Primus, Segundus, Tertius, and Marty comprise the four Dagger Seas, massive estuaries that empty along with a number of minor estuaries and rivers into the Shallow Gulf that dominates the western edge of our continent. The seas and their associated dagger peninsulas have been a major center for shipping, fishing, and the diffusion of culture between the peoples of Ghyll for centuries.
Geology of the Dagger Seas
The Dagger Seas and the Shallow Gulf are all relatively young -- based on geological evidence, the center of the Shallow Gulf is likely to have been the site of the ancient city of Avaz Minor, and thus the point of detonation of the Avazian Justice Device during the Third Avazian War. The seas are shallow, and, strictly speaking they are not seas at all but estuaries, enormous bays that allow for the mixing of fresh and sea water. Their name comes from the characteristic shape of the bays, with broad mouths at the gulf tapering to dagger-like freshwater points where the Dagger Peninsulas join the mainland, like the bite of a titanic creature. The Seas and the Gulf are calm in general, though they are affected by the tides.
Ecology of the Dagger Seas
The Dagger Seas comprise a variety of habitats, moving from fairly typical fresh water species at the "points" of the Seas to the salt-water ecosystem life of the placid Gulf, with unique ecosystems living in the bodies of the Seas themselves, and in the shallow open waters, freshwater and salt marshes, sandy beaches, mud and sand flats, rocky shores, temperate shellfish reefs, forests, and deltas along the seacoasts. Sea Spiders, Sea Cucumbers, Sea Saws, Sea Monkeys, Sea Chanties, and a number of other gulf creatures travel up the Dagger Seas to fresh waters at various points in their life cycles. It is the richness of this environment that attracted nomadic early Ghyllotines to settle on the Dagger Sea shores.
Ancient History of the Dagger Seas
Archeological research has uncovered settlements of our people on the shores of the Dagger Seas as early as -5000 EC, with the major Dagger Sea city-states rising between -3000 to -2500 EC. Plentiful fishing, gentle climates, and eventually massive riches from shipping made the region a popular target of conquest for neighboring empires, and large parts of the Dagger Peninsulas have been ruled at various points in history by various other peoples of the ancient world, most notably:
- That Courtly Empire That Flourished and Developed All Kinds of Knowledge And Technology When The Rest of Us Were Still Huddled In Caves Eating Dirt But Then Fell Almost At Random
- That Culture Of Nomads that Apparently Got Bored With Hunting Elk After A Thousand Years And Forged a Global Empire Overnight And Then Apparently Forgot About It Again
- That Culture That We Only Really Know About Through The Trash Talk Of Other Ancient Cultures
- That Culture That New Agers Are Always Going On About
- The Nitenmangrey
In general these conquests changed little in the life of the ancient peoples of the region, but spread Dagger Sea culture, music, and philosophy throughout the rest of Ghyll. Consider this fragment of a letter from a hordemaster of That Culture Of Barbarians Who Were Totally Brutal Bad Asses With Big Knives to his swarm lord regarding his capture of an unnamed Dagger Peninsula city (translated by the author of this entry):
Our forces met no resistance at the gates of the city, which were opened for us as we approached. Once inside we were met with gifts, and a beautiful lady who spoke our language. She thanked us for liberating the city from their oppressors. When I responded that we were here to slay all of the adults and sell the children into slavery she seemed unmoved, and said it could only be an improvement on their previous occupiers, who had just stepped out for lunch and were due back any minute. Then (accompanied by a band of musicians), she narrated a pantomime which illustrated the horrors they were currently enduring.
I have killed 600 men, put out the eyes of 20 men with my thumbs, and eaten the entrails of 30 fallen enemies. The armies of my swarm lord were unfrightened even at the terrible, terrible, hideous, horrible, awful things we saw illustrated. Some of the men vomited, doubtless due to the foul air of the place; likewise this was why this obedient servant and his warmasters may have been seen moaning and in tears. Even a mighty, relentless, black, evil, unstoppable force like the city's current occupiers could not move us.
I quickly negotiated regular tribute from the city, in the form of coupons for valuable savings in shipping, hotel stays, and fishery products, to be stored in the city awaiting my lord's army's return, perhaps with some archers, and some elephants if my swarm lord pleases to spare them. I can assure my swarm lord, these are very valuable coupons, and my men were anxious to move on and win more glory for our swarm and its master.
So anxious that we ate our lunch on the road.
Recent History of the Dagger Seas
Until recently, the Dagger Seas region continued to prosper as it always had. The maritime wealth and easy-going cosmopolitan reputation of the area only increased with the end of the great civil war. The resulting unrest prompted the withdrawal of the troops of the then-occupying Empire Of Men Who Make Speeches In Elaborate Hats And Die Nobly at Sea from the region. (They had obtained it only a few years before, at least nominally, as spoils of the war with the Empire Of Guys Who Set Out To Explore Exotic Places But Generally Just Kill And Enslave Everybody When They Get There, who had themselves yet to even establish a fort in the region.)
While the rest of the world was embroiled in the (relative) chaos leading up to the Conflict That Is Not Happening, life along the Dagger Seas likely proceeded without tumult. The region's city-states seem to have continued in the sort of well-ordered lawlessness they had been living with for centuries; at least this is apparently the case -- as with the rest of Ghyll, for familiar reasons this era's records are difficult to make sense of.
Paradoxically, it is with the rise of contemporary scholarship that the fortunes of the region began to decline. As the demand for secret tomes, passage for scholarly meetings, and the associated secret conflicts between organizations such as the Bureau of Forgotten Knowledge, the Aminfarances Institute of Science and Technomancy, the Council for Quezlarian Research, and even the (apparently) benign Cranee Historical Society grew, the area's high traffic and diffuse governmental authority led to it becoming a hotbed of smuggling and piracy. The horrible discoveries of Captain Riquiras in -159 EC intensified the situation, as it became the site not only of the passage of scholars and scholarly materials but also a destination for archeologists and researchers. Schools of the dark arts, temples of heresy, and kindly old men harboring deadly occult secrets began to spring up on every corner.
The Contemporary Dagger Seas
The situation of the last hundred and fifty years has only grown worse. Modern ironclads have taken the place of the pirate and smuggler ships of yore, and modern Folktown forged EctoMechanauts now dredge the sea-beds for artifacts where armies of laborers once drew their nets. The ecology of the region has all but collapsed, and with it the fishing. Those modern inhabitants of this area who haven't turned to smuggling, piracy, or scholarship now overwhelmingly carve out their meager living by searching for ancient artifacts. We can only hope that the future holds better for this much-abused part of the world, so rich in history, culture, and resources. Perhaps there is some comfort to be had in the words of the author of The War Chronicle of That Culture Who Were Either Learned And Virtuous Or Complete Pagan Degenerates Depending On Whom You Ask:
A beautiful place,
another jewel in the crown of our empire
not yet, not yet, but soon.
--Joe Bowers 18:02, 26 Sep 2004 (EDT)