Aequin Ocean

The whole world is an island

T
he Aequin Ocean is the largest body of water on Excilior. It completely encompasses all the known continents of Isleprimoton, Islemanoton, and Islegantuan.

Geography

C
ognoscenti estimate that Excilior's landmasses only span across roughly a quarter of the planet's surface. As far as any casterways are concerned, the Aequin is a vast, featureless ocean that spans the entire northern hemisphere and half of the southern hemisphere.

Hypothetical Lands
I
nevitably, folktales have circulated for millennia of islands - or even entire continents - that exist either in the northern hemisphere, or in the southern hemisphere to the west of Isleprimoton or to the east of Islegantuan. There has never been a single shred of verifiable evidence to prove the existence of such lands. But the state of casterway technology and seafaring skills is such that these hypothetical lands cannot be definitely disproven either.   Numerous cognoscenti have gone on record throughout history hypothesizing the existence of additional landmasses, but no one has forwarded a credible theory whereby any degree of significant land exists anywhere outside the known continents of Excilior. The general assumption is that, in the entirety of Aequin's vast reaches, there are most likely modest islands to be discovered. But no one with sufficient knowledge of the planet's workings honestly believes that there are entire continents out there, still waiting for casterway exploration.
 
Razers
Although it does not qualify in any way as "proof", the existence, and the strength, of Excilior's razers is taken as evidence that there may not be any substantial landmasses beyond those which have already been well-explored and mapped. It's been known for some time that even the most vicious razers will eventually stall-out and die when forced over land. The fact that the meteorological beasts routinely reach casterway lands with such vicious force is taken as a sign that they were fostered over Aequin's warm, equatorial waters, that they probably spun over those waters for significant periods of time (all the while, growing in scope and strength), and that they probably encountered little-or-no resistance until they finally made landfall over casterway nations.

Circumnavigation
G
iven that there are no known landmasses on Excilior outside of Isleprimoton, Islemanoton, and Islegantuan, it's theoretically possible that ships could sail west from Isleprimoton and land at the eastern shores of Islegantuan - or vice versa. Similarly, it's theoretically possible to sail, say, south from Rinenmaa and, eventually, end up at the northern reaches of Dinaisia. Or to sail, say, north from Ucarania and, eventually, end up on the southern coast of Golia. However, these hypothetical journeys have never graduated to the realm of verifiable fact. For that matter, such extreme treks have almost never been attempted, because they're widely accepted as death wishes and no one has ever completed such a journey.
 
Legends
The fact that these putative journeys have never been confirmed nor documented has not stopped a never-ending cottage industry of fantastic fiction detailing the heroic quests of epic sailors who traversed every meter of Aequin's waters. Those same tales inevitably detail an exotic array of magical lands that are just outside the reach of "standard" casterway seafaring. Of course, there is no evidence that these tales are anything more than fanciful storytelling.

Seafaring
A
equin's waters - like those of its descendant bodies (e.g., Sister Seia, Sinum Balaena, etc.) are notoriously violent. It's not that the ocean is in a constant state of froth. And there are many times when a novice may look out over the water and feel that it's quite calm. But the vicious and sudden nature of Aequin's storms makes it a challenge for even the most experienced of sailors.
 
Volatility
This volatile nature contributes to the lack of exploration completed in the northern hemisphere, or to the east-and-west of the known continents. The general understanding is that: Those who venture too far from the comfortable environs of casterway lands simply don't come back. In fact, even for those who stay within established shipping lanes, the loss rate of vessels is appalling. A journey that has been calm and uneventful for days can spiral into a deadly emergency within hours. Skies that were clear to the edge of the horizon can become black and swollen in 30 minutes. Millennia of sailing knowledge has allowed some of the planet's best sailors to understand some of the factors that make these horrific storms more-or-less likely, but it's still largely seen as a roll of the dice. And when a particular captain has rolled poorly, it's extremely likely that her ship is going to the ocean floor, regardless of her level of skill or experience.
 
