I sing you a song of the sea,
Of the wonderful things you might see
If you’d just leave the shore,
Search the world ‘round for more,
Find delights you did not know could be.
I render a hymn of the deep
‘Twixt the hours of waking ‘til sleep.
Where such strange creatures swim
Currents turn on a whim,
Plied by well sparred ships graceful and sleek.
You can blow the man up.
You can sail the Main down.
But you can’t see it all in a day.
‘Tween the heavens and depths
Open waters are kept.
Calm in fair, foul in squall so they say.
Hence a tune of the briny I sing.
‘Bout the fanciful wonders it brings.
Just one splash off the bow
And in no time you’ll vow
That you’ll follow the lure of this thing.
Once upon a time there was a town. Like most other settled places, it rose from convenience. One day, people showed up and figured the place they were in was as good as any to stop. Before they knew it, more people decided the very same thing.
Those first pioneers had no idea how serendipitous their choice would prove over time. The location itself was not without problems. It nestled by a curve in a mighty river which was simply going about its business of winding down to the sea. The site could be, in turn, miserably hot or miserably cold, the latter more often than not. Rain was a constant given, as was flooding when the river jumped the low-lying flats which usually passed their miserable days as a marshy bog.
Somehow, homes and shops rose next to eternally muddy streets, perhaps to spite these drawbacks rather than surrender to them. Trade became a way of life. Boats small and smaller carried people, livestock, goods and foods up and down the river leading to this ever-more convenient gathering place.
The swamp-bound village thrived. Once insignificant, the community quite unexpectedly attracted the unfortunate attention of imperious invaders. Misfortune soon followed as these ambitious foreigners steered mighty warships up the river. They seized the undefended outpost with a force far superior to any those who were native-born could hope to muster.
With this surprisingly crucially site well in hand, the interlopers had in their possession a stronghold from which they could launch bold forays into the rich and enchanted lands which lay beyond the busy port. Well equipped and lavishly supplied, the invaders soon prevailed. They declared themselves lords over all the domains which had fallen into their rather brutal hands.
With an adequate if not quite friendly harbor on the river, the small but growing village proved to be the perfect place for the invaders to hold sway over subjects who were none too pleased with the way things had worked out.
The conquerors set about the business of fortifying roads and designing local architecture to suit their imperious needs. Their vanquished subjects grumbled, as defeated peoples are known to do. They rose up in rebellion several times over the ensuing years. While these efforts always proved futile, they were repeated as often as true courage and foolhardy thinking could be mustered.
Meanwhile, more homes and shops grew within the newly-raised walls of the stronghold. Merchants prospered. Sailors became masters of the nearby oceans. The conquerors settled in and began to assimilate. By the time the distant empire which had dispatched their ancestors to this troublesome outpost had crumbled, a proper town stood proud and strong where swampy pathways once served for roads.
Though it would become a mighty city and, eventually, the seat of royalty, those who dwelled within its sturdy walls would always think of themselves as towns-folk, a notion in which they’d invest a great deal of pride over the many ages to follow.
While those who lived in the town dedicated themselves to the business of their community, their tie to the river and to the seas beyond would define them for all the centuries to come. Trade and war depended heavily on the caprice of the open waves. The town’s influence would come to be felt across the whole of the wide and wondrous world among worlds, all because of their harbor.
Port life is a hard life. It requires a certain resolve, a firm dedication to purpose. Those who fail to display the proper vigor are, more often than not, treated to a savage thrashing by nature itself before being dumped in the drink, if not sent packing with a swift kick to the backside by the lords of commerce who run the docks.
Given the grueling nature of such a demanding existence, it was hardly uncommon for those who toiled along the seafront, whether on the dry land or aboard the worthy ships anchored safely in their berths, to seek respite from their heroic labors at the end of a long and weary day.
Even at the very beginning of the town’s existence, it didn’t take long before enterprising souls began to fulfill this common desire. From hearty fare to potent spirits to various pleasures of the flesh, a thriving trade celebrating the wonder of personal moments developed in short order along the waterfront. Ultimately, the intent of this industry was both singular and simple: to part those who might have a coin or two in hand from their hold on such hard-earned wages.
Some establishments were less than honorable, others were models of ethical dealing. They all made a healthy profit. Soon enough, their proprietors claimed a place, rightful or not, among the other respectable merchants of the town.
