I know I've not been around much in a long while, but I wanted to stop by and say I'll miss Tharoc, and that I hope he got as much from this place as he put in. His ideas and character have been a big part of what makes this place great for as long as I've known the site, certainly.
argh, I seem always to pick the worst times to move house. Just got internet at the new place. thanks for those comments Arti! I've made all the changes, plus I noticed I'd got the gender of Aleshnir wrong, so I altered that.
Hi everyone, I think ages ago I said I had an idea for a seafaring jellyfish, so that the gaspan wasn't the only jellyfish about? well it's been sitting about half-finished in my computer for ages, and I finally got round to finishing it, so here goes:
Categorization: bestiary> water creatures> molluscs & others
Overview: If, whilst swimming in the balmy waters of the Scattersand Shoals, you should come across what appears to be a complex pattern of pieces of seashell, fish scales and assorted flotsam and jetsam, suspended motionless in the water as if caught in the web of an invisible spider, you would do well to keep your distance. This is simply the most visible aspect of a cradlejelly, a distant relative of the R’unorian gaspan, with considerably more sting in its tentacles.
Appearance: Almost invisible in clear water, the Cradlejelly has a transparent body, veined and touched with straw-yellow and orange. The flesh is very watery and rather slimy to the touch, like that of most jellyfish. If examined out of the water, the animal can be observed to have an extraordinary body shape- most of the body forms a large round “bell”, a little like the cap of a frent mushroom, which seems to be strongly muscled and veined all over in dark orange, which would appear to be the colour of the creature’s blood. This cap pulses when the animal is in the water, providing its only means of locomotion. Underneath the cap all the major organs are kept, with a ring of tiny bead-like eyes looking down and around the animal in a wide circle. It is a fairly simple creature, with no visible brain, being composed mostly of a gut which attaches directly to the tentacles, which make up the vast majority of the animal’s weight and size. The bell is rarely more than half a ped across, but the tentacles, or at least the longer ones, can stretch for tens of peds. There are two kinds- those connected directly to the gut, which are short, strong, and highly prehensile, and those which are attached to the inner edge of the bell, which are very long, thin as thread, and covered with sticky mucous and stinging cells. Both in the water and out, these tentacles are almost impossible to see in their own right. The other kind, which seem to function mainly as feeding tentacles, are hollow inside, with a muscle at the tip which can close over as if pulled by a drawstring, thus trapping water or food inside to be digested. There are up to ten of these, arranged in a circle directly under the bell, and they are rarely any longer than two palmspans. The ends of the tentacles are spotted with yellow, which seems to glow faintly in the dark, as does the orange veining on their bells, making them far easier to find at night.
A Cradlejelly seen in the wild, however, is unlikely to be recognised by any of these features, being so nearly invisible. Instead, what gives them away is usually a collection of seemingly random objects floating in a complex web in the middle of the water. On very close inspection it can be discerned that they are not floating of their own accord, but held tangled in the threadlike tentacles of the Cradlejelly, which form slowly shifting patterns with the objects they have accumulated.
Special abilities: The most notable ability of the Cradlejelly is its strange affinity for collecting seemingly random objects, either floating in the water, or found on the seabed when the jelly happens to pass through shallower waters, and combine them into the strange “webs” which give away their presence. Somehow, without the apparent aid of a brain, they are able to combine objects into complex patterns which attract the attention of the small fish which are their prey. This characteristic is where the Cradlejelly gets its name, as the weaving together of their tentacles is reminiscent of a game of catchcradle. Over the years they can build up extraordinary collections. One jelly which washed up on the shore near Strata had a collection of over five hundred different items, including a gold earring, part of the figurehead from a sunken ship, the skull of a selkie, and a surprisingly well preserved item of women’s underwear. The age of such a creature, given that it must have drifted almost the length of a continent to acquire such items, is staggering. Strangely, they seem quite selective of their lures, often catching items in their tentacles, passing them around for a while, and then discarding them, though exactly what they might be checking for is a mystery.
There is a more sinister ability to go with this collection of trinkets, though. The long threadlike tentacles of the Cradlejelly are coated all over with sticky mucous, which traps any fish that stray too close, and a unique poison which acts on contact with skin, causing the victim to spasm and convulse involuntarily. This not only alerts the jelly to the presence of prey, but incapacitates the prey whilst the tentacles are slowly retracted until the feeding tentacles can reach out and claim their meal.
