|Waters in and around Altaleï and Westwynd
The Fairfin Fish is a ray-finned species of fish commonly found in freshwater and saltwater bodies of water across and around Altaleï and Westwynd. Though they share a long and winding history with the various Elven populations there, their modern notoriety is attributed entirely to how widely available they are as a native food source. Other Races, such as the Asha, have also encountered the fish in the past, and now also make use of them as a food source alongside the regional Ailor. Regardless of where they’re found, Fairfin Fish are easily recognized; and highly sought after for the quick meal they provide.
The earliest mentions of the Fairfin Fish date back to the era before the rise of the Allorn Empire, where ancient cave paintings depict these fish in water scenes and imagery of plenty. The Asha to the north of the Elves in their Dewamenet Empire similarly depicted the fish, and with the rise of the Allorn Empire, both parties took to plying the waters across their territory in pursuit of the fish. Some even believe that the first contact between the Asha and Elves might have been through fishing similar waters. Regardless, the Fairfin Fish swam beneath the waves and through the rivers of the world as the Asha were conquered, and the Allorn Empire took its place as the dominant world power. The fish was still pursued, but it was now corralled into Magic-enhanced fisheries, or used for displays of floating water and private water features. Exotic colorations were especially sought after, and while the fish itself eventually largely passed from the tables of the nobles and common citizens of the Allorn Empire to their slaves (though the Fin'ullen kept eating the fish), it remained a valued resource. The Cataclysm and Wildering, however, saw the animal's numbers bloom in ways never before seen. The great magical fisheries were destroyed, freeing thousands of plump, healthy adults and many more eggs into the newly revived ecosystem of swamps, marshes and jungle rivers that cut across lands long bare of such natural features. Ever since, the Fairfin Fish has remained a common creature of consumption for the various Races in Aloria.
The Fairfin fish typically range from several inches to a few feet in length at their largest, and tend to be very meaty, making them exceptionally hefty. This, combined with the fact that they are almost always found in large numbers, makes them the perfect catch for any aspiring fisherman. Beyond this, however, the Fairfin Fish is incredibly diverse in both size, shape, and coloring. However, what makes this species distinct is their near universal pectoral and tail fins. These large, often frilled appendages are used for a variety of different functions depending on the type of fish, but have been known to be used to communicate between Fairfins and even disorient predators.
Despite there being little statistical difference between male and female Fairfins, their dimorphism makes it extremely apparent which is which. The males often tend to be smaller and more slender, while the females are remarkably larger and stronger. This is likely due to the female’s role in defending the brood upon mating, whereas the males will patrol the surrounding waters to procure food for themself and their mate.
- Ithanian Blue Fairfin: Named after its spawning grounds of Ithania, the Ithanian Blue Fairfin (also referred to as the “Eau-Revoir Fish”) is known for its metallic scales and curious fin movements. The sheen of their scales is highly reflective, which gives them a brilliant blue color from the clear waters they swim. What they’re perhaps better known for is how they’ve been “spoiled” by the Ithanian people. Ithanian Blues often circle in streams or ponds when passersby approach and leap from the water whilst waving their fins. It is assumed this is a perversion of the Fairfin’s natural defense mechanism after the fish discovered that wealthy travelers would feed them bread or grain, and earned them their endearing moniker of “Eau-Revoir Fish”.
- Mossback Fairfin: Mossback Fairfins, often simplified to Mossbacks, are a large, ugly variety of Fairfin fish native to the plains of Altaleï. Their scales molt throughout their life, turning from an unappealing black to a more palatable green starting along the spine, which earned them their name. While once being the most disgusting to eat, the excessive manipulation by the region's Maquixtl has rendered them far tastier (though this is somewhat of a regional secret). Still, their uncharacteristically aggressive nature, large size, and repulsive appearance have kept others away.
- Redtip Fairfin: Native to the Ashal Islands, the Redtip Fairfin, also called the Redtip Corsair or Corsair Fairfin, is a saltwater variety of the Fairfin popularized by its speed and red-tipped fins on a purple body. Largely nomadic, these fish roam from island to island in large schools where they promptly nest, lay eggs, and then move on to the next in only a few days. Groups of these fish are referred to as “fleets”, and they tend to travel so quickly from place to place that predators have difficulties actually catching them.
- Teled Fairfin: The Teled Fairfin, or “Children of Teled Methen”, are a particularly peculiar breed of Fairfin notable for their natural bioluminescence, which becomes most prominent at night. Traveling schools of this subspecies have been known to light up entire rivers with a brilliant, rose-gold light. While scholars hotly debate the origin of this natural oddity, the Teledden believe it to be a gift from their gods.
Life Span and Development
The Fairfin Fish are far from extraordinary in terms of their life cycles. Starting as an egg no larger than a coin in a brood among hundreds of others, they are laid in the early months of spring. The size of these nests can become so massive that riverbeds turn a deep red in color, until later in the year when they ultimately hatch and begin to spread out. While most Fairfin Fish only live for just under half a decade, some species have been known to live exceptionally long. Examples of Mossbacks Fairfin surviving undisturbed for thirty or more years are common, and some residents of Altaleï claim to spot the Teled Fairfin they’d known as children hundreds of years earlier, though this has never been proven.
Personalities amongst the Fairfin Fish are as diverse as their subspecies are. Generally, the Fairfin Fish is extremely docile and have even been known to swim right around children playing in streams across Daen. This does not seem to extend to the Redtip Fairfin or Mossback Fairfin however, as they have been known to actively nip at swimmers. These two have also proven to be difficult to be kept as pets or on display, while the Ithanian Blue Fairfin and Teled Fairfin are peaceful, and far more common in ponds or pools.
Territory and Groupings
Without exception, all Fairfin Fish have a large family unit they operate within, with schools ranging from dozens of fish to several hundred or even thousands in special cases. Those which live in freshwater typically migrate to the ocean in the winter and return to nest in the spring, subspecies like the Redtip Fairfin spend their entire lives in warm ocean water. Fairfin Fish are not known to be over territorial, but conflicts between males during mating season are common.
- Several varieties of Fairfin Fish are known to have gone extinct. These include the Emerald Dazzler, Blue Dream, and White Star, all rare species bred for and by the Allorn nobility, and unable to survive in the chaos immediately following the collapse of the Empire (as opposed to their fish farm brethren).
- The desertification of southern Ithania is thought to have killed thousands of Fairfin Fish, and drastically reduced their migration paths between Ithania, and into areas of Altaleï.