|Official Name||Whale Crab|
|Common Nicknames||Giant Crab, Brachyptera|
For as long as Alorians have been sailors, they have told tales of a leviathan that could tear apart a Altalar Peth’sella in the blink of an eye. The Whale Crab is the largest known crustacean in Aloria, and it is due to this size that it has become the subject of maritime folklore. They are said to have terrorized seafarers for millennia, across Cultures and even Civilizations. The Whale Crab has been the source of much speculation, from the ordinary mariner to the trained scholar, and whether argued to be real or mythical, it will continue to haunt the seafarers of Aloria.
The first recorded rumors surrounding the Whale Crab began during the Green Hunt, between 410BC and 260BC, reported by Fin’ullen sailors. With the Faith of Estel’s significant presence during the Hunt and the Fin’ullen preference for Tal’Sieth, many of the Altalar sailors reported that they had seen signs from the Wayfarer, interpreted as warnings from their goddess to adhere to the Rules of the Waves. The superstitious among them began interpreting mishaps as bad omens; sightings of dark silhouettes beneath their ships, divers who didn’t resurface, and freak accidents were all attributed to punishments from Tal’Sieth for their negligence and failure to follow her creeds. Although later scholars would correlate these divine punishments with the behaviours of Whale Crabs, these observations were absent in the era of the Great Hunt. Other stories with similar qualities were spread in the northeastern seas of Aloria by the flourishing Proto-Velheim; scholars took particular note of these stories specifically due to their similarities, in that the Fin’ullen stories were unknown to the Velheimers and so couldn’t have influenced their tales. The tales about these leviathans in the Windward Seas started when the Proto-Velheimers began to establish a trade route on the waters. Compared to the stories of the Altalar, the Velheimers were far more descriptive about what could have been beneath the waves, with sailors and traders aboard Tallships speaking of large claws breaching the surface of the ocean. These fears were linked to auguries surrounding the Union of Water in the Old Gods faith. However, the truth behind these reports was never discovered during this age.
At the beginning of the second century AC, hundreds of years after the first wave of stories, the authenticity of all of the sailors’ hearsay would come to light. For the Whale Crab was still known as a creature of mythos, it shocked the inhabitants of a coastal town in Zixham Kingdom when a carcass of one washed up onshore. Scholars traveled to the site where this beached body was, and analyzed it further. They matched the description of its claws to the ones in the tales of the Proto-Velheim, and thus the Whale Crab was officially recognized as a real marine animal. Despite this, further research by historians and scientists found that the Whale Crab carcass was considerably smaller than their reported sizes in the older tales, confounding sailors who claimed to have encountered one. Whale Crab sightings have been considerably more common since the Chrysant War. Even if the myth behind the legend was discovered, sailors all around Aloria are still wary of traveling waters that are known to have had sightings of them.
As their namesake suggests, the Whale Crab is a crustacean that can reach immense sizes. It is still up to debate as to whether or not a Whale Crab can grow to reach the size of a whale, as no samples have been discovered of a specimen that has reached that caliber. Even then, the largest known Whale Crab was a deceased sample whose carapace spanned across 33 feet, though rumors persist that Whale Crabs can reach even greater sizes and that those found are on the smaller end of their size. The legs of these leviathans have been recorded to reach up to lengths of 57 feet. From above, the top of a Whale Crab’s carapace has a pentagonal shape. This shell is rounder on the top and flatter towards the bottom. The abdomen, or the bottom of the Whale Crab, is a lighter color than the rest of its shell, and it is considerably weaker than any other body part. The Whale Crab’s face is similarly large; eyestalks protrude from its shell by a foot, underneath which a pair of antennae extend. These antennae vary in size from specimen to specimen, but are roughly proportionate. Beneath those are the Crab’s mandibles, adapted for the intake of large amounts of foodt.
What truly makes Whale Crabs large are their ten limbs, which grow out considerably longer than its torso. The two forelimbs bear the Crab’s pincers, which are reported to have great destructive force; many Velheim stories relay how a Whale Crab could rip holes in the wooden hulls of their ship with startling ease. Each leg has several joints which let a Whale Crab move around with ample dexterity. The formation of these legs prohibits them from walking forwards or backwards, but they are fast when they move sideways. The back pair of legs of a Whale Crab have flippers that allow it to propel itself underwater. When looking at the anatomy of a Whale Crab, they are truly no different from any ordinary crab save for its upscaled size. The entire exterior of a Whale Crab is a dirty brown color, although rarely can some be found to be in dark blue hues. Even at its size, the Whale Crab has evolved to have a body that can reliably defend itself against other monstrous beasts. The entirety of its shell is covered in spines that reach as far out as three feet from its body. These spines are thick at their bases, preventing them from breaking off while the giant roams through harsh areas or during fights against other marine life. While its bulkiness prevents it from being an apex predator, the Whale Crab can be regarded as a moving fortress.
