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Endless Blue – Week 107 – “The Unintended”, Chapter 4   Leave a comment

History

The Unintended
by Dustin Douglas

Chapter 4
The Beautiful Lie

    Tameryh felt immense pressure on his head and face. He felt the claws and hands of something on his body as it pressed on his chest. Tameryh tried to open his eyes but they felt incredibly heavy, as if sealed shut. Through the shuffle and commotion, he started to hear murmurs and voices. The voices began to sound familiar. He heard a man chanting, and felt a rush of energy run through him as the man pressed his hands on his forehead. Tameryh’s eyes finally opened.

    “It looks like the young unintended is waking up,” said Sidar Asoudi.

    Grimbould looked down, along with Blodusk.

    “It’s a pity. I coulda thrown ‘em out with the rest of the garbage,” said Blodusk with a smirk on his face.

    “What happened to him, sidar?” asked Grimbould.

    “As I told Elder Molka, I should have known a weak willed unintended shouldn’t be trusted with Dreamer’s Respite,” said the sidar in a judgmental tone.

    “Oh don’t trouble yourself, sidar. You merely served him. He probably spun you quite the tall tale to get it from you,” said Blodusk.

    The sidar nodded in agreement and said, “It seems everything is in order then.”

    “Thank you for your service,” said Grimbould.

    “I live to serve,” said the sidar as he left the room.

    “What did you do? Why were you drinking that potion?” asked Grimbould to Tameryh.

    “I spoke with the sidar because I’ve been plagued with nightmares. He told me to take that to help sleep,” confessed Tameryh.

    “Right. But it looks like you were taking more than you should have,” said Grimbould holding up a half-empty flask.

    “I… if I waited too long I started having horrible pains. I couldn’t serve the house in that state!” protested Tameryh.

    “I shoulda known,” said Blodusk as he cracked his knuckles.

    “Thane Blodusk, I leave this to you now. Sorry, Tam, there’s nothing I can do,” said Grimbould solemnly.

    Blodusk grabbed Tameryh by the arm, and dragged him out of bed.

    “Get dressed. Now!” shouted Blodusk.

    Tameryh hurriedly threw on his work clothes and presented himself to Blodusk.

    “Off we go then,” said Blodusk as he grabbed Tameryh by the arm and dragged him out of the room.

    The pair swam slowly through the servants quarters, through the kitchens, outside, then back into the main manor itself across the courtyard. Tameryh’s heart sank as he feared the worst. He was being brought to Elder Molka.

    A pair of well dress guards stood in front of the main house of the manor. They saluted Blodusk as they approached.

    “Well met, Thane. The elder awaits in his ante chamber,” said one of the guards.

    Blodusk nodded, and pushed Tameryh out in front of him. Tameryh meekly swam through the house, which felt like a palace compared to the servants quarters. Finally, they approached the ante chamber, and Thane Blodusk knocked against the wall.

    “Enter,” said Elder Molka.

    Blodusk shoved Tameryh as he floundered into the room. Tameryh and Blodusk bowed to the elder, and the elder nodded slightly. The elder wore his golden chains, and held a coral staff in his right hand. Now, at almost 100 years old, the elder’s strength had greatly diminished. Over time, he relied more and more on his coral staff to anchor him while trying to remain motionless.

    “Tameryh. Unintended. In recent years, you’ve served with Master Grimbould without many major incidents. However, in the past few days, my guards tell me you were leaving the manor without permission in the middle of the night. Then I hear you were lying to the clergy and abusing Dreamer’s Respite. Today, you forced us to contact the clergy to restore you. Completely unconscious through most of the day. What do you have to say for yourself?” asked Elder Molka.

    “I confess. I asked for Sidar Asoudi’s help, and he gave me the potion. He never warned me of what it would do beyond help me sleep. If he would have told me it caused such pain, and trouble, I would have avoided it completely. I would have suffered through my nightmares,” explained Tameryh.

    Tameryh heard the thane snort at his story.

    “Oh, so you’d have me believe the sidar failed to tell you about this medicine? He lives to serve us, after all. What possible benefit would he have in misleading you? You. You disgrace the house with your accusations,” said the elder firmly.

    “Sir, please!” pleaded Tameryh.

    “Silence him, thane,” said Elder Molka.

    *THWAK*

    The thane put his massive strength into a heavy backhand, sending Tameryh to the ground.