Coastal Routes
These weather factors contribute to an extensive trade network that goes out of its way to hug the coasts. For example, a shipment leaving Ponia's capital of Cecro on the west coast of Islemanoton, bound for the Goddite capital of Tamilly on the east coast of Isleprimoton, will almost certainly follow a path that traces the Islemanoton coastline north, skip west to Smugglers' Moot, continue west to Thigry Island, and cut south, across Leviathan Sound, until finally reaching God's shores. This circuitous route is by no means efficient. But it's the path that is most likely to keep the vessel off the floor of the Sister Seia. Depending on the time of year, as well as the knowledge and skill of the ship's crew, there are certainly instances when a direct path will be charted across the Sister Seia. But such maneuvers are the exception. For captains who make a habit of such journeys probably won't live to see old age.
 
Trade Barriers
At times, this dynamic has played a key role in Excilior's political struggles. Nations don't have the vessels, or the manpower, to patrol their waters far out to sea. But if they wish, they can certainly police the coastal routes that hug their shores. This means that adversarial nations have a tough choice to make when trying to conduct commerce.   For example, imagine that Igne and Torholmaa are at odds. Maybe they're not openly at war - but they also wouldn't like to see the other's ships in their waters. But Igne still wants to conduct day-to-day commerce with its neighbors, irrespective of any simmering conflict with Torholmaa. Igne has goods that it wants to ship to Lokka. The "normal" practice, to avoid as many shipwrecks as possible, would be to route those vessels around the southeastern corner of the Sontsu Peninsula, very close to Torholmaa's coast. But if Torholmaa discovers those ships, they might halt them and send them back to Igne. Even worse, Torholmaa may go so far as to sink them. Of course, Igne could avoid that headache altogether by simply routing their vessels much farther offshore (and deeper into the Sister Seia) in waters that Torholmaa won't have the range to patrol. But setting such a course, far from the sheltering coastline, also carries the greatly-increased possibility of the Sister Seia's volatile storms sinking those ships forever. In this scenario, either course of action is fraught with risk.
 
Catamarans & Outriggers
The planet's volatile waters have also had a distinct influence on the evolution of seafaring vessels. Specifically, single-keeled ships are almost unheard of - at least, not on the open waters of the Aequin Ocean, and Excilior's sizable seas. Of course, on inland lakes and rivers, rowboats and canoes and larger single-keeled ships are common. But for those vessels that are truly expected to, occasionally, venture onto the open sea, the catamaran is the unquestioned standard. These ships are still, usually, driven by wind power (sails). But basing a sizable ship on nothing more than a single keel is viewed, by the planet's sailors and merchants, as borderline foolishness. The planet's waters are simply too choppy and too exposed to sudden storms to expect ships to remain above-water when they're listing radically under the unstable confines of a solitary keel. Even on a more modest level, nearly all canoes and small fishing boats across Excilior are equipped with outriggers. This makes them far more stable in the violent chop of Aequin's waters.
 
Mouth of Charen
One of the most fascinating (and terrifying) geographic features observed in the Aequin is Charen. This massive sinkhole positioned roughly in the middle of the Mouth of Charen is an endless waterfall into a rocky abyss smack dab in the middle of the open ocean. The incredible volumes of seawater that fall into this geological monster go... somewhere. But it's known that all of the water (and presumably, every critter unfortunate enough to be caught up in that water) is sucked down below the ocean, presumably to some vast subsurface network that can somehow recycle all that seawater. These hellish feature has made the already-dangerous waters of the Mouth of Charen downright treacherous and voyages are never attempted in a manner that would take them clear across the Mouth of Charen open waters.   This has also led to wild speculation that somewhere in Aequin's vast expanse is a corollary to Charen - a place were epic volumes of water continually shoot up, out of the planet's surface, in some sort of non-stop, mid-ocean geyser. Such a feature would at least solve the scientific inquiry as to where all the water trapped in Charen actually goes. However, as logical as such a feature may be, it has never been verified through any credible reports.

