from a Journal of a Study on the Biology of the Daughters of the Sea
by Jon H.
(Winner, 1st Place, 2014)
A somewhat biased Sindran researcher attempts to uncover just how the Daughters of the Sea, a rather mysterious aquatic race of Man, reproduce.
Content Warning: Definitely not PG-13. Though, probably not as explicit as you might think from the summary.
Following Aracan's unfortunate case of food poisoning and the Uri twins' sudden exposure to basilisk blood (I've been informed that the petrification will only be temporary), my project seems a certainty to get funding approved by the Circle. As such, and with the tragic accidents that have befallen my competitors in mind, I've opted to begin the journal of my findings a day early. This entry shall serve as a primer on the biology of my report's subject: the alleged species of Man, known as Daughters of the Sea. If you are reading these raw notes, then either I am dead and you have been entrusted with completing my work, in which case you will find this introduction to be a helpful reference, or you have stolen my journal, in which case I hope you share your bed with agitated Minotaur for the rest of your life.
As can likely be surmised from their collective name, the Daughters of the Sea are an aquatic folk, of which no male (or pregnant female, or even juvenile below the apparent age of 14 or so) has ever been seen. They can be found around most coastlines south of our own most enlightened nation, but primarily in the warm waters around Boru. My research has yet to uncover examples of freshwater communities, but at the same time, they show no signs of discomfort in such conditions. Indeed, those who live within cities will often have baths filled nightly to sleep in, finding rest underwater more comfortable than even the finest bed above the surface. (Quite inconvenient for us air-breathers, I might add.)
Externally, they superficially resemble thin humans, or perhaps tall elves – complete with pointed ears. Skin and hair tone both vary, but are typically various shades of blue or green – some are so pale as to be almost snow-white, while others are so dark as to be nearly jet-black. Deviations from these for skin are uncommon, but I've seen a couple Daughters with hair in vivid oranges or yellows. Many have multiple skin colors; stripes are common, as is possessing a lighter-colored front and a darker-colored back. They seem to be completely devoid of body hair of any sort. Fingers and toes are both elongated slightly, and there's a thin web of supple flesh between each digit. Lower arms and legs both bear a spined fin, the tissue usually of a similar color as their hair. They have a set of gills located just below the collarbone; two pairs of three gills each, for six in total.
I haven't had opportunity to dissect a Daughter's corpse, and truthfully, I find myself reluctant to pursue such a course of action. What I know of that subject is instead culled from a series of Kovali... medical texts of great age, questionable accuracy, and unpleasant subject matter. Nonetheless, they provide the best source I have. If they're reliable, than internally there's not as much of note that differs from elves, though that itself is interesting. Most of their bones are slightly lighter than elven equivalents, and their muscles are paler and easier to pull apart. In addition to the gills, they also have a more typical set of lungs, though again, slightly smaller than one would expect – this may partially explain the disappointing endurance I've sometimes noted.
The greatest difference, however, is in their reproductive system. Most of it is the same, but where a human or elf might have a womb, Daughters of the Sea instead seem to have... something else. The text wasn't sure what it was, but was quite certain that it wasn't anything that could hold a child. Daughters of the Sea are unique among all the (alleged!) species of Man in that they apparently cannot crossbreed – not with humans, not with elves, not with dwarves or beastfolk or satyrs.
So, how do the Daughters of the Sea reproduce? Where are the Sons of the Sea? Are they truly one of the species of Man at all, or are they as much outsiders as any demon? These are the questions that I seek to answer with my study. In pursuit of that goal, I plan to be the first land-walker to visit the watery realms below the waves that are the true home of these ocean-dwellers – for it is there, if anywhere, that I will find the true answers to my questions.
My funding was denied. My formal request file was returned to me, with a note asking that I never waste the valuable time of the Inner Circle with such frivolous idiocy again. Despite this setback, I still plan to continue. I'll just have to find a separate source of funding for the commissioning of suitable magics to journey under the waves. Until then, time to hit the bars; there may not be many Daughters of the Sea here, but there are still plenty for me to talk to.