As is the nature of business, those who are in it constantly seek an advantage over their competition. Even the slightest edge might prove the difference between prosperity and ruin.
So it came as no surprise when the merchants of the town’s waterfront engaged in spirited and occasionally vicious rivalries. Accusations of unfair trade often landed in front of their Imperial Magistrate. Early occupants of this lauded seat often found these squabbles both charming and entertaining, and usually dispatched them with tolerant good humor. Later functionaries came to realize the constant clamor and contention was both tedious and endless. Soon enough, grave consequences were handed down to those who were unlucky enough to find themselves in front of the bench.
In the face of such a risky proposition, none but the most foolhardy of business owners continued to practice their livelihoods in disregard of the harsh penalties which awaited those who scoffed at the law. Still, merchants who catered to those who toiled by the sea could not help but wonder if they might not find an advantage which would allow them to outpace their rivals.
One such merchant owned a rough little tavern set on a less than conveniently located alley away from the busy lanes of the main port. Despite a family-brewed draught well regarded by those fortunate enough to have slaked their thirst with it, his business was sparse at best. Despairing that he might ever draw enough customers to survive, this clever but miserable tavern-keeper took to partaking of his own stock. His affable disposition and liberal servings of the well-regarded draught made him welcome company to the fortunate few who found their way to his establishment. They regaled him with ale-soaked accounts of marine adventures.
The taller their tales, the more fascinated the tavern-keeper became. The greater his involvement in the stories, the more generous he was with his tankards. Cunning sailors who knew a good thing when they found one came to the tavern prepared with the most outrageous fictions they could muster. More often than not, they were well rewarded for their efforts.
For a dreary time which stretched over several grueling years, the tavern’s owner barely managed to keep his establishment afloat. Word of his generous bent and quality fare got around. But true success continued to elude him.
That is, until one fateful night, when a crew of wide-eyed sea dogs barged into the alehouse with a fantastic tale to tell.
It didn’t take long for the clever tavern-keeper to see the promotional value of the sailors’ yarn. Preposterous as it was, he kept pouring free tankards for his guests until every detail of their report had been checked, rechecked, examined then laid bare on the very bar itself. At last, he was absolutely certain all the pertinent specifics had been revealed.
Sure he had hit upon something so unique and appealing it could not help but bring business racing to his door, the long-suffering tavern owner rose early the very next morning. He went to the nearest wood shop. There, he acquired a fine piece of sturdy lumber cut from a mighty tree. The board selected had been honed to smooth perfection on every surface, which made it the perfect choice for what the enterprising barkeep had in mind.
Unwilling to chance discovery of his idea before he had it fully in place, the merchant applied the skills he’d learned as a boy in a woodcutter’s home to shaping a sign. A most wonderful sign it was, too. Carefully, he cut the deeply grained plank to match the details of the fantasy spun by his seaworthy customers. His patient efforts resulted in a marvelous piece of craft, indistinguishable from one professionally rendered. Satisfied with the results of his industry, he made ready to hang the exquisitely rendered marker in its proper place.
That very night, patrons of the once-anonymous ale-house marveled at the long, elegant wooden fin which graced the front door of the tavern. The board was inscribed with a lovely script which added to the allure, just as the clever merchant had intended.
The sign simply read: The Mermayden’s Tayle.
And so that plain little taproom came to be known in a time long ago. Over the ages which followed, the man who rendered that first carving has been forgotten. His carefully made sign has been replaced many times, sometimes by versions far more grand than the original, though sometimes by less than flattering variations. Still, the tavern’s name endures until this very day and is thought of with great affection by any and all who have embraced its simple charms.
Once upon a time...
Once upon a time, there was an eternal Paradise.
Once upon a time, there was a humble tavern.
Once upon a time, there were two boyhood friends.
Once upon a time, there was a mischievous Fairy King.
Once upon a time, there was a time before time.
Once upon a time, the gentle sun rose serenely over the majestic ocean.
Once upon a time, there was a graceful sailing ship.
Once upon a time. Once, upon a time.
Where to begin my story? Most assuredly, a girl can't go wrong with "Once upon a time." Or can she?
Time begins before it can even be measured. It moves relentlessly forward, meandering through moments and months, eons and hours. It confuses me, particularly in the realm of watery depths.