Territory: Cradlejellies are drifters in most of the oceans of Caelereth, rarely seen near shore, and if they are, it is usually as dead specimens washed up on beaches, where their stinging tentacles are a particular hazard to barefoot beachcombers. They have been recorded in every ocean, seemingly undeterred by freezing or balmy seas, and having in any case little control over where they go, as the propulsion offered by their pulsing bell caps is barely strong enough to overcome ocean currents. They do seem more common in the warmer oceans around Nybelmar and southern Sarvonia, however, and these are the areas in which they have been best observed.
That said, there are several variations which are found in more constricted areas. In Eight Winds Bay there are Cradlejellies, but they are noticeably smaller and more compact than their ocean going cousins, with larger, stronger bells to allow them to escape the stormy waters of the area. Among the shallow seas of the Scattersand Shoals, the Cradlejellies are far more buoyant, with visible bubbles of air under their bells which cause them to float right at the surface of the water. They anchor themselves by tangling some of their tentacles among outcrops of coral or seaweed, and lead a stationary life instead of drifting.
Diet: Cradlejellies are carnivores of wide-ranging tastes. They will try to eat anything they can catch, and will catch anything that happens to brush against their tentacles and succumb to their venom. The gentle pulsing of their bell causes the collection of “lures” to dance and shift rhythmically, often glinting in the light, if the jelly has had the good fortune to catch something reflective. This, combined with the shelter any such objects provide in the vast exposure of the ocean, attracts small fish, which soon brush against the tentacles when they try to pass between objects. The mucous sticks them to the tentacles while the poison gets to work, causing them to shiver and twitch all over. This sends tremors up the tentacles to the sensitive bell of the Cradlejelly, and it begins to wind them back in, coiling them like the tendrils of a sweet bean until the still-quivering prey is within reach. Then the feeding tentacles start feeling around the web (the creature seems to be entirely immune to its own venom) until one touches upon the convulsing prey, and opens its siphon-like mouth to consume it. Often half-digested prey can be clearly seen inside the feeding tentacles of Cradlejellies.
Occasionally, a Cradlejelly will accidentally catch something too large to eat. Usually the greater force of such an animal’s convulsive movements will tear the tentacles, freeing it with some injury to the jelly, but nothing it cannot regrow. If, however, it succeeds in reeling a very large fish, pinnip or similarly oversized creature up to its bell, then either the damage caused by its thrashing amidst the cradlejelly’s vital organs, or the futile attempt to digest something that cannot fit into any of its feeding tentacles will almost invariably kill the jelly. This is of course small consolation to the trapped animal, which may well die if the convulsions interfere with its breathing.
Habitat/behaviour: As mentioned above, Cradlejellies are apparently brainless creatures with a propensity for the open ocean. They spend the vast majority of their lives drifting, doing little but eating and adding to the collection of lures which allows them to go on eating. With the exception of the Eight Winds Bay and Scattersand Shoals varieties, they seem to have little control over where they drift, and little way of sensing where they are going. Their eyes are tiny and probably barely useful for anything other than telling if something large is approaching, whereupon they may try to steer themselves away, though rarely to much use. All this points to a vegetable lack of intelligence, and yet the discernment and apparent sense of aesthetics which seems to go into the construction of their lure nets seems indicative of a far greater intelligence. The objects tend to be arranged in patterns so that they are equidistant from each other, and those of similar shape arranged to create very pleasing effects. Some create scintillating, starlike patterns from shards of gnacker shell, pointed leaves and rusted old nails. Some make blossoming moon-shaped orbs of round pebbles, pearls and old coins. They will often seem to consider an object for hours before deciding to reject or accept it, and carefully looping it in place amid the existing web, without disturbing the position of the others takes considerable finesse and judgement. The reason behind this remains an utter mystery to scholars, though myth and folklore has put forward some explanations, which I will detail later.