Daughters of the Sea are easily offended when you ask how they reproduce, no matter how many drinks you've bought for them. I'll have to test if I get better results after sharing a night together. Running low on spare lorings, though. Why do they all like those exotic, fruity, expensive drinks?
Today was exhausting, but well worth it. I finally managed a small breakthrough – woke up in an alley at the docks, overheard part of a conversation between a Daughter in Loreseeker uniform and the captain of a vessel I've since identified as the Sweet Emilia. They were discussing the difficulties in dumping cargo overboard at a specific point roughly fifteen miles off the coast, and how much extra would have to be paid to make up for this difficulty. I just have to sneak aboard the ship in two days, and jump overboard as the cargo is tossed. Well, and commission that water-breathing magic... I took a quick dip to try and clean some of the assorted muck off, and started asking around the docks for some quick cargo-hauling work. Unsurprisingly, it took a while for anyone to be so desperate as to actually accept an offer of aid from my scrawny self, and it was utterly backbreaking when I got it, but at least I have more money now. More, not enough. I'm going to bed sober.
It took a lot of begging, and more borrowing than I am strictly comfortable with, but I have three small vials of Po's seabreather potions. Three doses, for three days. They smell absolutely disgusting, but they can't possibly be worse than that Temphisian swill Veridin imported last month. To the advancement of knowledge, and the satisfaction of being wiser than my naysayers.
Note to self: next time, get water-proof paper and ink if at all possible. And some sort of stamina-enhancement. Even for one who gets as much exercise as me, that much swimming is a strain. I am presumably still alive, judging by how I'm writing this journal. The captain was only too happy to toss me overboard when he noticed my presence. Fortunately, I was able to cling to the hull until I saw the crates dumped overboard, and sink down after them. I'm not sure how deep it was, but I wound up near an undersea community of perhaps two dozen Daughters in a large reef. (No men or children, of course.) They were quite surprised to see me, I'd imagine... It wasn't too hard to pantomime until one of them followed me up to the surface so we could converse.
I introduced myself as a researcher from the Seven Points Circle, trying to learn more about her people. She said her name was.... Siarahn? I'm not quite sure how to spell it – and asked how I got so far out, and so deep down. After explaining those details, she laughed and agreed to answer a few questions. Naturally, I started by asking where all the younglings were; it turns out there are no children in Sindran waters because they're too cold for procreation. Daughters need warm water, apparently, which explains why they're mostly found around Boru. Still, makes me wonder why they'd come so far from their home waters...
After that, I asked if she'd like to try anyway. She slapped me and vanished under the waves. I considered chasing, but resigned myself to the long swim back. After a full afternoon, evening, and most of a night, I finally hauled myself out of the ocean, stumbled to my room at the Circle, and passed out in bed, both sober and alone.
Still. Progress. I learned a fair bit, and did manage to make at least one interesting observation. The Daughter's chest swelled as she ascended, returning to normal size when we breached the surface. I'm guessing there's some sort of sac there that can be expanded or contracted to adjust the body's buoyancy, for easier elevation changes.
I doubt I'd be able to find my way back to the sea-village, so I'll save the other two potions for now. They'll probably come in handy for my trip to Synsa, as soon as I save the coin for passage. Hopefully, it takes a long time. Those things taste like invisibility potions that have already been vomited back up.
I find it infuriating that the first noteworthy thing to happen since that trip to the sea-village was finally saving up and borrowing the magi needed for passage to and from Synsa, and lodgings while I'm there. This is going to bankrupt me, I just know it. No new information from any of the local Daughters of the Sea. I haven't even seen any in over a fortnight.
...Where did they all go, anyway?
