A Wedding Gift For A Lady Mantis
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Honorable Red-Scaled Ichthyoid Bodyguard-Companion

Akai-no-Ren, Crimson Ray-blade Lotus fish,
that finned menace who bit three noblemantids1,2

Conspectus

When an admirer from outside the mantis court endeavors to wed a high-ranking mantid noble, it is a long-held custom for the outside party to present a special wedding gift to their intended mantis. According to ceremony, this gift is expected to be alive, to symbolize the importance of a life-nurturing hand to temper a mantid's natural inclination to violence. Rare medicinal plants are the most commonly-seen gifts, with miniature aphid-kittens3 being the second-most given. A certain cloud-scorpion Grauen Wolke, however, upon his marriage to the Lady Master Shiritori4 decided to present her with a rather unconventional wedding gift.

Illustration

Renfish.jpg

Akai-no-Ren, when not wearing his typical enchanted sky-armor. Note silver armor-affinity iridescence below pupil. Also note characteristic pout.

Knowledge

These words are penned by the young spiderkin Wulfric S., as part of a series of records commemorating events of the wedding between the cloud-scorpion Grauen Wolke of the seventh-cluster cloud-culture sky-crawlers, and the illustrious Master Shiritori Zakuro, also known as Lady Ren, of the mantids' High Craftsmen’s Court.

The Lord Wolke chose to bestow upon his beloved a fish of proud warrior lineage, capable of breathing outside water and traversing the open air itself with the help of custom-made ceremonial sky-armor forged by cloud-culture scorpion smiths.

Traits: Akai-no-Ren possesses scales of a vivid red coloration, accentuated with silver flecks at his sides and chin. Within the bottom portion of each eye shimmers an iridescence below the pupil; it was this characteristic that initially prompted Lord Wolke to investigate this particular fish's potential to become attuned with sky-silver armor worked by the famed cloud-scorpion smiths.

Akai's fins are fairly long for his kind, a vestigial sign of form-modification enchantments, and are usually kept flared open while he is hovering in place accompanying his mistress. His teeth are small but sharp, even without the air-affinity amplification effects of his sky-armor. While his natural diet is carnivorous, the sky-armor enables him to partake of certain plants and fruits. It, however, does not prevent bloating.

The sky-armor crafted for Akai-no-Ren is a dark, deep bloodlike crimson, edged with sky-silver and padded with cloud-silk. The shape is complicated, but the harness and interconnected plates are a single piece that does not require any special storage attentions. It is flexible but remains readily secure if fastened correctly, and only requires a monthly dew-bath to retain its quality and properties. With it, Akai-no-Ren is able to breathe and swim in the open air, as well as grow in size when flaring aggressively5,6 as the armor allows the fins to be moved unhindered. It is encouraged to not provoke the fish while in enclosed spaces.7,8

Nature: As can likely be expected, Akai-no-Ren adores his Lady, tolerates his lord, and will happily bite anyone else. When not accompanying his family on social outings, Akai is often found guarding the household doors, or napping on top of houseplants (or the prone bodies of uninvited guests who have been incapacitated via a bite to the head). Lady Zakuro has trained him to keep off of her apparatus crafting tables, but he will patrol the airspace above her head while she works.9

History & Associated Parties: In truth, Akai-no-Ren possesses a rather mediocre lineage when compared to that of more decorative luxury long-tailed fighter-fish. His known ancestors were not well-sought in the fish associate pool he originated from, and there are no records of his exact parentage. Furthermore, his ragged-looking crowntail10 attire is not held in as much esteem as the elegant fan-shaped half-moon, and the red coloration is considered overwhelmingly common. This resulted in his being passed by time and again by individuals seeking water-affinity companions.

However, none of these facts deterred the Lord Wolke, who was impressed with Akai-no-Ren's ferocity and suitability for elemental modification, unaffected by selective breeding for appearance.

Suitors marrying into the mantis courts are expected to spend at least five days picking out the wedding gift for their intended, one day for each eye a mantis has: for observing, discerning, appraising, deciding, and striking. Lord Wolke examined each of the warrior fish in the communal adoption territories, and found himself returning each subsequent day to visit the little red misfit fish. The Companion Pool of Divine Wisdom was happy to facilitate the adoption.

