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Endless Blue – Week 106 – “The Unintended”, Chapter 3   Leave a comment

History

The Unintended
by Dustin Douglas

Chapter 3
The Gift of Service

    Tameryh returned to the manor keeping his strange meeting with the heretic to himself. He swam through the courtyard and saw Grimbould gesturing towards him.

    “Hey, Tam-tam. Get your fins movin’ lad. There’s been a change in plans,” shouted Grimbould.

    Tameryh swam up to Grimbould and asked, “Change in plans? What do you mean?”

    Grimbould replied, “Big trade partners are making the trip up here to see us. Coming from south of the belt. This could be the biggest trade deal our House has ever seen.”

    Tameryh’s eyes went wide and he nodded quickly.

    “Right, how can I serve the house?” asked Tameryh.

    “Head inside and start working on the quarters. We need this place to look beyond perfect. Check inside the guest quarters, make sure every single item in there is pristine. If we need to replace something, we need to get the work order in immediately. If there’s even the slightest imperfection, fix or replace it before midweek. Check every nook and cranny!” said Grimbould raising an eyebrow.

    “Yes, sir!” said Tameryh with a touch of excitement.

    Tameryh felt a small thrill as he thought about the news. Most of the time, Tameryh simply helped cooking, cleaning, and delivering a few messages. Now, however, he felt responsible for something important. While he certainly would not negotiate a deal, his actions would help shape the overall experience for the visiting traders.

    Tameryh thought to himself, “If they find the accommodations pleasing, perhaps they’ll be in a generous mood. If they’re in a good mood they’ll give us a better deal. If they give us a good deal, perhaps the elders will notice my exemplary service and finally make me a full-fledged member of the house!”

    The young Yuan-Teel darted inside the manor, and started inspecting the rooms. First, he checked that each room contained a hanging bed, good pillows, pristine sheets, a sturdy writing desk, extra chairs, and a clean closet. Most of the guest closets were used as extra storage when the guests were away, so he began to empty everything.

    For the rest of the day, Tameryh dashed back and forth across the house, ensuring perfection across all of his rooms. Eventually he checked back in with Gimbould.

    “Sir, I have a list of the repairs needed, and I’ve begun reorganizing the closets,” said Tameryh as he held out a list of notes.

    “There’s a good lad,” said Grimbould taking the list.

    “Try to keep that enthusiasm, eh? They won’t be here for about 10 more days,” said Grimbould. He continued, “Elder Molka will be inspecting the house before our visitors arrive, by the way. Until then, we’ll have some more work to do. We’ll be servin’ a mixture of Yuan-Teel and Lumulus cuisine.”

    Tameryh’s eyes grew wide and said, “Lumulus? Seriously? A trading partner with them? That would be… that would be…”

    “Crazy, right?” suggested Grimbould.

    “No. Incredibly profitable!” exclaimed Tameryh. He continued, “If our house carves out an exclusive deal, we’ll corner the lumulated metals market!”

    Grimbould cocked his head and said, “Lumulated?”

    “Yes! The Lumulus refine a type of ore that never degrades. Their craft hold strong for eons and it typically resists magical enhancement. Lumulated metal allows enchantment, and retains its durability. Just think if we could start flipping those products in this market. What’s strange is that they’d normally never visit the shores as they prefer the darkest depths . To think they would come all the way here…” said Tameryh as he threw his hands up.

    “Ha, we’ll see. I hear they’re awfully testy. When they’re here, be sure their every demand is met, but most importantly, do not get in their way,” said Grimould.

    Tameryh looked for any work, no matter how minor, to do for the rest of the evening. In the end, he helped alphabetize the spice rack much to the delight of the cook’s assistant. In truth, he simply wanted anything to keep him busy and occupy his thoughts.

    That night, Tameryh looked over his quarters. A small room, barely large enough for his hammock, but a room all to himself. He proved himself worthy through strong service, and he earned this room over the years.