    “Did I ask for your opinions, unintended? No. Here are the facts. Your mother’s mistake became my burden. You. She created a debt, and it was settled when we sent her east. You, however, failed to honor her sacrifice. You probably didn’t understand what those eastern scholars wanted, did you? Those disgusting Kouton offered me the vilest proposition. I’d never let our clan be used in such a way, but your mother gave up her claim. They needed Yaun-Teel. Fresh Yaun-Teel, still in their prime. Oh they slashed her, cut her, put her back together, but in the end, they bleed her dry. That’s right, boy, they butchered her,” exclaimed Elder Molka.

    Tameryh started to pull himself back up, but Blodusk restrained him.

    “No…” said Tameryh.

    “Oh what’s that boy? You dishonor her sacrifice yet again?” said Blodusk as he tightened his grip.

    “Unintended. I relieve you of your burdens. I relieve of your responsibilities. I relieve of your earnings, and release your debts to us. You are no longer recognized as unintended, you are nothing. You are not of clan Basqorjn, and you are not welcome here ever again,” said Elder Molka with a stern tone.

    “Who do you serve?!” shouted Tameryh.

    Elder Molka raised an eyebrow at this remark as Bludusk tightened his grip again.

    “I live to serve this house! She lived to serve this house! Who do you serve by killing her!?” shouted Tameryh.

    Tameryh began trashing, trying to escape Blodusk’s grasp.

    “Why, I serve my clan, fool. Can’t you see? You are the proof that she served herself. You’ve followed in her wake,” said Elder Molka with a laugh.

    Elder Molka turned to Blodusk, “Remove him immediately.”

    Tameryh thrashed harder, and broke free of Blodusk’s grasp. He darted forward and slammed into Elder Molka. Elder Molka crashed into the wall, letting go of his coral staff. Tameryh picked the staff up, and whipped around to see Blodusk charging for him. Tameryh swam up and over, turned back around as Blodusk pulled out a short blade.

    Quickly, Tameryh chanted a spell. As he chanted, he could feel the staff growing heavier in his hand as it accepted his magic. Blodusk charged him a second time.

    This time Tameryh slammed the coral staff down at Blodusk hard. Initially, Blodusk raised his arm to block the blow, however the weight of the staff greatly exceeded his expectations. Blodusk arm snapped downwards, giving into the incredible weight of the magically reinforced staff.

    Blodusk howled in pain as Tameryh lifted the staff back up.

    “Guards, stop him at once!” shouted Elder Molka.

    Tameryh hefted the staff upwards and charged towards Elder Molka.

    “CEASE!” commanded Elder Molka as Tameryh felt a shock go through his body. He felt his hands let go of the staff as it sunk to the ground. Elder Molka braced himself against the wall clutching his chest.

    Tameryh couldn’t move, but he heard the guards enter the room. He felt them grabbing his hands, and binding them. He saw one of the guards help Elder Molka leave the room and then he felt a sharp pain from behind. Tameryh’s vision went dark.

    Tameryh awoke and found himself in a dark room with a small window and small locked hatch. His head hurt and he found bruises across his body.

    “Hey! Where am I?” shouted Tameryh.

    He heard someone approach.

    “Oh. It looks like ‘the nothing’ is finally awake. Good news, you worthless trash. You’re being sent to the vastness. The abominations will have their way with your entrails!” shouted the guard.

    “No… oh no…” said Tameryh trying to make sense of the situation.

    “Oh you really can’t be surprised. You. A nobody assaults the head of House Basqorjn and you even manage to injure his thane? I’m surprised you even made it in here alive,” said the guard with a laugh.

    That night, Tameryh found no rest. He found no peace. He was left with his thoughts, though not of dismay. He wanted them all dead. They lied to him for so long.

    “They sent off my mother to the east, they said. They didn’t have the gall to tell me. She traded her life, and they let it happen.     Then, they treat me like a servant for almost two decades, telling me I’m not good enough, I’ll never be part of the house,” he muttered as he floated around the room.

    “I’ll never forgive them. The liars. The priest, the elder, the brute. To the vastness with the entire clan. All of them knew what happened! Those fowl, miserable, worthless, self-serving fools,” he said as he continued ruminating.

    Tameryh kept swimming in a small circle, unable to find rest or calm his nerves. He worried that he might be left to rot in this cage for an eternity, but the guards returned a few hours later. They bound him up, and carried him outside. There, Tameryh saw the elder, the sidar, Blodusk, Grimbould, and others from the house.

    As the morning sun shined down, a Yaun-Teel male in a city guard’s uniform said, “For his crimes against the city, assaulting an elder of the house, and assaulting his thane, both acts with intent to kill, we hereby sentence Tameryh to the vastness. Do any of you wish to speak out against this judgement?”

    The crowd fell completely silent. Tameryh looked to Grimbould, but Grimbould looked down and away.

    “Very well. We now cast you out. Lowliest of Yaun-Teel. Serve the vastness better than you served your kin!” shouted the guard.

