In the name of Malkion, the Prophet and First Man, Most Blessed of Makan, by whom all things are possible, this is a story of the time before History. Blessed are those who hear and obey its lessons.
Waertag was one of Malkion's oldest children, born to him by the Queen of the Merfolk, and the first man to build both boat and ship. His rival was his youngest brother Vadel, who envied Waertag his father's love. Waertag sailed and explored, but remained within the laws of his Father, while Vadel tried to impress Malkion by sailing beyond the world into those places forbidden by God. They fought many times, never gaining the upper hand over one another.
One time, Vadel had stolen powerful magic from Zzabur, a spell that would bind the sylphs and the cumulides and the very fulgurids of the sky-dome to whisk his ship anywhere in the world. Vadel wanted to use this spell to appear in the middle of Waertag's shipyard and destroy his fleet. Keep in mind that this was before Waertag had tamed the Dragonships, and many wise men say that this even is why Waertag sought ships more powerful than vessels made of wood and pitch. So, Vadel spoke the runes of the Sorceror Supreme, and with a roar of the wind and lashing of angry rain, found himself transported to The Dock, which is where Waertag dwelled when not at sea. Vadel began to smash and destroy as much as he could; Waertag, ever protective of his creations, rushed to their defense. When the elder brother grasped his younger and begin to wrench at Vadel's arms, Vadel grew very afraid and invoked Zzabur's runes again. To Vadel's great terror, Waertag held on. But because he was not protected by the Great Wizard's magic, the Cumulides grabbed Waertag and threw him into the ocean.
Waertag was the first shipbuilder, and he had soon created a serviceable raft from driftwood and seaweed. He began to sail home, plotting revenge against his brother. (see how soon the seeds of Error are planted!) Waertag was in the warm oceans at the very eastern borders of Lost Danmalastan, and did not lack for food as he journeyed, and his magic allowed him to drink the seawater with no ill effect! But soon, he found himself surrounded by horrible merfolk. Green and scaled, faces that do not know love or joy or Solace, finned and clawed, and terrible they were, and they grabbed Waertag's raft to stop it. "Why do you blaspheme against Magasta and Triolina your mother by breathing the accursed air and disturbing the mirrored sea?!", they cried. "We shall tear this blasphemy apart, and we shall tear YOU apart!" Waertag was sore afraid, and began to pray to Malkion, blessed be his name. The merfolk, who were called Malasp because of their hateful attitude, were held motionless as the great power of the First Man descended upon the raft. When His spirit had left, there were five items on the deck.
The first, a bronze sword. Waertag, in his wisdom, did not fight the Malasp with it, for surely they would have then dragged him below the waves. He instead offered it to the fiercest of the merfolk, explaining that forged metal was much more powerful than the coral it wielded. The merman quickly took the sword and swam away, later to slay one of the Gloomshark's spawn with it. Second, a bottle of kvass. He offered the most sour of the merfolk a drink, and upon the first taste of such sweetness, the fish-man snatched the bottle away to drink it all by himself. Next, a loaf of good rye bread. The sharp teeth and savage mien of the merfolk led Waertag not to offer it to those who threatened him, but to instead break the loaf and cast it upon the waters. So many fish came to the surface to eat it, that one of the merfolk whooped their strange call of joy and ignored the raft to cast his net after the bounty. The fourth item, a ball of lead, heavy and dark. The keenest of the Merfolk had been eyeing for all this time, and Waertag asked, "Do you desire this? It is yours, a gift of friendship." The Malasp, whose shiver was at this time being threatened by the Krjalki, took the lead ball, and quickly sank beneath the waves.
This left one of the savage Mermen, who glared at Waertag contemptuously. "I cannot be bribed, or tricked, or enticed by sweets or glory. I am the chieftan and I will not countenance you." The fifth item was a simple scaling knife, wickedly sharp but too short to fight with. Waertag thought, and finally... "Chieftan, I would not presume to think such of you. I propose that in exchange for your forbearance, I and my children and my children's children, unto the return of the White Moon, will offer these gifts to your people whenever we meet them. You cannot be bribed or tricked, but I offer only tribute to you who are the most gifted of the sea." And to prove his sincerity, Waertag cut his palm with the scaling knife, and sealed this promise in blood with the merfolk.
This satisfied the malasp, and Waertag was free to sail home. And Waertag's skin grew green and blue, and scales could be found on his children, because of this oath; the Malasp, to their horror, discovered that they, too, could breathe air after this. But even now, in the clutches of History, even after Waertag, grown cold and proud and beholden to strange Gods, descended into the Underworld, even after the Closing and Dormal's Seven Voyages, this oath holds, and tribute is paid for safe passage in the warm waters. And none shall break it, save the Invisible God, in whom all things are possible, and the White Moon, whose coming will shatter all oaths.
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