mystical creature dwelling in the densely grown forests and wood of
Nybelmar, particularly the
Drifting Woods, the Ferlawyng was
long thought a thing of myth and legend until recent research confirmed its
existence. Its appearance strikes awe and fascination into those who look upon
it, and it has been compared to dragons,
fish, snakes, and even bats, though it remains something
entirely separate from these. The shy Ferlawyng holds unknown
magical abilities belied by its docile nature.
Although large, it eats only the leaves of the canopy.
For a long time, those few who saw the Ferlawyng believed it came from nowhere, that it spawned out of air and trees and light, but since then its means of reproduction have been revealed, mostly through accidental discovery.
The Ferlawyng stretches nearly two and a half
peds, with a slender and
perhaps even elegant figure covered with small, flexible scales like those of a
fish. It has a wide, flat head, like that of a shark, but has no teeth. It eats
through grazing off leaves with its lips and simply swallowing them down. The
stomach of the Ferlawyng contains potent aceed that can burn through almost
anything. All along its snout, tendrils feel the surrounding world, as the eyes
of the beast, almond-shaped and black like those of a deer, do not see well. It
also has two tendrils above its eyes, giving it an almost
appearance. In addition to these feelers, the Ferlawyng uses a soft,
high-pitched call to echo-locate the trees around it. It also uses smell,
collecting scents through the two large nostrils on the top of its head.
The Ferlawyng has several fin-like wings on its body, six in total, and while it is generally categorized as a flying creature, would better be described as floating or gliding through the air, as if swimming on a current. The creature has two fins, one on either side of its body, starting as three scaly protrusions and then thinning out into the transparent, iridescent wings it uses to fly. The shape of the wings is hard to determine while in flight, as they tend to ripple and move like airy cloth; the shape differs from creature to creature, with edges as varied as a maple leaf’s, but they generally follow a shape similar to bat wings, though of a material and elegance unworthy of such comparison. The creature also has a fin-like wing at its back, the airy wing connecting to a protrusion off its back. The tail also contains a wing used to propel it through the air. This “wing”, which extends from the end of the tail, has a separation in its centre. In addition to these wings, the Ferlawyng has two others, smaller, that extend from its belly. Generally, the location and appearance of the wings give the Ferlawyng an almost fish-like appearance, and indeed it seems to move through the air as though swimming.
The Ferlawyng has no arms, no claws, no feet at all, and does not need them, as it does not generally move along the ground. Some believe that the creature moves always or else sleeps suspended in the air. Others say that the creature lies among the trees or even on the ground. No one knows for sure. Almost every instance in which it has been seen, it has been in flight in the canopies.
The Ferlawyng comes in many different colours that seem to depend little on environment or season. Red Ferlawyngs shine with a reddish-orange hue through their shiny scales and have wings, transparent and light, shimmering in a light orangey-red, slightly lighter than the body itself. Although Ferlawyngs of this colour are commonly called Fire Ferlawyngs, they exhibit no unusual propensities toward fire in comparison to other Ferlawyngs. Gold Ferlawyngs, sometimes called Sun Ferlawyngs, have a slightly lighter colouration, with scales that shimmer like gold, and wings that have a golden iridescence. Though most consider the Gold and Fire Ferlawyngs the most common, others have argued that their colour makes them more noticeable, and that perhaps they seem more common that they actually are.
The less seen Blue (or Purple) and Green Ferlawyngs are generally considered rarer. The Green Ferlawyng has a deep green colour along its scales, sometimes with hints of blue or bronze in its colour, and wings slightly lighter and more yellow, often a chartreuse with a styruine iridescence. Blue or Purple Ferlawyngs, also called Night Ferlawyngs, have blue or indigo scales and wings of lighter blue and purple that shimmer with a star-like quality. Because few have ever seen these Ferlawyngs, some still consider them myth and legend, the stuff of fairytales.
The Ferlawyngs have no proven special abilities, though generally their flight
is seen as a thing of magic, and not
necessarily a gift lent by their structure. Though they have poor sight, they
navigate gracefully through the trees both through the tendrils that feel out
their environment and through their use of echo-location. The echo of their
voices through the trees gives the forests a mystical music that none who’ve
heard can really explain. Their skill in moving through the trees makes them
hard to locate and hard to catch a glimpse of, and it is just this ability to
stay hidden that has kept them shrouded in myth so long and, even after their
noted discovery, kept them a strange and mysterious animal.
There is general agreement that these creatures have magical powers, but it is not completely decided what these magical powers are. Those who have come in direct contact with them report their scales being warm, even when the air turned cold with the coming of night or the winter settling in. This leads to the assumption that these beasts have some sort of fire magic, though none have recalled them actually creating fire. Many report this creature as having healing capabilities, healing wounds and bringing starved or mortally wounded people back from the brink of death. One case reports a blind girl becoming lost in a forest where Ferlawyngs dwelt and emerging a week later with the ability to see. Whether or not these reports hold true remains debatable, but it continues to be one of the few agreed-upon assertions.
