Somewhat eerie looking and more than slightly dangerous, the Jun'era Fish found on the eastern coast of Sarvonia is quite unique. This midsized fish is very common and is one of the least unusual foods in a poor sailor's diet. Though tough to catch with bait and tackle, these rewarding fish are, as well as their eggs, well known for their easy workability, cheap cost, and good taste.
The Jun'era Fish is of a silvery grey colour for most of the year, though the
females change to a golden hue during the summer months. Especially during
Burning Heavens and
Sleeping Dreameress, the Jun'era
is often unrecognizable unless one knows of this colour change. During this
season it commonly mates, with those females with the brightest colouring in
both stripe and body in highest demand. The main body is usually a
fore give or take a few
nailsbreadths, though the
largest recorded Jun’era, caught near
Mossy Rocks Cove in the Adanian Sea, was almost a full
palmspan more than the norm!
The top fin in the midsection is very large and oddly disproportionate to the body, standing at one to two palmspans tall and quite a colourful sight. Light greens and pinks signify a male, while the golden colour of a female in the summer is found year round in the stripe standing in the middle of a her top fin. This stripe and the similar colouring of her body act as her primary tool for mating attraction.
The tail fin is translucent and enormous, running at nearly the same height as the mid section fin from one end to the other. These fins have a rather ghostly appearance. In murky or churning waters, this tail seems to fade away from the body, leaving many sailors who get a short glimpse of this fish wondering why these tails often appear to be scale-less; the bones, veins, etc. clearly visible, giving it a skeletal appearance. Upon close examination, one can notice small glands at the point where this fin connects with the rest of the body, which are used for mating.
The head is rather small, while the jaw is the widest part of the fish’s body at almost a palmspan, and sticks out noticeably from the rest of the fish. Its mouth shows an array of about seventy sharp teeth. Seventy is only a rough estimate, because the teeth of a Jun’era fall out and are replaced constantly. Each tooth has a “lifespan” so to speak, of about a month. After this time, they are lost, often embedded in a tough piece of meat or swallowed.
Besides adding a menacing touch to an otherwise beautiful fish, the large rows
of teeth are, of course, very helpful to the Jun’era. This fish has two sets of
teeth, the front row of teeth leans to the right, the second to the left, so
when eating another small fish it can grind its prey to death. As gruesome as
this might sound, from the fish’s point of view, this kills prey effectively and
without hope of escape. If the prey does manage to escape then the half-eaten
fish would be severely mangled on exit, and easy to catch and finish off.
Territory. The Jun'era is commonly found up and down the eastern coast of Sarvonia, though neither further south than the bay to the east of the Seven Jewels nor further north than the Peninsula of Glandor. Though the Haven of Sky formed by the Peninsula may be its territorial boundary, the Haven holds one of the highest Jun'era populations. Though most of the Kanapans living in the Haven have weak stomachs due to an almost entirely vegetarian diet, they are able to eat these fish as well as their eggs, if they are ground finely. Fishing for the Jun'era is also common in the triangle formed by the three separate isles in the Quios chain, as well as in Mossy Rocks Cove on the Manthrian coast. Indeed, because the Jun'era is not found near Aeruillin, when the Stormcloak Shipping Guild approached Shan'Furionis in an attempt to open up trade there, one of the first goods offered were stored Jun’era eggs and salted steaks.
Some Jun'era are also found in the Ancythrian Sea, but due to the sense of danger permeating from everything to do with the “Devil’s Sea“ they are rarely fished from these dark waters. The bizarre tail and overall ghostly appearance of the Jun’era are only enhanced by the sense of evil felt by all who sail in this sea.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Jun'era travels in scuals of anywhere from fifteen to fifty, give or take a few. The scual is always moving and usually in a tight unit formation. Most of these scuals are family based, and though sometimes families will combine, what is more common is for all children of the same parents to stick together in the same scual. A scual of these fish is indeed quite remarkable to see, especially in the parts of the year when bronze females do not disrupt the otherwise ghostly covering.
“Whenever we git new crewmen workin’ the nest, they always seem, at least once, to raise all ‘ell in the middle of the night when they see a ‘giant ghost of a whale’ coming straight at us. Well, the firs’ couple times it was a laugh, but affer awhile, it becomes a real pain. It’s a real looker though! Jus’ the other day I was runnin’ towards Nepris and a big ‘ol group of ‘em, must’ve been ‘bout sixty, came right at my port bow. O’course I knew what it was, but to see those ghostly fish gliding at you, and with tails that one can see right through! Well, I guess I can see why the men get in such a state about it!”
