The Seas of Orcadia Part 1: How I Met Your Mither
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Long ago, in the days before the Knoggelvi, when Teran still slept beneath the waves, and the old gods waged their wars in the Great Southern Basin; life for the Finnfolk was a simple one. A nomadic race, we spread across the turbulent waters of the North Sea and British Isles, offering services to the youthful, less-established Mud-Men migrating to our rocky shores. Fishermen, hunters, merchants, and others roamed the waters.

Five tribes existed among the folk of the Northern Sea. We lived among the shores and islets of Great Britain and the rocky Fjords of Scandinavia in those days, settling in no single place.

The Sylk lived to the West, on the green shores of Ireland, tending to the Fae, when they still walked among the world. They say the men and women of the Sylk had scales greener than the grass itself, and were oft mistaken for mischievous Leprechauns due to their bright red hair, and rather short stature.

The Silki occupied the South along the cliffs of Dover and at the mouth of what would become the Thames. They provided fish and trade to Mud-Men, living in thatch-roofed huts along the river. Many early depictions of the Finnfolk with black scales can be traced to the Silki.

The Selchi swam to the east along the fjord's of Scandinavia, providing trade and pleasure to the Plant Tamers and the Flesh Crafters, two races constantly at war. They were most famous for their multi-colored scales, beauty, and height, oft being mistaken for the Mer folk of the Caribbean.

The Selkie Fowk walked along the shores of Scotland with their crimson scales, keeping the beasts of the lochs at bay. They were the first among our people to resist the Knoggelvi, and the last to unify beneath one banner.

The fifth tribe, the Finnfolk, with their fair colored scales, and long light hair, sailed the seas aboard an isle, visible to only the five tribes. They lived in a small city, Finfolkaheem, honed from crystal over hundreds of years in the center of the isle,

History of the Finnfolk, a liberal interpretation, Chapter 1.


150 Years Before the Sealing Summer (YBSS).

Triemides is being prodded in the cheek with a rather obnoxiously sharpened stick. Her attempts to negate and ignore the poking by rolling onto her side and burying her head in the sand merely cause it to relocate. The second location, naturally, is far more sensitive, and much more irritating.

Can you hear me, Mother of a Thousand Stars? I, Alva, sage of the sea come in a time of great need.

"Bjorn, if you do not cease your incessant prodding, I am going to take that stick and shove it where Sól's light does not reach." Her voice is groggy and slow, filled with fatigue.

Bjorn is in bed.

*Poke*

Wake up please. We have much to do.

Triemides' arm shoots out, ripping the stick from the offending party's grip, snapping it in half, and throwing it in the direction of the fire. She rolls onto her belly, releasing a slow sigh of satisfaction; having rid her tormentor of his only weapon. She eases into slumber.

Now I have to make a new one.

*Poke*

Please don't break this one.

Her eyes pop open, scale-covered brow wrinkling in irritation. The flames of the campfire conjure dancing shadows in the surrounding sand. The crystals of Finfolkaheem shimmer underneath the moonlight in the distance, only the waves and the occasional gull audible in the early summer morning. She rolls onto her back to get a good look at her tormentor, webbed fingers unconsciously running across her cloth covered rump.

I've come to the conclusion she can't hear me.

A figure, standing at the edge of the fire's light, stares back. Four… no, two, bright yellow eyes hover in the blackness, their gaze piercing through Triemides' chest. Darkness obscures its features, but the body shape is wrong, too many curves. Her brain buzzes.

I didn't realize she was that… That's an odd sensation. Did I broadcast that? I hope not.

A female. No fins. Light isn't reflecting off any scales. Must be a Mud-Woman. She fails to make the obvious observation. The stick pokes her cheek once again.

I am not a Mud-Woman. How dare you.

"If you're looking for pleasure, I'm not that sort of Finwife." The irritation slips into her voice. "Now let me sleep in peace."

Wait, did she receive that? Uh… This is embarrassing.

The Mud-Woman's gaze shifts from Triemides' to the fire. She says nothing.

What do I even say now?

The Finwife rolls in the other direction, back turned to the stranger, her golden scales shimmering in the dimming light. Her eyelids droop shut, slipping into the bliss of slumber. She ignores the soft footfalls, the shifting sand, the sound of a Mud-Woman sitting down near the fire, the ocean waves, and the gulls. Sleep finally comes.