Fish scoff at time. They know little more than that they are born and they will be eaten. Somewhere in between, if they're lucky, they will feast and bring forth more fish. In between, they breathe and swim. Swim and breathe. On and on. I talk to them about the passing days. They laugh at me and swim away to find something to eat. I expect little more from them. They are, after all, just fish.
Perhaps the best idea is to begin a story at the beginning. That task, however, may prove a bit more daunting than it sounds for this account, which I submit for your enlightenment and entertainment.
All things begin in the eternal Paradise. Even time itself began there. Long before anyone noticed, time began to pass. But does my story properly grow from the soil of that virgin field?
I'm fascinated by the notion of anything virgin. I used to be one myself. I got over it once upon a time. I've yet to settle the question in my heart as to whether this might be a good thing or a tragedy. When I try to discuss it with the fish, they just flick their tails, wiggle their fins and glide away in search of tasty morsels which are anything but themselves.
I'm aware of the dry world and the wonderful tales which are told there. More glorious stories than I can possibly imagine. I sneak into the world of open air whenever I can, as much to lose myself in the marvels of fictions beyond my reckoning as to wonder at time's progress and production in a domain where it's properly measured.
I often find myself overwhelmed by the dry world, so I return to my beautiful ocean mesmerized by the sights and sounds of an ever-more modern way of life. In Aht-lan Tis, things remain much as they were the day my clan arrived, cast out by their own hand from the eternal Paradise which had nurtured them through from the dawning of time.
In our realm, we are all family. Generally, those who came before, which is to say everyone I know, insists on remaining apart, convinced betrayal is inherent in all things and only those who are bound together can be trusted over a period as long as eternity.
As I was born of the sea soon after my kind arrived to make it our home, I find myself longing to know what lies beyond. It is certain the wounds nursed by my brethren and kin are as deep as the waters in which we dwell. But as I have grown and explored beyond the accepted boundaries of our realm, it's become clear to me there is only one healing agent for the brutal sting of lost trust.
Only time can mend such a hurt.
Once upon a time, there was beauty and song and confidence. In a time to come, there may be as much once more.
Until then, I'm given free reign to swim among the fishes and visit the dry world, to go where the self-confined prisoners of Aht-lan Tis might and will not. They are eternal beings. Even though I was born in a mortal sea, I am of their stock. Time is on my side. I celebrate and treasure the moments given to me, each as if they are gifts from the hand of the Great Magic itself.
It is my pleasure to meet you and to tell you of what I know. My name is Mayim, lineal heir of Triten the Marid, at home in the deep, the youngest denizen of Aht-lan Tis. I shall sing you my songs and show you my tail. Please try not to stare. We Mermaids are modest souls in our burning hearts.
How is I come to sit with you? Where are my gills? Where is my tail? Why are the legs of a woman on the floor beneath me instead of a scaled marvel which reflects the colors of the rainbow with fluorescent splendor?
I’ve already told you... I'm a Mermaid. It’s my enchanted fortune to be able to move onto your dry world at my desire and leave when I see fit. As long as I return to the sea within my allotted time, I remain hale, hearty and unharmed. Meanwhile, I'm privileged to share the dominion of the air breathers with you.
Is it days or weeks or mere hours I can remain safely among you? Oh, I do not believe we yet know each other well enough to share that information, my new friend. I will tell you that Once upon a time, I was granted a wish to stay on land with my true love for as long as we could be together. I did so for many happy years. In the end, broken of heart and wiser in my soul, I returned home to the deep waters. I have yet to decide as to the soundness of my actions. Perhaps, once you know the story, you can share your opinions on the matter.
I would be glad to tell you all I can, but my throat feels a little dry. If you'd be so kind as to buy me an ale, perhaps we can begin.
How long have you known about this tavern? Are you new to this town, or have you been here before? I have come here many times myself over many centuries. You might call it my home away from home. It's been here as long as I can remember, although it has changed much since the beginning.
I see the skeptical look in your eyes. But upon my heart of flame, I swear it's true. This place has stood for tens upon hundreds of years. It bears its very name in my own honor.
Once upon a time there were two boyhood friends. This is what the stranger told me in this very tavern, oh, so long ago. This is what I tell to you now.
I have learned no matter how full or empty the Tayle may be on any particular day or at any given time, there's always a customer who sits apart from the rest.
