WorldEmber2018

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Skimmers


  Native to the Abyss, Skimmers are man-sized insects with an uncanny ability to remain perched upon the water's surface. Quick and agile hunters, they can dash across the black Abyss with ease that eludes any boat or craft. It is fortunate that they do not count mankind among its many prey.      

Description

      Skimmers are four-legged, wingless insects covered by a black carapace with sharp, needle-like hairs protruding from it. Its legs are spindly and end in four-toed claws which is what they use to steady themselves on the waters. Most of their head are occupied by their large, forward-facing eyes and snapping mandibles that they use to catch prey. The Skimmers have excellent vision even in the dark and the cold waters of the Abyss, leading some to believe they have some additional way of sensing prey along the rolling waves and ocean currents.   Skimmers are incredibly fast, moving in sudden twitchy bursts of speed. They are capable of both leaping from the water and diving into it, leaving their prey with very few places to hide.      

Behavior

 

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  Voracious predators, Skimmers hunt and eat a number of fish, eel and jellyfish by folding their legs and propelling themselves down into the water to catch prey with their mandibles. Bats and larger flying insects that stray too close to the water can just as easily become a meal. Despite their predatory nature, Skimmers are not particularly aggressive creatures and only really attack humans when they antagonize the skimmers or disturb their nests.  
With their relatively docile nature and great senses, some fishermen even consider the Skimmer a good omen: where the skimmer go, there must be fish. This sentiment is somewhat diminished by the Skimmer's tendency to get stuck in nets or tangle fishing lines.
  Skimmers hunt alone, congregating only to court mates and fertilize eggs. They are in turn hunted by a number or creatures in the Abyss and are more likely to flee than fight unless cornered or provoked. The mandibles of a Skimmer can easily sever fingers or break bone, so most sailors are more than happy to leave the critters alone.      

Life Cycle

  When Skimmers meet to mate, they first try to court their potential mate. These courting rituals are complex, water-born dances that conclude with the prospect mate being shown the skimmer's floating nest. These are constructed by a resin excreted by the Skimmer, latching together bones and flotsam. Should the nest be adequate, the female will deposit her eggs with the mate's nest and leave to hunt.  

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  The eggs are left in a flooded chamber in the center of the nest and nest-owner (typically the male) will tend to the eggs until they hatch. After that, the young are largely left to their own devices. Young skimmers roam in swarms and feed on scavenge and kelp, splitting up as they grow older.      

In the World

  With no real use as either meat or material, the Skimmers are considered pests by the city-states and settlements near the Abyss, harmless but annoying. Every child is taught that if they leave the creatures alone, they'll return the favor. Fairly common in the Abyss and found nowhere else, they are a part of life and people do their best to deal with them or work around them. When their numbers grow too large and fish grow scarce, fisherman hunt the Skimmers just to reduce their numbers. Particularly large swarms of Skimmers are sometimes seen as omen of lean times to come, and for good reason.   Skimmers usually stay far from human settlements, but on occasion drift close enough to the shores or rafts to cause trouble. Even then, so easily accessible, no one in their right mind will eat them.    

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Skimmer-Stew

  There is very little edible meat on the skimmers, but the long bones are sometimes boiled and eaten once soft. In DÅ«bavum, when times are lean and desperate, people say "these Skimmer-Stew days". With its unique and unpleasant tones of bitter and damp, the stew is sometimes served as a prank to pompous guests.    
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The Abyss

  Skimmers are only found in the Abyss; a titanic underground ocean and the only one of its kind outside the Far Deep. The black, cold waters of the Abyss are home to many strange and terrible creatures, of which the Skimmers are among the most harmless.   Read more about the Abyss    
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"He's a Skimmer"   Fishermen both love and hate the Skimmers. They often lead to fish but just as often scare them away or get tangled in net. With their twitchy, skittish nature and tendency to get tangled in nets, settlements around the Abyss have taken to using the creature's name as a term of.. Not exactly endearment.. For the more nervous among them

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Comments

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5 Dec, 2018 22:38

I like the thought of having the population use this pest species as food in times of disparity; think about some people keeping their taste for skimmer or even what cooking techniques or spices they would develop to make skimmer bones edible, those things would not go away. Are their any example of Skimmers being domesticated? they sound like they could be a cool waterbased draft animal.

6 Dec, 2018 00:01

Overall: Your descriptions here are wonderfully unsettling. :) Skimmer stew - what a fun detail! Minor detail: "they do not count mankind among its many prey. " Perhaps you meant their many prey? Question: Do insects operate with different taxonomical rules in this world? Six leggedness is a common way of distinguishing insects from other bugs in earth of the real world. Curious if this world has different definitions.   Thanks for sharing!

6 Dec, 2018 02:19

"Skimmer Stew" I love the concept of this! What is the process/taste of these softened bones?   Overall, this is pretty cool! I love these huge creatures that float on the water and skim away. The use of them as Omens and useful information about most aspects of the creature. I can imagine these creatures quite thoroughly with the information! Thanks for sharing! :D

6 Dec, 2018 02:32

Ooo, this is a cool article. I like the detail you place into discussing how they interact with humans and their social structures. Did you happen to mention where they were on their food chain? You mention hunting lots of sea life, but is there anything that hunts them?