Aligare wildlife: the pandoraPosted: October 8, 2012
I used a lot of familiar Earth animals in the Aligare world. Since the stories already use a non-human society full of new vocabulary, I wanted to provide some familiar knowledge bases for my readers. Other than some inborn magical alignment, Aligare dogs and horses are essentially the same dogs and horses we know.
But alongside these well-known animals, there live some more unusual creatures. One of these is the pandora. It hasn’t shown up in a published story of Aligare yet, but Render might just change that.
The pandora is a lizard about 3 feet long, with green scales and a hunched posture similar to an armadillo or a pangolin. It’s a solitary, ill-tempered creature with an exclusive diet of wood, bark and tree sap. It climbs a tree, chooses a thick, unblemished branch and applies its powerful jaws full of chisel-sharp teeth.
Gnawing straight downward, the pandora bores a hole through the branch. When spotted in the forest, pandoras are usually only visible as a hunched, scaly back sticking out of a tree branch. This way, their thinner-scaled bellies are protected by the same wood they’re feeding on (not that most predators are stupid enough to attack an armoured creature that can bite through hardwood).
Once the branch is chewed clean through and falls off, the pandora loses interest in that spot and moves to a different tree. Every few days, another perfectly good branch is severed from its tree and left on the ground. Aemet people are loath to harm a living tree themselves, so they get a lot of their useable wood from pandoras’ leavings.
How does a tree-worshipping culture feel about the pandora’s feeding behaviour? Well, all creatures need food. Aemets accept pandoras’ eating habits the same way they accept the fact that meat comes from animals. But unlike carnivores, a pandora doesn’t typically kill its food source. It might do a messy job of cutting through a branch but it still uses minute amounts of plantcasting to heal over the tree’s bitten surfaces. Clotting the wound, basically. Typical behaviour for Aligare herbivores. If pandoras are children of the plant goddess, and they heal their food sources, and they help aemets make use of Verdana’s precious wood … Then they clearly have their place in the natural order.
As for the other peoplekinds? Ferrin mostly avoid pandoras, in the same way you avoid the grumpy neighbour who doesn’t want you on his lawn. And korvi mostly leave them alone, too, although an already dead pandora might be harvested for its scales. They make nice beads and bangles.
I’m sure you fellow humans are wondering about the pandora’s name. To the Aligare peoplekinds, it’s just an animal name with no particular significance. But the pandora is usually seen curled up tightly, or hunched defensively, or burrowed into a tree branch. Since it guards its belly so carefully, many folk believe that seeing a pandora’s belly is bad luck and they’ll avert their eyes from the entire creature just to be safe. You might say that if the pandora opens itself up, bad things will emerge. As though it were a … box of some kind.
This is just one of the beings wandering around the Aligare land, living an ordinary, magic-touched life.