Built around the 40 year old shipwreck of a wooden trade vessel, Aelintel is a small community approximately 1.5 kilometers south-southwest of Marsilion. Located at the bottom of the lake, at approximately 130 feet in depth, it is a large collection of huts, shelters and dug-out natural caves spreading around the shipwreck, providing shelter for aquatic sapients that dwell in the lake. It's population is mostly composed of those races that must, or prefer to, spend most of their existance underwater, although the occasional traveller can be found visiting using diving gear, transformations or simply whale-level ability to hold one's breath.
The village is a peaceful "bedroom" community, with most of it's inhabitants simply wanting shelter, food and protection in numbers. Those amphibious races that live there often come up onto the surface and mingle with the community in Marsilion, if they're so equipped, many having jobs in the surface world. To this end, the settlement's existance is considered common knowledge, even if it is not considered part of the Marsilion metro area and is not generally talked about.
The village is strategically placed on a flat section of sand past the shelf, where sunlight can still reach the village and there is enough room to build and dig. The depth renders the waters around the settlement permanently shaded a deep blue color, and visibility is more than a little murky at dawn and dusk. Thermal vents are active in the area thanks to the island's volcanic past, and these are used as heat sources (see next section), as well as for metalworking, rendering the water around the area pleasantly warm.
Architecture and InfrastructureEdit
The settlement is built around the wreckage of a medium-sized wooden sail freighter from approximately Year 35, called the Huvvertan. At the time of it's sinking, it was one of the biggest freighters on the island. Unfortunately, the ship caught afire on her second voyage and was abandoned to founder and sink, where it's charred remains broke in half. Fortunately, the damage was limited to amidships, leaving the wreck more or less intact. The local community heads and individuals deemed to be essential to the community live within the wreck for shelter, and many of the rooms have been converted, changed or merged.
Around the wreck, a number of varied huts have sprung up. Huts made out of painstakingly caked mud compose the majority, with other, wooden structures being prebuilt on the surface and then sunk with help from surface contractors. Still others are made of solidified slime that is produced by a local fish species. Whatever the case, in almost all cases these huts are residential, and are designed as a place to store small amounts of personal goods and also as a place to rest, sheltered from predators. Some mages have more elaborate, 'shaped' homes with multiple rooms and personal touches, but these number few. Several caves, tunnels and other outlying sheltered places round out the structures.
Running through both of these living areas is an ingenious latticework of wooden pipes that service each home with a steady flow of warm water from the volanic vents, that can be altered with a valve to the satisfaction of the dweller. The Huvvertan has also been modified with these services.
Of particular note is the settlement's "air bubble", a small concrete and metal dome that was provided for the village in year 58 by surface workers, in order to allow air breathers that can reach the surface to visit and rest. Pressurized and filled with atmospheric levels of oxygen and nitrogen through a half magical, half technological filtration and scrubbing system, the dome is capable of housing several individuals with a limited amount of amenities as they visit the village. This allows anyone who can swim the 130 feet to the village a dwelling as they explore and talk to the natives without needing to worry about surfacing, although care must be taken to avoid decompression sickness on the way back up. The dome includes a small (empty) fridge, several cots along the walls, a spare scuba tank, a closet and a restroom. The dome is in somewhat poor repair, but it does work.
The large number of disparate inhabitants, and the fact that many of them are predator and prey, means that occasionally individuals or groups are at odds with one another. To this end, the village's leadership has a very "guidance counsellor" approach, in that they are heavily involved with individuals in attempts to get them to settle in and live in harmony with the community. Thanks to the innate language barrier and the very large number of ways various undersea races communicate, these "community organizers" are generally either telepathic or know, are equipped and can communicate in a variety of different languages and methods.
That being said, the most common passtime in an underwater society is the exchange of ideas, as physical property is less important than that on the surface. Most of the fully aquatic races that are not equipped for movement or survival on land are "thinkers", with much time to contemplate and few belongings to get in the way. Amphibians tend to own more from their surface lives, if they have any.
