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September 18, 2007, 7:27 am

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Temple Of Inaha

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Behold yonder hut floating on the island? An abandoned fisherman’s dwelling, you say?  Nay, tis the Temple Of Inaha.

For centuries, there have been those intrepid explorers and voyagers that have sailed the various seas of Acqua in search of the Temple Of Inaha, the fabled and much adored deity that the simple Makori tribe of fishermen revere and adore with all their hearts. Many are the hopeful strangers that have visited their elders and village shamans, seeking the location of their most sacred sanctuary. But all have returned empty-handed despite their best efforts. Unlike Jove or Ulamnia, or even Ma-O, Inaha has no organized priesthood or magi to function as the instruments of his faith or wow mortals with their power. The chaotic elements of the ocean are the source of his strength and the deeply rooted, enduring love of his worshipers provide the firm foundation of faith that has persisted for millennia. Many of the Makori tribe people will tell you of the cruelties that have been inflicted upon them by fanatical adherents of the Jovian faith in a futile effort to obtain the location of what they perceived as the well-spring of a false and thus vile, heathen religion with the aim of destroying it. But though many of the Makori succumbed to the tortures unleashed upon their unfortunate bodies and minds, no follower of Jove has ever succeeded in getting them to reveal the location of Inaha’s temple. How could they succeed, when their victims themselves were as ignorant of the temple’s locations as their tormentors?

The Temple of the deity is as free and far-ranging as the salmon, unencumbered by the concept of location. In truth, it not a massive, imposing structure of elaborate brick or stonework, forever chained to a single spot on the earth’s surface. Nothing would be more alien to their god than the existence of such a place. Instead, the Temple of Inaha has the very ocean as its vehicle, directing the waves themselves to carry it wherever it desires to go. Within the sanctuary, lies the beating heart of a potent, living force that can bend the very forces of nature to its will.

Picture for yourself an islet of barren rock, utterly devoid of anything but the humble remnants of a conical mud-hut that seems in much disarray, with half its roof gone and much of its wall badly eroded by the ravages of the sea-wind. Sailors have encountered such a place more often than not in their frequent voyages, and have dismissed it as the moldering remnants of a fisherman’s temporary hut. Such structures are not uncommon among the Makori who leave their villages often to spend months on such gods-forsaken protrusions of rock to spend the firsts few months of the year trapping the tuna and sardine shoals that live miles out in the open ocean. Many a sailor onboard a ship has come across such a sight without even bothering to pay any attention to it. So quick is the human mind to dismiss that which appears to be planted firmly in the world of the mundane and trivial.

How ironic that the very ones who have quested untiringly for years in search of Inaha’s Temple, may have actually encountered it more than once, under their very noses on the open seas?

For this miserable little hut is the Temple, constructed on a stony little islet that shifts its location with each day. Commanding the waves to carry it where it wills, the Temple is a truly astounding phenomenon. Nothing in the stuffy texts of the Jovian faith or even the somewhat milder and more mystical teachings of Ulamnia has anything comparable with a sacred place of worship that actually seeks out the presence of its worshipers to bestow its blessings upon them, as opposed to awaiting pilgrims to come flocking to it. The oral legends of the Makori are replete with stories about the sanctuary of their beloved temple that seeks their people in order to bless them with abundance.

For centuries and perhaps even millennia, the shamans of the Makori have linked the eternal migration of the Temple to the strange miracles of nature that seem to be common-place in the waters of the Makori. Whenever the fish catches seem to falter, the shamans perform an elaborate ceremony for the Temple to grace their waters with its presence, convinced that in doing so, the terrible fate of starvation will be averted.

The ceremony is typically played out like this: As dusk settles, the shaman leave his hut and approaches the shore, armed with tools he will require for the invocation ceremony. First carefully settling a pile of incense on the soft sand, he quickly proceeds to set it alight and then crouched over it, breathing in the scented smoke rising off the flames deeply, with his eyes closed, he allows the seductive fragrance to lull him into a state of tranquility. Then gradually , as the smoke begins to take effect, he breaks out into a wailing, high-pitched dirge, pleading for the great temple to come and save them from the miserliness of the sea. With each word and animated gesture of his hands, he warns Inaha of the terrible tragedies that will befall his people if the great temple does not sail into their waters to coax the stubborn ocean into being more generous with its blessings. Copious tears are shed and soon, the women join in with wailing and weeping of their own, until the entire village is filled with an awful chorus of lament. The Makori know their god to be a compassionate one and take assurance form the fact that an appeal such as theirs will not fail to secure the request that they seek of this soft-hearted deity. Finally, the tears run dry as the stamina of the people is depleted, and the ceremony ends with the shaman hurling the crude wooden effigy of a large fish into the waves. This is the symbol of plenty and abundance, a message that the god will understand perfectly.

