It is no hyperbole to say that the Andokh Renar, or "People of the Heartbeat of Waters," have reshaped the history of the world. The "Heartbeat of Waters," or Andokh Ren, is a practice that originally developed in fishing villages on the island of Lo Dokh. As the fisherfolk grew closer to the sea, they began to tune in to its rhythms, both to the rocking of the waves, and the more gradual ebb and flow of the tides. Today, a skilled practitioner can read these rhythms to navigate the open ocean and detect other ships and sea monsters, and in particularly exceptional cases influence ocean currents and the behavior of ocean creatures. And they are near-universally members of the Order of the Unceasing Tide, thus bound inexorably to the Dokhar League.
All Andokh Renar are, by definition, practitioners of Andokh Ren, and becoming one is a fairly involved process. At the most fundamental level, Andokh Ren is built upon a metaphysical connection between the practitioner and the sea, in which pieces of the flesh of the god Mallat within the body of the practitioner resonates with the sea, which is made exclusively of Mallat's flesh, in a process called Accordance. Many persons who spend much of their life in contact with the sea—dock workers, sailors, fisherfolk—accomplish this at a rudimentary level, but a connection strong enough to practice Andokh Ren is dramatically unlikely to occur naturally. Developing that strong connection requires formal instruction, and said instruction is difficult to find outside the Order of the Unceasing Tide, which istructs all its priests in the practice of Andokh Ren. The Order instructs Initiates in a philosophy which stresses the importance of eternally recurring motion as the foundation all other motion, and of life itself, epitomized by the ebb and flow of the tides. The Order runs a number of Abbeys on islands in the Shimmering Sea, where Initiates are isolated from the erratic motions of civilization, allowing them to grow closer to the sea. Initiates kneel in deep meditation, some for several hours at a time, their consciousness restricted to sound of the waves. Eventually, the grow to be able to feel the waves even when they are not meditating. As this connection is deepened further still, the practitioner learns how to detect disrupting the waves, and to distinguish between ships and sea creatures. Eventually, they will be able to reach underneath the waves and the motions of fish to feel the tide itself. The final phase of basic instruction is one of rote memorization. The practitioner learns a series of symbols which correspond to the feeling of the tide. Then, using charts marked with these symbols, and the date and time, the practitioner can determine their location with great enough precision for navigating the open ocean. Practitioners may then choose to pursue further instruction, acquiring further skills upon those they have already learned, which are taught through the same processes as foundational skill-set meditation, and rote memorization. In addition to the above, the Andokh Renar trained by the Order of the Unceasing Tide, which is to say the vast majority, are also trained as priests of the Order in tandem with their training in Andokh Ren, the completion of which is necesary for the Order to declare them one of the Andokh Renar.
The vast majority of Andokh Renar who are seek employment outside the Order of the Unceasing Tide are employed long-term as navigators attached to trade ships from any number of countries, or on military ships belonging to the Dokhar League. Having completed their training, further honing their connection to the sea provides the Andokh Renar little monetary benefit; though it might bring them spiritual fulfillment, the standard set by the Order of the Unceasing Tide allows for timely, accurate open-water navigation. For one of the Andokh Renar to provide more valuable service, they must instead pursue further education to expand their skill-set. Though not accompanied by any official titles or designation, each of these skills increases the value of a given Andokh Renar's service, and thus the price they can charge for it.
Payment & Reimbursement
The Andokh Renar are paid handsomely for the services they provide. Without one of the Andokh Renar aboard, ships are forced to stick to the coastline while sailing, and while this is feasible for those sailing short distances, it slows long-distance trade dramatically. The additional skills they can learn increase the value of their service, increasing speed, increasing safety, or improving the quality of the decisions which the captain must make by providing more information. A portion of the earnings are taken by the Order of the Unceasing Tide, but they make more than enough to live very well regardless.
The Andokh Renar facilitate modern trade. By allowing for open-water sailing, they dramatically reduce the time which required to travel between distant ports, as the only alternative is to hug the coastline. In the case of traveling between continents, they provide the only means by which trade can be accomplished, outside the use of the seasonal monsoons. It is no exaggeration to say that the Andok Renar are the backbone of nearly every economy in the world.
The Andokh Renar are near-universally regarded well. Being responsible for the safety of sailors at sea, and often providing them with religious services, those with whom the Andokh Renar work every day view them with high regards. When not at sea, they carry with them the prestige of the Order of the Unceasing Tide, which is tied intimately in to the government of the Dokhar League, and with the broader cultures of the Dokhar Diaspora—a prestige which, it is worth noting, is derived from the Andokh Renar facilitating modern economies to exist, which has historically made many powerful people obscenely wealthy.
