by Dustin Douglas
The Debt Repaid
“Call to us! Unleash us! Destroy their petty world built upon petty lies. Who do they serve? Just themselves. Who do you serve? You serve the truth!”
Tameryh’s eyes opened, but he still felt pain across his entire body. He strained to lift his head up, and saw a plain empty room. He tried to speak, but coughed instead. He saw specks of blood float away from his mouth. He looked down and saw bandages wrapped around his chest.
“Don’t trouble yourself,” came a voice from the other room.
Tameryh looked up and saw the leather-bound mer woman standing in the doorway.
“Who are you?” asked Tameryh.
“A servant of the truth. You hear it don’t you? The voices of the currents bring us together. I couldn’t be sure until I witnessed your baptism myself. Clearly, the currents have chosen you. As for me, the currents spoke to me long ago. Telling me to find you, and help you see the truth. I am Ashani, servant of truth, Druid of the Bloom,” said Ashani.
“Bloom? You mean the red mist?” asked Tameryh.
“Yes. Those scholars think they have it figured out. A natural occurrence, a mere reaction of the environment. Pah. It’s nature’s revolt,” she said clenching her fists.
Ashani continued, “It’s nature’s very immune system. We’ve run rampant. Ruining, destroying, infecting, and killing our own world. Why? Progress, power, or perhaps wealth? What will any of that do for you when the tides stop flowing, and your heart stops beating?” said Ashani.
“What do you mean?” asked Tameryh.
“I mean the bloom is nature itself turning against the greatest enemy. You, me, all of the Piscean’s. Our civilizations’ greed, bottomless appetites, and appalling growth has led to the death of the coral, the kelp, and now even the waters turn. We must act on nature’s behalf, Tameryh. We shall cull the school,” said Ashani.
“You mean… kill them? Kill my clan?” asked Tameryh.
“You’re thinking too small,” said Ashani.
“This entire city is corrupt. Self-serving Yaun-Teel ready to stab each other in the back for a bit of profit. If they’re willing to do that to each other, what are they willing to do to our world? Just look at the strip mining and slaves!” exclaimed Ashani.
“You’re right. They aren’t worthy of being Yaun-Teel. They live to serve only their own greed. All of them. Every single one of them,” growled Tameryh.
“Yes, indeed,” said Ashani.
“What will we do?” asked Tameryh.
“Call to the bloom. Speak to the bloom. Command it,” said Ashani.
“How?” asked Tameryh.
“The bloom has accepted you, young one, now that you’ve survived the red baptism. Look here,” she said revealing a small urn.
She lifted the lid off the urn, and a small red cloud appeared. She placed her hand into the cloud and spoke softly.
“Come. Come. Let us cleanse this world of the wretched,” she chanted.
She continued chanting, and small specks of red started to flow towards her from outside of the room. After a few minutes, a large red mist had amassed around her. She gestured up and down, and the cloud gathered itself upwards, then downwards following her commands.
“Wow…” said Tameryh as his mouth hung open.
“Now, you just need to rest yourself and…” said Ashani as she trailed off.
Tameryh focused his hands on his chest and chanted his healing magic. Within a few moments his aches started to disappear.
“Very impressive,” said Ashani. She continued, “You already know some druidic arts?”
Tameryh ignored her question and eagerly said, “When. When can we start?”
“Tonight,” said Ashani.
Tameryh and Ashani worked with the red bloom in her hidden home for a few hours. Ashani explained the simple art of commanding the red mist. As long as she remained in contact with a part of the cloud, she controlled its motion. The cloud acted like an extension of her being. Tameryh found an odd enjoyment in effortlessly manipulating the mist. He couldn’t wait to wait them all suffer.
That night, the pair returned to the outskirts of Edonmul.
“Come. Come. Let us cleanse this world of the wretched,” they chanted as they looked down at the city. Soon the red cloud would engulf them all. Within a few minutes, the pair gathered a massive cloud, at least the size of a blue whale.
Ashani turned to Tameryh and said, “I leave the culling to you. Make them pay for their service to the lie.”
Tameryh slowly nodded and darted down towards the city. First, he turned his head to the cathedral. He thrashed his fins as fast as he could as he barreled through the stained glass window at the front of the cathedral.
Bits of glass and debris floated all around him, as he saw the surprised look of five Yaun-Teel commoners and Sidar Asoudi. The red mist trailed behind Tameryh and the majority of it remained outside.
“Who do you serve?!” shouted Tameryh as he commanded his mists to completely envelop the exterior of the cathedral.
“Unintended? How?! What is this?” said the sidar.
“You put yourself before me, before my house, before our gods. You do not serve anyone but yourself, sidar!” shouted Tameryh as some of the red mist began flowing into the room sealing off the exits.
“Is that… by the gods,” said sidar noticing the red mists.
The sidar and the commoners turned and opened the door only to find even more mist on the other side. The commoners screamed and the sidar glanced nervously around looking for an exit. One of the commoners bolted, trying to dash through the mists. The bloom clung to the poor creature as it writhed in pain and its kin looked on in horror. Tameryh enveloped the rest of the commoners in the red mist as well, ensuring that the sidar was the last one remaining.
“You… aberration! Unintended by Yaun-Teel, now unintended by nature itself!” screamed the sidar.
“Oh that’s where you’re wrong, grand deceiver,” said Tameryh as he covered the rest of the commoners in red mists. He continued, “Nature called to me. The truth spoke to me, asking me to fight. Fight the sickness that is Yaun-Teel. And what a sickness it is.”
“Who do you serve!?” screamed Tameryh as the mists cornered the sidar.
The sidar panicked and began mumbling prayers.
“Do you think he hears you, heretic?” said Tameryh as he clenched his fist.
The red mists slammed into Sidar Asoudi, seeping into his body through his gills. He shook violently. The sidar’s face grew bright red, blood leaked from his eyes , ears, and mouth. The sidar tried to speak, but he could only gag as he coughed up more and more blood. The sidar reached to his gills, trying desperately to brush the bloom away to no avail. At last, the sidar gave out one last gasp as blood gushed from his body.
Tameryh let the red mist linger on him as he looked down. Once, Tameryh admired the clergy, but now he saw him for what he was: a miserable self-serving coward who took advantage of his station. Tameryh looked towards the dead commoners and felt nothing.
“You worked in service of the lie…” he said quietly.
Tameryh swam back outside and made his way towards the Basqorjn manor. As he approached overhead, he brought the red mist down with him with terrible force. Tameryh slammed the mist over the entire courtyard, forgoing subtly all together. Within a few moments, he saw the corpses of the watchmen floating up out of the mists.