Might as well sit by the fire and wait for morning.
.
Is the sky always this resplendent? I should spend more time watching it.
..
She's asleep.

I shouldn't think like that. She's basically an infant.

Mud-Woman.

Huh?

Sand flies into the darkness, briefly obscuring the light of the fire. An ornately decorated khopesh presses against the neck of the Mud-Woman, her pale sickly green colored skin shifting slightly in the firelight. Tightly wound strands of red hair brush against Triemides' golden scales. The Finwife's arm angles over the Mud-Woman's shoulder, her hand clenching the hilt tightly.

Should I feel threatened… I mean, she can't actually hurt me.

"You move, I slice open your neck. Try and speak without my permission, I slice open your neck. Do you understand, demon?" The Finwife's words hiss between her sharpened canines, blue eyes narrowed dangerously.

A demon? Really? This form may have been a mistake, but I am no foul beast.

The Mud-Woman nods.

It's ironic that I'm being mistaken as a demon. Osiris would laugh.

"Three questions. Answer them straight, and honestly. If you lie, or try to manipulate me," She presses the khopesh a little tighter against the woman's neck, drawing a trickle of blood, "then you die."

She really is taking this seriously. This could be a problem. I'm bad at lying.

"How did you get to Hildaland?"

Time for a half truth.

"The tide washed me in." The voice of the Mud-Woman is melodic and disarming. It brings Triemides' fatigue back to the forefront. "I don't remember much before that."

Her muscles are most intriguing; especially for a matriarch's daughter.

"What's your name?" The Finwife shifts, her arm briefly brushing against the Mud-Woman's skin. She quickly pulls it back up, a hint of surprise leaks into her thoughts. The skin is so soft, how is that possible.

Well, well, well. Looks like I'm not the only one broadcasting.

"I go by Alva." Alva's voice shifts in pitch with her words, an inadvertent lullaby of expression. Triemides blinks, fighting back the drowsiness. Her leg accidentally makes contact with the Mud-Woman as she shifts her stance, trying to stay awake. It's a pleasant, but embarrassing sensation. Her skin reddens beneath the gold scales.

Curious. Is this why Zeus is so engaged in the matters of flesh?

"What are you?" The words are almost sluggish.

Now I'm in trouble.

"I'm… uh… well…" She pauses, face twisting in thought.

What am I doing? She's going to slice my neck and figure it out if I don't answer.

"I'm just a simple Mud-Woman." Alva offers a smile, even though Triemides can't see.

That was raven shit.

Triemides hesitates; she can sense the lie. The hesitation is a mistake. The Mud-Woman's hand touches her thigh. Her eyelids spike up as something in her head loosens, a tight barrier she wasn't previously aware of. Pressure. Pressure in her head, growing.

Maybe if I can open her up, I can share more. Words are so limiting.

A tiny tiny section of her parietal lobe is stimulated, and expands, filling empty space within the back of her skull. In a flash, it is the size of her pituitary. She grips her head, fingers threading between the strands of blonde hair. Hundreds of voices, dozens of new sensations and stimuli bombard her mind all at once.

Uh oh. May have overdone it.

"Make it stop! Make the voices stop!" She yells, falling to her knees. The khopesh drops into the sand with a dull thud. The Finwife descends into incoherent rambling.

Better fix this before her mind fries.

Alva places her hand on the Finwife's head. She slows the input of stimuli, but does not reduce the structure's size, allowing her brain to adjust to the new sensations. Triemides stops rambling, and loses consciousness.

There. Oh. She passed out. Well, that's certainly not good.

A long trident, with sharp, diamond shaped prongs, prods Alva in the neck. Then another. And another. She's surrounded by a group of unhappy looking Finnfolk.

This is not my day.


Wake up.

Triemides rolls over in the feathered bed.

Wake up.

The Finwife's eyes slowly open. Natural luminescence from the crystals of Finfolkaheem makes her head spin, a throbbing knot of pain sitting just below her scalp. She lays flat, waiting for the dizziness to fade, before sitting up. Regret joins nausea as the contents of her stomach empty onto the smooth stone floor.

Ah fretr. What the slefja happened? My head is throbbing like I was smacked with a blasted war hammer.

Her fingers run behind her head, tracing their way across the scales. She can't feel any knots, or swollen lumps.

I'm afraid your current condition is my doing.

Triemides freezes, the thoughts accompanied by a searing pain in the back of her skull. She scans the infirmary slowly, nausea fading. She's alone. She closes her eyes and leans back against the warm crystals composing the walls.

