Plane of Water
Water Rifts: the deep rises
The surface of all water is a membrane between sanity and lunacy, between the open air and the dark depths. By the shores and in the swamps, where real meets surreal, the Water Rifts form, letting madness loose upon Telara. Stay away from the water! Better to fish in the sand than risk ever meeting the gibbering, slimesome horrors that slither from the nightmare plane.
But then, a Water Rift can take hold even in the driest desert. Salt water rushes from nowhere and spreads into a reeking lake, from which tentacles rise and quiver in frantic rhythm. Toothed tendrils writhe from a rent in the sky, living creatures drown on land, and monsters spill from the rift like rotten fish from a net.
The Plane of Water: the crushing dark
Be thankful that the planes are closed to mortals, for mere moments of gazing into the Plane of Water would snap the sturdiest psyche. This is the plane of nightmares, the bottomless depths of its endless sea mirroring the darkest corners of the mind.
Reefs grow that defy geometry, where unclean creatures build cities and play their games of torture and depravity. Colossal creatures lie entombed within the glaciers that float upon the Plane of Water, awaiting word from their master to push through the rifts and swallow continents.
Touched by Water: the things that should not be
Watertouched invaders merge the worst bestial traits with the worst human urges. Fish-headed, with squirming tentacles for legs, the cephalons build fluted cities deep beneath the waves and hold depraved revels, hoping Akylios will wake and lead the dance. Slouching sobeks with scaly hides and crocodile jaws wallow in everything cruel and lazy. They have long served as enforcers for Telaran sorcerers arrogant enough to summon them.
The Plane of Water breeds twisted beasts such as notchback crocodiles with catlike legs, and dragon turtles that walk upright, twin heads spouting blasphemy. Deep ones lurk in seaside caves, crab-faced hulks whose pincers can crack the spines of giants. Like a maniac’s smile, the things that wash up from the Plane of Water resemble something healthy at a glance, but a second look reveals the alien, awful thing before you.
Dragon of Water: the Profane
The prison fits the prisoner: Akylios waits deep beneath one of Telara’s great secret shames, a place of terror and darkness and forbidden magic. He sleeps and he dreams, remembering endless eons marauding through the cosmos with his Blood Storm brethren, learning every tragic secret, every evil spell, sipping the nightmares of dying worlds.
Telarans can comprehend the other dragons’ urges to consume, to conquer, to hoard, but Akylios is beyond understanding. The living interest him because the tortured howls of races sound almost like music. He does not seek victory over men any more than the ocean strives against the land. One day he will simply wash all mortals away just to hear them scream their silly symphony. He was mad even before he learned all fears and secrets. There are no words for what Akylios is now.
Cult of Akylios: the Abyssal
Cabals clad in the skins of children, chanting in tide pools by moonlight. Artists locked in seaside shacks, bidden by spirits to summon blubbery monsters or else venture out and carve up village maids. Sages who venture into forbidden archives and read until their eyes shrivel in their heads. These are the wretches who serve Akylios.
They will seek any path to power, learn any magic, betray any loved one to rouse their dreaming lord. They whisper their nightmares into bottles set adrift on the tide, and draw his filthy spawn into Telara to feast. Meridian was theirs before the Defiant drove them out, and now the Eth scholars hang Kelari dreamcatchers by their beds, hoping their nightmares never reach the Abyssal’s sleeping lord.
Shortly after the Shade, the oceans swallowed a coastal manor house. Only the following was legible on this scroll found in a sealed case within.
“The fog rolls in like a gauzy tide, creeping closer by the night. It coils about my bones, slipping over the waves toward the little fishing village.
By day I pore over my tomes. By night, I watch shapes writhing in the mist. Things bray and gurgle and men scream, and every morning when the fog slips away, more fisher-folk are gone. The village is eroding, like a sandcastle left to the hungry waves. I do not care for the villagers and their stupid superstitions, but I envy no man such a fate.
Yet I hear the tentacles grasping at the cliffside, and flutes squealing in the cities in the crushing dark. They know the secrets my books keep from me. I need only join them, and they will tell me all. It seems I do envy the villagers, but not for long."