For the most part the community is built around food and shelter, and as such the acquisition of both occupies those that are involved full time with the community. Fish are constantly caught and preserved by magical freezing in a specialized tunnel, some of which are sold off for cash to Marsilion merchants. Mud huts are being slowly and painstakingly built, and the deep sea tunnel vent system must be maintained, occasionally requiring cleaning of sections of wooden pipe that have become overgrown with plankton and microorganisms. Magical pursuits occupy some of the community - more than one water mage lives permanently in the village, studying and learning to work with water by litterally immersing themselves in it. Others work pearlsteel (see economy, below).
Amphibious races often go up on the surface, and as mentioned above, many have jobs in the surface world.
The settlement has existed from Year 56 onwards, when local lake-dwelling sapients found the wreck of the Huuvertan and started inhabiting it, and others soon decided to build shelters nearby in order to provide safety in numbers. Since then life has been more or less the same in the village, with progress slow but steady, providing a constant area of safety for aquatic races. Unnoticed, mostly unvisited, and unaligned, the village is usually beneath the notice of those on the surface, and is as such left alone.
Government and LawEdit
The village is autonomous and utilizes collective consensus, often hosting meetings to decide courses of action, when such is needed. The local heads of the community are two Grouper-like creatures that communicate via ultrasonic waves, their names unpronouncable in translation. To those that do not speak ultrasonically, they prefered to be addressed as "Leaders", and collectively referred to together. Working closely with them is Del'Rima, an aquatic elf who is capable of understanding their speech as well as several other forms of underwater communication, acting as the local community organizer, translator and welcomer of visitors. She, too, often works with Kadar, a male merfolk telepath, to aid in getting over language difficulties.
The economy is mostly focused around fish, magic and magic items, and trades these in small quantities with the surface in exchange for metals.
Of particular note is the creation of Pearlsteel, a semi-magical metal made from ordinary steel bought upon the surface and shaped under heat from the deep-sea vents, worked upon by a mage all the while. Most magical items brought to the surface are made of it. Pearlsteel's creation is a closely guarded secret by those that possess and work it, and is often done in privacy in the depths. Many of the denizens of the settlement hold pearlsteel knives, and more than a few hold swords, the material's properties making them more practical than normal underwater.
Items made from pearlsteel are light, hard to break, rustproof, hold an edge extremely well, and are much easier to swing and work with underwater. Since the creators are mages, pearlsteel equipment often has magical enchantments upon it in addition to this. The magical "forging" process grants the finished product a glistening sheen that is unmistakable, and the material itself is much brighter than regular steel, being off-white as opposed to gray naturally.
The most common pearlsteel items are knives, but spears, tridents, swords, and even picks have been made out of the material, as have decorations and everyday items including small, elaborately decorated lockboxes. Armor made from pearlsteel is rare, thanks to the large amount of material it requires, but does exist in small quantities. Almost all pearlsteel items are works of art, not mass produced, each being designed, forged and decorated differently. Pearlsteel knives are known for their light weight and balance, and often feature beautifully designed hilts and guards.
It is rumored that the finest pearlsteel weaponry is made much further out, hundreds of feet deep in the lake, where the pressure assists in the formation of dense blades that are nigh unbreakable, but this has yet to be confirmed, and if such items exist, they seem to look no different from others. Local superstition among the community holds that such "deep" items will lead the wielder on the path to excitement and danger, whether or not he wishes it.
The export of tools and weaponry made of this metal is a small, but persistent market, and the procurement of a pearlsteel item - usually a knife - is often the purpose of a surface-dweller's visit, as they attempt to garner it for cheaper prices than it goes upon the surface. Those few pearlsteel blades that make it as far north as Coldharbor are treasured possessions given to exceptional Fighter officers as a mark of distinction.