Tameryh swam down towards the main manor, and forced the mist to form a barrier around it. Tameryh looked through the windows, seeing a few frightened faces staring back at him. Tameryh attempted to open the door, but it was locked.
“Hah, you think that will stop me?” mumbled Tameryh.
Just then, Tameryh heard something coming from behind. As he turned, he saw Blodusk darting towards him with a trident.
Blodusk’s trident pierced through Tameryh on his left side.
Tameryh clenched his fist and brought the bloom crashing down onto Blodusk while also holding the trident in his side. Tameryh watched as the bloom went inside Blodusk’s gills. Tameryh tried pulling the trident out, but Blodusk held strong. Despite the bloom destroying him from the inside, he fought. Tameryh pulled, but Blodusk continued. Tameryh saw the color leaving Blodusk face as his grip went lax. Blodusk coughed up blood and held his hands to his throat. Blodusk tore at his gills trying to give himself a chance to breath. He fought hard as more and more blood left his body. He felt his strength leaving him.
“My-My-Myra!” he finally gasped as he fell to the ground.
Tameryh cocked his head sideways and looked down at Blodusk, barely noticing the trident that pierced him.
“Why… did he really… my mother?” said Tameryh.
Tameryh looked back down at his wound. He removed the trident and winced in pain. He looked up unable to differentiate the blood escaping his body from the red mist surrounding him. Tameryh chanted his healing magic again. While the majority of the bleeding stopped, Tameryh failed to completely seal the wound. Tameryh chanted and focused on his magic a second time.
“CEASE!” shouted Elder Molka as he threw open the door.
For a moment, Tameryh felt the elder’s command seep into his mind. Tameryh stopped chanting the spell, but clenched one fist and pointed towards the elder.
“CEASE!” shouted the elder again, holding up his staff. His coral staff gave off a slight glow with this command.
Again, Tameryh felt himself go limp for just a brief instant.
“CEASE!” commanded the elder once more, but this time Tameryh focused all of his rage and fought through the elder’s magic.
“Who do you serve? WHO DO YOU SERVE?!” shouted Tameryh slamming his fists down.
The red mists crashed into the elder and into the manor. The elder attempted to cling to his staff, but the red mist threw the old Yaun-Teel into the wall. Tameryh swam up picked up the elder’s staff and began chanting. Tameryh felt the staff become increasingly heavier as it accepted his enchantment. Tameryh hoisted the heavy staff over his head, and brought the full weight of it down onto the elder face, crushing it completely.
Tameryh looked down at the elder and felt a twinge of regret. Regret not birthed from the sadness of loss, regret born from an unjust end. Tameryh thought. “He deserved a far more gruesome fate. I suffered for years. Over twenty years of hatred, judgement, and servitude to a master who only served himself. “.
Tameryh slipped inside the manor, and inspected his injury only to find the bloom had attached itself to his wound. Tameryh brushed the bloom away and he found that the wound had closed completely. A wicked grin grew across Tameryh’s face as he felt empowered for the first time in his life.
Tameryh set his sights on the servant’s quarters across the courtyard. He saw that some of them had started to look towards the manor, worried about what was happening. He knew he had to act quickly or else they might escape.
Tameryh called to the mist and darted towards the servant’s quarters. Again, he completely surrounded the building with the bloom. He could hear their screams, the old, the young, the hatchlings, all of them would soon be dead.
“Tam? You’re alive?!” shouted Grimbould as he swam outside.
Tameryh simply looked away from him and clenched his fist.
“Tam! No! Don’t do it boy! You’re no killer, you’re an honorable lad!” protested Grimbould.
“You serve those who serve the lie, Grimbould. In the end, you didn’t care about the truth, just yourself. You could have spoken for me, but you watched me float away to the vastness,” screamed Tameryh.
“No… please… you were like a son to me, Tameryh,” said Grimbould.
“Your words. They only serve you now. You only think of yourself,” said Tameryh as he brought the mists around Grimbould.
“No! No!” protested Grimbould.
“Oh yes. You serve the clan, even if they’d disown one of their own over such triviality. Even if they sentenced an innocent to death,” said Tameryh.
“What? Innocent? You attacked the elder!” shouted Grimbould.
“Where was your protest when my mother was sent off to die? The only thing I saw were your lies, Grimbould. You never told me. Would it make you feel sick? Would it make you feel terrible to tell me the truth? Your actions prove it to me, you only serve yourself,” said Tameryh.
“No you’re wrong, listen! List-“said Grimbould as he began choking.
“Your deception ends here,” said Tameryh as he turned his back on his kin.
That night, the city of Edonmul felt the terror of the bloom. Many escaped as they witnessed the fall of the Basqorjn clan, but not a single Basqorjn family member survived. They say a young Yaun-Teel returned from the dead. Perhaps a vengeful spirit with a thirst for revenge, or the servant of a dark god looking to create chaos.
No matter the case, or the cause, one thing is certain. The bloom engulfed the city. Even now, the red mists still linger there. Who knows what fortunes lie hidden in the once great city of Edonmul. Only a fool would venture into the bloom. Who knows what creatures lurk inside, creatures who’ve learned to live within the toxic mist.
“The endless blue ran red that night.
The seas grew thick with toxic blight.
The pleas for help fell, empty prayer
at the hand of Tameryh Kinslayer”
— a vexillifer’s ballad, “The Fall of House Basqorjn“.
by Dustin Douglas
The Beautiful Lie
Tameryh felt immense pressure on his head and face. He felt the claws and hands of something on his body as it pressed on his chest. Tameryh tried to open his eyes but they felt incredibly heavy, as if sealed shut. Through the shuffle and commotion, he started to hear murmurs and voices. The voices began to sound familiar. He heard a man chanting, and felt a rush of energy run through him as the man pressed his hands on his forehead. Tameryh’s eyes finally opened.
“It looks like the young unintended is waking up,” said Sidar Asoudi.
Grimbould looked down, along with Blodusk.
“It’s a pity. I coulda thrown ‘em out with the rest of the garbage,” said Blodusk with a smirk on his face.
“What happened to him, sidar?” asked Grimbould.
“As I told Elder Molka, I should have known a weak willed unintended shouldn’t be trusted with Dreamer’s Respite,” said the sidar in a judgmental tone.
“Oh don’t trouble yourself, sidar. You merely served him. He probably spun you quite the tall tale to get it from you,” said Blodusk.
The sidar nodded in agreement and said, “It seems everything is in order then.”
