OTC Field Report

This is the log of Ambassador Azule. I have been assigned to the Mediterranean Pre-Flood Region. Before the projected Zanclean Flood is to begin I will be exploring this wondrous region with a local guide. The locals, consisting of many diverse and distant tribes of different technological advancements, are just as intriguing as their local fauna. As I explore the region with a local named "Cueball" I will learn of the unique traditions born under sea level, the center of a world that will no longer be.

The Long Night

Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop.

Having spent days hiking, we reach the Deep Baobab Grove, still far below sea level. We rest for the night. During our hike we encountered another group local to the region, who have brought with them supplies for the ensuing darkness. Cueball calls them Beanies, most likely due to their ubiquitous hats. He "translates" for me, but I have the feeling that he doesn't quite know what they are saying either.

The nights are cool but filled with the warmth of life. While the wind is still, I see movement silhouetting a show for us. Translating for the Beanie, Cueball brings my attention to the trunk of a certain baobab tree. With that our focus is now on the sky. Stories of creatures I cannot see on the ground before me fill the space of the air above me.

The Beanie, whose name I don't quite understand, says through Cueball, that the origins of their land starts with a small creature and a simple act.

The Zanclean Zodiac

Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

The story goes that ᓭᐧᘈᖉᕋ was simply gathering nuts. One nut got away, rolling down a gentle slope. It stopped under the root of a dying tree. When ᓭᐧᘈᖉᕋ went to gather its last nut, it gnawed on that root so that it could reach it. Happily having retrieved the nut, ᓭᐧᘈᖉᕋ headed back to its lively tree. The dying tree, no longer stable, fells itself. It slowly began to roll down this gentle slope. Faster and faster it went until it is stopped by the biggest rock.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

ᑫᘊᘊ could be confused for a mountain. Now while it is heavy, it does, in fact, budge. Slow as an iceberg it rolls until it comes to an effective stop. It teeters on the edge of a cliff for a month before finally crushing the soil beneath itself and sliding into the strait. Water finds itself dammed, only able to tighten the new position of ᑫᘊᘊ. For time immemorial ᑫᘊᘊ will do nothing but be.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

ᒣᐣᖚᕋ soars over the cliffside to find its rock in a new home. Every year ᒣᐣᖚᕋ comes to rest on ᑫᘊᘊ and to sharpen its beak. The first chip falls from ᑫᘊᘊ into the receding river. Until the last chip falls, ᒣᐣᖚᕋ will have its home.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

As the river slowly recedes, ᑲᓄᕋ slowly emerges. Drawn out by the overbearing crab grass, it begins its meal. With the pace afforded by a long life, ᑲᓄᕋ tends its newfound land.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

A valley has begun to form in the wake of the departing river. By pollinating, ᖽᓭᒣᕋ, sometimes joined lovingly at the tip, helps beautify the land as they float over the ground. The valley would soon become unmatched in its beauty.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

Life in the valley soon began to flourish, from blooming flowers to ᘊᐣᖽᘈᕋ. Soon, though, ᖽᘊᐣᖽᘈᕋ were everywhere. While a million flowers wasn't a problem, a million ᘊᐣᖽᘈᕋ was. It soon became out of control.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

When darkness fell upon the valley, the arrival of ᕒᖚᑫᕋ, signaled a dawn. ᕒᖚᑫᕋ, came to feast upon life and balance was soon struck. In the darkness it would hunt. It would soon find out why daylight was not its companion.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

The valley has become quite balanced. The river settled to a comfortable level, while the shores and hills are teeming with life. So pleasing was the valley that humans soon enough ventured forth. Down below sea level, these adventurous souls found it quite temperate, so much so that they eschewed all forms of clothing. From fruit to molpies of all kind, food was plentiful. Settling in came naturally, and their guards came down. They explored the bounds of their new land, finding knolls and trees and streams.

While staking claim to another parcel, two from the new tribe are attacked by ᕒᖚᑫᕋ. It was time for them to show whose land this was now. With one precise thwap of ᘊᖊᔕ, ᕒᖚᑫᕋ learned a lesson and the bearer solidified the human's safe presence here, always to be secure in their ability to defend themselves and to survive.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

Lessons are learned, here in the valley, every day. But so much is learned by assumption. When ᑕᖗᕋ travels uphill and right past the humans, assumption tells them that it is dangerous, that it is sharp. Brave from their recent encounters, the humans investigate, only to find it to be softer than it appears and no danger at all to them. It merely tries to defend itself, just as they do.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

Fun and frolic is the order of the day. Sandcastles are built, yet so are real castles. Little streams that are fun to jump over turn into gargantuan waterfalls that may be fun and scary to jump. The importance of everything is shaded by its stated purpose, yet to ᘊᖊᑦᓄᓭᘖ some abandoned art on the shore seems to have the importance of the sea itself. The river has come back. To play? ᘊᖊᑦᓄᓭᘖ plays back, converting the structure into a raft. Sharing her joy with her peoples, ᘊᖊᑦᓄᓭᘖ begins a new journey for the humans.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

As great of a job as ᑫᘊᘊ could do, the balance of things was about to shift. The ocean would win, ᑫᘊᘊ would shatter, and with a terrestrial thunder would life change forever in this valley.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.
Shadowy figures in front of a starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

The valley already extended beyond the reach of our imagination, yet we know there is more. So is it true, also, of the sky, of the universe. As the day comes that ᘊᕒᖊᐣᑲᕬ decides it shall reclaim the small land that it allowed to be so fruitful, so will become of the rest of the world and beyond. Yet, ᘊᕒᖊᐣᑲᕬ will continue, unrelented by the nothingness in its future.

A starry backdrop featuring a constellation.

The Farewell

The Beanie makes sure to note that this is not the end of the world, even as it sounds to be. For, Time tends to cycle more than seems appropriate for something linear.

The Beanies are taught these stories as children. They learn to live according to the lessons woven within. They share their understanding of the world with those they meet, including Cueball and his tribe, and including me, an Outsider.

As the night turns to dawn, we say our goodbyes to the Beanies as we gather our things. I know the lesson here is not to be sad, but I feel for the people. Even with what they know, they will be losing their homes. No amount of knowledge will make that not hurt. I have hope that they will bring with them the home that is their community and start anew.