Below the white spumes of the wind blown sea, in the inky depths of the oceans vast domain, lie fantastic cities and civilizations undreamt of by surface dwellers. While most think tales of such are legends, the sea faring folk know better.
In the Great Blue Bay, there is a deep undersea drop canyon that leads to a great aquatic plain. Both surface dwellers and sea dwellers utilize the great aquatic forrest and harvest its bounty. Here the Lands of Men meet the Kingdom of the Deep. The place that they meet is called Neptune's Court.
In the shallows of the bay, at the edge of the deep drop, nestled within a rich kelp forest, stands King Neptune's Court. This is a meeting place for the Deep Community on the Edge of the Kingdom. it is where the Sea Folk Prince holds commune with his subjects, enacts laws, and meets out justice to those who have incurred the wrath of the King. Utilizing Sea Folk artifacts, Men of the Land can come to this place. This allows disputes to be resolved peacefully, crimes that effect both to be judged, embassies to speak, and trade to be worked out. It is a grand experiment of the Sea King and it seems to be working.
Built as an auditorium, the SeaFolk gather in it's tiered benches whilst the Prince (or royal representative) sits on the raised shell fan throne, whilst his personal guard swim overhead to keep away unwanted intruders. Soft light emanates from the giant luminescent pearls making this place a beacon of light and civilization.
King Neptune's Court is a circular building, made up of two circular rings interseting each other, the larger being a tiered seating area and the smaller being the throne dais. There is no ceiling here and the building is open in almost all directions. The outside walls are arches, pillars supporting the arches. The main ring has a semicircular series of tiered seating and is ensconced in a colonnade. It is the seating area is tier arches appearing like an ampitheatre.
The main pillars supporting the colonnade and flanking the dais bear resemblances to a King of the Sea. Twin-pillar sections support the seashell spires and the dais dome. Mounted on four of the pillars are giant the giant luminescent pearls that illuminate the court.
The dais is raised from the spiral flagstone floor. Here a Throne of Deep Kingdom Right is located. The throne is made in the style of an Imperial temple capital. Its back is a made of a huge sand color shell. Under the dais is a gated chamber that can be used to hold prisoners waiting trial or alternatively to house treasure or trained sea creatures.
Beneith the floor is an underground grotto that has been made to hold prisoners and scribes (who often complain they are prisoners). The scribes attend to the Records of the Deep Kingdom and the Library of Law and Culture kept here.
PS: The surface dwellers call the First of the SeaFolk King Neptune. His real name is N'estussshunne
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? Responses (8)
Nice, but has brought to me a question... how do they write below water? There are several options - a special ink and paper that react together fast enough; acid or similar stuff; or simply etching into the recording item... bringing also the question what is 'paper' in this case. A dead plant, or one still kept alive? A Living Library underwater could be an interesting setting, too.
I would think it is a parchment of some kind, made by a combination of static magics and good process. The parchment would be treated to respond to the pen (a treated stylus). It would be a binary response creating magic underwater printing.
But, Moon, why would they bother?
It'd probably be easier for the merfolk just to carve the message than to have to magic up parchment and such.
Um. Have you ever tried to carve a message... in stone?
Having learned Cuneiform and discovering the annoyances associated with clay tablets, and having tried to carve stone, I would stick to either magic pens or some binary technology.
I still don't see why they would even learn of this innovation. There must be an easier way.
Faw, maybe it's just my prejudice against 'quick-and-easy' magic.
Writing is an arrogance of our agrarian, and sedentary lifestyle. The keeping of records and other boring information requires the skill of writing. Keeping the history and lore of a people, often in the form of oral epics is the place of the bard and loremaster. The merfolk arent farmers, they dont plant crops, dont till the undersea soil. They survive by hunting fish and gathering food from the coral reefs and such. Their language could be very large and intricate, with no written counterpart, and permanent messages recorded in stone in the form of pictographs, or in the borrowed tongue of some other aquatic race, or borrowed from us surface dwellers.
CP- It does not have to be magic. You could go the tech route. Magic would just be easier (and depending on your world... more appropriate).
Scras- True, as far as that goes.
But these SeaFolk build buildings, stone buildings, which implies a more stationary existance. One does not build of stone (which requires quarrying, cutting, specialized skills, and record keeping) unless one has a more structured civilization.
I could very easily see them ranching fish, maintaining kelp forests (planting, harvesting, and harvesting co-inhabitants fish/ otters), ranching/ maintaining (we don't have a word for this) those reef ecologies for their own benefits, and so on. If you automatically think in 3D and don't have issues with aquatic existance being hostile, it should not be too hard to do these things. I mean we can do it with divers, bubble walls, kelp barriers/ nets, certainly they could.
Also: Nobody complains when Elves, who don't seemingly farm, have cities. Why would you complain about these folks having them?
Cultures with written languages have thrived and expanded beyond the 'band' level. No culture with an exclusively verbal culture has expanded beyond the band level (which is neither inherently good nor bad). The problem with verbal loremasters is that with increasing complexity of contracts, with increased numbers, such systems tend to fail - promigating some form of tangible record keeping (writing, knotting, pictographs). All it takes is the wrong person (or three) to die, and entire 'records' go away. This happened time and time again with Amarind cultures. One bad flu or an important plague or one battle and their history is mostly wiped out.
It also depends on their origin. If they are sunken cultures/ Atlanteans, they could of brought it with them. The writing could be their own cultural innovation, or they could of adapted it from Surface dwellers. Either way, a stationary society would have it.
If you can, check out Guns, Germs, and Steel
I like it. Mer-races need their courts of law, as much as land based races do.