Suminarae, the True Lie
Suminarae is a contradictory Goddess that makes sense. She is Goddess of beauty and peace, the lie of the outside belying what is within. Not all that is beautiful on the inside is reflected on the outside, just as inner peace does not quell the unrest of others. That is where the trickery comes in, the subterfuge, the lies.
She spouses the lies that heal, the passing falsehoods that make up idle talk. The perfect false self protect the flawed true self from harm. This is the image of substance, the protection of deceit. This is why She believes in keeping the populace ignorant, as ignorance is blissful peace. The romantic metropolis as opposed to the true city, the beautiful seascape versus the monotonous blue, there is ugliness in the truth, and balm in the lies.
It was Suminarae that found the world of Elqua for the Pantheon, that slaughtered its indigenous pisceans to make room for the Pantheon’s immigration. The race that loathed itself, that denied their own worth, beckoned to Her from across the planes. They were practically begging for sweet release, and it is Suminarae that now lies about that horror, that covers it up with the lie of omission.
But the Insidious Doubt has more secrets that define Her. Perhaps the most unexpected lie of Suminarae is that She is not whom Her flock worships. She is, in fact, the shard of Trishna known as Tornesh, the male twin/face of the Binity of Desire. Be it the seduction of lies, the lust for the beauty, or the luck of random chance, Tornesh is now a twisted falsehood of His former half-self, a fully free Goddess at peace with Her lies.
Suminarae, the Omission, the True Lie, the Hidden Truth, Insidious Doubt, She Who Knows, Malvy of the Deceit
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Symbol: Pearl clenched in a scorpionfish’s mouth.
Domains: Chaos, Healing, Luck, Travel, Trickery.
Preferred Unguis (weapon): Spine
Clerical Unguis of Choice: Spear
Cleric Alignment: Chaotic evil, Chaotic good, chaotic neutral, true neutral.
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Home of the Gods
The Gods of Elqua are unique in that their realm is the very waters around their worshipers. There is no equivalent to a Mount Olympus off of some abyssal trench or a perfect realm nestled in another dimension. The gods of the Pantheon are found in the very waters of the Endless Blue. Not any one set spot, but freely roaming the oceans like the other denizens of the water world. The Gods are out there, in the blue, to be experienced by the worthy, the unlucky, or the damned.
The souls of the departed pisceans are believed to either remain, disembodied, among the currents (such as with Ancestor Worshipers) or are absorbed by their higher power (like with those that believe in the Source of all life). This is where the Church of Olyhydra in different from her deific brethren: She promises her loyal followers an eternal respite from strife as they bask in her presence. Even the Pantheon, with all its lessons and stories, only insinuates that death is the final end. Olyhydra promises there is something more, and to a subjugated populace, that is an enticing idea.
Civilization and the Vastness
The Known World of Elqua is currently experiencing what would be called a burgeoning Renaissance. Chemistry in the form of alchemy is being codified. A form of concrete that sets in water has been developed. The Godless are actively attempting to educate the masses. Diplomacy between the Fluid Nations was achieved with the eponymous Fluid Nations Accord. Scientific observation has led to the rise of the College of Doctors and “modern medicine”. Fauna are tamed by Packbreeders and flora cultivated by Culinists. Even the formation of the Pearl Papacy in the Church of Olyhydra has heralded an oncoming time of change and enlightenment.
But above the waves, in the reviled hell known as the Vastness, the wilderness is anything but tame. The surface world is a savage place, populated by massive monstrosities and lethal landforms. On the scattered islands that make up the only landmass above the water, aberrations that can only be described as alien dinosaurs rule the world. Their form and function terrify the aquatic pisceans below to such a degree that the world above is universally shunned. It is the antithesis of life in the nurturing waters, thin and vacuous, swarming with horrible grotesqueness and terminal to all life.
Imagine the soul rending fear early pisceans must have felt when they dared peek up out of the water, their final sight the massive jaws of an aberration clamping down on them. Or the visage of his oblivious friends as suddenly the waters explode in a swirling froth of red and their friend is suddenly… gone. Of talons and claws, smashing through the water, skewering the unwary and dragging them from the seabed with such utter force. The shock wave, both physical and emotional, radiating outward as death plucks another meal from amongst the pisceans. The cacophonous sound of thrashing gone in an instant, left with nothing but the soft sloshing of the ocean fading in its absence.
“The Vastness is a hungry, lethal expanse that will feed on any life
foolish enough to swim too close to the ebbing tide.”
Portable Forges of the Oresmiths
Lumulus that understand the working of metal become Oresmiths. They join one of the eight Forgeclans (from which they take their surname) and ply their skills make lumulated metal. This is a process of metalsmithing that makes the metal immune to corrosion from salt water.
