The Malkut, more commonly called the "King of Fish", the "King Fish", "Put'ine", "Chó'yph'masır" or, more colloquially (especially amongst fishermen) the "King". Endemic the coasts of Sanguia, eastern Manthria and Brendolan, the Malkut (which will be hence forth referred to as the "King Fish") is massive, and many are the grizzled fishermen boasting about their scars gained from fighting with these fish.
A fully grown King Fish averages 2 peds long, with exceptional specimens
reaching 2.2 peds, and at
least one confirmed specimen having been recorded at a massive 2.4
peds, and weigh anywhere
from 3 pygges to 6 for the
largest specimens. These great sizes are attained because the King Fish has no
definite top size. If there is abundant food, the King will eat and continue to
grow. Their scales are a beautiful blue, their fins the same color but
noticeably darker, they would be counted amongst the most beautiful of fish,
likely, if it were not for the frequent scars they gain during their long lives.
King Fish have cone shaped heads, with narrow, toothed mouths, beady black eyes and, naturally, gills. Rapidly flaring out into a much larger, stockier body, they possess pectoral fins that appear awkwardly small to terrestrial observers, and pelvic fins that seem exaggerated, but have been seen to aid the bulky fish in feats of incredibly underwater agility. Noticeably, they have three dorsal fins, which some have postulated to have developed to keep the fish's large bulk from causing them to roll over during dramatic hunting chases. Starting from about a fore behind their gills, the first sticks about 3/4 fore from its back and is deeply curved. The second, roughly in the middle of the fish, is even more deeply curved, and is about 1/2 a fore tall. The last, near the base of the tail, is much smaller, only 1/4 of a fore tall and is much straighter. On their inferior side, King Fish have a short, long and curved anal fin, which stretches for almost a ped across their underside.
They're large bodied and very bulky and muscular and covered in very thick scales that are a deep blue that sparkle spectacularly in the sun, a sight that is often remarked upon as being one of the rewards for catching these fish. Their tails are large, and, uniquely, diphyceral, resembling an axe head with a bulbous growth in the centre, and that their vertebrae extend all the way to the end of their tails. It has been postulated by many researchers and observers, that having their spine extend so far allows them to generate more power as they swim.
King Fish are considered a mundane species of fish, as they lack poison, or
massive regrowing teeth, outstanding size (though they are quite large), or any
magical enhancement. Nevertheless, they are
still counted amongst the most extraordinary of fish, perhaps more so because
they lack any special enhancement. They have shown a stupendous intelligence,
outsmarting commercial fishermen by destroying their nets and outmaneuvering
boat nets. Their scales are quite thick and serve their purpose well - spearing
a King takes either profanely precise aim, or great strength.
Also of note is the great strength and agility these fish display, which makes them among the most dangerous of catches for fishermen. Tales abound of spear fishers taking a shot at these fish, only to have it smash the boat, or for a particularly angry King to pull a fisherman into the sea after being hit. Few who are pulled into the sea with an irate King Fish live through it and those who do are usually maimed for life.
Territory. King Fish live all along the western coast of Sarvonia, ranging from the Aetryam Sea in the south, to the Sea of Tears in the north. They also roam further west in smaller numbers, and some individuals have been found farther north and south. During spawning season they can be found in great number in Eight Winds Bay or the Gulf of Maraya, depending on their normal range, to fertilize and lay their catches around the coasts of the bays.
Habitat/Behaviour. Considered a gentle giant, despite their fierce reputation and incredible strength and agility, the King Fish doesn't pose much of a threat to the average person. Indeed, during the spring, when the Kings congregate in the Gulf of Maraya, some can find smaller individuals of the species journeying into shallower water, where many a delighted children have found the large fish to be docile, although showing a rather troubling level of comfort around people. Apart from spawning season, King Fish are known to be loners, roaming from the gulf far out into the Aetryam Sea, sometimes in pairs or trios. During mating season, however, they have been observed attacking one another, but this seems to be entirely mating-related, as there have been no reports outside of the spawning season of fighting.
