|A merman and his landwoman bride. Grand Lludd, 5825.|
In the waters west of Ibernia, ship passengers occasionally glimpse and wonder at light in the depths. These are the lights Undersea, municipality of the mer-folk. Part of the empire of Grand Lludd, the citizens of Undersea have never been Her Preserved Majesty’s most loyal servants. Only the threat of submarine bombardment has stifled open rebellion at times. Still, in these hard years following the Great War, land and sea need each other too much for such squabbles.
The mer-folk are not to be confused with mermaids, despite similarity in names. Those half-fish creatures (and wholly nonhuman, whatever their appearance) are more akin to faerie. Mer-folk look, for the most part, like surface humans except for a slight bluish tint to their skin, eyes a little larger than usual, webbed hands, and a slight tendency to barrel-chestedness--though its common for portrayals of them in art to exaggerate their inhumanness. So little apparent difference for beings naturally inhabiting great depths and pressures hint at the subtle magics that have been used to adapt them to a submarine life. Scientists suggest this points to them being an engineered race, perhaps derived from Meropian stock. Mer-folk find this whole line of speculation dull, and are largely unconcerned with their own origins.
Perhaps its this lack of curiosity, among other traits, that has led to the common Lluddish stereotype of Mer-folk as thickwitted. They're also held to quick-tempered and lascivious (a judgement perhaps derived from their indifferent attitude toward clothing--at least in the seas). Mer-folk don’t drink (at least not in their usual habitat) but their men tend to enjoy licking certain sea slugs for an intoxicant effect, and singing (it can be called that) gurgling, warbling shanties, while their women perform suggestive, water ballet-like dances.
Though they are limited in the areas of metallurgy, chemcal, and alchemical sciences, the mer-folk are not utter primitives. They use magic to shape stone for buildings, and have either used animal husbandry or magic to enhance the abilities of sea creatures for their use. The lantern jellyfish sometimes seen in aquariums are best known example.
On land, mer-folk must wear something like reverse diving suits--pressurized suits filled with water--unless they have access to magic aid. They're able to breath air, but the exertion quickly tires them and it's uncormfortable for more than a half-hour or so. Their skin quickly dries out in air, as well. The use of heavy suits isn't as cumbersome as it might seem as mer-folk are stronger than a surface human of comparable size.
There are some mer-folk enclaves in the New World. The largest of these are in New Lludd, there mer-folk are involved in fishing, and the Southron coast where they engage in sponge harvesting, as well.