THE MARYÓNS ("WATERSPROGS", "WATERCHILDREN")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - MODE OF LIVING - FAMILY, SOCIETY & CULTURE
RELATION TO OTHER RACES
- MYTHOLOGY - MYTH/LORE - LANGUAGE - RESEARCHERS

The Sarvonian Maryóns, Waterchildren or Watersprogs as they were named by the common people are of the same race and general appearance as the merfolk or rivermaids and share most of their body-characteristics: a humanoid upper torso and a fishlike tail. They are much smaller than the merfolk, more fragile looking, but nevertheless they seem to move effortlessly in their challenging habitat, the waterfalls and pools at the base of the falls. If they can still be called sentient is discussed hotly. The elves called them in Styrásh Marchuh'yonía (lit. "waterfall maids") or Aél'már'yonía (lit. "white water maids").

Appearance. The Waterchildren are without doubt the sweetest of the fishtailed race. Most time of the year it is hard to observe them in the turbulent white water they inhabit, be it the waterfalls or the ponds below, but occasionally they come to the surface of the fall-ponds they are washed in; hours upon hours of waiting for them is then rewarded with a sight unsurpassed . The best opportunity to watch them is when the rivers are low on water in autumn, then one might be even able to see one quite closely - if one dares to get near enough to the still dangerous waters.

A Watersprog

View picture in full size Picture description. The delicate, fragile features of a Watersprog. Image by Sandara.

Maryóns share many characteristics with the rivermaids: a humanoid body, but with childlike breasts, which look more muscled than female, teats are not visible and there is no navel; a fishtail, though this is quite a bit different than those of their sisters living in the river and the sea; long flowing hair. They don‘t need to change their colour like the rivermaids, but have always the same breathtaking appearance: A silvery fishtail with a pronounced scalelike pattern; an alabaster coloured upper body which seems to be light dusted with powdered mithril; delicate little faces with huge eyes, small noses and colourless lips; long silvery hair, floating around them like a veil. The somehow strange looking eyes which seem to have no cilia are always of a light hue, often a light sou'cald blue, sometimes a vontromarin or grey. The Watersprogs always smile whenever there is somebody who watches them. Because of their small size - they grow only up to two fores - the little pointed teeth are not as disturbing as the ones of the rivermaids.

The Maryón tails are special. They have two pronounced flukes which can be moved individually. The whole tail is covered with more or less small suckers which could be taken for scales at the first sight. It is extremely bendable and tough at the same time. Their arms are long and slender; pronounced fins, relatively larger than those of the mermaids, with bony extensions between the thin, transparent skin, stretch along the backs of their arms; the fine webbing between each of the slim, but sturdy fingers seems to be covered with tiny suckers as the whole hand.

Waterchildren can be found in different sizes, but whether the smaller ones are younger, nobody knows. Similar to the rivermaids they do not seem to have different genders. But where the rivermaids are clearly female looking, the waterchildren look like - children.

The overall impression is that of a lightness in their appearance. They float in the water as if they would fly, they climb and jump up waterfalls as if they would have no weight. While in the water their alabaster bodies seem to be as transparent as the element they live in, deceiving the eyes if one wishes to have a closer look. At times they love to jump out of the water like the dolpholk, the little fishtails then splash the water surface creating a fountain of water drops. There is no more fulfilling sight as a couple of Waterchildren playing in the sunshine.
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Territory. Maryóns are found in many waterfalls of Sarvonia which are running along a steep rock slope. As long as the water is not tossing freely all the way down to the ground but at least hitting the rock somewhere, Watersprogs are living there for sure, though they are very rarely discovered.

The best place for them are rivers streaming down quickly, but from boulder to boulder. So the Sharadon Falls are famous for their big population of these lovely creatures as the rapids of Marcogg, but other South Sarvonian river falls like the falls on the east coast of the Mithral Mountains are inhabited by them as well, they are also present in the Valley of the Brownies and live at the base of the Anaios Gap. 
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Mode of Living/Habits. As already mentioned, the best opportunity to watch the Watersprogs is when the rivers are low on water in autumn and rocks in the middle of the rapids appear which are normally covered with water during the rest of the year. Then one is able to observe their astonishing skill to move up the falls despite the pressure of the water masses. Their so slender and elegantly looking arms and hands have no problems to hold on to the slippery rocks, their tail is pressed to the stone and in the tiniest cavity, their fins at the back of their arms are spread out widely. While the strong hands hold on the rock, the tail is drawn nearer to the body and fixed again at the underground, then the whole body booms up - always as close to the rocks as possible - and the hands search for the next grip. When having mastered the climb up the fall, they seem to enjoy to mount the now visible rocks in the middle of the still fast streaming water. This is the only opportunity to see them in all their glory, but not for long, for unlike the rivermaids they don‘t seem to need these times out of their wet element.

