The Festra Flying Snake is one of the most impressive animals in all of Nybelmar. It has the predatory instincts of a snake and the ability to glide through the air, maintaining height much better than the average bird. They are found more predominately in the Rainforests of Shar, but a few have been sighted in the depths of the Phéd’lón, the Drifting Woods.
Picture description. A bunch of Festra Flying Snakes, the famous pedatory gliding snakes of Nybelmar. Image drawn by Sheil.
The Festra is quite small in comparison to other snakes, being just over a
fore in length. The width of
the Festra’s body is normally about an eight of the length, and the snakes
always seem to grow in this ratio, so a full grown Festra is about five
nailsbreadths in width. The
Festra has a bright green skin with the occasional black speck, apart from its
pale yellow underbelly, which has a very slimy and sticky touch to it. This
slimy mucus-like covering gives off a disgusting odour that seeps into the skin,
making the skin unusable for clothing. Unlike most snakes, the Festra has no
scales, making its flesh very easy to penetrate. Although this could be seen as
a disadvantage, it is necessary otherwise it would probably compromise the
snake's flying ability.
Upon dissection, it was also discovered that the snake has hollow bones that are exceptionally thin. These bones are in fact flexible, but at a point they eventually snap. One strange thing that could also be noticed was that the snake’s bones aren’t directly joined into the spine, but loosely in the socket with fleshy bands attached, which obviously are a vital apparatus for flying.
This snake has strange teeth. Where most snakes have two fangs in their top gum, the Festra has a third, shorter tooth in the bottom. It is thought that this third tooth is used to keep hold of the prey whilst it injects its mild poison. The Festra is also known for its characteristic yellow eyes, which are unusually dry. It also has no eyelids, which has led many to believe that the snake is in fact blind, but this cannot be proved. Festra eyes are a common rainforest delicacy, and because they share no resemblance to any generic eyes, they are sold many people around the continent (who have no idea what they are eating).
Special Abilities. This snake has few unique attributes, though some are very impressive.
Flying is the attribute that the snake derives its name from. The Festra though, cannot actually fly. What it is able to do is glide, maintaining altitude for a remarkable amount of time, for much longer then a normal bird. From high in the trees, the snake first transforms its body into its gliding position, where it flattens its body. Though it has not been confirmed how in fact the Festra does this, some of the more educated believe that it happens in this way. The fleshy bands on the bones tighten, pulling the bones up. The snake's flexible skin elasticates, virtually flattening the body, which greatly improves the aerodynamacy of the creature.
The snake falls from the tree, but quickly gains control of its movement with a strange whipping motion throughout its body, which looks like the snake's body is rippling up and down. It maintains the height very well; giving the illusion that is actually flying, though it is slowly falling.
The snake’s green skin makes it blend in with the canopy very well, making it almost invisible to the poor sighted creatures of the forest.
Festras show extreme proficiency in controlling their flight and various forms of turning and falling. They are masters of dipping and diving, and have honed this ability to create a unique style of hunting. When a Festra spots its prey (the way in which the snake does this is still debated) it changes its position to fall with incredible speed. It bites the target before it finishes falling. If it is a small prey, like a beetle, it will continue falling and will either take it away with them or stop on a lower branch. If it is a larger prey, such as jupa ape, it will steady itself and inject its poison. Many creatures are impervious to its poison though, as it is very mild and is not concentrated enough to kill a large animal.
Festras are also known for undertaking the magnificent act of catching birds in mid flight, though this normally happens by chance. When a Festra is gliding, it may encounter a bird. If it does so, the snake will increase its speed, hurtling towards the target. The Festra sinks its teeth into the bird's neck, continuing to fall until the bird stops struggling. Then Festra lands on a nearby branch and then swallows it whole.
The Festra is known to dwell in the rainforests of Shar, high up in the canopy
where it can gain a higher altitude for its gliding. Some sightings have also
been recorded in the Phéd’lón, the
Drifting Woods, near the centre of
the rainforest where the trees are the tallest.
Habitat/Behaviour. Festras are very solitary animals. They live alone for almost all of their life and are only ever seen together when they mate. They spend practically all of their time stalking the jungle, looking for something to eat or climbing trees.
Festras are notoriously slow climbers, taking hours to slither around a tree that many animals could scale in a matter of minutes. This makes them very vulnerable, as their ‘camouflage’ makes them stick out like a sore thumb against the various brown hues of bark. This makes them a prime target from predators, though they are normally ignored for their lack of meat. The Flying Festra and the Climbing Festra seem like different animals, as such speed in the air contrasts incredibly with such monotonous movement up the tree.
Festras are also very stubborn animals, never backing down no matter how high the odds are stacked against them. A popular folk tale among the Krean involves a Festra, which has been intimidated by a vicious lukrinam snake, defending itself against it when it finally stood up for himself, eventually killing it.
Diet. The diet of this snake consists mainly of large insects and smaller reptiles, though some ambitious Festras are known to tangle with larger prey such as jupas, and emerge victorious. Festras also practice a remarkable act of catching birds in mid air.
If the situation becomes dire Festras are known to dine on fruits with a more fleshy texture, which can only be found in the crests of some of the tallest trees. Some believe this is in fact one of the only reasons that the snake glides, instead staying lower down.
Mating. Though the physical mating process of the Festra is very mundane, the courting rituals are quite peculiar. When a female is ready to bear a child, she secretes a special scent into the mucus-like fluid that covers her underbelly. Males will be able to identify this scent from great distances, following it without question. If only one male presents himself, they will mate and produce children, though if there are more then one they will participate in a spectacular aerial duel.
The two (or more) males find trees of similar suicidal heights and climb to the top. If there are many they will most probably try to climb the same tree. Due to the high levels of competition, many Festras will not hesitate to play dirty and fight their rivals on the way up the tree, seriously lowerering the numbers for the grand finale. Once they have all reached the top they all glide off and attack each other in the air. The creatures perform a beautiful array of bites and elegant tail whips, until all but one of the snakes has fallen in pain or exhaustion. The victor mates with the female, before departing to resume his normal routine.
The female lays a clutch of about twelve eggs, with one or two difference either way. The eggs hatch incredibly quickly, a month at maximum. The small snakes babies are left to fend for themselves.
Usages. The Festra has few usages that its unique organs are exploited for. One of the most common uses of the Festra is its poison. Unlike other poisons, it is not used to kill people, as it is not strong enough to kill people in moderate dosages. It also has acidic properties, which is also too weak to damage larger sentient beings. It is though used as skin cream. The mild acidic properties of the poison burn away a layer of hard, greasy or dry skin if used in the right quantities and are very effective at doing so. It is advised though, to use the poison in moderation, since the poison, though mild, is still acidic.
Though many Krean use this, rich or poor, it is known that some traders take this out of the jungles and "bend the truth" to fetch a better price. They are known for saying things like it comes from a much more vicious snake, or sometimes even a large, exotic monster (normally with suitably hilarious names such as the "Great Jungle Jerrafond", used frequently by Grehki Okiran, a Zhunite trader/con artist).