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PostSubject: Cecaelia   Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:48 am

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Cecaelia

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Introduction
Long held as a creature of pure myth, the Cecaelia, or 'Sea-Witches', are described as fiendish tempters of men-at-sea, half woman, half octopus creatures who lead men to their deaths and bewitch storms to wreck ships against the rocks. Also known as 'Sirens', 'She-Devils', and 'Storm Maidens', little was known, or, indeed, believed about this mysterious race before the release of the 'Vitamantia Papers' in 623 MoP by an unknown source. A series of documents, supposedly researched and compiled by the mysterious Vitamantia of the Old Empire, they range from studies in applied alchemy to racial studies, of which was included an extensive document about the 'Cecaelia'. While the validity of the papers has been questioned, independent experimentation has corroborated much of the research found within. The Vitamantia Papers remain the only non-myth information about this mysterious race.
Origin and History
The Cecaelia have long been described in myth, especially that of Gaerdic-Occitan-Talibarian sea-faring tradition. Nefarious temptresses, in these stories they have powers over the sea, singing storms into existence and bewitching men to leap to their dooms. Many a story describes a harrowing encounter with the Sea Witches, where the hero must resist the soft, bewitching song and guide their ship through stormy waters. Folklorists have long been intrigued to find little trace of the myth in other cultures, especially that in warmer climates, which often led scholars to dismiss Cecaelia as simply a human myth. Recent studies, however, have found variations of the mythological creature in such faraway places as Brython or even Ahdsur.

The Vitamantia papers tell a different story. Evidently as a part of the late Talibarian Empire's obsession for security, the Vitamantia, a reclusive group of Imperially-Chartered Alchemists, researchers, and Vitamancers, were tasked with investigating the stories and determining their veracity and eliminating the threat to Imperial shipping lanes. The results were surprising, to say the least; inquiries apparently not only proved that the Cecaelia are a real race, but many of their myth-attributed abilities were factual. The project soon turned from an attempted extermination to studies into the nature of the Cecaelia's storm-songs, and their possible use as a weapon for the Empire. These particular studies seem to have either been removed from the released papers or, indeed, were never finished.

The Vitamantia trace the origin of the Cecaelia to an older, even more unknown race of creatures that the Cecaelia themselves call (in their limited speech) the Kaftar, or 'Deep-Dwellers'. From information gathered from captured and interrogated Cecaelia, the Deep-Dwellers are masters of dark rituals which take place in the depths of the oceans, in service to an eldritch and fearful power which lurks beneath the waves.

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With what little culture the average Cecaelia entertains, the Deep-Dwellers are venerated in a shaman or Wise-Woman role, with the power they serve viewed as their progenitor and God. Some scholars, following up on the research, have tentatively linked this being to Dyaus, citing the myths in which Dyaus is commonly linked to the Sea Witches, and described as the master of the depths.

Biology
The Vitamantia papers describe the Cecaelia not as an all-female race of single-minded temptresses, but as a society just barely entering the tribal stage of development, with a very rudimentary culture and social interaction. According to the documents, Cecaelia are exactly as the myth describes ; half human, half octopus creatures, similar to the Minotaurs of the Northern Wastes and the Driders of the Underdark. This dual nature led the Vitamantia to ascribe a divine origin to the Cecaelia, given their similarities to the Driders (Lloth) and the Minotaurs (Tempus).

Just like their fellow man-beasts, Cecaelia have internal structures consistent with both Man and Octopus. The top, 'human' part of a Cecaelia contains bones, lungs, a sizable brain identical to that of man's, down until the Pelvis bones, where the biology rapidly shifts to that of an Octopus, becoming squishy and boneless, containing gills and two dedicated bronchial hearts running blood through them. Like normal Octopi and some species of crab, Cecaelia can live for extended periods above water, given they are submerged in cold, salt water for at least an hour. On land, or above water, the human lungs open up and take in air directly, where it is then pumped by the human heart through the upper and lower bodies; allowing them to speak, sing, and so on. Underwater, the human lungs seal off, deflating to protect against the pressures of the depths. Oxygen is then received through the powerful pair of gills, below the waist, where it is pumped through by the bronchial hearts and then by the human heart.

Being over sized compared to the normal Octopus, a Cecaelia's tentacles are incredibly strong, capable of supporting the top half while lifting a great deal of weight. Each tentacle contains a nerve cluster, giving each limb an incredible amount of control and dexterity, allowing each to act apart from the others. During the Vitamantia's studies, they found that, even after being severed more than half way up the limb, each tentacle has the ability to regenerate given several month's time. Just like Octopuses, Cecaelia contain an internal ink sack, which they can use underwater to evade predators like sharks, sea beasts and, in the Vitamantia's case, human hunters. Further experiments revealed that the Cecaelia have no talent for magic whatsoever; perhaps capable of learning, but possessing a complete inability to cast.

The Deep-Dwellers themselves possess little variations in the way of physiology compared to the 'average' Cecaelia. Of most note are the tentacles of a Kaftar, which are webbed and studded with terrible, poisonous spikes. Being denizens of the darkest regions of the oceans, the Kaftar have pale, almost translucent skin, and eyes which have grown entirely useless from the darkness of the depths.

