Worm, named after the
God of Lust, is a
particularly interesting creature. At roughly two spans long and half a span
in diameter, it is regularly mistaken for a snake. The female creature secretes
a thin, mucus-like film from its body during its mating season, and this film
can be collected and woven into transparent, shimmery clothing called
The Etherus Worm is pink and fleshy, with a segmented body. At birth, an Etherus
Worm begins with 12 segments; another segment is added on for each week of its
life. The Etherus Worm also has a wide mouth at one end of its body, with fleshy
nodules at its "lips", resembling carnivorous teeth. It is about two spans long
and half a span thick.
During mating season, the female Etherus Worm excretes a thin mucus-like substance
from her body and spreads it on the surface of the earth to attract males. This
material can be harvested during the worms' orgy-like mating ritual and used as
a natural fabric. Once treated with a thin coat of wheat paste, it will harden
into a flexible, transparent material called
ether-flake, that shimmers in sunlight.
It can also be dyed after being so treated.
The Etherus Worm lives in
forests all over Santharia, preferring a clammy, dark atmosphere. It lives less
than a fore underneath the soil, and even shallower in mating season. These
worms are not territorial.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Etherus
Worm does little beside eat, sleep and mate. There are no
tricks and they do not metamorphose. They are nocturnal, preferring the cool of
the night. They usually remain below ground except when mating.
Worms consume nutrients found in the
soil. They have also been know to consume long-rotted matter, such as plants
and corpses. Their constant movement through the soil helps to keep it aerated
and loose, aiding in vegetation growth, and their "castings" add to the soil
Mating season is odd; there is no
obvious rhythm to it. Some observers conclude that
it is temperature-induced; several warm days will cause the worms to become
sluggish, while a rain will make them frenzied. It seems as if early spring
through mid-summer is the most common mating time. They avoid winter for mating
as it is far too cold and the
ether-flake mats are flimsy when wet.
When a female is ready to breed, she digs her way to the surface, and secretes
a mucus-mat of white that stands out from the dark earth. Simply crawling and
slithering upon the earth while in heat, a fully mature female can create a
mat about a fore square. Males, in the earth, will hear the hiss and rustle
of the female writhing above them and come topside. Then, upon the mat, the
female will mate with every male that approaches her, as long as she is in heat
(which lasts about a day).
The mating ritual is where the name of the worm comes from. Male and female
worm will twist their bodies together and writhe as one from 5 to 20 minutes,
the female secreting mucus all the while, though now it is laden with eggs.
The male will then secrete a mucus of his own, to fertilize the eggs.The female
will then uncoil herself from him, and the next male worm will approach. Then,
the new male and female will mate. The number of males that cluster in wait
for a female is shocking, about 20 males for every female.
After every male has mated with the female, the female will turn the mat into
a small cylindrical nest by rolling in the
ether-flake mat until she has wrapped
herself in it. Then she will crawl out of it and return to the earth, leaving
the eggs behind.
The eggs hatch about two weeks later, babies consuming the other eggs in the
nest as they hatch ravenously. At hatching, an Etherus
Worm is about half a span
long, and white. At a week of age, the young Etherus worms will have grown to
half of their adult size, as the eggs consumed help immensely in growth. Out
of the 100 eggs laid by the mother, only 5 or so will escape the
nest alive. After the young leave the nest, they tunnel into the earth to restart
the life cycle, at 3 weeks of age being sexually mature. Etherus
about 3-6 months.