Lightworms are large, sand-pale, desert creatures. They, as their name suggests, produce the shining sandlike substance in which the Desert of Light and the Bright Sea (at the continent of Aeruillin) is covered with. This has given them the title "Mothers of Light". The Lightworms juvenile form is much more dangerous than the adult. In their juvenile stage they are large, bloodsucking monsters - quite a hazard to anyone travelling through the Desert of Light. These juvenile monsters are most commonly known as Bloodworms.
Image description: The junvenile stage of the Lightworm - the Bloodworm. Pic by Faugar.
When freshly hatched as
a Bloodworm, Lightworms range in size from just over a ped long to lengths of up
to fifty peds, and have a color of dried blood. Once a Bloodworm reaches its
adult size after about twenty years it molts and becomes a harmless, sand-pale
adult Lightworm. The Lightworm continues to grow slowly for the rest of its long
life, which can last for many thousands of years, eventually reaching up to a
huge 200 fores in length.
Non-desert Lightworms do not grow as big as their desert relatives. They will reach no more than 150 fores. They are often darker than desert Lightworms, and their shell is much less durable.
Bloodworms and Lightworms share the same basic structure. They sport a long, armored wormlike body, with a mouth at the front end of the worm and at least half a dozen more mouths on the ends each of six to ten mobile tentacles that protrude the area around the main mouth. The Bloodworms shell is much more brittle than those of the armored Lightworm.
Special Abilities. There are mainly two special abilities, these worms are known for:
The secondary mouths of Bloodworms are used for attaching to the body of their prey, quickly sucking it dry. They also use it to pick up smaller animals and throw it into the main mouth. They move through deep sand (or loose soil in other regions) as swiftly and easily as if it were water. Moving as fast as a galloping horse they use their tentacles as well as thick, stiff, hairlike protrusions between their segments to pull themselves forward.
Because of the armored body, the only way to destroy a Lightworm is to focus a large power into its main mouth, such as a shot from a ballista or a very powerful spell. The Bloodworm's shell is much easier to penetrate, but it is still quite difficult. Usually, a ballista, or a bolt of anything at high speeds will make it through.
Lightworms are found mainly in the Desert of Light, in the southern part of the
Aeruillin continent. Few live outside the prefered rich-soil environments on the
continent of Aeruillin. Non-desert Lightworms in general are extremely rare.
They live very close to the ground where the soil is loose and easy to dig. The
rich Kersolt Mines near the Hèckranian Volcano in central
Santharia once were closed in 60 b.S. also
because the masses of workers were lost at attacks of Bloodworms. Rumor has it,
that similar incidents occured in the
Mithral Mountain region in a Thergerim
mine. Not many details are known about the incident, however.
Habitat/Behaviour. Lightworms burrow large tunnels beneath the earth to create a sub-surface dwelling area for the worms. They only hunt at night unless they are starving, which is often in the desert. Lightworms eat above and below the surface. They come to the surface only during the day. When in their underground lairs, they eat more for a while, and then sleep until daylight.
Hunting: When there is no fresh blood available, Bloodworms will hibernate just below the surface of the earth. The faintest vibration will wake them. The smell of blood draws them to their prey. The inhabitants of Southern Aeruillin have learned this, and have been known to just slightly wound an enemy, trusting in the smell of their enemy's blood to draw the Bloodworms in, guaranteeing a horrific death for the hapless victim. Lightworms are constant eaters. They eat by placing the mouths of its tentacles in the ground, and sucking up the dirt.
Diet. Bloodworms can only grow by feasting on blood. Their first meal is always the blood of the Lightworm that hatched them. Since the Desert of Light is sparsely populated, with few animals, they are always hungry. After molting and becoming Lightworms, they will feed exclusively on minerals in the earth. After being digested, it is excreted from the worms rear end end as a glittering trail of a blindingly bright grainy substance, from which the Desert of Light derives its name and the Bright Sea its glow. Where there is no sand, there is no sparkle. There are just dark grainy pellets that have a horrible odor.