    The guards started placing small pouches across Tameryh’s body. The sidar approached and began chanting. One by one, the pouches inflated and Tameryh could feel his body being pulled slightly upwards. After a few moments, all the pouches had inflated and Tameryh began floating upwards at an alarming pace. Panic set in almost immediately as the vastness of the world above the water steadily got closer and closer. Tameryh desperately thrashed, trying to remove his restraints. No matter how hard he fought, he failed to loosen his bonds. The pouches continued to pull him towards the vastness. He squinted as the sun bared down on him. He’d never felt so much warmth before. He closed his eyes, accepting his fate.

    Suddenly, a darkness fell over him. He opened his eyes, to see the red bloom coming right for him. Tameryh felt the cloud completely engulf him as he inhaled sharply. The bloom coated his gills and his panic turned to terror. The vastness approached closer and closer by the second, and Tameryh’s visions went completely dark.

    Tameryh awoke as his head bounded, and his body ached. He attempted to raise up his head, but he lacked the strength. He let out a soft moan, as he felt a hand press against his head.

    “Rest now, young one. You’ve survived the baptism,” came a female voice.

***
(Continued…)

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 105 – “The Unintended”, Chapter 2   Leave a comment

History

The Unintended
by Dustin Douglas

Chapter 2
Siren’s Call

    Tameryh’s first few years of apprenticeship were hard, but fairly simple.

    He cleaned every inch of the manor, inside and outside. Additionally, he would help serve meals when the house hosted a large event. He woke up early in the morning, and stayed up late into the night trying to keep the house in order. As he approached maturity, House Master Gimbould decided Tameryh could work as a courier in town as well.

    At the end of a long day, Tameryh was almost finished with his duties. No extra events were lined up, and the house was in good condition.

    A bulbous Yaun-Teel wearing a silver version of the house sigil called out, “Tameryh! Come now lad. Bring this message to the slave pens.”

    Tameryh perked up. He loved delivering messages since his duties rarely allowed him opportunities to leave the manor.

    “Yes sir, Master Grimbould, sir,” said Tameryh with excitement.

    “No lollygagging through town, boy. I’ll need your help preparing food when you’re back,” said Grimbould.

    Tameryh nodded eagerly as he took the parcel from Grimbould. Tameryh darted out of the room, and swam up and out of the manor grounds. The Basqorjns kept their slaves pens near The Hole. Most slaves toiled away in The Hole mining opals for the Basqorjn family. Few of the slaves every saw much beyond the slave pens and The Hole. From time to time, the Basqorjn retain a few healthy Mer for breeding stock as well, as the Yaun-Teel become infertile after a few generations.

    Tameryh looked down at a milky fog that hung in the water. Merely swimming through the grit irritated Tameryh’s gills, and lingering too long would start to hurt his lungs. The constant strip mining created the fog that constantly hung in the water, and many slaves fell ill to prolonged exposure to it. Very few animals or plants called this disgusting place home, other than the slaves.

    Tameryh approached the slave master’s quarters, just outside of the pens. He knocked on the door and cleared his throat.

    “Slave Master Quora, I have a parcel for you from the manor,” said Tameryh.

    “Oye, is that the unintended little runt?” growled a voice from the other side of the door.

    “It’s Tameryh here with your package,” said Tameryh with a touch of agitation.

    Quora opened the door and looked down at Tameryh. Quora, a huge Yaun-Teel female with a wicked streak worse than Blodusk.

    “Gimmie that you little unintended,” said Quora snatching the parcel from his hands.

    “Nothin’ better ‘ave gone missin’,” she said.

    “I’m not even privy to the contents of that parcel, madam,” said Tameryh with a touch of condensation in his voice.

    She looked up and mocked, “oh not privy. Not privy to who yer father is, are ya? AH, ha ha!”

    Tameryh scowled at her and said, “Very well. I’ll let Grimbould know you received your parcel.”

    “Oye, you do that,” said Quora, slamming the door in his face.

    Tameryh looked down and shook his head. He wanted to do so many wicked things to that terrible woman. He thought, “Would it be so bad to float her up to the surface and have the hellish creatures tear her to pieces? Perhaps something worse would be better…”

    Tameryh turned away from the pens, and started to leave foggy mining area

    “Come. Call to us. Command us.”

    Tameryh tilted his head up, and looked back towards the mines.

    “Surely, the miner’s aren’t still here,” thought Tameryh to himself.

    Tameryh swam a short way towards the mine shaft, but saw no one. Tameryh shrugged his shoulders, and left. The tunnels can play tricks on the weak minded, and Tameryh new this too well.

