"You know, there's pearls on this coast; but we've stopped diving for them. Too dangerous. Why? Depth Stalkers. I saw one, once. Huge, disgusting, twice my height in length and height. A box of giant eyes and red teeth. It was dead. Hate to know what could do that to one of them."Pearl divers, shipwreck survivors, and Ascendancy submersible crews, from ocean depth to coastal trench; all speak of the Ulm. Tales of a haunting tune, a beautiful, coldly tantalizing, tantalizingly cold light, beckoning the unwary. Ulm, or Depth Stalkers, as they are known both colloquially and superstitiously, are a species of aquatic predatory monster that haunt deep ocean floors, and, more pertinently, coastal trenches and reefs.-Fuelef Zan, former Pearler; Port Affluence
Morphology and AppearanceUlm are not like many of the multitude predatory fish or monsters to be found in the oceans of Sovereign. Such creatures are often horrifyingly sleek, fast, and savage. Ulm are neither of those first two. Ulm have a very box-like body shape, measuring nearly the same in length, height, and width. Most adult Ulm reach to nine to ten feet in length, seven to eight in height, and usually around six to seven in width. Their grotesque size and shape make Ulm distinctly slow. Many simply slowly drift through the water in a parody on gentleness. However, when prey are near, Ulm are capable of exerting a large spurt of energy, fast enough to catch any unsuspecting victim. If you are able to see an Ulm coming from a distance, they are easily avoidable, and killing an Ulm is not as difficult as one might think. The Ulm's most known traits are its lures, protruding on two stalks from between its eyes. THese prehensile arm regularly reach ten feet in length, with the highest recording being a spectacular 31 feet. At the end of each of the lures is a bulbous sac of bioluminescent ichor, used to lure in prey on the dark depths of the ocean floor. The Ulm are also known for their hauntingly beautiful call, which serves as an auxiliary means of drawing in their prey. The majority of the front of an Ulm's body is taken up by a huge maw composed of four rows of stone-red teeth, which can reach up to a foot long. Many coastal cultures value knives made from such teeth, in some cases viewing such weapons with occult reverence. Near the top of their body, behind and above the mouth, are the Ulm's eyes. While many similar creatures that make the use of lure and maw sacrifice eyesight, the Ulm has two comically large ones, reaching up to three feet in diameter. While not as useful in the pitch black of the ocean depths, the eyes can take in a wide range of light and movement while in shallower water. The coloration of Ulm varies by habitate and region. Those that live in the lightless depths are often a sickly, colorless white or grey, with some regional variants being pale green or black. More common types of Ulm are those who stalk coastal trenches and reefs, and they can often be found with multiple shades of reds, dark blues, and purples. Rarer still are Ajiri Ulm, who haunt the deep cliffside coasts of Ajir. They are known for their striking golden, orange, and peach coloration.
Habitat and Lifestyle
"You ever seen one of 'em feedin'? Disgusting. They'll eating anything, too. Anything."Ulm are most often sighted in coastal trenches, more expansive reefs, and very rarely, very large inland lakes. They seem to be acclimating to both salt- and freshwater, though the natural expansiveness of the former seems to have lead to it being their preference. Ulm live soltary lives, feeding until maturity, and then mating. Female Ulm lay clutches of up to 30 eggs, which the male then fertilizes. The male and female live together while the eggs mature. Upon hatching, the female will kill the male, providing nourishment for the hatchlings. Notoriously, Ulm have no set diet. They are known for having a voracious appetite, feeding on any animal matter they come across. When not hunting, Ulm filter feed, simply consuming whatever blindly unsuspecting prey wanders into their mouth. When hunting, they will illuminate their lure, and more actively search for larger meals. Ulm are known to be bullies, preying on any creature smaller then themselves. For humans, this makes them a potent danger, but on the scale of other monstrous aquatic predators, Ulm rarely succeed in a fight, either being consumed or retreating with grievous wounds.-A disgruntled fisherman
UsesUlm, for the more enterprising, are highly valuable. Ulm scales, especially of the rarer variants, are beautiful as decorations. The bioluminescent ichor of the creature's lure, which doesn't fade even long after death, is a useful alchemical component. Ulm meat, while tough and stringy in most cases, when prepared right is known to be both tender and delicious. Ulm blood is a highly effective poison.
Afo and EelaIn certain coastal cultures, especially in southeastern Ajir, Ulm are viewed with religious reverence. This stems from an ancient Ajiri legend regarding the Ulm and their origin.
"Aio and Eela, the peddler merchants, were man and woman of great renown, but lacking in the wisdom of life or the favor of gods, for they were young, and full of greed. On the coast-road from Yaras to Ukili, the peddler merchants stumbled upon a White Stone, a shrine to Nalon, the protector of this land and these waters. Enamored by the diamond's beauty and perfection, the greedy merchants could not help but take the stone. Nalon was not pleased. On that night, Nalon, the lord of wind and rain and thunder and death, sent a great storm on those cliffs, sweeping away the merchants, and their store and stock into the ocean below. And as they floundered in the blue-blue depths, Nalon appeared to Afo and Eela, asked 'Why hast thou taken the stone of my glory?' Yet Afo and Eela, in their foolishness and greed, lied, said 'We have not.' Nalon was angered, and in his rage, he cast a curse on the merchants. Their mouths became maws - for all greed stems from the tongue - their eyes engorged, their bodies twisted. And thus the first Ulm were brought into this world."-Arra Tal'i, Chieftess of an Ajiri Ay'hora village
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