The Empty Mollusk

As seen in
It is a constant of marine biology that the deeper a body of water is, the stranger and more alien the forms of life will take the further down you go. Bearing this in mind, the Great Ocean that surrounds the world of Gadria is very, very deep. Common belief held by all peoples of Gadria who are aware of this massive sea states that the Great Ocean is completely devoid of life, as nobody has ever caught any fish there, but this is untrue. In reality the Great Ocean is so deep, so ancient, that life within has evolved to completely forsake the benefits of the surface world, to withstand the massive pressures at the bottom, and to grow to gargantuan sizes. The waters of the Great Ocean are so deep that no fish among the billions that exist at the bottom have ever been able to swim closer to the surface than 11000 feet below, and those creatures that are unable to swim instead dedicate all their energy towards growth. Legends told by deep elves speak of things like snails larger than the biggest dragon and clams whose jaws can open several miles wide. It is understandable that these tales have been met largely with doubt by most of the seafaring community, but on exceedingly rare occasions, great calcite shells large enough for habitation have been found washed up on the shores of islands in the Kytaran Sea.   The Empty Mollusk  
Whatever gods weave the threads of fate were certainly in cruel humors when they decided my legacy would be an empty shell.   -Galeron Pardillo, founder of the Empty Shell and patriarch of the Pardillo family
    On the eastern beach of the tropical island of Tanava, the shell of some great species of nautilus had peacefully been resting for upwards of a thousand years before being discovered and converted into a seaside inn, called The Empty Mollusk by a family of Acredian refugees. Partially buried in the sand and too heavy to be move by all but the most powerful of waves, the massive seashell consists of a spiral of calcium carbonate, nearly identical in quality to an ordinary seashell, with a forty-foot opening and roughly 150 feet across from the outside. The rough, sandy outer side resembles the texture of a conch shell, with streaks of pink mixing languidly with the more natural browns and whites. Great berms of sand have been gathered around the base of the shell over the generations in some misguided notion that the great structure needs to be protected from returning to the surf. Four circular windows have been carefully carved free of the shell, not so many as to threaten its structural integrity, but just enough to let a few dregs of natural light illuminate the cavernous inner chambers. Damp sand coats most of the floor in the Empty Mollusk, not including the kitchen private chambers, because the pristine, glass-like inner walls would otherwise have made walking impossible. Aside from the floor, the beautiful mother of pearl iridescence that coats the entire inside of the Empty Mollusk has been left unmarred by lesser, artificial decorations like tapestries or paintings, and what light can be gained by the shell's four windows are augmented by floating light pearls. The constantly shifting hues of purples, pinks, blues, darkness, and light give the atrium of the Empty Mollusk an air of psychedelic mystery, as if passing through the gaping mouth of the shell transports one into a metaphysical world of swirling multicolored mists and smoke, before a friendly face behind the bar brings you back to reality to ask you for your drink order.  
Low quality sketch of the discovery of the nautilus shell that will become he Empty Mollusk with the Pardillo family for scale (Art by deepfriedpencils)   Far From Home  
The Great Ocean was completely barren of everything. When they told us that the Kytaran Sea was basically the opposite, we assumed we'd be catching fish every day. A simple mistake, sure, but it's only by the grace of the Threads of Fate that we survived it.   -Bruellor Pardillo, Ranger of the Empty Mollusk
    In the early days of settlements on the Free Islands of Kytar, it was not uncommon for families to strike out with ships of their own in search of unclaimed islands. This being the early days, most of these families had recently finished a journey from the supercontinent of Ikar, across the Great Ocean, and into the uninhabited islands of the Kytaran Sea. They had no reason to think that the sea held any other tricks, as their previous journeys had been largely uneventful, and unfortunately, the Kytaran Sea is as tricky as they come. Sea monsters, freak weather and wild magical surges caused by the primordial The FarraĆ­ochta, most of these early pioneers were never heard from again, but the stories told by those who did return paint a grim enough picture. One such family, human refugees from the Acredian Empire headed by one Galeron Pardillo, set off on a small but well provisioned schooner, looking for an island to call home. Galeron was not a poor man, he had been a goldsmith in the Acredian Empire, and had managed to keep more of his fortune than most who fled that evil nation. He, his wife Thalina and their three children sailed out of Tarlock with four months' worth of provisions. What they didn't plan on was not finding another shore for six months. The family was able to survive on captured rainwater and what small fish they were able to catch in the tumultuous sea, but they were near to the point of succumbing to third by the time the youngest Pardillo spotted Tavana from the crow's nest and came down excitedly babbling about the giant seashell he saw on the beach.   Give Rest Ye Weary Souls  
We're not going to help because it's easy, or because it's hard, or because we expect payment or reward. We're going to help because it is right.   -Thalina Pardillo, Prophet of Borgeon, Spirit of Mercy
 
