An ocean of fine silt, shot through with pillars and islands of ancient stone, this realm would be a thing of harsh beauty were it not for the utterly lifeless nature of it.
The Silt Sea is a minor realm drifting near the surface of the Nether Realms; only the utter lack of value has kept a more powerful Realm's ruler from devouring it. Yet, despite this, it grows, slowly, absorbing cast-off detritus and ejecta from other minor Realms, the ruler of the Realm reshaping them to his artistic vision. It is a strange land, utterly barren and dry, yet amazingly beautiful in ways that awe and inspire those rare souls who can withstand the harsh conditions.
There are a great many other realms beyond the mortal world; the foul depths of the nether realms, the glories of the celestial realms, the alien strangeness of the outer realms, and much more. A state of flux grips them all, albeit on a time scale that escapes nearly all the mortal races. Smaller realms are consumed by larger ones, and larger ones split apart or bud off new ones. Such it is that the Silt Sea was born, a fragment calved off by accident, masterless and crumbling until a displaced elemental came and claimed it for himself.
Originally, an arid waste that had broken from a lesser Celestial Realm, touched with traces of desolate beauty, it was still hospitable enough when Masos, an outcast earth elemental who saw beauty only in the minerals of the world, happened across it in his wandering among the Realms.
It took little effort for the elemental to lay hold on the vacant Realm and stabilize it, ensuring that it would not crumble away into the empty void between Realms; he was enchanted by the hints of beauty hidden in the landscape, and with his new mastery over it he bent his will to reshaping it to bring forth the wonders of his mind's vision.
Now, the Realm is known as the Silt Sea; an ocean of fine silt, shifting and heaving with the barren moon and fiery sun in the heavens, broken in many places by islands of stone that have been polished and sculpted by dust-laden winds into a harsh, dry work of art lovely enough to steal the breath.
The Pillars of Dawn - Five immense pillars rising from the silt on the eastern 'edge' of the Realm, these elegantly shaped spires tower over all the other locations, and can be seen from anywhere within the Sea itself. Translucent, shot through with minerals of countless colors, these pillars are elegant works of art at any time, but it is at the moment of dawn that their true beauty is unveiled; the pale rays of light refract through each pillar, lighting it up from within in a dizzying display. Some particularly artistic souls will find themselves frenzied by the display, the display of dancing color and light setting their minds aflame with fantastic visions that beg to be made real.
The Sunken Palace - The home of the Realm's ruler, the Sunken Palace is shaped from a low island in the center of the Realm; bands of vividly colorful stone slash across the walls, polished to a smooth shine by countless years of the tides of the silt sea. The lower two-thirds of the palace are subsumed beneath the surface, choked in smothering dust; it is down here that Masos worked on his smaller masterpieces, using the ebb and flow of the strange tide to shape and polish the rough form of his creations.
Rainbow Bay - While much of the Silt Sea is little more than variations of brown, grey, and white, the large hollow known as Rainbow Bay is a marvel; minerals eroded from the shores of the bay have stained the silt with a brilliant array of colorful bands, a mineral rainbow resting atop the sea. Some of these strange bands are said to have abilities to influence certain kinds of magic.
Siltfalls - One of the strangest sights in the Realm, the Siltfalls are just what the name suggests: a ceaseless outpouring of the fine silt that comprises the sea, welling up by some unknown process within one moderately large outcropping of stone. The perpetual haze in the air is much thicker around the isle most days, masking much of the strange majesty of tons of silt whispering over the stone edge and hissing into the sea below.
Howling Gorge - A single island with an immense cleft down the middle, Howling Gorge is so named for the eerily musical howls and moans made when the dust-laden winds of the Realm sweep over and through it. Some hear exquisite music amid the gusting wails of sound; others hear voices babbling just a little too quietly to make out, tinged with the sound of madness. Some of the greatest musicians in the Celestial Realm have visited this place, girded against the harsh conditions, hoping to hear an inspiration for their next great work. Most leave disappointed, hearing nothing but atonal howls. A few leave with the seeds of their magnum opus. A few others leave with the sounds of madness resounding in their minds, never to make music again.
Kraken's Rest - One of the more curious oddities of the Realm, Kraken's Rest is a smooth dome of ivory hue thrusting up from the sands; the immense skull of an ancient kraken, somehow come to rest in the false sea of the Realm, the bone slowly polished to a gleaming smoothness. Submerged beneath the silt are the creature's other bones, massive pillars of ivory that could, if fetched from the depths, fetch a fantastic price for those capable of doing so. Of course, disturbing the creature's remains might rouse it's spirit, lulled to serenity by the ceaseless and deadly beauty around it.