Mating: Breeding is a rather opportunistic affair with Cradlejellies, happening whenever two find themselves within sight of each other. It seems their eyes can make out the faint glow of their caps and tentacles in the night, and on seeing this they will approach each other as best they can. Taking care to keep their webs from entangling, they will get to within touching distance with their shorter, feeding tentacles. There seems to be no distinction between the sexes among Cradlejellies, each possessing both elements of procreation, and so a simple exchange takes place, with each jelly reaching under its cap with a feeding tentacle, and extracting a blob of sperm from some transparent secreter of such. They stick the blob under their partners’ bell, and then drift away. A few days later it seems that a foam of eggs will grow under the cap, until they are big enough to release, where they are set to drift on the ocean currents. The eggs are smaller than Khmeen seeds and pale orange in colour. Exactly what sort of larval or fry form they might hatch into is unknown, as attempts to catch and raise a Cradlejelly from an egg have been unsuccessful.
Myth/lore/origin: The Cradlejelly is well known to fishermen and sailors as a nuisance, sometimes a dangerous hazard to anybody who happens to blunder into the tentacles. The poison acts quickly on whatever muscles it comes into contact with, and if these include the chest, throat, or a large enough portion of the limbs to prevent the swimmer resurfacing, then the convulsive reaction can cause drowning in moments. To fishermen who find them tangled in their nets they are a painful nuisance, as the twitching they cause in the hands causes cramps, and in some cases persists for several hours as a faint tremor. The fact that they are often found to be dragging debris from foundered ships in their tentacles adds to the fear they inspire, with a common maritime belief being that they are drowned sailors’ prayers, uttered as they sunk below the waves and anchored from ever quite returning to the air by the weight of debris that catches in their tentacles. The shivering effect of their venom is said to be a memory of the desperate fear felt by drowning seafarers.
The merfolk seem to regard cradlejellies with appropriate caution and respect, calling them shiihuurmhaawhoo, which seems roughly to translate as “don’t go that way” or “swim away”.
There is a myth among some of the more seafaring Ice tribes in Northern Sarvonia, which tells how the cradlejelly is the spirit of a boy whose father went across the sea to fight in a great war. Eager to follow his father into battle, the boy started work on a boat to take him across the sea. Unfortunately, being young, he was impatient and careless, and before he got out of sight of the shore his boat foundered, and started to break apart. The boy swam back ashore, dejected and downcast, and tried again.
Months went by, and the war raged on over the seas, and the boy kept building his boats, and every time he tried and failed he learned something, and grew stronger and more skilled. Before long people began to ask for his help in repairing their own boats, and building new ones, and soon he forgot his task as he built sleek, strong fishing boats and became well known as a master boatbuilder in those parts.
Then one day, as he was starting the framework for yet another fishing dinghy, he looked up and saw sails on the horizon – the soldiers were returning at last. The boy’s father was not among them. Devastated, the boy threw aside his tools and stormed away, to where he had sunk his first boat, and braved the freezing swim back to shore. He wept, heavy with guilt at forgetting his quest to go and fight with his father, and wished there was some way to get him back.
Aleshnir* heard his wailing and wishing, and rose out of the sea like a white island to speak to the boy. “Boy,” she said, “Stop your wailing, it achieves nothing. I can help you to build a boat which will carry you to Necteref’s** house, where you can find your father and bring him back among the living. Would this please you?”
The boy nodded, wiping his eyes. “Yes! Please, tell me how to build such a ship!”
Aleshnir reared her head out of the water and regarded the boy with his great black eyes. “It can never be an easy thing, to sail to Necteref’s house. The only boat that can reach there is one that has already been sunk. Collect every piece of the boat you built those years ago, only and exactly the pieces of that boat, and put them together again, and you will have the ship to take your father home again.”
The boy was daunted; it was years since he sunk that first boat, and the pieces must have been scattered across every ocean by then, if not rotted to nothing at all. He hesitated, and Aleshnir gaped her great mouth and showed her hundreds of teeth, one for every sea creature you will hunt in your lifetime, and she said “Will you do this, or will you give up and leave your father to live forever in the house of Necteref?” Her breath was the weight and coldness of the ocean and it thundered on the boy’s ears like breaking waves. He shook his head, and said “No, I will fetch him, but I cannot travel underwater to search for the pieces.”
Aleshnir nodded, and before he could rest, lunged out of the water and caught the boy in her mouth, and pulled him down into the sea. Her spit turned the boy’s flesh to water and made him into an underwater spirit, changeless and ageless, so that he could search forever for the pieces of his long-lost ship. He is searching still.
