There are many species of monsters which stalk the lands of The Star-Runner Chronicles world. Some are plausible and workable, while others are just plain bazar. One of the strangest creatures is the wingfish which, true to its name, looks like a big fish with a pair of bird wings stuck on it. It doesn’t have to make sense. Monsters rarely do.
Wingfish Fast Facts
Creature Type: Fish
Elemental Type: Air/Water
Elemental Weakness: Electricity
Size: 4 to 6 feet long, 4 to 6 foot wingspan
Weight: 90 to 120 pounds
Habitat: Forest, Desert, Grassland, Mountain, and Wetland
Diet: Just about anything organic
Subspecies: Blue Wingish, Skybass, Cloud Tuna, Cypress Salmon, Jungle Perch, Sand Bass, Sharknado, Desert Guppy, Mountain Mullet, and many others
Most Applicable Tropes: Flying Seafood Special, Jack of All Stats, Airborne Mook
Everyone loves fish…well, almost everyone. Some like to eat them, some like them as pets, some like them for their own moral and political reasons. Yep, fish are great…unless they’re dive-bombing right at you with the express purpose of trying to eat you. Then they suck. It is in this very spirit of “that would suck” that the wingfish were created. Come along with me, and I will explain.
Appearance and Anatomy
Wingfish are enormous fish ranging anywhere from four to six feet in length with bird-like feathered wings with a wingspan which matches their body length. Their scales are dry instead of being coated in mucus like normal fish, and tough enough to require considerable force to pierce with a metal blade or projectile. Their feathery wings and fishy tail fins propel them through the air, while their large pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins are used to steer while in flight.
Wingfish have large eyes which can see roughly as well as those of any bird of prey, and their noses are nearly as good as any bloodhound’s. They have a horrible sense of hearing, however. How bad is it? Well, think of when you get water in your ears while bathing or swimming, then cut that auditory capacity in half. That’s how bad their hearing is. So far, there seems to be no reasonable scientific explanation for the bad hearing, but some mages believe that Origia or one of the other gods may have placed a powerful curse on their ears for their own personal reasons.
Oddly, although the various wingfish subspecies are named for various species of fish, they all look like enormous koi with mouths full of sharp, pointy teeth and long, elegant fins. They come in a variety of colors and patterns from green camo and sandy yellow to hot pink and rainbow striped. The brightly colored varieties are typically the least likely to go after people, and some have even been domesticated as pets and guard monsters. The ones which are duller in color or meant to camouflage into their environments—such as the deadly, color-shifting, high-flying sharknado—however, should be approached with extreme caution and avoided whenever possible. Those are the mean ones.
Wingfish are opportunistic omnivores. They will eat anything from tree leaves and cactus to orcs and minotaurs. Whole schools of them have been known to swarm battlefields to feed on the flesh of the dead, and in hard times they sometimes descend on farmers’ fields and orchards like a hoard of locusts and devour everything in their path. In fact, the only living thing that wingfish absolutely will no eat is each other.
In trial after trial wingfish have been placed in enclosures where they have no food and only other wingfish to interact with. Every time, the wingfish allowed themselves to die of starvation rather than eat another one of their own. This has even occurred when wingfish of different subspecies have been thrown together and cases where a lone wingfish was left with a dead wingfish instead of a live one. Most people either find this strong instinctual aversion to cannibalism touching or stupid.
Wingfish live and travel in schools of anywhere between eight and twenty individuals. A school has no social hierarchy, but instead follows instinct and established habit in search of food. Because they’re not very smart on their own, they rely on the combined wisdom of the group to get by…which isn’t always a great thing when it’s a group of creatures who aren’t particularly bright. Sometimes their group think makes them insanely efficient hunters, and sometimes it sends them flying mindlessly at the engines and cockpits of airships.
When it comes to breeding, wingfish are the masters of elaborate mating rituals. Each subspecies has its own elaborate aerial display of grace and agility, with each partner taking turns showing off their moves to their potential mate until they either mess up or successfully complete the final dance and move on to the fun part. After a good thirty-second quickie, the female wingfish will incubate her young inside of her body for about a month before giving birth to a brood of fifty to seventy offspring.
Because wingfish don’t raise and nurture their young, that initial brood of fifty or so is whittled down to only two or three by the end of their first year. Defeats during hunts, predation, and just plain bad luck take a heavy toll on these creatures during their lifetimes in the wild. While wingfish in captivity can live to be nearly thirty years old, wild wingfish are lucky to reach the age of five.
Wingfish are still formidable opponents in battle, though. With their tough hides, swift flying, and sheer numbers, they’re already a challenge. Add their water cannon spell into the equation, and you get a monster which most adventurers can’t defeat without at least two or three companions in tow.
That’s it for this week, folks! I’ll be taking next week off, but join us the week after that for yet another exciting article! Until then, be sure to check out The Star-Runner Chronicles on Amazon.com (print and ebook editions available) or Smashwords (release date is 8/26/15, use promo code SL69V for The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner or BN33W for Wolfie Star-Runner Plays with Hellfire now through 8/30/15 to get the books half-off), peep in on my tweets on Twitter, learn about me at a glance on Pintrest, or just archive binge around here for a bit (if you liked this piece, make sure to check out my three-parter on werewolves or any of the articles under the “Magic” or “Monster Manual” categories).
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