|Common Nicknames||Ātl, Anemone-men, Octoheads|
The Moloq are a form of aquatic life native to the waters that lie between Westafar and wider Aloria, being known to the Eronidas, Teledden, Fin'ullen and later Maquixtl as unique creatures of the water. Semi-aquatic and just as likely to be found on land as within the waves, the Moloq have greatly evolved as a society in recent centuries to have greater order and unity than they did in the past. With thick tendrils from their head which serve as the basis for a Maquixtl transformation, and a quartet of arms, the Moloq are impressive creatures who have often been overlooked in the newer centuries of Alorian history, a situation ultimately to their benefit as they continue to multiply and grow as a near-sentient species.
The Moloq have been a feature of western oceans for centuries, dating back to the earliest explorations of the area by the Allorn Empire. Led by Fin'ullen explorers, the waters of the west were charted in depth, possibly even reaching the shores of distant Guldar, where the Eronidas and Avarr of old had their own relations with the Moloq. While fragmentary, Eronidas tales often speak of the Moloq abducting children from the water, and refer to them in bestial terms. The Fin'ullen depictions of the Moloq are similar, though as the centuries wore on, these terms changed among the maritime Nelfin. Some believe that it was through the Fin'ullen that the Moloq's more savage spirit was tamed. Records recently dredged up from the depths of an late Allorn-era archive in Ithania speak of the Moloq in these more moderate terms, and how they inhabited areas of Fendarfelle where, while resisting enslavement, did offer captives, or gifts, of members of their species for the Allorn to take and leave them be. Following the Cataclysm, the Moloq continued to evolve as a society, gaining a sophistication they previously lacked. While nothing of the level of Aloria's Races, Moloq Consortiums, equal perhaps to tribal groups, dot the Fendarfelle coastline, a dozen minor islands across the western oceans and apparently, along the coastline of Guldar. The Moloq have largely been forgotten by Aloria’s Races, the only strong ties being to the Eronidas and Maquixtl, who have a transformation in emulation of their lesser neighbors.
The Moloq form is generally humanoid, but possesses aquatic features distinct from the other forms of near-sentient life, or mythological creatures, many think of when it comes to the ocean. Moloq are long-limbed, resulting in a body height that hovers near seven feet tall, or long, depending on how they are viewed. The head has their most distinct features, centered in a flat, nose-looking construct whose true purpose is unclear. Their brow is heavy, to the point of the flat nose-like feature slightly covering the corners of the eyes in its expanse up into the animal’s bare forehead. These eyes are notable for their strange construction, with a black pupil, a ring of white around the pupil, a pale blue to electric blue iris capable of glowing at night and in the depths of the ocean, ending in a gray or black sclera. The “nose” has “nasal passages” in the form of two black dots with a curved line that run in a curl back into the skin and under the eyes along the start of the cheeks. A Moloq’s mouth is generally small, featuring a range of grinding and tearing teeth, similar to most of Aloria’s Races and represents the beings varied diet. Moloq ears are not conventional either, instead being a pair of simple protrusions united to the same plate-like structure from the creature’s nose and forehead, with a fleshy lobe. However, a trio of small bumps behind this structure is their actual hearing mechanism. The final feature of their heads is the thick mess of smooth, pointed tendrils which cover the head. They grow like hair, appearing fewer in juveniles and as many as ten on an adult Moloq. They also have varying lengths, from one to three feet, though only one will grow to the longest length while the rest remain middling to short. Some think these tendrils are an extension of the Moloq’s brain, or are used to store food for harsh times, while others believe they are a way for the animal to retain body heat, though there has been no conclusive evidence in any direction.
The Moloq have a sturdy neck that connects their head to a humanoid torso, though this has its own features. The most notable are the location of the animal’s gills, being positioned as a series of narrow, pale slits around the neck area over what Ailor might call the clavicle or collarbone, on the upper back close to the neck, and then two large curved slits along the front of the neck itself. Their arms are not typical for a humanoid, as they possess two sets, one larger, bulkier and granting even the female members of their species a broad torso frame, while the second set are smaller, and located halfway down the chest. The hands of the primary manus have five digits with two prominent claws, though the other fingers are less built, while the second set of arms only has hands with four fingers each, spread over a smaller palm. Moloq backsides are smooth, and ultimately, the form soon passes into a pair of well built legs. These legs are humanoid, and are home to a pair of “sensor strips” which are narrow, semi-luminescent barbs that grow out from the sides of the calf and curve back. Their thighs are also home to a small pair of thin fin-like protrusions which help them adjust in the water, but are generally closed while on land. Their feet are broad, with small toenails on five toes each, and are known to lock together into a sideways position, and flap like a caudal fin underwater to aid in locomotion. Moloq colorations along their smooth skin are varying, from dark blues, greens and reddish-browns to paler shades of blue and green. They also have patterning along their skin, a trio of stripes along the shoulders of their upper arms, a series of lines along their lower back that wraps forward onto their torso, and then further striping along their legs. These often take on a contrasting tone to the surrounding skin, for example, a dark green Moloq will have stripes a paler tone than the skin around it. The rarest Moloq coloration though, is black, and these beings often dominate the Consortium of their birth.
