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August 15, 2012 / milesandhisfavorites

Nitor: A World of Light Part Two

The pocket forests, seas, mountains, plains, and even moons of Nitor are full of life, big and small.  Almost all of the life on Nitor, and its moon, Antrum, are bioluminescent, to communicate and lure prey, but the life on Nemus (too diverse to fully list here) more closely resembles that of Earth’s.

LIFE IN THE NITOR MOUNTAINS

  • Frillsnap.  The most common mountain herbivore, Frillsnaps resemble large goats, with dark purple, leathery skin, and a unique frill that, to frighten predators and attract mates, quickly opens and closes, revealing a flash of bioluminescence and making a strange snapping noise.
  • Piker.  A foot-tall bipedal rodent, with a pair of bioluminescent antennae used to communicate, using a system not unlike Morse Code.  They generally hunt small burrowing insects and arachnids.  They are common prey for Glowrukhs.
  • Glowrukh.  A large pterosaur-like flying predator that sends flashes of bioluminescence through its wings to scare off other members of its species.  With a fourteen-foot wingspan, Glowrukhs are Nitor’s largest flying predators.  However, they compete for prey with Drakwolves.
  • Drakwolf.  Eight-foot-long anole-like hunters, the largest reptilian predator on Nitor.  Much like Glowrukhs, they communicate using bioluminescent flashes that course through their body.  They hunt in prides of up to six individuals, usually family groups.
  • Gully Fern.  A small, common plant found throughout the foothills of Nitor’s mountains.  Gully Ferns resemble clusters of grass, with each blade tip being bioluminescent.  This is used to attract herbivores, who then spread new seeds through their excrement.

LIFE ON THE PLAINS OF NITOR

  • Tuskrunner.  Tuskrunners are the second-largest herbivore on Nitor.  At sixteen feet tall, they are a four-legged bull-like creature with elephant-like tusks, and live in vast herds of hundreds.  They are a common food source for the Nitorians, with several small settlements on the plains dedicated to raising them.  Unlike most creatures on Nitor, they are not bioluminescent.
  • Electric Burrower.  Twenty-foot-long invertebrate predators resembling blue-green centipedes.  They are the largest invertebrate predators on Nitor, as well as the alpha predators of the plains.  They burrow under the plains, and ambush their prey, blinding them with flashes of bioluminescence and then electrocuting them with a shock powerful enough to kill a dozen horses.  They will eat anything, including young Tuskrunners.
  • Bokrunner.  Small monopedal mammals about four feet tall.  They are Nitor’s only monopedal creatures, and have long tails for balance, with bioluminescent tips.
  • Sandor.  Twelve-foot snake-like omnivore.  They have green bioluminescent stripes running down their backs, and frequent watering holes, feeding on algae and Bokrunners.  They have a paralyzing venom that will slowly shut down their victims’ brains.
  • Sheathgrass.  A common plant that covers most of the plains, and are a common food source for most herbivores.  Oddly enough, only their roots are bioluminescent.  The roots of Sheathgrass are a popular drink ingredient for the Nitorians, though they are extremely hard to process, and are therefore expensive.

LIFE IN THE NITOR POCKET FORESTS

  • Parachute Striker.  A two-foot-long tree-dwelling arachnid.  Parachute Strikers ambush their prey by jumping to the ground.  They have evolved gliding “wings” that replace their back two limbs.  The bioluminescent “wings” are used to scare off larger predators.
  • Sauroan.  The largest reptiles, as well as the largest herbivores, on Nitor, Sauroans are sauropod-like creatures that can grow to be up to fourteen meters long.  They wander through the dense pocket forests and surrounding marshes, grazing and competing for mates using bioluminescent neck and head crests that resemble that of Earth roosters.
  • Techis Fly.  A four-centimeter-long insect with bioluminescent antennae and complex vision unlike any other Nitorian invertebrate.  They are common in the marshy outskirts of the pocket rainforests, and feed on algae and animal carcasses.
  • Scavenger Glowrukh.  A smaller (their wingspan measures five feet wide) subspecies of the mountain Glowrukh, Scavenger Glowrukhs behave much like vultures, eating dead bodies.  They also occasionally hunt Parachute Strikers, and dwell in small flocks of up to ten individuals.
  • Muckrunner.  A small, tapir-like mammal about five feet long.  Muckrunners wander through the moist pocket rainforests, and eat algae and small insects.  They are often found mixed in with Sauroan herds, running between the giants’ feet.
  • Shimmerdart.  Small bioluminescent fish found exclusively in the micro-ecosystems formed by Web Algae.  They feed on the algae, traveling in schools numbering in the hundreds.
  • Bulbtree.  One of the tallest plants on Nitor, Bulbtrees tower above even the tallest Sauroans.  Their bioluminescent bulb-like fruit are highly sought-after by both Sauroans and Nitorian drink connoisseurs.
  • Web Algae.  Web Algae grow in the knee-deep swamp water of the pocket rainforests, and grow quickly, covering areas the size of football fields.  Web Algae support entire small ecosystems of invertebrates and fish.

