Fleshworms are small creatures that feed upon already-decaying flesh. They are commonly seen in two places on the Sarvonian Continent, in the areas of the Shaded Forest, and around the Silvermarshes. There appear to be two distinct climate zones for these worms, though each type is similar in appearance and behaviour: one prefers to live in quite cool climates, and has a fascinating resistance to cold, while the second prefers to live in wet, foggy or misty climates, and therefore is less cold-tolerant than the former type. Fleshworm are also referred to as "Flesh Eater Worms", "Maggotworms", "Corse-wyrms" or "Silvermarsh Worms" to indicate their territory.
There are two types of these worms - "Northern Fleshworms and "Southern
Fleshworms", the latter also known as "Corse-wyrms" or "Silvermarsh
Worms". The last name can usually be heard among
hobbits, or in the vicinity of their
shires. Both types have a very similar appearance, with one small difference -
Northern Fleshworms are a dark bluish colour, but Southern Fleshworms are paler, almost a sky blue. They are not big – approximately five to seven nailsbreadths in length and one to two nailsbreadths width. They look like simple worms and have the same physical structure: a strong and flexible muscular body, shaped like a segmented tube with one pointed end and one rounded end. The mouth is at the rounded end. No eyes, ears, or other external structures are visible, except for a cloaca at the pointed end, where the worm excretes its wastes.
The body of these worms is wrapped in a thick membrane shaped like a series of rings. They appear to breathe by using the entire surface of their body, as they will drown when immersed in water. They also have a primitive inner structure, such as a gullet and a heart. Fleshworms must have some primitive sense of smell or taste, as they can detect even newly-dead bodies and distinguish between them and more decayed (and thus more preferred) flesh.
There is no visible difference between male and female worms, because Fleshworms seem to be strange beasts who have both genders in one, making them ethryalic (bi-gendered) beings.
Territory. These worms can be found on the Northern Sarvonian and Southern Sarvonian Continent, somewhere around the Shaded Forest and the Silvermarshes. For Northe Sarvonian Fleshworms the Shaded Forest region is the best territory to live in - it typically has cold winters and temperate summers, because they can tolerate very cold climates for several months, 'hibernating' or sleeping below ground until it becomes warmer. But the best climate for South Fleshworms is in the Silvermarshes, somewhere around the region of Lower Marsh - their wet, foggy, and misty environment is far more suitable for this creature. In other marshes they had not been seen by anyone.
Habitat/Behaviour. Both types of Fleshworms are never alone because they live in colonies; each colony is comprised of thirty to seventy worms. These worms are active both by day and night; the only time when they are observed to rest is during and after heavy rain, or, in the case of the northern species, during the coldest parts of winter. When these worms wake up they start their journey through all their territory in search of food. Using their apparently keen senses of smell, they locate suitable food as a group, and begin to devour it. As they are so many and so small, it may take days or even weeks, if they are not joined by other scavengers, for them to eat all remains of the dead creature. After that, they continue to wander around the territory to find their next dead prey, as a group. They seem to have a sense for when rain is coming, and begin to burrow into the ground to protect themselves at this time. In the colony there are no apparent leaders - they move together as a flock of birds does, their instincts for community and for food keeping them together.
The only thing that these worms actually fear is fire. They have a great resistance against coolness and moisture, though they cannot be completely submerged in water, but they appear to have a very strong negative reaction to fire. When they encounter fire, or even just the heat from it, they start to panic and move away from the source of fire. If trapped, they will shrivel and burn alive very quickly.
Diet. As mentioned, and as might be obvious from their name, both types of these worms feed upon dead and decaying flesh. In this respect they are very useful creatures, because in nature there are many dead and rotten remains which can produce dangerous diseases. Unlike maggots and their resulting flies, these worms do not appear to spread diseases from one area to another.
Mating. As most of insects hatch from eggs, these worms do the same. As they are intersexual, ethryalic animals they don't need to have a males or females, because they can fertilize themselves and later lay eggs.
After several days, after the fertilizing, the worm will dig deep into the earth and lay eggs. Sometimes they also lay eggs in the remains of dead creatures. Each worm can produce approximately ten eggs at a time. When they have been laid, the worm will dig out from the earth and continue the travel along with its colony leaving eggs behind. There are two development stage for the offspring of these worms: embryo and larva. After some days from eggs will hatch out embryos, who feed upon the substances, which can be found in the substrate of wet earth. These embryos look like a small worms approximately one grain in length. After several weeks embryo will become larva and this is the second stage of development, in which the offspring of Fleshworm begin to form something like a colony and travel from birthplace to another place. No one can explain how they know where to go, but some people believe that they are using their instincts to travel around together. During this stage they feed on remains of the dead creatures, which they find in their way. If they don't find anything edible, they will die in within one or two weeks. The lifespan of these worms vary from months to several years.
Usages. As these worms feed upon decaying flesh, they have been used medicinally by physicians and chirogeons. There are specific therapies in which Northern Fleshworms are used to cure some dangerous diseases, as they are faster and more efficient than their Southern brothers. Such therapy can provide quick recovery when gangrenous or infected flesh is removed. If northern worms are not available, then southern worms can be used, but it is not as common. The South Sarvonian Fleshworms are mainly used by hobbits for bait during fishing.
Fleshworms are reliable predictors of rain, as when their colony group begins to burrow into the ground, it is certain that wet weather is no more than a few hours away.
Both types are sometimes used in spell reagents which involve Earth manipulation, or for incantations involving sexuality and gender (because of their strange bi-gendered nature). It is claimed that they are useful in necromantic work as well, but we can neither confirm nor deny this.
Tanners and furriers try to obtain these worms for special situations where they need delicate work done, in removing the last bits of flesh from the skin, or from carcasses. They will not touch hide, fur, or bone, and are almost as efficient as myrmex - and considerably faster - in stripping away anything else.