HOW THE GASPAN CAME TO BE

PREVALENCEHISTORY/ORIGIN/PURPOSEIMPORTANCESTORY 

This R置norian myth explains how the gaspan, an extraordinary floating sort of jellyfish found on the R置norian Isles, came to drift above land instead of swimming in the sea like other jellyfishes. It also features the R置norian 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置norian gaspan. In several different versions it can be heard throughout the R置norian 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. Return to the top

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置norian 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痴 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. Return to the top

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置norian 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置norians, 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 澱lowing 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.
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Story. The tale of how the gaspan came to be is often related as follows:

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 的 wish we could live on land like the walking creatures.

Murlar saw this and, as he was in a kindly mood, said 的 will place you on the land if you want. The jellyfish rejoiced, they sang Murlar痴 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痴 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, 滴elp 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. 釘eautiful Murlar! she cried, 撤lease 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.

溺urlar! the jellyfish cried, 溺urlar 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.

展ill that be everything, or do you wish to waste my time further?

Murlar痴 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, 杜y slime is washing off in this water. I wish it wasn稚 quite so wet here, do you remember the cool breezes on the land?

Murlar didn稚 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痴 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, 徹h it is good of you to join me friends, but I don稚 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.
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 Date of last edit 9th Awakening Earth 1672 a.S.

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