Usages: As with most jellyfish, there are hardly any profitable uses for Cradlejellies. In an emergency they can be eaten, but have to be washed and dried else they contain so much salt water they will make the eater ill, and of course great care must be taken to remove all traces of the stinging tentacles. Accidentally swallowing the venom causes debilitating stomach cramps and vomiting, or worse still, if the inside of the throat was stung, the windpipe can go into spasms, making it impossible to breathe properly.
The anchored variety that lives in the shallows of the Scattersand Shoals has proved a useful landmark for small boats in the area. Fishermen navigate by the different web patterns, and in some cases, even leave messages for each other in little bottles. Dropped into the water so that they are sure to drift into the Cradlejelly’s reach, they are almost always incorporated into the web, whereupon the next fisherman to pass by can remove the bottle with the aid of a boathook, carefully wipe it clean of any stinging cells, and read the message inside, which may contain useful information on fish movements, warnings of pirates sighted nearby, or other key information.
There are several instances of romantic souls adrift on the oceans and fearing they would not return to their loved ones on land dropping messages to Cradlejellies, but sadly the unpredictable routes they take means such a message would be astronomically unlikely to ever find its intended destination.
The venom of Cradlejellies remains potent long after the animal is dead, meaning it is easily collected from specimens washed on the shore. In some communities, most notably Stratanian coastal people, a paste of Cradlejelly venom is used to relieve stiffness, withering, and paralysis of muscles, the principle being that the tremors caused “wake the muscle back up.” The truth of this is doubtful, and it certainly seems unlikely it can do anything for muscles which are entirely paralysed, whatever some healers may claim. There is also the danger of applying the paste too close to the lungs or throat, which can cause suffocation even out of the water, and so this is a remedy that does not seem likely to ever be widespread.
*Aleshnir: an ice tribe goddess of the sea and all that lives in it, usually taking the form of a great white whale. **Necteref: ice tribe god of death.
Hello Yidrassil, and welcome to Santharia! this is a nice first creation, so first of all well done on that. not wanting to overload you with comments, but I noticed a few things whilst reading through and wanted to get them down before I forgot. my comments will be in yellow, and are generally more suggestions than unquestionable commands, so please feel free to interpret or ignore them as you wish.
Overview The Aklitha or Dark Tailed Butterfly lives amongst the Ironwood Trees on the slopes of Mount Emesz’gob, in the Prominent Mountains. Though strictly a moth of light and dark brown colours, this creature is seldom seen and vainly vainly? the usages section notes that they're rare, but if you can find them it seems a fairly successful process. I dunno, this particular usage just seemed odd to me hunted for the strange qualities of its cocoon.
Categorization Animals, small, insect. Yay! I like to see people putting a categorization without being asked. Thank you!
Appearance The Dark Tailed Butterfly measures approximately three nailsbreadths wide and seven nailsbreadths long (from antenna to tail). The length of the tail alone is three nailsbreadths.
Its colours appeared to be dull from afar but on closer inspection, the researcher, Leifloff Sjungnarr, claimed that more than two hundred shades of brown could be observed. These colours help it to blend into its environment. These colours enable the moth to go unnoticed as the Ironwood changes colour with age. The wings consist of a globular (maybe substitute a different descriptor here? globular makes it sounds like the wings are literally bubble-shaped. I'd suggest "rounded" or maybe even "circular" depending on quite how round in shape they are) forewing and a trailing hindwing, which, along with its tail, assist in subsistence strategies. The tail itself is long with three flailing, tentacle like glands that facilitate, amongst other things, the spinning of the cocoon. what do the cocoons look like? it's part of the appearance. As is the larvae- you don't mention, far as I saw, any caterpillar - this is a fantasy insect so it doesn't necessarily need one, but either way I'd like to see an explanation please!