The main tool needed for this art is the forge, but you cannot light a fire under the waves. In order to be able to smelt metal of ore, Oresmiths use thermal vents that litter the sea floor of the Lumulus Basin. They set up a large, cement-like block that is anchored to the sea floor over a deep sea vent, also known as a thermal vent. As the hot water automatically rises, the surrounding waters can maintain a more habitable temperature. The portable forge captures the rising hot water and absorbs the heat into its walls. In many ways, it acts as a convection oven, able to reach hotter temperatures that those of the hydrothermal vent itself. With enough accumulated, smelting of basic metals can be done.
The process is similar for lumulated metal, but instead of a thermal vent that releases super-heated water, it must overhang a chemical seep. Chemical seeps are much like thermal vents, but the water is inundated by other chemicals that the Oresmith can use in the forging of metal. The belief is that lumulated metal can only be forged over special seeps, the likes of which no Oresmith would ever divulge.
The Locanthic Pueblos
As a nomadic race, the Locanth follow the schools of fish that serve as their sustenace as they migrate. The Locanth eventually learned and began to predict the pattern of these migrations. With that knowledge, the found certain places that they could camp at during the season. Those places were fairly regular, so the Locanth built more permanent housing, their pueblos, so there could be shelter awaiting them ahead as the herds migrated. As the seasons changed, the Locanth would move from seasonal housing to the next, freeing some of the Locanth’s energy and resources from the need to find and erect shelter on a repeated basis.
What this also means is that, out of season, the pueblos remain unoccupied. Pisceans friendly to the Locanth have been allowed to rest in these pueblos as they traveled, and eventually a code of conduct emerged that anyplace where Locanthic pueblos are found is neutral water for the weary traveler. The empty houses welcome anyone that leaves them in the same condition in which they were found. It is by mutual unspoken agreement that no hostilities may take place at the pueblos: all are welcome.
The Pueblos are usually somewhat out of the way from the more traveled currents, so as to not adversely affect the native life. Conversely, this also means the inhabitants rarely come into contact with predators while inside the buildings. Usually the pueblos are built into the side of a steep hill or rock outcropping, and resemble a barnacle or clam. Multiple buildings are clustered around each other, with portals along the outermost edge and connecting the individual buildings together into a massive network of chambers.
So long as the pueblos are treated honorably, any wayward piscean can find sanctuary within its walls. Those that don’t eventually find karma catching up to them as Locanth destroy any defiled pueblo.
The Shape of Homeseas
No map can illustrate the shape of nations perfectly, short of creating a globe. Flattening out a sphere onto a rectangular space results in a warping of shapes near the poles. But on Elqua, the problem is magnified by depth.
Nations as we know them are mostly sea level to about one kilometer higher. On Elqua, the homeseas are essentially inverted: the land lowers instead of rises. However, the habitable land area under the water reaches five times that downward, and the further down you swim, the harder it is to survive. This means the Fluid Nations are more like bowls than plates.
Further muddying the situation is the medium: water. Water absorbs light much faster than air. This means, if you extend the borders of a homesea directly upward, most of the contents of the “bowl” are a featureless, horizonless blue. Areas like this cannot be inhabited easily (floating islands like Atlantica might be used to accomplish it).
The final problem is the shallow waters that line the borders of the homeseas are incredibly dangerous areas to live in. The waters are so shallow a piscean would have to crawl flat against the sand to stay underwater. With the predator aberrations that populate the surface world in such numbers, these areas of sea are completely ill suited for habitation. As a result, all homeseas relegate these expanses as “no Mer’s seas”, a neutral area where indigenous life can thrive without the worry of piscean encroachment.
With this mind, while looking at the map of the Known World might seem like the Fluid Nations are larger than the continents we have in real life, those areas are mostly composed of uninhabitable expanses of water.
It’ipu Dam on I’uaza Falls
Properly named It’ipui’uaza, this construct is located to the south of the Lumulus Basin, along a spread of mountains in the Spine of the World. It is a massive dam against the O’eanlos brine river where it formed a brine waterfall known as I’uaza Falls.
The O’eanlos brine river is formed by the southern icecap. As water freezes, the dissolved salt and other constituents become more dense, eventually sinking to the sea floor and forming the phenomenon of a underwater river. The salinity keeps the frigid water from solidifying, and without freezing the river draws the extremely cold water toward the edge of the cliffs to form I’uaza Falls.
With the construction of the It’ipu Dam, the I’uaza Falls were bottled. The restricted flow of brine water has formed a reservoir at the top of the cliff, and a huge salt lake surrounded by jagged hills of stone has formed behind the dam. It was here, submerged under water so saline it would desiccate any bare flesh that dared enter it, that the Ur’qwal’she — the Perfection of Form — was hidden during the Kraken Occupation.
Shaped like a giant clam shell, its inward curve facing out toward the open water and its hinge extending nearly 200 feet from the base of the cliff. And though the Lumulus Machine has long since been moved away, the It’ipu Dam still sees activity. Far more activity than would be needed for simple maintenance, there is little else to speculate other than something is going on inside of the dam itself. Since the O’eanlos river still flows and the It’ipui’uaza reservoir lake does not grow further, where is the brine water going?