Orb of Vātara Item in Istralar | World Anvil

Orb of Vātara

At first, I thought I beheld an immense pearl - but no pearl moves like that, nor glows like the sea itself beats as a heart within it!
— awed traveller
  The Orbs of Vātara are brilliant blue pearls of divine that are deeply precious and prized to Laminaeles, for they enable civilisations to exist within the depths of the Luari Ocean. Without the great boon offered by the Orbs, the vast majority of the many settlements within Laminaeles would not exist - or at least, would be greatly reduced.   The most simple and significant facet of the Orbs is their ability to create a large sphere around themselves, bubble-like in nature, that allows creatures to breathe no matter what equipment they use to breath with. This alone was boon enough to cause the first settlement of Laminaeles to flourish, and to expand through the ocean, forging new friendships and alliances across the entire sea. Indeed, the Orb's boon has had a knock-on effect throughout the world - similar devices have been invented to enable dwellings in other oceans and even within the Plane of Water, though none are the same as the originals.   Due to their power and importance, the Orbs of Vātara are one of the most sacred and prized possessions of all Laminaeles, and thus have some of the strictest security - often even beating the security of the Krtajalan Vaults. Though they are almost put on display in plain sight, the magical fortifications around them are so thorough that they create magical lights and auras of their own, adding their own soft luminescence to the brilliant radiance of the Orbs themselves.

History

They are home to us, the Orbs. How could they be anything else?
— citizen
  There exist many myths surrounding the first Orb and its appearance, and whatever the truth of the matter is, it lies hidden in the words of those who wish to keep their secrets. The most well-known myth is that of a beautiful sea-dwelling goddess, likely a representation of Gozreh, and a tragedy upon the surface of the waves.   It is said that one dark night, with no wind to catch their sails and no rain to offer them relief, a group of refugees floated adrift in the silent cold. Their home, a peaceful island not far from Xin-Jiyu's shores, had trembled with fury and erupted with the choking fumes and pyroclastic flows of a volcanic eruption. Those who had not been entombed by the initial lahar had escaped onto their boats and fled to the sea, where the raining ash blotted out the sky and made navigation nigh impossible. All they could do was sail, and when the wind faltered, so did they.   For days, they stalled on the water, their supplies dwindling.  
Eruption by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
They prayed most desperately to any god or being that would hear them, that would fan wind back unto their sails, and lead them to safety.   Beneath the seas, the volcano's destruction continued. Sulphuric gases and scalding waters beset the local sea-dwelling community, who too were forced to flee as the mud and molten rock from above crashed down into their underwater world, destroying homes, murdering corals, and erasing their hopes for a peaceful, fruitful year.   Unbeknowst to them, they, too, swam out with little idea of the direction, finding themselves swept to and fro until the sea stilled around them, and they were left exhausted in a still section of the sea where no currents could aid them, and no voice could hear them. Worse, there was no land in sight - no rocks to hold onto, no place for anything to grow. Beneath them lay the deepest depths of the ocean, and the trip to find aught else would be tiring to a degree none were sure they could withstand.
  The twin prayers from land and sea, unknowingly seeking the same salvation, reached the ears of a goddess. The refugees above and struggling swimmers below found the seas churning around them, spinning the waters into a crushing whirlpool from which there was no hope of escape. Here, they saw the other side for the first time - land's eyes met sea's, and they called for salvation together as one, their languages disparate but their actions identical.  
And the sea bore fruit. The goddess drew them underwater, into a perfect sphere of protection - where though water still surrounded them, the land-dwellers could still breathe air. She carried them to the edge of an undersea mountain, where life once again flourished, and bid them rest in her embrace.   She granted them the peace they sought, so long as they shared it with one another. The mountain led up to a new island, one formed by the goddess's own will, and their undersea home would be a connection between the two realms - a new start, and a new beginning for both. It would be hard, she said, but they would have her aid - in the form of her tears.   She wept for them, then. Each perfect tear glowed with magic, and as it fell, spun into a gleaming ball of blue magic and light. She offered them freely, and promised to watch over them - and then, just like that, she was gone.   As she left, the Orbs glowed ever brighter, as if a reminder of her promise - and their deal.
Spirit of the Sea by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  Modern understandings place this myth as an attempt to rationalise the presence of land-dwelling beings in the sea, treating their presence as a result of misfortune and marking them as outsiders. This is somewhat offensive to some groups within Laminaeles, who maintain their right to exist beneath the sea is as certain as those who are better adapted for it, and yet the myth still remains the most popular and long-lasting of all the stories told of the Orbs.   Though the goddess's identity has long since been lost to the sea, the Orbs are still dedicated to the spirits of the depths, and some clerics have found themselves offered power through their worship of these most enigmatic objects.

