THE VERAIN LIZARD ("EGG THIEF")

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

The Nybelmarian Verain Lizard (which literally translates as "Egg Thief" in the ancient Lilliveran tongue) is a creature that inhabits the exotic Rainforests of Shar. It is known for its characteristic pointed ears and unusual mating call. The creature itself has a very odd nature, for although it chooses to live alone it will help any other of its kind that expresses need. The form "Verain" by the way is also used as the plural for this beast.

The Le'Tan Singing Bird

View picture in full size  Picture description. A Verain lizard sneaking around a pair of Le'Tan in order to steal the eggs from the unfortunate couple. Image drawn by Sheil.

Appearance. The Verain Lizard by its adulthood (which is around three years) is just over three fores long from the tip of its nose to the end of its stubby tail. The Verain is also lighter than you would expect for a creature that has such a muscular build and stature. It is believed that since the Verain normally starves itself of food for long periods of time and eats very little, the creature is relatively hollow. The average lizard weighs only around three and half hebs (the females of the species normally exceeding this).

This beast’s skeletal structure is different to what one would regard as normal. The creature has four legs, which are themselves significantly longer than its spine, which disables the creature from running (at least at a speed where they cannot be pursued) without unbalancing themselves and falling over. However the length of these legs does serve a purpose. With them the Verain can reach further into a nest, and when used in conjunction with the odd liquid secreted from each of the creature’s ‘paws’ it can easily steal an egg out of a nest without too much trouble or making too much noise. Aside from other abnormalities in the creature’s skeleton, the neck of the lizard is unusually bulky for the size of the rest of the beast. Though this remained a mystery for some time, Krean researcher Kitus Ophelli (upon dissecting the creature) found out that the apparatus to produce the Verain’s famous call. Inside the small space was a multitude of respiratory appendages that he believed helped the creature in conjuring the peculiar sound it creates.

The rough scaly skin of the Verain lizard is normally a pale, yellowish brown hue with slight changes in pigmentation in concentrated areas to produce a form of mild camouflage in the leaf litter of the jungle floor. The Verain also can be recognized by its odd shaped ears. These are almost perfectly triangular and hang like that of some Sarvonian dogs. These appendages are particularly interesting since they are a mammalian feature, and this is almost entirely reptilian. As well as this the Verain also has another very peculiar bodily function that helps it steal eggs. On the bottom of the creature's paws a black, viscous and very sticky liquid is seemingly constantly secreting. This liquid is used to help the creature swipe eggs, but it also exudes a smell very similar to that of human waste, making the creature an easy target for predators with a honed sense of smell. These lizards are also known to have a short stubby tail and almost enchanting amber eyes. Return to the top

Special Abilities. The Verain lizard has many odd skills and possesses many abilities, which aid it in its survival. Firstly, the Verain’s fluid exuding from its ‘hands’ is a very useful feature that aids it in its ability to steal eggs from nests. This liquid coats the creatures 'hands' on the ends of its legs. Once the creature sneaks close enough the nest, it will quickly swipe the egg, using the adhesive fluid pick it up, and will flee, placing the egg in its mouth. This ability to steal flawlessly without even making a sound is very important to the Verain, since eggs are the entirety of its diet and it needs to steal without being noticed (as it almost completely lacks any form of defensive mechanism). In addition to this, the sticky fluid can also be used to help the creature climb trees to avoid some of its predators.

Verain are able to communicate (although normally only through distress as they are notoriously antisocial) with their characteristic vocalisation. The exact sound of this is almost incomparable to any other sound one can hear in the jungles, though many have attempted to do so. It has been called by some "The screeches of the earth" or "a weeping whistle", but most say these are inaccurate, and that the exact sound cannot be fully explained. However, we do know that Verain seem to have an involuntary response to this sound, their body seemingly abandoning the matter at hand and leaving to investigate. Though this can be very useful for the Verain in trouble, it can be a bit of a nuisance for the others.
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Territory. Verain lizards are only ever found in the Jungles of Shar, a peninsula on the southwestern section of Nybelmar. Though there are many hypothesised reasons why these creatures prefer to live in the jungles (the fact that they are enjoying the climate is a common one), the one that is most often considered as the most important reason is that the terrain of the Jungle allows the Verain to put all of its special abilities to good use. The dense foliage helps them with their sneaking, hiding their appearance and muffling the sounds of their movement, while their cries (normally of desperation) echo efficiently off of the trees, spreading the sound further.
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Habitat/Behaviour. Verain are known for their notoriously sneaky manner. They are in fact so troublesome that the phrase ‘Slippery as a Verain’ was coined to describe someone who could rarely be trusted and always had an ulterior motive to helping others. Verain move around in a fashion that attracts a lot of curiosity from those with sharp enough eyes to spot them moving in the shrubbery and leaf-litter. Many believe that this nature is assumed by this creature because of its lack of an ability to defend itself when confronted with a predator. As such they tend to avoid them at all costs, and so attributes such as cowardice and dishonesty are associated with them.

