Many is the thriving mine that has been brought to it's knees by an infestation of Jewel Worms, resulting in cave-ins, loss of productivity and the threat of a major disaster if work continues.Miners fear these as much as pockets of poisonus gas or earthquakes,and with good reason.
The Jewel Worm is a real menace to those who work or explore underground. Every summer they lay their eggs in small hollows that they scrape out of the wall. These eggs, depending on the type of worm, look like diamonds, saphires, rubies or emeralds. Often the worm will merely knock a genuine gemstone out of the wall a genuine gemstone and put it's egg in it's place. Young worms are only a few inches long and silver coloured and even at this stage their favourite food is stone, but they will eat anything nearby-the leather of an adventurer's backpack, human flesh, any insect or bat passing by, as well as their egg case. They don't eat genuine jewels however, as it gives them a very bad stomach.
As quickly as possible they will try and hide in shadows and any cracks in the stone they can find, and will bite their way into the stone in a matter of days, excreting it smallas dust. At this stage they find wooden pit props are also to their taste, and a severe infestation of these worms can make it prone to cave-ins and downright dangerous.A blow from a weapon will kill a juvenile Jewel Worm and many are killed by miners.
They stay at this small size for several years and then they change. They grow much larger and the biggest ever encountered was larger then a crocodile. They also become territorial, killing and eating their own kind except in the case of mating, after which the female will lay a batch of up to twenty eggs at a time. Their diet switches to stone except in self defence of themselves or their eggs.
A fully adult Jewel Worm looks very like a small wingless and legless dragon and it's skin is very hard indeed, almost stone like, and silver in colour.Ordinary swords will bounce off most of it and can only pierce the eyes and the inside of the mouth, although enough blows with a warhammer,pickaxe or battle axe will pierce it's hide and kill it.Most never reach this stage,killed by humans, bats or each other.
If they do not die violently they can live for centuries, having a growth spurt at the age of five in which they grow to three feet within months, and then only growing a few milimeters taller each year.The large ones are very old indeed and their jaws have been known to bite limbs off and snap weapons in two.
There have been cases where their eggs were mistaken for jewels and ended up in royal tresuries, with the result that when they hatched out, they ate a large amount of the tresaure around them, plunging whole kingdoms into temporary bankruptcy and bringing major banks crashing down.
Although any jewels that were around them survived, the gold bars and any documents and paper money were eaten.
The Jewel Worm dislikes strong light and stays underground whenever possible, and the adults only fight in self defence and will not pursue far.
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? Responses (6)-8
Interesting... but a question: What value does concealing an egg as your own favorite food give?
This is definitely creative, but I can't see how it would spread or survive.
Good point. *blushes scarlet.* This needs MAJOR editing. It's possible that the parent waits in ambush and eats the many smaller worms that show up.
Updated: Major embarassment-the orginal Jewel Worm loved eating Jewels but it's eggs look like jewels, with the result that the eggs were disguised as it's favourite food,which would be like me laying an egg that looks like a watermelon or a piece of smoked salmon.
Okay, this has potential!
I wondered a bit about the metabolism of this creature:
Ancient Gamer 4:17 pm: 1. What kind of metabolism does it have that enables it to have as varied a diet as that?
Cheka Man 4:17 pm: I'm thinking when it's a maggot it's onimvouris
Cheka Man 4:17 pm: and as it grows up it switches to a rock diet
Cheka Man 4:18 pm: A bit like a catapillar and a butterfly eat different things
Plenty of uses in adventures. PCs would do well to avoid these.
The updates are better, but the critter is still too variable for my tastes. Yes metamorphasis occurs in nature, but not so many times.
These things eat anything? Then why does anything in the world still exist.
Gems... okay, but this method of reproduction requires something to have tunneled and left gems in the walls. But...
If such critters existed, Dwarves and other subterranian people (and miners) could not exist or they would be spending all their time hunting these things down.. or just searching for them in the area. It seems they need subterranian people to make tunnels, but they then destroy them.
Nah. I just don't see it.
*nods* I'll try and make my next submission better. I wish I had made them as a foul creature created by sorcery by someone to get his own back on Dwarves for some real or imagined slight.