Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Lake of Vermilion Mists

On shores of the Lake of Vermilion Mists nearly-naked, female divers inspect their haul of rare, ultramarine scintilla. Here and there their bodies bear what appear to be wave-like, mauve tattoos, darkened to the color of fresh bruises in the lake’s lurid, roiling glow. The marks are actually scars from the lash of urulu tentacles. The divers become tolerant to the hallucinogenic effects over time but not the pain, so they try to snatch the scintilla when the urulu are lost in pre-mating combat dances.

The urulu do not seem to value the scintilla or pre-scintilla clusters, but they zealously guard their territory and do not communicate or trade with humans or other sophonts as far as is known. Indeed, humankin long held them to be merely animals, despite their rituals and tool use, but the view of hwaopt academics that they are in fact sapient is the current prevailing theory.

There is a black market for the urulu toxin. Unscrupulous procurers use desperate addicts as lures to provoke ururlu to the shallows where they can be ensnared and their tentacles milked.

The urulu, despite their vague resemblance to cephalopods of Old Earth, are air breathers. The lake is no lake in the traditional sense, but instead a large depression filled with a thick, red mist, with currents of darker or lighter shades, and the occasional flash of static discharge. It is unknown where the mist is natural or a product of ancient ieldra magic, but there is no other body of its type known. 


JB said...

Are the Mists buoyant that they require actual "diving," or is this just the term used to describe scintilla harvesters?

Trey said...

They are bouyant enough to require active movement. I suspect not quite as bouyant as water, but very close, at the surface. Just like water, it is denser deeper down, though.