“Thank you for your service,” said Grimbould.
“I live to serve,” said the sidar as he left the room.
“What did you do? Why were you drinking that potion?” asked Grimbould to Tameryh.
“I spoke with the sidar because I’ve been plagued with nightmares. He told me to take that to help sleep,” confessed Tameryh.
“Right. But it looks like you were taking more than you should have,” said Grimbould holding up a half-empty flask.
“I… if I waited too long I started having horrible pains. I couldn’t serve the house in that state!” protested Tameryh.
“I shoulda known,” said Blodusk as he cracked his knuckles.
“Thane Blodusk, I leave this to you now. Sorry, Tam, there’s nothing I can do,” said Grimbould solemnly.
Blodusk grabbed Tameryh by the arm, and dragged him out of bed.
“Get dressed. Now!” shouted Blodusk.
Tameryh hurriedly threw on his work clothes and presented himself to Blodusk.
“Off we go then,” said Blodusk as he grabbed Tameryh by the arm and dragged him out of the room.
The pair swam slowly through the servants quarters, through the kitchens, outside, then back into the main manor itself across the courtyard. Tameryh’s heart sank as he feared the worst. He was being brought to Elder Molka.
A pair of well dress guards stood in front of the main house of the manor. They saluted Blodusk as they approached.
“Well met, Thane. The elder awaits in his ante chamber,” said one of the guards.
Blodusk nodded, and pushed Tameryh out in front of him. Tameryh meekly swam through the house, which felt like a palace compared to the servants quarters. Finally, they approached the ante chamber, and Thane Blodusk knocked against the wall.
“Enter,” said Elder Molka.
Blodusk shoved Tameryh as he floundered into the room. Tameryh and Blodusk bowed to the elder, and the elder nodded slightly. The elder wore his golden chains, and held a coral staff in his right hand. Now, at almost 100 years old, the elder’s strength had greatly diminished. Over time, he relied more and more on his coral staff to anchor him while trying to remain motionless.
“Tameryh. Unintended. In recent years, you’ve served with Master Grimbould without many major incidents. However, in the past few days, my guards tell me you were leaving the manor without permission in the middle of the night. Then I hear you were lying to the clergy and abusing Dreamer’s Respite. Today, you forced us to contact the clergy to restore you. Completely unconscious through most of the day. What do you have to say for yourself?” asked Elder Molka.
“I confess. I asked for Sidar Asoudi’s help, and he gave me the potion. He never warned me of what it would do beyond help me sleep. If he would have told me it caused such pain, and trouble, I would have avoided it completely. I would have suffered through my nightmares,” explained Tameryh.
Tameryh heard the thane snort at his story.
“Oh, so you’d have me believe the sidar failed to tell you about this medicine? He lives to serve us, after all. What possible benefit would he have in misleading you? You. You disgrace the house with your accusations,” said the elder firmly.
“Sir, please!” pleaded Tameryh.
“Silence him, thane,” said Elder Molka.
The thane put his massive strength into a heavy backhand, sending Tameryh to the ground.
“Did I ask for your opinions, unintended? No. Here are the facts. Your mother’s mistake became my burden. You. She created a debt, and it was settled when we sent her east. You, however, failed to honor her sacrifice. You probably didn’t understand what those eastern scholars wanted, did you? Those disgusting Kouton offered me the vilest proposition. I’d never let our clan be used in such a way, but your mother gave up her claim. They needed Yaun-Teel. Fresh Yaun-Teel, still in their prime. Oh they slashed her, cut her, put her back together, but in the end, they bleed her dry. That’s right, boy, they butchered her,” exclaimed Elder Molka.
Tameryh started to pull himself back up, but Blodusk restrained him.
“No…” said Tameryh.
“Oh what’s that boy? You dishonor her sacrifice yet again?” said Blodusk as he tightened his grip.
“Unintended. I relieve you of your burdens. I relieve of your responsibilities. I relieve of your earnings, and release your debts to us. You are no longer recognized as unintended, you are nothing. You are not of clan Basqorjn, and you are not welcome here ever again,” said Elder Molka with a stern tone.
“Who do you serve?!” shouted Tameryh.
Elder Molka raised an eyebrow at this remark as Bludusk tightened his grip again.
“I live to serve this house! She lived to serve this house! Who do you serve by killing her!?” shouted Tameryh.
Tameryh began trashing, trying to escape Blodusk’s grasp.
“Why, I serve my clan, fool. Can’t you see? You are the proof that she served herself. You’ve followed in her wake,” said Elder Molka with a laugh.
Elder Molka turned to Blodusk, “Remove him immediately.”
Tameryh thrashed harder, and broke free of Blodusk’s grasp. He darted forward and slammed into Elder Molka. Elder Molka crashed into the wall, letting go of his coral staff. Tameryh picked the staff up, and whipped around to see Blodusk charging for him. Tameryh swam up and over, turned back around as Blodusk pulled out a short blade.
Quickly, Tameryh chanted a spell. As he chanted, he could feel the staff growing heavier in his hand as it accepted his magic. Blodusk charged him a second time.
This time Tameryh slammed the coral staff down at Blodusk hard. Initially, Blodusk raised his arm to block the blow, however the weight of the staff greatly exceeded his expectations. Blodusk arm snapped downwards, giving into the incredible weight of the magically reinforced staff.
Blodusk howled in pain as Tameryh lifted the staff back up.
“Guards, stop him at once!” shouted Elder Molka.
Tameryh hefted the staff upwards and charged towards Elder Molka.
“CEASE!” commanded Elder Molka as Tameryh felt a shock go through his body. He felt his hands let go of the staff as it sunk to the ground. Elder Molka braced himself against the wall clutching his chest.
Tameryh couldn’t move, but he heard the guards enter the room. He felt them grabbing his hands, and binding them. He saw one of the guards help Elder Molka leave the room and then he felt a sharp pain from behind. Tameryh’s vision went dark.
Tameryh awoke and found himself in a dark room with a small window and small locked hatch. His head hurt and he found bruises across his body.
“Hey! Where am I?” shouted Tameryh.
He heard someone approach.
“Oh. It looks like ‘the nothing’ is finally awake. Good news, you worthless trash. You’re being sent to the vastness. The abominations will have their way with your entrails!” shouted the guard.
“No… oh no…” said Tameryh trying to make sense of the situation.
“Oh you really can’t be surprised. You. A nobody assaults the head of House Basqorjn and you even manage to injure his thane? I’m surprised you even made it in here alive,” said the guard with a laugh.
