The Thousand-Year Fish

Plains of Eidolon hype art

[1] Plains of Eidolon:
In the age after the fall of the Orokin, the grand clade-families of the Ostrons were cast wide across the solar system, roaming and homeless in their great floating markets.

[2] Ancient History:
In this time, two young people were in love: the woman Er-Phryah and the man Mer-Sah. Er-Phryah was from the yingbindunyai clade (meaning "great bond"): a very old and wealthy compact of bonded families.

[3] The Tower's Flesh:
Mer-Sah, however, had no clade, his family having been shattered by the Grineer many years before. He was cetus, meaning "landless, cladeless, a body turned to dust turned to motes on a careless wind." Er-Phryah belonged to families within families. Mer-Sah was alone.

[4] Ostron Patois:
But, to Er-Phryah, Mer-Sah was a poet who had eyes to see the beauty of things and ears to hear the softly whispered language of the universe. "I know a place," he said, "where I may be homeless no more. I have heard a voice, and it leads me there. Come with me."

[5] Tools of Harvest:
But Er-Phryah's father was a man made foolish by his wealth, and vociferously disapproved of their love. Mer-Sah was cast adrift from the floating market that was home to his one true love.

[6] Grineer Excavations:
Er-Phryah and Mer-Sah ran away together, as lovers do, and were never heard from again. Rent by grief, her family thought her dead. Her father passed away, clutching her cameo, at peace thinking he would see her soon in some moonlit afterlife.

[7] Amps:
Decades later, ships entering ancient Er's orbit were hailed from the planet's poisoned surface by an old woman's voice, gentle and knowing. Traders would call for her, greet her, offer the latest news on their families and lives – but never did they learn anything of this woman, save that she had a husband and they were, somehow, happy, living on the toxic skin of that hostile world. The old woman would always – always – ask those travellers of news of the yingbindunyai clade.

[8] The Quills of Cetus:
Yingbindunyai junkers came searching for a sign of their missing daughter. The frail voice of their long-lost child reached out to them, and there was much joy. You will find us, her message said, by the light of our love.

[9] Merchants of Cetus:
Er-Phryah bade them make their home around a magnificent Orokin ruin, promising them that it would be a source of prosperity for generations to come. The yingbindunyai arrived in their vast floating market. There, by a ragged coastline, winked a point of light. Follow the brightness of the love between Mer-Sah and I, said the message, and be safe from all harm.

[10] Remnants of Orokin:
The wrathful Grineer took umbrage at this and sought to block their passage, but upon approaching that ancient Orokin tower, found their transmissions silenced, their engines turned cold, and their weapons reduced to lumps of dead iron.

[11] The Grineer Tusks:
She was a being of the day, her husband a spirit of the night. Er-Phryah was a woman of the land, Mer-Sah a man of the sea. Mer-Sah understood the crushing weight of time in which Er existed. In return, Er gifted pieces of its ancient self to Mer-Sah: old things shaped to near shapelessness by a thousand years beneath the waves. Mer-Sah was a man dedicated to finding the sacred in the forgotten, the neglected. And took wisdom from them.

[12] Scavenging Way of Life:
After many decades, Mer-Sah had a small collection of such gifts – such that they could be held in two cupped hands – but in them he understood the lifespan of a world. And so he had struck an accord with the creatures of the sea.

[13] Harvesting the Tower:
For her part, in her times alone, Er-Phryah came to know the birds and animals of the Plains and likewise struck an accord with them. Even the tortured Eidolons, creatures of this world and the next, left them in peace and made the lands around the Tower safe for the Ostrons.

[14] Cetus:
At the centre of this place was the Tower. And within the Tower was the Unum: the voice, the force, that had called Mer-Sah and Er-Phryah there so many years ago for this exact purpose. But the Unum is a being for another time [chuckles], and another story.

[15] Ostron Artisans:
The Ostrons named their village Karifamil – "family and prosperity". Er-Phryah was overjoyed to see her clade again… but Mer-Sah would not enter Karifamil, for he had no family save Er-Phryah. Er-Phryah was drawn to her clade, and Mer-Sah felt no resentment. She would one day return to them – Mer-Sah had known it would be so.

[16] Teralyst Eidolon:
Mer-Sah took the things the sea had gifted over his long life, and took to his boat, and sailed out across his midnight ocean. He returned those gifts to the deep… and himself to them too. But this was no death into which Mer-Sah stepped, for a world is made of cycles upon cycles. Mer-Sah stepped into his midnight ocean, falling down into it. The deeper he sank, the larger he became. This is how the oceans of Er came to be the home of the thousand-year fish: legendary, vast, reclusive, the rare sight of which changes men. One of the great ancient spirits of Er.

[17] The Ostrons:
The spirits of the land felt Er-Phryah's sadness, mad with grief for the loss of their friend to the spirits of the sea. The accord broke down, the animals and Eidolons returning once more to wildness. And so the people of the clade yingbundunyai rebuilt the great Orokin wall that had, in centuries gone by, ringed their gleaming Tower… and never again ventured out at night.

[18] Plains Animals:
The villagers decided as one that their home would no longer be known as Karifamil, "family and prosperity". From that day forward it would be known as Cetus: landless, of no one clade, home to any who are blown as dust on the wind. Er-Phryah lived there the rest of her days, and for the remainder of her nights she held vigil atop the walls of Cetus, looking to the sea and, some say, occasionally catching sight of a great fish, like an island in a midnight ocean, looking back at her. With love.

[19] Life in Cetus:
It is said that Mer-Sah continued to watch over the deep, as he had always done, and Er-Phryah the land. Often she would stand by her husband-sea, speaking in a language only those bound at the soul can know.

[20] The Unum:
When the day came, and Er-Phryah passed from the world, her family buried her on the land. A great fish watched from the sea, and kept vigil over her, for ten days and nights. When it sank beneath the waves, it was never seen again. Some say Mer-Sah, the thousand-year fish, waits to this day for their story to be retold – relived – that he and Er-Phryah, his great love, may one day be reunited again.

This is Onkko, Cetus Archivist, with my translation of the Tale of the Woman of the Earth and the Husband of the Sea.

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