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Quena And The Deep

Many readers will be familiar with the tale of Quena and the Deep, where a girl is swallowed whole by a great beast, and journeys into its depths to learn the tidal arts of the Dokhar. It has been spread widely by the Dokhar, essentially all of whom learned some variation of the story as children. Something far fewer readers will be familiar with is the original version, fragments of which survive on scraps of vellum around the Shimmering Sea, describing what appears to be a metaphor for enlightenment.
— from A Review of Fables And Myth, by Andoloros Rodoros

Summary

A young woman called Quena, a gifted student in the art of the andokh ren, is on a ship with her teacher, when a giant sea monster sent by the evil Dorakh Mul arrives. The titanic beast destroys the ship, and swallows Quena whole. She survives, and awakens in the beast's gullet, large enough for her to stand at her full height without touching the roof. She journeys back, but finds the mouth locked shut by teeth. She decides that she has no choice but to journey deeper into the beast.   She reaches the beast's first stomach, and it is filled with a burning, foul-smelling liquid. The stink is so bad, she has trouble standing. A fish appears in the burning liquid, and, upon discovering her plight, teaches her how to use the andokh ren to manipulate the burning liquid, so the smell it makes does not come near her. Upon doing so, her head clears enough that she finds a path around the burning liquid, and out of the chamber.   In time, she finds her way to the beast's second stomach, which contains a lake of boiling seawater. The fish from before appears in the water, and teaches her how to manipulate the flow of the seawater to be cold where she steps. With that, she wades through it, and makes it into the next chamber.   She finds herself in the beast's third stomach, which is filled with some liquid at knee-depth, but more problematically is filled with total darkness. She hears the voice of the fish, and it tells her to feel the wave and the Tide outside the monster, and use them to navigate the darkness. She does so, even through the process is slow, and eventually finds her way out of the chamber, and into the light.   There she finds the fish, and she thanks it profusely for its help. The fish says that if Quena were truly thankful, she would agree to marry it. Quena is surprised, but agrees. But the fish then transforms into the hideous, deformed visage of Dorakh Mul. Dorakh reveals that all of this was a ploy to get her to agree to marry him. Playing along, Quena tricks him into allowing her to sea dry land, and then escapes his clutches, back into the safety of the Order, where she finds her teacher, miraculously alive.

Historical Basis

Though there is no hard evidence specifically for the events described in any version of the story, even the original, one of the authors of the Quom Vor—"First Wisdom," the first part of the Dovan Quor—is of the name Quena, and there are surviving records attesting specifically to her mastery of the andokh ren.

Spread

The story is known throughout the regions of the world which have been populated or influenced by Dokhar peoples.

Variations & Mutation

There is a degree of regional variation, but it is lower than one would expect given the story's age. Different places give the protagonist different names, adjust the problems she faces slightly, and so on. Non-Dokhar peoples often develop a variation of the story in which the porblems are not solved using the andokh ren, but rather a native form of the arcane.   There is, however, a much older version of the story, which predates the War of Shadow, and thus the rise of Dorakh Mul, and a sea monster eats her while deep in meditation on a boat at sea. In it, Quena uses techniques that have since been deemed apostasy to make it through the chambers—she manipulates the rhythms of her body so that she can wade through the room of burning liquid, she raises the boiling seawater up out of her path, and she reads the rhythms of the sea monsters body to make it through the darkness. She emerges from the darkness out of a cave at the bottom of the sea, with the monster that ate her nowhere in sight. There she has an encounter with the Heart Unceasing, the origin of the Tide, which the Dokhar revere.

Related Species

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