That night, Tameryh found no rest. He found no peace. He was left with his thoughts, though not of dismay. He wanted them all dead. They lied to him for so long.
“They sent off my mother to the east, they said. They didn’t have the gall to tell me. She traded her life, and they let it happen. Then, they treat me like a servant for almost two decades, telling me I’m not good enough, I’ll never be part of the house,” he muttered as he floated around the room.
“I’ll never forgive them. The liars. The priest, the elder, the brute. To the vastness with the entire clan. All of them knew what happened! Those fowl, miserable, worthless, self-serving fools,” he said as he continued ruminating.
Tameryh kept swimming in a small circle, unable to find rest or calm his nerves. He worried that he might be left to rot in this cage for an eternity, but the guards returned a few hours later. They bound him up, and carried him outside. There, Tameryh saw the elder, the sidar, Blodusk, Grimbould, and others from the house.
As the morning sun shined down, a Yaun-Teel male in a city guard’s uniform said, “For his crimes against the city, assaulting an elder of the house, and assaulting his thane, both acts with intent to kill, we hereby sentence Tameryh to the vastness. Do any of you wish to speak out against this judgement?”
The crowd fell completely silent. Tameryh looked to Grimbould, but Grimbould looked down and away.
“Very well. We now cast you out. Lowliest of Yaun-Teel. Serve the vastness better than you served your kin!” shouted the guard.
The guards started placing small pouches across Tameryh’s body. The sidar approached and began chanting. One by one, the pouches inflated and Tameryh could feel his body being pulled slightly upwards. After a few moments, all the pouches had inflated and Tameryh began floating upwards at an alarming pace. Panic set in almost immediately as the vastness of the world above the water steadily got closer and closer. Tameryh desperately thrashed, trying to remove his restraints. No matter how hard he fought, he failed to loosen his bonds. The pouches continued to pull him towards the vastness. He squinted as the sun bared down on him. He’d never felt so much warmth before. He closed his eyes, accepting his fate.
Suddenly, a darkness fell over him. He opened his eyes, to see the red bloom coming right for him. Tameryh felt the cloud completely engulf him as he inhaled sharply. The bloom coated his gills and his panic turned to terror. The vastness approached closer and closer by the second, and Tameryh’s visions went completely dark.
Tameryh awoke as his head bounded, and his body ached. He attempted to raise up his head, but he lacked the strength. He let out a soft moan, as he felt a hand press against his head.
“Rest now, young one. You’ve survived the baptism,” came a female voice.
by Dustin Douglas
Tameryh’s first few years of apprenticeship were hard, but fairly simple.
He cleaned every inch of the manor, inside and outside. Additionally, he would help serve meals when the house hosted a large event. He woke up early in the morning, and stayed up late into the night trying to keep the house in order. As he approached maturity, House Master Gimbould decided Tameryh could work as a courier in town as well.
At the end of a long day, Tameryh was almost finished with his duties. No extra events were lined up, and the house was in good condition.
A bulbous Yaun-Teel wearing a silver version of the house sigil called out, “Tameryh! Come now lad. Bring this message to the slave pens.”
Tameryh perked up. He loved delivering messages since his duties rarely allowed him opportunities to leave the manor.
“Yes sir, Master Grimbould, sir,” said Tameryh with excitement.
“No lollygagging through town, boy. I’ll need your help preparing food when you’re back,” said Grimbould.
Tameryh nodded eagerly as he took the parcel from Grimbould. Tameryh darted out of the room, and swam up and out of the manor grounds. The Basqorjns kept their slaves pens near The Hole. Most slaves toiled away in The Hole mining opals for the Basqorjn family. Few of the slaves every saw much beyond the slave pens and The Hole. From time to time, the Basqorjn retain a few healthy Mer for breeding stock as well, as the Yaun-Teel become infertile after a few generations.
Tameryh looked down at a milky fog that hung in the water. Merely swimming through the grit irritated Tameryh’s gills, and lingering too long would start to hurt his lungs. The constant strip mining created the fog that constantly hung in the water, and many slaves fell ill to prolonged exposure to it. Very few animals or plants called this disgusting place home, other than the slaves.
Tameryh approached the slave master’s quarters, just outside of the pens. He knocked on the door and cleared his throat.
“Slave Master Quora, I have a parcel for you from the manor,” said Tameryh.
“Oye, is that the unintended little runt?” growled a voice from the other side of the door.
“It’s Tameryh here with your package,” said Tameryh with a touch of agitation.
Quora opened the door and looked down at Tameryh. Quora, a huge Yaun-Teel female with a wicked streak worse than Blodusk.
“Gimmie that you little unintended,” said Quora snatching the parcel from his hands.
“Nothin’ better ‘ave gone missin’,” she said.
“I’m not even privy to the contents of that parcel, madam,” said Tameryh with a touch of condensation in his voice.
She looked up and mocked, “oh not privy. Not privy to who yer father is, are ya? AH, ha ha!”
Tameryh scowled at her and said, “Very well. I’ll let Grimbould know you received your parcel.”
“Oye, you do that,” said Quora, slamming the door in his face.
Tameryh looked down and shook his head. He wanted to do so many wicked things to that terrible woman. He thought, “Would it be so bad to float her up to the surface and have the hellish creatures tear her to pieces? Perhaps something worse would be better…”
Tameryh turned away from the pens, and started to leave foggy mining area
“Come. Call to us. Command us.”
Tameryh tilted his head up, and looked back towards the mines.
“Surely, the miner’s aren’t still here,” thought Tameryh to himself.
Tameryh swam a short way towards the mine shaft, but saw no one. Tameryh shrugged his shoulders, and left. The tunnels can play tricks on the weak minded, and Tameryh new this too well.
As he turned back, he saw it. A small cloud of red bloom, hanging in the water. Despite the currents, it stood still. The red bloom softly swirled in front of him as Tameryh felt it pierce his mind.
“Come. Come with us. Come,” he heard a ghostly voice beckon.
Tameryh stood, transfixed. He heard the stories of the red bloom. A vile wave of red washed over unfortunate Pisceans. Some say it enters their body through their gills, and destroyed them from the inside out. Some say bodies dissolved in seconds, others claim blood shoots out of your eyes. Either way, Tameryh knew to avoid red bloom.
In the distance, Tameryh turned his head towards a commotion coming from the slave pens, but then looked back at towards the Red Mist. It was gone.