Reason for these waterfall acrobatics are the plants which grow there and are assumed to be their main diet. However, they are seen to catch now and then a smaller fish as well in the basins below the falls.

Nobody knows where the Maryóns are sleeping, in the pond at the base of the fall or in a crevice in the wall behind the waterfall where the draw of the water is not as tight as farther out - or if they sleep at all! Where the winters are so cold, that even the falling water freezes, they hibernate as their sisters, the rivermaids, probably at the bottom of the pond.

Waterchildren are funny people, even more than rivermaids. It is a joy to watch them how they move up the falls. Sometimes it looks as if a competition who is at the top first is held; here it is allowed to try to pull those down who are ahead of you. Finally most have jumped down into the pond at the base, so that only a few are left. However, they find it obviously boring up there, so that they join the others by plunging themselves down as well - using the white and green waters as if they would be a slide. Sometimes even their laughter and giggling can be heard, distant and sweet like little bells, though most times the roaring noises of the falling waters deprive the observer of this treat.

Though the Waterchildren are as present in Santharia as the rivermaids, the knowledge about that lovely little creatures is much more scarcer. They also live in smaller waterfalls, but unlike rivermaids, nobody has ever seen a solitary Watersprog. There are always at least a few.

If there is a family structure or any organising of this group, a single member who tells the others what to do it does so unnoticeably, as nothing at all could be derived from the observations of their plays. It looks as if they have such a merry life, that they don‘t need any organising. There are no predators in the waterfalls and only very rarely a big fish in the ponds who is able to catch one of the little ones in the tossing, turbulent water. Occasionally one sees a young bird of prey picking one out of the water, but for unknown reasons, these are always immediately dropped back again.

Watersprogs

Picture description. An artist's depiction of the elusive "waterfall maidens" or "watersprogs". Image drawn by Seeker.

Researchers have tried to find out if the sentient Maryóns have anything which resembles a festivity or any rituals which occur at certain times, but every time somebody claimed to have found something and colleagues were coming to prove it, the Watersprogs behaved differently.[1] Return to the top

Relation to Other Races. To say there are relations to other races denies the fact, that these relations are quite one-sided. Apart from the occasionally talking of a rivermaid with a Waterchild most times the Maryón are just observed, be it by human, dwarf or elf. The Watersprogs are seeing the people at the rim of the river, a short eye contact is established in a few cases where the Maryón was near enough, a little Waterchild near the boarder of a stream may even grin to a curious watcher for a short moment, but generally they take no notice of what happens outside their water. There is no waving to the bypassing traveller like the rivermaids sometimes do it, no fleeing if a brave young person dares to go to the very edge of a torrent to see the Waterchildren as close as possible. They don't react, if their only enemy, young birds of prey, are coming for them to catch one out of the water. Some researchers tried to catch their interest by throwing toys into the water like balls, wreaths of flowers or similar gewgaw, but to no avail. The Watersprogs might have even caught the ball, but after a few blinks it was abandoned. It is as if the "outside" world does not exist for them or is at least not of interest.

Though the Waterchildren take not much interest in the outside world or other races, humans, elves and hobbits are fond of them and many tales and stories are told about them. They have found their way in the daily life of the other sentient races, be it with sayings or prediction of the weather and the like. A sayinmg goes: "If in the morning the watersprogs dancing's strange, then in the ev'ning the weather will surely change."

The Maryón's life is in the eyes of many tougher than that of the rivermaids - with the hardship of having to climb up the waterfalls to get to their food. But they eradicate such a blitheness when being watched, that they became the epitome of happiness. "Merry as a Watersprog" or "You are behaving like a Maryón!" when children rollick around and do not want to stop when asked to, are just two of many other proverbs describing friskiness. Or "If a Maryón can climb up a water fall, you will be able to do..." a hint, that a given task should be not too difficult for somebody.

However, their significance is even greater. They are not only a symbol for blitheness, unreachable for most, but generally stand for something which is beautiful and desired, but out of reach, for the creed, that one cannot have all one would wish to have. That may be caused through the impossibility to watch them closely. Their constant movement in the streaming water which deceives the eyes anyway, the colour and consistence of their skin - all works together that the impression of something which evades our senses is created. Even if they are sitting for a short time on the rocks in a rapid, the sun's rays are reflected in a way, that they seem not entirely part of our world. They stand for beauty which cannot be touched - which is even forbidden to be touched. So the strong taboo to try to catch them can be explained, though any attempts would probably fail anyway.