The Moloq have a high degree of diversity, not just in their color scheme, but also within their species. The Moloq can generally be divided into four groups, the Guldar Consortiums, the Far Fendarfelle Consortiums, the Near Fendarfelle Consortiums, and the Cross Waters Consortiums. These clusters of tribal societies each have their own characteristics, supposedly, but divisions also exist within the Moloq regarding gender. While the normal dichotomy of male and female exist, in about equal numbers of 45% respectively, a solid 10% of the Moloq population is a third gender, called Zhar. Zhar Moloq possess characteristics of both male and females, and seem to serve advising roles within Moloq Consortiums, apart but integral. Zhar are also never hunters, with harm done against them repaid in extremes by other Moloq. The genders are sometimes hard to tell apart, since all Moloq have a broad physique and generally good musculature. However, females are known to have narrower heads, and less pronounced hand-claws, along with often being shorter than males, while Zhar are told apart by their lack of stripes on their upper arms, the markings instead being on their lower limbs, and their tendrils always being short, only a foot in length, with a single long, central tendril sitting and sometimes clearing the rest by an inch or two, three feet.
Life Span and Development
Moloq are matured much like sharks, though also have a blend of some other characteristics. They emerge within small, thick-skinned orange-red eggs within their bearer which can reach the size of a fist, and can number as many as four. After several months of carrying these young, the Moloq parent carrying the offspring will eject the eggs into the open water before they are then nestled in and around a local shoreline, the eggs fully clouding over and the being within entering a period of dormancy. Over the course of another month, these eggs triple in size, their membranes straining and growing pale until, with a burst of fluids, Moloq babies emerge. They know instinctively who spawned them, but focus first on eating what remains of their egg, before proceeding to that parent. Within the hour, they take their first breaths of oxygen, and rarely return to the water except for play for the next few months. At the period of six months, Moloq young become juveniles, and begin to swim more frequently, being taught to hunt and more by their parents. Their juvenile state lasts for five years, at which point they have reached their adult size and appearance. Moloq are then capable of living for between thirty and fifty years, that range being a result of many factors.
The Moloq have a wide assortment of observed behaviors and activities that demonstrate their social bonds and above-average intellect. The main activity they have been observed to engage in is called Drifting. Often taking place in mid-depth waters, but known to move into deep or shallow waters, this activity is often engaged in the heat of summer and sees a group of Moloq, anywhere from three to thirty, laying back on the surface of the water and linking their upper arms to those around them, forming a large circle. Their tendrils will all slowly drift upward to fan around a Moloq’s head, and knitting into those on either side of them. What purpose this act serves is a mystery, with the most commonly accepted explanation being it is an activity of social relaxation, and familial bonding, as children will often lay between the parents that spawned them, or siblings will lay next to each other, at least in the larger groups. Smaller clusters appear to be made up of friend groups. However, others suggest the activity is an effort to sun themselves in a way that keeps them wet, yet still feeling the heat of the sun, avoiding drying out entirely as might happen if they attempted this activity on land. It is also noted that they are very vulnerable in this position, all of them having their backs to the waters below them where any number of predators might surge up. However, the sensors on the Moloq legs are believed to be their defense against such attacks, alongside the sensory skills of their tendrils, allowing targets of such attacks to roll or dart away, the rest of the group following flawlessly to avoid the threat as well.
