The needle fly is a miniscule insect that roams around Nybelmar, more specifically in the exotic and tropical regions such as the Jungles of Shar or the Drifting Woods. Although they feed on blood, alone they can do little damage other then piercing the skin of their victim. However when they attack in groups, which they normally do, they are merciless killers, penetrating the flesh of their victim hundreds of times before sucking them dry. They are a incredibly efficient hunters and are feared by everyone who has even heard of their existence.
Needle flies are quite small, being around one to one and half
nailsbreadths in length and,
like most insects, are separated into three main body parts, the head, thorax
and the abdomen. The entire insect is covered in a brittle shell-like outer
which has a colour reminiscent of
bloodstone. Needle flies have six legs, three on each side, which are also
covered by the same shell, but, due to the gaps in between, the insect seems to
be wearing plates of armour over each of its legs. The finer details of this
remarkable insect cannot be seen with the naked eye, but under a magnifying lens
of gnomish making the splendour of this little
beast can be revealed.
Under close inspection the insect's almost transparent wings are visible. Needle Flies have four wings, the front two almost always measuring exactly three nailsbreadths and four grains. The back two however normally vary and can be anything from two nailsbreadths to three. It is very uncommon for a needle fly to have back wings longer than its front wings, as this normally renders the insect incapable of flying or, in some bizarre circumstances, making the insect fly backwards.
Upon a Needle Flyís face there is a large needle-like attachment, which is where the insect derives its name. It is normally as long, if not longer, than the insect itself. The needle is composed of what look likes bone and, although hard, it is very flexible. The needle is also hollow, and is used by the creature to pierce the skin of its prey, and then as a vessel for the blood to travel up.
If you are in possession of an incredibly powerful magnifying lens, and there are few of these in all of Caelereth, you may even see the unbelievably tiny details of the creature. Upon the end of each of the flyís legs are small but sharp hooks. They are connected to a tightly stretched tendon, and drive themselves into the victim, anchoring the insect while it drinks from its victim. The beast also has two bulging eyes full of an amber liquid that, in the dark, glows in an enchanting way.
Special Abilities. The needle fly has a few attributes that are peculiar and wonderful:
All the Needle Flies in a colony appear to have a shared mentality. They travel in unified swarms, all attacking one target with equal ferocity. It is due to this remarkable ability that they are more than a frustrating pest, but are regarded and feared as cold-blooded killers, for an average swarm (which numbers in its hundreds) can drain a much larger creature (such as a human) of all its blood in a matter of minutes.
Thanks to a combination of anatomy and skill, a Needle Fly can drink the blood of another animal very quickly. If you were to dissect a Needle Fly you would notice there are two sacks of skin, which inflate. When a Needle fly has penetrated the flesh of an animal it inflates the sacs, creating a constant and rather powerful vaccum. The blood flows up the hollow needle and is consumed by the fly until none is left. Although individually this does barely any damage, when the members of a full swarm do so simultaneously the blood is extracted very quickly.
Although Needle flies can be found in various locations all over western
Nybelmar, there are normally not enough of them to form a swarm that could be
considered as a serious threat. However in more exotic areas, especially those
with an abundance of fauna, they thrive. You are most likely to encounter a
Needle Fly (or a swarm) in the jungles of Shar or the Drifting Woods.
Habitat/Behaviour. In areas with a large population of Needle Flies, an average colony consists of two hundred to three hundred and fifty. Experimental samples of dead Needle Fly swarms show that in a colony of Needle Flies there are always more males than females, the females being outnumbered at least three to two in all known populations.
The main part of any Needle Flyís day is spent looking for food, which is done at the same time as every other insect in the group. They travel in this terrifying spectacle normally just before daybreak, searching for anything which has a beating heart and skin that their needles can break. When a victim is spotted by any of the flies they will dart towards, with all of the others trailing behind. Each one penetrates the skin of the prey. Then they suck all the blood from the victim, leaving the drained carcass and moving on to the next. - An observer of such an attack reports:
swarm came like a thick cloud of black smoke with a ringing hum as their
wings simultaneously slice through the air
at incredible speed. They were moving like a well disciplined military
unit, all charging towards one thing, a jupa ape
who had just spotted them coming towards him. As the ape raced up the tree
it was followed by the swarm, and they began to accelerate. The panicking
beast let out a yelping cry for help as the swarm was nothing more than an
armís length away. The monkey soon realised that it would not escape the
miniscule terrors and conceded defeat. It stopped racing up the gargantuan
tree and waited. The hum suddenly ended, but the faint rips of hundreds of
bloodcurdling piercings were heard as the swarm drove their needles into
the helpless animal. A small scream of pain was heard from the
jupa before it fell from the branch.
A Needle Fyís diet normally consists entirely of blood, which mainly comes from
birds and apes rather than lizards and amphibians. Some Needles though have a
taste for other things. The most common divergence from blood is normally the
sweet juice that coats keelofruit, as
it is very sweet and can be consumed in the same way as blood.
Mating. Needle Flies do not themselves engage in sex to create offspring. They instead fertilise eggs outside of the female. In a colony, every year in spring all the females congregate into a specific area and all lay numerous clutches of eggs (numbering around three to five eggs), normally in a solid food source that is easy to consume, such as rotting meat. The males then fertilise any eggs they can find (including those of another colony). Although this makes the fertilisation easier, the lack of a shell makes the eggs easy pickings for some of the other creatures of the jungle.
About one day after fertilisation half of the eggs hatch into larvae, as some are usually lost to predators. These are incredibly small and bleached bone in colour. They have worm like bodies and spend all of this stage of their life eating the food source which their eggs were laid in. When they have consumed enough they will slowly begin to develop into Needle Flies. When the transformation is complete it appears to be exactly the same as a normal needle fly, although in comparison to an adult they are much smaller. The entire congregation of larvae will turn into Needle Flies within three days of each other, creating a new colony. After two months they will be adults and in the next spring they will start the cycle again.
Usages. Although malicious and terrifying in every possible way, Needle Flies are not without their uses. The strange liquid that is found in their eyes is removed from the insect to create glowing torches. The liquid, which becomes incredibly fluorescent in the darkness, is put into vials and flasks to create portable torches to navigate through the darkness, and are very popular among the rich of Nybelmar, in particular the Anpagans.
Poison, normally that of a lukrinam snake, is placed into a flask which has a small piercing in the top. The flask and its contents are boiled, creating a toxic vapour. The flask is then sealed. When a Neddle Fly 'hunter' spots a swarm he tosses this flask of dangerous steam at them (or somewhere near them), forcing it to smash and release the gas into the air, killing a good number of the flies and forcing the survivors to flee. This, in a strange way, leads to the creation of a jurigan, a projectile weapon. The flask is tied to a rope or long piece of snake skin. It is spun around the bearer's head and released at the victim.