    As he turned back, he saw it. A small cloud of red bloom, hanging in the water. Despite the currents, it stood still. The red bloom softly swirled in front of him as Tameryh felt it pierce his mind.

    “Come. Come with us. Come,” he heard a ghostly voice beckon.

    Tameryh stood, transfixed. He heard the stories of the red bloom. A vile wave of red washed over unfortunate Pisceans. Some say it enters their body through their gills, and destroyed them from the inside out. Some say bodies dissolved in seconds, others claim blood shoots out of your eyes. Either way, Tameryh knew to avoid red bloom.

    In the distance, Tameryh turned his head towards a commotion coming from the slave pens, but then looked back at towards the Red Mist. It was gone.

    Tameryh returned to the manor, and ended his day. He spent the next few weeks growing increasingly paranoid of what he had seen. He finished his duties and went to sleep without saying a word of his experience to anyone. He wouldn’t speak a word of it for quite some time…

    “Come. Call to us. Bring us to them. Come. Speak to us. Let us hear your sweet voice. Come. Tameryh. Wield us. Make us your instrument of purification,” whispered an unseen voice.

    Tameryh floated dangerously close to the surface. The beasts of hell lurked above, obscured by the water’s barrier. The sun blazing in the distance as a shade overtook him. A cloud of endless red swirled around him, and all at once he felt great pain. His body dissolving and burning. Again he heard to voice.

    “Come. Call to us. Come!” the voice shouted demanding his attention.

    Tameryh jolted up from his slumber. Almost every night, the same dream found him ever since the red cloud first appeared.

    After weeks of enduring these nightmares, Tameryh finally decided to speak with a priest of Merrshaulk. While Tameryh normally saved his hard earned coins, he knew that consultation with a priest practically required a tithe. Tameryh knew he could not endure the terrors of his dreams any longer without help. While it proved difficult to request time away from the manor, Grimbould approved a visit to the clergy of the Collector.

    Tameryh approached the great temple of the Collector and breathed a heavy sigh as he entered.

    “The collector’s blessing to you,” said an elder Yaun-Teel acknowledging his arrival. The elder continued, “How might we serve you this day?”

    Tameryh nodded and said, “Collector’s blessing to you as well. I am Tameryh of Basqorjn, uh. Uh…” Tameryh paused for a moment, but swallowed his pride and continued, “Tameryh of Basqorjn,  Unintended. I seek spiritual guidance from a Sidar.”

    “Oh my. And with what urgency do you seek this guidance?” asked the elder gesturing towards his open palm.

    Tameryh produced a small sack of coins and placed it in the elder’s hand.

    “Your request has been heard. Please wait here. Sidar Asoudi should be available soon,” said the elder as he logged information on a scroll.

    Tameryh waited in the main chapel area and studied the images of Merrshaulk’s champions emblazoned along the walls. The grand seekers, explorers, exploiters, slavers, wizards, sorcerers, and clergy. What ignorant folks called greed, the Yaun-Teel called creative ambition. These champions were so willing to sacrifice everything for their goals. Vanya of Targo, the great explorer. She founded the very city the Yaun-Teel called home. Her desires for fame and fortune created great benefit for the entire Yaun-Teel race. Tameryh looked at the portrait of Grand Wizard Juantic. He felt envious of his magical mastery, as Juantic first established a school for wizardy in Marst Gravis. Truly, greed and profit drove him, but all of the Yaun-Teel society profited from his actions. Before Tameryh could think further about his ancestory, an elder Sidar appeared.

    “Tameryh of Basqorjn? Come. Speak with me,” said the elder Yaun-Teel adorned in gold.

    The pair of Yaun-Teel slowly swam towards a private office in the back of the cathedral.

    “What troubles you so, young one? Is it your mother?” asked the Sidar.

    “Oh, no no. Thank you for asking, but… I’ve been having reoccurring nightmares.” Said Tameryh. He continued as Sidar Asoudi nodded solemnly, “It’s always the same. A red mist appears and calls to me. It wraps itself around me, I feel it consuming me from the inside out, and then I wake up in a panic.”

    “What manner of red mist is this?” asked the sidar.

    “Well. It looked like red bloom. At least, I think. One night after leaving the mine, I thought I saw a small patch drifting though. I heard the voice call to me then. Beckoning me to come closer. I looked around, looked back, and it disappeared,” said Tameryh.

    The sidar cocked his head and raised an eyebrow at this story.

    “Interesting,” said the sidar. He continued, “Were you alone? The slaves weren’t weaving magic at you perhaps?”

