Zone Summary: Ul’dah is a plutocracy in the merest wrapping of a monarchy, and so it needs access not only to overland trade but also the eternally lucrative ocean trade routes. Western Thanalan is this access, positioned directly opposite Vylbrand and dotted with ports and thoroughfares aplenty. The landscape of the western coast is one of the most valuable and fertile in Thanalan, and thus is home to many, varied species as well as imported food crops, and threats such as the Garlean remnants in Cape Westwind. When one studies the sites of interest in Western Thanalan one thing becomes obvious; it is a landscape defined by the wealth disparity of Ul’dah. The wealthy merchants of the Syndicate move their trade interests from one port to another, devastating the lives of their previous workers and transforming previously minor settlements, while in other areas they literally pound the land flat with huge, impractical machines in order to create and idyllic escape from having to live in the same city as refugees.
The Common Creatures of Western Thanalan
Notable Common Creatures of Cape Westwind
4th Cohort Soldiers – Each Garlean Legion has ten cohorts, individually containing roughly 600 men. These soldiers belong to the XIVth Legion, led by Gaius van Baelsar, assigned to Eorzea. An eques in Garlemald seems to be both a minor civil servant and a spearmen in the military, likely separately but perhaps the roles are joined in some way. The Eques, spearmen, are named after a form of minor nobility in ancient Rome defined by their responsibility to supply cavalry to the Roman military, plausibly because of the common usage of spears in cavalry. Hoplomachii, gladiators, are named after a form of Roman gladiator named for their heavy armor and known for fighting with circular shields known as hoplon. Laquaeirii, marauders, were also Roman gladiators, this time defined by their use of a noose, rope or whip in one hand and a blade in the other. This obviously does not fit especially well with the marauder-like soldiers of FFXIV, and it is plausible that they were named solely for the Roman, martial connection. Secutors, pugilists, were gladiators known for heavy armor, and named for ‘chasing’ or ‘pursuing’ their foes, and this root of their name might hold significance to the agility of pugilists in FFXIV. In ancient Rome a signifer, thaumaturge, was a standard-bearer in the military, as well as the treasurer for their unit. Perhaps the prestige associated with this role could hold significance to their magical ability in FFXIV.
Notable Common Creatures of Hammerlea
Pinktoe – A form of Yarzon, giant predatory arachnid-like beings known for their hardiness. These yarzon are likely named for Avicularia avicularia, or the pinktoe tarantula, a species of spider with mild venom and pinkish-hued feet, giving them their name.
Coblyns – Coblyns are bizarrely animated chunks of ore and stone, given the ability to move about, prey on others and look increasingly unusual. The coblyns of Hammerlea came in two forms, pyrite coblyns, named for a common iron sulfide material also known as fools gold, and rusty coblyns, who presumably also bear some form of iron-containing ore, as iron is the material that oxidizes to form rust.
Notable Common Creatures of Horizon’s Edge
Prism Coblyn – These coblyns seem to sprout, or stem from, some form of prism-shaped gem. They drop Nashachite, a form of fictional malachite (a green copper carbonate gemstone) named for the color of Sultana Nanasha Ul Nasha’s eyes, a former monarch of Ul’dah. Perhaps this implies that this particular form of malachite naturally forms in the shape of a prism.
Soulless Chrisom – Despite folklore to the contrary, ghosts are actually fully corporeal creatures, solid to the touch. They are typically said to be bound to the mortal world due to an unfinished purpose of some form. A chrisom was originally a cloth laid over a child’s face as they were baptised, but later went on to apply to children who died within a month of their baptism. The implication here, that these ghosts stem from young children or even infants, is very dark.
Notable Common Creatures of the Footfalls
Loamshell – Loam is another term for soil, and so perhaps these crabs live on land, in soil, as opposed to typical crabs.
Orobon – Previously considered myth due to the only reports of their existence coming from fishermen catching sight of something in their deepest fishing nets, the orobon has since become an uncomfortable reality. They, like the sahagin and so many other aquatic creatures, have been driven to the surface by the Seventh Umbral Calamity. The orobon, or orabau, is named for a cryptid of Brazil reported by the priest Andre Thevet in the 14th century. Most noted for being foul-tasting, the orobon was almost certainly a misidentified reptile but the name serves to reinforce the pseudo-mythical status of the orobon in Eorzea pre-calamity.
