Endless Blue – Week 111- Pleione Trench and the Mud Daubers   Leave a comment

Sociology

Pleione Trench and the Mud Daubers

When the Fluid Nations Accord was ratified, it charged each of the homeseas with honoring a series of neutral zones around their territories.  These areas, referred to colloquially as “no mer’s seas“, were created as buffers not just between expansionistic governments, but also as nature preserves for the flora and fauna that maintain the circle of life in Elqua’s oceans.  Each nation collectively pledged to eternally surrender legal claim to the territory, meanwhile keeping their citizens from occupying or poaching the waters.

The waters chosen to become the no mer’s seas were selected by the criteria of importance to maintaining the aquatic ecosystem, threat of danger to pisceans from the aberrations above the waves, and the natural flow of currents such as the Pecuniary Stream.  This made the no mer’s seas a tool for protection of each nation’s access to food, safety, and trade — a clear self-interest of all pisceans.

For the most part, the treaty has been a success.  With the waters being off-hands for governments, companies used free trade routes like the Pecuniary Stream to flourish with no inhibition.  The sacrifice of territory was minimal, as the waters chosen generally were far too shallow for farming without constant attack from surface aberrations.  And the forbidden waters gave sea life a safe haven to thrive without the dangers of over harvesting.  Life in the Fluid Nations has thrived, population and economies growing like never before.

However, the Accord was a long time ago, and the same safety provided by the neutral zones now proves to be a hindrance.  With no way of expanding outward, overpopulation can only cause a greater demand of space and resources.  Despite the need for more space, the homeseas have steadfastly refused to alter the borders as first set by the Fluid Nations Accord, despite the desperate need to reduce overcrowding.

As a result, some pisceans fed-up with bureaucratic shackling have ventured into the no mer’s seas to establish their homesteads.  These illegal settlements are the bordertowns, set in areas where the law exists only for those that can enforce it.

Bordertowns

Bordertowns are seldom permanent structures.  They take their inspiration for the Locanth, whose culture continuously migrates, following the natural wisdom of sea life.  Unlike the Locanth, there are no vacant pueblos left behind to be re-occupied the next turn of seasons.  Bordertown shelters are more tent-like, designed to be packed up and moved should the need arise.  And with the lawlessness of the no mer’s seas, it often is a necessity.

Order is maintained by the populace of each bordertown.  There is no central government to fall back on — each bordertown is responsible for creating and maintaining its own laws.  Those that refuse to conform to the expectations of the populace face excommunication or worse.  Lethal force is generally the first act to ensure adherence to the law.

Plieone Trench

The bordertown of Plieone Trench is located west of the Sahaguin Lagoons, in a large expanse of relatively shallow waters between it and the walled archipelago called the Maw.  This expanse of relatively shallow waters is striated with trenches and chasms.  This damage to the sea floor is a left over effect of the fall of the Kraken Empire.

A black market town, Plieone Trench was established to prosper off those making illegal excursions into the no man’s seas.  It became a well known resupply point for both nearby bordertowns and those passing through to other destinations.   Offering supplies and a promise to turn their eyes, the populace saw an upswell in commerce.  It was not long until the unscrupulous with eyes on the illicit mysteries hidden behind the Conch Lock spurred an illegal relic trade.

The town is now infamous for their “trellis climbers” or “wall jumpers”.  These trained guides help expeditions traverse the wall around the Maw.  It is a dangerous, terrifying journey, as it requires leaving the buoyancy and safety of Elqua’s water and scaling into the unbreathable and aberration-infested Vastness.

Tools of the Trade

The trellis climbers employ a special material consisting of row upon row of tiny, millimeter sized limpet teeth.  Limpets are a type of snail known for scraping algea from rocks and other hard surfaces.  The tensile strength of these teeth is 20% greater than even sea spider silk.  The primary material in limpet teeth that provides this durability is geothite, a compound of iron, oxygen, and hydrogen, all of which are plentiful in the Plieone Trench proper.  Geothite forms in compact, curved structures like claws.  When lined up and layered, a square of geothite sheeting can resist the pull of a monsoon.  Wall jumpers fashion these teeth sheets into their armor to help them cling to the stone wall as they inch their way up to the top and over into the Maw, towing their employers and gear in slings strung between climbers.

One notable group of trellis climbers call themselves the Mud Daubers, and have earned themselves a notable reputation.  They are named so due to a special clay-like silt found near Pleione Trench.  This mud has a high capacity of holding oxygen as well as retaining water.  This prevents drying out in the vastness, and spread over the gills can continue to provide a minimum of oxygen to breath.  “Daubing” the mud on their skin and gills, the Mud Daubers can effectively double the time that can be spent out of the life-giving water.  While not a comfortable experience, it does just enough to get the well trained Mud Daubers over the wall…  Usually.

The Mud Daubers are enjoying the advantage the special mud gives them over the other trellis climbers.  The edge allows them to charge more for their services, in turn forcing the other groups into second rate imitators.  There is no group of trellis climbers that have not tried to discover the source of the Mud Dauber’s special mud.  The extent of these tries ranges from simple bribery and spying to espionage and extortion, but so far nothing has succeeded in loosening the secret from the Mud Daubers.   So long as the Mud Daubers control the mud, their control of Plieone Trench remains.

To further muddle things, the Church of Olyhydra will send missionaries from the home in the Mer Currents to areas around the Maw.  Setting themselves up as righteous protectors, they stand guard around the Conch Loch and will prevent any wayward adventurer from attempting to scale its heights.  Since the Church is not a political entity in itself (yet), it has taken it upon itself to act as final arbiters of law in the area.  The bordertowns flatly refute this, and conflict between the normally non-denominational bordertowns and the devoutly Olyhydran missionaries is unavoidable.

Posted August 31, 2016 by William James Cuffe in Endless Blue Campaign Setting

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