DUNCAN: Hello! I’m Duncan, a humble explorer of these lands, and welcome to another chat about the wondrous creatures known as Solari!
I had planned to discuss the inhabitants of the dungeon known as Xenari Caverns with Guildmaster Ibli, but he was, uh, called away on urgent business and could not join us this afternoon.
KUMAIL: No, I’m pretty sure he said he was tired of listening to a “preening dilettante who didn’t understand the first thing about Solari habitats.” See, I jotted it down in my notebook.
DUNCAN: Yes, thank you, young man.
KUMAIL: And that was right after you called him a ….
DUNCAN: Ahem! In the guildmaster’s place, I’ve recruited a young scholar I met recently. Kumail, thanks for joining me here in Hoku’s Tavern!
KUMAIL: It’s an honor, sir! It’s not every day the heroic Duncan the Explorer asks for one’s expert opinion.
HOKU: Nobody calls him that!
DUNCAN: I think we could use a bit less snark and a few more snacks, my bartending friend! Now then…Kumail, I understand you recently investigated Xenari Caverns.
KUMAIL: Yes indeed! I mean, technically I was helping a friend who just graduated from the Warden Academy, but I was absolutely there the whole time.
DUNCAN: So I expect you encountered quite a few Solari down there. What can you tell us about the dungeon’s denizens?
KUMAIL: First of all, I was surprised that we didn’t see more Stone Solari. Sure, I saw lots of Eggberts, but they’re all over the Daharan Desert so it’s easy to take them for granted. Which, yes, is odd to say about a floating rock that fires a ray from its giant red eye.
We also encountered a Shellfox or two, but not as many as I expected. Based on my experiences in Thorn Heath, the Crumbling Ruins, and the Daharan Desert was starting to believe it was common everywhere. But that’s why you always want a larger sample size!
DUNCAN: Did you find any Stone Solari that you hadn’t seen before?
KUMAIL: This was the first time I saw a Cubble in the wild. My friend Lois wants one as a pet, but I think play time would be tough after being petrified by Stony Swipe.
DUNCAN: Three Stone Solari doesn’t sound like a lot for a dungeon in the Agarid Barrens. But I’ve learned that Solari don’t always cluster by affinity as much as we expect.
KUMAIL: You know, I’ve been working on a paper exploring that topic! I’m hoping to get it into the JoSoBi.
DUNCAN: I’m sorry?
KUMAIL: The Journal of Solari Biology? It’s only THE scientific journal regarding all things Solari. I interned there for a semester, it was incredible! I can’t believe you don’t read it.
DUNCAN: I must have let my subscription lapse. Now then…back to Xenari Caverns?
KUMAIL: Oh, right! It turns out that Electric Solari are unusually common in the caverns. Both the Weevolt and the Zigment live there in significant numbers, and there’s also a small population of Skiptails.
DUNCAN: Guildmaster Ibli said the Weevolt and Zigment could also be seen in the Daharan Desert, but only low numbers. Any idea why they’re so plentiful in Xenari Caverns?
KUMAIL: Why yes! As you know there’s a leading theory regarding the formation of Xenari Caverns that involves a titanic, primeval creature dying and sinking into the mud. The mud hardened while the body was still in a state of decay, and that left stony tunnels after the flesh was gone.
I believe the caverns retain an echo of that creature’s bioelectric signature, and that Electric Solari are drawn to it like iron filings to a magnet. There’s really no other explanation that makes so much sense!
DUNCAN: That’s…quite a theory. So tell me about the Skiptail, I’m not familiar with it.
KUMAIL: Of course! Now, some folks mistake it for an evolution of the Kitzapp, which I suppose is possible if you’re not paying attention…they’re both sleek, fast Electric Solari who share a few skills.
But if you know your Solari, they couldn’t be more different! I mean, sure, they each can inflict Chain Lightning with their signature skill, but the Skiptail’s Spark Rocket also dizzies the target, which is totally different. I mean, it’s like saying a mesa and a butte are the same thing just because they’re both big rocks in the desert!
DUNCAN: ….Sure, kid. Totally different. So, what other Solari did you encounter in Xenari Caverns?
KUMAIL: Well, we met a lot of Kindlehoofs, far more than in the Daharan Desert or the Gazira Mines. Perhaps the leftover bioelectricity from that great fallen beast changed the flavor of the stone of the caverns, leaving it particularly tasty to Solari that are known to eat anything?
And speaking of Fire Solari, I remember a Slugley down there. At first I thought it was just an oddly pigmented Sleeslugg, but then it unleashed Wild Ignition and suddenly it seemed like everything was on fire!
DUNCAN: What is it about fiery Solari? They all seem quite irritable and easily provoked.
KUMAIL: That sounds like confirmation bias to me! After all, plenty of non-Fire Solari are equally aggressive. Just take the Sportle, which we also met in the caverns. It routinely uses Spore Charge to tackle big enemies, relying on its spores to Infect the target and bring it down.
DUNCAN: I suppose you’re right, Kumail. Well, thank you for…
KUMAIL: Oh wait, I almost forgot the Slithy!
At first, this guy didn’t look like much, but then I saw it use Shell Growth to reinforce its carapace and remembered a sketch in one of my old textbooks and wow! It’s supposedly extinct, but somehow the population here survived! I’ve been trying to publish my rediscovery in the SoBiJo, but they don’t believe me!
DUNCAN: That’s the Journal of Solari Biology, right?
KUMAIL: No, that’s the JoSoBi. The SoBiJo is the Solari Biological Journal, which is a TOTALLY different publication. They think they’re so important, but I think they’re just stuck-up.
DUNCAN: Let me guess…they rejected your application for an internship.
KUMAIL: That has nothing to do with anything!
DUNCAN: …Sure, kid.
And with that, we’ll draw this chat to a close. Kumail, thanks again for your help.
KUMAIL: Any time!
Join us again next week when Duncan moves from the dusty desert to the green trees of Taankwan Thicket!
Solari of the Xenari Caverns