What the heck is a thorpin?

A thorpin is one of the Great Guardians of the Archipelago of Orion. Making their home in the waters off the shores of the farthest southern islands in the chain of islands in the Great Ocean, thorpins have five developmental stages.

Thorpins are born in the ocean, near the shores of the Thorpin Islands. At birth, they are relatively small, no bigger than a mouse. Their mothers keep the young in shallow lagoons in the leeward side of the islands while the male thorpins hunt and bring back food. For almost three months, the thorpin family unit remains in this lagoons while the young are developing.

After about three months, the young thorpins have developed the strength to scramble onto land pulling themselves up the beaches and finding trees into which they will spin themselves into cocoons. In three months, they emerge and enter their third phase of life. The fins they had as babies have grown and, while still webbed are now working legs. The thorpins also boast a set of four wings, allowing them to fly and thus hunt prey from above.

When they emerge they have also formed the rows of razor like teeth that continue to grow and be replaced throughout their life. Upon emerging from their cacoons, the thorpins are ravenous and in their early history with humans, would often come in conflict with them.

But, since domestication, the thorpins are fed and cared for as soon as they emerge from the cacoons. They are kept on ranches throughout the islands during this phase and are vital to hunting and fishing activities.

In this third stage, the thorpin will grow from about the size of a small dog to a large dolphin. Though they are strong and can be ridden, thorpins are not particularly fast. They are the slowest of the guardians on land, though they have great stamina. They are proficient in the air, but nothing can match their speed in the water.

Like their parents, a third stage thorpin has a blow hole that allows it to hold its breath for long periods of time when they are swimming.

After nearly five years in this stage, the thorpin will return to the sea. They excrete excrete a jelly-like cocoon around themselves and together with other thorpins entering this stage, they float in the harbor. For the next four months, the thorpins remain in these luminescent balls in the sea. Both the islanders and the fully adult thorpins protect the spheres during their time of vulnerability.

In the last month, the thorpins will eat their way out of the balls and eventually put on a tremendous amount of weight. It is also at this time that their legs lengthen and flatten and become true fins. Two of their wings fuse into a dorsal fin and the final two wings are lost. By the time they free themselves they are in the final stage of life.

No longer able to walk on land or fly, they spend their remaining lives in the water. Thorpins are the longest lived of any guardian and can live for up to 80 years. During their maturity, they reach the size of whales, though they have necks and are thinner.

The Thorpin Islands rely on the thorpin during the third stage to represent them in the Guardian Tournament. Like the Dragon and Bastim islanders, Thorpin Islanders participate in the tournament when they are between the ages of 12 to 15. Interestingly, all thorpin riders are female, but unlike the Griffin Islanders, who require all tournament entrants to be male as a matter of tradition, thorpins do not bond well with males during the third stage. Thorpins themselves do not have a gender until they enter the fifth stage.

Translated from The Book of Guardians, Dragon Island Academy

This is background for the latest book I’m working on.

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