Archive for the ‘undertow’ Tag

Endless Blue – Week 116 – Waves of the World: The Anemoi   1 comment

Folklore

The Anemoi

The Rous Pyxida: Compass Rose of the Endless Blue

Folklore encompasses the verbal stories passed down by a culture that help define what they value in life.  It is the informal beliefs of everyday life, the superstitions and traditions that small groups share.  Through folktales, the listener is exposed to the vernacular of their culture, spoken between individuals, regardless or even sometimes in spite of sociological expectation.  They are the stories of the common piscean, dealing with the minutiae of every day life.  It has no concerned with grand or profound ideas. It has no care for how life began, how the oceans were created, or what happens when you die — that is the purview mythology.  Nor is it fable, as there is no objective lesson in the stories of these bigger than life heroes. The Anemoi tells what it means to be piscean.

The Anemoi is a collection of folklore tales centered on famous semi-historical pisceans. The tales have been passed down through so many generations that they no longer have any known author, posses no known linage of creator. Stories of the masses, they have been collected together in one form or another for the sole enjoyment of new generations of readers. Though collected in a single volume, the book The Anemoi has no credited individual from which it spawned. It is a book of the pisceans, for pisceans, about being piscean; the idea that any one piscean would take credit for the culture of all would be called egotistical in the extreme.

A more traditional Compass Rose

The Currents of Fate

Through The Anemoi‘s narrative, each folk-hero is tied to one of the basic directions of the currents — ordinal directions for the Periphery, and cardinal for the Core. Currents are ever present on the water world, and no life ever lived has not been buoyed in some way by those tides. The theme of movement flows through the disparate tales, weaving in and out, swirling, whirling, twirling around the infamous travelers. Pulling them to new adventure, pushing them to ruin, dragging some to waters less traveled while buffeting others to the pinnacle of their journey. All the while, reminding those reading that life forever moves in some direction, even if it may not be the desired one. Currents flow across the world of Elqua, those currents pushing and dragging the powerless along its travel. It is any wonder that they average piscean would school around stories about one of their own that tamed the oceans and claimed their homesea for themself?

It is because of this strange mixture of woe and weal that The Anemoi found a renewed interest during the Kraken Occupation.  The tales of grandiosity and raw possibility gave succor to the enslaved races. Perhaps it was this prevalent zeitgeist that explains why there is no Anemoi for the Kouton people — the species faced savage accusations of complicity with the Empire of the Kraken. But then again, even the much maligned Ceph have a folk-hero among the Anemoi…


The Cardinal Anemoi

The Cardinal Anemoi represent the “Civilized” races of the Known World: The Orcans, the Lumulus, the Chelon, and the Merfolk. The appellation of “civilized” is a point of contention between the species of the Periphery and the Core, dating back to its adoption by the Chelon anatomist who first wrote of the Piscean Form in the Vitruvian Codex, Certus Vitruvius. Despite its ignominious origin, the term is still used today, and was certainly in use when the folklore was being recorded.

The Contemplative Wave (From-the-West, Eastward)

From the West came Ekaidu, an Orcan monk whose mantra was “To improve one’s self is to know one’s self.” His stories tell of overcoming impossible feats not of violence, but of understanding. Many of his stories tell of him overcoming adversity through patience. Followers flocked to him in order to glean just a fraction of his internal wisdom, and he became a sage of Orcan-kind. A guru of introspection, he spoke of how Orcan martial skills are more than military preparedness or societal expectation. He explained how fitness in mind and soul were derived from a fit body, and an unfit mind tainted the body. Fitness is the ultimate form of self improvement. You must challenge your mind as much as you challenge you strength. Viewing things from a new perspective lead you forward to personal growth. It is never a case of black and white, but a blend of both — a grey of balance.

