|(The shadow is a Fruit Hound, that's different.)|
#12 THE MOBIUSNAIL
Most of the body of the Snail is concealed within a large lozenge-shaped shell with usually consists of an charming range of varied colours. The shell is usually about four feet long and about two and half high, or wide, at its thickest point.
The shell has a series of holes along its length, these are naturally developed parts of the organism rather than bored. From within the holes comes the singing of the snail.
The 'foot' of the Mobuisnail is a gigantic, slender, yet strong loop or ribbon of flesh in a state of continuous movement like a flood of pink silk in a strong wind.
Technically it only takes one continuous step throughout the whole of its existence, its curling megafoot looping round in a ripple of flesh, one peak, like the peak of a wave, held above its head in the manner of a swimmer. The other, lower peak pressed into the ground like the bent leg of a man mid-sprint.
The snails seem to move upon a vertical 'sail' of flesh, giving them their common name 'SailSnails'. When seen from side-on, it does look as if they are 'balancing' on a narrow ribbon. however, if seen in profile from above it can be observed that the snails megafoot curves sinuously like a snake on its point of contact with the ground, which gives it a more secure footing than might be expected.
The MOBIUSNAIL is engaged always on its first step into the world, the moment of it fist passing the portal of its nest into a world of discovery. Since it is still taking that same step it responds to everything with a sense of delirious optimism.
They do not live long.
The 'singing' of the snail is actually a kind of invertebrate laughter.
The Snails come in vast seasonal migrations and move together incredibly fast across the plains. Sometimes the gigantic herds move from breeding grounds in the dark dank depths of cyclopean forests, looming ruins or cave systems, to the feeding grounds of vast shining estuaries, long crashing tidal banks or the silver beaches richly-fished inland lakes. If the season is unusually rich and the snails feed well, they may set of en-mass on journeys that seem to have no purpose other than the joy of travel, swooping in their hundredsof thousands across fields and through woodlands at a speed of about sixty miles an hour.
Most civilised people know not to try to outrun the Snails and, should they hear the snail song in the distance, simply to drop face-first onto the ground and let them pass over. There is no risk of being trampled by the snails delicate megafeet, but sometimes, very rarely. the unlucky have been suffocated by being covered in the slime of an especially densely packed herd.
A small and obsessive religious order(the Order of Saint Cephalos) worships the snail and seeks to die in this way. They believe that being mummified in the snail-slime will preserve their souls through the challenges of hell and help them reach heaven. The rarity of the herd of this density, and the speed and unpredictable nature of the Snails means they rarely achieve this and have to settle for purchasing recently recovered snailslime from peasants near a migration route and embalming dead monks in that instead.
The monks of St Cephalos are assumed to all be former criminals and sinners trying to escape a well-earned hellbound fate and though this is by no means always the case they do have a slightly dark reputation and are not always well trusted. In a small number of cases they are truly evil men engaged on active wrongdoing under the cover of religion and either pretending to 'seek the slime' or doing so only to escape a divine judgement they full expect to find them guilty.
Nevertheless most of the Monks are peaceful, though troubled folk, valued for their extremely fast foot-pace (banned from using horses, they are all very good long-distance runners). This has given them their common name 'the panting prayers' since many of their prayers are designed to be panted out one breath at a time whilst running.
The Mobiusnails are so fast that most predators become exhausted simply chasing them and their soft and rippling megafeet do so little damage to the ground that humans and others depending on agriculture are usually not offended by the snails moving quickly over their property. The silvery strands of snail slime extending in a ribbon sometimes half a mile wide and stretching off into the distance. The strong and heavy shells do sometimes bump and bang into vertical walls, stupid people or animals unwise enough not to lie down when the snails come.