“And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end to all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark and cover it inside and out with pitch…
‘For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of flesh, you shall bring two of every living sort in the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive.’
Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation…
‘For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.’
And the waters prevailed so mightily upon the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth, and every man; everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.”
- The Book of Genesis
But those beings whose home was the waters lived, as did those who fled to the waters instead of away from them.
In the depths beneath the sea
To many men, Orion's Birth was a place hushed; plagued within their thoughts, vanquished from their words. But Maanta was not just any man.
In truth he was not a man at all but rather something of a boy, and amongst his peers was observed as more strange than not. The most normal of his bizarre traits was the fact that his body had not particularly agreed with him in the decision to lengthen and evolve into adulthood.
In the recent illuminations and fallings of the sun, his peers in the Meridian Hearth Sands had grown many minnow lengths. Their chests had broadened, muscles gained definition, and their vocal cords had evolved into tones akin to that of walruses, as opposed to the high-pitched sounds of whale songs.
Maanta's pale, thin legs reflected dim crescents of sunlight as the rays pierced the surface and refracted through the northern current of Orion's Birth, giving a prismatic sheen to the multicolored fins on either side of his ankles. Warm curtains of light delicately played across Maanta's body before finding rest upon the surrounding sand; his chest a canvas for their wavering, his eyes of pure opal dreaming longingly of the births above.
His slim, white fingertips sifted meticulously through the soft earth as he gazed towards Orion's oceanic sky. Maanta's frail insecurities showed not in this majestic place. This was his place. This was his home.
I wonder what all of this means, Maanta thought as he breathed in the brisk midday passing currents.
All about Orion's Birth, bubbling plumes shimmering silver, emerald, and other hues swam towards the sea births overhead. This transparent liquid was long feared by his race and forbidden from their Sands.
In youth, before his mother's death, Maanta had been taught this belief. Amongst his mother’s kelp-melded cove, embedded along the East Shale Wall, she forbade things to his mind. The myth of the transparent fluid was one sewn within his thoughts. Her sweet scent of jelly flora still fresh upon his mind, her words simmering upon his tongue...
“Junge Fisch," she had said, "Many fathoms past whence aqua fabrics first roamed the world and mortals breathed their beginnings we existed of the transparent womb. Our elder ones traversed many wheres above the seas and partook much of those wheres fruits. Seas were not the places in which our ancestors dwelled. And so it was for many years that men ate northern meats and northern fruits and cherished the world of sand.
Then one day a dark being fell from beyond the northern land plummeting deep within north's soil, for in this sand, air, we did breathe, and Gelu kept all where sands did meet the water's shore. Gelu had shunned the dark one and so gave him forth the ancestors to do with as they wished.
With coming tides came knowledge from the dark man, allowing our ancestors to grow north fields vaster than a chasm’s deepest deep and providing them with gems in such amounts that greed o'er took their souls. And so it was, that man took in Gelu's drowned son and many shrines were erected in his glorification. The dark one was pleased and soot and shade disgraced the sand.
Gelu forsake our ancestors for this and so, as he had drowned the dark one he soon would drown our peoples. Telling only the pure of heart, Noa, of his plans Gelu forsook the realm of men commanding the currents which we breathe into our gills to devour all the northern sands giving birth to our new world.
Legend has it that the dark one still dwells somewhere beneath our depths shunned by our people for all time’s realm. Few of our people adapted to the ocean breath and it is told that if any man doth breathe north fluid once more his soul shall cease to pulse.”
Maanta's mother had finished this particular haunting tale with a warning to never approach the deadly fluid which pulsed within the walls of Orion's Birth. Of course this was all the more reason for Maanta to seek out the fluid. Because of this very tale the people of the Meridian Hearth Sands dared not venture past the glowing runed walls. Maanta was the only one to have entered within this place for many tides and was shunned for doing so.