Mating. Mating takes place only once, estimated 500 years after a Bloodworm's birth. The Lightworms of the Desert of Light travel to a point in the center of the desert and find a mate. Lightworms, who miss a partner must wait to the next pairing for another half-millenium. If the second pairing is missed, they never mate. No more than one third of the Lightworms actually find a partner.
At the gathering of the same generation of Lightworms, the worms sing a song to attract other Lightworms to them. This includes Lightworms that are not able to mate due to age. The Lightworms coil around each other and both of them become pregnant. The details of this process is unknown because no one can get close enough to see it happen. This is because the unpaired worms, the worms that are too old to mate, and those that are too young, form a barrier around the paired worms. They attack anything, or anyone for that matter, who tries to enter the territory of the worms. After the gathering, the Lightworms go about their separate ways, and most likely will never see each other again.
Non-desert Lightworms will mate if they come across each other. Because soil is not as rich as desert sand, the eggs are weaker than the desert variety of the Lightworm. Also, non-desert Lightworms as not as protective as their desert cousins. This makes their eggs easy prey.
Pregnancy: Lightworms carry eggs for 10 years. When they are pregnant, they become very slow. They eat twice as much as they normally do. Lightworms become extremely violent towards anything that crosses their path and destroy any large object it may pass by using its tentacles to pull it from the ground and rip it up. They look as if they become redder, like the color of a Bloodworm. Some researchers even believe that they do suck blood while pregnant. The eggs (which never total more than three) hatch only minutes after they are laid, and the newborn Bloodworms feed on the blood of their parent.
Usages. The molted shells of the Lightworms are very flexible and durable. It can be used to make armor. Because of the high flexibility, a weapon made from Lightworm shell isn't very reliable, as it is likely to break.
Myth/Lore. Most Aeruillin inhabitants believe that Nakashi created these beasts for the sole purpose of bringing Beauty to the desert. They were born as Lightworms and fed off the desert to create it's sparkling sands. The sands were a gift to the people of Aeruillin and was valuable among all. They were called the Sands of Light.
Men became greedy however, and hoarded these sands for their own delightment and pleasure. Nakashi was angered by this and wanted to take action. Instead of destroying her Lightworms, she pleaded with Pariya to give them a power that they could defend the sands of light with. He took up a young Lightworm, and fed it only blood until it molted. From that day, every worm born was a bloodsucking fiend. Many began to fear entering the desert for fear of being sucked dry.
Researchers. The previous tale is supported by the people of Aeruillin only. Scientists from other cultures disagree with it, yet only theologists challenge it.
The best researchers of the Lightworms are actually not researchers at all. Adventurers are more likely to survive an encounter with a Bloodworm than a simple researcher. On the other hand, an explorer may find the Lightworm boring.
Trapping. With Bloodworms being such a hazard to mining dwarves, the dwarves managed to come up with a plan to attract, and kill Bloodworms. At regions with looser soil, dwarves dig larger caves. The ground is often covered only with blades and a platform that stands one ped higher than the floor on either side. The Bloodworm(s) are called by hitting a gong. These vibrations wake nearby worms up, and they follow the sound.
In order to actually kill the Bloodworms, who aren't deadly wounded in the "Bladepool", the dwarves invented a new type of weapon, the ZinDemKohrim (ZinDemKohrim, "Spike of Death") It is an advanced form of the crossbow, shooting a large bolt of steel towards the creature. This weapon was the inspiration to the dwarven ballistas. The bolt is large enough to penetrate the shell, and therefore can hit the Bloodworm's internal organs. The blood of the freshly killed worm will then attract more worms. The dwarves repeat this procedure as much as necessary. Though this is an extremely dangerous business, it is very efficient, and well worth the risk.
Information provided by Chronusian and Greybark