They often stare out the windows at the street and the wharf, their gaze fixed on something far away. Less frequently, but not at all rarely, they stare at their mug or their glass or their tankard, depending on which vessel the house favors at the moment. Their gaze fixes on something far away. Longing, sadness, guilt. These things color their expressions but do not define them. Memory is the distinguishing feature. I seek out the people whose memories are worn on their faces. They have the most intriguing stories to tell.
The Tayle was still new then. It had only carried my name for a few years, and not yet the centuries which would follow. Despite its fresh existence, it was already a worn and scruffy place. Rough beams hewn together. Uncovered dirt floors. Crooked tables which rocked unevenly on shaky legs. Chairs which wobbled even when unoccupied despite the forgiving nature of an earthen floor. The shelving on the walls appeared ready to collapse at any moment. They’d probably already done just that several times even in those early days.
Somehow, it had become the junction between seaward and landward for a great city which was still in the process of becoming itself.
Everything about the place brought me joy, much as it still does even now. I can feel my excitement build the moment I turn from the great Easternmost sea into the broad channel which separates nations and lands. My pulse quickens further as I leave the salted water and swim upriver to a harbor where empires have come, then left to conquer the world. Sometimes, I play a game with myself. I allow the sailors heading in from the open water to catch a brief glimpse of my shadow in the waves. What fun it is to hear their tales when they make land and boast of their sightings! How the details change in the telling. The arguments which follow are lovely, bawdy and occasionally violent. Other times, I stay well out of sight, content to leave the waters of my world undetected as I seek out new wonders in the open air.
Once I've attired myself modestly, my company is no less or more welcomed in this tavern than that of any other traveler. Though I often catch a glimpse of wicked intent in the eyes of sea-worn souls, I have never felt the sting of distasteful words nor of rough hands. By meeting the gaze of any man in an even way and offering a pleasant yet distant smile at the same time, I've found myself free to follow my own course, which is to order the largest possible flagon of whatever brew is in favor at the moment. I let my admirers speculate as to when I might be more obliging once the demons of alcohol had taken me into their thrall. Sad to say, I’ve never reached that point.
When the Tayle was in its earliest days, I had my first encounter with an incident which would haunt two families through the ages. Eventually, I would be drawn into their saga myself, though I could not possibly have guessed at such a thing back then.
The robes I had commandeered were of good quality and likely to be missed by their former owner sooner rather than later. They showed me to be of good means though not wealthy and, as such, worthy of respect. The man at the window seat, on the other hand, wore a cloth which had seen better days. From the deep folds of the skin on his face, so had he.
I carried my sweet mead from the counter to the window feeling the caress of longing eyes. A serving maid glared at me for stealing her attentions but I really didn't care. It was the first time I heard the room go quiet as if everybody were holding their breath, wondering where I might choose to sit and whose company I might choose to favor. I asked the man at the window if I might join him. He looked up at me and his eyes filled with questions. What was I doing there? Why him? Wouldn't some other sturdy fellow provide far more entertaining company? My smile of assurance melted these issues away. He gestured to the empty chair across from him in welcome. That was when the rest of the company present seemed to exhale. The room filled with the wistful sigh of general disappointment.
It was the first time I'd done such a bold thing. My earlier forays into the dry world had been brief acclamations. Never had I dreamed of engaging air breathers in conversation. But there was something about this sad man. His memories called to me. I could not ignore their lure.
"Are you all right?" I asked him gently, offering a sympathetic smile of encouragement. His eyes met mine with reluctance. It seemed he desperately wished he were anywhere else and far from the shadows which had fallen across his thoughts.
"I am," he answered in a tired voice. "But I cannot shake myself free of things which are troubling, even though these matters are not my own."
"Please tell me of them," I encouraged. "Perhaps by sharing, you can lighten the burden upon your heart."
A glimmer of hope flickered in his eyes. "I would do anything to be quit of them," he declared. "You may be right, young lady. Perhaps the time has come to unload my woeful cargo."
"Once upon a time, not so long ago," he began, "there were two boyhood friends. They were as unalike as two youngsters could be. One came from a noble and honored family. The other was born of natural savages. One was raised in the ranks of privilege. The other grew up under the influence of chaos and ignorance.
"And yet, they were as brothers might be. In each other's constant company, they became welcome in the homes of two different worlds. The splendors of imperial conquerors. The pride of unbowed freemen. Tensions which had worn away over many long decades lay beneath the fabric of their society, but they paid it no heed.
