Oh, this was a fun one! Until today the only thing known about the Hydras of the Realm was that they existed. And now look at them! I got a lot of enjoyment out of creating my own variation of the ancient legendary creature. I’m actually pretty surprised at the detail I put into this. Did not expect that! All this did make for yet another rather long piece, but I really like my new little creation (well, new to a certain extent of course). I hope you will as well! ^_^
Sculpting the World
1.5. Hydra Swamp
Landscape: The Hydra Swamp extends for 650 km from the South-Western coast to the Dark Elf lands to its North and at its broadest goes on for 450 km from the Western Coast to the Great Forest to its East. It is a massive low-lying wetland that came into being many ages ago when the sea violently flooded in through the Southern coast and engulfed a large part of the Great Forest. Where the flood stopped is where the swamp’s borders still lie today. Most of the water has turned brackish over time, with the exception of a small area of about 200 meters between the swamp and the sea, at the swamp’s Southernmost point. This area, while soggy, stands relatively dry most of the time, but at some occasions is flooded by the sea and subsequently transfers sea water into the Southern part of the Hydra Swamp, thereby turning and keeping it more saline than the rest the region.
Climate: The Hydra Swamp has a mainly humid continental climate. Humidity levels are very high and while its temperatures range from very high in the Summer to very low in the Winter, the swamp never reaches a point of either scalding heat or freezing cold. Rain is frequent, especially in the warmer Northern and central parts and during the Summer. When it is not raining a low thin fog usually hangs over the waters.
Flora and Fauna: During the great flooding that created the Hydra Swamp, many trees and plants in the area died out. Those that didn’t, though, have since adapted to survive the more brackish water. They consist mostly of low shrubs, cordgrasses and, more recently, swamp willows. In addition, a number of aquatic plants like seagrasses and algae have been carried in by the sea and can be found mostly in the more Southern parts of the swamp.
Since the flood various kinds of small fish are numerous in the Hydra Swamp. While those in the Southern area are still fairly similar to the sea fish, their more Northern cousins have adapted to the less saline water in their habitat.
Despite fish being the most numerous, it is, unsurprisingly, the Hydra that is the dominant inhabitant of the swamp it was named after. Hydras are large serpent-like creatures with an average lifespan of one-hundred years. Their exact numbers are unknown, but are estimated to lie at about four to five dozen, spread all across the swamp. They have six short legs ending in vicious clawed feet and many heads with even more razor sharp teeth. Hydras are descended from giant Sea Serpents that ended up far from their original habitat – the Sea of Serpents to the East – during the time of the great flooding. Aside from the legs they have developed over time and the number of heads, they still bear great resemblance to their ancestors. They are rather slow moving, but nevertheless fearsome creatures, known to reach lengths of ten meters from head to tail and over three meters tall when standing on all six legs. The Hydra is among the very few cannibalistic creatures in the Realm and the only known one that is auto-cannibalistic. When a Hydra becomes hungry, its stronger heads will eat the weaker ones, satiating the Hydra for at least one year and usually more, depending on the number and size of the heads eaten. Within a few days after this, two more heads grow in the lost head’s place. This process – which also occurs when a head is severed in any way – continues throughout a Hydra’s life. A Hydra’s age and strength is directly related to the number of heads it has. They have been known to kill other creatures, but never for food. As they are fiercely territorial they will, without hesitation, attack and likely kill any creature unfortunate enough to enter their habitat. For unknown reason the fish inhabiting the swamp seem to be the sole exception to this. Hydras reproduce asexually. When one dies, usually of natural causes, its heads will fall off and its body will dissolve. A large serpent will grow from each head and, which will turn on the other serpents until only one survives that will grow into a full-fledged Hydra.