The Jakécha is a remarkable fish that solely inhabits the north-western area of the Bright Sea. It is silver in colour, thus naming where it lives. Its flesh possesses the ability to heighten and improve the sense of people for a short amount of time. The Cholians depend on this fish for their livelihood. It is traded as a salted packet form called mahra, which can last for up to two years before deteriorating.
|Image description. A Cholian fishing woman proudly presenting a Jakécha fish. Illustration by Faugar.
Appearance. The fish is not remarkable in its appearance, despite the fantastical properties the flesh holds. It is silver in colour, the sunlight reflecting off of the scales is what ultimately named the Bright Sea. The upper and lower fins are rather long when fully extended upwards and downwards, rather like a fan in effect, although Jakécha often swim with them closed, giving them greater speed in the water. The tail and side fins are not so long, and do not extend like the others. The scales on the tail tend to be a creamy silver, different to the colour of the body. The eye of this fish is rather menacing - it has a reddish tinge to it, giving anyone who looks directly at it a somewhat uneasy feeling, although the Cholians are well used to the effect by now.
The flesh is a soft pink colour in older fish, and a dark red in the younger ones. It turns white upon cooking and preserving to form the mahra.
Adult fish have been know to weigh up to two or three hebs when fully-grown and mature, and be around two and a half fores to a ped. When born however they weigh no more than an od, and measure about a palmspan.
Special Abilities. The Jakécha - when living - has no abilities worth noting, save for the degree of intelligence that adult fish seem to have, in that they never swim into fishing nets. However, the flesh of this fish has a remarkable ability. It is able to heighten the senses for a short while, the time depending upon the amount eaten. These heightened senses are outlined below:
Eyesight perceives colours differently, the person is able to see a wider range, and also further into the distance. This does mean that bright colours tend to cause headaches to a person who is being affected by Jakécha flesh however.
Hearing is dramatically improved, although loud sounds can be unbearable.
Smell is heightened, often a person under the influence of Jakécha is able to recognise a person simply by their own odour.
Taste is immense. Everything eaten seems different; food previously considered bland comes alive within the mouth.
Touch is altogether more sensual – often newlyweds will partake of Jakécha on their wedding night for an unforgettable experience.
Not only that, a small amount will fill the person, as if they had eaten a whole meal. The effects wear off after four to eight hours, unless the flesh is constantly consumed (as is done by the Cholians). Constant consummation means that the effects do not wear off for some time, and when they begin to it causes terrible side effects, such as blurred vision and stomach cramps, to name but a few.
Territory. The Jakécha inhabit solely the north-western area of the Bright Sea, which is located in the continent of Aeruillin. Searches have been conducted in other areas, however, none have ever been found. The reasons for this exclusivity are unknown. Theories however include that there may be something in the water in the area they inhabit that is vital for their survival, or perhaps something draws them there. One that is more widely regarded as being correct however, is that Jurinper, a broad leafed sea plant that is brown in colour, is found only in this area of the Bright Sea. Perhaps something within this plant is essential for Jakécha growth, as so, limits their territory.
Habitat/Behaviour. The small, baby fish tend to stay together in large shoals, this is theorised to be an instinctive means of protection. The larger, adult fish tend to live alone. A degree of intelligence has been noted in the older fish – they are never caught in the nets into which the younger ones so easily swim.
The adults are not territorial or protective of their own space - they would ignore another adult should one swim by. This does change should the fish want to mate, in which case it is avoided by all, except possible partners.
Diet. The divers of the Cholians believe that the Jakécha eat small plants that line the bottom of the Bright Sea. Example of these plants are the common korama, which could be described as a “sea grass” as it resembles exactly grass upon the land, also Jurinper, a broad leafed sea plant which is brown in colour. Others have said however that they have seen the fish gliding along in the waters with their mouths open, absorbing tiny particles that float within the Bright Sea. It is thought that both these methods are ways in which this fish eats. It is certainly not predatory though, due to the fact that the few teeth it possesses are blunt.
Mating. One unusual thing about this fish is that they mate all year round, meaning that there are always plenty of them to catch. Mating within this species also produces many eggs, again meaning that they can be constantly fished for without worrying if they are overfishing and consequently depleting the population far too much.
Mating is the only time Jakécha become aggressive and ill tempered. A female fish that wishes to mate displays no obvious signs (such as a change in colour or shape), however it is easy to tell, because other adult fish will avoid it. Some Cholians have theorised that the fish gives a warning to others to stay away during mating by excreting some sort of substance into the water. Should this warning be ignored however, then often the offending fish will be chased until it either outruns the aggressor, or damage is done to its fins using the blunt teeth Jakécha possess.
Males are ready to mate at anytime a female is ready, and so, upon seeing a female wishing to do so, must put into motion a rather complex set of events as many Cholian divers have described.
The male fully extendeds his upper and lower fins, facing the female. She copies him. This is the initial acceptance. Sometimes the female will not copy the male, perhaps seeing him as far too weak and feeble to mate with, and chase him unrelentingly, until he is caught. She will then take great delight in the destruction of the poor male's fins.
However, should he be accepted, then the male is still not safe from the female's wrath. A strange "fin dance" is then performed, where the female leads, the upper, lower and side fins are used. They are opened, closed, moved around, the male must mirror every move exactly, or he will have to swim very fast! When the female is satisfied, she will turn away from the male. This is the signal that mating may take place - however, the male must be quick, for the time allowed by the female, is only a matter of seconds, or she will chase him away. This is often repeated several times with different males, finally, when the female is satisfied, she will lay hundreds, perhaps thousands of eggs within natural ledges upon the sea bed.
Usages. The staple diet of the Cholians is this fish. It is also preserved into the salted packet form called mahra, and traded in Shan’Zarathan for great amounts of money. Often it is used in social gatherings by the rich, who can afford it, or by those who have saved their sans for an unforgettable experience.
Myth/Lore. The Cholians, whose livelihood and way of living depend on this fish, believe that Nakashi, the Aeoliran Goddess of Light sent Jakécha, as one of her gifts to the world. They believe that through the consumption of the flesh, they are closer to the Goddess. Over the years their own myth on how Nakashi came to create these marvellous creatures has arisen.
It is said that when the Gods still roamed the world freely, Nakashi came across some strange, silvery fish. She was entranced by them, for their colour made the water they inhabited seem to glow and shine. She felt that it was a shame that the magnificent creatures would simply be eaten with no consequence to whoever eventually settled here. So, she gave their flesh special abilities, so that whoever ate of the Jakécha would always be affected by it, and reminded of their true uniqueness.
Researchers. The Cholians are fiercely protective of what they see as “their treasure” and have never allowed anyone who is not a member of their tribe near the fish. The information we know of the Jakécha has been supplied by the Cholians themselves. People have tried to determine information from the mahra (packets of salted, preserved Jakécha) but found it impossible to do so.
Information provided by Artemis