Océano de la Vida
Posted: Posted March 20th, 2012 by Xhin
This is a conworld I came up with last night to help me get to sleep.
Océano de la Vida is an ocean world with sparse underwater and floating islands. The people that live here are immortal.
The water of Océano de la Vida heals all wounds and removes impurities from the body, which sink far below to a place known as "Segundo Mar". People that end up here from other worlds will find any wounds completely healed, any missing limbs regenerated, any scars smoothed over.
The water is so caustic to impurities however that it will completely disentegrate anything on you that is not living. This includes armor, clothing, and possibly the very boat you arrive here on.
When it regenerates body parts, the water will stick to you far more than its viscosity should allow it, and Muerte will swirl up from Segundo Mar to serve as the material for the body part.
Water can be drunk, and it will quench not only thirst but hunger. It has a slight cantaloupe taste to it, not sweet exactly but more rich in flavor than normal water.
It's also impossible to drown, as the water will replenish the body's oxygen, however this is very uncomfortable as those not used to it will still think that they're drowning, and their body will react the same way.
The water is also incredibly clear due to the lack of impurities and you can see very far down if there's enough light.
The tent city
Floating on the water, attached with thick threads to underwater islands for stability is what is known as the tent city. This is where almost everyone lives, under the canvas of massive gold-colored tents made of Silk. They're slightly transparent, so they let some light in, giving then a vague amber glow.
There is no ground, the tents are erected over Océano de la Vida, and travel is accomplished through Oak boats moving over the water.
There is a currency of crystals which are valuable for various things due to their unique properties and the relative difficulty of obtaining them. A crystal known as Onyx is the most valuable, however so rare that it's worthless to use as currency, so the highest denomination is actually a deep blue crystal known as Sapphire.
Minted gold was tried once, due to the extreme difficulty of making even a single coin, but abandoned because of how easily it would dissolve in Océano de la Vida.
There are fish that swim below the surface of Océano de la Vida. While numerous and easy to match the speed of, they are very difficult to kill. The reason for this is that the water will automatically cure their wounds. If you dig your nails into them, they will heal up and slip away. Usually spears of Oak are used, as it's one of the only materials that does not dissolve in the water, however if Oak is wounding them the water will flush it out. The best method is to repeatedly wound them from below so that they swim higher and higher and can be caught in a Silk net.
Once above the surface, they can be killed with crystal knives, parts of which will dissolve in the water the fish brings with it.
It is much preferable to eat fish and other food than drinking the ocean due to both basic human need and the fact that the water doesn't give you nutrients so much as cure malnutrition.
Before I explain how fish are prepared, I need to go into something fundamental to the world:
Vida and Muerte
In Océano de la Vida, there are two basic types of material. Vida, the spanish word for life, will not dissolve in water but will rather be renewed and healed by it. Muerte, the spanish word for death, will dissolve almost instantly in water. Even single drops of water can scald Muerte like acid, and dropping Muerte in the ocean will make it instantly turn deep black and sink below to Segundo Mar.
In order for Vida to be healed, there must be DNA present. So anything living, like humans, fish, different crops, etc will be healed by the water, but not everything that is Vida has DNA. Below, I'll describe the various materials and their property:
All crystals -- Vida
Silk -- Vida
Oak -- Vida
Gold -- Muerte
Mugre -- Muerte (however in the presence of crystals it will not dissolve)
Anything non-native to Océano de la Vida, for example other metals, wool, plastic, etc -- Muerte
Life that was once alive will become Muerte eventually, despite DNA still existing. The process can be accelerated by heat or sunlight.
Bacteria are an interesting case because whether they're alive or not, they can be either Vida or Muerte depending on whether they're surrounded by a material that's Vida or Muerte. However, unlike other life that is Vida, they do not heal.
Causing life to become Muerte and the dangers of eating
It's extremely important to make sure anything you eat is completely dead because of how water will react to it. You don't want a fish waking up in your stomach, completely immune to your stomach acid, nor do you want Lechugo growing in your lower intestine.