Approach: The Lady Ren is thus far the only individual Akai-no-Ren remains steadfastly loyal to. While he can be placated with food, he will often attempt to chase away any strangers he encounters. It is recommended to speak with Lady Ren before approaching the fish.

As a lesser11 fishkin, Akai-no-Ren does not trouble himself with many of the intricacies of court etiquette. Nevertheless, he will allow insectkin children to pet him on the head if his master introduces them first.

Observations & Stories

"I have no complaints. The fish even joined in on the ceremonial wedding dance of our orchid lady mantids after the newlyweds took their vows and exchanged gifts. Akai-san was trained well in our customs. No table manners, but few mantids have those, even in the higher courts." ~Hanachirusato

"What better gift for the duelist Mistress of the Red Knives, than a fiery red fighting fish that fears nothing? I admit to not having high hopes for the match, as the scorpionkin seems a little soft-shelled to me… but he does seem to understand the Lady Zakuro well. The two have decided to maintain Zakuro's abode in the mountains, and while the lady mantis crafts her swords and staves, the scorpion-husband arranges the clouds on commission. I have heard that she brings him teas from her mantid court, and he brings her books from his family's library, tomes of incantations and archaic spells that she incorporates into her work, grateful because though she has endless memory for metals and wood, she dislikes memorizing the long strings of guarding wards that are used to imbue enchantments. But he, a cloud-trimmer who has written countless sigils into the skies, knows thousands of these protective invocations by heart, and so they work together to produce wondrous apparatuses. …what? You wanted to know more about the fish? I wouldn't know. It's rather… temperamental, from what I hear." ~Miotsukushi

"I thought little Red Lotus fish was simply darling. Ren-chan's groom even took special pains to have the fish's sky-armor commissioned to match hers. For you see, all high mantid court weddings involving any lady mantiskin require that the bride wear her best set of armor. Assassinations went down rather a lot following the implementation of that custom, heaven knows. And everyone at Ren-chan's wedding was terrified of the fish when he grew fifteen times in size and consumed the entire waterkin-delicacy section of the banquet table. Perhaps I ought to consider hiring him out for future court functions." ~Suetsumuhana-Hime

"Charming, when well-fed. My dear brother asked me to look after the fish while he and his new wife went off on their honeymoon over the Mountain of Swords, to climb the clouds of the most dangerous peak12,13,14 while they were still young. The little fish was rather restless but seemed to calm down around mealtimes. I may look into bringing one of his kin into the household, to keep an eye on my son." ~Zirrus Wolke

"The red fish is a cool gift and I want one I like visiting him when my mamma brings me to see uncle Grau he says to be careful with Ack-eye but I don't need to worry because we are good friends! He likes to chase socks I wave in front of him with my tail but he is smart and doesn't bite the stinger part. Aphid-kittens are okay they make honeydew my mamma has one but any beekin can make honey my friends say so. And no aphid-kitten can wear armor. My uncle is the coolest and my new auntie is cooler than he is because she makes swords and one day when I'm old enough and my pincers grow in she will teach me about swords so I guess that makes her the coolest but the fish is my favorite so maybe he is the coolest coolest [remaining account trimmed for brevity]" ~ Gewitter Wolke15

Doubt

There were many members of the mantid court who were shocked with the unromantic gesture of presenting a bride with an angry warrior fish for a wedding gift. Lady Zakuro did not attempt to convince them to act otherwise, and made frequent visits to her family in the court to show off Akai-no-Ren hovering diligently at her shoulder. Her most recent calling resulted in two injuries and fifteen terrified aphid-kittens.

I agree that it was an unromantic pick. Surely he could have gotten her something nicer-looking? Perhaps for the bedchamber and not the battlefield? —Tänzer

Tänzer, you know absolutely nothing about romance. I trust Grau on this one. The fish can protect them both should the worst come, and that reassures me, and that is enough for me. —Schreien W.

I know plenty. I have seven sisters. And I am certain that none of them would want a battle fish at their wedding as a decoration, let alone for a handpicked marriage gift. —Tänzer

Three of your sisters hate you, one of them permanently left the family a decade ago, one of them became a nun, and the rest you haven't spoken to at length since childhood. Besides, the fish is prettier than all of them, so maybe you're just bitter. —Schreien W.

I still think fish are unromantic. They smell. —Tänzer

I can't believe they invited you to the wedding. —Schreien W.

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