Scaphite – These are uragnites, an odd species that are naturally rather small but have been twisted into much greater stature by the Nymians in order to farm their flesh, which the Nymians ate. A scaphite is a now-extinct ammonite, and ammonites are the type of creature that uragnites are allusions to.
The Hunts of Western Thanalan
Taxonomy: Ashkin (Slime)
Description: Slimes are produced when humors leaking out of corpses come to rest on an area enriched by earth aether. The earth aether adopts the aetheric energies left behind by the dead individual(s) and uses them to control the congealed biological material. Fiercely toxic, Slimes are completely without will and tend merely to mill around until being taken control of by a magick user. The sewer syrup was a particularly toxic slime, formed out of the very worst of the byproducts of Copperbell Mine and named by base laborers of the Amajina & Sons’ Mineral Concern, Ul’dah’s finest mining company, for its origin. The private military of the Concern, the Stone Torches, attempted to slay the confluence of disgustingness but were driven back by the creature’s foulness, apparently able to cause physical damage to a nearby warrior’s eyes.
Taxonomy: Scalekin (Ziz)
Description: Speedy creatures, the ziz is not capable of flight but can cover ground at a rapid pace with its powerful legs and sharp claws. They are also often capable of exhaling poison. This ziz was apparently a particularly grandiose one, not only considerably physically powerful but also with little respect for traditional ziz hunting patterns. These include a driver who pushes prey towards the ambusher, and Alectryon was a driver. His ambusher starved to death however, so dramatic was Alectryon’s greed.
Etymology Notes: The word Alectryon means rooster, a clear reference to the bird-like nature of the ziz. The mythical Alectryon was a young companion and paramour of the Greek war god Aries who was asked to guard his liaisons with Aphrodite, at the time wife of Hephaestus. Alectryon fell asleep however, and in the dawn the sun god Helios discovered the affair, telling Aphrodite’s husband. Aries was enraged and turned Alectryon into a rooster. Ashamed, this rooster never forgot to crow at dawn to alert Aries, but the god seems to have ignored these attempts at redemption. I don’t think the link here goes much beyond land-based birds, and a sense of grandiosity.
Taxonomy: Cloudkin (Deathgaze)
Description: The exact nature of the mysterious deathgaze has remained unknown, yet they frequently appear in the folklore of Eorzea and further lands. Their flocks arrive every few years to terrorize the people of Aldenard, devouring prey before moving on. This particular deathgaze apparently flies so high that it rarely makes contact with men, only descending when enticed by particularly shiny bait such as an unusually iridescent fish like the glimmerscale, or a pair of bronze pauldrons reflecting the bright Thanalan sun. More worryingly than this, the fearsome creature often preys on airships and has become a major problem for the Highwind Skyways travel company, based out of Ul’dah.
Etymology Notes: Zona Seeker is named for a summon in FF VI that did not have any associated lore, but was able to be summoned to cast a magical shield upon the party. In this context the fact that it is spawned by catching a shiny fish, the glimmerscale, may be a reference to the real life zona, or red-tailed silverside, a fish with shiny scales indeed.
The Lesser Flora and Fauna of Western Thanalan
Aquatic Creatures of The Silver Bazaar
Many natively Vylbrandian creatures can be found in the waters of Western Thanalan due to its proximity to the island. Amongst these are Lominsan anchovies, small creatures of previously little value, these fish gather in large shoals to mimic larger oceanic predators and scare off threats. They were previously largely ignored by the men of Eorzea, until a qiqirn (typically of their kind) discovered that when fermented they are delicious, by devouring one he found rotting in the bilge of a ship. Another Vylbrandian crossover is the pebble crab, a creature known for cutting fishing lines, earning the ire of Lominsan fisherman near and far. They are typically native to tidal pools, but evidently venture out into the ocean occasionally. hammerhead sharks are common in the Strait of Merlthor, the specific strait that passes between Vylbrand and mainland Aldenard, where they live in small schools and use their unique cranial anatomy to hunt fish.