If that does happen, the way of fixing it is an incredibly painful surgery known as El Mil Infiernos where you're cut open and the now-living food removed, while occasionally sprinkling water on your wound to keep you from going into shock.
All native life on Océano de la Vida has evolved to survive solely on water. In order to kill something it's important to first remove it from water so its wounds cannot be healed. While it is wounded, it is still capable of being brought back to life by water, so sunlight or heat are necessary to remove more and more water from it until it becomes muerte. This doesn't completely dehydrate it, it just removes the ocean water and leaves the normal water that the creature has converted.
Once something is muerte, it dissolves in water, so the best way of testing whether, say, a fish is dead is to sprinkle water on it. Fish can also be cleaned and their bones removed easily by sprinkling water in those places. Same deal with the harder-to-eat parts of Lechugo and other vegetables.
Crystals are a very important part of Océano de la Vida. Their unique properties are used similar to magical artifacts or basic technology, and they can be cut laboriously with other crystals to form waterproof tools. Crystals are generally no longer than six inches long, and cannot be fused with other crystals, so their use is limited somewhat and Oak is generally preferred for longer tools and structures.
Before I delve further into their properties, it's important to have an understanding of the geography of Océano de la Vida...
Deep underwater are islands that will float at a very specific depth beneath the surface. The islands are small (usually between the size of a room and the size of a house). They are composed of crystals and various layers of muerte that cling to the crystals known as Mugre.
The longer Mugre stays near the crystals, the harder it becomes, so most of an island will be almost like rock, with some layers of grime on top of that.
Oak trees will grow underwater on these islands, and nowhere else. Oak trees aren't actually trees, but secretions of a complex ecosystem which I'll get to soon.
Above the ocean sit floating islands which precariously stay in place as though they don't need to follow the law of gravity. These too have a fixed height though can occasionally move horizontally (usually due to the Presagio de Viento).
Floating islands are usually almost completely white, and are composed of a soft but heavy material called Silkrock as well as larger areas of Cloudsilk that keep the islands afloat. These islands are much larger than the underwater ones, some the size of cities (though those tend to be miles above the surface of the ocean). Much more transparent and lighter-colored crystals (like Aquamarine) are occasionally found in the Silkrock. Indentations in the surface of Silkrock are filled with Mugre, which remains as a fine dust rather than the rock-hard variant found underwater. It also gets lighter and lighter as long as it is in the presence of crystals like Aquamarine, eventually becoming a light shade of tan. Some of it is held in place and used by plants like Lechugo.
In indentations of Cloudsilk, meanwhile, are lakes of the same water as the sea. The water and Mugre are replenished by the Tormenta Empíreo, which happens very rarely (Once every few years in earth years).
Back to Crystals
While crystals aren't rare exactly, they're very embedded within the structure of islands of both types. Mining them requires the use of crystal tools and the semi-magical properties of certain types of crystal (especially Ruby). Underwater mining is not only uncomfortable without crystal-based equipment (because of the drowning thing), but is also dangerous, because the darker crystals are actually responsible for the fixed depth of the islands. Removing even one can upset an island and make it shift position, which may also cause the creatures living within an Oak to come attack you.
Crystals, interestingly, each have a distinct taste, so powdered forms of them are used as flavors in Océano de la Vida cooking.
Below, I will list the properties of the crystals I have built so far:
Ruby -- Ruby crystals are a deep red, and are found in underwater islands about halfway to Segudo Mar. These taste extremely spicy, sort of a cross between black pepper and cinnamon. Ruby has the ability to heat up Muerte, and when combined with Ruby dust, can heat up Muerte to extreme temperatures. It does not, however, heat up Vida, so usually Oak bowls are used to hold whatever material needs to be heated up, and ruby crystals can be held by your bare hand without burning you (although the muerte itself can burn you).