Tameryh returned to the manor, and ended his day. He spent the next few weeks growing increasingly paranoid of what he had seen. He finished his duties and went to sleep without saying a word of his experience to anyone. He wouldn’t speak a word of it for quite some time…
“Come. Call to us. Bring us to them. Come. Speak to us. Let us hear your sweet voice. Come. Tameryh. Wield us. Make us your instrument of purification,” whispered an unseen voice.
Tameryh floated dangerously close to the surface. The beasts of hell lurked above, obscured by the water’s barrier. The sun blazing in the distance as a shade overtook him. A cloud of endless red swirled around him, and all at once he felt great pain. His body dissolving and burning. Again he heard to voice.
“Come. Call to us. Come!” the voice shouted demanding his attention.
Tameryh jolted up from his slumber. Almost every night, the same dream found him ever since the red cloud first appeared.
After weeks of enduring these nightmares, Tameryh finally decided to speak with a priest of Merrshaulk. While Tameryh normally saved his hard earned coins, he knew that consultation with a priest practically required a tithe. Tameryh knew he could not endure the terrors of his dreams any longer without help. While it proved difficult to request time away from the manor, Grimbould approved a visit to the clergy of the Collector.
Tameryh approached the great temple of the Collector and breathed a heavy sigh as he entered.
“The collector’s blessing to you,” said an elder Yaun-Teel acknowledging his arrival. The elder continued, “How might we serve you this day?”
Tameryh nodded and said, “Collector’s blessing to you as well. I am Tameryh of Basqorjn, uh. Uh…” Tameryh paused for a moment, but swallowed his pride and continued, “Tameryh of Basqorjn, Unintended. I seek spiritual guidance from a Sidar.”
“Oh my. And with what urgency do you seek this guidance?” asked the elder gesturing towards his open palm.
Tameryh produced a small sack of coins and placed it in the elder’s hand.
“Your request has been heard. Please wait here. Sidar Asoudi should be available soon,” said the elder as he logged information on a scroll.
Tameryh waited in the main chapel area and studied the images of Merrshaulk’s champions emblazoned along the walls. The grand seekers, explorers, exploiters, slavers, wizards, sorcerers, and clergy. What ignorant folks called greed, the Yaun-Teel called creative ambition. These champions were so willing to sacrifice everything for their goals. Vanya of Targo, the great explorer. She founded the very city the Yaun-Teel called home. Her desires for fame and fortune created great benefit for the entire Yaun-Teel race. Tameryh looked at the portrait of Grand Wizard Juantic. He felt envious of his magical mastery, as Juantic first established a school for wizardy in Marst Gravis. Truly, greed and profit drove him, but all of the Yaun-Teel society profited from his actions. Before Tameryh could think further about his ancestory, an elder Sidar appeared.
“Tameryh of Basqorjn? Come. Speak with me,” said the elder Yaun-Teel adorned in gold.
The pair of Yaun-Teel slowly swam towards a private office in the back of the cathedral.
“What troubles you so, young one? Is it your mother?” asked the Sidar.
“Oh, no no. Thank you for asking, but… I’ve been having reoccurring nightmares.” Said Tameryh. He continued as Sidar Asoudi nodded solemnly, “It’s always the same. A red mist appears and calls to me. It wraps itself around me, I feel it consuming me from the inside out, and then I wake up in a panic.”
“What manner of red mist is this?” asked the sidar.
“Well. It looked like red bloom. At least, I think. One night after leaving the mine, I thought I saw a small patch drifting though. I heard the voice call to me then. Beckoning me to come closer. I looked around, looked back, and it disappeared,” said Tameryh.
The sidar cocked his head and raised an eyebrow at this story.
“Interesting,” said the sidar. He continued, “Were you alone? The slaves weren’t weaving magic at you perhaps?”
“As far as I know, I was alone. I was ready to brush this off as merely being exhausted from the day’s work, but the nightmares won’t stop. I didn’t feel any sort of fear when I originally saw the mist. I only feel fear in my dreams,” confessed Tameryh.
“I see,” said the Sidar. He continued, “I think I have something that may help.”
The sidar stood up, and began rummaging through a chest at the other side of the room. Tameryh heard glass clanking together, and the sidar eventually produced a large vial of dark liquid.
“I recommend you drink this draught each night before you sleep. This should last you the entire week. If you feel you need more, come visit me again. Of course, be prepared to offer a similar sized tithe as you did today,” said the sidar in a business-like tone.
The Sidar held up a small, cork-sealed vial with a siphoning spigot on the end. Tameryh remembered drinking from vials like that as a child, and he always hated the taste.
Tameryh looked at the sealed vial, nodded, and asked, “Do you think this dream means something deeper? I mean, what sort of thing is that red mist exactly?”
The sidar breathed a heavy sigh and said, “The filthy Mer share stories about it. Cursed waters that claim the wicked, some say. Others claim it’s the remnants of the Kraken’s old magics endlessly roaming the seas, consuming until the end of time. However, the toxin is simply algae. It grows, or blooms, to a massive size. It siphons the purity from the water, and even swimming near it might cause one to gag. At least that’s what the less superstitious might tell you. Perhaps there’s a bit of truth to all those stories.”
Tameryh nodded along and said, “but in the form of a dream? Could it mean something more?”
“Oh, you mean a figurative meaning!” said the sidar with a chuckle. He continued, “Dreams of death, they aren’t too uncommon. Merrshaulk visits images upon us, warning us of dire circumstance or splendid opportunity. Some say they are one in the same. Perhaps, he warns you too? The path ahead of you might be perilous, but trust your instincts. All of us know better than to swim into the red mists without needing to be told. When you feel something is wrong, trust that feeling.”
Tameryh nodded along eagerly.
“Good. Just remember to take small sip of this before bed each night,” said the sidar as he stood up and led Tameryh to the door.
“Yes sir. Thank you for sharing your guidance with me,” said Tameryh bowing.
“I live to serve,” said the sidar, holding open the door.
Tameryh gave a slight bow, and slowly swam out the door, placing the vial into his pack. While he went through the cathedral, he looked back up at the heroes of Merrshaulk and wondered how he might make a name for himself one day.
Tameryh thought to himself, “Could an unintended ever rise to prominence in the House of Basqorjn?”
As he exited the temple, a free Mer woman stared at him in the street. While a bit uncommon in this part of town, other races did come to Edonmul to trade. She wore straps of shagreen, and a tight fitting leather helmet. Tameryh thought she might be a hunter of some sort.
“Don’t give in to the great lies of Suminarae, as comforting as it may be,” said the Mer woman.
“What are you talking about?” asked Tameryh as he cocked his head.
