~11 hours (as usual, soon as I posted I noticed a few things that needed to be fixed
My entry for the latest
This rounds magic phrase is "Master of Illusion"-
a seemingly straightforward topic, but with a twist: this is a creature round, not a character round!
Pressures on a little as I'm defending my title from winning last round...would have loved to spend a little more time to polish this piece up a little more, but commissions demanded a lot of my attention this round. I think it gets the idea across well enough though.
Got pretty elaborate on the description, since I like this critter a lot.
The witchlings are another facinating lifeform of planet TR893C. These seemingly defenseless creatures are shy, playful, and clever. Physically, aside from their coincidental resemblance to earth mammals, they are most notable for the odd crystaline "antlers" possessed by both genders, attached to advanced bioluminecent organs directly connected to witchling's brain. The colony's biologists were entranced immediately by the incredible light displays that these creatures are capable of generating, and quickly dubbed them "witchlings" due to their whimsical, magical appearance. The research team began recording the displays, knowing that the adorable living fireworks would make endearing headline creatures for documentaries and journal publications that the general public would fall in love with, securing their funding for decades.
As the researchers reviewed their footage, it was discovered that the creatures use the same exposed crystal deposits they supplement their diets with (much like terran deer with a salt deposit) as natural amplifiers for their displays. Then they found something more unexpected: as the the complex exchanges between witchlings were analyzed, it was gradually realized that the Witchlings utilize these displays not merely for mating displays or warning of danger, but as a means of expressing ideas and plans in an organized way; a fully-fledged language
. This not only cemented the witchling's entry to the catalogue of known primitive sentient species, but also made them arguably the first known species discovered on any world to develop an alphabet before a spoken language!(some experts on Terran species debate the octopus qualifies for this distinction, but these are a minority)
The biologists believed that these creatures could not become more remarkable, until a new recording was discovered that explained why the seemingly vulnerable creatures were avoided by nearly all predators: a fledgling member of a theropod-like predatory species sharing the witchlings prarieland habitat approaches a witchling sentry keeping watch outside the herd's burrow. The Witchling displays a series of bright flashes interepereted as warnings to fellow sentrys, and then the moment which floored the entire team. With a series of precisely aimed pulses, a hologram of the largest predatory species of the prarieland materialised into the air above the witchling and proceeded to snap at the foolish fledgeling. Understandably startled by the sudden appearance this ghostly monstrosity, it sprinted away yelping, only to be pursued by a very real, very angry version of the same predator seeking the phantom rival it had just seen intruding in its territory. The biologists couldn't help but smile; suddenly the clever little creatures did not seem quite so defenseless after all.