora...
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Mating. There is no particular season for mating for the Rosesnake, it occurs outside the den always, usually if two willing parties meet while scavenging they will spend a careful half hour with each other's fangs in each other's hoods, detoxifying and mating at the same time. The eggs hatch within the mother after two months, and she seems to know when they are coming for she won’t even try to leave the den when they hatch. A few hundred are born, and at least twenty live to mating age, and it is believed that at least one out of every brood lives to die a natural death.
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Usages. Captured often to help with healing, Rosesnakes usually break fevers and reduce swelling rather effectively. The venom is good for snakebite, ironically. They have enough venom to cleanse and revive five ods of flesh on average, but the most recorded was an thirty pound cat revived from a near-comatose state after it ate an od of butter from the owners cupboard (it died at the healthy old age of seven, a month later after eating a fruit pie).
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Myth/Lore. Rosesnakes were thought to have been manipulated on several occasions during wars by alchemists to give supposed immortality or invulnerability. It is mainly believed to have been nothing but "campfire stories" spread to lower the enemy's morale.

Other stories include legends of the snake's markings. They mainly rotate around the same tale:

"A rich lord married a beautiful but wicked young lady, hoping to show her all that was good in the world and in her. The maiden would not be changed, however, and she held a wild rose under her husband's nose while he slept. When his last breath escaped him, she threw the rose into the fireplace to destroy the evidence of the murder. She was shocked to find that when she tried to douse the fire with a bucket, the fire consumed the water as if it were wine.

As the bright blue flames leapt to the ceiling of her fine bedroom, the young lady could see a black outline in the depths. It was a rose, twisting in the fire like it was in pain. The outline began to change, however. The thorns began to move down the stem, gathering into a club, and the bloom twisted into the shape of a snake's head. The fire went out, but the outline remained. It was a Rosesnake the size of a dragon, filling the great bedroom with its coils as it grew even larger. The wicked widow gaped at the serpent for a moment too long, for the enormous club came down on her, crushing her to dust. The great serpent fixed its gaze on the corpse of the rich young lord. It sank its fangs into his heart, pumping its venom into him. The lord showed no signs of stirring.

The serpent began to shed its skin after filling the lord with its venom. Each layer of skin fell away as a thousand littler Rosesnakes, that squirmed their way out of the window. With each layer of skin lost, the great serpent grew smaller and paler. As its last layer of skin fell away, it revealed itself as a young woman, more beautiful than the wicked wife of the lord by miles.

The next morning the lord woke to the beautiful serpent-woman tending to his fireplace. When she noticed him admiring her, and the strange rose-within-flame tatoo on the back of her neck, she told him that his wife had left in the night to find her place in the world. The lord was saddened, but not by much, for he married the serpent-maid the next week."


-- "Legends of Ancyros", compiled and edited by A. Delphrin, p. 56 f.

Some tellings of this story claim that the descendents of this union are great magicians, healers or even shapeshifters, bearing the mark of the rosesnake on the back of their neck. Return to the top

Information provided by Jeremy Azure View Profile