This brings up the topic of Moloq combat, and indeed, their warfare. Old records make claims to warfare between Consortiums for the capture of members of society, of supplies or of the Consort Objects important to each Consortium. Such conflicts have died down in recent decades as the Moloq say that the Zhar forbayed the killing of other Moloq from the same Consortium clusters and later, all Consortiums, around the year 50 AC. This unity has only increased since 304 AC when the rise of Bone Horrors in the oceans presented a real threat that all Moloq were able to fend back. The Moloq are now largely peaceful, but maintain a tradition of hunters and self defense. While they do not rip and tear with their teeth in combat, they instead first aim to snatch, scratch or claw at a target to wound or secure them, before going in to bite or worse, headbutt them. The reason this is worse is because the plate along their forehead is very durable, and teeth have been known to be knocked out when it connects with even an Eronidas head. Moloq weaponry, when it is used, is often heavily based on thrusting such as with spears and tridents. They commonly hunt cephalopods and large fish, though smaller catches are pursued in a diving group of hunters, often using a net to help them get as many of these smaller creatures. However, they are not exclusively carnivorous, as they are known to enjoy certain sea grasses or the produce of the land.
Other Moloq traits include their vocalizations, enough to equate to a language, and their use of tools and techniques to dry and eat caught fish on the shoreline and shore-edge which are claimed in a Consortium’s territory. One of the odder tools they have is known as a tendril comb. Often made from fish bone, and the more valued pieces from some form of shell or unique stone, these hand-held tools are often run down the length of a Moloq tendril by another member of their species in an intimate exchange of body care. Whether it is some sort of massage tool, or something clearing away a debris or coating that is not easily seen is not known. Finally, there is Moloq clothing. While often naked (which reveals nothing anyway), Moloq will don what is somewhat mockingly but also quite accurately called a drapery when on land meeting with Aloria’s Races. A piece of cloth, plant-based weave or “fabric” is rested along the lower half of their bodies, covering the groin area and looping between the legs to the animal’s back. The fabric itself attaches to a simple circular anchor-point, often a carved bone, that rests on the torso’s midpoint, while two cords go up, over the shoulders, and attach to the ends of the fabric which is between their legs. The style leaves their legs and both sets of arms on full display, while also emphasizing their upper body muscles, and legs.
Territory and Groupings
Moloq exist in Consortiums, a term extrapolated from Allorn-era translations for what they called their tribal groups. These Consortiums can be small or vast, numbering anywhere from two to three family units, around a dozen people, to two to three hundred members. These larger numbers are more common in the Near Fendarfelle Consortiums, those located along the southeastern coast of the continent very close to the Ithanian colonies in the area, and those from Guldar, the Guldar Consortiums. These two areas are also the most organized, and the most like little kingdoms, with a Mol-Luggan or “chieftain” in charge. This individual is often male, and a capable hunter as well, as Moloq kingship is not hereditary and is instead “elected” in the sense that each time a Mol-Luggan dies, several males will compete for the support of the Zhar population and the majority of the Consortium. If an impasse is reached, those involved will duel to declare a winner.
The Moloq Consortiums of the Far Fendarfelle and Cross Waters are smaller, and less organized. This is due to local events which affected them badly over the centuries, the Cross Waters Consortiums fully pushed away from Sileria fleeing the Kathar, while the ongoing warfare in the Sundial Isles has left Moloq groups small, and more and more prone to taking to the Cross Ocean, to reside on any number of small, out of the way, islands. Another important aspect of Consortiums are the Consort Objects. Trinkets by most definitions, numbering three at any given time, are objects of importance to the Moloq Consortium that has them. Why they are important might vary, as might the nature of the objects. One object might be a rich plate or bowl scavenged from a shipwreck by the Consortium long ago, another might be a rock with a unique carving, the possibilities on what is of value is truly endless. However, when a Mol-Luggan wishes to have a different or new Object added to the pile, the four objects are all taken into the water, and swirled together. The first object to fly out of this whirlwind, created by the rapid swimming rotation of Moloq bodies working together, is no longer considered a Consort Object, and the new three, or the same three, are placed back into the special spot on land they are meant to remain.
- There are some who believe that black Moloq were introduced through a result of Void experiments during the days of the Allorn Empire that never finished. Indeed, some report that while many Moloq fled Sileria when the Kathar came there, small Consortiums were captured, enslaved, and then mutated with Magic into bestial creatures serving as underwater weapons for the Dread Empire.
- There exist theories of a relationship between the Moloq, the Maerrow, and the Kelp, all three being aquatic humanoids. Which is the oddest of the bunch is often a subject of much debate, as is the idea if one is a progenitor to the other two, or all three originate from a lost ancestor.
- A one-off tale in the Eronidas bardic canon speaks of their great leader wrestling the “King of the Moloq” into submission, ending the preying of these animals upon Eronidas young. This is likely an Eronidas effort to explain why the Moloq grew more sophisticated, or explain why they “stopped” taking and eating children, if they ever did so to begin with.