Range: Merfolk are native to Elcenia. They live in all of its oceans.
Lifespan: 220 Elcenian years (161 Barashin years)
Merfolk are an aquatic, water-breathing species who inhabit saltwater. They are humanoid (and about human-sized) from the waist up, but below the waist they have long scaled tails. These vary in shape and size, but the archetypical example tapers into a fin after five feet in adults. Merfolk do not have ears (although some have finlike projections from the relevant place), and their noses are so flat as to be little more than nostril slits. They have webbing between their fingers, although it only goes partway up each digit and leaves them plenty of manual dexterity.
Merfolk are the sole occupants (apart from occasional violet-group dragons) of the ocean nations of Tenebirokalamikikek, Ouun, Talp, Maiiv, Eem, and Zuq. They are the second most populous sapients in Elcenia after sprites. Unsurprisingly, they are also an extremely diverse species, both physically and psychologically; each country is home to a variety of subcultures and ethnic groups.
Merfolk do not form romantic partnerships (except on rare occasions with dragons who prefer it and manage to convice merfolk to give it a try), but they may repeatedly breed with a given member of the opposite sex, as their estimations of what constitutes an attractive specimen are unlikely to change from year to year. Fertilization is external and it is not uncommon for several males to fertilize a given female's eggs, or a given male to fertilize several females' eggs. They do not nurture their young as infants, and most newly hatched merfolk are eaten by predators or die for other reasons in the first few months of life. After that, however, young merfolk will latch onto nearby adults who physically resemble themselves (usually a parent or other relative), and most adults will look after young who do this.
In addition to wizardry (which is practiced in only some regions of the sea), merfolk have several of their own forms of magic. They do not generate mages, and witchcraft is impractical in an underwater environment, but they do produce lights and sorcerers.
There are more than 50 visibly different groups of merfolk and some hundreds of subdivisions beyond with historical or cultural significance. They will not be listed here.