Despite this docility, fishermen know the terrifying ferocity and strength they possess, both attributes displayed to the fishermen who try to spear them - unless one is incredibly skilled or lucky and manages to pierce their heart on the first thrust, one must be prepared for a brutal struggle! Tough, and possessing thick plates that act as armour, the logical way to catch these beasts would be to simply use a net. Kings are just too intelligent for that. They avoid nets, and a few fishermen have found their nets simply ripped apart by an irate individual who was unfortunate enough to get caught.
Because of this, the only way to catch these fish is to spear them. An incredibly dangerous, though lucrative, proposition, many Sanguians, Manthrians and Brendolans risk it for the prestige and the money. Many young men die attempting this, though if you ever chance upon a young man from central Santharia with a necklace of deep blue scales and teeth, give this man respect.
Diet. King Fish are fish eaters. Due to their size, teeth and ferocity there are few fish that they won't eat. During their youth they often eat molluscs and smaller fish, and gradually climb up the food chain to the larger ocean going fish. Kings are also known to have developed a particular taste for dolpholk, a preference that has resulted in some truly spectacular submarine battles and chases.
Predators of the Kings include any larger meat eating fish, including sharks and, most commonly, larger Kings. However, this is not a hard and fast rule - it is entirely reasonable to assume that even sharks, occasionally, become the food for the King, though it is unlikely they actively hunt the larger fish.
Mating. Being sea dwelling creatures, the exact details of their mating rituals are unknown. What is known is that they congregate in the Gulf of Maraya or Eight Winds Bay to spawn in the spring, depending upon where they range. Those that range further north head to the Bay, while those further south head to the Gulf.
Clutches are found in egg sacks, which are fertilized during the spring and laid in shallow waters, probably reefs, where they develop and hatch. The number of eggs in each sack is estimated to be between 200 and 300, accounting for a high mortality rate for hatchlings who are only about 1/3 of a fore in size when they hatch 3 months later.
Usages. By warrant of their great mass, and therefore large quantity of meat, the primary use of the King Fish is for sustenance. A single adult fish, averaging at 4 pygges, provides a great amount of food for fishing villages, or fetch a very (very) high price at fish markets - these fish are considered to increase the strength and stamina of those who eat its flesh raw, and many a superstitious soldier will pay large sums of money for some. When caught during the spring, the eggs, which are rather large, are harvested and sold as a very expensive delicacy.
These fish are much too difficult to catch to waste, and little is allowed to waste. Scales and teeth are traditionally fastened into a necklace for whoever speared the giant - thus, should you find a man with several strings of Malkut teeth and scales, be sure to show him respect! This custom evolved independently amongst both the Avennorian and the Trk'Matiu, the only difference between the two being that the Trk'Matiu keep a single tooth from every catch and add it to a string, while the Avennorians generally make a new necklace out of several teeth and the scales for every successful catch.
Of particular interest, these fish have an organ located behind their stomach that produces a viscous, putrid looking yellowish fluid. For a long time, this fluid was considered toxic and the sack and organ producing it was discarded by fishermen during the slaughtering process. Recently, however, it has been found that this fluid is a very powerful anti-infectant. This caused a surge in demand for a few years, and a demand for larger fish with larger glands - a demand that resulted in many untimely deaths, as the larger the fish, the further out they roam and therefore, the more dangerous it is to hunt. Most scholars, judging by the frequent scars found on older members, believe that these organs release the fluid when the fish is injured and keep infection from setting in.
Myth/Lore. All the names of the fish ("Malkut", "King", "King Fish") stem from a popular and prolific Avennorian fairy tale, called "Malkut the Fish King". Detailing the story of Malkut, who is only ever identified as 'From the east', the fairy tale follows his journey to the ocean kingdom and his battle of wits and might with the king of all fish, a King Fish. Through the generations and cultural osmosis, the fairy tale spread to other provinces bordering the Gulf of Maraya and Aetryam Sea and the name of these fish gradually changed to a name taken from the story.