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The average Cecaelia exists in a largely independent role, wandering the seas hunting and gathering alone for much of it's life. Most Cecaelia eat crab, clams, and various underwater plants and hardly make contact with each other. The only time Cecaelia gather is during Storms, during which Cecaelia converge to meet, interact, and mate. After mating, the male Cecaelia takes care of the child until that child can hunt and forage on it's own, usually at the age 4 through 6. By all accounts, storms are heavily venerated, and are linked to the most amazing piece of Cecaelia biology - the tufan çağırılması, or the Storm Songs.

Over the course of the Vitamantia's studies, they captured and brutally experimented upon many dozens of Cecaelia - but in all that time, they only managed to capture one of the Kaftar, the Deep-Dwellers. Under heavy alchemical sedation and coercion of various means, this Deep-Dweller revealed a sliver of the secrets of these 'Storm-Songs'. In this Kaftar's own words, the Cecaelia are the servants of a great and 'uproarious' spirit, whose desire is to stir all the powers of the earth to disruption. It said that the Kaftar are the 'Riders of the Storms, to gather all the deep-breed to rattle and shake the bones of this earth, to take and upend the roots of Kielm and to defile his hallowed grounds." Immediately upon regaining consciousness, this Deep-Dweller began to scream, whereupon the stone walls of the interrogation chamber began to shake loose of their foundations. Fifteen seconds in, the Kaftar's scream changed from a single pitch to what was described as a cacophonous, sharp, discordant melody, whereupon wind, flame, and bits of ice began to whirl around the room - located 50 feet underground. Immediately after, the Vitamantian Papers record that the subject was terminated via "Corporeal Systemic Dissolution".

Subsequent examination of multiple Cecaelia, living and dead, revealed that Cecaelia voices had an inherent magical quality to them - screams would literally shatter glass or toss away projectiles, a yell could (and, reportedly, did) burst eardrums and even cause temporary loss of sight. It is believed that this attribute is enhanced by the words of the Storm-Songs, channeling the magic to accomplish great elemental displays, as if their voices gave them power over the weather themselves. Further studies showed that Cecaelia did, in fact, possess the mythical ability to speak, without disruption, beneath the water. Unfortunately, this is where the released Papers cut off regarding the study of the Storm-Songs, the mysterious benefactor either unable or unwilling to release the secrets of the tufan çağırılması to the world at large.


Culture
Whether it was the disregard of the Vitamantia for studies into Cecaelia that did not have a direct martial application or the limitation of the Cecaelia themselves, the Vitamantian Papers detail little about the culture of these sea creatures. In fact, it was the prevailing opinion of the Lead Researcher that the Cecaelia had little, if any, culture of their own. "They do not have legends, tales, or stories; nor do they form bonds, either national, tribal, or familial; they have no poetry, philosophy, or mysticism. The average Cecaelia rarely, if ever, sees another of it's kind, with the sole exception of the Storm-Gatherings, whereupon these creatures gather into a disgusting frenzy, moving to murder, pillage, and plunder the ports and trading vessels of this nation. They are base creatures without a single saving grace, unworthy of his Imperial Dominion. Thus, I recommend the immediate extermination of this race..."

What little the Vitamantia did record seemed to focus on the Storm-Songs. As mentioned previously, the largest regular gathering of Cecaelia were these Storm-Gatherings, vast ceremonies, led by the Kaftar, taking place during harsh open-sea storms. In fact, most of the Cecaelia's sparse culture seems focused on these Songs. Their language, an as-of-yet unknown dialect, is entirely the same as the language in which the Storm-Songs are sung. Captured Cecaelia have been found with fist-sized stones in their possession, the words to Storm-Songs etched into the rock. It is, therefore, theorized that some Cecaelia have knowledge of a certain number of lesser songs, recorded and studied from these stones. Thus it is known, at least, that the Cecaelia do write, read, and have language - if only in this limited sense. It is speculated that the Deep-Dwellers have both a deeper understanding and record of the Storm-Songs, as well as a more complex religion and culture themselves.

Ironically, despite the Vitamantia's assertion of a societal void, in the latter days of the Vitamantia's attempted extermination of the Cecaelia, evidence suggests that, far from remaining isolated units and accepting their extermination, the Cecaelia began to organize into larger war-parties, seemingly led by Kaftar. It was recorded that at least 3 exploratory vessels were caught by sudden, freak ocean storms, and then boarded and massacred; even one isolated port, an island off the Dragon Coast, was reportedly hit by frequent and terrible storms, and later massacred for every inhabitant. This seems to imply that the Cecaelia seek isolated lives not by limitation, but perhaps by instinct or some other force. The Cecaelia are not simple creatures - they are capable of learning and even social interaction on the same scale as a human. Eventually, with the rise of the Black Tower, the Vitamantia's attention and resources were drawn elsewhere, and the Cecaelia, presumably, were able to survive. Even now they may prowl the vast expanse of the oceans, largely a mystery still.




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