Dolpholk (singular "Dolphune") are warm-blooded, semi-sentient sea creatures. Researchers are only now beginning to investigate this species further because of their close relationship with merpeople. The other names known for them are “Ffeechuvo” (Mermish), “AnjorWie” (Thergerim, transliterated as ‘fish-thing’!) and the lyrical elven “Thymie’ll’so” (Styrásh Thymie’ll’so, with discernable roots to ‘sea’, ‘jewel’, and ‘song’...)
Image Description: A typical Santharian Dolphune. Picture drawn and © by Ray Troll 1999 - all rights reserved. Used with friendly permission.
Appearance. An average Dolphune is about two and a half peds in length, although the females can reach four peds in old age. It has a tapered, cylindrical body covered with slick, rubbery skin. Powerful front fins and a tail equipped with three symmetrical flukes allow it to cut through ocean waters at a speed of up to 60 strals an hour. The spinefin which runs along its dorsal surface is often irregularly serrated; some sailors claim to be able to identify individual dolpholk by a combination of colour, behaviour, and the spinefin’s pattern. In colour the dolpholk are quite varied, ranging from a deep purple through navy to a dark grey, all with a metallic sheen and a lighter underbelly in the same shades.
Their heads are uniquely shaped, not at all like the undercut triangle of a
large fish’s head; instead, they resemble a stubby
R’unorian brandy bottle on its side, with the short bottleneck forming the
muzzle and jaw of the dolphune, and the swell of the bottle’s belly becoming the
bulging brow of the beast. The jawline is so configured as to resemble a
permanent smile, the animal having a friendly and appealing aspect thereby. Set
in the bulge of the head is a small puckered aperture, through which the
Dolphune breathes just as land animals do. Their lungs must be much larger,
however, for they are able to remain submerged for a surprisingly long time.
This same aperture is also capable of producing whistles, high-pitched tones,
and mouse-like noises, which sailors call ‘Dolphune tunes’, joking that the
beast is attempting to communicate.
Special Abilities. None currently known. They are able to swim very quickly and are often found in the vicinity of merfolk pods. Their music intrigues some coastal bards who are experimenting with the sounds, but the theory that the beasts are speaking is still under debate by scholars and mages. However, it is accepted that they are at least semi-sentient, perhaps almost the equal of merfolk.
Territory. The Dolphune can be found throughout the oceans, but seems to prefer the warmer coastal waters.
Habitat/Behaviour. Dolpholk prefer the company of other Dolpholk, as well as the merpeople and whales. They often sun themselves near the surface, and seem to enjoy leaping from the water in artistic gyrations. They appear playful and friendly towards humans who are in the water without anything artificial about them, but tanned leather, magical items, and especially metal (perhaps the bright glint, or the smell of it carried through the brine?) sends them hurtling off with their powerful back flukes thrusting at top speed. They seem to hunt in company, as observed above, and involve even the smallest or oldest members of their pod in games, feeding pools, and their whistling ‘Dolphune tunes’.
Diet. The Dolphune is strictly a fish-eater; though its double row of tiny triangular teeth look intimidating behind its fixed smile, they are perfect for catching, holding, and descaling its prey with a few quick motions of the jaw. Dolpholk seem to work together to ‘herd’ shoals of fish into the centre of a Dolphune pod or into a dead-end rock crevasse, and this cooperative behaviour also intrigues researchers. The beasts are often caught in fishermen’s nets, and because of the damage they do to the net, as well as the fact that they are co-competitors for the fish, they are not well-loved by fishermen. Some manage to escape over the top of the net when near the surface, but others are captured and regarded as fair game; indeed, as a delicacy, though they are not usually hunted as food. The flesh is said to be rich and oily with a pronounced flavour of salt.
Mating. Dolpholk have not been observed mating; however, it is theorized that they reproduce as do other sea creatures. Births have been seen, and the young are born singly and able to swim immediately.
Myth/Lore. Dolpholk are creatures of Baveras, Siffin’s attendants, mermaids’ husbands, the spirits of drowned sailors... - take your pick! There are as many stories as there are coastal taverns and old tars sitting by the fire to tell them!
Information provided by Bard Judith