Lakes of Blood and Ash
Birth of the Niobraran League
Westerners sometimes whisper when docked far from home in the ports of the Inner Sea of horrors that roam the depths. Living shadows that own the countless fathoms, worlds upon worlds, but with an appetite for mortal flesh. Such stories are seldom shared in the West where they are thought to bring the evil eye of the deeps upon skiff and kin, though like many things, the long dark nights of Calibration and the shore leave it entails is a time to share secret wisdom with the next generation. Hidden truths of cousins, brothers, and friends that have walked a beach alone or sailed out before the other ships and never returned.
Now, certainly, the people of Wavecrest and Coral fear the Storm Mothers and their typhoons. They tremble and quake with bowls of seawater as they gaze upon the children of Siakal and know in their fangs lies a terrible pain and a dark death. Yet, these are threats spoken of often and prayers are made to still their rage at every opportunity. These are familiar threats and largely understood, if fickle in their ways. The beings that rest under the waves are no new threat though, the Westerners are wrong on that note. No, horror would devour the eyes of any scholar that sought to trace the trail of disappearances back to their beginning. To the start of time, before there were men and gods were made and destroyed with such pace that the sky rained stars. To a time when few things had forms and the laws of Creation were still being negotiated. Yes, to those beginning of days under Primordial rule.
In those days the shapes of the beast we known now did not exist and the planet was thin on those shapes the Primordials could agree on. Each beast we know now had to be refined a thousand times over in a perfect prototype, a God of such power and meaning that the animal avatars of today would pale beside them. More akin to the Incarnae, they were concepts themselves forged as though in the Primordial’s own image and by their rules. Yet, as the learned know, the wheel of ages turns and the greatest of the Primordials make, the Incarnae that sat beside them and ordained Heaven and her workings and the Maidens who stepped from the Wyld and walked the path of the Shining Answer beside them, they turned on the magnanimity of their Makers.
In the Great War, the power of the highest was turned over to ignorant and shortsighted mortals, a hairsbreadth from unbreathing, dumb clay. Primordial fought Primordial, the Geas was used against Sol Invictus and the Argent Madona by each side, their psyche was strewn with conflicting orders and madness. The Elementals were shattered into a thousand thousand fragments as their essence drained into the veins of the Emerald Mother and marked her as she marked them. In such a world, everything not of mortal shape was an enemy and not to be trusted. The Exalted Host a blood-letting mob of furious ants with aims to devour the world. This is where the story of the Niobraran League truly starts, with the destruction of the great proto animals upon the land, taken as Primordial weapons of behemothic proportion…and were they not? Those in the sea saw this and held the fastnesses of the deeps for Kimbery and her kin for all time. When the Makers became Yozi and were cast out, they held the deeps still. Then, they were alone with the calm of peace, to contemplate the fire and hunger that yet rested in the bosom of the conquers.
These beings came together, sterile, and few in number. They could not grow their power by joining their flesh, nothing was to be made as the makers intended. Grand prototypes frozen forever like trophies on the wall. The fear gnawed at them and devoured them whole till strange thoughts not born of their Makers entered their minds. What if they could find a way to evade the mandates and bans as the gods had in their rebellion? Desperation breeds curious bedfellows and it ultimately brought them to one thing, Humanity. They were a creation left so unfinished, so experimental, so small and weak that they were largely ignored by the Makers. Their form was still fluid and unfrozen, the Wyld crawled through their minds and bodies. A new stripe of research was made upon these least animals, there might be enough in them to provide an answer. For the deific proto-beasts, their prayers were answered and the first of the Niobraran were born as near-immortal man-beasts that shared many of their progenitor’s powers.
These beings hid, few in number, they took mortals from storm-swept seas. Those that gave themselves to the sea or who sought solitude on deserted isles. Even so carefully, the Deliberative soon detected the growing numbers of disappearances even when it so few. Discussions were held and funds gathered. Yet, those of the deep were not blind to what was happening and had watched their oppressors for centuries already. When they deliberated, the Neobraran was as the storm surge over the land. When they came for them, they were away. It would be a century before the great machine of the Deliberative developed the machines they would need to search the depths and before enough support existed in the face of their own petty conflicts. They came to fight wyld mutants and found themselves facing a score of the Pollardborn. The forces of the Deliberative were driven back soundly and the way it was spun in the media, people feared the coasts for a century more, shaking the myth of the god-kings invulnerability and contributing greatly to unrest.
When the Deliberative returned, the stars guiding them to their enemies and under the guard of Lunar god-beasts, the seas were stained red. Many among the Pollardborn were slain, whole lines of the Niobraran snuffed out. Even still, the cost and the mortal danger to the god-kings themselves proved too much and a detente was forged. Each side made ancient and forgotten demands on the other, sworn on the Yozi themselves. The Deliberative crumbled soon after and the Shogunate as well in it’s time. The Niobraran remain, less unified than they once were without their great enemy, but still honoring the immortal Pollardborn of each blood. Their League still stands and held firm against the Balorian Crusade and other dangers besides. A quiet empire hardly known and most often confused with the hodgepodge of aquatic darkbroods, wyld mutants, and demonic halfbreeds that make up the pelagothropes.
Silent beneath the waves, they have become a boogieman and fairytale to the scholars that read of them in the few excerpts that exist. Yet, still, men sing of the sirens beneath the waves and shake their head woefully when a strapping lad or young lass is swept under.