|Official Name||Fairfin Fish|
|Common Nicknames||Ithanian Blue, Eau-Revoir Fish, Mossback, Redtip Corsair|
The Fairfin Fish is a ray-finned species of fish commonly found in freshwater and saltwater bodies of water throughout Daen. Though they share a long and winding history with the various Nelfin populations there; believed by some to have even predated the Allorn occupation in the region; their modern notoriety is attributed entirely to how widely available they are as a native food source. The Fairfin Fish is found across the Ithanian Sovereignty and the modern Allorn Empire, effectively encompassing all of Daen. Regardless of where they’re found, Fairfin Fish are easily recognized; and highly sought after; for the quick, easy game they provide.
The earliest mentions of the Fairfin Fish date back to the Awakening period in Altalar history, where records tell of Allorn spearfishers feeding whole settlements off the backs of gargantuan schools of fish which crawled the rivers throughout Heëlya. While doubtlessly embellished, modern scholars believe these accounts refer to immense schools of Fairfin Fish and argue that Hyarroc must have been their breeding ground since antiquity. Since then the Fairfin Fish, with their depiction changing over time, has appeared consistently throughout Altalar records and Ailor folklore in the region. References to efficient Fairfin-based cuisine have been preserved from the Grandening to feed the booming Altalar metropolises. In scholarly papers, ancient Nelfin historians make light of the species’s near unchanging nature even throughout the Cataclysm, writing that, despite the fall of their civilization, the Fairfin continued to thrive nearly unscathed, if not growing in population from the decrease in hunters. There exist spearfishing techniques unique to the Ailor that its practitioners claim have been passed down since their days of slavery in the region, indicating that the Ailor of Daendroc have been subsisting off the Fairfin Fish long before obtaining their independence. This undeniable longevity has made the fish a symbol of endurance and perseverance across Daen.
Today, the descendants of those first Allorn settlers continue to live alongside the Fairfin Fish. Many Fin’ullen make their living off fishing, which is extremely popular among the Altalar due to the Fairfin’s mild taste and many culinary applications. Meanwhile, in Daendroc, the Fairfin Fish has earned the moniker “Fish of a Thousand Plates,” for its integral role in the foundation of many of the first Ailor communities in the region. Even to this day, the Fairfin is venerated for the bountiful feasts it brings during its migration in the fall when crops are less plentiful and finding stable sources of food becomes a challenge.
While its practical uses are many, its presence in folklore is especially prominent between both the Nelfin and Ailor. The Avanthar across the plains of western Daen view the hardy Fairfin there as an example of nature’s strength, as the fish in that region are often seen leaping up turbulent crags and swimming against the current of raging waterfalls. In the more peaceful waters around Teled Methen the Cielothar hold deep-seated respect for the hordes of Fairfin Fish which swim there, often likening the tightly knit schools to their own communities. This comparison becomes especially grim in the case of separation, as the Fairfin in that area possess no defense mechanisms of their own, and are easily devoured by predators when straying from the group.
Recent conflicts across the continent, such as the Ranger Crisis and Altalar-Regalian War, have seen dramatic changes for the Fairfin populations. Hunted in excess in order to feed Regalian and Altalar infantry stationed there, it is believed several subspecies experienced sharp drops in population. This was somewhat remedied following the Bone Horror Crisis, as the major depopulation in Teled Methen (and to a lesser extent Ithania) meant fewer mouths to feed, and subsequently less of a demand for the fish. The most marked and most recent drop in Fairfin populations was observed during the Dread War, as nesting grounds throughout Teled Methen were disturbed or destroyed by invading Kathar forces.
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 Hyarroc. Their scales molt throughout their life, turning from a putrid black to a more palatable green starting along the spine, which earned them their name. While being arguably the most disgusting to eat, their uncharacteristically aggressive nature, massive size, and repulsive appearance have endeared them to the Avanthar in the region. Children of the Avant have been known to throw each other into rivers to be “eaten by the Mossbacks”, and the more rambunctious will even dive in to wrestle with the creatures.
- Redtip Fairfin: Native to the Ashal Isles, 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, Metheriallei Fairfin, or “Children of Teled Methen”, are a particularly peculiar breed of Fairfin that become increasingly more common closer to Ves Ivaëlle. What makes them so unique among other fish in the area is a natural bioluminescence, which becomes most prominent at night. Traveling schools of Metheriallei 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 of the city believe it to be a gift from Estel as a lighthouse to guide home the Altalar displaced during the Wildering.
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 in Hyarroc, and some residents of Teled Methen 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 untameable, while the Ithanian Blue Fairfin and Teled Fairfin are peaceful to the point of nesting in city sluices and even being kept as pets by eccentrics who laud them for their unique qualities.
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 summer, while 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.
- Fin’ullen sailors who frequent the ports of Teled Methen sometimes joke that they feel a sense of kinship with the Fairfin Fish, as they both are incapable of being intimate at sea.
- Fishermen in Daendroc are often criticized for their excess in superstition. It has become something of a frequent occurrence during major global events for fishers in the region to speculate that the turmoil will have a profound effect on the Fairfin population.
- Redtip Fairfin, despite their nomadic life cycles, are incredibly loyal to their schools. There have been examples throughout history of the fish traveling as far as Teled Varren searching for lost members of their fleet.