It's just my imagination. I fell and hit my head on the beach or something.

She's not alone. An entirely different world becomes visible with her eyes closed. The air is filled with purple, the sun a sphere glowing pink; the ground undulates, appearing only as a translucent line beneath her webbed feet.

It splits open, and she's falling; the walls flutter, lights flash, and Finfolkaheem is no longer visible. She falls through many places, many times, none of which she recognizes. Towers of iron and glass, sprawling colorful structures as far as she can see. Through another hole, dimly lit ocean bottoms, a hermit crab moving… no, it too is made of iron. Through yet another hole she goes, and another, so on and so forth, faster and faster each time. A scene on the surface of the ocean flashes past, an enormous lobster locked in combat with a gulper eel, dozens of tiny iron boats scattered across the thrashing surf.

Flashes of faces, Mud-Men and Women, Finnfolk as well. The throb in her skull increases with each pass. All are unfamiliar, and seem to blur… Except one. A single Finwife, standing on the steps of some great white marble structure, staring out into a labyrinth of Iron towers from which smoke rises. Death permeates the air. Her scales are golden, and her hair fair. She turns, and for the briefest of moments, her blue eyes widen in surprise before Triemides passes through. It was almost like looking in a mirror.

Triemides lands, on solid ground, none too lightly in an empty landscape. A single symbol fills the horizon, an eye at the center of a ring, with three arrows pointing inwards. It starts spinning, faster and faster, then the floor turns several times, finally righting itself back in Finfolkaheem. There are shapes everywhere, things phasing into and out of walls, strange and alien creatures floating and writhing. Space appears to fold and unfold before her very eyes. Turning, under some foolish pretense that she might escape the madness, she's blinded.

An enormous, amorphous, shifting mass juts from the ground in front and below her. It's unlike anything else she can see. This thing takes up her entire field of view; bright greens, yellows, blues, and pinks swirling together in a shifting mass around four dark spots. The dark spots open, revealing four yellow eyes, all locked on her comparatively tiny form. It reaches towards her, a single impossibly large claw becoming a hand, rending the space between them. She recoils. A shiver runs the length of her spinal chord, unable to conceal the fear of the eldritch entity before her, electrifying the air with unbelievable waves of power.

This isn't right. What happened to me? Why can I see this? What is that?

Her heart clinches, the nausea returns. She can't breathe. She can't look away. Her eyes won't open. The pain in her skull throbs. The thing reshapes, into something resembling a lobster…with far too many heads and claws.

Breathe. Everything's going to be alright. You're experiencing astral perception for the first time. It's going to take a little getting used to, but it will be alright.

The voice in her head is soothing. It originates from the swirling lobster. Calming images of rolling green hills and gentle ocean waves flash through the Finwife's mind. Her chest loosens. Relief lasts for only a moment, as a river of fire pours into her skull.

Who… No… What are you?

Another image flashes through her mind. The Mud-Woman on the beach. The gears in her pounding head clicked into place, another blast of pain more severe than the last.

On the beach, when you touched me… you did this? She pauses, head starting to spin again as she flashes an image of her surroundings, namely the lobster of shifting color, back at the source. Why?

Yes. Images are easier. Verbal communication alone was proving unproductive, and you were on the verge of seeing something you were not ready for. There is a hint of frustration, and regret in the thoughts. In my attempt to open you, I'm afraid I overstepped and exposed you despite my best efforts.

Overstepped? You've violated me.

Confusion and pain warp into unmitigated anger, roaring to the surface of Triemides' mind. Her astral projection grows, radiating energy. It pulses in time with the throbbing of her mind. A trickle of blood leaks from her nose in the physical world.

Her anger manifests, lashing against the lobster, 3 prongs of gold and crimson flames stabbing at the edges, causing it to recoil. The eyes widen, as if surprised. Her swings are wild, warping astral space, but the claws deflect them. It shifts again, taking on the appearance of crab, with far too many legs.

Curious. Such power, in such a short period of development. The Finwife picks up on thoughts that were not directed at her. Triemides, calm yourself so that I might expla-

NO. No explanations. I want your voice out of my head. I don't want to be privy to this any longer. Just stop, it hurts too much.