LIFE IN THE ROMULI SEA

  • Ectoplankton.  The most common creature in the Romuli Sea, Ectoplankton are microscopic bioluminescent crustaceans that feed on nutrients found on the ocean floor.  There are several hundred known species of Ectoplankton, with new ones being discovered every year.  They are a food source for most oceangoing creatures.
  • Logger.  Loggers are the largest creatures on Nitor, with some specimens reaching up to forty meters in length.  They are extremely rare, and frequent the northern regions of the Romuli Sea.  Despite their massive size, they exclusively eat Ectoplankton, with the occasional fish supplement.  Bioluminescent spots along their sides serve as communication.
  • Pleuro.  Pleuros are Nitor’s largest oceanic predator, at five meters long.  They resemble prehistoric Earth nothosaurs, and use bioluminescent markings unique to each animal to temporarily blind prey.  Pleuros behave like underwater wolves, traveling in packs and constantly fighting for dominance.
  • Netfish.  Despite the name, Netfish are actually four-foot-long cephalopods that resemble Earth vampire squid.  The skin that stretches between their long tentacles forms a net that they catch Ectoplankton in, drawing it into their mouths.  The tips of their tentacles glow with blue bioluminescence, which Netfish use as a lure to catch prey.
  • Thermal Worm.  Thermal Worms are bioluminescent flatworms that dwell in the deep ocean, around undersea volcanoes.  They feed on nutrients in the silt, and range in size from several inches to up to a foot long.
  • Coilworm.  Distant relatives of the Thermal Worm, Coilworms freely roam throughout the oceans, feeding on carcasses that slowly float to the bottom.  Their bodies are covered with bioluminescent spiral patterns.
  • Pharos Fish.  Foot-long red and silver fish that swim in schools of thousands.  They are common prey for Netfish and Pleuros.  Their gill slits are bioluminescent, and are used to attract mates.

LIFE IN THE ANTRUM CAVES

  • Cavegrip.  Cavegrips are small ragworm-like creatures that cling to stalactites and stalagmites, feeding on mineral-based nutrients.  They are common in the known caves, and several have been taken back to Nitor on manned expeditions as samples.
  • River Cray.  River Crays are six-inch-long crustaceans resembling Earth crayfish.  They tend to hunt slow-moving Cavegrips.  Their antennae are bioluminescent, which are used to attract mates.
  • Craghunter.  The largest known animal on Antrum, Craghunters belong to no known class.  They resemble komodo dragons, but have hides that more resemble that of arthropods.  At five feet long, they hunt River Cray, but have been known to attack Nitorian explorers, resulting in one fatality.
  • Slitherfish.  Two-foot-long eel-like creatures that hunt in pairs.  Their main food source is River Cray, but several explorers have witnessed Slitherfish jumping out of the water and snapping up Cavegrips.

LIFE IN THE NEMUS TEMPERATE RAINFORESTS

  • Claw Strider.  A three-foot-long arachnid predator resembling Earth daddy longlegs.  They are common in the forest canopy, hunting small birds, amphibians, and other insects.  They have a weak venom that causes swelling around the bite area.
  • Arbor Lizard.  Arbor Lizards are foot-long reptiles that dwell in tree trunk burrows.  They have mottled green and brown skin, and a head not unlike that of a crocodile.  They primarily eat insects, but supplement their diet with vegetation.  Highly social animals, Arbor Lizards gather once a year in groups of dozens to mate.
  • Hornwalker.  Eight-foot-tall bipedal mammals.  They have a rounded, rhino-like body, with three tall horns on their back, and a tusked head that males butt together in a show of dominance.  They travel in small herds along the forest floor, eating ferns and low-hanging branches.
  • Clawden.  Three-foot-tall humanoid creatures resembling monkeys, but with reptilian skin and curved fangs.  They travel in large troops of fifteen or more, and attack their prey savagely.  A large troop once attacked a settlement, leading to several fatalities and numerous injuries.
  • Skyrunner.  Odd rod-shaped aerial insectivores that fly above the Nemus forest canopy using internal combustion and two body-length fins.  Using a mouth that covers the entire front of their foot-long bodies, they catch insects as they dart above the forest.  They are solitary, but occasionally gather in swarms numbering in the hundreds.
  • Slitherbolt.  Six-foot-long snake-like creatures that dwell in the trees, lying in wait in branches, until prey comes by.  Once a decade, they venture to the ground to find a mate, after which they immediately return to the trees for another ten years.
  • Citadel Tree.  Massive trees the size of Earth redwoods.  They contain entire small ecosystems of Slitherbolts, Clawdens, and Arbor Lizards.  Their buttress roots are crowded with edible plants that are consumed by Hornwalkers.

LIFE IN THE NEMUS CORAL REEFS

  • Bulbfish.  Small spherical fish with yellow and blue stripes.  They feed on algae, and are common prey for larger fish and crustaceans.  They live in schools numbering in the hundreds.
  • Anvil Turtle.  Resembling leatherback sea turtles, Anvil Turtles are omnivorous marine reptiles with horned heads used to compete for mates.  Anvil Turtles tend to eat algae and small crustaceans, and are typically solitary, with groups of bachelors swimming together, until they find a mate.
  • Fishsnatcher.  Four-foot-long lobster-like predatory crustaceans.  They have long arms, used to snatch prey from rocky crevasses.  When startled, they will emit a cloud of bodily fluids drained from their prey, a disgusting but effective deterrent.
  • Chameleon Gulper.  One of the most unique fish on Nemus, the Chameleon Gulper is an eight-foot-long predatory fish.  They have the ability to camouflage themselves, drifting only yards away from a school of Bulbfish, and then striking, taking out several before they even know it.
  • Mernura.  Small marine amphibians that resemble six-inch-long salamanders.  They dwell in shallow waters, using their four seal-like flippers to propel themselves through the water, eating aquatic plants.  They are common prey for the Fishsnatcher and Chameleon Gulper, though are hard to catch because of their fast reflexes.

NEXT CHAPTER: THE CULTURE AND HISTORY OF THE NITORIANS

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