Sweetling reproduction begins when two Sweetlings copulate. The product that exits their genitals, regardless of actual composition, has the necessary bits of ‘genetic code’ in order to set production into motion (This code can enter from anywhere on the body, but it will always be brought down to the stomach area).
This means, however, that only a Sweetling can only impregnate other Sweetlings, and can only be impregnated by fellow Sweetlings.
Due to the flexible nature of the species, either sexual organ can be created and are functional, regardless of base gender.
A short time after copulation, a clutch of eggs made of a fusion of materials of the two Sweetlings will start forming within the body. The eggs take roughly two days to incubate before being ready, at which point they can either be removed from the body or kept inside.
The number of eggs in a given clutch varies, the body creating enough shells to house the inseminating Sweetling's material in full. The shells of these eggs can be made out of any of the materials of the Sweetling they are growing inside, leading to clutches with a wide variety of consistencies and colors between eggs.
Additionally, among any batch of eggs there a handful that grow double to triple the size of the rest of the eggs, gaining elaborate patterns and accents across their surface. Despite their larger size and presence, these eggs seem to be functionally identical to the rest.
Inside each incubated egg is a Theyra. Each of these Theyra has the potential to create a Sweetling, but a host must be found or the egg must be nurtured before the process can begin.
The eggs themselves have a shelf-life of sorts, only able to survive a couple of days outside the body or about two weeks inside. If an egg is not used before its expiration, the Theyra within the egg will break apart into sugar, and the eggs will simply absorb into the rest of the form.
There are two factors necessary in order to facilitate a conversion to a Sweetling. They are:
A: An incubated egg from a Sweetling
B: A non-Sweetling recipient
For the conversion to begin, the recipient must consume a Theyra from an incubated egg. Whether or not the rest of the egg is consumed does not matter, only that the Theyra enters the recipient's body through the vector used to gather nutrients.
Once the Theyra has been consumed by the recipient, the imprinting process begins. During this time it is possible the recipient may not even know what is going on, as the Theyra copies and transcribes all the mental history, personality, likes, dislikes, and overall ‘being’ of the recipient into itself. Some have reported hearing the “new them” talk during this phase, but the evidence on this is inconclusive at best.
After the imprinting process has finished, the Theyra sets off a chain of events as the proper transformation begins. The Theyra sends out a signal for materials chosen for the form (as dictated by the imprinting process), the materials pulling towards them in a rather aggressive fashion. Typically another Sweetling will be around to help with this process, however, in the event that they are not, the core will naturally increase the desire to consume the chosen material, drawing the recipient closer to their change. The materials will travel towards the individual's body, filling out the new shape and covering their body as the original form breaks down underneath. A momentary blackout typically occurs as consciousness transfers to the Theyra, but it rarely lasts more than a couple of seconds. The chosen sweets continue to fill the body until the Sweetling is complete in their base form.
If the Theyra is not given access to the base material of its new body for a full three days after imprinting, the process will be canceled, and conversion into a Sweetling will not occur.
While activated Theyra have an extremely high heat tolerance, their unactivated counterparts can be melted at around oven temperatures. Doing so creates a glaze, which when baked into or applied on sweets gives them the latent magical properties of the Theyra.
Should a creature consume one of these treats, they will gain a trait of a Sweetling. This can range anywhere from something passive like flight, to something visible, like a candy tail.
Each treat consumed gives another Sweetling trait, so if enough treats are consumed they will become a Sweetling, with all the same rules to appearance and candy form applying. It should be noted that despite looking like a Sweetling they are still flesh and meat underneath, and lack a Theyra. As such, abilities that inherently require a Theyra are not possible, such as Sculpting, Fusion, and Hosting.
The change only lasts until the treats have been fully digested. After which point, the candy falls away, and the individual is left as they were before.
For those wishing to create new life rather than convert other lifeforms, another path is available.
When eggs are produced, rather than feeding them to other species, a Sweetling or group of Sweetlings can instead choose to nurture the egg, keeping it warm and close, caring for it as if it were a young child. In doing so, a bit of the nurturing Sweetling's being will imprint on the unactivated Theyra, activating it and creating a newborn Sweetling unattached from any previously living organism. When this activation happens, the egg grows to several times its original size, and the Sweetling child begins to grow within. This newborn Sweetling's appearance will not be impacted by the Sweetlings that helped create it. Eventually the egg will hatch, and the newborn Sweetling will be born unto the world.
There is no set time for how long the acts of Imprinting and Birth take. Some have been known to go through the entire process in days, while others take months without even showing any trace of imprinting. Infertility is unheard of however, so provided a Sweetling wants and works toward it, a child is guaranteed eventually.