Anhvall

Between myth and reality

"I spent the last few cycles gathering everything I could about Anhvall. It was frustrating to say the least. One witness told me about a very young skip, another of a big one almost entirely covered by its shell. I also got report of a whole medium-sized Sphere. And that one time I was told it's the name of a person. I even caught the sight of it in the distance, but it was none of the above. A svelte shadow in distant waters, gone before I could reach it. I just managed to get its signature, Anhvall.

In conclusion, I have two remaining hypothesis. Anhvall may possess a yet unknown ability that allows it to conceal itself, changing appearance physically or in the mind of the witnesses. Or the Seekers are merely toying with us, giving the same signature to all their skips. Considering their sick ways and experiments, both are to be expected."

— Report of the High Righter Sefakulissh
 

Motherskip of the controversial Seekers and operating base of the infamous Revealer, Anhvall is a mystery to outsiders. Its very existence is a myth among the spherias. It is said that noone can find it without an invitation from the Revealer. As the most precious asset of the organisation and the most versatile skip of the Expanse, its true identity and properties are zealously guarded.

 

Born from murky waters

Possible look of Krkklia

Anhvall is absolutely unique. It came from a Sphere now known only by the initiates, which was at its prime the most dangerous predator Sphere : Krkklia the Devourer. By unknown means that probably involved crazy amounts of luck, a prestigious lineage of spheriers, the Hollene, managed to lay their hands on an offspring of Krkklia, and raised it as a skip in secrecy. When their project came to light, they were mercilessly cast out of Oppollln. Bringing their forbidden skip with them, they found shelter in Oblogga, a more forgiving place. For many cycles they trained it, while gaining influence.

 

Whatever the agenda of the Hollene lineage was, it got cut short when the heir decided to take over the skip and run away. It was later discovered that the boy joined the Revealer before he got his name, and founded the Seekers. Anhvall thus became the first skip of the fringe group, and stayed its flagship once others joined the cause.

 

From then on, the skip achieved multiple feats on the journey of the Revealer, the greatest being the victory over Hghariogs. When it became the center of too much attention, the Revealer decided to hide its dearest skip in a sea of names and shrouded its real features in myths. Now, it is the operation base of the Seekers and a symbol of the new generation's might.

 

One of a kind

Anhvall is nothing like any other skip. It was already unique thanks to its legacy, but the many experiments and modifications made by the main biomancer, Glloern added a plethora of abnormal features. The skip is well-fitted for all manner of operations, though some of its traits may be exagerated or straight-up lies.

Alien look

The first and most unsettling trait of Anhvall is the absence of membrane. Or rather, the membrane is included in the shell. It has a cylindricalish shape with lots of long spikes and tentacles all along the body with multiple uses. When traveling long distances, two large fins can be detached from the behind of the head. The rest of the time, they are folded inside the shell.

Dimpled inside

The shell is hollow, only filled with this strange gas typical of a membrane and rooms separated by an inner shell. Except for five entries covered by an actual membrane, the inside is completely closed from the outside. It's a real challenge not to feel claustrophobic in this space, especially for those who come from big Spheres. On the other hand, it is a shelter to the most thalassophobics. No other Sphere, not even Krkklia was recorded having a hollow shell, and this is certainly the most unique feature of Anhvall.

Inter-species hub

Some species require specific living condition, sometimes incompatible with each others. Most skips and Spheres cannot help this, thus being exclusive to a set number of species. There again, Anhvall is different. Glloern found a way to separate some rooms from the rest of the skip by generating a membrane around the opening, creating tailored environment for every specie of Seeker. Thanks to his works, Anhvall is the best gathering site for species that normally can't communicate with each others.

Twisted flesh

The head is where most of the appendages originate, with an almost perfectly circle-shaped, lamprey-like mouth at the front. A myriad of teeth disposed in radial symmetry used to suck the blood of its preys. Around the giant sucker, an irregular line of eyes of various size can detect even the faintest ray of light. The multitude of fleshy humps resulting of Glloern's modifications pierces through the shell completing this horrendous, nightmare-inducing look. To many, Anhvall is more of a Leviathan than a Sphere.

A dark figure

Naturally, Anhvall has everything to be a stealth skip : the biggest issues when using the stealth approach is the luminescence of the gas contained in the membrane and the inevitable waves created by swimming. Since it has no membrane and its shell has a dark red color, it can easily become invisible to the eye even in the mesopelagic zone. As for the perurbation, it can folds its fins and only use the back tentacles to move forward faster than the waves.

