The Yepran (which is believed to translate as ‘Whistle’ in the arcane Aesteran tongue, which supposedly dates to long before their merging with the Lillivear) is a peculiar creature that inhabits the Jungles of the Shar peninsula as well as the more northern rainforests of the Drifting Woods. They are famed for their unique defence mechanism, a high-pitched whistle that scares off most predators. The Krean also knows them for their ‘Natural Symphonies’ that they produce nocturnally during the mating season. The Ter'ei'Vikh of the Drifting Woods though do not seem to appreciate this song, so their usage for the beast is as a food source.

The Yepran are additionally of amazing intelligence, many perceiving them akin to a sentient being rather than a primitive beast. The extent to which the beast's intellectual potential can achieve 'sentient functions' is at present a mystery - so basing on existing, validated evidence the Compendium classifies this being as a beast.

The Yepran Toad

View picture in full size  Picture description. The peculiar, rich red Yepran Toad. Picture drawn by Quellion.

Appearance. The Yepran Toad is much larger than most of the toads that can be found in Sarvonia. The Yepran from the front of its mouth to the end of its trunk is normally just over two fores (although the variety in Phed’lon normally exceeds this). The toad is also obscenely heavy, weighing around one pygge and five to six hebs (again, the Phed’lon variety is generally heavier). These toads also have quite a bulbous, fat appearance and as such are quite easily differentiated from the sleeker designs of the frogs found in their jungle habitats.

The Yepran’s flesh is deep and almost unnaturally rich red hue and has very slimy and slippery texture to it. All of these toads also have elaborate and unique patterns that are similar to vertical stripes along its trunk in the shape of jagged or wavy lines. Though these stripes are normally a shining black colour once a male reaches maturity a ‘crown’ appears on the top of his head, which is a patch of pure white. As is quite stereotypical of a toad, the skin of these creatures is embellished with patches of warts. However, due to the way in which these warts are spread out (and due to their quite modest size), the patches of are not as disfiguring as they may usually be.

If a male reaches the end of its life (which is highly unlikely in the Drifting Woods due to the threats from
Ter'ei'Vikh and other, much more bestial predators) his entire black stripe pattern will become as white as his crown. This can be compared to the greying of one’s hair as they age, but on Nybelmar this is much more usually associated with the Krean phenomenon known as the "Eye of Aniss", which represents a fulfilment of one’s life. This occurrence is said to be the root of the fable "The Yepran Who Never Bleached"- Which can be located in the foreign literature section of the Compendium.

The Yepran, like most other toads, is four legged and has very muscular hind legs for hopping through the rainforests. Such hugely powerful legs are quite a necessity for the Yepran, since its large mass requires a considerable amount of force for it to be shifted. The beast’s limbs are so large that they seem too bulky, even for a creature of this magnitude, giving them a (to some) comical appearance. This characteristic led to the phrase "…like Yepran legs" which entailed something was in greater quantities than required, perhaps conveying greed, gluttony or riches i.e. "He has gold like Yepran legs".

In addition to this creature’s oversized limbs, the Yepran also possesses very large eyes, with a protective membrane that allows them to see underwater well enough to locate suitable crevices in mossy underwater ponds to lay their spawn. These eyes are almost completely spherical and about the size of a man’s clenched fist. They are placed upon either side of the creature’s slimy head and are a bland yellow in colour with an almost hypnotically patterned iris, which appears black on casual observation, but on closer inspection are a very dark purple. The spiralling patterns that the eyes possess are said to be very disorientating if looked into for too long, but the patterns themselves have an unusual attractive quality that makes breaking eye contact quite difficult.

Though not easily discernable from a first glance, the Yepran also has a small patch of loose skin on the top its head with a small opening in end. The loose skin forms the shape of a small tube atop the toad's head, appearing almost like an enlarged severed blood vessel. The tube's opening points in the same direction as the creature's mouth, blowing whistles directly ahead. This is the apparatus used to create the toad’s signature whistle. Though it remains hidden, if you look inside of a Yepran’s mouth you would notice two large pouches, which the toad can fill with air at will. These pouches are connected with vessels similar to veins or arteries to the opening in the Yepran’s head. To create the whistle the creature squeezes these fleshy air sacks, forcing air through the thin vessels quickly to the opening. The tube has been noted to pulsate and change in shape and size to control the pitch of whistles.

The Yepran Toad also possesses a magnificent, if not somewhat strange, black tongue. This tongue is remarkable because of its length. A Yepran’s tongue can stretch almost two fores (which is the length of its whole body). The amazingly muscular tongue is kept in a ‘spring-loaded’ fashion inside the creature’s head, before it is released at amazing speed at the creature’s prey. The tongue is also coated in a special saliva-like fluid, which is incredibly sticky. This aids the creature in catching its prey by trapping and sealing the creature to the tongue. Though it is highly conceivable that other toads might have similar hunting functions, there are very few, if any, species of toad in surrounding areas that have mechanisms of this effectiveness. Return to the top

Special Abilities. The Yepran Toad - though magnificent to behold - has very few special abilities. The first is their form of communication, which consists of varied pitches of whistles made by the skin pouches on the Yepran’s head (see Appearance). Not only do these serve as mundane communication, but also during the mating period for these beasts, this ability allows the males to create beautiful melodies to woo their prospective mates. Though it is generally a universal belief that the constantly conversing toads do have some degree of depth in their 'discussions', the level to which they can articulate their thoughts amongst themselves (assuming they have any) is unknown.

