Species: Southern Meldop
Birthday: Saturday, March 18, 2023
Meldops are invaluable companions to those travelling in harsh environments. As well as being unusually hardy and able to go for long periods of time in barren wilderness, meldops have the unique ability to create mirages of desert oases or small, heated hot springs that manifest as physical places for a short time. These refuges can be life-saving, providing food and water to the meldops' weary human companions, and sheltering entire caravans from the hot sun or freezing snow. In the wild, meldops use these mirages to create safe havens where the herd can rest without fear for predators and where the weaker members of a herd can take a drink or nibble some grass to replenish their hump stores. The meldop that creates the mirage must use their own energy stores to make it, and anything consumed is drained from the animal. Herds will often band together to create parts of an oasis, with one animal providing water, one food, and one the heat for hot springs or the tall inedible plants that offer shade. Anything that isn't consumed can be recouped and restored as part of the animal's hump fat, but the process itself takes a small toll. Nomads are always careful to ensure that their meldops are well-fed and watered when they reach outposts, letting the animals eat and drink first before they take care of themselves, as a thanks for the many times the meldops have ensured their safety.
Meldops are peculiar and occasionally dangerous creatures but essential to life for nomads and traders. They thrive in dry environments, whether the hot deserts of the Etain or the northern prairies leading up to the Arkene. They get most of the water they need from the plants they consume, and can go for long periods of time without either food or water thanks to humps of fat on their backs. The southern meldop has a massive hump located over its back and can last well over a month without food if well-fed beforehand. Southern meldops migrate around the Etain desert each year, wandering from oasis to oasis in constant search of food and water. During the wet season, they can often be seen running around fertile temporary plains in the far south in great numbers, taking advantage of few weeks when seasonal creeks and rivers overflow their banks and flood. This is an important time for keepers of tamed meldops too, as it is also the meldop breeding season. Many nomads will release their animals to breed with wild populations and graze their herds on the lush greenery, trusting their companions to return when the waters recede. Occasionally those who wander these temporary fields will find abandoned meldop eggs they can raise into their own travelling companions as well.
Sprite art: Jrap17 | Description: PKGriffin