"They grew strong and fast and smart, competing one with the other to gain advantage while cheering each other on as they went. Their very friendship brought hope to their corner of the world, turning the pressures of garrison life into the birthplace of a town, a community, a glorious, promising land."
"It sounds like they found paradise," I commented. My companion nodded with a smile.
"It might have indeed been paradise," he agreed. "But boys will be boys and tribes will be tribes and greed, distrust and power cannot be ignored for long."
At this, he fell silent. I took a long drink of mead and wondered at the sweetness which warmed me inside. "What happened?" I asked. You would have, too.
"I believe it was the Cresto boy who first got the notion in his head to cause some mischief," my companion finally went on. "He and young Spench had been out to the ruins of the old religion. He thought it might be fun to challenge the gods of his ancestors with some local legend of sprites and magic. It was an ill-conceived notion. Later, when he was older, the Cresto lad insisted it had not been his idea at all. He'd been seduced by the challenge of a mischievous imp. He claimed a pixie had introduced himself as Eddington or some such nonsense. The laughter this confession caused brought even greater disgrace to his family's name.
"And disgrace there was aplenty," he went on. "The boys transported a small relic of little importance to the local Imperial Shrine and set it amongst the grand statues of deities already obsolete," he mused. "It was enough, however, to stir the rage of those who still held themselves as betters over those whose clan had been on the land for ages far longer.
"Accusations flew," he went on. "Threats and petty violence followed. For his part, the Cresto boy kept quiet about his involvement in the incident. Having been brought up by those who treasured their integrity, the Spench lad could not remain silent. He stepped forward and took full responsibility for the desecration. At the behest of their son, who finally confessed his actions in private, the Crestos themselves saved him from being burned.
"But even their influence could not rescue the boy and his family from ruin," the old man sighed as he sipped his drink. "They were stripped of all possessions and banished from the community."
"That's very sad," I agreed. But I could see he was far from finished.
It is a point of etiquette when one is listening to a story which they requested in the first place that they allow the teller to relate their tale in their own time and their own way. No matter how impatient I might have been to discover what the old man was getting at, I could not hurry him along. When he fell silent and watched out the window as the sun drifted below the banks of the town on the far side of the river, I could do nothing more than wait attentively. This is exactly what I did. I had plenty of time.
Finally, when he'd gathered his thoughts and dispelled the clouds which had formed between his mind and his mouth, my companion continued.
"Everybody thought removing the Spench boy from the community would be the end of the story," he said quietly.
"It wasn't, I take it," I prodded.
"Exactly so," he responded. "The Crestos had become the laughingstocks of their village, looked down upon by their compatriots and avoided by their so-called subjects.
"Eager to redeem himself in the eyes of his community and his family, young Cresto drove himself to excel at his every endeavor," my companion went on. "In academics, in athletics, in every responsibility he took on, he achieved more, better and faster than anyone had ever done before. By the time he was old enough to join the ranks of the Imperial Legions, his one grave misdeed had been all but forgotten.
"As driven as he had been in his youth, Cresto hit his true stride in the service of Imperial Masters," the old man told me. "He rose swiftly through the ranks and distinguished himself in a time when a once-proud Empire had already begun to crumble. He was soon assigned to captain a magnificent galley. His success in such an endeavor would have elevated him to full command, perhaps even earn him an invitation to the Imperial City itself. His family celebrated joyously. His heart leapt with pride. He'd redeemed himself fully and was on his way to true nobility.
"Why is it," I asked, "that such a story would bring sadness to your eyes? I suspect it's because Fate intervened and success was not achieved as hoped."
"You are most clever young lady," my companion smiled for the first time without sadness. "I wish those about whom I relate had been so astute. Perhaps then this story would be one of triumph rather than tragedy."
"I must know," I urged him. "What happened?"
"The Cresto lad pushed his crew the way he pushed himself, hard and unrelenting and with an eye on perfect execution," my companion continued. "On a galley, such expectations are excessive. Slaves will do what they are forced to do, but not willingly and not well."
I nodded in understanding, unable to imagine myself subjected into the command of another with no recourse or hope.
"While the Cresto lad had his galley performing far and away above the maneuvers of similar vessels," I was told, "he was still dissatisfied. Knowing the craft was capable of more, he drove his crew relentlessly. It was too much. Desperate to show his full potency, the young captain steered his crew into the teeth of a storm howling across the very heart of the most treacherous channel in the Empire to prove their mettle. The result was disastrous. Many hands were lost.