There are also plenty more widespread species such as the tiger cod, a striped fish typically native to the colder oceans of the north but which evidently range as far south as Thanalan. They are named for the legendary felines of Othard. The Rhothlyt oyster, most common in the Rhothlyt Sound between Gyr Abania and The Pearl, is also found across Eorzea and is known for being especially delicious, such that it was nicknamed ‘milk of the sea.’ The indigo herring is predictably native to the Indigo Deep, and they migrate across it in large schools which make up a significant portion of the Lominsan Fishing Guild’s catch. Apparently the waters off of the Silver Bazaar were home to a particularly long lived herring by the ‘name’ of Dirty Herry, due in no small part to his ability to avoid danger and seize food within the schools of his kind. The Haraldr haddock was named for a king, plausibly of the seawolf Roegadyn in their northern homeland, that claimed the secret to his old age was exclusively eating the flesh of this fatty fish. The rock lobsters that dwell off the coast of Thanalan, within the Rhotano Sea, are seen as a delicacy for their flavorful tail-meat.
Aquatic Creatures of Vesper Bay
There is another variety of herring found here, the harbor herring. These fish apparently feed on smaller creatures that eat the waste dumped from ships, presumably amongst other things, and thus flock to busy ports. Vesper Bay is certainly a trade and transport hub for Ul’dah, and thus suits these creatures well. The blue octopus is a vicious ambush predator that lies in wait before lunging at its prey, smothering it with tendrils, and hacking at it with its beak.
Also resident here are the Lominsan anchovies, pebble crabs, tiger cod and Rhothlyt oysters mentioned previously. Apparently one such Rhothlyt oyster has grown over twice the size of its species average, and is capable of holding on so tightly to rocks that it earned the name ‘rivet’ oyster, and it is regarded as being easier to break the stone than lift the oyster from its perch.
Aquatic Creatures of Crescent Cove
The waters of the Crescent Cove are home to a form of bivalve common to the Rhotano Sea, the razor clam, which are capable of leaping from their burrows in the sand when under perceived threat. Monkfish are tricky, ambush-oriented predators that attract prey to them using the bioluminescent lures atop their head, after which they prefer to swallow their targets while with their oversized mouths. Apparently these creatures were named for the resemblance of their lures to the candles used by monks to transcribe books.
Like much of the rest of Western Thanalan, Crescent Cove also plays host to many fish most common around Vylbrand. This includes the blowfish, an odd creature capable of inflating itself up to three times its normal size. These blowfish are also apparently possessed of a toxin able to suppress the magical abilities of a mage by depriving the target of the ability of speech temporarily. Perhaps this was evolved to counter predation by sahagin. Similar to the blowfish is the spotted puffer, specialized to reside in river deltas. This suits Crescent Cove, as it is a point in which the ocean flows into a brackish swamp. Alongside these are saber sardines, fish with unusually sharp fins that can even slice through fishing nets as the creatures swim across the Indigo Deep.
Also resident here are the Lominsan anchovies and rock lobsters mentioned previously. Foremost amongst the rock lobsters of Crescent Cove was a massive and particularly vicious specimen named Fingers for his habit of slicing unfortunate fishermen’s digits off if they try to capture him.
Aquatic Creatures of Nophica’s Wells
Bone crayfish are another form of lobster-like crustacean, this time with a pale-white carapace evolved due to their habitat in caves and the bottom of particularly deep lakes. This makes sense, as the ‘wells’ in Nophica’s Wells are a system of caverns that have since collapsed to create a deep body of water. After molting these creatures have such thin shells that their internal organs can be seen within. The hardy dusk goby is common here as well, an adaptable fish that can dwell both in fresh and salt water, its scales darkening as the salt content of its home waters increase. The gudgeon, however, is a strictly freshwater fish defined by its habit of burrowing into the sand of its water homes to take shelter. This meek practice has earned it the title ‘cravenfish’ by Lominsan fisherfolk. The brass loach is native to the waters of the Yafaemi salt swamps, a brutally harsh landscape due in no small part to the voidsent that infest it. The loaches have accordingly evolved a thick coating of slime that allows it to deter most minor predators. Despite this its flesh seems to have become a favorite of lalafellin farmers.
