Endless Blue – Week 89.7 – Fry of the Black Mangrove Swamps   1 comment


Fry of the Black Mangrove Swamps

The Black Mangroves are areas of the Sahaguin Lagoons where a species of tree, the aforementioned black mangrove, grow up out of the shallow Shore waters into the Vastness above.  Named for the deep black bark on their meandering branches and trunk, the mangroves are notable for the shape of the their root system, which lift the trunk of the tree to the waterline.  This leaves a sheltered space between the lagoon bed and the tree trunk.  The mangroves are scattered across the Lagoons, covering the many tiny islands in a network of sheltered root systems.  Here, many species of animals can thrive.  And, according to legend, not just animals make the mangrove roots their home.

The Fry are folklore, a story told to children to frighten them into behaving.  The core of the tale is that the Fry are all children that for some reason lost their family.  Be it through swimming away, being orphaned, or simply getting lost in the Endless Blue, each of the Fry found themselves alone and frightened.  Eventually the Fry found one another, usually in through their own death, and their restless spirits stayed together for mutual benefit and comfort.

Lost orphans in the wilderness, they had no adults to guide them, to teach them about life.  Without guidance, the Fry developed their own culture based on schools of aquatic fish.  These “totems” form sub-groups within the Fry as a whole.  The groups inter-mingle — there is no social ostricization or class resentment.  Totems are more an expression of the Fry’s personality, and serve no basis for segregation amongst the Fry.  There are, however, rivalries between Totems with opposing roles (piranha vs squid is the most obvious example).

They wear crude disguises to make them look the part.  Part of the ritual of joining a Totem is construction of their outifit.  Taking thick segments of black mangrove bark, they carve and assemble a set of clothing verging on armor, with the totem as the motif.  The outfits are then painted with amoebic-sourced pigments, much the same as those used in bio-luminescent tattoos.  Coloration of the glowing pigment could represent teams, or and order designation of to whom the ball can be passed.

Totems of the Fry

Angler — Carry semi-flexible polearms with a lantern of blue- or froth-light hanging from the end.  Held close to the body, it can extend far enough beyond the Fry that the light does not reach them.
— Noted for their flanged helmet.  Hammerheads tend to be larger children, who use their bulk to their benefit.
Icarfish — These are the daredevils of the Fry.  The carry a back pack with stiff paddles that can be extended as they break the surface of the sea.  Extended, the paddles increase the jump time spent each leap.
Manta — Wear a cloak that is sewn down the length of the sleeve, and extends beyond.  Enables long distance travel at a fraction of effort.
Marlin — These Fry wear a mask with an elongated snout terminating in a pointed tip.  It is structurally reinforced to withstand a charging gore attack, much like a Narwahl tusk.
Piranha — With a sharpened chin strap that juts out beyond the jaw, these Fry cut away entangling terrain.
Puffer — Their armor is festooned with spikes, which are especially effective in tackling attacks.
Squid — Posses sleeves with weighted ropes, and specialize in entangling and grappling.
Sucker — Has a concave indentation and straps mounted on the chest plate.  Multiple Fry can strap heavy loads into the concavity to help portion out the weight.

The Game of the Black Mangrove

The Fry frequently play a game in between the roots of the black mangroves.  The rules seems a bit nebulous, but generally follow some basic premises.  Swimming through the maze of roots at full tilt, one Fry carries a ball as the rest give chance.  Bent on stealing the stone, the perusing school flitters through the roots like lightning bugs, spreading out in an attempt to surround the fleeing Fry.  The fleeing Fry can pass the stone at any time to another child, immediately rejoining of the school in pursuit of the new fleeing Fry.  Emphasis seems to be on swimming at the greatest speed while darting between the obstacles formed by the mangrove roots.  Entering an open area of sufficient size seems to be a trigger to pass the ball, but there also seems to be a reason to throw the ball to another when its loss is imminent.

The ball has a core of pumice stone, wrapped tightly with kelp fibers and sew into a loose bag.  The ball is carried by grabbing the loose outer skin and dragging it along.  The skin and stitching is tough enough to withstand being wrestled from a tight grasp, and the buoyancy of the pumice makes it difficult to swim without rising upward.

The frenzy of the chase is like a school of sardines, fish darting in and out of the nooks beneath the mangrove trees like a billowing red tide.  To the observer, the speed is almost supernatural.  Their dedication to the game is almost obsessive, met with much the same mettle as the Known World fought the Kraken.  It would take very little imagination to scale up the tactics used in the Game of the Black Mangrove to the expansive battlefields of war.

Predators of the Fry

Sahaguin brag of hunting and killing the fry for sport, but there is little evidence to support this than the odd, poorly carved piece of totem armor.  While some consider the Fry as nothing more than a story, the Sahaguin believe them as flesh and blood.  To them, if it lives, it is valid prey.

The Harridan is an infamous sea hag that has an ongoing antagonistic relationship with the Fry.  The Fry are often known for playing practical jokes on the sea hag, who in turn seeks to punish the impish children for their misdeeds.

“If all myth and folklore speak their lessons through symbols,
what are the Fry of the Black Mangrove Swamps trying to tell us?”

One response to “Endless Blue – Week 89.7 – Fry of the Black Mangrove Swamps

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 99 – The Vexillifer, Chronicler of the Tides | Endless Blue

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