The second name ("Walking Moss") of this strange creature gives away the debates over its nature that scholars have engaged in. Considered an animal by one, but a moss by the other, it is still not entirely clear where this creature should be categorized. However, nowadays most scholars tend to agree that the fact this creature does actually move defines it more as an animal, rather than a plant.
|Image description. A piece of moving moss as found in one of the northern swamps. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.|
When first encountered,
this creature actually looks more like a slat of moss, rather than an animal. It
is only three nailsbreadth
in height and about one
palmspan long. Its entire earthen-like
body is covered with tiny soft green hairs of about a
nailsbreadth high and a
half grain thick. The hair
has the same colour on all sides of the creature, though each hair itself is a
bit browner at the bottom and more dark-green at the top.
However, these hairs are about the only things present on this little animal. Neither mouth, nor eyes, feet, paws or tail can be found, so that the creature bears amazing similarity with the upper side of a common piece of moss where its general appearance is concerned.
However, on a closer inspection, one will see that is not the case. The creature has been observed as being able to move around, something plants are usually regared not to be able to. And though it moves rather slow, it is far from being inert or stationary. Actually tthe hairs with which this creature is completely covered have been observed to move even when there is no wind to move them. The small rustly of the soft and dull green hairs looks as if the creature is breathing with its entire body. The hairs are small and soft to the touch, but still they feel a bit sticky, as if they are covered with tiny hooks that hold them attached to your fingers. When you move your hand over the moss, it will softly stick itself to your fingers, scraping carefully at your skin with its hairs as if it were inspecting you.
When found on a tree or rock, it is not easy to distinguish this creature from an ordinary moss. Size, appearance and even smell are all the same. Only when the creature is either moving, or breathing on a windstill time is it possible to discern it from a normal moss.
Another way to see if you're dealing with a Slyrking is to lift the creature off the ground. As, contrary to mosses, the Slyrking has hairs on all sides. Lifting it from a tree or rock can still be difficult though, as the creature can attach itself quite firmly such objects.
The Walking Moss has a few, yet unspectaculair abilities that allow it to
survive. Firstly, it appears so much like a moss that predators usually do not
feed on this creature, as they mistake it for ordinary moss and thus leave it
Secondly, it is able to remain in hibernation for quite some time. It has been said that a Walking Moss that had been inert for years suddenly started moving when it sensed the presence of a corpse nearby. Which is evidently another of this creature's abilities: it can detect a dead animal or plant for about three dashes around.
When a dead corpse is detected, the creature will slowly move towards it and digest it when it has attached itself to it. A creature about as far away as the Slyrking can detect will be reached in three quarters of a full day. When the corpse has been emptied of all its useful nutrients, the Slykring simply returns to another suitable place for hibernation.
Territory. The Slyrking is only encountered in permafrosted areas, such as the Icelands, the continent of Cyhalloi and the North of Sarvonia, and in some other regions that are still quite cold, yet not always covered with snow. Within these areas, it resides in tundras and forests, but not on plain fields of ice. It is assumed this is because the creature needs some protection from the harsh elements ruling the permafrosted areas, and because its main sources of food are usually found in vegetated regions. Plain icefields provide neither food nor shelter, and even though the creatures can be remarkably resilliant, they will not thrive there.
In forests, the Moss can mainly be found on the barks of trees, such as mithril birch or the tulmine, where it attaches itself to the side of the tree which is least exposed to wind and rain. In the tundra, it seeks shelter on rocks and stones, also trying to stay out of the wind.
It is not known whether the Walking Moss is common or not, simply because it is quite hard to discern whether a random moss is just moss, or this particular creature. Therefore, no accurate estimate of its population has been made thusfar and due to its rather uninteresting nature, this will not likely change.
Habitat/Behaviour. Within the areas they reside in, Slyrkings have no distinctively marked territory of their own. Though they do not to stray further away than their detection range, they also don't seem to develop nests or other kinds of habitats. The creature just tries to find the best shelter nearby, sharing it with other creatures when necessary.
