|Common Nicknames||Charmers, Hexfish,|
|Habitat||Essalonia and Farah’deen|
Cunning and deceitful, the Kelp of Aloria were only recently discovered by the colonial regions of the Regalian Empire in Essalonia. Prone to taking on magical guises, they are notorious for luring their victims to secluded places and killing them via drowning. They predominantly dwell in underwater caves, away from the outside world and were once confused for Maiar until this fact was cleared up by the Maiar race itself. Kelp are rare and fascinating, but a person should take the utmost care when in contact with these creatures.
The Kelp was at one time a creature of pure fantasy, a feature of popular myths among sailors across Aloria from the Daendroque Ailor to the Qadir. These myths were ultimately confirmed to be real during the founding of the New Ceardian Colonies. Missing scout parties led to other search parties discovering and often slaying the aquatic nightmares they encountered, one of these being the Kelp. In the wake of its discovery, scholars fervently sought connections to ancient and popular tales, coming to the conclusion that the Kelp must have been known to the Sariyd Empire, who then spread the knowledge to the Elven Empire and then out to wider Aloria. Regardless of the origin of the stories, the Kelp became synonymous with danger as the Minor States along the northern coastline of Farah’deen soon reported their own sightings of the creature in their waters. To the New Ceardian Colonies and Colonial Ailor, the Kelp has grown into a figure of sin and a warning against the temptations of women for men, and for women a creature reflective of the future awaiting anyone who sells their body.
When the Maiar were eventually revealed in Hadaria, there was initially some confusion as to if the Kelp and Maerrow were simply different subraces of them. Maiar themselves have ruled out this theory, though some scholars theorize all three species are somehow related either by a common ancestor, or that the two animals which live in Essalonia had originated as Maiar who became stranded or stayed on the continent, gradually adapting into the two creatures known today. Regardless of their origins, once they were determined not to be Maiar, large-scale attempts to hunt the Kelp caused more harm than good to local people as for every Kelp finished off, ten hunters died in the attempt. In recent years, the various states that deal with the threat the Kelp possesses have removed their group hunting strategy in favor of maintaining continuous bounties on these creatures. Mages and Alchemists of great renown also have their own bulletins for body parts of the creature as their unique body-changing ability makes their body parts ripe for experimentation or use by both parties.
Kelps are generally smaller than the average Ailor, ranging in heights of 5 feet to 5 and a half feet while weighing in at around 110 to 130 pounds. Their bodies are often covered in sea weeds and aquatic plants which they use to tactfully obscure their hideous bodies and faces. Their eyes have black sclera with often yellow or bright blue irises. Small dents exist in their heads where ears should be and their mouths are filled with sharpened teeth that often stick out of their lipless mouths. Their bodies are frail and often warped in spots, with spotty fins dotting their bodies and barely visible gills in their necks. Their scales are a brown-green color and they have webbed armpits as well as thin, webbed, clawed hands. Their bodies appear to be a humanoid feminine shape with a scaled tail that meets in muted flukes at the tip. Barely any of this is seen however, due to the plantlife veiling their bodies.
The most notable trait of the Kelp is the special part of its brain found at the front of the skull, otherwise known as the “Magic Cell”. The “Magic Cell” is believed to be the cause of their natural magical ability. It is exceptionally rare to find intact and is said to be incredibly useful in alchemy, though only affluent scholars and Nobility could even hope to afford it, due to the few intact Magic Cells that exist in Aloria. Another notable feature of the Kelp is its scales, as items adorned with these scales tend to act as efficient amplifiers of the abilities of mental-based magics. However, the elusiveness of the creatures makes the extraction of scales fairly difficult. One Kelp scale alone can sell for almost a thousand Regals, mainly due to the rarity of the animal’s parts on the open or even private market. Another fact to note is that their bodies go through extreme deterioration upon death. Extraction of the valued parts of their bodies is hard unless the proper preservation or harvesting equipment has been brought with the hunter.
The Kelp all look generally the same in their natural form, with their scales ranging from mud browns to dark greys. There is also no exterior distinction between female or male as all appear to be humanoid females in their natural form. However, analysis of corpses collected in recent years shows that males do indeed exist but simply appear effeminate.
Life Span and Development
The Kelp is a strange creature as its breeding habits have yet to be observed, but it seems likely that the Kelp lays a kind of egg in small batches amongst leafy foliage and the murky waters that surround their homes. Those in Farah’deen tend to lay eggs deep in their sea cave homes. Over several months, the eggs develop at a steady pace, despite only one or two surviving to hatching. Following this, they immediately begin to learn from their parents. They are taught the species’ unique racial skill mere days after they are born, and it has been observed that the individual traits of the parents are imprinted onto the offspring. They mature rapidly, reaching their full diminutive size four years after hatching and can live for around 40 years. They are only fertile once in their life and after that, they exist only to care for the young and to teach them how to survive, not abandoning them until their death.
The Kelp lack sophisticated mental faculties due to the existence of the unique “Magic Cell” in their heads. This has given less room for their brains to develop as sentient races might, and so they cannot perform complex thoughts. This is somewhat contradicted by their major trait, that if they are disturbed by a sentient race, they will enchant themselves to appear as beautiful females of that race and try to fool the intruder by imitating Common. When their victim is sufficiently lulled, the Kelp drags them underwater and drowns them with the help of others in the group. This is, however, a rare form of hunting and additionally may just be a reflect rather than a conscious tactic employed by the Kelp. To eat normally, Kelp hang motionless for sometimes hours at a time in underwater flora to draw fish in and then eat them. All of this they teach to their offspring, who then carry on the same techniques and strategies of their parents.
Territory and Grouping
The Kelp principally live in Essalonia though some have recently been found along Farah’deen’s northern coastline. They often live in small groups of eight to twelve in shallow bodies of water and swamps in Essalonia while in Farah’deen they can be found in grottos and underwater caves that dot the coastline of that area. These groupings are tightly knit, with two or three couples and their children making up the unit. The rare times when two groups interact, they act cautiously at first yet soon this fades away to general friendliness. There is noted tension in some units when mating season begins, but based on observations made by scholars and hunters, this fades rather quickly.
- Kelps are able to speak convincingly in Common when disguised by their magic. However, what Kelps that have been caught undisguised only communicated in an incomprehensible, guttural fashion.
- Some have compared the Kelp to the Slizzar, especially following the Chrysant War to further vilify that race.
- The Kelp and Maerrow curiously get along as the two major aquatic predators of Essalonia, not competing with the other and instead feeding off of whatever meals each leave.