-- Captain Morok Jaek of Ciosa
Though the scuals will
stick together for most of each fish’s life, they are usually not team oriented.
Unless food is scarce or something very dangerous threatens the entire scual,
such as a Guorani whale, the individual members attacked
by a caéh-fish or
khendochar are forced to fight out such a battle to the death unaided. If it
fails, its death is not mourned by its fellows who will in fact ignore the
victor, allowing it to rejoice in the meal. If the single Jun'era is the victor,
the winning fish will be forced to share its kill with the entire group, who
attack the dead fish viciously. This odd occurrence is entirely at odds with the
violently protective nature of the parent Jun’era who has laid eggs.
When attempting to catch a Jun’era, fishermen should be prepared for a fight. Though not large, these fish have extraordinary strength and have broken more than one fishing pole. Net fishing is certainly the easiest way to catch these fish, but small fishermen supplying food to their families often have to wrestle for quite awhile with a violent and biting fish.
Separate scuals will rarely interact or even appear to notice each other unless the members of both are at least 10 months to a year old. At this point an unwritten agreement between the scuals states that the fish within each will mate.
Diet. The Jun’era has a varied diet consisting of some of the smallest and largest sea creatures. Though careful to avoid them when they travel in groups, a single lazhbug poses a lesser threat to a Jun’era, and are a main part of this fish’s diet. This sharp-toothed fish will also go after the larger bonehead and, if traveling in a larger scual, will even attack a whale if food is scarce.
Mating. When two scuals mate, each fish intermingles and eventually pairs off with a fish of the opposite gender, from the other scual. All of the males are in pursuit of those females with the most vivid body colouring and stripe. Nevertheless, these females have the option of rejecting any male that comes to them, by simply swimming away. Acceptance, on the other hand, is shown by a brush of the tail fin against the male's side. After all the fish have paired off, the group separates again so that the males in each pair return to their original scual, with their female counterpart in tow. These new mating groups now separate to find a nesting spot. Any gender imbalance or other excess members of the original scual go with the mating group with the males of their original scual. The entire process rarely takes more than fifteen minutes.
A nesting spot for these large groups consists of a sandy seabed, usually near a reef of some kind for easy access to food and comfortable spots offering protection. While the large mating groups search for such a spot, the mating pairs begin the process of creating new life. The male and the female press the glands near the edge of their tail fins together, and swim as one body until a suitable spot nesting is found. It is believed that this prepares the eggs to be laid, though it doesn’t actually fertilize them. Upon reaching such a spot, the group separates, though they all still stay in the same general area. Each pair finds a suitable nesting spot and begins digging a small inlet in the sand for the eggs. At this point the eggs inside the female’s womb have yet to be fertilized, and a curious behaviour occurs. For no obvious reason at all, the male of the pair begins beating on the female. Physically, he hits her, runs into her, and generally roughs her up pretty badly. Upon inspection, one can see that this violence actually knocks the eighty or so eggs out of her gland, so that they land safely on the sandy bottom. After the eggs have all been “laid” the male swims above them, releasing pale foam from his gland that will settle on top of the eggs and fertilize them. Only about half of the baby fish will actually be born, though all the eggs and the entire nesting area is defended fiercely during the few days it takes for the eggs to mature. The newborn fish mature rather quickly, and only a few days later the mating group separates and offspring of the same parents form the new scuals. Though the parents may be with the scual made up of their children for almost a week or two, they soon die.
Usages. Cut into steaks and fillets the fish can be boned and salted quickly cooked by fire or by grilling and then peppered with herbs and spices for a popular dish to eat. Its fish eggs known as Jun'nava are also stored and eaten as a side dish or spread on bread or water crackers or even meat to season it or add flavour. These are best harvested in the later stages of development when largest. The harvester must be very careful to ensure that he does not lose a few fingers or even a limb to the dangerous teeth of the parents. A tooth embedded in one’s skin is quick to become infected. As mentioned above, the Jun’era is rather common and found extensively in the average Avennorian fisherman’s diet. Both the eggs and the steaks are a trade product of the Stormcloaks Guild who, having perhaps the largest supply and easiest access to them, commonly sell them cured to many of their trading ports.
Myth/Lore. While no true “legends” have been derived from the ghostly appearance of this fighting fish, the difficulty in catching one has inspired the saying, “to wriggle like a Jun’era,” meaning to work very hard to achieve a goal. Besides this, Ducras the shipbuilder is well known for naming his ship the “The Golden Jun’era”. A famous inn along Jamliso's Bend is also named thus.