The Kaimun (plural "Kaimuni") is a fearsome-looking but sedentary water beast, resembling an enormous carnivorous lizard. It has two varieties, the large Ocean Kaimun and the smaller Swamp Kaimun, which are nearly identical in appearance except for their size. The Ocean Kaimun is found in the southern ocean waters and ranges along the Sarvonian coast from the Gulf of Maraya to just past Ciosa. The Swamp Kaimun is found throughout the Sarvonian continent wherever there is wet swampy territory, as far north as the Water Marshes, the area of the former elven metropolis Fá'áv'cál'âr.
Picture description. A southern Swamp Kaimun as found in the Baych Swamps of the area around the fishing village of Nepris. Image by Seeker.
The Swamp Kaimun is
considerably smaller than the Ocean Kaimun, generally growing to be about a
ped long. The Ocean Kaimun
ranges from 2 to 3 peds in
length. Other than this, the two species are virtually the same. The Kaimun
resembles a gigantic lizard with a long broad muzzle
full of sharp teeth. In the adult male Ocean Kaimun, the head is perhaps about a
palmspan longer than a fore.
The Swamp Kaimun’s head is about 2
palmspans long. The muzzle
is about 1 1/2 palmspans
across for the Ocean Kaimun, 6
nailsbreadths in the Swamp Kaimun.
The eyes are large, round and usually yellow or orange in colour, with a slit pupil. A Kaimun cannot close its eyes or blink in the normal fashion. Instead a clear membrane moves across the eye, which it can see through underwater. The ear openings are located just behind the eye and are covered with loose flaps of skin. The nostrils are located on top of the muzzle and need to be above water for the Kaimun to breathe. Kaimun teeth are long and sharp. They do not have grinding or crushing teeth, but instead they have a small internal sac just in front of the stomach, containing numerous small stones. The food ingested is crushed and ground by the stones. Occasionally both types of Kaimun will swallow additional stones to replenish the supply, as they eventually break down and pass through the body.
Kaimuni have four short thick legs ending in webbed feet with large claws. These claws can be up to seven nailsbreadths long in the larger Kaimun, about three in the smaller. There are four claws on each foot. The front legs crook backwards in an elbow, rather than having knees. The back legs are thicker and heavier than the front. The long powerful tail, thickly muscled, comprises about half of the Kaimun’s full length and provides most of the animal’s swimming power. Kaimuni can swim extremely fast and are very graceful in the water. On land they are a little slower but still surprisingly quick.
Kaimuni are covered in a thick, heavily armoured hide that is rough and corrugated, forming a series of small, segmented ridges down the animal’s back to the end of the tail. The hide is usually a dark gray, with hints of blue, green or even purple. Female Kaimuni are slightly smaller and slimmer than the males. Male Kaimuni have a spiny crest along their neck, which normally lies flat along the hide and is barely noticable, except during mating season when it becomes erect and turns a brilliantly iridescent green or blue (see Mating). Adult male Ocean Kaimuni weigh between 2-2 ½ pygges; the small Swamp Kaimun weighs about 4-5 hebs.
Swamp Kaimuni colouring differs slightly with climatic variations. The northern ones tend to be more green hued, while the southern ones have a bluer or purplish cast to their hides. The Kaimuni located in the Oka'Seri Swamp in the south, being rather isolated, have developed hides that are more distinctly blue-toned than most. The Ocean Kaimuni generally tend towards the greenish-blue in colour. It is thought that the differences may be affected by dietary factors, since the Swamp Kaimuni eat plants as well as meat/fish (see Diet).
The Kaimuni do not have any special abilities beyond their exceptional speed in
the water. This is largely due to the very
thick, dense musculature of the tail, which whips back and forth to propel them
through the water nearly as fast as a
horse can run. Kaimuni, like cats,
have especially dense, heavy muscles, which make them extremely strong and much
heavier than they actually look.
Territory. The Swamp Kaimun may be found in most large swampy areas in mid-Sarvonia from the Fá'áv'cál'âr in the north to the river delta at the Gulf of Maraya. They are best known in the Silvermarshes, where the hobbits and mullogs hunt them for their skin, teeth, claws, and meat. The Ocean Kaimun ranges around the coast from the point of Ciosa to the Gulf of Maraya. They tend to be found most thickly in the Yanthian Gulf, near the whaling town of Klinsor, where they are attracted by the blood and leftover whale carcasses. The flensors appreciate the Kaimuni “clean-up crew” as they call them and often throw them extra tidbits as they work.
Kaimuni are known in Aeruillin but there have been no in-depth studies as to what differences, if any, may exist.