Her mind lashes out yet again, five prongs this time. The crab's claws snap the prongs in half, as if they were merely sticks rapping against a wall of bricks. The act is extraordinary painful, piling onto the virtual spike already driving into her brain. The Finwife flinches, her aura faltering.

Cease this foolishness, I can sense your pain, and it will not lessen by striking at my astral form. Your swings are wild, and untrained. I am only here to help and can relieve your pain.

I do not want your help, you are a demon. You have done nothing but cause further pain, and I cannot tolerate it anymore. Be gone!

The throbbing beneath her skull reaches a cacophony, and she unleashes numerous prongs at the crab, all at once. They penetrate it, and for a moment it seems as if Triemides has vanquished the creature. The atmosphere changes in the blink of an eye, the many strangely shaped creatures stop, and appear to glance all around. They turn and run, swim, fly, and wink in all directions. Fear. Fear permeates everything but the mass.

The crab grips the Finwife's astral prongs, the undulating rolls of energy folding and shaping. Triemides cries out in pain, the entity's form flows along the prongs, enveloping her torso, and lifting her high into the air. It grows, exponentially in size, reforming into the silhouette of an enormous Mud-Woman, the former yellow eyes repositioning upon the familiar face of the woman from the beach. The colors swirl dangerously around the Finwife, shifting from bright, warm tones into black and red. The fist clenches, tightening as Triemides cries out and writhes in agony.

Insolent daughter of the sea, I am no demon. I am Mither the Progenitor, eldest of the 13. You fail to understand the gravity of my gifts, should they be rescinded you will perish, and that shall not come to pass. Fate has chosen thee, one with golden scales, fair hair, and stubborn will to unite thy race against the coming storm. I shall relieve thy suffering, and then thou must cease thy foolishness.

The swirling mass envelopes Triemides, as she cries out, struggling to break free. The struggles slow, as the pain fades from her skull, and she slips into unconscious bliss, fading from the astral plane.

In her cell, with its bars made of hardened crystal, the entity, disguised as the Mud-Woman Alva, slumps against the wall, cuts and bruises across her physical form.

She smiles, eyelids drooping. "So the age of sealing begins."

She too fades from consciousness.


Cold fluid pours into Triemides mouth stirring her back to conciousness. A bitter taste sweeps across her tongue, and down her throat. She coughs, ejecting some of the fluid out, onto the bed. Her eyes flutter, slowly opening. A dull, distant pain in the back of her skull is palpable, but it continues to fade. Something about the infirmary seems off, as if her very perception of it has changed, but she cannot place it.

Where am I? What happened?

Memories of the encounter in the astral plane come flooding back. She recoils from them in some misplaced sense of shame. At allowing herself to have been controlled, by pain.

Her embarrassment deepens, as she relives each moment where she lashed out at something, no, someone whose motives she did not yet grasp. The deepest humiliation comes at having been so easily vanquished. Her; Triemides Aqualian, daughter of Matriarch Jörð. A fearsome warrior princess feared for her prowess; admired for her height and beauty; respected for her cunning and iron will; crushed in a single blow. A mistake that never should have been made. A foolish fight that should have never been started.

"You're awake, good. Your mother was convinced the demon had taken you from us." An ancient Finwife with silver scales administers a cloth, soaked in warm water, to Triemides' forehead. Triemides rolls onto her back, propped into a sitting position by the apothecarist. "Here, you must drink the rest, yes."

"Thank you granny Skrie." The young Finwife takes the crystalline bowl from the ancient creature's hands, taking brief note of the lack of scales, and wrinkling pink flesh. She looks at the purple fluid, brings the bowl up to her face, and sniffs. With a single motion she downs the concoction, turns her head and coughs. The bitter taste irritates her throat, as she hands Skrie the bowl.

A hand grips Triemides by the jaw, turns her face towards the ancient Finwife. It pushes her face to the right, and then back to the left. It pulls one of Triemides' eyelids up, an uncomfortable sensation that makes her want to squirm. The silver scaled creature stares into the exposed eye, red eyes belying an awareness fitting of someone far younger.

"You sure you're still my lil Triemides? Didn't get supplanted by some demon while you were out?" Skrie releases the eyelid, allowing Triemides to rub the now watering eye.

"Of course it's still me Gammy." She pauses offering a smile. "Besides, that woman isn't a demon. Just a harmless sage seeking help. She caught me napping." Of course she couldn't reveal the truth. Whatever she is, the Mud-Woman is far more powerful than a demon. An execution would only deprive the young Finwife of a chance to redeem herself… and would most likely get everyone else killed.

