Phyllu-eck-Fyrthara (lit. "Fire Fish") is a kind of fish with little meat, lots of spines, and even more fat, which is the reason of its name rather than its dull bronze colour since it is dried and used as a candle by the Ice Tribes and the inhabitants of the southern regions of Cyhalloi. Besides its use for light, the fat is often used in cuisine and medicine, while the little meat that can be scrapped off the bones can be used for a meager meal and the bones on its dorsal fin can be used as needless to sew leather and fur.
Ugly as a stone is a
very appropriate expression to describe this ungraceful being, with rough scales
in dull bronze colours, this fish is an expert at pretending to be a rock
amongst the rocks of the cliffs that meet the sea. Growing to roughly a couple
of palmspans in length, with
some recorded monsters reaching about half a
ped, this creature has the
face of a toad, with small dirt brown eyes and a big mouth, with a row of small
teeth-like formations, its gills are barely noticeable making it hard to tell
head from tail, which is usually somewhat compressed, making it look almost the
same than its head.
This fish isn't just ugly but armed with a set of stout dorsal fin hollowed spines, which can severely injure a careless fisher and let out a caustic mucus that sticks to the wound, causing excruciating pain on those unfortunate enough to get hurt by it. It has a pair of large pectoral fins, used to bury itself in the sand as well as correcting its direction while swimming.
The ability to endure the extremely cold water
of the Icelands and Cyhalloi is perhaps the most prominent feature of this fish,
this is achieved thanks to its large fat deposits underneath and within its
muscles. It also produces a mucus used in its attack with its dorsal spines,
which produces a terrible pain on those wounded, and which can only be removed
with hot water to dissolve it.
Territory. The southern shores of Cyhalloi continent and the northern shores of Sarvonia are the home of this fish, often found near rocky shores where it pretends to be just another rock, buried in the sand.
Habitat/Behaviour. Studying these creatures is akin to study the life of a rock, they rarely ever move once they find a suitable spot to live, mostly moving just to eat or mate. When threatened, this creature will swiftly lift its dorsal spines and harden its muscles to protect itself. Should this fail, it's unlikely it'll have a chance to run away, hence why it's so easy to capture them for someone experienced to avoid the sting of the spines.
Competition for territory is fierce among these fishes, once they reach the age, if they find an already occupied spot and they do want it for themselves, they will try to bite the lips of the current occupant, if they do happen to be stronger and aren't swallowed in the attempt, they stand a good chance at conquering the territory. Usually though, they will die in this attempt, or give up if they don't see the current occupant move with the first couple of bites.
Diet. Despite its lazy nature, the Fire Fish is a predator, an opportunistic one. Rather than stalking and attacking its prey, the Fire Fish awaits for its prey to come close, unsuspecting that the stone under it is in fact another fish. When its prey is close enough, the Fire Fish takes a big gulp of water, swallowing its prey whole, to then filter out the water through its gills and teeth-like formations, imprisoning its prey.
Its favourite preys are small crustaceans, such as crabs and shrimps, with smaller fishes and octopuses being occasionally captured and eaten.
Mating. This is perhaps the most interesting part in the life of this disgraced being, as it's of the few occasions in which it will move from its preferred spot. The male Fire Fish is smaller than the female, and when the time to mate arrives, usually when the frozen water above them begins to thaw, the male will leave its spot and look for females nearby.
The courting dance is brief, the female gets to pick which male seems stronger and bigger, and will swallow it just as if it was a prey. A day or two later, the female lays eggs in a sac, often under itself to protect them from possible predators. It's hard to estimate at what point the fishes are born, but we have the certainty that it's no sooner than two weeks.
At this point, the female will move and let free the small fishes, which will swim away swiftly to find a spot to lay, the spot where they will likely spend most, if not all their lives.
Usages. Skinned and dried, the fish makes a great substitute of a candle, a strongly scented one. With some heat and plenty of salt, the fat loses its foul odour and can be purified into an oil, which can then be used with extracts of herbs to produce medicinal unguents, frequently used for stomachache and cold. This purified oil can also be used to fry meats and seasoned with herbs can serve to accompany a variety of dishes, most commonly meats and some vegetables.
The naturally hollow stout spines are often used as needles to sew leather and fur due to its hardness. There have been attempts at using the mucus to poison darts, arrowheads and spearheads, however most of these attempts are fruitless and often end with painful injuries for both the fish and the poisoner.