(Map made on Inkarnate)   Tanava turned out to be an oasis in the middle of the ocean, with plentiful wild fruit, a surrounding coral reef keeping her waters teeming with fish, and a deep jungle filled with game, and no predators larger than a mink. The one complaint the Pardillo family had about their new home was the frequent powerful rainstorms, which would always come just in time to interrupt the construction of a decent shelter. After the family was sent running to the safety of the giant empty nautilus shell enough times, they made the decision to live in the shell itself, and passed a peaceful, prosperous life for eight straight years with no contact to the outside world. In fact, whenever the members of the Pardillo family would spot a ship off in the distance, for there was always someone on watch, everyone would retreat within their seashell home, lest they risk discovery by the Acredian Empire. This did not sit well with Tanava's guardian spirit, Borgeon, who believed that a helping hand must always be proffered without having to be asked, and so he set about to make contact with one of the Pardillos. One night, while her husband and children slept in the nautilus shell, Thalina found her mind becalmed, and her body telepathically compelled to enter the jungle. As an hour came and passed, Thalina came to a clearing in the undergrowth, and was shocked to find an enormous picnic spread, with cakes, pies, roasted mackerel, bowls filled with mashed and whole vegetables and fruit, several whole roast birds and cuts of game and beef, and not a single picnicker in sight. Thalina was not starving, Tanava provided food in bounties, but this bizarre bastion of civilization in the middle of uncharted wilderness kept her staring long enough for Borgeon to make his presence known. Slightly translucent and outlined with an ethereal silver aura, Borgeon stood, according to Thalina, eight to nine feet tall, with the body of a man wrapped in the furs of prehistory, with the head and considerable antlers of a muscular stag. Borgeon asked Thalina, not unkindly, if he was going to take the trouble to prepare such a grand feast for a starving family, how could she then decide to keep this bounty from any others. Thalina had no answer for the spirit, and he continued to ask how she justified using his greatest gift, the nautilus shell, as her family's main means of escaping responsibility for those who might need aid. Again, Thalina had no answer. Now Borgeon asked how Thalina planned to rectify this issue, and Thalina was unable to speak. Instead, she stood, left the jungle, and began to build a giant bonfire on the beach as Borgeon and his feast began to dissipate. She knew her husband would take some convincing, but she knew now why the Pardillos had found this island. Thalina and her family would transform Tanava and the Empty Mollusk into a traveler's waystation.   The Scrimshaw War  
The annoying thing is, if it weren't for those damned scrimshanders, the Mollusk wouldn't have half as much traffic as it does. That stupid fight let the rest of the islands know where we are, and they didn't even name it right. Scrimshaw is done with whale bone, does that look like it came from a whale?   -Vilena Pardillo, Captain of the Tanava Guard
  It wasn't long before Thalina's efforts began to produce results. Her husband was indeed apprehensive, but Acredian refugees tend toward superstition, and Galeron did not need to hear much more than Thalina's description of Borgeon before he picked up his tools and started work on a giant flagpole. Before many days had gone by, passing ships had begun to anchor in Tanava's bay out of curiosity. Soon trade had been opened, and the Pardillo family grew prosperous, owing to the curiosity of a tavern within a giant nautilus shell. The beauty of the Empty Mollusk quickly attracted the attention of opportunistic thieves, and it wasn't long before Galeron began to catch pirates attempting to chip away at the Mollusk's mother of pearl interior. Thankfully, the shell was a gift from Borgeon, and as such, had been created with powerful protection charms, and was therefore nigh indestructible. The thieves would not be dissuaded, however, and soon, gangs of mercenary had been conscripted by a wealthy crime lord from the island of Tarlock by the name of Agero Scaltine, who sought to take possession of the Mollusk and break it down for scrimshaw. Attacks on the tavern became increasingly commonplace, soon The Empty Mollusk had a dedicated defense force led by the eldest Pardillo daughter, Vilena, and comprised of any pirates visiting the inn at the time. Hostilities climaxed three years after they began, when Scaltine arrived in person with a host of mercenaries, kobold and harpies supporting him. Unfortunately for Scaltine, all the people of Tanava needed to repel the attack was the backing of Borgeon. Witnesses claim that not a drop of blood was shed, as is to be expected of a Spirit of Mercy, and instead, Borgeon appeared in the form of a giant blue avatar, a larger version of that that originally met Thalina. The fighting force fled immediately, but Borgeon was said to have held Scaltine back. It is said that Borgeon plucked Scaltine from within Scaltines ship, brought the man to the avatar's face, and calmly explained that: A.) The Empty Mollusk was a gift to the Pardillo family, B.) Scaltine was not welcome on Tanava, and C.) scrimshaw is made from whalebone. Once Borgeon was convinced that Scaltine would not be returning, the man was allowed to leave, so long as he never returned. Scaltine has kept to that order for the past seventeen years and counting.   A Home for Travelers  
Don't forget to tell the other islands about us! The Empty Mollusk always has a bed and a meal for wayward travelers!   -Calibrum Pardillo, Landlord of the Empty Mollusk
 
