These creatures get their name from the several bioluminescent mucus-like strands they form from the cieling. They hang these strands in pools of water, fishing out plankton and other animals. These strands are high in protein, and so are crucial to enabling below-ground life.
When my Ral-Mi guide told me he was taking me to a farm, and showed me a great ramp leading below the trees, I thought it was some form of joke.
But as we walked, it began to click a bit more in my head. How could reliable agriculture be done in the shifting layered ecologies of the nege trees?
They lead me to a great chamber. Tens of thousands of glowing strands lit of the cave walls and the pool below. It was as if someone had stretched the starry sky down to the sea.
Hiserabi crawled all through these stands, plucking some and leaving others. I didn't even pretend to understand their process.
Tiny Versions of Big Beasts
Euphraesthi's Manes are actually minature cousins of the Crustarthroflect, having taken a different evolutionary tree with the bigger and more dangerous kinds thriving above ground. These little insect-like creatures could not rely on the same prey and so made use of what was available.
The name of the actual Crustarthroflect; fully grown the creature is about the size of a human palm. Their shells are transparent at birth and molt into a dark-brown to green.
Fishing Beneath the Surface
Living underneath the coral provides an opportunity; water, rich with plankton and other small creatures ebbs and flows from the oceans below. The water is not always present though, and Crustarthroflects are not a strong swimmers.
So the Fisherflects turned to fishing. They evolved a unique organ, one that allows them to craft dangling, mucus-like lines that drape down into a pool below. These sticky lures glow with a natural bio-luminescence, attracting prey from the waters below.
When prey grabs onto the lure looking for a meal, it get trapped in the slime. The struggles alert the Mane, who pulls up the line to feast.
Even if the Fisherflect does not catch anything big, the captured plankton that is filtered through the lines creates a protein-rich mucus with the Mane can survive off of.
The underground home of the Euphraesthi's Mane is an ever-shifting topology of Coral and tides.
In order to survive shifting, the Fisherflect can form its strands into a 'raft' if it feels threatened. These rafts can be used to follow the current of the tide until a new suitable location is found.
Entire colonies of Euphraesthi's Manes can float for miles on combined rafts, using their strands as a traveling food source.
Euphraesthi's Manes reproduce by creating translucent pods on the ceiling, in which they stick their eggs to.
Females who lay these egg sacs will defend them from other Fisherflects, Males will need to prove themselves worthy to the female, by producing strands and bringing nutrients to the female.
Duals between competiting Males can lead to fatalities, with fights sometimes ending with one Fisherflect winding up in the pool below.
An Early Discovery
Euphraesthi's Manes were discovered by early Verin, who discovered the creatures in the caves below their homeland. Considering the belief that the caves were a portal to hell, the Verin did not discover the potential of the strands until many centuries later.
Even when it was discovered, it was a rare food source, reserved only for the high-standing in society. The strands were expensive, considering how dangerous the caves were and the overall ban on bringing cave creatures back to the surface.
It was not until the Sazashi that the Fisherflects went from curiosity to commodity.
The First Farms
In the early years of the Sazashi colonization of the Jhoutai mainland, they implemented some of the first known agricultural solutions for the Fisherflect and their edible stands.
Many of the Kinds started their own implementation of these farms, which paired the Fisherflect with other farmable items. These farms have evolved over centuries, with sizes that can range from square acres to square meters.
While many Sazashi try to claim that they were the first to farm Fisherflects, there is no available evidence to date which Kind first started the practice.
Acres of Strands
As the world modernized, the use of Euphraesthi's Manes as staple crops grew. Vertical farming, selective breeding, and other technological advancements led to Fisherflect farms growing to acres in size.
|Aempis||Aempis created farms that were combined with native fresh-water fish to produce a cycle of nutrition with only minimal maintenance.|
|Nege-Tai||Nege-Tai developed farms that drew from the natural Slog pits above. The nutrient-rich acid is diluted in fresh water.|
|Faur'ridar'ru||Euphraesthi's Mane helped ensure the survival of the Nasyk, by providing a protein source that could combine with native fungus and compost.|
In the modern era, Euphraesthi's Manes are seen as staple crops like wheat or potatoes. They can be farmed in any dark and temperature controlled environment, only requiring fresh water and a source of nutrition.
The practice of farming Fisherflects has spread between Banners, and nearly any established planet has some form of Mane harvesting. Farms can even been done in a small scale, many own minature Mane farms in their kitchen or home.
As Orga Technology and Selective Breeding mixed, the Euphraesthi's Mane was able to shift in produce.
This variety of Fisherflect has been raised to create a quick-hardening protein rich slime.
It is the largest source of Caloric Brick for Orga technology.
This Fisherflect was genetically modified to produce a cloth-like strand which superb tinsel strength
This cloth is weaved into clothing, which a higher strength and heat resistance than most natural textiles.
The most ancient way of serving that dates back to the Vadakendanic Procession. It used to be seen as a delicacy, as traveling to the caves to harvest the strands was considering delving into hell.
It is prepared by boiling the strands with salt and local herbs to break down the strands into a broth.
Another ancient preparation method involved using the strands to replace some of the water in breadmaking.
This makes a protein-rich bread that was a staple of survival. It also is useful for stretching out grain-supplies.
A production of enterprising humans, the mane burger is a meat-replacement that uses the strands instead of meat.
It took quite a lot of marketing to catch on, but it still exists in the modern day as a cheap meat alternative.
Eating raw Strand is possible, though dangerous if the harvested mane came from any sort of unhealthy environment.
Mane Tartare served prepared with spices is considered a delicacy, though to most, the dish is seen as offputting.
An invention of the Sazashi, Mane-based noodles are crafted from strands combined with flour to facilitate yeast growth.
They are popular as a replacement for traditional noodles in many dishes. This is one of the most popular types of serving.
Euphraesthi's Mane has established itself as a tool for colonizing new worlds. It can be grown easily in Habitat rooms, and is hardy enough to survive most cave environments.
It also established itself as a popular species to humanity as well, the strands are used for 'super foods' while the Fisherflects themselves are a popular alternative to the more expensive Edenic shellfish such as Lobster or Crab.