The mistaken etymology came about when Leif observed the graceful butterfly like movements of the moth when it fluttered from tree top canopies to the ground, much like a falling leaf. The reasearcher believed it to be a butterfly because of this characteristic, and mistakenly called it thus. This is not the case, however. The moth like characteristics are clear. (Quite like this idea, and the image of poor Leif realising he'd messsed up the original descriptions and being too embarrassed/ it having already been too widely mentioned to do anything about. If you wanted you could elaborate on this in the researcher section, or even include excerpts of his feild notes into the body of the entry if you wanted to add a bit of colour to it. that's just a suggestion, though. )Unlike butterflies, the antenna and body are furry and their forewings have small barbs in <with? which to latch on to leaves.
Territory The Dark Tailed Butterfly only resides amongst the Ironwood Trees of Emesz’gob, and, as such, is a fairly rare creature. Remains of these creatures were found at Mount Colvin on the volcanic Isle of Killyshmagost, suggesting that they were once more common.
Habitat/ Behaviour These moths are fast flying creatures that imitate the movement of leaves and are mostly solitary. The are great pollinators of the Ironwood flower, but, as there are so few of these Dark Tailed Butterflies, the Ironwood Trees do not spread rapidly. Would be good to see this bulked up a bit. Do they have any natural predators? defence mechanisms? I've just realised there's no special abilities section, and I know for relatively mundane insects it can be hard to think what to put. but looking down to your diet section, this is a moth that eats leaves- that's pretty unusual even by Santharian standards. I imagine that means it has actual jaws, rather than the straw-like proboscis of most moths. all these weirdnesses are what the special ability section is for. It's a fantasy site- I know we say "don't make it a super-powered ultra-rare mythical dragon-being of Doom" but that doesn't mean you can't make it a little strange and extraordinary if you like, as well.
Diet Strangely the diet of these insects are the leaves of the younger Ironwood. The hindwings and long tail enable the moth to more easily rip the leaves of the tree and slowly nibble away at them. The glands within the tail process the Ironwood fibres, and, with them, create a strong, flexible and very durable thread which is woven into a cocoon by the tail.
Mating The moth spends its time alone for most of the year alone. One day each year, however, when the temperature is coldest, the moth searches for a mate. Once a partner is found a lively dance takes place in which the moths swirl, dive and leap around one another until they come to rest on an Ironwood branch. The male then creates a tight cocoon which embraces them both and this is where they lay their eggs, protected from the wintery frosts. again, what do these eggs hatch into? caterpillars or fully formed moths? if they're eating leaves then you don't really need to have caterpillars if you don't want, but they'd need to be pretty big eggs to hatch a full-sized moth, I'm guessing?
Usage The Ashz-oc often harvest the cocoons of the moths when it can be found. A simple process of boiling and steaming enables the cocoon to turn back into durable Ironwood threads which are highly prized by seamstresses and shipwrights around the world. The Ashz-oc use these as bow strings or trade them to travelling merchants at the city of Haz’Ar’Mhun, or to the nomadic Kuglimz tribe who are famous for their weaving. (does that mean that as well as being strong they are quite stretchy? a bit more detail on just what the qualities of this silk is would be great. As the moth is quite uncommon, few Ashz-oc can pride themselves with an almost unbreakable bow string, and, as such only the military elite own them. have there been efforts to domesticate them? have they been successful? I imagine if you could farm these things you'd make a fortune, so surely somebody's tried?
Research Leifloff Sjungnarr tracked this moth down after he had examined the fine, durable thread used by a wealthy seamstress in Marcogg. It was challenging to obtain a specimen. He was forced to trade a expensive Ironwood dye with the Kuglimz after vainly searching for one on the slopes of Mount Emesz’gob.
Additional information Some say that the Centoraurian tribes of South Sarvonia perform the dance called the Aklitha when celebrating the equinoxes in the 21st of the Awakening Earth. this would go well in a myth/lore/origins section, something which I always nag people to include if they possibly can, because it's a great way of tying entries into the cultures of the races that they affect. so tell us more- at the minute it's not at all clear what it has to do with the rest of the entry, or at least it isn't clear to my muddled brain.
A nice start, and well done so far, Yidrassil! My comments are mostly intended as starting points to expand- a lot of the sections are very brief- if you look at other entries on site you'll see that two or three sentences per section is a bare minimum, with a few exceptions, and a chunk more than that is generally considered desirable. So I'd suggest fleshing it out, using Valan's comments and suggestions and resorting to mine if you're really stuck.
If it helps, I'd be happy to change anything Kalina doesn't like at any point she wants to look through it, and have an altered version replace it on site?
