Endless Blue – Week 39 – The Free Olympiad   2 comments

Sociology

The Free Olympiad

The spirit of competition, distilled in the phrase “Faster, Stronger, Freer”, has inspired the races of the Endless Blue to great achievements of body, mind, and soul.  Nothing embodies the motto more completely than the physical challenge known as the Free Olympiad.

The Olympiad, ironically enough, had its roots in the Kraken Occupation.  The cruel invaders would take troublemakers and leaders — individuals that had the potential to galvanize the subjected homseas into a rebellion — and force them into arenas to fight for their lives.  Either against captured predators or other rabble-rousers, they were often subjected to heinous and humiliating shows of violence for the entertainment of the Squid.  The popularity of these fights grew as the years passed by, with slaves and slavers alike rooting for their favored to win.

After the Kraken fell from the grace of their alien gods and the shackles of Occupation were smashed, the arenas remained.  Those in the Periphery were sites of rebellion, when the most experienced of gladiators threw off their yokes and led their fellow slaves to freedom.  The immediate reactionary sentiment was to destroy them all, eradicate any and all relics of the dark chapter of Elquan history in an effort to banish the memories.

And many were.  Some of these buildings were razed in the mania that followed their liberation, but others served as the headquarters of further resistance.  Their utilization as infrastructure for the resistance was extended to post-freedom assistance.  Maintaining these places as the center of liberation transformed them from memorials of past torture into edifices of freedom.  They essentially became symbols of the freedom the sentient races strove to achieve.  So when that freedom was finally won, there was question of what to do with the remaining structures.

The Traditions

The Everglow — The most well known ceremony of the Olympiad, the Everglow is a metaphorical tradition representing the unending will that perseveres in the face of oppression.  A series of couriers is sent on a circuitous route through the Known World carrying a culture of bio-luminescent plankton that has been kept vibrant since the years of the Occupation.  At the Olympiad site, the surviving plankton is added to a nutrient-rich loam that the tiny creatures will gorge on for the length of the games.  The container is open to the waters, and the fattened plankton disperse throughout the area, becoming a widely dispersed cloud of sparkling motes.

Athlete’s Oath — Every competitor in the Olympiad makes the same oath, a pledge that evolved from the same pledge members of the Resistance made to their cause.

“I, in the name of all the races, pledge that I shall do whatever I can to compete against our obstructors, obeying and protecting the rights which govern us all, committing myself  to a tasking without betrayal and without surrender, in the true spirit of freedom, for the glory of liberty and the honour of our people.”

Banner of the Free Olympiad — The flag flown at the games is the eight arrowed star.  The expanding arrows represent the freedom to move in any direction, while the spectrum of colors represents the individual’s right to live as they see fit.  At the center is the pearl, a symbol of wisdom from which freedom is born.  It is ringed by a kelp wreath, all superimposed over a field of white.

Logo for the Free Olympiad

Logo for the Free Olympiad of the Known World

The Games

The Olympiad is a week long event that is held in the Zenith year of each calendar Age.  The games are hosted in turn by one of the four homeseas of the Periphery.  Though the races of the Hinterlands eventually were allowed to compete after lengthy and emotional petitioning, they have yet to be allowed to host an Olympiad.

Every city, from village to metropolis, is allowed entry of one contestant per game.

Stadion — This is the basic game from which all other competitions grew from.  Originally the “gladiator” was thrown into the arena with a predator and the Kraken watched sadistically as he swam for is life.  Now, the stadion is a short sprint across the stadium.

Diaulous — A more extensive version of the stadion, the diaulous is a lap around the border of the stadium.  This race has a variant where a baton is passed off to a new runner at the completion of each lap.

Marathon — Meant as a test of endurance, the marathon consists of eight to sixty-four laps around the stadium.  More progressive organizers have begun to schedule these races outside of arena, across open sea floor, along a pre-determined path with checkpoints at strategic places that must be reached in a specific order.

Wrestling — A physical test, where two combatants must pin the opponent in one of several classical methods.  It is more a testament to skill than an show of force.

Pankration — A throwback to the brutal origins of the Olympiad, this bare-handed combat does not end until the opponent submits.  Due to the programs of patriotic propaganda many contestants are inundated by, a long line of athletes have refused to submit when clearly outmatched.  The list of the dead dragged from the arena are both a shameful waste and a tragic reminder of the Olympiad’s origins.

Unguis Fighting — This is essentially a fencing match with thin, flexible javelins with blunted tips.  The game is graded on control of the ungues to strike precisely at vital spots.

Synchronized Swimming — A tandem sport where complex acrobatics are married to the graceful movement of swimming.

Weightlifting — Weightlifting in an aquatic environment is more difficult than the simple motion of picking something up.  It is the balancing of an items buoyancy, the ability to keep the weights from rising as well of sinking.  Two bars are used, both identical except for having absolutely diametrically opposite buoyancy — one positive, the other negative.  The two bars are connect by a pair of fragile cords that break easily if pulled in opposite directions.  The athlete must keep the two bars within the length of these cords, and will be disqualified if either cord breaks.

Controversy

Despite their lofty intention, the Olympiad has been mired in controversy for as long as it has existed.  The earliest of these controversies is the charge that the mere existence of the Olympiad is a validation of the atrocities levied on the helpless populace during the Occupation.  Some charge that by continuing this barbaric ritual the piscean species are no better than their conquerors.

The games were also charged with racism.  While the Chelon that organize the Olympiad had little problem with this accusation, there was massive backlash for ages that the exclusion of the primitive races were barred entry into the games.  Supporters of the exclusion cited the general belief of Kouton collusion with the Kraken as reason enough for their exile, but the other side argued that if Locanth, Sahaguin, and Yaun-Teel gave their lives for the freedom of all the piscean races, then they should have the right to participate.  Eventually a compromise was reached, with the all primitive races — including the Kouton — allowed to join the games.  However, to this day, the Ceph are still excluded, with the usual rhetoric that they lacked the piscean form and thus were not equals.

The death of many contestants has become yet another contentious point against the continuation of the games.  The core of this argument stems from traditional patriotism versus morality.

Perhaps the most controversial aspects of the games is the recent movement to separate the species.  Historically, certain races have dominated particular games.  The swimming games have been locked by the Locanth since they were finally allowed to compete, and the Orcan have won the strength based games to the exclusion of all other races since the games began.  One side argues that even the fittest athlete cannot compete against a species that has evolved to excel at something they themselves did not evolve.  The other counters with the tenants of the Fluid Nations Accord, that all pisceans are created equal, and as equals should not be segregated.

“The Olympiad is a monument to all competition, not just for the winning.
It honors through its glorification the sacrifice of every individual that gave
their life to free us all from our subjugators, not just those that survived the war.”

— Opening commencements of the first Free Olympiad

2 responses to “Endless Blue – Week 39 – The Free Olympiad

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 66 – Wonders of the Aquatic World « Endless Blue

  2. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 90.5 – Jetsam: Civilization and the Vastness | Endless Blue

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