    Tameryh thought to himself, “I just need to keep this up for as long as I can. They’ll have to accept me eventually.”

    He swam up to his dresser and pulled out the draught the priest gave him earlier in the day. He checked the label on and it read, “Dreamer’s Respite.” Tameryh hoped the sidar’s potion would keep the nightmares away. He sipped a bit of the thick liquid through the spigot, and he found the taste to be mildly sweet. He found the flavor more pleasant than the medicines he had as a child. The last thing Tameryh wanted was for these nightmares to distract him from his work.

    Despite his racing thoughts of the coming excitement and opportunity, his mind found peace over the next few minutes. He found himself at ease with the world, and his place in it. A warmth overtook him, and he fell into a calm sleep.

    Tameryh woke up the next morning feeling vibrant and alive. Tameryh looked over at the potion and nodded.

    “Wow, that stuff really did the trick,” he thought to himself.

    He quickly dressed himself and reported for duty. This time, Grimbould assigned Tameryh to window duty for the entire manor. Tameryh accepted the worked eagerly.

    “Now don’t rush through this. I want those panes to shine!” demanded Grimbould.

    “Yes sir, don’t worry sir, I’ll serve you without fail,” said Tameryh eagerly.

    Tameryh began on the bottom floor, exterior. While the work was not interesting, he knew any imperfections would be noticed. As he continued buffing, cleaning, and scrubbing the window, he felt a prickly sensation in his mind. He felt like someone was watching him, like he was being judged. His shoulders grew stiff and his ears perked up.

    Tameryh checked over his shoulder, and he even swam up towards to roof to check on this supposed uninvited guest. Despite his senses, he saw nothing.

    Tameryh returned to work, but his paranoia started to weigh on his mind. He kept looking up and around for this unseen watcher. His head ached from worry. He started working slower as his attention shifted away from his work but instead towards his thoughts.

    At the end of the day, Tameryh finished up the exterior windows despite failing to  to resolve his mental stress.

    “Acceptable work on the windows, Tameryh. Just be sure to finish the interior tomorrow. Say, you’re looking a bit green round’ the gills lad. Are you okay?” inquired Grimbould.

    “Oh, yeah. I just… I’m just stressed about doing a good job,” said Tameryh.

    “Don’t worry so much. Just serve the house well, and you’ll be fine,” said Grimbould.

    Tameryh nodded and retired to his quarters. Both his muscles and head ached. His eyes felt strained and his joints felt sore and stiff. Tameryh swam over to his small desk, poured a small amount of the Dreamer’s Respite, and drank it. Within a few minutes, his stress started to fade away. The stiffness in his shoulders disappeared, and his mind found a relaxing calm.

    “Oh… that’s much better,” said Tameryh as he climbed into his hammock.

    Tameryh fell asleep almost immediately. He woke up the next morning feeling vibrant and alive once more. He felt completely free from the stresses of yesterday. He quickly dressed himself, reported to Grimbould, and got back to work on the windows.

    After only a few hours, Tameryh felt the prickly feelings in his mind again. The stress started to collect itself on his shoulders, and before long, his eyes were straining. He turned around to see if someone inside the manor was spying on him.

    “Someone must be doing this to me,” he thought. He continued, “Someone wants to keep me from my doing my job. They want me to fail. I will not submit.”

    Tameryh strained himself and fought through the pain. As he took a short break to eat in his room, he looked over to the bottle of Dreamer’s Respite.

    “Maybe just a touch to calm my nerves,” he murmured to himself.

    He lifted the bottle and took just a sip, maybe a fraction of a normal dose. He lightly massaged his brow, and finished his meal. About twenty minutes later, he felt the stress and pain fade away. Before long, he felt warm and comfortable.

    He finished his work ahead of scheduled and helped clean the kitchen with the rest of his day. Eventually the day came to an end. Tameryh went to bed with a small meal, and a bit of Dream’s Respite to help him sleep.