And in the next few weeks, any sailor from foreign parts that land near these shores are questioned as to whether they have seen a decrepit hut anchored on an isolated pimple of rock marooned in the vicinity of these waters. When answered in the affirmative, the villagers immediately rush through the various huts into the village, spreading the goods news to all the inhabitants. Immediately, a great feast is thrown and all the inhabitants join hands to prepare a great feast of roasted fish and palm wine. The bemused visitors are for their part, garlanded in fresh blooms and treated to the best victuals the village has to offer. Many of them leave extremely puzzled, wondering why the sighting of an abandoned fisherman’s hut should elicit such joyous celebration.

They do not usually stay around long enough to notice that in the weeks to come, some very odd things begin to take place. As inevitable as the ravenous sharks that rise from the watery depths to thrash and churn the waters upon the moment a fishing vessels tips its refuse overboard, strange and wondrous things inevitably follow in the wake of a sighting of this odd floating islet and its accompanying hit. For the next few months, strange things turn up in the nets of the Makori fisher-folk. Fish and other marine animals of a hitherto unseen aspect are discovered as fishermen eagerly haul in their catches. Giant tuna the size of mink whales, lobsters as big as grown pigs, octopi as large as juvenile krakens are but some of the less fantastic aberrations likely to turn up in the Makori villages. Other more wondrous prizes include entire shoals of shrimps a translucent green in color, that practically hurl themselves into the nets of the Makori, sea-birds as large as turkeys and possessed of no wings whatsoever that simply remain as still as effigies as eager hands reach out to grab them and even seals swollen to he size of elephants which actually come loping up to village settlements, refusing to leave until spears have been driven into their skulls. Almost overnight, village previously on the brink of starvation, become fat and prosperous, the vast abundance of food harvested from their fishing expeditions, far outstretching their nutrimental needs. The large surpluses that result, are sold in the nearest markets to merchants in the employ of the DeMadden Company for generally large sums of money, for the Makori are shrewd traders wary of being cheated by those who regard them as a somewhat inferior branch of humanity.

But this good fortune only lasts for a month since the Temple was first summoned. Once that period of time has elapsed, the bizarre aberrations vanish as suddenly as they appeared. The Temple has left those waters to continue its eternal wandering and in doing so, has taken away with it the strange effect it exerts upon the local marine life. For wherever the Temple is sighted, strange transformations occur to the local wild-life. This hut on the floating island is not merely the Temple of the god, but also his very residence.

Ancient Makori myths speak of a god that is not of Acqua. Unlike Jove or Ulamnia, Inaha is a being which descended from the vast heavens to makes its home on Acqua in age so distant that it defies any mortal reckoning of time. Even the elders themselves are vague when it comes to the most famous religious myth of their people, speaking only cryptic sentences that tell how Inaha departed his own far-away land in the skies above, to land onto the great oceans on a gigantic canoe composed of rock and molten fire which scored the waters with a terrible heat so powerful that all living things dwelling within the sea for mile a round immediately perished as they were literally cooked by the boiling heat all around them. But the canoe’s flames were eventually extinguished and it underwent an astonishing transformation, shifting and swelling so rapidly in form and size that it soon became a small island. And as Inaha opened his mouth in admiration for the phenomena he had just witnessed, a couple of tapes worm slithered out of his mouth and became the first man and woman of the Makori. Finding themselves so close in proximity to an cornucopia of dead marine life which they could feast on, the ancestors were so overjoyed and grateful to Inaha that they immediately set about erecting him a hut to live so that his existence eon his new home would be a comfortable one.

Inaha, greatly touched by their generous gesture by the devotion of the beings that had once been parasite living within him, decreed at once that they should go forth and settle the great islands dotting this watery expanse that his eyes saw, , for he was desirous that they beget a family that would in its turn , breed and beget others that would revere and worship him as they had done. And so the first ancestors swum to the nearest islands to begin the task given to them. But before they bade him farewell, he assured them that his largess would continue. Neither they nor their descendents would ever find the seas bereft of food for their sustenance. Should they ever be confronted with the specter of starvation, all they need do was summon him and he would arrive to feed them as he always had ever since they had first made their way into his belly as humble parasites.

And so Inaha still resides in the hut built upon his canoe, sailing upon the waters to bless the sea so that it never become short of that which his people require for their sustenance. The ceaseless passing of millennia has altered him greatly, stripping away his physical shell gradually but ceaselessly,  until all that is left now is but his mighty and generous soul, still reaching out to answer his people’s prayers.