“The priests. They tell you things. The things you need to hear to be a good Yaun-Teel. They tell you what you need to hear to ensure their station remains. If the currents keep flowin’ as they always have, their life will remain comfortable. So, really, who do they serve? They serve themselves first, they serve the lie second, and they might serve you third,” she said.
“Hey, don’t drag me into your toxic heresy!” said Tameryh raising his voice.
“Oh very well, unintended. Just remember this. Soon enough you’ll know you’re nothing more than a vessel to deliver coins, but you could be…” she trailed off.
With an incredulous look, he said, “Could be what?”
The woman faded away right in front of him as she said, “So much more.”
Tameryh looked all around for a trace of the Mer woman, but she disappeared. He looked to the other pedestrians passing by the area, but no one seemed to take note.
He thought to himself, “Who in the vastness was that, and how did she know I was an unintended?”
by Dustin Douglas
The Basqorjn Clan
The Basqorjn Family’s strength resides in their unwavering control. Control over their slaves, control over their business, and control of themselves. Their bloodline’s strength results solely from their devotion to the family. Actions taken against the family strikes at the very heart of one’s own livelihood for any of House Basqorjn. The current living Yaun-Teel generations understand that their success came only from their forefathers labors. The ancestors worked, and toiled to earn the family’s reputation, and the burden now falls to them. The success or failure of the house results from their ability to continue on with the family’s teachings.
The Basqorjn clan never breaks a contract. Contracts may dissolve, but Basqorjn failure is unacceptable.
The Basqorjn clan will serve their elder’s wishes, no matter the request.
The Basqorjn clan treats all family matters on equal footing with business matters.
While the third rule may seem ambiguous, this rule sets the Basqorjn clan apart from most other families. Clearly, the marriage between any two families would require agreement between elders of each clan, but the Basqorjn go further. Even if marriage occurs, the offspring of that marriage may not be acknowledge as a true Basqorjn, and therefore not a true heir of the family. Many Yaun-Teel communities say, “as stingy as a Basqorjn,” for this reason.
The elders also dictate if a particular offspring will breed, and with whom. Some offspring mate with the Mer to keep the bloodline from degenerating, while some maintain the pure blood. The elders decide who among the family shall be gifted with true heir offspring. Many young Basqorjn take issue with this fact, as their nature tempts them to betray the family to fulfill their biological drive. In the end, the youth quash such selfish notions. They bow to the family’s needs first, as they are nothing on their own. What could a single, nameless, Yaun-Teel ever accomplish?
The Basqorjn own many slaves, and produce high volumes of gemstones and precious metals. Despite their draconian family laws, they’ve remained highly productive for many generations. The tight control of the family, and the large number of slaves, allows the core family to live in luxury. A Basqorjn is nothing without faith in the family, and the family repays dedication in gold.
“Mom?” said a young, nervous, male Yaun-Teel.
“It’s going to be okay, Tameryh. Remember, we never fail to fulfill our promises. Just like our contracts,” said the boy’s mother.
“But will I still get to see you?” asked Tameryh as his face turned red.
“You, and me? We don’t matter. What matters is the greatest gift that you have. Basqorjn, your family name. Wear it with pride, my son. Whatever you do, you do in service of the great house. Generation after generation of devoted Yaun-Teel fought to give this name power. Never take their sacrifice in vain,” she said holding him close.
“But what about you?” he said, still fighting back the tears.
“Don’t think of yourself. That temptation leads to the greatest of sins. You may feel pain, but do not let that bring shame upon the house. If you do shame the house, pray you can resolve your debt,” she said.
A voice shouted from outside the room, “Myra, it’s time.”
Myra looked down at Tameryh and smiled.
“Little Tam… Don’t forget everything you’ve learned. I must settle my debts,” she said as the hugged him one last time.
Myra left the room, and Tameryh followed her out of the room. He swam as close to her as he could, but he stopped as the elder appeared. He didn’t dare interrupt.
The elder stood tall and strong despite his age. Adorned in clothes with golden trim, wearing three thick golden chains with the house symbol, a golden eel around the perimeter of a circle with a blood drop in the center, hanging down on his chest.
“You will serve the southern scholars well, Myra. You will do as you’re told, and treat their word as mine. You shall no longer be Myra of Basqorjn, though you still carry the reputation of this house. Should I hear any word of dissatisfaction from them, Tameryh will be stripped of his name too,” he said with a stern voice.
Myra turned pale at his remark, but nodded meekly.
“Good,” said the elder. He turned to Tameryh and continued, “ah there’s the boy. You, honor your mother’s sacrifice. Even with her mistake, she settled her debt with the house. It’s a good lesson, lad,” he said in a sterile tone.
Tameryh meekly said, “Yes Elder Molka, thank you sir,” but couldn’t help but frown as the tears started coming back.
“Shh, hush now, Little Tam,” said Myra.
“Blodusk, take the boy,” said Elder Molka.
From around the corner, a large adult male Yaun-Teel swam up and grabbed Tameryh by the arm. Tameryh wanted to fight. Tameryh wanted to scream loud enough for the vastness to hear him. He knew too well that his selfish actions would only hurt his mother. Tameryh knew the house came first. He submitted completely, and looked away from his mother as Blodusk dragged him from the room.
Blodusk frightened Tameryh. The strongest Yaun-Teel of House Basqorjn who served as Elder Molka’s Thane. Beyond simply securing the properties of the Basqorjn clan, he also acted at the Elder’s right hand in disciplinary matters.
Tameryh sat in a room, looking down at the floor. Blodusk shut the entrance and stood inside, looking down at him.
“She held great status here once. Then you came along. Her great temptation! Ha! Myra of all people,” he said with a wicked look on his face.
“Oh yeah, you probably don’t understand the full story yet. Let’s just say she wanted to serve herself first,” said Blodusk.
“Who are you serving by telling me this story?” asked Tameryh as he raised up his head.
Blodusk rushed forward, grabbing Tameryh by the head.
“Listen here you little unintended trash! I’m telling you what you need to hear,” said Blodusk with anger in his voice.
Tameryh’s eyes drifted back down, his shoulders slumped, and he submitted completely again.
“Sorry sir. Thank you for sharing your experience with me,” said Tameryh.
“That’s more like it,” said Blodusk as he released Tameryh.
“You see, she never asked permission. A fine young Yaun-Teel caught her eye, and wouldn’t you know it. Myra couldn’t keep herself in check. My, oh my, she was a profitable one too. We can’t have her going against the family serving only herself. That kind of tarnish takes years to remove,” said Blodusk.