Aquamarine -- Aquamarine crystals are a light cyan, and are found in floating islands. These taste very sweet, with a leaf-like undertone to them, sort of like spinach and kiwi with a bunch of sugar added. They can turn Mugre into a light dust suitable for farming Lechugo and other plants, as well as help dissolve underwater Mugre so as to get to the crystals and Oak buried within it. When aquamarine is exposed to heat, it will become lighter (not that they're particularly heavy). Aquamarine dust will act similar to helium when heated up enough and will float away into the sky. This is very useful for working with Silk, as you'll soon see.
Sapphire -- Sapphire crystals are a deep blue, and are found close to the Segundo Mar. These taste very bitter but rich, sort of like a combination of a bunch of diferent nuts like hazelnut and pine nut. Sapphire Crystals are extremely heavy, and so are useful for weighing down things and going deep underwater without having to swim down to high-pressure areas. Enough of them can also weigh a floating island down enough to make it eventually land in the ocean, which makes harvesting silk easier (but is hardly recommended for long because whatever parts of silk the crystals are on will simply break off and the island will float back up).
Onyx -- Onyx crystals are solid black, and are found in the same area as Sapphire, but are much much rarer and usually embedded deep inside an island. These have a very metallic taste to them, so are not pleasant in food at all (not that you'd use them in food because of their rarity). These are the largest of the crystals, some are a foot across. Unlike Sapphire, they aren't superheavy, although their size does pose some difficulty of getting them back to the surface. Onyx are the hardest and strongest of the crystals, so are useful for cutting other crystal tools (though cutting diamond itself is a very laborious task). They also have the ability of absorbing heat and light from muerte to a ridiculous degree, so that putting a piece of onyx in a a bowl of melted gold will very quickly solidify it. Small pieces are also useful for cooling off Océano de la Vida cooking, but it has to be done very carefully or the food will become completely cold.
There are other crystals, but I haven't yet worked them out.
Mugre always has a certain amount of gold in it. Refining it is a simple enough process; Using Ruby and Ruby dust the gold will melt together and the rest will turn into smoke. There's no real danger from inhaling it because the water of Océano de la Vida cures all wounds. Aquamarine dust will also help blow Mugre away during the process.
Gold's main usefulness is as a source of infinite fuel, especially when working with Silk. The problem with generating heat with Ruby crystals is that it only works on Muerte, which tends to turn to ash or smoke and be used up. Gold, meanwhile, is a source of muerte that will only extremely rarely evaporate but will instead stay melted and continue to radiate heat. This is useful for more continuous heating fires, as well as keeping warm during the Tormenta Empíreo. Its biggest flaw is that pure gold will dissolve in water, even when touching crystals, making it completely useless underwater.
Silk is useful in a lot of different ways; it composes the tents, clothing, bedding, is a vital part of balloons that let you reach floating islands and come up from deep underwater, etc. Creating usable silk is somewhat complex.
First of all, Silk is found on floating islands in two varieties, Silkrock which is a spongy but denser material, and Cloudsilk, which is much lighter. Cloudsilk is extremely painful to the touch due to it being a lot of small threads of Silk combined together haphazardly. This generally makes it useless for human consumption as it would be itchy or even painful to wear it (and water wouldn't necessarily remove all of it because Silk is Vida). Cloudsilk is useful for catching fish, however, due to its painful property. Silkrock, meanwhile is what's used to make Silk.
Silkrock essentially is just compressed Cloudsilk. When a floating island is born from Segundo Mar, it will be massive and it will float very high in the sky due to being almost entirely Cloudsilk. Over time, due to the presence of crystals, Cloudsilk will solidify into Silkrock, which weigh it down. Occasionally sections of a floating island will break off, forming smaller floating islands closer to the surface of the ocean. At the end of its lifespan, an island will be completely Silkrock and will sink back down into Segundo Mar. Near the Tent City, this part of the cycle doesn't happen because Silk is harvested by humans.
