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Sunswirl Beetle


I have to admit, this was one of the more interesting ways I had discovered a new species of insect. I had been walking through the market near headquarters when a flash of gold around the neck of faerie caught my eye. Although humans sometimes use gold for making jewelry, it is not a preferred metal, and there was something about this colouring that struck me as odd. I followed the faerie and eventually caught up to her and asked if I could inspect the necklace. She happily obliged and upon closer inspection, and careful prodding, I was very certain the shard-sized 'beads' were actually the shells of an insect.

From that moment onward I was on the hunt. First, I followed the faerie's directions to the trader who sold her the necklace. Then, I tracked down the human village where the trader said he had bartered for it. I had barely begun asking about the golden shells at the village when a bright young boy, probably ten years of age, confidently declared that he could show me exactly where to find the beetles in question. Though I typically work alone, partially due to the fact that we try to keep the Obsidian Ecological Society a secret from the sun dwellers, I couldn't bring myself to say no to the enthusiastic boy.

As soon as I agreed to his help he dragged me off to a large, nearby meadow next to Whisperwind Lake that was covered in gold and rust coloured grasses. I watched with great interest as he squatted down low and began to shift apart the tall stalks with his hands, waddling around like a bird looking for a meal. After only five minutes of searching, he let out a triumphant cry and presented me with a beetle.

It was round in shape with a small black head, six strong legs, and of course, a golden shell. As I mentioned earlier, this wasn't the same kind of gold as the metal. The shell had a pearlescent sheen, making it appear at times more copper or more silver depending on the light. After finding many more, I could safely say that most of them were the same size as a shard - just short of 1 inch / 2.5 cm in diameter. Though their appearance was already quite endearing due to their round shape and pleasant colouring, it was made even more so with the addition of a tiny gold sphere on the tip of each antenna.

The young boy, who I realized very quickly was quite the insect enthusiast, went on to tell me many more interesting facts about what he called the Sunswirl Beetle. They were flightless, for one, and only active during the day. Through a fit of laughter, he informed me that they ate only dung and also used it to form the upper portion of their dens (the rest of their home was dug into the ground). He wasn't quite sure how big their territory was, but he hadn't seen them outside of these golden fields. As for their natural predators, he was very certain that they were a favourite amongst crows and ravens.

When I asked him why he named the beetle what he did, he told me to examine the shell very carefully. Luckily, Sunswirl Beetles are very docile, and the one I chose to inspect barely moved as I held it right up to my face. It took a moment, and a bit of maneuvering in the sunlight, but eventually I saw it - the tiny swirl patterns no bigger than snowflakes all over the shell. Though I had already been considering it, I was now completely convinced that I would keep the species name the boy had come up with.

Over the next few days my young guide stuck to me like sap and insisted that I was not to leave until we gathered enough dead beetles to make a necklace for me. It was an incredibly sweet gesture, and it gave me plenty of time to verify all the facts he gave me, which were indeed all correct.

Though I knew it was a bit risky, before I departed I 'accidentally' left out my notebook so he could examine the cover. Should he remember our meeting, and the crest of the Obsidian Ecological Society stamped onto my notebook, perhaps he would be clever enough to find us in the future.

~ Tulin

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