Fourth Ammeloration

By Ammalasuntha

I can’t describe to you the instinct to go out there and into the Deep, but I can feel it quietly pulling as clearly as seeing the slow, bruised sunset over the familiar shoreline.   Our shoreline, not theirs.  They only send the odd trader now, strangers smelling of dead animals and bringing jars of redpeach.  It’s a favourite of our current Suzerain, otherwise we wouldn’t tolerate them coming here at all.   They learnt quickly not to bring fish.  The first dozen to do that we sacrificed to the Deep ancestors to ward off the inevitable bad fortune and the fish sellers soon learned not to come here.  How can you kill and sell the remains of something which is related to you?  Perhaps they don’t know that.

I know that their ancestors go into the earth.  They put them there with things that belong to them.  I’m not supposed to go that close to their places, but I saw.  They live in places of driftwood and earth, which smell of the animals they keep and the things they kill.  Once I hid and watched them for a whole day, fetching and carrying, no morning rituals, no honouring of the Deep at sunset, just noise and dirt and disrespect.  Just don’t you go saying to anyone else, it is said that they are worth nothing because they understand nothing, but I figure the more we know about them, the better.  I live here with you all for now, in the Lulling, as part of the shoredwellers.  Those bitter would say that we’re just biding time until we ammelorate enough to go into the Underward and live there for the remainder.  Even then, the pull of the Deep can be strong enough that some go straight from the Lulling Deepwards, and spend no changes in the Underward.

To go Deepwards is what we will all do eventually, the instinct becomes so strong that we can think of nothing else save for swimming down and down, past the Underward and into the black.  But that’s a long way off for me, and further for you.  I am deep into my third ammeloration and heading for my fourth.  The Suzerain has eight to his name, and is showing no familiar signs of wanting to go deepwards, though my father is, and he’s only six in.  He sits by the shore sometimes, staring out, not really seeing, but perhaps wondering.  Who knows what goes on inside after six, he certainly doesn’t tell me, and I have a few to go before I find out for myself.  We change at each one, getting more and more prepared for swimming down to our ancestors.  The ammellorations don’t come every year, you must have accomplished something noteworthy to achieve one: for me my first was my first successful hunt, the second notifying the Suzerain of the return of the fish traders, so that our Sirens could capture and sacrifice them, as is only right, and the third was the defence of you younglings from an unexpected landshift.  The life you lead ensures your survival in the Deeps, a great warrior, Suzerain, or one who has done notable things becomes the largest of us in the Deeps, their deeds ensuring size and longevity are held in fantastic shapes in the smoky Depths.  There is a rumour of another settlement down there, but none who have ever followed the pull have returned to confirm it.  For me it seems unlikely; ancestors of that size and greatness cannot possibly live together and must hunt alone within the dark places.  There is belief that they will come back all together, these greatest of us all, and indeed sometimes there are messages in dreams or religious ceremonies which come from the depths with gravitas and ceremony.  It is comforting to think that one day I will do great things either in the Lulling, ensuring that the following generations grow in peace and prosperity, or once I have ammelorated enough to go into the Underward to join my mother and sisters to go and make a legend of my own.

It used to be that the fish sellers would go out into the far sea, far from the shore on their flimsy driftwood.  Our Deepwards ancestors tolerated it for a while, or maybe it took them that long to come up from the depths.  Our Sirens debated about it for a long time, did the fish sellers go out there to hunt, or perhaps, having become enlightened they took their own sacrifices out to the ancestors?  Whichever way, the ancestors came for them and took their remains to the Deeps when they returned.  Now the fish sellers keep their driftwood close to the shore, or even hunt from the cliff tops.  Perhaps they have not become enlightened after all, and we will have to teach them again.  You will hear the Sirens and the Suzerain tell you that they are worth nothing, because they understand nothing.  If that’s right, and we sacrifice them to our ancestors, is our sacrifice also nothing?

This Telling is almost over, so mark well what I have said.  Learn well the changes that you will make, and the ways that you can go in the ammelorations to come.  One of you will most like become Suzerain and some of you will become Sirens in the future.  Know all that there is to know, pass all that on, make sure that your younglings know the things that you know, and all that you find out in your time in the Lulling.  Keep away from the fish sellers, they understand nothing of our ways and will not know you as peaceful or prosperous.  Learn well from the Tellings of the Sirens, they know of the legends of the Ancestors better than I.  The Suzerain will Tell you of the qualities to have to be successful.  Mark them all well and soon you will be ammellorated enough to go to the Underward and from there to live eternal in the Deeps.

(more about Amalasuntha.)

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