"Good good. Must make sure your mother knows, or she will execute the Mud-Woman." The elderly Finwife pats Triemides cheek with one hand.

*Smack*

A string of curses and foul language escapes Triemides' lips as she tenderly nurses the site of the slap.

"Ah, good. It is still my granddaughter after all. You pull another stunt like sleeping on the beach, alone, again, I will skin your scales myself. 750 years I've lived, never seen a child so smart yet so stupid." The elderly Finwife scratches a place on her back. "Wait here, I will go tell your Mother you are awake. She will want to see you with the council. Wants to make a decision on the Mud-Woman, and receive news from the Great Southern Basin." She hobbles out of the infirmary leaving Triemides to nurse her slightly swollen cheek.

"Crotchety old hag." Triemides mutters to herself, massaging her jaw.

"What was that I hear?" comes Skrie's voice from some distance away.

"Nothing Gammy." The young Finwife responds. "Hearing like a hawk, and a slap like a dolphin." She whispers to herself, her lips upturned in a slight smile.

Triemides turns her head and stares out the arch-like window. The sun is visibly beginning to dip below the horizon, the sky around it a mixture of pink and red. The light refracts off the surface of hundreds of intricately carved crystalline structures emitting a prism of color into the sky, creating an artificial Aurora Borealis. The colors dance in the midsummer sky, outlining hundreds of historical scenes, each relaying some small part of the Finnfolks' past.

Such wondrous beauty and heritage. So few of my kind appreciate such things, even when they are on our own scale.

The voice trickles into the Finwife's head, and with it comes a sudden awareness. The difference in perception, the change in the infirmary is not because the room has changed, but because she has. Her mind touches tiny specs of energy, strange molecules spread through the air, through every solid object, and living thing. She can see them, and feel them in the candle on the counter across the room, the crystals on the farthest building, out to the campfire on the beach. In every Finwife and Finman she can feel them, concentrated, but untapped. It is both intoxicating and fascinating.

I was wondering when you were going to make your return. This… is incredible. I can see where my eyes cannot look, I can feel where my skin does not touch.

You can do far more than that. The tiny specs of energy you feel all around are Euclid particulates. They permeate the universe. Some places and things have more than others. Some have less. Focus on the candle over on the counter. Can you feel the Euclids in it? Try to grab them with your mind; it's going to feel weird at first, but you'll get used to it.

The Finwife closes her eyes, and focuses on the candle. She tries to grip it with her mind, the particles glowing in the darkness of the astral plane.

Very good. Now move it.

The candle shakes, and jiggles, and then begins to slide. It falls from the counter with a sharp cracking noise. Triemides' eyes pop open, and she slowly stands, walking towards and picking up the candle. There is a moment of quiet contemplation, and then a smile breaks across her face.

I did it. I really did it. It's like magic.

Child, this isn't like magic. This IS magic. I have only shown you the very surface. We can go so much deeper.

The childlike wonder spread across the Finwife's chest slowly dissipates into caution. She remembers who she is communicating with, and what they did.

Why should I let you show me anything else?

There is a moment of silence. Triemides takes advantage of this to explore the newfound ability to see into the astral plane. The enormous mass of energy is no longer occupying the entirety of her vision as she turns. Only the shape of the Mud-woman somewhere below. Despite its condensed form, the entity is radiating more energy now than it was before. It's a sensation that is not at all comforting.

The simple answer to your question is you will need a teacher. Untrained use of magic of any kind is dangerous, to both yourself and others. Your people, in their current state, are unable to do so. The only reason you can, is because of my actions; however much initial pain they may have caused… The latter is something I very much regret.

Why should I trust you?

A laugh pings through the golden finwife's head.

Maybe you have some common sense in that stubborn head of yours after all. You shouldn't trust me. You don't know me. You, most likely, don't even grasp what I am. This is all expected.

Triemides frowns in annoyance, crossing her arms as she stares at the dancing lights outside.

Why bother asking when you know I'm going to refuse?

She knows the answer before the thought even leaves her brain. Asking is only a formality. Triemides can almost see the smugness of Alva's smile as she responds.

A warrior such as yourself cannot resist a chance to learn… Especially when their teacher has knocked them around like a ragdoll.

Several minutes of silence pass. Skrie has yet to return from notifying Jörð, but Triemides is almost certain she will return at any moment.

