The Spiderturtle, a small
eightlegged crustacean, about a
palmspan across, and is known by various names. Many refer to it also as
"Spiddleshell" or "Spiddle". To the
Kuglimz it is known as "Ho'vla'pyr" (lit. "armour
water animal"). The
elves refer to it as "Már'thuoc" (lit. "water
shell") and the merfolk callsit "Kinikraah",
which translates to something like "alcohol crab". The
mer have been known to suffer intoxication
after digesting this turtle, giving it its unique
mermish name. This crustacean
weighs only about a hafeb
and lives in warm waters like the Sea of
Tears or the Aelyvian Sea.
Appearance. The Spiderturtle is a spindly aquan creature with eight spindly, armoured legs ending in sharp points. These legs have three joints, facing in alternate directions (forwards, backwards, forwards), several plates (the meat is most easily reached from here) and spikes on the middle joint and placed randomly on the rest of the leg. The legs are connected to a hemispherical body, dominated by a large shell, much like a turtle's, though smaller, sleeker, and with several spikes. The spikes of the Spiddle vary in sharpness. The spikes on the legs are small studs, with miniscule points, but the spikes on the back are great, swept-back, prongs.
The Spidertutrtle has four small, beady, eyes on the underside of the shell, above a circular jawless mouth. It has two nostrils on the topside. The Spiderturtle has an aqua blue shell, and a dark blue body.
Special Abilities. The Spiddleshell is one of the few amphibious creatures - they can live equally well in and out of the waters. It also, when threatened, will spew forth a white, acidic substance to make good its getaway. This Spiddle is quite impotent, it will however, cause a strong stinging sensation.
This spittle is produced in the digestive tract, and brought to glands that shoot out through the nostrils. It often is infused in the flesh. This is thought to give it its unique and delicious taste, while also giving the mer people a reaction not unlike a human's reaction to strong ale.
Territory. The Spiderturtles live in warm waters. They particurly dwell in the Sea of Tears region between Naurooth and the Scattersand Shoals, the Aelyvian Sea region stretching from Covert Major to Carmalad, and several islands in that region including the Isles of Quios and Doranthakar Island. Varcopas is particularly noted for its fine Spiderturtle population.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Spiderturtle seems a boring creature at first, but is in fact quite fascinating. It tends to be a solitary creature, gathering during the mating season and then dispersing. They generally wander the ocean floor, searching for seaweed and small fish. They have an odd, scuttling walk, and always seem to be on the move. "Spiderturtle" is perhaps a misnomer, as they share neither the spider’s patience, nor the turtle’s lack of speed. They pursue prey aggressively, and will consume even seaweed with great speed.
Diet. The Spiderturtle eats seaweed primarily, but has a diet heavily impacted by small water creatures, such as fish. It seems to enjoy the taste of spice, and prefers very salty water. Some breeders insist spice will improve the eventual flavour of the meat.
Mating. In early summer, the female Spiderturtles will turn a bright green in colour and swim near the surface. She runs from the first male to see her. If he catches her, they mate. The mating process, like everything else in the Spiddleshell’s life is quick, but not without purpose. Dances are common, often incorporating the water and the division between land and sea. She will climb onto land to lay her eggs in late summer; come next spring, the beaches are swarming with tiny spittlings. Many are eaten, but the sheer number prohibits much of a die-off. The week or so during which this occurs is commonly termed the "Great Beach-Crawl".
Click on the cookery book to look up the Elsrethian Spiddlebake.
If you're looking for recipies on how to cook Spiderturtles, you'd better look
into Madame Sausade's cookery book. Recommendable are for example the Elsrethian
Spiddlebake or the Demon's Spittle, a hot creamed spiderturtle dip!
When boiled, Spiderturtle meat is absolutely delicious, and it is a well paid for delicacy among the noblemen of Santharia. Almost any seaside town you come to will boast of its own spiddlemeat's particular flavor, but the spiddlemeat of Varcopas is generally admitted to be the best in all of Santharia, with a few holdouts for that of Milkengrad and Parda. As a result, Varcopasian spiderturtle-fishers are some of the best paid and best fed Santharian citizens. Their trade route goes roughly like so: They set out from Varcopas in spring to set their traps, then they run the circuit of the trapped areas until their hulls are full to bursting. They set in at Varcopas to have the cargo inventoried, crated, and then they set off north towards Chylkis. From there, it is a mere 500 strals (two weeks) to New-Santhala, and the highest paying markets of Santharia.
It also should be noted that the merfolk uses Spiderturtle meat as a form of solidified alcohol.