One of the abilities to which there seems to be a more factual basis is that the Ferlawyng possess some sort of nature magic. Those woods and forests where Ferlawyngs dwell generally have larger trees and flowers which tend to live longer. Autumn comes to a Ferlawyng’s wood later than to the surroundings. Usually the difference is only slight - from the outside both woods look the same, but once inside, the difference becomes apparent. In addition, many herbs and plants that grow no where else grow in Ferlawyng woods, some with unusual magical properties, or so it is said.
The magic of the Ferlawyng sparked many rumours that to kill one brought about bad luck and curse, and part of this may have been true, to a degree. Those who have shot down one often returned with huge burns on the skin, though the mystery has since been revealed. The stomach of the Ferlawyng is highly aceedic, which affords the creature the ability to eat almost anything without the use of teeth (though it typically only consumes foliage). Because the stomach generally resides in the belly, puncturing it releases this aceed, usually on or toward he or she who wounded the creature. Although the mystery of the melting skin following the slaying of one of these creatures has been revealed, many still believe that other curses follow killing one of these beautiful and magical creatures.
Territory. The Ferlawyng dwells in dense forests in Nybelmar, particularly in the Drifting Woods and Amorai Forests, although inconclusive reports mention the creature floating through other forests in north and northeastern Nybelmar.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Ferlawyng prefers to live in forests and woods with vines and thickets, but filled with some open meadows comfortably hidden within the many strals or even leagues of tall trees and thick brush. The densely grown wood helps them to hide themselves, but the open meadows are needed as part of reproduction. Sometimes, through harvesting all the leaves of trees in a certain area, they will create their own meadows, if not for themselves, then for the generations to come. Some believe that the nature magic of these creatures allows them to create meadows, though many scholars of magic find this explanation highly fantastical.
This creature tends to choose woods in which no sentient creature resides, staying away from even friendly elven forests, or woods too near a human settlement.
Beyond all things, the Ferlawyng is shy, hiding away high in the canopies in the centre of their forests, away from prying eyes. Despite this, they tend to be fairly social creatures, living in large groups, some say as large as 40. Aeyla Thundergale, the only known researcher of these animals, documented the Ferlawyng community she entered (and, strangely enough, into which she was allowed to experience the Ferlawyng) as consisting of about 25 individuals, an assumed average. She writes about her first sight of the community after following a sole Ferlaway into the centre of the forest:
“All round, high in the canopy, their bodies glinting like many-coloured fish in pools of light, they glided and floated as though swimming through the air, winding through the branches, playing with one another, and making beautiful, strange sounds like music. Their dark eyes hardly regarded me at all, staring up at their long, slender bodies, shining and shimmering, their beautiful veil-like wings trailing behind them like the dress of a royal. At times they moved together, like a flock of birds, and others seemed to move each separately, but always with a grace and magic such as I have never seen, and think I shall never see again.”
In all of
Aeyla Thundergale’s work, and in all reports of the Ferlawyng, there is no
mention of it ever being aggressive. The creatures never seem to fight, and
there are those who have hypothesized that the creature's music, that which it
uses to echo-locate, is also its means of communication, and it is through
communication, not violence, that the creature expresses itself and its desires,
like a kind of language.
The Ferlawyngs have no natural predators and eat no other animal, thus living in harmony with all the creatures dwelling in the forests. Because their diet is typically only foliage, they usually only eat in spring and summer, filling themselves with enough food to last through the colder months. Though they don’t hibernate during these months, it is believed they move more sluggishly and fly closer to the ground, occasionally eating the brush growing along the forest floor. They also float closer together, either for warmth or protection, both, or neither. The trees grow fast in a Ferlawyng forest, and spring tends to come earlier and stay longer, providing ample food to the hungry creatures.
Diet. The Ferlawyng exclusively eats leaves, sometimes short grasses on the forest floor, but usually the rich foliage, especially that in the higher canopy. Most of their day is spent floating through the leaves, grazing. They typically prefer deciduous trees, though they do not seem to prefer one type above the other. They do not eat meat, not even insects.
Mating. The secret of Ferlawyng reproduction took years to uncover, and for the most part, came about purely by accident. When a boy journeyed too far into the woods (the same where the community of Ferlawyngs Aeyla stayed with once dwelt), he found something strange among the wood and came to Aeyla. In the last year of the first term Aeyla Thundergale stayed with the creatures, during the spring, they mated; often each took several partners, though Aeyla had difficulty following which was male and which female. The elegant and astonishing mating rituals, dancing in air and spinning through the branches was, as Aeyla thought, the one last gift the Ferlawyngs gave her before; in the winter of that year, they all grew weak and died. Aeyla left the forests that year depressed, yet dedicated to collect her notes and meditate on what she’d seen.
