Who wants to hear about fictional zoology? Apparently you folks do. The Hissing Python handily won last week’s poll, so that’s our entry today.
This entry, in fact, is emblematic of why I found the gazetteer widget so entertaining to use. A stray mention of ‘opening its mouth like a hissing python’ in Ogrification prompted this entry’s inclusion, but the mix of references to include tied this random species of snake to all manner of things in the setting. I feel like this is one of those details that gives the Speaking Lands a sort of “lived in” feel, where it feels like all these disparate people are in fact sharing a world and not just living in neighboring biomes with adventure possibilities.
It’s strange to say that an entry on a very scary snake species makes you feel warm and cozy, but this one does. Hope you enjoy!
This family of constrictor snakes are both widely feared and frequently valorized as savage and dangerous beasts. As ambush predators, they hunt by dropping from hiding in the trees or along cliffs, latching onto their prey with backward-curved teeth, and wrapping their powerful coils around their incipient meal to kill via constriction.
There are at least six distinct species of hissing python, primarily distinguished by their coloration and habitat. Three species—green, brown, and mottled—can be found in Wildermarch. Mottled hissing pythons are also found along the Enai, with the sandy hissing python found along the cliffs of Xenix Gorge. They represent the greatest danger of the cliffside trails into and out of the gorge. Verdas and the southern reaches of Kelompok have their own variations: the emerald and golden hissing pythons. However, the mottled is by far the largest of the various species.
Adult pythons average about the size of an adult’s leg, but the eldest specimens can reach truly massive sizes, with the largest able to swallow whole deer, pack mules, and children. The warlords of Xenix often wear “Hissing Swords,” fashioned out of the fangs of the largest snakes.
The hissing python is enshrined in many cultures. A favorite fable about King Silenos tells how he wrestled a monstrous python to save his lover and turned its hide into a canopy for their children’s bed. Modern bards theorize that the fable is emblematic of Silenos’ drive to civilize the Wildermarch–literally slaying such a beast is not outside the realms of possibility for the storied king; credulity is only strained by the claim that he did so with his bare hands.
Folk wisdom claims that hissing pythons, like dragons, never stop growing. While this is not true, it has enshrined the hissing python as a symbol of romantic love which also, the metaphor claims, never stops growing. The cynical tend to add that love also never lets go once it gets its fangs into you.
The snakes frequently occur in iconography, as well. The Xansillipse coat of arms features a golden hissing python, and their pirate-hunting vessels fly a variation with paired swords. Kobold enclaves in the Wastecoast also fly banners and battle standards featuring the golden python, which is not native to the area. The use dates back to the kobold’s days as the Ruhradim exiles of Xansillipse.
Which brings us to next week’s entry. Which outgoing reference from Hissing Python most tickles your interest?
Looking forward to seeing where you take us next!