Appearancetawny to pinkish skin tones with a sheath of thick, textured, darkened skin in place of plaits of hair. Their lower body is usually slightly darker, with the frill of the foot being slightly more colorful, often with hints of red or yellow. Their shells are usually yellow to brown, sometimes with dark mottling.
Lacking bone structure, they are able to change the size and morphology of their body from that of a true snail to their preferred womanly aspect. Snail-maids have some chromatic and textural control of their soft-tissue similar to octopi. The slit containing their genitals and love-dart are housed in a location corresponding to genitals on the human torso, which is also where the 'foot' of their snail body begins. The foot's frill, when they 'stand upright' resembles the ruffled front on a dress, or grossly exaggerated female genitalia.
EcologyThe snail-maid is a highly evolved form of hermaphroditic gastropod, living principally in temperate rain forests. Snail-maids have human-like intellect and life-spans, living alone in simple shelters built from natural materials. They are principally herbivorous gatherers, maintaining territory for growing and collecting their preferred foods, including leaves, bark, nuts and berries. They have a particular weakness for calcium rich stones, needed for strong shells. Territories are marked with pheromones and carved or painted markings on trees and stones. They make and use simple tools, traps, and fire. They may have access to shamanic or natural magics.
Young snail-maids or those that have lost their territory may wander searching for a suitable new home. In such situations, battles over a territory may occur, which are similar, if not identical to mating duels, as the typical result of such a duel is the impregnation of the loser. Snail-maids that inter-breed produce only giant snails of limited intellect and no ability to assume a humanoid shape. Those clutches are laid in damp soil while wandering in search of a new home. No sensible snail-maid wants to be burdened with such dim creatures in her territory.
|The notorious 'love dart'.|
If, before settling into a new territory, a snail-maid discovers a suitable humanoid male mate and incubator, they will stalk them, possibly setting an ambush or luring them away from others and deep into the woods using their comely appearance and intoxicating pheromones. Once safely alone, they beguile them into their arms, kissing them deeply, overwhelming their senses with the chemicals in their skin and saliva. The snail-maid then copulates with their drugged victim at length to fertilize her eggs*, which are then injected into the incoherent man's pelvic cavity using her love-dart.
Victims normally awake disoriented in an isolated, serene woodland locale; their clothing in disarray, tenderness in the loins, and a lingering recollection of a wonderful encounter with a beautiful woman. Men so affected normally become obsessed with finding the woman, wandering the forest desperately as they experience chemical withdrawal symptoms, while the tenderness in their abdomen increases. After several weeks of aimless wandering, they collapse from exhaustion and expire, allowing the maturing clutch of snail-maids to hatch, consuming the man's body as they emerge and begin to forage for more food. Once they have grown sufficiently, the snail-maid young migrate in search of their own ideal territory.
10.5.2013 UpdateSnail-maids travel no faster than a typical human's walking speed, and can maintain that speed at length. They are able to ascend sheer or inverted surfaces with modest effort. Snail-maids are not susceptible to salts.
Snail-maids often have traps around the perimeter of their territory, and hide or disguise their home to avoid detection. They will use their natural camouflage and mobility to remain hidden while observing intruders. If forced to attack, they prefer ranged combat, and are often adept with small bows or atlatls. If they deem intruders to be no threat, snail-maids may communicate with intruders. They are able to communicate with other snail-maids, woodland creatures, and speak one or more of the languages of their humanoid 'father'.
* To be clear, the humanoid incubator is not a biological father, perse. Their seminal contribution is critical to the process, but the snail-maid actually self-fertilizes her eggs, using the humanoid contribution to modify her own seminal fluids appropriately.