What would be the conditions of such an arrangement?

A sense of childlike excitement and glee pours from the strange creature in waves, an unexpected and rather unsettling reaction. Triemides can't help but curse herself for being unable to resist the challenge. The draw of power, beyond the physical and political strength her mother had so heavily bashed into her skull, was far too tempting to pass on.

We can discuss the finer details later. For now, I will need your assistance. You're aware of this, but as long as they keep me locked up I am of very little use to you. I will be of even less assistance if they attempt to execute me, an action which will end poorly for all involved. Preferably, I would prefer you work over your mother. Violating your own laws is something I wish to avoid.

That will be somewhat difficult… unless we can convince her you hold knowledge that would be of much value in my development towards leadership. She might be amenable to your servitude beneath me in that situation.

A wave of palpable displeasure rolls off the creature.

I do not favor submitting to servitude, but I suppose it will have to do.

Good, then we have a deal.

Alva stretches an arm across the gap between them in the astral plane, hand extended.

Let's shake on it.

Triemides looks at the ridiculously long arm, and scrunches her scaled brow. She grips the hand with her right, and shakes. Despite the unsettling nature of the appendage, the touch is pleasant and warm.

I don't know if I will ever get used to how creepy that is.

There are far stranger things in this world than a long distance hand shake.

Skrie walks back into the room, a bundle of clothing and a pair of fresh knee high leather boots in her arms.

"Oh good, you're already up. Come, come, get dressed. Mother waits in council chamber with the others? Mustn't keep them waiting."

Skrie turns, and faces the doorway. Triemides takes the gown off and places it on a nearby bed. She slides on the pair of cloth underwear, the pants, the shirt, and the boots up over her leg fins.


Triemides stands outside of the council chamber, her hands clasped behind her back, and her teeth digging into her lower lip. Her mother, Matriarch Jörð, head of the Finnfolk tribe, and most influential member of the Five tribes council, is on the other side of the ornately carved wooden doors. It is very likely that she will end up receiving some sort of disproportionate disciplinary measure as a result of her carelessness.

You should stop thinking like that, it's bad for your health. The entity's message is accompanied by a mental image of Triemide's mother with a rather disproportionately large paddle.

Is your humor always this childish?

If only you could have heard me on the beach.

The walls surrounding the doors are carved with hundreds of murals depicting great acts carried out by Finnfolk warriors in times past, luminescence scattered across the high ceilings of the building. She pushes through the doors, and is greeted by a large rounded chamber. Five pedestals connected together via a series of wooden platforms stand well above the floor. From left to right five Finwives with green, black, yellow, light blue, and red scales sit. Two guards stand off to the right side of the chamber, each with a chain in their hand attached to Alva.

A Mud-Man with dark hair and brown eyes is speaking directly to the yellow-scaled Finwife, Matriarch Jörð. Conversation stops as the doors open. All parties involved look towards Triemides as she enters. The Mud-Man looks nervously from Triemides to Alva. His leg shakes, and his fists are clenched, anxiety radiating from him. Something about her unsettles him.

"Good, you're awake." Jörð's voice is cold and detached. Her blue eyes track Triemides as she enters and steps to the right to await her own judgement. "We'll get to you and that thing in a moment."

Her eyes turn back to the dark-haired man. She clears her throat, regaining his attention.

"As I was saying, your majesty, the Tribes of Greece and the Mekhanites are currently in a stalemate with the Sarkites and the Daevites at Τροία. We're engaged in a free for all. It's the Trojans against us against the Sarkites against the Daevites, and it never seems to end. Hundreds die every day, on all sides, and it's only gotten worse since the old ones got involved." His voice is dry and his breath carries across the room, reeking of desperation.

Huh. Well if my mother isn't an eldritch abomination. Sounds like the others are finally starting to make their moves as well.

What does that mean?

A whole lot of not good rolling into the human world. Don't worry about it. It's not going to be our concern for awhile. Alva's physical form tenses, as if she doesn't believe her own thoughts.

No not that, the first part of what you said. Something about your mother being an eldritch abomination?

Just an expression, I don't have a mother… I think?

"What," Jörð pauses, clicking her tongue against her teeth, "Makes you think we would want to get involved in such a mess?" Triemides can't help but smile. Her mother has that familiar look in her eye. She's just toying with him. Seeing how far she can string him out.

