Endless Blue – Week 36.5 – The Icht: The True First Ones   3 comments

Archaeology

The Icht:  The True First Ones

Common wisdom tells that the Orcans are the oldest race, that their precursors, the Cetacean Barbarians, rose up first and formed the basis of society while the other races still swam mindlessly in schools.  But there is evidence to challenge this notion — scant, dispersed, and teasing — that there existed intelligence, fully formed and functional, when the pods of Cetaceans began their unification.  These rumors, forgotten memories of a time when life meant surviving until the dawn of the next day, tell a different story that the one the Orcan’s lay claim to.  They speak of the ones before, the Ashamed, the great civilization known as the Icht Dominion.

The historians of the Cetacean Oceans vehemently deny any such culture, and decry those that espouse such nonsense as addled dreamers that cannot separate fact from fiction.  Where is the proof, they ask, where is the evidence?  Where are the ruined cities, the lost artifacts?  Where are the bodies?  No remains have ever been found, no bone or tooth, no art or text describing these enlightened predecessors of the civilized races.  What proof is there that these ancient pisceans even existed, save for the fevered imaginations of a small collection of disenfranchised conspiracists?

True, no tangible records exist of that time, an era in Elqua’s history of primitive violence when writing had yet to be codified.  And no remnants of settlements can be found to attribute to the existence of the ancient pisceans.  But no relics?  No, the faithful responded, relics do exist…

The Icht did exist, pioneering a society that started in the rich valley known as the Creche of Civilization, stretched across the northern parts of the Periphery and the Hinterseas, with minor arms of influence reaching southwest.  Their influence is believed to have reached as far as the mountainous barrier called the Spine of the World, or even further beyond.

The extent of the Icht Dominion during the heyday of their reign.

Map of the territory in the Known World believed to be under the purview of the Icht Dominion during the heyday of their reign.

The area said to belong to the Icht is a wavy, inconsistent coverage of the Elquan seas.  There is a conspicuous avoidance of truly deep waters, as if during their expansionist movement certain areas of the world were anathematic for them.  Perhaps they could not survive the harsh conditions of life of the Shelf, or maybe it was locations themselves that repelled the Icht rule, but the Dominion surprisingly flows around these areas like an aquatic fungal ooze.

The Icht were indeed the earliest known society to flourish in the clear, bountiful seas of Elqua, a highly advanced culture easily surpassing their contemporary neighbors who where little more than the primitives pisceans treat the Ceph of today.  The society apparently disappeared abruptly under unknown circumstances. There is no evidence of natural phenomena doing them in, such as famine or catastrophic effect.  Word of mouth retelling, passed down so many generations that the veracity is on par with a child’s dream, states that one day the Icht were plentiful, and the next…  It was if they willed themselves to no longer exist.

Some of the few relics credited to Icht creation are some highly ornate masks. Broad and hemispherical, these half-mask covered the upper portion of the face and  gave it a roundish look that swept forward into a two foot long point above the lip.  Rectangular holes for the eyes are widely spaced apart, suggesting the Icht had to tilt their heads in order to look at someone right in front of them.  The mask are constructed from a type of dark quarried stone rich with shiny flakes, then apparently hand-engraved with a pictographic trim and polished to a glossy texture.  The thickness and expansive coverage of the face suggests the race may have aesthetically reviled their own visages, and worn these masks to hide appearances that would normally offend.  Scratching and wear on the inside of the mask where the forehead rested against the stone makes it plausible that these masks were worn at all times an Icht walked in public.  This conjecture is further reinforced by discovery of small infant sized versions among those larger ones.

There seems to be a general consensus of how the Icht looked, despite there being no record of their appearance from which to infer.  Perhaps some racial memory, or simply due to repeated mythology, but a definite morphology has been detailed.  Severly hunched-backed, the Icht stood not even as tall as a Mer, yet were as thick as the fittest Orcan.  Like the Lumulus, they possessed a chitinous plating, but it only covered their forehead, face, and jaw.  A second plate of armor grew as a stiff collar around the neck, jutting upwards from the shoulders and hovering over their bent backs.  Tiny, beady pupils gleamed from beneath the armored forehead, with smaller bones circling around their eyes almost like a segmented Orcan dirham.  Their lower jaw was a mandible that not only moved up to mold against the palette, but pulled to each side as the jaw parted at the chin.  Those jaws had a form of teeth but no true dentin — instead large bone edges like meat cleavers jutted from their gums.  Their hands were stunted and spindly, barely able to reach their own face, and their tails tapered off to a point instead of the furled fins and flukes that are part of the piscean form.  Their coloration is cited as muddy browns and pale olive, a drab camouflage pigmentation that may have helped to keep them hidden from notice did nothing for their attractiveness.

The Icht are credited by their supporters as being quite advanced technologically than even the current state of the Fluid Nations.  For a body of water so spread out, they must have mastered the arts of domestication and aquaculture in order to maintain the populace’s need for food.  There is no proof of what kinds of tools they had at their disposal, but some of the more learned postulate that the Icht are the ones that erected the mysterious Spurs in the Bronze Epoch.  There is little to support this line of thought, but neither is there anything to disprove it.  And if the Icht are not the ones that created them, then what race did?

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