Little is known about the population of Whale Crabs as a whole. Unlike other aquatic beasts such as the Deep Sea Serpents, Mai-Allar have seen individuals and pods of Whale Crabs which they report to sailors at sea. Contact between Mai-Allar and nautical savants has produced information that female Whale Crabs do exist, but oddly enough are always seen moving alone without any other Whale Crabs surrounding them. This leads to the belief that Whale Crabs have a maternal instinct to ensure the safety of their young, as even mothers in this species are threatened by the hunger of the males; the aggressiveness of the males is further supported by their considerably larger claws. There are no known regional differences among the Whale Crabs. There has been a variation in the color of the shells among the ones that have been spotted, but due to inconsistency, there is no exact correlation with location and differences with Whale Crab physiology.
Life Span and Development
It is believed that Whale Crabs reproduce in the same manner as their smaller relatives. Although no Whale Crab has been seen with child, an inspection of the remains of deceased Whale Crabs has given scholars enough information to come to this conclusion. The existing theory stands that female Whale Crabs carry eggs underneath a tail flap, and then birth larvae within coral reefs or enclosed, underwater caverns. On account of the dangerous fauna that is believed to normally come across Whale Crabs, it’s rumored that their young are birthed at a higher sea level to give them a fighting chance. Once born, the then larvae-stage Whale Crabs feed on plankton, mollusks, and anything edible until they can molt over and over to an adult stage. The growing stages of a Whale Crab are ironically its safest, as it’s thought that they do not migrate to lower depths until they are of a stage where they can protect themselves. It is hard for scholars to dictate a Whale Crab’s lifespan as they aren’t any ordinary animal you can track for long. What is known is that the species is ferocious enough to have lived for centuries in the deep unknown of Aloria.
Any sightings of Whale Crabs have led to hostile, or superstitious encounters that remind sailors not to investigate any further. Despite their legendary status, the Whale Crab is ultimately a wild animal, and positive interactions with them are never to be expectedThrough the Mai-Allar, scholars on land have been able to learn more about the behavior of the Whale Crabs. They live up to their legend, as they will pick off any organism they believe to be a threat. What is worse, they are opportunists and will eat whatever they can to maintain their large size.The reports from Mai-Allar line up with this correctly, as even they cannot come close to them without risking their lives. Ever since the Whale Crabs were acknowledged as a real species, the numerous shipwrecks said to have fallen to large, shelled claws were drawn up to be the result of Whale Crab attacks.
Territory and Groupings
Mai-Allar are the reason those at sea know more about how Whale Crabs treat the waters they lurk in. The Mai-Allar that have gone to land have passed information down to be written, and passed over to adventures that cross areas where Whale Crabs are known to roam. So far, it is understood that Whale Crabs can form packs of up to four individuals in one grouping. Unless they are forced to move closer to the surface, they travel around deep underwater where they cannot be considered a threat to those traveling on the sea. However, anything can change at any time, so sailors are aware of the precautions they need to take to ensure that they do not encounter any Whale Crabs, let alone a group of them. As of now, sightings of Whale Crabs have been made over the majority of Aloria’s known bodies of water. The only locations without reported sightings are within the Eastern Bodies. It is unknown if all of the seas in the included bodies of water are inhabited by Whale Crabs, but all of the sailors that have passed through these routes mention the alarming presence of large, claw-like silhouettes underneath the waves.
- Due to the rise of Whale Crab sightings after the Chrysant War, many seafarers speculate about the connection between Whale Crabs and the powers of the Slizzar cults of that age. Some say that when the Deep Sea Serpents were exhausted, pockets of worshippers relied on the terrors of the Whale Crab.
- A common seafaring tradition is to keep a single crab claw on the vessel while at sea. This is believed to keep the crew safe from Whale Crabs, though evidence of this tradition working as intended is scarce.