Water currents swam between his slim, pale back and the clay earth beneath him. Closing his eyes, Maanta submerged his fingertips within the cool clay, embracing the currents rippling beneath his body. When he closed his eyes he almost felt as if he were a Manta Ray and not just a Maanta boy, with his swiveling body braced close to the sands and kelp floor. He imagined he was a ray combing the depths for food and exploring the world, speaking to the fish as he pulsed along. He imagined the sunlight warming his closed eyelids to be molten crevices in the crust of the Meridian Hearth Sands, illuminating his trail to future seaweed fields and volcanic chasm delves.
A school of glimmering fish swam in unison across his long bluish gray fins, tickling them. The fish flowed with graceful ease until the horizon swallowed their path. While immersing his thoughts in the cast of imaginary lava webs and swaying vegetation, Maanta awoke. One lone ripple peacefully swept itself across his daydream, then another, and then another until every precious flowing droplet of his illusion shivered into a blur.
Cool water calmly embraced Maanta’s eyes as the makings of Orion’s Birth wove his thoughts from their dream scape and once more into reality. The continuous marble runed wall, which was built long ago to assist Orion’s Birth in performing whatever task it might have been created to perform, had begun to echo its melodic song in skipping waves across the inner sanctum.
It was here that Maanta lay; his pale, trembling fingers grasping soft sand earth while he had dreamt his daydream. Swarming, transparent bubble liquid plumes rose from the inner room and from the very sands beneath where Maanta had hovered and slept just moments prior.
They dance like northern fish schools, Maanta thought while watching as the bubbles waltzed towards their new home with the rest of their fluid’s family on the ocean’s surface.
Releasing his embrace from the ocean floor, Maanta used his ankle fins and cupped webbed fingers to swim his way up and over the inner Orion’s Birth wall. Along his ascent away, he wove somersaults and flips through the inner room’s bubble tapestry and managed the last minute rescue of a pearl white snail from the sands a few feet from the wall. His latest treasure was tucked delicately in a whale hide satchel his mother had gifted him some time before her passing. The tiny visitor would be safe here until Maanta could find a more suitable place to set his newfound friend down.
Once far enough away from the happenings in Orion’s Birth, Maanta curled a half turn to peer back on this place he so loved.
Orion’s Birth consisted of three oval walls. Two were made of stone that was consumed by millennia of kelp, coral and anemone inhabitation. The third, inner wall, was pure shimmering white, splattered with glowing runes the size of a young whale’s fin. This wall glowed with the soft, seemingly beaconing light of north’s constellations. Their calm, entrancing beams glimmered off the coral-covered walls, sprinkling shades of yellow, red and orange throughout the depths. Four outstretched pillars in the center of the final ring stood as titans and draped a shadow down on the surrounding sands. Their arms reached up as far as the eye could see.
All of a sudden, the center of Orion’s Birth filled with the clear liquid in a vast plume, which vaulted upwards and pressed in rolling currents against the ocean’s upper film. Filaments of creamy, light brown sand drifted slowly down. Neon streamers of light also danced before Maanta’s eyes. He had seen this display so many times yet was always mystified by the sight. He knew it was deadly if you got caught up in its plume, however it was also magnificently intricate and incredible. The currents were coming, and now it was time for his wild ride back to the Meridian Hearth Sands.
Maanta grinned with anticipation. Dipping swiftly down, he swam with ease. He knew what he would discover upon reaching the floor.
His fingers quickly slipped around her smooth fins, and Maanta braced himself for what he knew was soon to come.
Archa was warmed by her friend Maanta’s body once more close along her back. Her deep dolphin eyes swept the distance in preparation, partaking of the calm before the storm.
Swift currents surged down the towering, transparent walls of the fluid column; swarming towards the ocean floor. A flurry of sand stirred as the currents dashed and swept with tornadic whirlpool speeds for the remainder of the ocean’s expanse, carrying many creatures and sands far, far from their homes.
The pair, Maanta and Archa, caught the pummeling current with swift, masterful ease, disappearing from Orion’s Birth, destined for Meridia. Maanta softly kissed the dolphin’s smooth forehead and pulled himself closer to his friend in a tight embrace. The two… a harpoon in the ocean’s breeze.