"If you don't, the Sarkites or the Daevites will claim victory and lay waste to all in their path. They will continuously grow stronger until they are upon the great white cliffs." The Mud-Man shifts nervously.

"Nonesense." The blue-scaled Finwife, Vænn of the Selchi, speaks, her voice high-pitched and airy. "We trade with both the Flesh Crafters and the Plant Tamers in the Ice waters."

"These are not the same. The Daevites are fractured city states, and the Sarkites are no longer united beneath Ion. They are split between his Archons."

"Then they will fight and destroy each other long before they reach any of our settlements." The red-scaled Finwife, ørlǫg of the Selkie Fowk, crosses her arms, revealing impressive fins along the tops of said appendages.

"You will lose your monopoly on trade from the Basin!" There is a hint of a smile on Jörð's lips as the Mud-Man continues his attempts to fearmonger.

"Hardly. We control all trade that passes through the channel between us and the land of the Fae worshipers. A new proprietor will mean nothing, as they must still go through us." The black-scaled Finwife, Uhtred of the Silki, speaks with a soft, low tone.

"Do you have nought but empty warnings for us? If so, then you are wasting our time laddie." The voice originating from the green-scaled Finwife, Frami of the Sylk, is light and harmonious.

"But I… What could we possibly do or offer to earn your armies if you will not heed our warnings?" Jörð smiles as the words leave his lips.

Right into the spike pit.

I believe it's your turn to explain.

Is this going to be a running thing between us?

I do enjoy the occasional bit of confusion, yes. Now please, explain.

Mother is politically aggressive. She manipulates others, including council members; to her own ends.

That… is oddly disconcerting. Are you sure you are related?

Yes… Are you mocking me for how long it took to realize you shouldn't have been on the beach?

Possibly.

"Military alliance." She says; leaning back in her chair. The other members of the council look at the Matriarch quizzically. "We pledge our armies to this… petty debate of yours, you pledge yours to any future conflicts we might encounter."

"The Kings of Greece will need som-" He's cut off by Jörð's raised hand.

"If your situation is as desperate as you have told us; this is not a decision to be left to debate among Mud-Men kings interested in only consolidating their power. You accept this offer here and now, we will gather and deploy our armies immediately." She pauses and looks at Triemides in thought. "Underneath the command of my daughter."

The golden-scaled Finwife blinks, confused.

Why me?

I do believe this is your punishment.

The Mud-Man hesitates. "Very well. We will agree to this military alliance."

"Wonderful. We shall gather our fleet post-haste. It will be slower, but it is far safer for us to travel en masse via ship than risk stirring the depths of the basin. You may take your leave of us, we have…" She pauses, and looks towards Triemides, the smile fading. "Other affairs to attend to."

The Mud-Man leaves the room at a quick pace, giving Alva another anxious look. The doors creak shut and Triemides steps into the center of the room. The guards drag Alva, none too gently, to the center next to the Finwife. A perturbing silence permeates the chamber. All five council members staring the young Finwife down.

Do you want to say a prayer?

Why?

So that I can hear it and tell you I can't do anything. I've found Mortals have a tendency to do such things at a time like this.

I love that you can find humor in such a situation. Especially when it's my neck on the line.

I never said I was joking.

"Triemides," Jörð begins, "My daughter. You've been warned a great many times about sleeping along the beaches, away from Finfolkaheem. Yet here we are, having the same conversation we always have." She rubs her temples, visibly agitated.

"I, and the other council members, have come to the conclusion, that Finfolkaheem has become stale for you. You are restless and headstrong," She pauses. "A fact which nearly, or very nearly resulted in your death by this… thing." She gestures at Alva.

"She's not a demon Mother, she's a-" Triemides is cut off.

"We're very much aware. She survived five nights within the soul crystals of Asgard; so kindly given to us by Freyja. No demon could do that." She pauses momentary looking in Alva's direction.

IS THAT WHAT THEY PUT ME IN? A wave of hot anger rolls from Alva's direction. No wonder I passed out after tha- Wait, I'm broadcasting.

What was that?

No, no. Don't know what you are talking about.

Did I knock you out?

I can't hear you.

"Neither is she the sage of the sea, as you told Skrie. The individual with that title is currently attending Poseidon in the Basin." The Matriarch places her arms on the pedestal, clasped together, and rests her scaled chin on top.

"She is certainly not a regular Mud-Woman, as the isle's tides would have washed her back to sea. This leaves only one possibility."

