Diet: Mostly fish, especially anchorfish
Length: 10-20 feet
Lifespan: 5 years
Habitat: Rivers, estuaries, coastal waters
Activity Cycle: Diurnal
The boatsback is the result of an arms race between the Republic of Fellowstel and Kirrik, an island of sharkmen who refused to bow to their empire and controls shipping routes and fishing grounds that Fellowstel could not allow to remain out of their grasp. War broke out, and despite poor naval capabilities, Fellowstel’s economic might was enough to assail Kirrik with mightier ships than the small nation could match. It was after repelling a botched landing that Kirrik’s generals turned to divine intervention for help, knowing that they would not be so lucky again, and the next assault would be greater.
They picked the priestess they approached wisely, a mother outcast to a small island off of Kirrik for meddling with the fabric of life. She fasted and prayed, and upon the beginning of her monthly blood, she was struck with inspiration. When the generals returned, they were presented with a tub of unnatural fish, altered from the natural remora. She called them echenesis, or anchorfish. They were disturbed by her experiments, but unleashed the fish in battle as she suggested, taking few boats into battle against the Fellowstel fleet.
The anchorfish used their suckers to cling to the ships and robbed them of movement. Paddles, wind, and waves could not move a ship anchored so. With most of the ships immobilized, the fleet was systematically destroyed, Kirrik’s divers drilling holes into them from below and mages battering the decks with their most violent spells. The government in charge of the war was voted out, and the invasion was called off.
It is only in our decade that Fellowstel made another attempt at Kirrik, releasing a new weapon into the seas to devour the anchorfish. These were the boatsback, resembling an upturned boat if seen from the surface. They are similar enough to draw in echenesis in battle, but cannot be paralyzed by them, and in fact eat them preferentially. They are also quite aggressive towards humanoids in the water, preventing the Kirrik shark people from freely swimming. With their help, Fellowstel took the island, and Kirrik now forms a great trade and fishing hub for the empire.
Several populations of boatsback have gone feral, escaping into the wild to make terrors of themselves. They spend most of their lives in the ocean, usually staying just off the coast. They are extremely dangerous, attacking swimmers for food and boats that they mistake for rival boatsback. They travel in small pods, and at the end of their lives, travel upriver to mate and give live birth, releasing children that look like living twigs in nurseries upstream and dying soon after.
Anchorfish have also escaped into the wild, and are kept off of merchant fleets by packs of boatsback.