"If the sun and moon should ever doubt, they'd immediately go out.." ~William Blake

May 9, 2012

Critters and Creatures ~ part 3

In Lakes, Streams and the Sea

From Trolls and Kelpies in their freshwater lairs to Nixies in their streams and Merfolk and Sea Serpents in the vast ocean, water Faeries can be as fierce as the current and are often just as dangerous.

Kelpies (Family: Equidae)

A ghastly water spirit that assumes the form of a grayish black Horse, the Kelpie drowns then devours anyone who attempts to ride it.
It is often spotted wandering along the shores of rivers or lakes, appearing to be a lost Pony. It can be identified by its constantly dripping mane and by its skin, which is like a Seal's but cold to the touch.
The Kelpie can be heard wailing before a storm and can cause water to rise high enough to flood.
If you manage to brindle a Kelpie, it can be forced to do your bidding, but woe betides you should it slip its harness. (Compare to Phooka)

Merfolk (Family: Sirenidae)

Although stunningly gorgeous as they are dangerous, Merfolk live in loosely structured kingdoms deep in the sea, but occasionally their natural curiosity causes them to near the shore.
Although usually seen at night out on their jetties or even sometimes on the soft sand of the beaches, they have been spotted in daylight, resting on rocky outcroppings. They have also been found trapped in tidal pools when the sea changes.
Merfolk are at their most helpless out of water. Even though their dual-function lungs can breathe air, their silvery scales dry out with overexposure to the sun.
Although Merfolk are very beautiful, it is not safe to approach them. Land people and sea people have been at odds since earliest recorded memory. With pollution increasing and more aquatic species hunted to extinction, Merfolk are even less likely to consider a land-dweller as a potential friend.
Merfolk differ widely in coloration, sharing the distinctive characteristics of Fish of their region. Male Merfolk, known as mermen, are rare and solitary Creatures except during the mating season. They can easily be distinguished from the mermaids by their larger size.
As with any culture, Merfolk leave behind a significant amount of artifacts that can be found around their habitats. Small piles of discarded Shellfish may well be evidence of a Merperson coming ashore to dine. Sea People are unused to cooking, so there will be no sign of a fire and there may be some sharp object nearby that was used to pry the food open.
You may come upon sheets of seaweed drying along the shoreline. Merfolk weave a crude kind of fabric from it, called seaweed cloth, that is used for garments, rope and even baskets.
Merfolk tools are made from bone, discarded land glass, or the sharp teeth of Sharks, but never iron. These tools are often bound at one end with Eel skin.
You may find seashells or pieces of Coral with small holes in them. These are from necklaces Merpeople wear around their necks and sometimes loop along their tails.
The evidence of Merfolk is especially strong if the shell is not native to your beaches. Merfolk have been known to travel great distances and often lose or discard things along the way.

Nixies (Family: Naiadidae)

Guardians of freshwater pools and streams, Nixies (also called Naiads and Nixes) are bound to the body of water in which they dwell.
They are most commonly spotted alone and can be identified by the liquid continuously streaming from their hair and clothes as well as the greenish sheen of their skin. Nixies are amphibious and, unlike mermaids, they have long legs rather than a tail.
Nixies love music and dancing. Look for instruments made from reeds, especially pipes, near the banks of streams. Unlike their Merfolk cousins, they are very curious about land-dwellers. They are bound to their body of water and, much like Treefolk may only venture a little way from their trees, can only venture a short distance from their pools. Therefore, they rely on other Faeries to bring them information.
Occasionally Nixies will lure a Human into their pools, but they are usually more interested in company than in drowning their visitor. (Compare to Treefolk)

Sea Serpents  (Family: Serpentimaridae)

These scourges of the high seas are powerful and massive constrictors with flat heads, and bodies that coil around Whales and ships, crushing their ribs. Unlike land Snakes; however, Sea Serpents have many rows of long, sharp teeth. In the Deep sea, they have been reported as growing to the length of a suspension bridge and are capable of creating maelstroms with the lashing of their tails and freak waves (sometimes called rogue waves or, ironically, monster waves) by surfacing close to a boat.
In shallower water, Sea Serpents may curl up and wait for prey. After coiling around an Animal's legs, they will drag their victims out to sea. In deeper water, Sea Serpents usually swim in an undulating manner, like an Eel, but certain species swim with their bodies vertical to the surface, distinguishing themselves as much smaller Fish. This method allows them to dart up easily and swallow prey whole.
Crushed pieces of boats washed ashore are possible signs of a Sea Serpent. Look also for hooked teeth too large for a Shark, or a long shed skin in the shape of a tube.

Trolls (Family: Nocturnidae)

Trolls are afflicted with a ravenous and never-ending hunger that leads them to devour whole flocks of livestock. In particular they have a taste for Sheep, but they will eat whatever they can catch.
Trolls can survive extreme weather conditions and therefore tend to settle as far as possible from Human settlements. Nocturnal by necessity since sunlight will turn them instantly to stone, Trolls are more common to the far north, where it is dark for months at a time.
Water Trolls live primarily in or near freshwater and usually make their home in a makeshift nest of rushes and mud along the banks of a bogor deep river. Bridges are also good places to build beneath as they provide shade even in the winter months.
As soon as a Troll moves into a new lake or river, it begins evacuating stones and debris to keep the channels deep enough for it to move about easily. Greater depths allow it safety from the sun, as Trolls are able to hold their breath for hours on end.
Though they appear brutish, Trolls can communicate in the local tongue and are skilled at word games. There are reports of Trolls carrying off captives for reasons other than hunger. One northern species, Bauer's Troll, has even been recorded as deceiving Humans into believing it can live in accord with them. People would do well to recall that Trolls are malicious opportunists always on the lookout for their next meal.

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