Boarding skip

Its lamprey-like mouth is a perfect tool to board a Sphere or a skip of great size. The giant sucker stick to the shell, a thousand stabs ripping flesh and bones appart. Then, an inner jaw added through biomancy is launched form the middle of the mouth. It is used as a ram to shatter the sturdiest shells, then tears appart the flesh to create an opening. The adjacent deck has an opening that lead directly inside this appendage, granting access to the inside of the victim to a boarding crew.

A bodyful of tentacles

At first Anhvall had only a dozen tentacles, half aimed at motility and half at grabbing and holding its target still. After the work of Glloern, many more were added. Around thirty are now navigational limb; A battery of sensor tendrills allows Anhvall to have a near-perfect perception of its surroundings; More than a hundred of colorless arms filled with venomous darts can take care of every enemy smaller than the skip; Five ridiculously large limbs are able to crush anything that comes too close; Finally, two tentacles are covered with large and sharp spikes that reminds shark's teeth, oriented to rip flesh appart and maximise the bleeding.

Abyss Shriek

The sound of an active Sphere is never a pleasant one. But the few that survived an encounter with Anhvall are traumatised for the rest of their lives by the screech of the skip. A sound coming right from the abyss, freezing anyone who heard it instantly. Even Glloern couldn't find out how it is produced, but managed at least to provide Seekers with protective gear to avoid the damage.

On the brink of failing

Any other skip would have collapsed after what Anhvall went through. Overloaded with modifications and appendages, it is nowhere near as fast as it used to be, and seem to go through hell with each battle. The biomancer has still many plans for the skip. Water beams, pincers and more tentacles, he can't wait to test it all. But Anhvall body is almost done with, and it is starting to reflect on its mind, as the pilot point out.

A map of the skip

 
A ghost gliding in the deep
Anhvall by Rumengol
       

The Seekers within

Detailed article : Anhvall's crew : the ones who found

Anhvall is rather big for a skip, being comparable in size with Strke. Usually, before reaching this volume, the skips undergo their first benthic cycle, then become considered as Sphere. The Seeker's skip, to their relief, never showed a sign of a gas leak. Despite this great size, it is way too small to harbour every Seeker, especially since the organisation gained in stature. Around fifty crewmates are onboard simultaneously, with little less than half of them being permanent crew. The rest stays either the duration of a mission or help the maintenance for the approximatly two to three Obloggian cycles.

 
   

Wanted : dead or alive

 
A thing one must not forget when reaching Anhvall's mind : Krkklia drove its people mad by twisting the mind of the best spheriers from then. Never assume you have control over it, and always be with one of your brethren at the very least. It is a force of destruction, far more dangerous you could ever imagine.
— On taming Anhvall, second lesson
 

Many spend crazy resources in search of Anhvall, with different purposes. But it is not a straightforward path, even with all the means of the Expanse. First, the hunter must overcome their skepticism and admit the skip is real. Few ever saw proof of its existence, and the others have to sort the truth between countless rumors and lies. Tough task, when even the initiates struggle to believe in all the abilities Anhvall is said to possess.

   

Then, when the pursuer is convinced he's not chasing pipe dreams, he has to face the fanatic loyalty of the Seekers to their cause. And even if he wins them over, the Revealer actively use signature tampering and misinformation to protect the identity of the real Anhvall. Only a handful of followers know how to find the flagship.

Take a tour inside

Defining the inner structure of Anhvall is not as easy as it seems. Except for a few rooms, it is subject to the need of its current occupants and the lunacy of Glloern. The major part of the skip is composed of crew rooms and decks, and the water change according to the needs. They can't meet easily, especially species from shallow and deep waters, so the accoustic expert Aaallv created an ingenious system of tubes carved directly in the bones of Anhvall, Conducting the waves of the Unitone to the desired chamber

Skipper room

The only untouched place, a tight space behind Anhvall's brain is where Hollene reside. Connected all day long to its skip, his tentacles spread across the room to disappear into small holes. Only The Ones Who Found are allowed to trespass there, though Hollene knows everything that occurs inside Anhvall thanks to the mind channel. And the fact that every accoustic tube have an end in this room.

 

Revealer's rest

Nowadays, the Revealer don't wander from Anhvall as much as he used to. He asked to have his own room, close to the front. Becoming more and more secretive, he seals himself there during sometimes entire Obloggian cycle. Even among the commanders, a few have actually seen the interior of this place

 

Biomancer's laboratory

In a certain way, all of Anhvall is his laboratory. But Glloern made a special lair, where he invents crazy devices and elaborate insane projects. Isolated from the most active hallways, he experiments on toxic substances, and top notch weapons to clear the Seeker's way.