Additionally to this, the Verain are also famous for being very solitary animals. Though it could be argued the purpose of this is purely practical due to the creature's secretive nature (the less creatures trying to sneak the less noticeable they are), it is commonly thought that this is because the Verain is terrified of almost every other living creature. This can be observed very well in the wild when you see a bird try to defend its nest from the creature. The much smaller bird will flap its wings, the Verain letting out a spineless squeal before fleeing. Despite their ‘loner’ nature, the Verain will always respond to the distress cry of another of its kind. Some scholars have compared this behavioural contradiction to a thief’s code of honour. While they live in a status of perpetual exile, all of the kind are connected and also obliged to help one another should the need arise.

A male Verain lizard can expect to live to around ten years of age, though the females of the species are much more fortunate, normally living to around thirteen years, though observations of ages up to fifteen and even sixteen are not uncommon.
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Diet. It is no surprise what the staple food of the Verain (whose name directly translates as "Egg Thief" from ancient Lilliveran) is: eggs. In fact almost the entirety of its (rather small) appetite is filled with the shelled children of other rainforest dwelling birds or lizards. The Verain however have problems with eating these unborn beasts. The Verain swallow eggs whole, using the muscles in their neck to crush it in their throat. However, the shards of the cracked eggs remain in the neck and are normally very hard to digest. If a Verain attempts to eat again the shards will pierce the creature’s flesh from the inside out, so the Verain wait for the shells to be broken down. This process can take days, which is the common explanation why the Verain eat surprisingly little for their size.

Most of what else the Verain eats is dead or dying leaves, though this is thought to be to aid the digestion rather than satiate the creature.
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Mating. Mating is generally as impersonal as most other situations in a Verain’s life. The fluid, which is produced in the palms of a female ready for mating, has a subtle change in aroma only detectable by the male Verain. A male will track down the female, and once that is done the cold and impersonal ritual begins. The Verain female will stop in her tracks and lie down whilst the male internally fertilises the eggs. This takes a matter of blinks. The male then leaves the mother of his child and resumes his normal business.

While the clutch of eggs remains in the female she will create a small burrow in the earth. She will lay around five eggs into this hole and cover it up. This is the most protected a Verain can ever expect to be. The mother will leave her offspring and, as the father does, will continue with their normal daily routines. Many eggs are ruined by large animals stomping on the loose ground and crushing them, or other lizards digging up the eggs and eating them. However, if the eggs survive six months, they will hatch into small slimy little creatures no larger than a puppy. It will look almost identical to a downsized version of a Verain, except its ears will be largely exaggerated making its face look rather small. At this size it will eat mostly roots or seeds if the trees are in season. These Verain offspring grow at an alarming rate, and in nine months they are adult size.
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Usages. The Verain itself has only one conventional direct use. It is hunted by numerous tribes of Shar (the Viaquis more so than others) and its whole carcass is fed to much larger captive animals. This however is generally unfavourable due to very sparse amount of meat on the Verain’s bones.

Despite this, the Verain do have a secondary use. The fluid produced by the Verain is collected (either from trails the lizards leave behind or by capturing one and establishing it as a constant source of the liquid) and is very useful to game hunters. Since many predators in the Jungles of Shar recognise this scent as an easy meal, false trails are made by game hunters to lure the animal into traps. It should be noted though that this use only exists within the Shar peninsula, since the aroma isn’t recognized by creatures outside of that area.
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Myth/Lore. There are no tales surrounding the Verain lizard (well at least none of them notable or widespread enough for the Compendium). However there was once a minor group of criminals who where known for their petty thefts such as street robbery or poaching animals. They were known as the ‘Violet Blanket’ until they succeeded in an attempt to kidnap a Krean governor’s daughter, at which point they adopted the title ‘The Verain Brothers’ as they had stolen the offspring of another just like the Egg Thief lizard does itself. Sentries from the High Temple of Ankriss eventually found the girl, and every last member of the organization was either executed or exiled from the Shar peninsula permanently.
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 Date of last edit 29th Rising Sun 1667 a.S.

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