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  • Andrew M. Trauger

The Deepening

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

In the midst of Arelatha lies a lake called The Deepening.

But that's a bit misleading. In the midst of Arelatha is the heart of the continent, a pulsating and living body of water that controls and commands all life surrounding it. That's a little closer to the truth. No one doubts that it's alive--that its staggering cliffs, unfathomable depths, sudden squalls, and swirling vortices are extensions of its lifeforce. They call it the "Cradle of Storms" for good reason.

The Deepening does indeed beget storms. It squelches others and shifts whole weather patterns in unpredictable directions. But it also froths and churns, foaming at the mouth as if riddled with insanity.

Most days, The Deepening is placid. Fish thrive in its waters, which are fed by four major rivers that pour through eroded chasms as thundering waterfalls into the lake. But other things thrive as well...massive creatures that can only be called monsters. Sailors are wise that do not venture too far from the coasts.

An eccentric group of people, gathered from all walks of life, plies the capricious waters of The Deepening atop ramshackle barges that also serve as their homes. Ragamuffins they are called, and they alone seem to have discovered some form of harmonious coexistence with the lake. Hailing from every nation but owing fealty to none, the ragamuffins band together in floating fishing communities filled with music, dance, and laughter...almost as if daily cavorting with death on along the lake's rocky edges.

Six of the oldest and largest metropolitan areas dot The Deepening's perimeter. These free cities--the "Cers"--contain ancient buildings, bloodlines, and untold secrets of the past from a time lost to history. Hundreds of smaller communities line the coastline, each one thriving from the life given by the lake and each one praying the lake doesn't exact their lives.

Many islands are scattered through the waters of The Deepening, but none are permanently inhabited since most of them are inundated by frothing waters at least once each year. Legends speak of another island deep in the center of The Deepening. Üzen Ada is its name--"floating island" in the Old Tongue. Much speculation whirls over this islet, specifically regarding whether it truly floats or is somehow connected to the unfathomable bottom of the lake. None have survived who sought to learn the answer.

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