Habitat/Behaviour. Although there is no specifc herd structure, Kaimuni are social animals and like to be together. Solitary animals are very rare. This leads to the mullog saying which translates roughly as “one Kaimun is ten Kaimuni” which basically means, “be careful, there is more to this than meets the eye.” Though essentially water creatures, Ocean Kaimuni like to sun themselves and may be found sprawling in sunny, sandy areas along the coast, looking like large, rough-barked logs with big yellow eyes. Swamp Kaimuni may be observed draped over hummocks of land or floating along through the marsh, where they resemble floating logs to such an extent that turtles have been known to climb onto their backs.
Both types usually hunt individually but will form up as packs of ten or so (called “clusters”, i.e., a cluster of Kaimuni) to take on a bigger prey animal.
Due to its resemblance to a dragon or drake, the Kaimun has an undeservedly bad reputation as a fearsome monster. Despite their ferocious appearance, the Kaimun are actually not especially savage. They rarely attack humans or other sentients, seeming to instinctively realize that this is dangerous. They tend to try to avoid them. However, a Kaimuni that feels threatened or is nest-guarding will not hesitate to attack. A Kaimun in full-fledged attack mode is a terrifying sight. The beast rears up and lunges forwards with astonishing speed, twisting its head sideways while snapping its jaws violently at the perceived enemy. It lashes its tail around viciously and can easily break a human leg bone if it makes contact. Even the Swamp Kaimun can do this, small though it is.
The Kaimun likes warm sunny weather, and when heavy rain or storms are expected, it will usually head for land and look for some type of shelter, such as a fallen tree or heavy undergrowth. The occasional fisherman has been shocked by the discovery of a Kaimun beneath his boat the morning after a storm!
Diet. Fish form the major portion of the Kaimun diet, though they are not fussy eaters and will eat almost anything. Fish such as the barsa, the evoor and the yellowtail are the main prey of the Ocean Kaimun, though it will go after the bonehead and the dolpholk, and the Kaimuni in the Yanthian Gulf region happily devour the flensing leftovers. The Swamp Kaimun eats mithanjor, hollup frogs, sunset fish, mithrilfish, the occasional kingell, water rats, grass snakes… anything it can get its teeth on. However, this Kaimun is not exclusively carnivorous and will eat plants such as the lemertia vines ("water vines") and pondpads if no meat is readily available. As mentioned before, Kaimuni rarely attack humans or halflings, although the occasional "rogue" beast has been known to do so.
Mating. The Kaimun mating season occurs in very early spring. The male puts on a display for the female of his choice, strutting about with his bright neck crest erected, hissing at any other male who comes near. Usually a smaller male will defer to a larger one, but if the two are close in size, they will fight viciously until one is killed or manages to flee.
The male and female pair up and go off together to build (Swamp Kaimun) or dig (Ocean Kaimun) a nest for the female to lay her eggs. She lays between 30 and 50 grayish eggs, which are soft and jelly like. Then the male Kaimun deposits his sperm onto the eggs, which slowly begin to harden and form a tough outer skin. The female stays near the nest and guards the eggs, while the male brings her food. During this time she is extremely vigilant and dangerous, attacking anything that moves, except her mate. Once the eggs hatch, in about eight weeks time, the male and female go their separate ways and the female cares for her young, protecting and feeding them, until the fall, when the Swamp Kaimun digs a very deep burrow (2 or more peds below the surface!) lines it with plant matter, and crawls into it to hibernate through the winter. The Ocean Kaimuni do not hibernate, but may move further to the south during the colder months.
Usages. Humans, elves, mullogs and hobbits all use Kaimun hide for making items such as bags, shoes or boots, armoured vests, belts and even decorative articles of jewelry. When polished with oils derived from animal fats, the blue, green and purple undertones of the hide come out strongly, and they can be strikingly beautiful. Kaimun crests, when obtained during the mating season, are particularly prized ornaments. Swamp Kaimun flesh, a lean white meat, is edible and tasty, though it tends to be slightly fishy due to their diet. Hobbits and mullogs tend to be the main consumers of Kaimun meat, though it is gaining in popularity in other circles. Kaimun teeth and claws are prized by mullogs.
The Ocean Kaimun are less easy to catch due to their size and strength, though they are sometimes trapped by the Avennorians, to supplement their diet. A few brave souls from Cape Strata have also trapped them on the few sandbanks in that area, using meat or fish to lure them onto land. These enterprising individuals can then sell the hides and meat for exorbitant prices at the marketplace.
Myth/Lore. The sailors of the Southern oceans believe that Kaimuni are lucky - if you see one, it means good weather. This has some veracity, since Ocean Kaimuni are never seen when storms are brewing. Like all Kaimuni, they tend to head for land.
Information provided by Alysse the Likely