Significance

We could not be without them! Is there any other artifact that has been so crucial to those that live around it?!
— adamant citizen
  The Orbs of Vātara are not only significant for the great boon of life they grant in the dome they offer or their status as a major landmark in every settlement within Laminaeles, but also for the rest of their abilities.   Firstly, the sphere that they offer is by default relatively small - it grants approximately a 15ft by 15ft sphere of space, if only one person has been in proximity to the Orb that year. For each additional living, sapient being that spends time near the Orb, its radius grows - this is how the settlements of Laminaeles expand, and why so many groups make pilgrimages between settlements. By visiting multiple Orbs, the area of multiple settlements may be allowed to grow. It has not yet been discovered if there is an upper limit to this expansion.  
The Light Above by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Secondly, the Orbs have a strange, life-giving effect on the land around them. Formerly barren rock becomes flush with coral and seaweed, and even some surface crops take to the clear waters within the Orbs' sphere of influence.   They do not just grant life to seadwelling creatures, but to all that would dwell within them - including the fruits and grasses of the land and sea, and these, the Orbs greatly encourage. Harvests are often far more bountiful than they would otherwise be, and in years of significant strife, the harvests seem to compensate for lower populations of fish or struggling trade alliances by offering even greater bounties.   The Orbs also seem to have their own innate protective abilities. Many times, those with dread intent cannot seem to even find the kingdoms beneath the sea; they sail aimlessly or swim past obvious entrances, never noticing that their quarries are watching in frozen fear.
  Whilst the extent of these abilities has never been tested, there has only ever been one instance where the Orb's own defences and those placed upon it by the citizens within its dome have failed - and though that great tragedy has yet to be resolved, its culprit was at least identified as having tricked the Orb into forming a close bond with them before they stole it away.   The lost Orb is an ongoing situation of pain and tragedy, and the news of its loss has begun to spread across the waves and over land. Triumvirates across Laminaeles are offering great rewards to any adventurers willing to assist in the recovery of their most sacred, precious, and life-giving Orb; unfortunately, as their desperation becomes ever more known, so too do dark forces begin to take interest in the Orb and its potential uses...  
They shall not lay a finger on it.
— mysterious voice
Orb of Vātara by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Item type
Religious / Ritualistic
Current Location
Related Technologies
Owning Organization
Rarity
Extremely rare
Dimensions
Varies
Base Price
Invaluable

Links to the World

There exists a kind of being upon Istralar - and indeed, throughout the universe - that stands equal to at least demigods in power. These are the avatars, anthropomorphic personifications of the land itself. Precious few know of them, and for good reason: to know of them is to be a risk to them, in many cases.   Though the Orbs of Vātara are thought to be a gift from the gods, it seems far more likely that they are in fact a manifestation of an avatar's might - indeed, the few scholars aware of avatars suspect that the Luari Ocean herself birthed the Orbs.   If this is true, then each is a manifestation of each settlement's individual avatar - explaining their power and their love for their people both.   Despite this likely connection, there is no link between the words vātara and avatar, save for the fact that vātara means wind and most avatars share in the wind's presence.
 
Bathing in the Light by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
 

Using the Orbs

Though these pages discuss the passive powers of the Orbs, they do also possess active powers for those granted the right to use them. It is an incredibly rare and sacred gift, to be granted permission to touch and wield an Orb of Vātara, and is usually reserved for members of a settlement's Triumvirate.   The powers offered are grand, and are made stronger by the size of the community in which they dwell - whilst a smaller Orb might command control of the waves in its region, the very largest could cause devastating tsunamis or speed whole fleets through the ocean. There have been only very rare uses of these wholly ancient abilities; few have the courage to attack settlements with Orbs, knowing the defences that await them.
 
Cities of the Depths by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


Cover image: Orb Of Vātara cover by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

Comments

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Aug 3, 2023 15:11 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Beautiful article. I am curious about the mysterious voice at the end. O.O

Aug 14, 2023 17:16 by Han

(well, the sidebar DOES hint at some greater presences...)


welcome to my signature! check out istralar!
Feb 14, 2024 16:35 by spleen

oooooooo theyre so coooool :O this is such a great concept

Have a wonderful day!