The White Maiden river, flowing down from Abalathia into the ocean, is home to the maiden carp but these fish seem to have made their way down to Western Thanalan. They are an important food source for the people of the Shroud due to the large, easily exploited shoals they gather in. The eunuch crayfish, native to Western Thanalan, earned their name by the fierce strength of its claws, apparently capable of depriving a man of… various body parts. Their bright red color has seen them mythologized as beings that sprang from the blood of Azeyma, a legend presumably brought about by the Azeyma-worshipping Belah’dians. The copperfish is a small, orange fish introduced from the Far East by traders that has since become a favorite fish of Ul’dahn merchants, who admire their coin-like appearance. A particularly bright copperfish lives in the waters of the wells, named glimmerscale for its luster which is so dramatic it can reflect the sun to briefly blind nearby creatures.
Aquatic Creatures of the Footfalls
Crayfish are common creatures in a fishmonger’s stall, in no small part due to their propensity for grabbing even unbaited fishing lines and thus be caught with extreme ease. Faerie bass are also a common, oft-eaten fish of a fairly mundane nature. Mudskippers are amphibious fish with a propensity for taking to dry land for hours at a time, using its fins to crawl along. Apparently its mobile lifestyle has led it to becoming associate with Oschon the Wanderer, god of travelers.
Acorn snails are foreign inductees to Eorzea, brought on ship hulls from the New World. Their lack of natural predators in the land has allowed them to swell in numbers considerably. The mudcrab is a simple crab which prefers to dwell in mud and shallow waters, and has become unfortunately associated with golems, apparently born of them in the superstitious minds of the common folk, who often work to kill them on sight. This is false, of course, but may stem from the Belah’dian reliance on golems and their presence throughout the region to this day. To make matters worse, a particularly large mudcrab, nicknamed Mud Golem, has grown to such a size that it is often said to resemble a small golem outright.
Also resident here are the copperfish and eunuch crayfish mentioned previously.
Aquatic Creatures of Cape Westwind
The singularly unimpressive Merlthor goby, named for the strait of the same name, is apparently a common food source for nearly every carnivorous fish around, and remarkable for little besides this. Whitelip oysters are a simple form of oyster found across the Rhotano Sea, known for producing pearls when small irritants are introduced to their form, but for some reason Ul’dahn would-be pearl farmers have been unable to prompt this themselves. Silver sharks, native to the Sea of Ash, have earned a fearsome reputation for mauling and otherwise attacking fishermen, as well as other large creatures they come across in the oceans. Also found in the Sea of Ash are the amusingly named wahoos, which are sharp-fanged fish who feed on schools of shrimp and are prized by alchemists for the medicinal properties of their bones and scales.
Blacklip oysters are relatives of the more common whitelip oyster, but produce black pearls and are usually found in Sea of Ash. These oysters have been massively overfished due to their production of black pearls, invoking the eternally zealous greed of Ul’dah. Plaice are simple ambush-predators who hide their flat bodies in the sands around the Isles of Umbra, but apparently can be found further from these shores, approaching Western Thanalan. Sea devils are unusual cephalopods, an odd form of octopus that resembles a voidsent due to their purple hue and prominent horns. Folklore speaks of giant sea devils dragging entire ships below the water, but modern sea devils are much smaller than this would suggesting. Even so, the stories are somewhat daunting. Titanic sawfish, which can measure up to slightly less than 4 meters at their largest, also have plenty of myth around them, with some suggesting they can even saw through galleons, though this seems unlikely. Perhaps more threatening is the Pirate’s Bane, a colossal titanic sawfish that is over 5 meters long, although the rumors of it sinking reaver vessels may also be somewhat exaggerated.
Also resident here are the Haraldr haddock mentioned previously.
Aquatic Creatures of Parata’s Peace
The grip killifish is a rare creature typically found inland on Vylbrand, in the area of the Empty Heart on Gods’ Grip, from which it gets its name. They can be found in other areas, typically those hostile to life, making it a mild extremophile. It can likely be found in Parata’s Peace due to the toxic gases that linger across the entire area. The silverfish is a relative of the copperfish and goldfish, and may actually arise from artificial breeding programs used by Ul’dahn enthusiasts aimed at created their specific luster of scales. Ignus Snails are more prized by Amal’jaa than Ul’dahns however, specifically because of the bright red hue of their shells which are said to imitate the claws of Ifrit and these snails can serve as a secondary form of currency when bartering with the tribe. The sludgeskipper is an extremophile variant of the more mundane mudskipper, known for the same habit of crawling up on land as their cousins but for choosing more hostile homes.