To Boru. I've never seen so many of the finned beauties in my life. Seems I can't walk down the street without spotting one or two on a corner. Seems I can't follow them for very long, either; most of them head a bit out of town, then return to the sea as soon as they're free of the city. Thinking about some of the stuff that gets dumped in the water, I can't say I blame them, but it makes peeping impossible. For an air-breather, anyway. Good thing I've still got those potions. Maybe if I take both at once, I'll extend the duration? That's probably a bad idea.
My research is complete. For that matter, so's my career as a researcher. I've had two days to digest my findings now, and spent most of them as drunk and high as I could manage.
It took a couple hours to find a Daughter who spoke Sindran and was willing to show me around the sea, and a promise of the coin I was planning to use for my return fare to ensure she'd make sure I didn't get eaten by anything along the way. She said her name was Cerea. I downed another of those awful potions and followed her to... Gods. There was an entire city, carved from a number of coral reefs, and what I am reasonably sure was once the great floating palace of the god Warun, once patron of those that lived both on land and at sea.
She gave me the quick tour. Docile glowing jellyfish used for lighting in the broad connecting tunnels between chambers. Steam vents serving as forges for craftswomen to make ornate, delicate-looking jewelry from imported silver, or glass panels inscribed with their tales and history. Nurseries devoted to the raising of fish or seaweeds the Daughters found appealing. More lovely figures than I would be able to satisfy in a century of nights – oh, to be able to speak in that aquatic realm! And, of course... children, young Daughters playing anywhere it wasn't too dangerous, loosely watched by any adult present.
I had dozens of questions for Cerea when we resurfaced – both about her biology, and about her society. Apparently, their males are an orange-and-black fish, stupid as any other fish and easy to mistake as an entirely separate species. It turns out that Daughters of the Sea are fully capable of cross-breeding with humans, elves, and whatever else... As long as they're in warm waters. I even asked about the womb thing – she asked me why the hell I'd take medical advice from a torture manual.
The only reason there was any doubt as to how Daughters reproduced was the distance between Ballicazar and their breeding waters. The only reason it wasn't catalogued was that no one saw any reason to bother with something that seemed so obvious. Daughters of the Sea are exclusively female because the sea-god that crafted them from humanity wanted a damned harem.
When my head isn't pounding so hard, I'll write down the myths of Warun she told me on the way back. And then I'm going to find some more permanent lodging. I'm not going back to Ballicazar. Debtors and Circle alike be hanged, Boru has better wine, better song, and MUCH better women. There's not a satyr alive who wouldn't make the same choice that I am.
Maybe I can spend some more time researching Cerea. The night with her
Warun and the First Daughter
...Next, the Serpent's rage brought forth a mighty storm. Serene Omui drew in her breath and let sound the blessed conch, but its magic was not enough. The winds violently tossed her, the rains lashed at her, and the lightning crashed against her shield until it became white-hot.
Yet Omui stood her ground.
Next, the Serpent's fury brought forth a vast titan, its carapace bristling with spikes and its claws able to crush mountains. The titan struck at spirited Omui, its every blow threatening to shatter her shield. But Omui saw that, though it had many claws, it had but one eye.
Omui threw her blessed bident, and the titan was pierced through the eye, and was slain.
At last, the Serpent's wrath left it with no choice but to enter the field of battle itself, for Warun's champion had bested every other threat the Serpent could conjure. Magnificent Omui saw many-fanged death swimming straight at her, the tidal wave of its passage obscuring the sky.
As she died, Omui spat at the Serpent, and so died with a smile.
The coasts were healed, and the search was over. Warun saw His most obedient servant, His greatest warrior, lying in the Shallows, her life's blood pouring out slowly into the Sea, a smile still on her lips. And so He reached down and laid His palm upon her brow, and her blood returned to her.
For every drop of blood, a drop of Seafoam blessed by Warun's passage too entered Omui. When she opened her eyes, she was one with the Sea. As she returned to Warun's side, the smile remained.