Flora & Fauna

C
ognoscenti openly admit that they have classified a mere fraction of the sea life that calls Aequin home. Given the dangers inherent in sea voyages and the embryonic state of casterway "science", there are simply no research missions conducted whereby they could survey and catalog all the resides under the waves. This means that Aequin's known menagerie consists of:
  • Whatever is caught (on purpose, or by accident) in fishermen's nets.
  • Whatever can be observed from the surface.
  • Whatever washes up on shore.
Even with these limitations, there are a great many fantastic species that have been clearly documented. There are a great many more that have been hinted at by stray sightings or rotting corpses that wash up on the shore. This has sparked all manner of wild-eyed speculation, because the creatures that are known are legion and strange. And if there are many more undiscovered creatures lurking in the depths...
 
Leviatons
The most terrifying of these species are the megafauna - the leviatons. The term "sea monster" is not a fairy tale or a joke to casterways. The creatures that patrol Aequin's waters (and all of its descendant seas) are epic in size and frightful in demeanor. They are the bane of every seafaring profession and they strike horror in the hearts of all who live near the coasts.   Entire vessels have been dragged - whole - down to the ocean floor and the animals responsible for these tragedies were so large that the terrified victims saw nothing but a maw, or a tentacle, or a scaly finger wrapped around the entire ship as they were being sucked to their doom. These terrible, deadly tragedies makes the classifying of Aequin's megafauna all the more challenging. No one doubts that so-called "sea monsters" do exist in all the major bodies of water. But gaining hard evidence of their features is problematic. Many of their best witnesses never live to testify about their makeup. Those who do survive an attack are so marred by the sheer horror of the experience - and the bits of the creature that one could actually see rising from the waves - that it's nearly impossible to determine what is fact versus adrenaline-based hallucination.
 
Carcasses
Perhaps the most intriguing evidence of such beasts are the carcasses that occasionally wash up on all of Excilior's shores. When the cognoscenti are fortunate, the leviaton is newly-deceased and maintains much-or-all of its original form. Of course, some of this carrion is badly decayed - bloated, peeling skin, disintegrating musculature, etc. At times, this only feeds the rampant tales that commonfolk attach to these beasts as they're gazing upon a 20-meter-tall, 100-meter-long decaying pile of skin, scales, horns, teeth, tentacles, shells, bones, and any other features that formerly constituted the creature.

Natural Resources

F
or all the fear and wonder that is evoked by Aequin's treacherous weather patterns, its volatile seas, and its nightmarish leviatons, the simple fact is that it is also a tremendous cradle of humanity. A great majority of casterways live on the coast - or within a day's travel. Although the waters' conditions lead to many fatal sea voyages, the ocean also repays that debt many times over by supplying a near-endless bounty of food. Fishermen sometimes complain that they must pick some of their nets clean before hauling them onboard, because their catch for the day is already so large that they are at risk of swamping their own vessel before they can ever get back to shore.
 
Inqoan
Food is not the only bounty found under the waves. Nearly every natural resource existing above land has some equivalent undersea. Plants are harvested. Minerals are mined. The depths of Aequin's riches are only limited by the extent to which humans can reach them. This is best exemplified by the Inqoan people. They are so dependent upon every aspect of the ocean that they have a tangible, cultural distrust of anything on the surface that is more than a few kilometers from the waves. For many of the Inqoan, they will spend most of their waking hours on the ocean, in the ocean, and directly on the shores of the ocean.
 
Ebny
Aside from its vast fisheries, one of the more tangible commercial enterprises fostered by Aequin is the collection and processing of ebny. Ebny being a blanket term that refers to the vast collections of bones, previously existing in the bodies of Aequin's terrible leviatons, that wash up on shores across all the continents. Nowhere is this more evident than in The Boneyard - a natural collection point where Aequin's winds and currents push a continual supply of monstrous bones into a narrow bay. The people living in-and-around this bay exist almost solely for the purpose of harvesting these bones and either shipping them around the world in their native state, or grinding and polishing them so they can be used directly in all manner of industrial purposes.-

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