I am still around, honest, it's just that I don't have much time for writing lots of new stuff or big long comments what with dissertation and looking for some means of not starving to death when uni finishes.
still a very rough first draft, literally knocked out in a couple hours, but here goes:
How the Gaspans came to be
Overview: This R’unorian myth explains how the gaspan, an extraordinary floating sort of jellyfish found on the R’unorian Isles, came to drift above land instead of swimming in the sea like other jellyfishes. It also features the R’unorian god of the deep sea, Murlar, albeit portrayed as slightly less fearsome and unforgiving than he sometimes is, perhaps as this is a myth favoured by children.
Prevalence: This tale is widespread, as well as widely varying, throughout the natural territories of R’unorian Gaspan. In several different versions it can be heard throughout the R’unorian Isles, and, less commonly, the rest of the Santerran territories. It is less well known outside of these lands, but as Gaspan have become more common in menageries elsewhere the tale has travelled with them, often with the name of Murlar replaced with some equivalent deity, as an explanation for their extraordinary form.
History/origin/purpose: On the face of it, this is a simple pourquoi tale, meant to explain the form of a creature which seems too extraordinary to exist without explanation: the R’unorian Gaspan. A creature not unlike a jellyfish, but living entirely on land and floating by means of a bell filled with buoyant vapours, the Gaspan is a natural magnet for curiosity, and so various tales have built up around it, eventually merging into something approximating what is recorded below. There are still, however, a great many variations to the tale, especially as it is favoured by children, and so apt to be embellished according to the imagination of the teller. In some versions the jellyfish simply aggravate or offend Murlar and he banishes them to live on the land, in others they impress him by their fortitude or cleverness and are blessed to float out of reach of predators. In one version they are tricked by a wise old Carserrian gopag into trying to steal Murlar’s breath, and find themselves inflated by it and floated in to the land against their will. This, though, is the most widespread version of the tale, though the details still vary widely from teller to teller.
Importance: Though not particularly fundamental to the beliefs and ideologies of those who tell it, the tale of how the gaspan came to be can nonetheless offer some fascinating insights into the people that created it. The closeness R’unorian people feel to the sea, coupled with the certain knowledge that it is at least as unforgiving a place to live as the land, is clear in the tale, as is a certain lack of patience with the constant complaining and indecision of the jellyfish. There is a definite preference for certainty among the R’unorians, and the tale is often used to warn or make fun of those who are hindered by trivial indecisions. Children especially seem to be fond of the tale, often making a game of it, with one child acting as Murlar, blustering and shouting and eventually “blowing away” all the others, who pretend to be gaspan and jump in and out of the sea, splashing each other. This compendiumist has witnessed a particularly effective version of this game where the child playing Murlar had got hold of a broad but thin wooden board, and was flapping it vigorously at the others to create gusts of air with which they attempted to fill old paper sacks, until the telling of the story was entirely forgotten in the game.
Narrating the myth: In older times, when things were still new enough to mark by pushing at them with your thumb, the jellyfish lived in the deep sea and complained. One family, living nearer the shore than the others, complained even more terribly than the rest. They complained that the seawater tasted terrible, and stung at their tiny soft eyes. They complained that the water was cold but the injera looked so warm up above, and sometimes they would allow themselves to float by the shore and watch all the marvellous plants and creatures and people, and say to each other “I wish we could live on land like the walking creatures.”
Murlar saw this and, as he was in a kindly mood, said “I will place you on the land if you want.” The jellyfish rejoiced, they sang Murlar’s praises and begged him to do as he offered, promised him their undying thanks if he would only lift them onto the land. Murlar was pleased with their subservience, and rose out of his deep waters, scooping the jellyfish out of the sea like a fried fish being flipped out of the pan. The jellyfish lay on the shore and looked about themselves, and remarked in wonder that it was just as warm and as colourful as it had seemed when they watched from the surf. But after a while of lying on the beach, they began to feel the injera’s heat more and more. It prickled at their watery flesh, and dried them out and burned at them, until they were sure it would bake them to a crisp. The jellyfish feared for their jelly lives, and cried out to Murlar, “Help us, great Murlar! This land is killing us!”