    “As far as I know, I was alone. I was ready to brush this off as merely being exhausted from the day’s work, but the nightmares won’t stop. I didn’t feel any sort of fear when I originally saw the mist. I only feel fear in my dreams,” confessed Tameryh.

    “I see,” said the Sidar. He continued, “I think I have something that may help.”

    The sidar stood up, and began rummaging through a chest at the other side of the room. Tameryh heard glass clanking together, and the sidar eventually produced a large vial of dark liquid.

    “I recommend you drink this draught each night before you sleep. This should last you the entire week. If you feel you need more, come visit me again. Of course, be prepared to offer a similar sized tithe as you did today,” said the sidar in a business-like tone.

    The Sidar held up a small, cork-sealed vial with a siphoning spigot on the end. Tameryh remembered drinking from vials like that as a child, and he always hated the taste.

    Tameryh looked at the sealed vial, nodded, and asked, “Do you think this dream means something deeper? I mean, what sort of thing is that red mist exactly?”

    The sidar breathed a heavy sigh and said, “The filthy Mer share stories about it. Cursed waters that claim the wicked, some say. Others claim it’s the remnants of the Kraken’s old magics endlessly roaming the seas, consuming until the end of time. However, the toxin is simply algae. It grows, or blooms, to a massive size. It siphons the purity from the water, and even swimming near it might cause one to gag. At least that’s what the less superstitious might tell you. Perhaps there’s a bit of truth to all those stories.”

    Tameryh nodded along and said, “but in the form of a dream? Could it mean something more?”

    “Oh, you mean a figurative meaning!” said the sidar with a chuckle. He continued, “Dreams of death, they aren’t too uncommon. Merrshaulk visits images upon us, warning us of  dire circumstance or splendid opportunity. Some say they are one in the same. Perhaps, he warns you too? The path ahead of you might be perilous, but trust your instincts. All of us know better than to swim into the red mists without needing to be told. When you feel something is wrong, trust that feeling.”

    Tameryh nodded along eagerly.

    “Good. Just remember to take small sip of this before bed each night,” said the sidar as he stood up and led Tameryh to the door.

    “Yes sir. Thank you for sharing your guidance with me,” said Tameryh bowing.

    “I live to serve,” said the sidar, holding open the door.

    Tameryh gave a slight bow, and slowly swam out the door, placing the vial into his pack. While he went through the cathedral, he looked back up at the heroes of Merrshaulk and wondered how he might make a name for himself one day.

    Tameryh thought to himself, “Could an unintended ever rise to prominence in the House of Basqorjn?”

    As he exited the temple, a free Mer woman stared at him in the street. While a bit uncommon in this part of town, other races did come to Edonmul to trade. She wore straps of shagreen, and a tight fitting leather helmet. Tameryh thought she might be a hunter of some sort.

    “Don’t give in to the great lies of Suminarae, as comforting as it may be,” said the Mer woman.

    “What are you talking about?” asked Tameryh as he cocked his head.

    “The priests. They tell you things. The things you need to hear to be a good Yaun-Teel. They tell you what you need to hear to ensure their station remains. If the currents keep flowin’ as they always have, their life will remain comfortable. So, really, who do they serve? They serve themselves first, they serve the lie second, and they might serve you third,” she said.

    “Hey, don’t drag me into your toxic heresy!” said Tameryh raising his voice.

    “Oh very well, unintended. Just remember this. Soon enough you’ll know you’re nothing more than a vessel to deliver coins, but you could be…” she trailed off.

    With an incredulous look, he said, “Could be what?”

    The woman faded away right in front of him as she said, “So much more.”

    Tameryh looked all around for a trace of the Mer woman, but she disappeared. He looked to the other pedestrians passing by the area, but no one seemed to take note.

    He thought to himself, “Who in the vastness was that, and how did she know I was an unintended?”

***
(Continued…)

Endless Blue – Week 104 – “The Unintended”, Chapter 1   1 comment

History

The Unintended
by Dustin Douglas

Preface
The Basqorjn Clan

     The Basqorjn Family’s strength resides in their unwavering control. Control over their slaves, control over their business, and control of themselves. Their bloodline’s strength results solely from their devotion to the family. Actions taken against the family strikes at the very heart of one’s own livelihood for any of House Basqorjn. The current living Yaun-Teel generations understand that their success came only from their forefathers labors. The ancestors worked, and toiled to earn the family’s reputation, and the burden now falls to them. The success or failure of the house results from their ability to continue on with the family’s teachings.

The Basqorjn clan never breaks a contract. Contracts may dissolve, but Basqorjn failure is unacceptable.

The Basqorjn clan will serve their elder’s wishes, no matter the request.

The Basqorjn clan treats all family matters on equal footing with business matters.