Associated Color: Grey

The Erudite Wave (From-the-South, Northward)

I’tlan’zu of forgeclan X’hamel’af was a Lumulus that sought understanding of all things, answers to questions she had not even ask yet. In this way, she was a paragon of the Lumlus ideal. But instead of secluding herself within the borders of the Lumulus Basin, homesea of her birth, she knew that answered were to be found beyond borders. In this way, she was unlike her xenophobic kind. Within her burned a need to move forward, to progress, to advance in understanding through purposeful movement. She moved the cause of science onward despite innate resistance to remain in her homesea and sought out knowledge. There were stories of how she made little progress, faced opposition both systemic and organic, yet she pressed onward. In her final story, tells of her entrapment by the Undertow, where she was drawn down into the whirlpool’s ever-tightening spiral, her mind running in circles, vertigo and fear gripping her heart but her mind joyus as new applications of old knowledge flooded her mind. In the face of impeding doom, she never stopped gaining insight into the world around her, even as the indigo depths finally swallowed her.

Associated Color: Indigo

The Imperial Wave (From-the-North, Southward)

Perhaps the most famous military commander — even more well known than the First Khan — was Kenilicus Octavius. Born the eighth son of an eighth son of a race slowly dwindling, the chances of his birth were such unlikely kismet that it was immediately evident this child was destined for greatness. Though not of high aristocratic blood, Kenilicus earned a military assignment when as a non-combatant he routed a Lumulan incursion during a bloody period of the sporadic Shellback Wars. This period took on his name, becoming known as the Kenilicus Campaign. Given a field command, Kenilicus’ shrew mind understood his race was in decline and must expand the power of the Chelon Empire. After all, he had been told his whole life that his very birth was challenge to the idea that his species was dying out. Kenilicus rapidly clawed his way up the ranks of His Magesty’s Royal Armada to become the youngest Chelon Tribune of all time. As the Kenilicus Campaign pushed back the encroaching Lumulan forces, Octavius’ ideals of diaspora, colonization of conquered waters, coalesced. He lived the ideal of Chelon Imperialism, claiming neighboring territory lost by the Lumulus as newly annexed Chelon Sea. Tales would tell that Kenilicus restored, even exceeded the reach of the Old Empire with new green kelp forests to feed a burgeoning Second Empire. Expansionism, the need for “elbow room” by manifest destiny, was Kenilicus’ heritage and the gift he gave his people.

Associated Color: Green

The Popular Wave (From-the-East, Westward)

The multiple tribes of Mer are a swirling kaleidoscope of color and ideas, a dance of both old tradition and of momentary inspiration. The Merfolk are a people of sharing. The mer known only as Philia flourished in the tropical environment, becoming the most well known Mer moving in social circles of the time.  A social gadfly, a celebratory vagrant, flitting from conversation to conversation, a quick word of praise here, a look of appreciation there, slowly, endlessly, deliriously accumulating social recognition from even the most antisocial hermit. If there was a harvest festival, you just knew Philia would be there. An excessive gala? Philia would be threading through the dancers, glittering in gold. A somber observance, and there is Philia, wearing the most tasteful ensemble. Most every settle in the Mer Currents has a tale or two of when Philia visted their little town, all filled with the descriptions of grandeur and prominence… But never is a word found describing Philia themself. Even the words used in The Anemoi have an almost neutral tone, never leaving hint nor clue to the piscean called Philia. Male? Female? Most merfolk would be hard pressed to come up with any detail. While most would say Philia was never even real, the Mer whom are inspired by the lavish stories of the Anemoi have accepted Philia whole-heartedly as the Mer ideal of socialization.

Associated Color: Orange

The Ordinal Anemoi

The “Primitive” Races were relegated to the ordinal directions — those that bisect between two adjacent cardinals. They consist of the Kouton, the Locanth, the Sahaguin, and the Yaun-Teel (the Ceph fall under this term, but are disavowed by the other races). The intimation of inferiority by linking them to “impure” directions — at best a bastard offspring of the cardinals — is not lost, nor as some critics believe, unintentional. In spite of this textural tainting, the races of the Periphery show the same love and inspiration for The Anemoi as those of the Core.

