Friday, January 25, 2013

Naiadi della fontana

A number of backwoods waterways are infamous as the supposed haunting place of the naiadi.  These naiads are beings of unknown provenance.  The balshatoi kindgoms knew of them and called them rusalka in their language--they believed that these eerie and beautiful women of the waters were the vengeful spirits of drowned or spurned women who committed suicide, then came back to haunt and kill men especially.

A man led to his death by naiads
There is an old Tarushan tale about them, though, which is the most intriguing.  The Tarushan legend links the naiads with the river gods; chthonic and inhuman entities that live in freshwater, and prove remarkably difficult to kill (or to find, for that matter.)  The river gods were exclusively male, and procreated asexually via budding, like some kind of protean creature.  As the waterways became increasingly congested with the traffic of humans, the river gods became increasingly angry at this trespass on their domain.  They took to hunting humanity in the waters, and became greatly feared.

Like the situation summed up by the (alleged) quote of Admiral Yamamoto, these attacks accomplished little other than to "wake the sleeping giant."  The river gods, while powerful, could not contend with humanity openly, because they were so vastly outnumbered, and because humanity could retreat to drier terrain to recover and plan more assaults.  The most disastrous were the repeated dryings and floodings of the Eibon River which flows through what is now Tarush Noptii by damming.  In retreat, and scattered, the river gods settled on a plan of deadly, menacing stealth.  Feigning their own extinction, or nearly so, some of the asexual beings transformed themselves via their magic into the first rusalka.  In this form, they appeared as beautiful, young women, bathing naked in the waters, and singing and dancing with ethereal, hauntingly beautiful voices.

River gods in their natural form
In this form, they were able to even insert themselves for a time in human society, and hide in plain sight, although too long a time away from their waters still caused them great distress and eventual death.  Many men were lured to their death before anyone even suspected that anything other than tragically accidental drownings might be at fault.  Even today, the naiads are considered to be semi-mythical, and most people aren't sure that they believe that they exist.

One caution, the Tarushan folktale warns: as a result of their magical transformation, the naiads are capable of concieving and bearing children with human lovers.  Such children are born normal, and grow up that way.  At some point, however, midway through their adult lives, the ancient heritage of their river god ancestors starts to catch up with them, and they begin a slow transformation into something inhuman--they become river gods themselves.  In this way, the river gods have managed to stealthily and malevolently infiltrate human society, and prolong the life of their population.

But all of that is merely a strange, Gypsy folktale, right?

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