     While the third rule may seem ambiguous, this rule sets the Basqorjn clan apart from most other families. Clearly, the marriage between any two families would require agreement between elders of each clan, but the Basqorjn go further. Even if marriage occurs, the offspring of that marriage may not be acknowledge as a true Basqorjn, and therefore not a true heir of the family. Many Yaun-Teel communities say, “as stingy as a Basqorjn,” for this reason.

     The elders also dictate if a particular offspring will breed, and with whom. Some offspring mate with the Mer to keep the bloodline from degenerating, while some maintain the pure blood. The elders decide who among the family shall be gifted with true heir offspring. Many young Basqorjn take issue with this fact, as their nature tempts them to betray the family to fulfill their biological drive. In the end, the youth quash such selfish notions. They bow to the family’s needs first, as they are nothing on their own. What could a single, nameless, Yaun-Teel ever accomplish?

     The Basqorjn own many slaves, and produce high volumes of gemstones and precious metals. Despite their draconian family laws, they’ve remained highly productive for many generations. The tight control of the family, and the large number of slaves, allows the core family to live in luxury. A Basqorjn is nothing without faith in the family, and the family repays dedication in gold.

***

Chapter 1
Temptation’s Price

     “Mom?” said a young, nervous, male Yaun-Teel.

     “It’s going to be okay, Tameryh. Remember, we never fail to fulfill our promises. Just like our contracts,” said the boy’s mother.

     “But will I still get to see you?” asked Tameryh as his face turned red.

     “You, and me? We don’t matter. What matters is the greatest gift that you have. Basqorjn, your family name. Wear it with pride, my son. Whatever you do, you do in service of the great house. Generation after generation of devoted Yaun-Teel fought to give this name power. Never take their sacrifice in vain,” she said holding him close.

     “But what about you?” he said, still fighting back the tears.

     “Don’t think of yourself. That temptation leads to the greatest of sins. You may feel pain, but do not let that bring shame upon the house. If you do shame the house, pray you can resolve your debt,” she said.

     A voice shouted from outside the room, “Myra, it’s time.”

     Myra looked down at Tameryh and smiled.

     “Little Tam… Don’t forget everything you’ve learned. I must settle my debts,” she said as the hugged him one last time.

     Myra left the room, and Tameryh followed her out of the room. He swam as close to her as he could, but he stopped as the elder appeared. He didn’t dare interrupt.

     The elder stood tall and strong despite his age. Adorned in clothes with golden trim, wearing three thick golden chains with the house symbol, a golden eel around the perimeter of a circle with a blood drop in the center, hanging down on his chest.

     “You will serve the southern scholars well, Myra. You will do as you’re told, and treat their word as mine. You shall no longer be Myra of Basqorjn, though you still carry the reputation of this house. Should I hear any word of dissatisfaction from them, Tameryh will be stripped of his name too,” he said with a stern voice.

     Myra turned pale at his remark, but nodded meekly.

     “Good,” said the elder. He turned to Tameryh and continued, “ah there’s the boy. You, honor your mother’s sacrifice. Even with her mistake, she settled her debt with the house. It’s a good lesson, lad,” he said in a sterile tone.

     Tameryh meekly said, “Yes Elder Molka, thank you sir,” but couldn’t help but frown as the tears started coming back.

     “Shh, hush now, Little Tam,” said Myra.

     “Blodusk, take the boy,” said Elder Molka.

     From around the corner, a large adult male Yaun-Teel swam up and grabbed Tameryh by the arm. Tameryh wanted to fight. Tameryh wanted to scream loud enough for the vastness to hear him. He knew too well that his selfish actions would only hurt his mother. Tameryh knew the house came first. He submitted completely, and looked away from his mother as Blodusk dragged him from the room.

     Blodusk frightened Tameryh. The strongest Yaun-Teel of House Basqorjn who served as Elder Molka’s Thane. Beyond simply securing the properties of the Basqorjn clan, he also acted at the Elder’s right hand in disciplinary matters.

     Tameryh sat in a room, looking down at the floor. Blodusk shut the entrance and stood inside, looking down at him.

     “She held great status here once. Then you came along. Her great temptation! Ha! Myra of all people,” he said with a wicked look on his face.

     “Oh yeah, you probably don’t understand the full story yet. Let’s just say she wanted to serve herself first,” said Blodusk.

     “Who are you serving by telling me this story?” asked Tameryh as he raised up his head.

     Blodusk rushed forward, grabbing Tameryh by the head.

     “Listen here you little unintended trash! I’m telling you what you need to hear,” said Blodusk with anger in his voice.