"Worse, the captain was rescued by one of his own slaves," the old man told me sadly. I knew by the look in his eyes what he was about to say even before the words left his lips. "It was the Spench boy, grown to be a man with a family of his own and taken by the Imperial Fleet for being too poor to pay back debts raised in the service of hungry young bellies."
"What a fortunate coincidence," I mused.
"Not at all, young lady," the old man said quietly. "The captain, humiliated by his failure, blamed the disaster on the slaves who sought to save themselves from the sea rather than follow his command. He denied the galley oarsman had anything to do with his survival, claiming to have been pulled ashore by an escanymph. Wiser heads prevailed upon him to forsake his mad tale and duped the slave in question to confess his part in the fiasco.
"At his trial, Spench testified to all which had gone before, and his childhood comrade fell again into deep disgrace. Unable to blame the slave for the master's failings, the Imperial Tribunal had no choice but to free the cooperative underling and banish his Master. They parted vowing never to speak to each other again."
"I take it that was a mistake as well," I said, fascinated.
"You take it correctly, young lady," my companion said, offering his empty flagon to me. "My throat has become dry, and there is still more to tell."
"Let me buy you another drink," I said. This time, I saw a happy smile on his face.
With our drinks refreshed, the old man finally continued. Darkness had long since fallen on the street outside. I felt the tug of the water lapping at the wharf, bidding me to return home.
"Cresto at least had the good sense to save his spoils along the way," my companion continued. "He had enough wealth to set himself up in a shipping house right here in the city. Years went by and the story of his disgrace aged beyond interest. His business was good. He grew fat and rich with a sturdy wife and healthy children to carry on his family name.
"One morning, he came to work to find a beggar sorting through the discards of the morning catch at the docks. The unfortunate man's plight made for neither a strange nor unfamiliar sight. In the midst of bustle and plenty, there were still those unable to find a place in so-called polite civilization, descended, as they might have been, from savages or cast out by fate... or both."
"At first, old Cresto did not recognize his childhood companion," the storyteller's voice had grown soft and somber. "But once he did, his fury at past injuries surfaced with a startling speed. He summoned the guards who carried the aged Spench off kicking and screaming and begging for mercy.
"Realizing he was going to be played yet again for a scapegoat," my companion said, "Spench held nothing back. He regaled the court with his memories and his musings, embarrassing his former companion over matters which would have been better served if left unremembered. The families of both men listened with anger and shame as their fathers quarreled in front of the magistrate. A verdict was rendered. The pilferer was sentenced to death for his crimes and the heirs of both childhood friends declared their everlasting hatred for each other.
"The beggar was hanged this morning at the gallows plaza," my companion concluded. "I pulled the lever myself and watched as he danced on air even after his neck snapped. When it was done, his eldest son leapt out at his father's accuser. Dagger drawn, he plunged it straight into the disgraced heart of that woeful merchant. I will most certainly be hanging the wretched boy for murder on the morrow."
I could tell my companion did not feel any better from the telling of his tale. I excused myself from his table and went straight to the wharf. There, I dove into the comforting embrace of homebound waters even as those on shore protested with vigor.
All they saw of me again was the robe I discarded as I swam gratefully back to cleansing embrace of the open sea.
Once upon a time, there was an eternal Paradise, the first, most wondrous and beautiful essence of that which is. Brought forth by the Great Magic, it was, is and always shall be the true apotheosis of unbridled creation.
From the coldest of void, the Great Magic filled the realm of being with divine brilliance of star-fueled fire. The primal force of elements took on shape and form, yet remained unbound and free to renew in eternal beauty.
Into this Paradise the Djinn were called, there to flourish in celestial grace. They made Gannah their home and became the favored arms of the Great Magic in all matters and all things. As creation grew around them, so too did they grow, becoming families and tribes and societies unto themselves. Separate and together, they remained who they were meant to be.
Creatures of creative genius, the Djinn soon began to build upon themselves in the fiery Gardens of Gannah. As in all beings who become aware, some proved more industrious than others. Such was the lot of the Marid, who could not help but see the splendor of an ordered city rising from the flames of glory. Over vast ages which passed in short order, the spires of Aht-lan Tis rose, contrived to honor the waters over which this most clever of clans held sway.