    As the days went on, he found himself reaching for the priest’s elixir more and more often. By the end of the week, he sipped from it every few hours. Eventually, one night came where he found himself with just a spoonful of the concoction remaining.

    “Damn it. I’ll have to get more tomorrow,” he thought to himself.

    Tameryh took the medicine, however it did not completely calm his nerves. After a few minutes, he started dozing off.

    “Come. Call to us. Come!” whispered an ominous voice.

    Tameryh shot back to consciousness, feeling pain from his head, and his aching in his fingers. His handles trembled, and his eyes stung. He slipped out of his hammock, floundered to his desk, and desperately tried to find more of the potion.

    “Damn it!” shouted Tameryh.

    “Perhaps… perhaps I could visit the priest now,” thought Tameryh.

    Tameryh opened his window slowly, and swam out of the manor ground. He took extra care in ensuring he made as little noise and commotion as possible. Once the manor faded from view, Tameryh bolted off towards the cathedral. Even in his weakened state, he still managed to make it there in just a few minutes.

    *Thud thud thud*

    Tameryh knocked on the door, but heard no response. He waited a few moments, and knocked again.

    *SLAM SLAM SLAM*

    Tameryh reached up to knock a third time, but he heard someone tinkering with the door. Tameryh felt a wave of relief as the door opened and the sidar himself appeared.

    “Oh thank you sir. I come to you with an urgent request,” said Tameryh.

    “This had better be important, young unintended,” said Sidar Asoudi with a measure of disapproval in his voice.

    “Yes. Yes. The elixir you gave me, the Dreamer’s Respite. I’ve run out. The second I tried to sleep without it, the nightmares came back immediately!” shouted Tameryh.

    “Ah, you are a troubled one. Well, my normal suppliers ran out, so I had to get my ingredients imported from the south last week. Unfortunately, the church can’t allow me to accept such a small tithe this time since importing is so expensive,” said Sidar Asoudi with a grave tone.

    “Fine, yes. I’ll pay,” said Tameryh pulling out a small pile of gold coins.

    Tameryh kept stacking the coins higher and higher, until his purse was almost completely emptied.

    “Ah, yes, your tithe is acceptable young one. Just wait here for a moment,” said the old Yaun-Teel as he closed the door and swam away.

    “Do you still think he serves you?” said a female voice from behind Tameryh.

    Tameryh turned around and saw nothing.

    “Who’s there?” snarled Tameryh, and then he shouted, “Stop! Stop it!”

    The door opened back up and Sidar Asoudi held out a small flask.

    “Here you are, young one. Let me know if I can serve you in any other way,” said Sidar Asoudi as he nodded his head.

    Tameryh rubbed his eyes, nodded and said, “Thank you sir.”

    Tameryh darted back home, and took special care not to make a single sound as he approached the manor. He slipped back in his room without detection. He stretched out in his hammock holding the flask to his chest.

    Tameryh took a sizable gulp of the Dreamer’s Respite, and felt warm waves of torpor overtake him. Finally, the stress left him, the pain faded away, and he found peace.

    Tameryh found himself floating through the shores, feeling the warmth from the sun, as a shadow overtook his vision.

    “Who does he serve?” said the voice. It continued, “He serves the greatest lie. You. You do not serve. You command. Command me. Call to me! Unleash me!”

***

(Continued…)

Endless Blue – Week 90.4 – Jetsam: Portable Forges of the Oresmiths   Leave a comment

Archaeology

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 from 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.

Endless Blue – Week 89.3 – Jetsam: Alchemy Bells   Leave a comment

Archaeology

Alchemy Bell

An alchemy bell is an Inverted bowl that is held over either a chemical seep or gas-releasing chemical reaction.  The resulting gas, since it is less dense than the surround water, is pushed upward to be caught in the bell.  That in turn forces the surrounding sea water out.  Eventually enough gas is collected to fill  the bell and displace all the water.  An alchemist can then enter the bell from below and as long as he holds his breath, can carry out alchemical experiments without the interference of water.