Anyway, in order to make Silk usable, a silkrock is taken and heated up by Ruby and Ruby dust and some sort of combustible fuel (since silk is Vida, it cannot be heated directly by a Ruby crystal). A small amount of water is applied at the base of the silkrock while it's heated up. This water will turn to steam and get in through pores in the expanding Cloudsilk, smoothing it from the inside, which keeps it from being prickly like Cloudsilk found on floating islands. What you end up with is something similar to a giant complicated ball of cotton, although Cloudsilk is much stronger than cotton. Strands of this refined Cloudsilk can then be woven into threads and used to make tents, clothing, etc.
For larger projects, gold is used to heat up Silk because it's not consumed when using it. Using gold as fuel gives the silk produced its characteristic Golden hue, which doesn't ever wash off for some reason.
Balloons can be made by including Aquamarine dust into the equation, so that when the refined Cloudsilk is made, it will attempt to float away. Cloudsilk can also slowly be made lighter by exposing it to Aquamarine, although that's not really practical because it takes years to become lighter than air. Balloons are useful for bringing things up from underwater and reaching floating islands.
Oak, as I said before, is a complicated ecosystem that grows on underwater islands. Essentially, it is the birthing place of all fish. Water can heal and nourish fish, but it cannot build them, so they lay a single egg in the Mugre of a new underwater island. Over time, the egg uses the mugre to help it grow and divide into many "children", the same way Lechugo uses mugre on floating islands. An Oak "tree" is a complicated symbiosis of many different types of fish and bacteria that excrete undigested mugre into a tree-like shape. This excrement hardens due to the presence of crystals like Amethyst and Sapphire into a wood-like Vida material. Some eggs will eventually turn into fish and leave, while others will stay in the Oak and continue reproducing until the end of the island's lifespan.
It's generally better to harvest Oak when an underwater island is older (ones closer to the surface) but obviously before it completely dissolves. Harvesting of Oak is done by cutting it out of the Mugre substrate and floating it to the surface, where it is dried. The eggs in it will die once all the water is drained out and can be cleaned out, leaving only the branches of an Oak tree for human use. Oak trees are massive, sometimes two or three times the size of an island (room/house-sized). They're useful for boats, spears, the handles of crystal tools (wrapped with tightly-woven Silk), bowls to hold fish for cooking (since Oak can't be heated directly by Ruby they serve the same function as pots/pans), etc.
Weather (aka Presagio de Viento and the Tormenta Empíreo)
First of all, Océano de la Vida has a standard day/night cycle, although the sun is usually invisible behind a massive swirling morass of dust clouds with occasional lightning flashes. This feature of the sky is known as Empíreo or more commonly, Mar Tercero. Days and nights are three times as long as they are on Earth, but Mar Tercero makes day less bright and night more lit-up (due to the lightning flashes). Mar Tercero is composed of a number of shifting colors, and as you can see from my art, it can be quite beautiful.
Mar Tercero is known as such because like Segundo Mar, it is composed entirely of Muerte. Unlike Segundo Mar, it does not create underwater or floating islands, although it is very dynamic, and once every few years, its movements will rapidly pick up pace. During the start of this time, winds will blow known as the Presagio de Viento. At every other time of year, there are only very mild breezes very very occasionally, so the ocean has almost no waves. During this time, however, there are strong winds that will send tent canvasses flapping. These winds will help evaporate a layer of the ocean, which almost never does otherwise, except in the presence of extreme heat from Ruby crystals.
Eventually, the Tormenta Empíreo will start. When this happens, huge sections of the Mar Tercero get blown down. These sections are extremely cold, and can occasionally freeze the water in the ocean, as well as cover everything with a layer of Muerte. Floating islands will get moved around and are more likely to break apart during this time. And it will start to rain. The rain is half muerte and half water, so it does not heal anywhere near as well as the ocean water does. The rain can also corrupt a good amount of the water, so if people need to be healed/are thirsty/etc, they have to dive very deep or use water that people have set aside in Oak buckets. The Tormenta Empíreo lasts several months, and absolutely drenches everything, but it serves to move floating islands around and refill them with mugre and water.
Conclusion (Sort of)
Anyway, that's what I have so far. What are your thoughts on the conworld so far?
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