Murlar chuckled to himself, thinking they had learnt a valuable lesson, and flipped them back into the sea, where they sighed and thanked him as the cool water soothed their parched tentacles. Murlar went away thinking they would not be so ungrateful any longer.
Not such a very long time afterwards, Murlar was passing by again, when he heard a commotion and looked up from his home at the very bottom of the deep seas. The jellyfish were under attack from a great hungry fish, which tore one to pieces and gulped down the colourless flesh even as he watched. The jellyfish huddled together and complained bitterly to each other of their defencelessness, of how back on the land, they had never had to run away from marauding predators. Murlar was about to slip away, when one of the jellyfishes looked up from weeping over the death of her son, and saw the god. “Beautiful Murlar!” she cried, “Please send us back to the land where we can be safe! If you only gave us some sort of armour against the dryness of the air, we could live in peace for all our lives, but here in the deep sea we cannot swim against the weakest of currents to escape the monsters that chase us!”
Murlar scowled, and turned to go, but the jellyfish followed him pleading piteously. In exasperation he scooped them all up in the palm of his hands, and spat on them so that they were all coated in his spit. He threw them back on land, and the spit clung to them as a slime that kept the feel of the deep sea, so that they were not dried out by the injera.
Overjoyed, they picked themselves up and cheered and waved their frail tentacles and even tried to dance for joy. They soon found they were too weak and soft to stand up on land, as jellyfish have no bones, and those hundreds of legs are of no more use for walking on than the whiskers of a vashkoon.
The jellyfish looked at each other, and were no doubt about to start complaining again, when suddenly a sleek green lizard slid down onto the beach with its fish needle claws and its sawblade teeth, and tore into one of the jellyfish people! They wailed and shouted at it and told it to stop, but it only rolled its black eyes at them and swallowed lumps of their friend by tipping its head back as if it was a jug trying to fill itself.
“Murlar!” the jellyfish cried, “Murlar save us! This land is covered in the cruellest creatures and we cannot escape them!”
By now Murlar was losing his patience, and his good noise was entirely spoiled. He shouted at the lizard and its scales turned white as ash, and it skittered away mewling in terror. Then he kicked the still-wailing jellyfish into the sea, and stood glowering on the shoreline as the jellyfish quivered their tentacles in relief, and congratulated each other on fighting off that terrible lizard.
“Will that be everything, or do you wish to waste my time further?”
Murlar’s question made the waves froth white at their heads and charge up the beach like mad horses. The jellyfish quivered all the more and shook their heads to appease the god. all, except for one, who in the deathly silence that followed the question, whispered to its neighbour, “my slime is washing off in this water. I wish it wasn’t quite so wet here, do you remember the cool breezes on the land?”
Murlar didn’t hesitate, but reached down and plucked the jellyfish out of the sea. He brought it up to his lips and blew into it, so that it puffed up, swollen with the god’s breath.
Then he let it go and laughed cruelly as the poor jellyfish floated away, carried by the breezes it had professed to long for. The other jellyfish saw this, and despite their fear they were jealous, and began to think that Murlar had bestowed some special gift on their friend which he had denied to them. Watching this, Murlar saw an opportunity to be rid of these infuriating creatures once and for all, and so was only too happy to offer to do the same for them as he had for the first. They were only too eager to agree, and so Murlar blew up the jellyfish one by one, and set them floating on the breeze, happily out of reach of lizards and fish alike. They drifted and wondered at their newfound powers of flight, until they met up with that first jellyfish, which was calling itself gaspan now, as it felt such a change of lifestyle required a new name. They greeted it joyfully, but it only flapped its tentacles and lamented, “Oh it is good of you to join me friends, but I don’t know why you would want to. It is so exposed here! And there is absolutely nothing but flies to eat! I am quite miserable, I assure you.”
The jellyfish soon saw his point, and they huddled together, grumbling and catching flies with their slimy tentacles. Murlar sighed, and went away to do something useful.
*salutes* yes sir! right away sir! Actually had a vague idea for an ocean-drifting sort of jellyfish, I could perhaps make a few regional variations for places like Eight winds bay. Personally, I think anatomy is a fine word for the setting, it doesn't rely on any particularly new scientific ideas, and even has a sort of dated ring to it, reminds me of victorian "anatomy lessons" and things.