Industrial alchemy bells are lined with spigots that can be attached to hoses which in turn can attach to containers.  Opening the spigot allows the gases with in the bell to be pushed into the container.  Lumulus utilize such alchemical bells over chemical seeps to collect the gasses needed in the production of lumulated metal.

Endless Blue – Week 75 – Ceph Unguisurfing   2 comments

Sociology

Ceph Unguisurfing

Despite the fact Elqua’s surface is 95% covered in water, the pisceans of the Known World reside in an ever more confined space in the Eastern Hemisphere.  With seabed capable of supporting aquaculture solely found near the surface of the water, only so much food can be produced.  But just being close enough to the surface to farm makes those pisceans vulnerable to the aberrations of the Vastness.  Safe farming land is rare, so most centers of population group in the Shoals areas of Elqua’s oceans.  With few races other than the Lumulus and Orcans capable of surviving the crushing depths of the Shelf, that leaves a limited band of living space in the Shoals for populations to form settlements.  As the years go by, the piscean population increases, yet the amount of natural habitat stays limited.  The Fluid Nations have all done their share of deforestation of the world’s kelp farms and coral reefs, despite the protestations of the Locanth and those Xanthellaette Chelon.  Despite this, it is clear that more room is needed, and this has resulted in border disputes and incursions into sovereign territories.

The most affected by this population expansion are the Ceph.  They have no homesea of their own, and instead must survive in the nooks and crannies of the other nations.  The more indignant of these, dissatisfied with eking out an existence at the tail fins of the other races, dwell among the Periphery.  But as the Fluid Nations expand, the Periphery is shrinking.  There is only so much space between the Core and the natural barrier around the planet created by the Spine of the World.  Virgin waterways that once allowed the fallen Kraken the protection needed until they finished their de-evolution into the Ceph of today are rapidly diminishing.  Their race is being squeezed out of the natural ecosystem, and this loss of habitat has forced them into the urban areas.

There they find niches to live that other pisceans would find beneath them.  The Ceph survive by collecting the left over scraps and trash of the other races.  It is a demeaning existence for a species that once dominated the water world, and it is this way of life that justifies some in labeling them “untouchables”.  They have no rights under the Fluid Nations Accord, thus have no recourse when locals push them further and further out to sea.  A life of urban scavenging, keeping themselves hidden from bigoted sight, and being treated as less than animals has turned the ancestral shame the Ceph feel into anger.  That anger has festered, and some of their number have succumbed to its malign influence, and become violent.

So far, there is no concerted organization in the Ceph cells, and no targeted offensive against the other races.  The militants act more as scavengers, attacking the weak and unwary when the need arises.  However, whispers are being heard on the currents of new activity amongst the Ceph militant cells.  There are stories the Ceph rebels are being armed by some unknown source.  Halberds, tridents, and shorts swords of an unknown make are being spotted in the grasp of these indigents.

Unknown Halberd -- Illus. by Gergő Soós

Halberd of Unknown Origin — Illus. by Gergő Soós

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Endless Blue – Week 36.7 – The Building Blocks from Under the Sea   5 comments

Fabrication

Building Blocks from Under the Sea

Piscean settlements — except for perhaps those of the nomadic Locanth — are not a primitive clumping of lean-tos clustered together for safety.  Their buildings are permanent structures, planned and built not only to be a resilient form of shelter, but also as an artistic expression of vision.  The tools used in every day activities are similarly designed, with form and function melded together, embellished with as much ingenious craftsmanship as everything they create.  The materials available for construction are varied, having evolved from the basic bone, hide, and sinew of hunted beasts through the more robust harvested coral, quarried stone, and hydraulic mortar to the more exotic materials that in the hands of a master produce a masterwork artifact.

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