Bleached Height - The second-highest landmark in the Realm, after the Pillars of Dawn, the Bleached Height is a pillar of milky quartz jutting from the powdery surface like an angular bone fragment. Polished for long ages, the distinct shock of white against the tan sky makes it the perfect landmark for triangulation. More curious are the hollows within the pillar, a winding network of human-sized tunnels within the milky structure that have no apparent cause, leading to dust-free hollows well below the surface of the sea as well as to the very peak of the pillar; were mortals to wish to dwell in the Realm, this place seems entirely too perfect for the task, once outfitted with sources of food and water.
Winter's Demise - The only place in the Realm where water does not boil away into the dry air, this ever-melting tower of ice is the remnant of an incursion by Soreen the Frostfell countless years ago. In a short but brutal war to conquer the Silt Sea and subsume it into the icy wastes of the Gloom, Soreen brought the formidable wrath of winter to bear, but was ultimately undone by the parched conditions, his servants dwindling away even as they sought to remake the Realm in his name. Winter's Demise is the only source of water in the entire expanse of the Silt Sea, and as such those rare creatures which are trapped here tend to flock to it, clinging desperately to the slick edges.
Atrociously few creatures are capable of dwelling in the bone-dry depths of this Realm; those few that do are near-elemental creatures of rock and silt that dwell amid the islands of polished stone thrusting up from the powdery ocean.
Mathal - Silt 'demons' born of the Realm under the rule of Masos, these strange entities are as much elemental as they are demon, attuned to the pure essence of earth that their master so adores. Unlike most demon entities, which require a mortal soul in order to be shaped, the Mathal are spontaneously born of the plane's raw materials, their form depending on which region birthed them. Eerie eel-like creatures of compacted silt swim the sea, while creatures reminiscent of spiders and scorpions clamber about the islands to survey and help perfect the work of their master. Generally unconcerned with mortals, the two quickest ways to garner their attention are to either damage some piece of the landscape - an act which draws their furious wrath - or to begin sculpting a loose fragment, which will draw one or two of the creatures, brimming with curiosity.
Sibats - Creatures born of the high winds and the perpetual silt haze, a sibat is little more than a light mineral skeleton enwrapped by layers of dusty cobwebs that soars though the hazy skies on filmy wings. Young sibats are a drab tan color, nearly invisible in the sky, while older ones often begin to accumulate a dominant color as their forms collect specific minerals. Sibats of vibrant reds, blues, and greens are not unknown, while rarer ones may gather pure black or white, or even transparent and glittering motes that make them flash and sparkle in the washed-out sunlight.
Mallires - Strangely plantlike creatures, the mallires resemble a curious mixture of crab and flower, with six stony limbs that allow it to slowly pick along any surface, merged with a beautiful and intricate bloom of mica sheets that radiate like improbably flower petals from a dark central body. The creature is photosynthetic, drawing energy from the sunlight striking the mica sheets as well as slowly scraping away the rough stone upon the walk for nourishment.
Oscan - Symbiotic with the mallires, the oscan are spiderlike creatures that feed on the edges of the mica blooms of the mallires, shaping the sheets to herd the slow-moving mallire toward 'stronger' areas of light. The oscan itself shapes these areas of light, spinning intricate complexes of towers and silicate webs that serve to focus the wan light of the sun to better nourish the mallires guided beneath them.
-Waterless: The whole of the Silt Sea is a land without any trace of water or life reliant upon such. Visitors to the Realm who are unprotected will find that their water supplies and their own bodily moisture quickly dissipate into the ultra-dry air, potentially leading to death by dehydration within a few hours.
-Nether Realm: Selfish energy runs strongly within the Gloom, weakening those of a more altruistic nature and entities from the Celestial Realms, while amplifying the malevolent impulses of those already so inclined.
-Elemental Affinity: The Silt Sea is a place of Earth over all else; as such, spells affiliated with earth are highly augmented, while other elemental spells are diminished in power.
-Artistry: The Realm nearly reaches Celestial status, simply by virtue of the artistic nature that courses through it. Those with artistic inclinations will find themselves vividly inspired by the harsh beauty of the Realm, and spells and other effects that strike artistic inspiration will be amplified accordingly, while effects that hinder beauty and inspiration will be diminished.
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? Responses (21)
An ocean of fine silt. Oh yes, I will like this! Always wanted to write one of these up actually. Looking forward to finished submisson.
