Spider is a rare
Spider found only in the Forest of Souls located on the east side of the big
isle in the R'unorian Chain and in certain
remote areas of the Ráhaz-Dáth Desert.
Though one of the smallest spiders found in the whole of
Caelereth, the Crystal Spider is nonetheless
the most dangerous species. This is due to their fast-acting venom that
paralyzes their prey almost instantaneously.
Appearance. Much smaller than its other arachnid cousins, the Crystal Spider does not reach a length of more than a nailsbreadth. It has a round, bulbous abdomen attached to a slender waist from which eight delicate legs sprout, topped by the compound-eyed head. It has tiny fangs which curve in towards each other at the front of the head, and glittering hexagonal eyes.
Image description. The poisonous Crystal Spider crawling on some foliage in the R'unorian Forest of Souls. Picture drawn by Seeker.
These Spiders received their name because the female is almost completely
transparent, though her innards are visible. This makes them extremely hard to
see. The male spider is more opaque, usually a dull white or silver, with
crystalline legs and waist. Some of the internal organs are visible on certain
male spiders but generally the genders can be told apart by their colouration.
Territory. Found in the Forest of Souls and certain remote areas of the Ráhaz-Dáth, the Crystal Spider likes dark areas to live in. It usually can be found buried under large amounts of undergrowth in the forest or hiding under rocks in the desert. It is much less abundant in the desert because of the warmer climate.
These Spiders usually create underground burrows to live in. Running about a handsbreadth under the surface of the soil or sand, these burrows can sometimes span hundreds of peds and house a hundred or so Spiders.
Habitat/Behaviour. Crystal Spiders act in a very different way compared to other Spiders. They could almost be categorized under something other than a Spider. Their appearance and venom are the only things that relate them to other arachnids. These Spiders usually create underground burrows to live in. Running about a handsbreath under the surface of the soil or sand, these burrows can sometimes span hundreds of peds and house a hundred or so Spiders. Rather than spin webs to catch their prey, these Spiders are hunters. They are nocturnal animals that come upon their victims quickly and, catching the prey unawares, they poison them to paralysis.
In the burrow, there is no hierarchy of control. The Spiders live together in harmony and there only occurs the occasional battle. This usually occurs over a disagreement over the construction of the burrow. After the battle, the victor gets to decide which way the burrow will expand.
Diet. Crystal Spiders generally feed on small insects. They do not spin webs to catch their food but are hunting Spiders, emerging from their burrows after dark to run lightly across the ground or the underbrush, seeking unwary prey. Small, noiseless, and fast, they will leap on their victim and use their quick-acting poison to weaken or slay outright.
Occasionally a larger group of Spiders will poison smaller rodents so that they can all feed. The Spiders feed on the blood or other vital fluids of their victims. They usually feed right on the spot, and leave the drained corpse for other small predators.
Mating. During the mating season, females begin emitting incredibly high-pitched chirping sounds to attract the male. The male Spider will become completely transparent except for the thickest portion of his abdomen, so that he looks like a little water drop running around. He chooses a female with which he will mate. There are never any fights over a female by males since the mating ritual is based on a first-come-first-serve approach. The females who have not yet been impregnated continue to call, and if there is a surplus of females an active male may mate more than once. If there is a surplus of males, the unlucky bachelors who do not mate will die off within the week. This seems to be a natural balancing system to ensure approximately equal numbers of Spiders and also gives the more active and energetic males a chance to improve the species.
There is usually a period of 2-3 weeks where the female has the eggs developing inside her, after which point she lays them. Eggs are always laid in the dead carcass of one of their larger victims, deep in the burrow. When the baby Spiders hatch, they use the carcass to feed. For 3-4 weeks after hatching, babies will eat meat so that they can grow. After the 4th week, they have fully matured, have developed their poison sacs, and begin to function as normal adults. Normally 5-10 babies are born per female. Some will fall to predators before their poison comes in, keeping the population steady. The lifespan of the Crystal Spiders is approximately 5 years.
Usages. The Crystal Spider is much sought-after since their venom can be used for several things. The Shendar use the poison in a much-diluted form as a catalyst to activate a waterproofing substance used on their dwellings. Several R'unorian tribes use the venom as a fixative for a colourful, non-running dye. And specialized assassins will pay large amounts for a contact poison derived from the arachnid's venom.
Crystal Spiders can be held in captivity to harvest their fluids but will die within weeks, making the venom a substance that demands a high price, and a lucrative though small source of income for the desert tribes.
Information provided by Tyrian Jadewalker