Nearly four years later, the boy reported something strange in the forest, and Aeyla journeyed back to find a giant tree, four peds tall but with thick branches bending close to the earth, growing out of what was once a meadow. It was summer, yet among the green leaves of the tree, the branches were leaden with large sacks. These sacks, almost tear-shaped, were a reddish brown in colour and warm to the touch. Aeyla stayed near the tree (often visiting ones like it in other meadows she recalled) through autumn and winter as the sacks grew from the size of dog (about a ped in length) to nearly double that. She marks in her notes that these were the meadows where most of the mating took place, and some Ferlawyngs (supposedly the females) had dropped what she had thought at the time was feaces, but must have been some sort of seed. In mid-spring, the sacks opened and small Ferlawyngs emerged, smaller versions of their parents and already gifted with flight.
Aeyla stayed with this new community until they, too, died 50 years later. Due to old age, she did not live to see the trees they planted grown or their youngsters hatch. Before she died, she hypothesized that she had lived with the Ferlawyngs at an important time, that these beasts lived for about 50 years. Before dying, they mate and produce a tree to bear their children, which they never see. The tree grows quickly for four or five years before bearing the Ferlawyng sacks, which grow for a year before hatching into young Ferlawyngs. While there are stories of those who have lopped off the sacks from the tree in attempts to have a Ferlawyng of their own, the sacks become like jelly and never hatch.
The tree on which the Ferlawyngs’ sacks hang lives only until autumn, at which point it loses its leaves and dies, as though, having fulfilled its purpose, it allows itself to die.
Usages. While the creature’s bones are said to have secret powers in divination, and their scales, though light as paper, could perhaps be used to fashion earrings or even a dress, doing so is highly forbidden by most tribes, who view such actions as disrespectful to the beast and fear that even touching the body of the beast once it is dead can bring about great curse. Those that have killed or used the body of the Ferlawyng are generally those who delve in darker arts. Even rogues and bandits who might be able to make a quick fortune by selling parts of a dead Ferlawyng don’t ponder on the thought, either severely frightened of the curses said to follow such an unholy action or because they hold the beast in reverence.
Older stories about people trying to tame these creatures all end terribly. One captured creature, so it is told, was held in a barn, the owner hoping to train the magnificent beast, but the creature beat itself to death trying to escape, and soon after the man and his family lost their life in an angry thunderstorm. Most stories relate a captured Ferlawyng escaping and the family who imprisoned it befalling some misfortune: their house being burned down, a disease poisoning their crops, their cows and goats taking ill and never again producing a drop of milk.
Researchers. Aeyla Thungergale (1578-1652 a.S.) researched the beasts from the age of 18. Born a Morchini farmer’s daughter, Aeyla lost her home and father in a fire when she was 12. She and her siblings moved with their mother into her aunt’s house in the Plains of Kaerath. As a teenage girl, she spent much time exploring the surrounding forest. When she was 17, she saw a sparkle of gold in the forest leaves and followed it. Seeing bits of scale and shimmering wing, she followed it eagerly deep within the wood. For whatever reason, the creature allowed her to follow it into the centre of the forest where the Ferlawyng community resided.
Aeyla Thundergale essentially lived with the beasts for three years, cataloguing the creatures in the community, trying to identify them based on size, shape, and colour, and giving them names, although she never was able to discover their gender. Through their guidance, she managed to avoid the Vikh hunting parties that would have sent her back to the plains. She experienced the mating rituals performed in the spring of the year they died. Now nearly 21, Aeyla Thundergale retreated from the forest and lived with her aunt, mother, and younger siblings, depressed at the death of so many mystical creatures. For a few years, many feared she would bring curse to the community, but nothing ever came of it.
When she was 24, a boy who had journeyed into the forest told Aeyla Thundergale of the tree with the strange sacks hanging in the forest, and she quickly returned. She again moved into the forest, tenting under the enormous tree that held the tear-shaped sacks. She witnessed the hatching and did not leave the forest for 50 years. Many on the outside believed her lost or dead, but 50 years later, when the creatures mated and died, she returned again at the age of 74, old yet still filled with life lent to her, many said, through the magic of the Ferlawyngs. She tried to write down all her observations into a story, but never finished, dying soon after emerging from the forests. Members from the Enkyclopadië Nybelmarnica, hearing about the Aeyla's research, came and collected her research notes soon after her death.
Others have tried to follow in her footsteps, but to little avail. Every once in a while, one sees the shimmer of gold or red though the trees and tries, as Aeyla did, to follow the creature into its community, but most lose sight of it soon after spotting it, and no others have been allowed to become as close and intimate with a Ferlawyng community as Aeyla Thundergale.