“Now what to do with you. I wonder if the elder will buck tradition and throw you in the slave pens anyway. We don’t need some no-skilled kid smearing the family name,” said Blodusk with a wicked grin.
Tameryh grew pale at the thought of a lifetime of hard labor.
“Oh, did I say something you didn’t like?” said Blodusk watching Tameryh’s reaction.
“You think you’re too good for mining then eh? Too good for swimming down to the deep blackness? Who knows what monsters lurk out there in The Hole. They say it goes down for miles. If the foreman doesn’t get enough out of you, he’ll send you straight up to the vastness!,” laughed Blodusk.
Tameryh kept looking down, just hoping someone or something would stop Blodusk from talking.
“Maybe we’ll just feed you to the sharks, boy! Ah ha ha ha!” laughed Blodusk.
Tameryh stopped responding and sat silently, yearning to leave this place forever.
Blodusk pulled out a short dagger and began grooming his claws. For Tameryh, time slowed to a crawl. After his mother’s depature, he couldn’t fathom what future awaited him. His sorrow was soon replaced with hollow despair.
Tameryh thought back to his earliest memories with him mom. The elders kept Tameryh from formal education with the rest of the children, as “unintended trash,” should not mix with the house. Myra took complete responsibility for Tameryh instead. While she had originally been a profitable hunter, traveling from town to town in her youth, she was reduced to a mere servant.
Tameryh thought about the many lessons Myra shared with him as they explored the kelp forests…
Myra said, “Listen. You may not hear it with your ears, little Tam, but you will feel it in your soul.”
Tameryh turned his head and said, “What is that supposed to mean, mom?”
Myra brought her hands up and gently brushed the nearby kelp. She looked back and smiled down at Tameryh.
“When you know how to dance with the currents, converse with the waters, and listen to the flora, then you may learn their secrets,” she said as she began to fade from view.
“What?! Where did you go!?” shouted Tameryh as his mother disappeared into the kelp right in front of him. To him, she appeared to merge with the plants completely.
Tameryh felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around.
Myra said, “Over here, silly little Tam.”
“Wow! How’d you do that!” asked Tameryh.
Myra smiled, patted Tameryh on the head, and said, “Well first you need to master the other little tricks I taught you little Tam.”
With a huff, Tameryh crossed his arms and said, “oh fine! Then will you teach me that trick?”
Myra nodded and smiled.
With that, Tameryh brought his hands together and chanted. A few minutes later, his hands gave off a minor glow.
“Good! Now, try moving the light on to this,” said Myra pointing at her necklace. She continued, “If you can, I’ll let you keep it!”
Myra handed Tameryh the necklace with a smile.
“Oh really!” exclaimed Tameryh.
He redoubled his efforts trying to cast the magical glow upon the object for the rest of the day. By the time they went home, the necklace glowed, not very brightly, but it certainly glowed. Tameryh brimmed with pride.
Tameryh thought of all the little tricks his mother taught him as he looked down at the necklace. Once he learned how to create magical light, he learned minor healing magic, and even learned to speak with lesser evolved life.
Tameryh clutched the necklace in his hand once more. It was a bronze version of the house sigil. The necklace was rough, scratched, and not as pristine as the elder’s golden one.
After a short while, a voice commanded, “Tameryh, come.”
Blodusk opened the hatch, and gestured for Tameryh to leave. Tameryh swam out of the room and stood before the elder.
Elder Molka said, “Good. You’ll continue on serving the house in your mother’s place. You are Yaun-Teel, and I expect you to fulfill these duties as any Yaun-Teel would. Report to House Master Gimbould immediately. You will help cook, clean, convey messages, make deliveries, and anything else he requests. Is that understood?”
Tameryh bowed his head and said, “Thank you for this opportunity. I will speak with Gimbould at once.”
“You will be relocating to the servants quarters tonight,” continued Elder Molka.
“Ah HA! Not heading down to the hole? Tis a shame” snickered Blodusk.
Tameryh looked down without responding.
“You. Speak when you are spoken to boy!” demanded Blodusk.
“Yes, sir,” replied Tameryh with a flat affect.
“Good,” said Elder Molka as he nodded towards Blodusk grimly, and left the room.
“Oh what’s this little trinket? Now that you are formally serving the house, you can’t be wearing it” said Blodusk as he ripped the necklace from Tameryh’s neck. Tameryh’s eyes went wide, and his face turned red.
“Oh this was your mother’s? You realize it’s not within her authority to bequeath this to you, or anyone. You probably think this was her property. No. This symbol means she’s recognized as a Basqorjn huntress. You. You are no hunter. You are barely Basqorjn. She isn’t even Basqorjn now!” shouted Blodusk
Blodusk started laughing as he stuck the necklace in his pocket. Tameryh charged at him.
Tameryh felt Blodusk’s full strength in a solid backhand to his face. Tameryh’s head snapped backwards as he sank to the ground. Blodusk looked down on him and laughed, as a trail of blood floated upwards.
“Don’t fool yourself, boy. You think this is yours? You think you’re entitled to it because she gave it to you? Damn it, fool. You shouldn’t even be alive,” he said as Blodusk picked up Tameryh by the throat.
“You. You were her mistake, he was her temptation. Damn them both,” hissed Blodusk as he threw Tameryh back down.
Tameryh took a few minutes, but finally collected himself. Anger, hate, and despair swelled in him as he knew he was helpless to change anything.
The ancient Elquans could not help but look up from the safe confines of the world’s oceans. Though mostly in fear of the aberrations above, a few pisceans focused passed the blinding terror to see a refracted view of the Vastness. Warped through the refractive waters of the Shore, the Vastness appeared to curve in around them, mirroring the slopes of the sea floor as they reached the Shelf. Trying to make sense of what they saw, those piscean could only liken existence in terms of what they already knew — in this case, a common egg.
Eggs are plentiful in the ocean, with the majority of life on Elqua being oviparitous — giving birth to embryos encased in a protective membrane. The parallels between what the inquisitive pisceans saw above their homeseas and what they saw with every new generation were blatant: Embryo, albumen, and yolk.
The waters that surrounded those primitive observers pooled in craters and crevasses of the planets subaquatic surface. The curvature of the ocean floor as it reaches upward toward the Vastness formed a basin, just as the embryo nestles at the bottom of an egg, with its curved spine along the outer edge. It is not coincidence that the mountain range known as the Spine of the World wraps around the borders the Known World.