The Aimless Wave (From-the-Southeast, Northwestward)

The names Shras strikes awe into the hearts of Sahaguin and non-sahaguin alike. Shras the Wanderer, greatest fighter of the Known World, was such a savage fighter that no one could defeat him. Despairing in the lack of suitable opponents, Shras would challenge most any stranger to cross his path to combat, whether they assented or not. Never losing, it became apparent to Shras that there was no one in the Sahaguin Lagoons that was his peer, and in anguish he beseeched the gods to send him an adequate challenger. Finding nothing but silence as a reply, Shras set himself adrift on the currents, despair dragging him across the Known World like flotsam. His travels filled the void in his soul, bringing him to new places where his abilities were tested in ways he never imagined. Embracing the randomness of travel for its own sake, overcome with wanderlust, Shras swam among the Hinterseas, in the No Mer’s Seas between nations, in the endless blue spaces where nothing existed of not but potential prowled, searching for nothing save a new day.  To earn his keep, Shras became a traveling fighter, his own miniature coliseum. Where violence was needed, Shras was found, bringing brutality to those that traffic in its indiscriminate fervor.

Associated Color: Blue

The Lucrative Wave (From-the-Northeast, Southwestward)

Dinar the Trader is basic education for the youth of the Yaun-Teel Bights. Cited as the epitome of self improvement in accordance to the Principles of Service, Dinar was originally born into slavehood.  Through shrewd negotiations and an eye for opportunity, he bought himself free of his indentured servitude and was allowed to discard his torc.  However, Dinar chose to keep the torc around his neck, for though he was free from the whims of masters, he was still enslaved by the whim of trade.  He let the Pecuniary Stream move him from town to town, opportunity to opportunity, taking him across the Known World.  Before he could leave anywhere, Dinar was impelled to ply the art of commerce.  He set up trade posts, finalized trade deals, set local business on the right direction to profitability (for a small percentage, of course), and generally increased the wealth of those whose travels crossed his current. One notorious detail from the Accounts of Dinar the Trader are of his ornately embroidered purse. This fabled pouch was said to be enchanted, openable only to Dinar himself. Should any unsanctioned or nefarious individual try to pry it open would reportedly pull back their had minus a missing digit or two, as if it were alive and bitten down on the intruder. The purse was even given personality, said to be so loyal to its owner that it never left his side. Once opened, the embroidered purse of Dinar is said to cast a purple glow so powerful it tanned the skin.

Associated Color: Violet

The Nomadic Wave (From-the-Northwest, Southeastward)

Movement in nothing new to the Locanth. Their culture understands that nature needs time to replenish, and that to settle in one place taxes the waters. Misu Atswadi espoused looking to the animals for wisdom. Flora and fauna flourished in the Gulf of Locanth long before the Locanth themselves developed. The ecology of Elqua is a delicate net of interwoven cycles.  Seasons come and go, with their waxing comes life and their waning comes death.  Algae bloom in the spring, kelp forests grow lush in summer, autumn sees the rise of spawning, and the schools of fish move on to newer waters as winter approaches. This is a natural cycle, understood by living things, to give nature time to replenish its bounty. Sea-life grew and thrived with an intrinsic knowledge of seasons, of when waters would grow colder and food become scarcer. Trust in this instinct, and treat places once lodged as sacred, not territory. As frigid water from the north pushes the current southward, Atswadi taught to move along with them, to migrate with nature, giving past waters a chance to regrow so they may share their riches unabated for eternity. Her life was dedicated to showing respect for that which died to fill your stomach, to honor its memory by giving its spawn room and time to recuperate. Seasons cycle, life cycles, history cycles… help the cycles turn.

Associated Color: Yellow

The Shunned Wave (From-the-Southwest, Northeastward)

Heigira is the only mention of the Ceph in The Anemoi, and her depiction is a tragic one. Persecuted, reviled for what she was, for something she had no control over, Heigira fled in the face of violence. Hers is a story of evacuation, of exodus. Her stories a tinged with the sorrow of departure, accented by retreat in fear, punctuated by only brief moments of respite before being exiled once again. Originally chased off for simply being Ceph, Heigira suffered the bigotry of the piscean races for decades.  Every new place she visited, seeking asylum, returned hostility and racism instead.  Years of cruelty took their toll on Heigira, and she lost the will to fight.  Instead of facing her oppressors, she fled instead.  Never raising a tentacle or ungius, this pacifist opted instead to flee.  But slowly, her pacifism was noticed by others. Others that tired of fighting, that tired of ostracization. From each temporary sanctuary Heigira was chased from, one or two of those natives decided to leave with her. Village after village, a trickle of new acolytes joined with Heigira’s followers, and soon she had a huge school following her, comprised of every known race of piscean,  This rag-tag group of vagabonds became known as the Tangle, as they intermixed and accepted each other for who they were, not what society demanded they be. Heigira’s stories are always soaked in loss, as thick as the blood spilled by those of the Tangle unfortunate enough to not escape persecution. Some say she still leads the Tangle across the Known World, in the vain hopes of someday finding a place to call home.