As even though it seems these creatures have hardly any sort of mind at all, they are remarkable social towards each other. Though they do not commonly form groups, it does happen that multiple creatures find the same corpse. If this happens, they will unselfishly share it with all other creatures, instead of fighting over it by trying to gain access to the better spots.
When encountered by a predator, the Slyrking will try to disguise itself as good as possible. It will immediately cease all movement, and pretend to be a real moss. Even its breath holds, though this can only last for a short time. Still, this disguise is good enough to make most predators believe they have encountered a moss, on which they lose interest.
Eventually, all this creature concerns itself with is either feeding or resting, which makes it a rather unspectacular animal where its behaviour is concerned.
Diet. The Walking Moss lives solely on already died creatures or plants. It attaches itself to a corpse of a beast, or the remains of a plant, and will then drain the leftovers of any nutrients found within. For this process, it needs sunlight, and although not much of it is required, the creature cannot function at night or in dark places, such as caves. It has been thought the sunlight is necessary for the creature to thaw its frozen foodsource, and that otherwise it will not be able to penetrate the frozen outer layer of a corpse to reach the leftovers within.
When it has attached itself to a corpse, part of the creature's hair penetrates the frozen outer layer of the corpse and makes contact with the remains itself. Then, the nutrients are drained by these same hairs and after being digested by the creature, a brown homogenous fluid is exerted from parts not attached to the corpse.
The creature will remain attached to a corpse until all useful nutrients have been extracted. When the corpse has been drained, the creature will detach itself and either look for another potential source of food, or seek shelter again. Normally, there are multiple creatures present, enough to cover the entire corpse, and it will take them about three days to completely decompose their host.
Sometimes another predator or another carcass-eating animal will try to get his share from the corpse as well, by shoving the Slyrkings aside. Being small and without any defensive mechanisms, the creatures usually have no option than to find another place on the corpse and get as much food from it as possible. Their only means of prevention is to cover the entire corpse with a multitude of Slyrkings, so that their smell will mask that of the carcass, thus preventing predators from detecting it.
Mating. It is not known whether Walking Mosses display a difference between males and females. When reproducing, two seemingly random mosses might decide to merge into one, larger creature. After this has been done, the new Moss will seek shelter and after about two weeks, when it has grown to twice its size, it will fall apart and form multiple new creatures. Usually such a seperation will result in about fifteen new mosses being formed, though these are still only a quarter of the creature's normal size. It has been estimated that it takes these siblings a year to get to their normal size, though this is not at all certain.
Usages. Although the Walking Moss is not really used, in a way that its contents are useful, or it has been domesticated, it provides a very important beneficial effect for the frozen regions. The brown substance it exerts appears to be quite fertile and does not easily freeze. Thus, the creature plays an important role in continuing the cycle of life in regions where it would otherwise be hampered by permafrost.
Myth/Lore. Legend has that the Walking Moss was actually created from ordinary moss. Ages ago, a Grey Druid who had merged himself with an ordinary piece of moss was killed while he was in a merged state. His spirit than remained imprisoned within the moss, but because of this, the moss itself now became more like an animal, rather than a plant. Eventually, this Moss divided itself into a group of smaller ones, thus forming the first generation of Walking Mosses.
Many more myths than those that surround the creature, are connected with the fertile fluid it exerts. The property of this substance to bring new life to the frozen lands has given rise to much speculation about supposed magical benefits a refined form of this substance might yield. Various effects, ranging from eternal youth to a resurrection-potion have been suggested, yet none of these things has ever been successfully created.
Researchers. Only recently the researcher Eleanna Kalrinwenens established an outpost within the North of Sarvonia at Hargarth where she tries to cultivate Walking Mosses so she can use the fluid they exert to create a youth potion. Though it is not widely believed this attempt will result in such a potion, it might provide some more information on the behaviour and properties of the Walking Moss.
Information provided by Theodorus Holzman