     Tameryh’s eyes drifted back down, his shoulders slumped, and he submitted completely again.

     “Sorry sir. Thank you for sharing your experience with me,” said Tameryh.

     “That’s more like it,” said Blodusk as he released Tameryh.

     “You see, she never asked permission. A fine young Yaun-Teel caught her eye, and wouldn’t you know it. Myra couldn’t keep herself in check. My, oh my, she was a profitable one too. We can’t have her going against the family serving only herself. That kind of tarnish takes years to remove,” said Blodusk.

     “Now what to do with you. I wonder if the elder will buck tradition and throw you in the slave pens anyway. We don’t need some no-skilled kid smearing the family name,” said Blodusk with a wicked grin.

     Tameryh grew pale at the thought of a lifetime of hard labor.

     “Oh, did I say something you didn’t like?” said Blodusk watching Tameryh’s reaction.

     “You think you’re too good for mining then eh? Too good for swimming down to the deep blackness? Who knows what monsters lurk out there in The Hole. They say it goes down for miles. If the foreman doesn’t get enough out of you, he’ll send you straight up to the vastness!,” laughed Blodusk.

     Tameryh kept looking down, just hoping someone or something would stop Blodusk from talking.

     “Maybe we’ll just feed you to the sharks, boy! Ah ha ha ha!” laughed Blodusk.

     Tameryh stopped responding and sat silently, yearning to leave this place forever.

     Blodusk pulled out a short dagger and began grooming his claws. For Tameryh, time slowed to a crawl. After his mother’s depature, he couldn’t fathom what future awaited him. His sorrow was soon replaced with hollow despair.

     Tameryh thought back to his earliest memories with him mom. The elders kept Tameryh from formal education with the rest of the children, as “unintended trash,” should not mix with the house. Myra took complete responsibility for Tameryh instead. While she had originally been a profitable hunter, traveling from town to town in her youth, she was reduced to a mere servant.

     Tameryh thought about the many lessons Myra shared with him as they explored the kelp forests…

Myra said, “Listen. You may not hear it with your ears, little Tam, but you will feel it in your soul.”

Tameryh turned his head and said, “What is that supposed to mean, mom?”

Myra brought her hands up and gently brushed the nearby kelp. She looked back and smiled down at Tameryh.

“When you know how to dance with the currents, converse with the waters, and listen to the flora, then you may learn their secrets,” she said as she began to fade from view.

“What?! Where did you go!?” shouted Tameryh as his mother disappeared into the kelp right in front of him. To him, she appeared to merge with the plants completely.

Tameryh felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around.

Myra said, “Over here, silly little Tam.”

“Wow! How’d you do that!” asked Tameryh.

Myra smiled, patted Tameryh on the head, and said, “Well first you need to master the other little tricks I taught you little Tam.”

With a huff, Tameryh crossed his arms and said, “oh fine! Then will you teach me that trick?”

Myra nodded and smiled.

With that, Tameryh brought his hands together and chanted. A few minutes later, his hands gave off a minor glow.

“Good! Now, try moving the light on to this,” said Myra pointing at her necklace. She continued, “If you can, I’ll let you keep it!”

Myra handed Tameryh the necklace with a smile.

“Oh really!” exclaimed Tameryh.

He redoubled his efforts trying to cast the magical glow upon the object for the rest of the day. By the time they went home, the necklace glowed, not very brightly, but it certainly glowed. Tameryh brimmed with pride.

     Tameryh thought of all the little tricks his mother taught him as he looked down at the necklace. Once he learned how to create magical light, he learned minor healing magic, and even learned to speak with lesser evolved life.

     Tameryh clutched the necklace in his hand once more. It was a bronze version of the house sigil. The necklace was rough, scratched, and not as pristine as the elder’s golden one.

     After a short while, a voice commanded, “Tameryh, come.”

     Blodusk opened the hatch, and gestured for Tameryh to leave. Tameryh swam out of the room and stood before the elder.

     Elder Molka said, “Good. You’ll continue on serving the house in your mother’s place. You are Yaun-Teel, and I expect you to fulfill these duties as any Yaun-Teel would. Report to House Master Gimbould immediately. You will help cook, clean, convey messages, make deliveries, and anything else he requests. Is that understood?”

     Tameryh bowed his head and said, “Thank you for this opportunity. I will speak with Gimbould at once.”

     “You will be relocating to the servants quarters tonight,” continued Elder Molka.

     “Ah HA! Not heading down to the hole? Tis a shame” snickered Blodusk.

     Tameryh looked down without responding.

     “You. Speak when you are spoken to boy!” demanded Blodusk.

     “Yes, sir,” replied Tameryh with a flat affect.