Associated Color: Red

Dark Direction

Currents flow across the oceans of Elqua, changing direction, growing stronger, fading weaker. But sometimes the flow of currents ceases. Here is the unspoken Anemoi lies, the Nexus of Currents, the Still of the Water, the Stagnant Tide, the Center of All. The Kouton do have their own folklore, and despite their natural tendency to keep secrets to themselves, some beliefs demand they be shared. Here, where the waters are still and the currents flow around them, floats the Center of All. Hidden from sight, he manipulates events from behind the scenes, influencing the direction the other Anemoi travel. Was I’tlan’zu nudged towards her end at the Undertow? Was the Kenilicus Campaign guided by unseen hands? Was Shras the Wanderer tricked into his journey? Was Heigira’s exodus driven along a path? It couldn’t be — how could one holder of secrets hold so much sway? It would be apocryphal…

Associated Color: Ultraviolet

“Through folklore, we can communicate with our past,
assure ourselves we are not that different,
and revere how much we have changed.”

Endless Blue – Week 78 – Whispered Secrets in the Deep Sound Channel   3 comments

Physics

Whispered Secrets in the Deep Sound Channel

It cannot be emphasized enough how much water engulfs the world of Elqua.  At only 5% of its surface being land, it is a world that is nearly submerged beneath vast, deep, and consequently heavy oceans.  The pull of gravity on the great expanses of water overhead makes the layers beneath become more compact.  As the accumulating weight above pushes downward, this increasing pressure makes the water below compress more and more, which as a result creates such problems for oceanic life as crushing pressure and maintaining buoyancy.  However, there exists an interesting positive effect of this highly compacted water molecules: the Deep Sound Channel.

The deep sound channel is a phenomenon where the speed of sound is heightened to a maximum due to depth pressure, water temperature, and salinity.  Water is a superior medium for conducting sound, since there more molecules closer together to propagate the sound wave.  Distilled water is approximately 4.3 times a better conductor of sound than ambient air.  Adjusting for saltwater, colder temperatures, and pressure, and that rises to over five times as conductive.  As these factors increase the deeper you go, the water takes on superior sound refracting qualities that rival sound propagation above the waves,  Sound can be carried more easily and farther at the expense of less energy.  This is the manner in which whalesong travels so far and remains viable.  And here, both literally and figuratively, is where the magic happens.

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Endless Blue – Week 66 – Wonders of the Aquatic World   2 comments

Architecture

Wonders of the Aquatic World

Elqua is a world of magnificence and astonishment, both of nature and by the hand of pisceans.  Every locale has its chosen landmark, and will argue until they are blue in the face that their site is the most famous, most magnificent, most historic.  Despite this, there are simply some features of Elqua that hold such beauty and significance that they are labeled “Wonder of the World”.

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Endless Blue – Week 37.5 – The Kraken: Ancient Wyrms from Below the Waves   7 comments

Zoology

The Kraken:  Ancient Wyrms from Below the Wave

Nothing strikes utter terror into the hearts of the Known World as the mere mention of the world kraken.  Centuries of their ruthless occupation have made their name a terrifying sound, perhaps more feared than even the Vastness.  But the history of their brutality go back further than the existence of the Fluid Nation, as the depraved leviathans are far more ancient than any piscean could imagine.

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Endless Blue – Week 36.1 – The Undertow: Under the Rock Under the Sea   4 comments

Geography

Under the Rock Under the Sea

Everyone has secrets, be they tiny embarrassments of everyday living, to the soul corrupting shame that ruins everything around you.  They are kept by individuals, families, and organizations, but none more so than governments.  Whether such practiced deceit it is for the lauded benefit of their constituents or the puerile reward of their own self interest, every government has things to hide.  In the Known World, secrets abound like lamprey, sucking sustenance from the secluded nooks and crannies where they hide.  One such secret is the Undertow.

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