But there is a darker legend associated with the god as well. There is another story, one that is not as familiar to strangers as the one of the benevolent former astral traveler that feeds his chosen people. This other tale is far more sinister and grim, for it speaks of the strange madness which afflicts their beloved god.

As the old myth goes, prior to his descent on Acqua, Inaha had made himself the object of the wrath of a powerful and terrible cosmic being so mighty that it swallowed and extinguished many stars and suns in its pursuit of Inaha as he led it through the entire universe in his desperate efforts to flee it. Frustrating it at last by steering his canoe to the safety of his new home on Acqua,  Inaha had believed himself safe from its vengeance. How was he to know any better? It was only during his first night on Acqua as darkness fell over the waters, that he was made aware of his foe’s cruel vengeance. As the shadows crept within the confines of his hut on its floating island, and the lights of the sun begun to dim, a terrible thing suddenly overcame him. Out of nowhere, violent convulsions suddenly begun to rock and send waves of terrible agony racing though his body as searing images of hideous and deformed creatures bored into his terrified mind. It was only when they abruptly ceased that he became dully aware of the horrid monstrous abominations slithering from his now gaping bowels to descend into the dark, gloomy depths. Thus were the first horrors born. The G Thran and Krakens are said to be the monstrous children of Inaha, as is the dread Shark Spirit which the Shura worship as their savior.

Such is the nature of the unwholesome affliction that should Inaha’s Temple sail into any area claimed by the Makori as night falls, a terrible thing event is fated to happen. As the last rays of the sun seep away from the skies,  the vile presence of the curse falls upon Inaha with savage ferocity and he screams as the old agony lances through him, though his physical raiment of flesh has long since been lost to the ravages of the ages. But that fact makes no difference to the infernal pain that proceeds to unleash terrible nightmares upon the unfortunates god’s mind, as yet again,  the most frightful visions storm into his mind. His terrible screams of terror cause the ocean such distress and anger that huge storms soon gather on the waters, and within a matter of hours, massive water-spouts rear up like giant sea serpents and rush towards the nearest island shores, filled with a murderous rage to cause terrible devastation and calamity in their wake.

Amidst this terrible watery avalanche, an even more awful tragedy begins to occur. As Inaha’s nightmare grows more progressively more vivid and terrible, monstrous shapes slowly begun to appear in the confusion of the male-storm. Completely unknown to hi, in these horrible moments of his torment, the god’s vital strength is being leached from him and thrust into he confused, thrashing bodies of the sea-animals stunned by the sudden onset and fury of the storm by the vile transformation the curse has brought about. These frightened sea-beasts are corrupted and warped by the vile effects of Inaha’s nightmares, evil infesting and altering their bodies and very natures. Rows of razor sharp fangs and abnormal tentacles begin to sprout from their bodies, and malformed, twisted limbs grow in places where no sea-beast should have any.

Soon, these vastly swollen, grotesque mutant fiends begin to swim away from the site of the Temple, their minds and bodies filled only with one desire: To find and devour the race of men wherever they may encounter them upon the open sea. With blood encrusted maw and tentacle, shall they find delight in inflicting misery and death upon human-kind, with almost fanatical devotion given to hunting down and feasting upon the chose people of Inaha.

To date, one of the most frightful creations to be birthed in such a manner is Orungi, scourge of the Arko Sea, the ravenous three headed shark-man which has swallowed entire Makori canoes whole. Many a family has lost loved ones to this demon of the seas, along with the rest of his hideous brethren. Almost as notorious is Burdoko, the former fur-seal that rips beating human hearts out with malformed tentacle like flippers, spreading terror and dread throughout the northern bays.

Multiplying like a plague, these unholy children of Inaha are the reason why no Makori shaman would ever summon the Temple into the waters of his tribe as night is about to fall. The cost of breaking this taboo is too dear, and the Makori have no desire to increase the number of hideous spawn that their creator has been forced to bring into existence. It is their greatest hope and prayer that such a secret never falls into the hands of the black-hearted cultists of Ma-O who would surely summon the Temple to further their vile plans.



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Comments ( 4 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Maggot
September 16, 2007, 5:10
0xp
I don't how it happened, but this is not supposed to be part of the on-going quest.
Voted Cheka Man
September 17, 2007, 7:36
Only voted
Voted valadaar
September 17, 2007, 8:45
0xp
Very nice, though it could benifit from some breaking into sections - right now it seems more like a tale then anything else. There are some minor wording issues:

"massive water-spouts rear up giant sea serpents"
"It is their greatest hoe and prayer"

But given the amount of text, the problem areas are minor indeed.
Voted Wulfhere
September 18, 2007, 18:29
0xp
I really like this one, although it does go on a while. The myths of the primitive folk make for an impressive tapestry of surrent ritual and superstition mixed with ancient legend.


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