Perhaps more novel than any other fish in the waters of the Peace are boltfish, which possess inordinate concentrations of latent lightning-aspected aether, which they are prone to unleash on anything foolish enough to irritate or threaten them. The Ilsabardian bass, presumably an invasive species from the eponymous continent, is an aggressive fish that has a habit of devouring other inhabitants of its home waters, in direct contrast to the more placid Eorzean bass. I’m sure a more political academic would make some comment regarding the Garleans, also of Ilsabard, here. Vampire lamperns are entirely unpleasant creatures which, as their name hints, latch onto their prey with rows of sharp teeth and drink their blood. Their hunger is such that they have gained a reputation for doing this even to land-based creatures that draw close to their watery abodes. To make matters worse the Bat-o’-Nine-Tails is an especially large lampern that has taken to whipping prey with its tail, stunning them and giving the horror plenty of time to sink its teeth into the target.
Aquatic Creatures of Moondrip
The blindfish is a troglodytic fish that can typically be found in the grottoes of Vylbrand, but have evidently found their way to Western Thanalan somehow. Their cave-dwelling existence long-ago caused them to devolve their eyes, but gain the ability to accurately gauge the directions of water currents and disturbances in order to navigate in the dark. This would certainly be useful, seeing as moondrip is a cavern itself. The beautiful but violent assassin beta has made a name for fighting others of its species if they draw too near while the fish is feeding. These fish apparently hail from central Abalathia’s Spine, and must have migrated to Thanalan either through the many rivers that descend from that region or via the ever-avaricious merchants of Ul’dah or even Belah’dia.
More typical of Thanalan are the garpikes, sharp-toothed and hard scaled predatory fish. The legendary Frandelont Raimdelle apparently wrote of specimens of these garpikes that were over 27 meters long, had arms as strong as a gobbues and 4,000 teeth. Thankfully these larger specimen have either gone extinct over the centuries since Raimdelle wrote his seminal Codex, or were mythical all along. The huge soft-shelled snapping turtle, Ndendecki, seems to have wandered into Moondrip accidentally, but taken up residence within regardless. The cavern is also home to a number of hecatoncheires which escaped from the Copperbell Mines, and to their concern the turtle has earned a reputation amongst them for, uh… severing the more private appendages of those who wander into the pool attempting to use it as a toilet. The Ndendecki is named for a Congolese cryptid turtle, also known as the dragon turtle.
Also resident here are the grip killifish and silverfish mentioned previously.
Botanicals and Critters of Horizon’s Edge
The plantlife of Western Thanalan reflects its nature as one of the more hospitable regions of Thanalan. Wild rye can be found there, likely sprouted as a result of Ul’dahn farmers bringing it down from its native Mor Dhona and Coerthas to grow it closer to home and thus control the profits from it more ably. Rye does grow wildly in the Levant and Anatolia, regions that have indeed influenced Thanalan and its cultures. Moko Grass is a common plant across Aldenard, but is particularly known within Western Thanalan. It is a crucial plant for the cultures of Eorzea, as it is the main source of hemp. Judging by the cloth produced using this grass, it may be an allusion to hemp, a form of cannabis sativa that has been used to create cloth throughout human history.
The Coerthan carrots found in the area likely share their origin with the rye, introduced by Ul’dahn or even Belah’dian farmers to grant them a food source in their rough homes. The unflinching, rocky nature of Coerthan terrain may have made these carrots hardy enough to survive in the similarly rocky soils of Western Thanalan. The grass viper is a snake found in grasslands across Eorzea, and Western Thanalan is certainly the closest thing Thanalan has to a grassland. These vipers possess a quite deadly hemorrhagic venom.
Botanicals and Critters of Nophica’s Wells
The subterranean waters of Nophica’s Wells permit a number of delicious edible plants to grow in the area, including the sweet-when-cooked ogre pumpkins, apparently named for some reason after a category of voidsent – perhaps because of their size? As well as the potent-smelling Garlean garlic, said (likely untruthfully) to scare away vampire bats. These bulbs may have been named to insult the Garleans by comparing their smell to that of the invaders, or even have been transplanted from northern Ilsabard by entrepreneuring Ul’dahn farmers. The latter is also what likely got the wild onion introduced to Thanalan, as it originates in the Near East, a location the Ul’dahns do plenty of trade with.