The sight of Waterchildren brings luck, at least that is what many people believe who come to places where they can be observed on a more regular basis like in Bardavos, were the Sharadon Falls are home for many. Especially when lacking rain lets the fields get dry and the harvest is in danger, many a farmer and other common folk travel to places where they reside to get a glimpse of a few. Prayers to Baveras and Grothar, written by clerics on little pieces of bark are thrown into the water. The Waterchildren, as offspring of these two gods, are asked to forward these pleas for rain.
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Mythology. All over Santharia the myth connects them with Baveras and Grothar. In the South they are the offspring of Baveras, the Goddess of Water and Grothar, the Weather God, in northern Santharia they are created by Grothar out of moistness and cool air to please Baveras, his lover. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. No recent researcher could document so far the death of a Waterchild nor has there been found a dead one somewhere which could be examined. Secret attempts to catch one with special nets all failed, because the experiments were disapproved by the local people. But there is plenty of lore about them and not few stories who deal with their death.

So the lore goes, that if in hot summers a smaller waterfall dries out a Waterchild might be caught in a small crevice, not being able any more to glide down with the water, because there is not left enough. The tiny rivulet in which the waterfall is gushing its water is not suited as a habitat and so the little Watersprog hides in the moistness of a small cave until it is too late. So a lucky traveller who looks out for them might find a dried out one. There is one old fragment of a text in the Library of Varcopas which reads like this:

"...[The sum]mer had been hot and so I was [able to u]se the dried out creek as a path through the forest up the steep slope. When I had mastered nearly half of the way my eyes caught something unexpected. In a small cave, only about two handspans wide which was well hidden from the sun a small beautiful figure of a young silvery maid was crouching in the cavity. At first I did not dare to touch it, for it looked so fragile, somehow transparent, like made out of the finest silk or better, out of shining spider web. The arms were twined around the shiny tail, the face partly hidden by hairs which looked as if they were spun out of the finest silver. I couldn‘t help, but tears run down my cheeks as I looked at so much beauty, lovely even in the death. I didn‘t [know wh]at to do first, but then I remembered what my grandmother had told me when I was young: If you find a dead Waterchild, take it very carefully to not to destroy it and bring her to the next waterfall. If you do so, you will never experience a shortage of good drinking water your whole life. So I carefully..."

That story however explains an unnatural death, but what about the other Maryóns? Some myths of Northern Sarvonia say that they live forever, forever playing and being blissful for they are created by Grothar to please Baveras if she should ever get a bad mood and that then they should remind her to be friendly to all who depend on her.

On the east coast of the Mithral Mountains the parents tell their children that the Watersprogs shrink when they die until they are just about a handspan long and quite heavy. Then they sink at the bottom of the waterfall ponds and stay there for ever. Sometimes one can look down in these ponds and be able to see their little white forms turned to white stone.
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Language. The Watersprogs communicate with each other which can be clearly seen when they sit on the rocks at the tops of some falls, they move their lips and emit noises which are obviously understood by their sisters. But through the inaudibility - caused by the tossing water masses - which is most times the case, research has not found any clues, how the spoken language works nor is it understood. Some accompanying gestures can be seen and interpreted like a waving with the arms or a spreading and closing of their fins, which can signal: "Come let's jump down!", but not more.

A few times it could be observed though, that the rivermaids can obviously communicate with their smaller sisters, the Maryóns, however, this happens so rarely, that nothing can be said about it with certainty. Return to the top


Researchers. There is no single researcher who could be mentioned here as the leading brain. Micca of Bardavos was seen as being very competent, but with her unsuccessful attempt to prove that they have rituals she stepped back and looked for another realm of activity. Ansird of Necoma spend some time researching them till he found his rivermaids more rewarding. The Maryóns are a thorn in every contemporary researcher's flesh, for they elude their wish to hold, investigate and measure exactly, they show very visibly, that not all can be explored or explained. Due to their protection through the beliefs of the common people, that even the attempt to "touch" them brings misfortune, they are well protected from the direct (surpassing observation only) pursuits of any investigator anyway. - In short: And this the Waterchildren‘s secrets are unresolved till today... Return to the top
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Footnotes.
[1] So Micca of Bardavos, possible the most famous Maryón researcher, invited colleagues from Varcopas to New-Santhala to come to the Sharadon Falls to approve following observation: Each morning, when the sun started to shine fully on the top of the falls, all Watersprogs gathered there and after a time of swimming up there (and possibly proving that they could withstand the force of the water pulling them down) suddenly all jumped down the falls. This happened from spring to autumn every single day. But not so, when the first visitors arrived to confirm it. Fortunately many other Bardavos citizens had seen it as well, so they confirmed her claim. However, it made her only famous as the one who was stultified by her object of study. [Back]

 Date of last edit 20th Turning Star 1666 a.S.

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