Oh, son of a goat.

This is unexpected. Alva emits a wave of surprise, that quickly lapses into amusement.

Alva laughs before Jörð can say anything else. It is mirthful in nature, but Triemides neck scales tighten, fear running the length of her spine.

"It seems that I have underestimated the children of the sea, once again." The chains around her wrists and ankles dissolve. The guards stagger back, raising their tridents. Jörð raises a hand indicating for them to stop. "So tell me, Jörð, daughter of Vanadís, what do you intend to do with your newfound… knowledge?"

An uneasy silence strangles the room.

"Clearly, we cannot have knowledge of your true nature spread amongst our people. We also cannot have you roaming freely." She pauses and shifts to Triemides. "Some sort of measure must be taken to provide Triemides an avenue of maturation, so that she does not self destruct. The original discussion between myself and the rest of the council agreed upon a temporary exile, to the farthest reachs of the sea. As an emissary for future trade and diplomacy, with you accompanying her."

"The revelation of this… human's," The word is said with some difficulty, even a hint of disgust, "nature, and the representative from the basin has changed both our minds, and the situation."

Jörð rises from where she sits, and walks around the podiums. She stands in front of Triemides. One hand is placed on the golden-scaled shoulder, wrinkling webbed fingers clenching the clavicle. Her other hand dips into a pouch, and emerges covered with yellow powder.

"Triemides," the older Finwife draws a symbol across her forehead with the yellow powder. "With this powder, I gift thee the luck of the Finnfolk, fairest of the five tribes, and appoint thee arbiter of the council's will. You will take with thee 100 seafaring vessels, and 2000 warriors from each tribe to the Great Southern Basin. The entity known as Alva shall be bound to you and only you by oath of blood. It shall serve as your teacher in all things arcane. Do you understand?" A depiction of a larger circle, containing four yellow spheres within decorates her forehead.

"I do." The golden scales around her lips purse, her brow furrowing in determination.

Wait a second. A curious line of images emerge from Alva's mind, far too quickly for Triemides to interpret.

Huh?

Nothing, just remembering.

"Your hand please?" Jörð draws a knife from her belt, and cuts the palm of Triemides hand; the younger Finwife flinching. Jörð turns to Alva, and hesitates. Alva offers her hand without being asked.

"Alva, do you understand your role as-" Jörð is cut off.

"If I did not, I would not still be here." The Mud-Woman indicates her hand, a hint of impatience in her voice. Jörð cuts it with the knife, releasing a trickle of blood.

Alva and Triemides shake, forming the blood oath.


White water surf beats against the hull of the Bireme as it cuts through the North Sea waters like a knife through butter. Ninety-nine more follow behind it, thousands of multi-colored scales glittering in the midsummer morning sun, hundreds of oars beating in time against the waves. Triemides stands at the prow of the vessel looking out onto the horizon, the Mud-Woman Alva standing close behind her. Green armor made from the toughest leather with bronze plates covers them both.

"What do you think we'll encounter once we get there?" The shout is just barely heard over the crash of the surf.

"If I know my brethren, it will be a mess." The response is barely a whisper, but it carries to Triemides' ears, and beyond.

"Then let us be the maids." Triemides says, a smile on her lips, and fire in her eyes.


2993 Years Since the Sealing Summer (YSSS)

"And that my dear Hege, is how Triemides met The Mither." A Finman with orange scales sits in a chair pulled close to a kelp bed within a luxuriously decorated chamber. A book with green paper and strange combinations of writing arcing across the pages rests on his lap.

"More papa, more." A Finwife, with golden scales and fair hair lies tucked into the bed. Her eyes are as blue and bright as a clear midsummer's sky, and display an even brighter curiosity. She is no more than a couple years old at best. The Finman stands, and stretches, placing the book down on the end table.

"Perhaps tomorrow evening, my dear, Papa has much work to do." The Finman walks slowly towards the door, and flips an oddly shaped switch, the illumination within the room fading to black.

He opens the door and is greeted by two guards. They nod at him as he walks through. "Good night, King Aske."

"Papa?" The voice of Hege calls through the door. King Aske, stops, and turns peering into the dimly lit room.

"Yes my dear?"

"When is Momma coming back?" Hege's voice is slow, filled with fatigue. King Aske turns, his face remaining stoic, but his eyes shimmer with recent grief.

"I wish I could say, my Hege, I wish I could say."

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