Cloudwalker spiders are prodigiously large spiders with the ability to walk directly on cloud surfaces. These creatures are, quite possibly, the largest out-of-water creatures known to exist.
These creatures resemble shiny, black daddy longlegs of incredible size -- reports estimate the largest as a quarter of a mile long at least, from one leg tip to another. Despite their impressive forms, they are reclusive creatures that eat relatively little -- although their diet is still immense nonetheless. Their lifetime is extremely long -- in fact, they may be immortal. To date, no cloudwalker spider has ever been known to die of age or natural causes.
Cloudwalker spiders are known to feed on nearly any living creature they can catch -- including griffons, dragons, pegasi, and nearly anything else that can reach one of their webs. They live solely among the clouds, casting their net-like webs outward to catch their prey. If their nets miss, they will not fall to the ground, as the spider retains them with a line of webbing. The spider itself can lower itself from a cloud, attached by a line of webbing.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
While reproduction in cloudwalker spiders is rare, it does occur.
A sure sign of a female cloudwalker spider that is preparing to mate is a sudden and drastic increase in her appetite (females tend to have larger bodies and shorter legs than the males of the species). After several weeks of gorging on food, the female will then seek a tall mountaintop or similar area that has a continuous cloud bank around its heights.
Next, it will build an enormous web into the clouds and mountainside -- one that's designed to reflect the sun's rays into an irridescent light show at all times of the day. The quality of this web will factor in how attracted males are to her as a potential mate. A highly skilled female will be able to make a web that can even catch the light of the moon and the stars.
Next, the male will approach the web, performing a brief mating ritual and caressing the female with its forelegs. The two will join and copulate. Shortly after this copulation, the male will die naturally, and become food for the female as she tends to the eggs.
The female will lay 12-18 spherical eggs -- each about seventy feet in diameter, directly onto the mountainside in a protected portion of the web. Then, she will guard and defend the eggs for approximately 8 weeks, until they hatch. Egg-protecting females are vicious creatures, and will kill all animals and creatures that move nearby.
The eggs will hatch almost simultaneously, and the young (pale gray in appearance) will emerge. Once this happens, the female's maternal instinct will suddenly dissipate, and she will wander away. The young will disperse over the nearby clouds, and will similarly begin their life. A young Cloudwalker Spider male has a body that's about 40' wide and is about 1,200' long from leg to leg. A young female of this species is about 50' wide, and 1100' long from leg to leg. Their color changes from grey to black over the course of the first ten years or so of their lives.
Cloudwalker Spiders In Art & Literature
The graceful movement of a Cloudwalker spider, joined with the iridescent colors displayed off its webs, are the source of inspiration for many poets, artists, and sculptors, who are amazed that something so large and terrifying can move with such beauty. Paintings are also common of cloudwalker spiders walking, undetected by human beings, above the cloud cover. Additionally, many poems and legends are also constructed around these creatures as being wise protectors, who ancient heroes have sought out for the answers to imponderable questions.
The presence of a cloudwalker spider is also thought to be an omen of bad luck to sailors, and sign of impending danger to those in the winter, and a boon to farmers. This is based on the (supposed) belief that these spiders will tend to live around areas of thick cloud cover -- which offers them the safest living conditions. Cloudwalker spiders are rarely seen by sailors, however, as they do not like to live over large bodies of water.
Some artists and thrill-seekers will also attempt to glimpse the iridescent web of a female cloudwalker spider as it's about to mate. While the spider will remain mostly docile and non-aggressive (other than to feed) as it waits for the male, the risk of this activity is if those who seek to glimpse the web arrive too late -- that is, after the eggs have been laid. Few who glimpse the eggs of this species survive.
Cloudwalker Spiders Found On "Solid" Ground
While these creatures will never willingly come to the ground, they cannot fly -- and it is possible (albeit rare) for them to be in a situation where the clouds they are standing on disperse and fade away, with no way for the spider to find new clouds to walk upon. In these cases, the cloudwalker spider will fall, flailing violently with its legs, to the ground, crashing with a tremendous impact. The impact of the fall will usually kill the creature, although there is about an 8% chance of its survival. These creatures cannot swim, and will surely die if they fall into an area of water that is so large that they cannot pull themselves out.
If the creature survives the fall, it will immediately seek to return to the clouds -- usually by climbing up a mountain or some other mass that extends above the cloud line. At this time, cloudwalker spiders may also seek out smoke from a large fire, which it can sometimes also use to climb up into the clouds. If no such thing exists, then it will begin to wander aimlessly, in a search for a way to return to the clouds.
During their search, their immense size makes them a menace to any creatures living on the ground level. Unused to having living creatures around it, it will trample everything nearby without regard -- knocking over trees, crushing houses, and smothering all forms of life in its trail. It will feed on the largest creatures it can find, and its hard shell casing will make it almost impossible to wound.