The Lysh Pike (pl. Lyshae) is a large, voracious fresh-water fish found in most rivers and lakes on the Sarvonian continent. It is not known to be located elsewhere on Caelereth. There are three main varieties known - the Garpike, or Northern Lysh, the Southern Lysh, and the Red Lysh (or Swamp Lysh).
Lyshae are very long, almost eel-like fish. They are not particularly
attractive, being a dark, dull, grey-green in colour, and patterned with
irregular lighter herne green
splotches across their backs and sides. Their bellies are a pale
urmarillion yellow colour.
Their bodies are very lean and streamlined, allowing them to move extremely
fast. The lower jaw protrudes slightly past the upper, which angles downward to
a narrow point. Like sharks, Lyshae have several rows of long sharp teeth, the
longest outer set being close to a
nailsbreadth in length. The
teeth angle sharply backwards, making it harder for prey to escape once caught.
Lyshae have five fins; two ventral that are close to the gills, one ventral in the center or the belly, one ventral close to the tail and one dorsal, also close to the tail. The fins and tail are a yellow green, darker than the belly but lighter than the splotches over the back. The fins are rounded in shape rather than pointed like those of many fish. Females are slightly larger than males. The average adult Lysh is usually about 2 ˝ fores long and 2-2 ˝ hebs in weight. The largest recorded Lysh, a Garpike caught by two young human boys in the Luquador River, was two handspans longer than a ped and weighed 3 1/2 hebs.
The three main varieties of Lyshae are:
The Northern Lysh
The Northern Lysh (called the "Garpike" in the northern lands) is by far the biggest of the varieties. It is the kind most often found north of the Tandala Mountains, in the Kuglimz lands. It has distinctively long sharp spines in its dorsal fin.
The Southern Lysh
The Southern Lysh is slightly lighter in colour, with more yellow hues in its scales and is rarely more than 2 fores long. It is mostly found in the more southern warmer regions and is rarely seen north of the Silvermarshes.
The Red Lysh
The Red Lysh, also known as the "Swamp Lysh", is most commonly observed in muddy, shallow swamp water (which is why it is also called the Swamp Lysh). It is usually about the same size as the Southern Lysh, but with a distinctly reddish undertone in its scale colour and also its flesh. The meat of the Red Lysh is denser and less flaky than that of the other varieties and thus is ideal for soup or stew receipts where chunked meat is preferred to flaked.
Special Abilities. Lyshae are noted for their voracious appetites and their extreme short-term speed. A Lysh can dart so quickly that you can miss it in a eyeblink. More than one fisherman, happily reeling in his catch, has had it snatched and gulped by a large Lysh. This is unfortunate for the Lysh if the hook and line are deeply sunk into the smaller fish and the line is a sturdy one. Many of the bigger Lyshae have been caught this way.
Click on the cookery book to read the receipt of the Grilled Mashdai Squillpike.
These fish are found in rivers and lakes all over
Sarvonia. They are known beyond the
Kuglimz lands, throughout the
Luquador and the Uiaenoth Rivers and south as far as the Mashdai River, through
Marcogg. They are actually quite popular
here and there are a few "Lysh farmers" just outside of
Marcogg (see Usages).
The Red Lysh are common in swampy areas, especially the Waters Marshes, the
Silvermarshes, the Aerelian Lakes, the Queator River and the Seanian Swamps. The
further north Lyshae live, the larger they generally are. The record size one
was caught by two young Kuglimz boys
who were supposed to be helping set a summer camp but preferred to go fishing
instead. The fish was subsequently stuffed and sold to a tavern in Worldquest,
where it is on display.
Habitat/Behaviour. Unlike many fish, the Lyshae are solitary creatures. They exhibit few, if any, of the social behaviors common to most animals. They come together only to mate and afterwards the female will frequently turn on her erstwhile mate and eat him if he does not escape quickly. They may often be found in shallow shady waters and tend to prefer cooler spots, especially areas thick with underwater plants where they can hide and lie in wait for prey.
Diet. Totally carnivorous, the Lysh will eat anything, including others of its own species. They will lie motionless among a tangle of water plants, and as soon as something swims within reach, lunge, snap and swallow, almost too quickly to be seen. They often eat mithralfish, sunset fish, flunki, water rats, mithanjor, and other small fish or waterfowls.
Mating. In early, spring, when ice is mostly thawed, the male Lyshae seek out the females. Females in mating readiness will turn lighter in colour and secrete an oozy purplish slime from their scales, which has a strong spicy-sweet scent. This slimy substance is much in demand by gnomish alchemists for making perfume (see Usages). The male will approach the female and swim around and around her in a tightly defined pattern, until she indicates willingness to mate by swimming alongside of him and rubbing her scales against his. She will then select an area thick with waterweeds, lie flat along the river or lake bottom and the male will hover just above her. As she lays thousands of eggs in a long sticky string, he releases a cloud of thick whitish fluid which mixes with the eggs and fertilizes them. Afterwards, unless he is extremely fast and lucky, the female will usually attack and devour him. The eggs stick to the waterweeds and normally hatch within two weeks. Lysh fry tend to stay in the heavily-weeded areas to hide from predators. By the fall they have usually reached about a fore in length, and the next spring, the young Lyshae are old enough to seek out mates and continue the cycle.
Picture description. In this rich lady's treasure trove you can also discover a flacon of red lysh perfume. Image drawn by Bard Judith.
Lyshae have a very tasty light meat. Most
Sarvonian races, from hobbits to
orcs, enjoy eating Lysh fillets. They are most
commonly served fried with lashings of butter or oil, drizzled with weeproot
juices and sprinkled with salt and various spices, depending on the region. For
instance, the White Deer Inn of Marcogg
boasts a delicious specialty called Grilled Mashdai Squillpike.
However, they are also served in soups and stews, or baked whole in clay. Lysha
eggs, chilled and served raw, are a delicacy that many nobles enjoy.
The purple substance that the females secrete during mating season is used to make very expensive perfume. In Southern Sarvonia, near Marcogg, some humans raise Lyshae for these purposes, selling the meat to taverns and the slime to alchemists. These are the Mashdai "Lysh farms", fairly recent in origin but already a profitable business. There are also Red Lysh perfume farms beginning to be established along the Queator River, near Yorick, to take advantage of the orriscent which grows there and provides a natural fixative base for the manufacture of perfume. One farmer in the region, a human Santharian called Brean Helora, has entered into a partnership with a Daran gnome alchemist Aescula Onguentus. They have just opened a perfume and beauty business in New-Santhala, called " Red-Lysh Lovescents", which is very popular.
Myth/Lore. There is no particular lore associated with this fish, but Avennorian children sing a little rhyme about the Lyshae as follows:
Baveras, send me a Lysh,
Researchers. The major researcher on this fish is the Kuglim Gor Vekka'lyr. As a child he often caught Garpike in the Luquador and Quest rivers of the Kuglimz land. He was one of the two boys that caught the record fish and since that time, some 15 years ago, has studied them with interest. He accompanied Turik of Barsalon on one of his many trips to New-Santhala and was kind enough to speak with F’ash and Alysse for this Compendium entry. We are indebted to him for this information. Gor Vekka'lyr was also instrumental in assisting some of the "Lysh farmers" near Yorick and Marcogg in setting up their businesses.
Information provided by Alysse the Likely