The Andokh Renar make up a very small proportion of the world population. The ships they work on are frequently crewed by between one and two dozen people, meaning sailors along outnumber them by over a dozen to one. Skilled tradesfolk and artisans, those who process or produce most of the goos carried on the ships guided by the Andokh Renar, are even more numerous
The techniques of the Andokh Renar were initially devised by fisherfolk on the island of Lo Dokh, and later refined at the Abbey of the Unceasing Tide. The early Andokh Renar brought great prosperity to the people of Lo Dokh, and the island's villages coalesced into Seven Cities, which together led the Empire of the Sea, which they served exclusively not only as navigators, but as warriors. There's was a vast empire which controlled the waters of the Shimmering Sea, and either owned or dominated the coastlines of every continent that touched it, and extracted tribute from people further inland. In those days, the Andokh Renar trained themselves to use the ocean in warfare, raising great waves to swallow their enemies. They were matched only by people possessed of similar arcane prowess—the Virulent Green of the Ngavari, the riverine magics of the Yolun, the High Glory of the Kantirini, the methods and mysteries of the Aestyvine, and so on. When the War of Shadows came, and the Spirit of the Green called Khoron Lodovar overwhelmed the Lo Dokh under the weight of its wilderness, it was the Andokh Renar of the Order of the Unceasing Tide that brought its survivors to safety, and they fought viciously against the navies in service to the Enthroned Shadow, avatar of the god Vassar. In these times, their greatest adversary would prove to be one of their own. One of the Enthroned Shadow's lieutenants was a former Andokh Renar called Dorakh Mul, who claimed to be Lord of All The Sea. Dorakh Mul had gorged himself on the flesh of sea monsters, and in so doing made his flesh more like theirs, allowing him to control them with great precision, and employ them in battle against the enemies of the Enthroned Shadow. Some Andokh Renar would defect to join him, but most refused after what Koron Lodovar, Dorakh's ally, had done to Lo Dokh. When the Enthroned Shadow was destroyed, Dhorak Mul and the traitors who had joined him vanished. It is said they leanred to travel to the Dreaming, which had been made from the flesh of Vassar, where they sail still, waiting for the moment of their return. When the war was concluded, the Order of the Unceasing Tide—meaning the Andokh Renar, as its priests—played a key role in establishing what would eventually become the Dokhar League. Having seen what Dorakh Mul wrought, the Order agreed that its priests would be expressly forbidden from eating the flesh of sea creatures of any kind, especially the great beasts, and that they would no longer train their priests to use the ocean itself as a weapon, and forbade those who knew from doing so. In time, the Order also opened up the services of the Andorakh Renar to be purchased by anyperson belonging to a country not at war with the Dokhar League.
Even if they can detect distant landmasses, a skill that requires an incredibly finely tuned connection to the sea, accurate navigation by one of the Andokh Renar requires an intimate knowledge of the behabvior of the tides at specific locations at specific times. As most of the Andokh Renar do not have this information memorized, they rely on highly detailed charts, which contain this information for at specific times with the cycles of the tides. This is usually accompanied by a booklet which connects specific dates to periods within the cycles. The more advanced techniques—communication, influence currents and ocean creatures—are characterized by their active nature, and as such require a means by which a rhythm can be created to be layered overtop the tide. In nearly all cases, this takes the form of a Kharo, a deep, bowl-shaped drum, which can rest in the lap. The outside of the Kharo will often feature carvings of the sea, and the membrane will often be made from dried sea monster innards. The Andokh Renar will also have a much smaller Kheno, or hand-drum, which they use in their capacity as priests to officiate religious ceremonies while at sea.
The Andokh Renar will often carry incense, which is used in religious rites and ceremonies.
Though some work as priests, and others work in harbors detecting incoming vessels and communicating with vessels at sea, the vast majority of Andokh Renar find employment on the ships themselves. On most ships, they have their own cabin to sleep in. On some particularly large ships, these cabins can be large, and have enough room for a large table where they can reference their charts, but on most the place it on the floor of one of the lower decks, preferably held down by something heavy or sharp, and do their work there.
The most basic service one of the Andokh Renar can provide is to navigate a ship in the open ocean, far away from the coastline, which dramatically reduces travel time, thus increasing the number of voyages made annually, increasing profits. They are also capable of detecting objects or phenomena which physically affect the ocean, including other ships, sea monsters, and storms. Additionally, many learn how to subtly alter ocean currents to further reduce travel time, influence the behavior of sea monsters to steer them away from ships—but never to attack, as that is forbidden by the Order—and to use the ocean to communicate with other Andokh Renar, between ports, or from ship to port.
Dangers & Hazards
The Andokh Renar face the same hazards as anyone on a employed on ships: piracy, sea monsters, storms, and being becalmed. It is, in many ways, the responsibility of the Andokh Renar to mitigate most of these risks, but they are still very real, and Andokh Renar do die as a result of them.
- Alternative Names
- The demand for the services provided by the Andokh Renar is extreme, them being the foundation of international trade.
- The Andokh Renar are a legal profession in all parts of the world. In waters controlled by the Dokhar League, and its close allies, it is illegal for persons unaffiliated, or only formerly affiliated, with the Order of the Unceasing Tide to act as Andokh Renar.
- Related Locations
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