Above the water, the pale sky of the Vastness blankets the world. This is the albumen, the unbreathable gap between life and the nurturing yolk. A massively wide swath of suffocating vacuum, only ended at the horizon by the blue of the water, the sky loomed over the waters teeming with embryonic life.
Amidst this alien expanse smoldered the sun. A great sphere of amber heat and brightness, the sun illuminates the Vastness. Its light seeping down into the cool waters, spreading out and dissolving into the ecosystem. Like a yolk, feeding, nourishing the life waters. That flickering, radiant spot arced across the Vastness as far back as piscean memory extended, always glaring down at the cool depths accusingly, red-eyed and unrelenting.
That simplistic model of existence is what became the ancient belief of the Source. The Source is the egg. The Source is all life. The Source is birth, growth, and death. Dive deeper into the water, you become one with the Source. Break the waves into the Vastness above, only death prevails.
The Source, the Beginning, Life Mother, Élan, Birth of All.
Symbol: A off-white sphere with a blue crescent along the bottom and a golden sphere off center to the right.
Domains: Animal, Healing, Plant, Protection, Water.
Preferred Unguis (weapon): None.
Clerical Unguis of Choice: Natural Unguis.
Cleric Alignment: Chaotic neutral, lawful neutral, neutral evil, neutral good, true neutral.
Symbol of the Source
The Source has no physical form, and thus no specific shape. Instead, the Source is seen as ever-present, part of the natural order of life. The Source is as vital a part of the birth of a new fry as she is the inevitability of death. Divinity is found in every moment of life, the actions performed in the mundane process of survival.
Worship of the Source
Worshipers of the Source revere nature and the progression of life. As such, druids, rangers, and other environmentally aligned classes are drawn to the Life Mother’s school. The religion has a strong presence in the Locanth Gulf, where the culture is strongly tide to the cyclical migration of ocean fauna. Professions such as packbreeders and culinists honor the Source at least in passing for Her blessings.
Shrines and Ceremonies
Wherever wilderness grows is a shrine to the Source. Coral reefs, kelp forests, schooling fish — all of these and more are holy sites where the Source can be revered. Any place where life ekes out existence is fit for veneration of the Birth of All.
Ceremonies, in contrast, are far more likely where pisceans interact with the environment. Source traditions in the past gave birth celebrations to honor most every step of the modern life cycle: the spawning seasons of fish, the time for harvesting kelp, birthing of new livestock and the slaughter of fauna to serve as food. Even more “nature hostile” activities like mining granite and building shelter have resulted in prayers urging the Élan of the world to bless the endeavor.
As Source worship is a non-codified religion, it is hard to form allied relationship with other organizations without being an organization itself. Despite this, there are some groups that have links to Source devotion. The Order of the Anthozoa challenges the use of Xanthellaette magic because of the alleged damage it causes to the world’s corals, and often invokes the name of the Life Mother as justification for their actions. Then there are the Cruor Druids, also known as the Bloom Druids. They often use their power to produce red tide as a terror weapon on the unprotected. Otherwise, any alliance would be more with the individual that exalts the Source than any official church.
There is little overt opposition to Source worship. It is hard to argue with the intrinsic message that life should be honored for its complexity and diversity. Despite this, there are still some organizations that speak against the reverence of nature. Olyhydra, for example, teaches that the waters and all it contains were put there for Her faithful to harvest and exploit in Her name. The culture of the Chelon also share this philosophy, treating most of the natural resources of Elqua as unlimited in supply and exist expressly for exploitation. Without the cohesion of a church infrastructure, believers in the Source have little collective power to work against those opposed organizations. Thus they are forced to react in small ways around localized events.
Relations with other Religions
Belief in the Source is looked down upon by the Pantheon/Idolatry as a backwards practice. Without an avatar that can be comprehended as an individual, Pantheonists treat it as little better than backwards superstition. Yet, there is a kernel of understanding with the Ictharans. Icthara, in Her voracious hunger, espouses the respect of life given for the sake of food. And the clergy of Sekolah find it difficult to promote rising to the top of the food chain without giving due to the competition faced along the way.
Cystomite Cults — Posited with the question, “What rests outside the shell of the Source”, most pisceans would respond flatly with “nothing”. However, there are some that claim outside the known is the Elsewhere, and there the first aberrations scurry along the shell like lice. These Cystomites scuttle across the outer surface of the Source, seeking tiny cracks in its protective shell through which to pierce their proboscis and drink the source of animus vitae. Cultists of Cystomites believe they will be granted boons for enabling the alien aberrations in their feeding upon the Source.
“All of piscean history is a nightmare of Élan…”
— the consensus of the Cruor Druids.
The Shelf: Illustrated
Deeper than the Shoals exists a world of darkness, where the sun’s light cannot penetrate and the weight of the surrounding water presses in incessantly until it crushes even shell. This is the area known as the Shelf, and it is perhaps the largest and most mysterious area of Elqua. It is here that thermal vents spout scalding water upward, where chemical seeps belch strange compounds into the ocean. Deep trenches hide immense creatures in their fathomless depths, and the very liquid around you leeches the warmth from your veins til they freeze. A constant snowfall of tiny organic particles drifts down from the upper zones like a lazy, ever-present winter. Yet despite this utterly inhospitable environment, life continues to thrive as it does everywhere in the Endless Blue.
Enshrouded in darkness, life here has adapted to the extreme conditions. Some creatures evolved ultravision to pick out their prey from the surrounding inkiness, while others generate their own light through bioluminescence. Strange fauna anchor themselves to gashes in the sea bed and feed upon the hydrocarbon-rich emissions escaping from the world’s core. Even other forms of life have altered themselves to survive the harsh conditions, blind and transparent, yet eerily cognizant of the surrounding waters.
The Shelf is where the water world’s secrets hide. The Undertow, a massive sinkhole that swallows up thousands of gallons of seawater an hour, lays hidden in the Chelon Sea. Many of the Spurs — enigmatic crystalline outcroppings jutting out from the silt — lay invisible to the naked eye. Monsters of the deep, such as the Leviathan, the beast that cost the First Khan his tusk, call the Shelf home. There are lesser mysteries as well, for the Lumulus utilize the chemical seeps in the creation of their metals, forged to perfection in the volcanic heat of hydro-thermal vents.
Domenico created a vista for his final illustration of the Shelf, including strange, alien looking plant life, scattered among the myriad smoldering underwater smokers and chemical stacks. The little effects he added, like the rippling refraction from the boiling water escaping the crevasse, are amazing. Check out Domenico’s Facebook page for more examples of his work and his amazing grasp of color.