In addition to this, the Yepran are known for their intelligence. One instance of this is that they have, over time, learnt to understand the body language of the humans that share their jungles (most notably the Krean and Vikh). As such, it is easy for a person to "talk with their hands" to a Yepran, to explain a situation. For example, the considerate Yepran will happily move from a person’s path if asked. This ability is useful in almost all walks (or perhaps "hops") of Yepran life. Sadly, all attempts to try and talk literally with a Yepran toad about a variety of topics (perhaps philosophy or something else academic) have yielded no signs of civilised inter-species communication. However, the fact that they don't understand 'our' words doesn't entail they are unintelligent and investigation into ways of communicating with these creatures where replies could be identified is still a very active field.

The Yepran Toad is also an effective hunter thanks to its long, stretching tongue. The adhesive coated tongue helps the Yepran in many ways, depending on what its prey is. If the prey is a large insect (it should be noted that "large" in a Sharian context is "gargantuan" in Sarvonian) the tongue is shot out of the head and is wrapped around the creature before it is retracted back into the toad’s mouth. However if it is a swarm of smaller insects, the tongue is aimed into the core of the group. The sticky-coating then attaches numerous insects to the tongue, that are then brought back into the creature’s mouth, ready to eat.
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Territory. This particular toad is a tropical animal and resides mainly in the Jungles of the Shar peninsula and the rainforests of the Drifting Woods. Though reports of creatures resembling Yepran toads in other areas on Nybelmar have been logged by the
Compendium, these are sparse and cannot be validated to come to a definite conclusion either way. Either way, these creatures have only ever been ‘spotted’ on the western half of Nybelmar. Return to the top

Habitat/Behaviour. Yepran Toads live in relatively large groups together, ranging from around eight to twelve adult toads, or an average of five adult pairs. The oldest pair of toads takes the role of group chiefs. Though Yepran toads are naturally pacifists and are very calm and reasonable creatures, the hierarchy in the group is quite apparent. The most obvious distinction between the lower toads and the chief toads is the fact that the chiefs always sit on higher ground. Though many researchers attribute this to a desire to observe the danger around the group, some researchers have thought that the chiefs are merely scrutinising the toads below.

Usually, a group of toads is nearly constantly conversing. Through a mixture of croaks and whistles the believed to be highly intelligent animals are thought to discuss extensively with each other.

Despite the virtue of intelligence being present within the Yepran, the virtue of activity is not. Yepran spend a lot of the day sitting down on a large comfortable rock or other toad-friendly surface, simply resting. If you are lucky you may see a toad begin to crawl off his rock to swim in a near-by pool of water, but this is at most a weekly occurrence. Some Yepran are in fact deemed to be so lazy that they won’t in fact leave their rocks for months at a time, surviving on the insects that happen to fly past and the water collected in the leaves during the systematic rainstorms of their chosen environments. Should the group be threatened though, the chief toads are quick to respond, as has been observed by Sartan Venraius - a Cuscan visitor to the jungles:

"We'd been camping out here for two weeks now, and the damned toads had hardly moved a nailsbreadth. Apart from the smallest toad that looked about half the size of the chief toad (the chief easily identified by his white markings) that had gone for a swim, the others had been sitting on slimy rocks for as long as we had been watching them - this was beginning to get tiresome.

My guide started shouting ‘Lukri! Lukri!’, but I had no idea what he was talking about. The toads seemed to understand what the man had said, since a split second after the cry the toads simultaneously screamed an ear-piercing whistle. I was confused, but a mere second later a huge red and black striped serpent lunged out of the shrubbery and launched itself towards the smallest toad. It was a lukrinam!

The initial alarm had apparently dazed the snake slightly. Using their amazingly powerful hind legs, the giant toads leaped away from the scene. The chief remained on his look out spot until all the others had left and then fled from the predator himself... These creatures weren’t as cumbersome as I had thought..."
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Diet. The entirety of this large toad’s diet usually consists of insects - either large insects one at a time or a regularly intake of swarms. The Yepran does seem to have a very strong digestive system, since it has been known to have no trouble eating the swarms of insects that possess fundamentally lethal poisons.

Despite this, the Yepran’s generally laidback (or "lazy", whichever you prefer) attitude means that a consistent supply of insects is rare. The Yepran do seem to have a particular liking for very sweet fruits- perhaps developing a taste for them after Krean citizens offer platefuls of the stuff to these benevolent creatures. Their large and powerful tongues are adept in tearing the whole fruit off of the trees and the large mouths of these creatures can take most of the jungle’s fruits in a single mouthful.
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Mating. Yepran are famed for their wonderful mating rituals. A Yepran reaches sexual maturity at the age of six months (which can usually be spotted by the development of the initial black striped pattern). Please note that although the black pattern appears on both sexes, the white ‘bleaching’ only comes about in males. Anyway, once a Yepran reaches sexual maturity, the mating rituals begin during the subsequent spring.