Update: Out with ye! Near to a year of idleness, be done!
Not a good place for humans to be.
Not a good place for any water-dependent life to be; on the other hand, for a sculptor or painter, the inspirational qualities of the place are astounding and worth the troubles.
I like the plausible backstory, the elastic cosmology (very similar to the model I use myself) and the variety of locales and fauna of the Silt Sea, I can see this place quite clearly.
The Silt Sea, like the Gloom, is part of a variant cosmology I've had in my head for a while. I've got one or two other Realms in the works. It's kind of like a giant kettle - Realms can rise to Celestial, sink to Nether, drift to the fringes and become one of the weird Outer Realms, or get sucked into the central knot of Mortal Realms. The irony of it is that rather than being the Important Central Section of Creation, Mortal Realms in this design are what you get when a Realm doesn't really have anything going for it. Nether Realms are foci of negative emotions and destructive energies, Celestial Realms are attuned to positive emotions and creative forces, and Outer Realms tend to have significantly divergent natural laws. To the chagrin of all the mortal faiths that teach that they are the Beloved of the Gods... Mortal Realms are just kind of backwater Realms that nobody pays attention to unless they do something interesting.
The commentary on the Gloom, about the locations and fauna, is what helped create this particular format; a complaint about the Gloom being nothing but ice and that the local demons were mentioned without being detailed prompted me to augment the variety of locations and include a description of fauna; should I do a Realm with native plantlife, I'll likely include a Flora section as well.
I might also put together an article sub/codex laying out how the Realm 'cosmology' works, in my head, so people can add their own Realms to the list. It's a pretty big cosmology, after all...
Fantastic location! Surreal and irresistable.
Since you're the one I noticed had commented on it, you're more or less to thank for it finally seeing the light of day. I'm not sure I'd pick surreal as a word to describe the Silt Sea, but I suppose it could apply. I'd call it 'stark', 'harsh' and probably 'majestic' - an entire world used as a vast art project.
why not surreal? :) Seems surreal to me. But seriously, its a beautiful invention, Kassil.
Mostly because surreal makes me think of Salvador Dali-styled imagery, honestly; whereas the Silt Sea just makes me picture a more harsh and dramatic example of some locations already present on our world, in a lot of ways.
"A single island with an immense cleft down the middle, Howling Gorge is so named for the eerily musical howls and moans made when the dust-laden winds of the Realm sweep over and through it."
I really enjoyed this piece. Majestic and inspiring. I in particular enjoyed the fauna, though I would not use as much as suggest the presence of some of them.
The Silt Sea is certainly intended to be majestic and inspiring; it's almost a Celestial Realm, rather than a Nether Realm, on the sheer power of artistry that drives the Realm's master in his works.
The fauna are, in part, due to a comment made on the other Realm I submitted, the Gloom. I basically copied the format across and filled it in. The Oscan and Mallires certainly would make for a good suggestion of life; if they're immobile and soaking up light, the Mallies look like nothing so much as a petrified flower, and the Oscan webs are like a complex maze of refracted light.
It's a beautiful world.
It is a small universe, dedicated entirely to the artistry of the mineral world; if it were more friendly to normal lifeforms, it would almost certainly become a Celestial Realm.
I must say I like the idea with all the details, places and the few creatures that call this beautiful hell a home. It would make a great target for a spirit journey.
(Note: you note at some point, that it is a Nether realm, and multiple times, that it is almost a Celestial one. Is the divide between those two so thin, or is this more of a place, where the strongly opposed characteristics meet and mix together?)
In this cosmology, a Realm's definition comes pretty much entirely from relation to Realms around it. A realm is Nether if it has 'negative' energy involved - dark emotions, hostility toward 'normal' lifeforms, and so on - as a part of what makes it up; a Celestial Realm, conversely, tends toward positive influences. Since this Realm is highly inimical to normal life, it is effectively a Nether Realm; but if this were mitigated by the master of the Realm, the sheer artistic nature of it would bounce it 'up' to being Celestial.
This *is* the perfect destination for a spirit journey! Good one, manfred!
This is excellent planar location. I really love it! Great tone, original, and hazardous.
Thank you for giving this a HoH. I probably wouldn't have came across it otherwise :)
5.0/5 + added to favorites.
It's been a while since I've read something that's stuck this much of a chord with me. It's truly beautiful and inspiring. As well as the plot hooks you have at the end, there are others contained in the fabric of the sub, particularly the Howling Gorge and Krakens Rest.
Thank you for creating something so beautiful and as val said; hazardous.