     “Good,” said Elder Molka as he nodded towards Blodusk grimly, and left the room.

     “Oh what’s this little trinket? Now that you are formally serving the house, you can’t be wearing it” said Blodusk as he ripped the necklace from Tameryh’s neck. Tameryh’s eyes went wide, and his face turned red.

     “Oh this was your mother’s? You realize it’s not within her authority to bequeath this to you, or anyone. You probably think this was her property. No. This symbol means she’s recognized as a Basqorjn huntress. You. You are no hunter. You are barely Basqorjn. She isn’t even Basqorjn now!” shouted Blodusk

     Blodusk started laughing as he stuck the necklace in his pocket. Tameryh charged at him.

     *THWACK*

     Tameryh felt Blodusk’s full strength in a solid backhand to his face. Tameryh’s head snapped backwards as he sank to the ground. Blodusk looked down on him and laughed, as a trail of blood floated upwards.

     “Don’t fool yourself, boy. You think this is yours? You think you’re entitled to it because she gave it to you? Damn it, fool. You shouldn’t even be alive,” he said as Blodusk picked up Tameryh by the throat.

     “You. You were her mistake, he was her temptation. Damn them both,” hissed Blodusk as he threw Tameryh back down.

     Tameryh took a few minutes, but finally collected himself. Anger, hate, and despair swelled in him as he knew he was helpless to change anything.

***
(Continued…)

Endless Blue – Week 96.3 – Yaun-Teel: Illustrated   Leave a comment

Aesthetics

Yaun-Teel: Illustrated

The Yaun-Teel are a culture steeped in extravagance and decadence.  They have maneuvered their way into becoming the economic center of the Endless Blue, and now reap the rewards of that abundance.  To avoid the inevitable corruption that affluence brings, the Yaun-Teel have incorporated a philosophy into their daily lives called “the Principles of Service“.  This belief that “everybody serves someone else” acts like a checks and balances system that keeps the Yaun-Teel Bights from degenerating into an oligarchy.

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Yaun-Teel Female and Yaun-Teel Male by Naiche Washburn

When I got back the sketch for the female Yaun-Teel, I was floored!  I was not expecting the almost photorealistic rendition of the black dress, and the dispersal of her hair really makes you believe it is being buoyed by the currents.  You can check out Naiche’s Pinterest page for more samples of his work.

Endless Blue – Week 92 – Merrshaulk, the Covetous Collector   2 comments

Theology

Merrshaulk, the Covetous Collector

Mortal life is small, it is limited.  Tiny specks in the vast endless blue, vulnerable to the slightest danger.  To the living, life is precious and cannot be extended.  Trapped in just a passing blink of time, with meager ability to produce, inadequate skills to survive, each passing second is lost.

With such a short time in the all-encompassing ocean, with death hunting for you at every moment, austerity is the foolish choice..  The few moments you have, have worth.  Every moment should be squeezed for every precious drop of value.

Your time spent in the service of others instead of yourself therefore requires compensation.  To not take compensation is to not value yourself, to waste that small sliver of a tiny life that cannot be brought back.

The only one that can define the worth of your time is you.  If others cannot meet your expected compensation, then they do not deserve the sacrifice of your time.  Convincing others of your worth is therefore your right.  Demand the most for what you have and what you can do, for no one else will offer you its true worth.

The oceans are plentiful.  The oceans provide.  You need only take what you want, want as much as you can, to warrant your survival.  This encourages the competition for resources, for wealth.  Wealth not just in coinage, but in resources, influence, and power.  This ensures only the most competent survive.  And by hoarding more than you need you prohibit others from meeting their needs.  Never overestimate another’s greed, nor underestimate your own need.

Merrshaulk, the Sagacious, Lord of the Hoard, the Covetous Collector, Avarita of the Greed.

Alignment: Chaotic Evil.
Symbol: A golden eel knotted around an upturned alabaster oyster shell, the eel’s head extending past one side.
Domains: Chaos, Evil, Knowledge, Luck, Trickery.
Preferred Unguis (weapon): Constriction.
Clerical Unguis of Choice: Netting.
Cleric Alignment: Chaotic evil, chaotic neutral, neutral evil, true neutral.

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Endless Blue – Week 87.5 – Flotsam: The Lernynge Lax, or the Salmon of Knowledge   Leave a comment

Mythology

The Lernynge Lax, or the Salmon of Knowledge

The tale of the Lernynge Lax is thought to be folklore inspired to help keep the masses of the Known World uneducated.  By shedding personal illumination in a negative context, the more educated hope to keep the population from seeking enlightenment.  Without education, the wealthy keep the advantage in survival to themselves.

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