Once they have decided they are ready to elect a male to fertilise their spawn (for as long as they will live, so it is quite an important decision) all of the female youth flock to a certain area - though how this area is decided is somewhat of a mystery, apparently even to the males. Unusually, the females of the Yepran species have their own mating call (whereas usually only the males possess such a call). The females release their low-pitched whistles, which draw the partner-less males to the scene.

Once the males arrive they immediately begin to serenade the females with a series of melodic whistles and croaks, the females basking in the attention they receive. Selection of a partner is a mutual process of desire. A desirable female is usually a large one (since she is thought to possess the largest clutch of eggs, and as such the largest chance of producing many offspring) whereas a male’s desirability is decided by the quality of his song. What aspects of the song are good and which aspects are bad is an area that even the most learned scholars have been befuddled by - most simply believing a female chooses the male whose song she personally enjoys the most.

Due to the sheer size of the gathering, the variety of songs - each wondrous in their own right - the title of ‘Natural Orchestra’ is befitting to these creatures. On many occasions, the mating seasons of the le’tan bird and Yepran Toad coincide, meaning if you are in the right part of the Shar jungles you hear both of the natural symphonies that exude from these musical beasts - an effect that Krean musicians tried to create for hundreds of years.

The size of the gathering also presents another notable quality; both sexes can afford to be picky. When a female has decided which male she wants to spend the rest of her life with, she flicks her tongue and brushes him on his back quickly. If the attraction is requited, the male returns the flick and the pair both swim to the bottom of the nearest suitable water source where the female lays her eggs and the male fertilises them. However, many Yepran are foolish in their attempts and ignore the advances of perfectly suitable females to try and gain the favour of the prize female. Considering they would be paired with this female for the rest of their life though, I suppose their bravery and ambition should be admired, not dismissed as a foolish pursuit.

Despite the strong, sentimental bond the two toads seem to share in their lives, the Yepran seems to show no care towards their young. After the spawn is fertilised, the young (if not large) tadpoles are left to fend for themselves. These rather large tadpoles are a delicacy amongst the Vikh people - and a favourite of the Faen who trade with the Bug People. After a few months in the form of tadpoles, the creatures begin to take form of a toad, sprouting legs, gradually widening and then making their way onto the land (or floating mud in the case of the Drifting Woods variety).
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Usages. The Yepran have a primary use amongst the Vikh as food. Due to the large amount of meat these huge creatures can provide they are highly prized as one can feed a typical family for two or three days. The list of dishes that involve Yepran meat is almost endless, everything from stews, pastries, even desserts based on this meat can be found if you look far into the Drifting Woods - though getting into Phed’lon is definitely a hard task.

Yepran have an odd use of temporary entertainment to the tribes of Shar, who appreciate their natural symphonies. This could be considered more of a curse brought onto musicians, rather than a natural gift - since many composers have spent lifetimes trying to recreate the amazing sound, all of their attempts in vain.

Yepran have served as philosophical inspiration for the
Krean for a long time. Many Krean scholars have seen the Yepran way of life as an admirable existence, and have thought that the ‘greater races’ should perhaps emulate this for a happier society.
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Myth/Lore. The tribes of Shar shroud the Yepran Toads, remarkable creatures renowned for their gargantuan size and almost sentient wisdom, in a whole manner of myths - at least, the Vikh seem to prefer the flavour of toad to the flavour of folklore.

The Viaquis tribe of Shar believe that Yepran have the mysterious ability to grant fortune - and as such spread the belief that if a Yepran "eats your wishes" they come true. Though this is a considerably cryptic saying, most interpret these as literal ingestion of desires. Those who are optimistic/desperate to have their wishes granted write them on a piece of paper and cover it in the sticky remains of insects. The parchment is then secured on a tree and hopefully has a Yepran attracted to it. The Saroshar have a similar belief, that if a Yepran eats a coin it will come back to you tenfold. In the past many have hunted Yepran to slice open the stomachs and gather the undigested currency.

The Krean have a much more insightful myth about the Yepran, a fable which teaches the importance of self-fulfillment. It ties in with the natural phenomenon amongst elderly Krean known as the "Eye of Aniss" - a display that one has led a useful life. Surprisingly, Yepran are thought to have similar lifespan to the ancient Krean, living for enormously long periods of time. The tale is titled - "The Yepran that never bleached" and follows the story of a Yepran who never found a partner and spent his entire life lazily sitting alone, gorging himself on insects. When the Yepran reached the final stretch of his life, he noticed his pattern didn’t begin to whiten, and he quickly went on a quest to try and make his life mean something. Ironically, he was too old for any female to want him as a partner, an embarrassment to be included into any group of toads and as such died alone, with nothing to show for his existence.
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 Date of last edit 12th Burning Heavens 1668 a.S.

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