( There are no doors in the Empty Mollusk; instead, every room has a barrier charm on it's opening, which requires guests to carry enchanted seashells on their person to enter)   Today, the Empty Mollusk serves anywhere between forty and three hundred customers a day, depending on the sea traffic between Tarlock and the less developed islands towards the interior of the Kytaran Sea. The tavern had grown in tandem with the Pardillo family, and it is now Calibrum Pardillo, the youngest son, who acts as proprietor and keeps everything running, while a growing network of cousins, nieces and nephews keep things clean and keep the beer and rum flowing. Borgeon has not been seen or heard of since the Scrimshaw War, but those who know him best, namely Thalina Pardillo, know that this is no cause for concern, as the only other times he has appeared were times when his gifts were not being used properly. If Borgeon remains in his own realm, or in the The FarraĆ­ochta, the Pardillo family will rest comfortably in the knowledge that everything is as it should be.

Special Properties

  • Artificial teak floors have been added, as the naturally concave shell proved to be difficult to walk on after weeks at sea.
  • The opening of the shell serves as the barroom, whereas the rooms are divided from the inwardly spiraling shell
  • The inner lining of the shell is covered in beautiful mother of pearl sheen, which is fortunately, unbreakable through ordinary means
  • Contains 6 rentable rooms and one office, staff live in private homes in the jungle
  • All rooms are soundproofed owing to the shells overwhelming acoustic properties
Type
Pub / Tavern / Restaurant
Parent Location
*The Pardillo family a few employees of the Empty Mollusk are the only people permanently living on Tanava. Most people are somewhat less eager to live on an island so prominently haunted by a powerful spirit, regardless of that spirit's domain.

Comments

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Mar 19, 2022 20:07 by Mikael Jokela

The map of Inkarnate is glorious! It is so bright and a really well done map. I have to say as a person with ADHD that this is a really daring read! I think it could use couple of more headlines, and maybe some spacing between different fields of text. Also I love the unique feeling of a near "organic" tavern in a way!

Mar 26, 2022 01:08

Thank you!

Mar 22, 2022 15:34 by Racussa

I like the idea of the empty mollusk, despite the odeur it maybe still has. For me it's rather hard to imagine, how you go to the rooms in the inner curvings: Do you have to pass through the rooms before, or is their an aisle? Otherwise I very much like the style an dcreative decisions you've taken.

The world is not enough.
Mar 26, 2022 01:07

Thank you for pointing this out, I hadn't really considered that it would be hard to visualize. So, thanks to you, I've added another map to clear things up. Hope you like it!

Mar 26, 2022 07:07 by Racussa

This map is amazing. And I like the idea of magical doors and the shell-keys :-)

The world is not enough.