 

Main chamber

Located in the exact center of the skip, this is where strategic meetings, aftermath parties and collective mourning takes place. This is easily the biggest room of all, fit to welcome dozens of individuals. For an unknown reason, every modification attempted there have been rejected by Anhvall. For Glloern, it suggests that the chamber is essential in Anhvall's biology, but he is unable to explains what it could be.

 

Motherskip

Nowadays, the Seekers are still not recognised by any Sphere of influence, but they managed to gather an impressive fleet of various skips and even some minor Spheres. Not many are as modified as Anhvall, but the military power of a Seeker armada led by the flagship is enough to threaten even the mightiest Sphere.

Signature tampering

To identify a Sphere is to get its signature, hence its name. Every Sphere creates small and specific perturbations in water even when idling. When translated in the global communication pattern, this signature gives the name of the Sphere or skip. Seekers use their skilled spheriers to alter the specific signature of their vessels, making all of them sign Anhvall.

The Righteous Order

This Oppollln order view the Seekers as their absolute nemesis, tracking and executing every follower who fall in their reach. They want to behead the organisation by putting down Anhvall and the Revealer. Why they are so against the Revealer's quest for truth is unknown, but they are willing to wage a war against other Spheres if needed.

Hollene lineage

The Hollene can't care less about the Seekers, but they do everything in their power to bring Anhvall back. Part of it is because it was their most precious treasure and the fulfillment of hundreds of cycles of work. But it is also the fear of what the skip is able to do. The heir of the lineage is the only one among the Seekers who can pilot Anhvall, and they think it is merely a question of time before he lose control and give in the dementia induced by the vessel.

The Divine League

An alliance of multiple religious orders, including the cult of the Sunken Gods, the Father Ocean and several Spheres religions, formed with the sole purpose of taking down the Seekers and seizing their assets. To some them, Anhvall is either a heretic or godly being used by blasphemous hands. To the Cult, they are guilty of the hight crime possible : deicide.

 

The Obloggian Perspective

Anhvall is a name we hear quite often. Nothing too surprising when you know that a large amount of Seekers come from Oblogga, and that we're pretty supportive. Albeit it is irrespectful to alter the signature of a Sphere, many young hot bloods do it. This way they confuse their pursuers and hide the identity of the true motherskip.

The real Anhvall, though ? Nothing but a myth, or propaganda if you will. No way a skip could harm a Leviathan, let alone kill it. And a hollow but hard shell, with the mouth of a lamprey ? How does that make any sense ? We don't believe in the conspiracy concerning the Hollene lineage either. It is sad the Revealer of truth had to resort to lies in order to keep the Righteous Order busy.



Cover image: Anhvall by Rumengol

Comments

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Grandmaster nnie
Annie Stein
11 Sep, 2021 15:22

I love this! It's so hard to pick my favourite bits, because all of it is so interesting! I cannot wait to learn more about this strange abyss.

Creator of Solaris & The Morning Realm -— On the Shoulders of Giants entry: Refugees of Mercury
11 Sep, 2021 16:33

Thanks! The Abyss will be covered in a story later on, and a fresher Anhvall will be part of it too :D

I gathered some awesome articles in my Reading Challenge, want to take a look? There's also a Reading Challenge Big List combining all mentions of authors for the challenge, maybe you're in there too!
17 Sep, 2021 17:40

similar to nnie i have trouble deciding which part i like best. very cool concept for both a ship and a world, and the illustrations you used are awesome.

As always, it would be appreciated if you would stop by my challenge article The Storm Giant Empire and leave some feedback.   If you are looking for things to read from summer camp there is also my Summer Camp 2022 Reading Challenge.. Happy worldbuilding.
2 Oct, 2021 22:30

Thank you! It takes quite the time to find fitting pictures for this kind of world but definitely worth it.

I gathered some awesome articles in my Reading Challenge, want to take a look? There's also a Reading Challenge Big List combining all mentions of authors for the challenge, maybe you're in there too!
Sage George Sanders
George Sanders
3 Oct, 2021 00:30

I like your article, the use of the side bar low in the article and other layout ideas you tried. There is a lot of world specific information I had to push through. The initial couple tooltips helped but I needed more - spheres, skip, Expanse, etc. It caught my interest enough that I went to your world home page and got some details then came back to read more. That might help readers to get the concept faster and read more, there is a lot of good info there.

Read about the ancient history of the Anhult Wildlands in my Challenge article, Echoes of the Past.

Submit articles for Lavani to read by leaving a comment on her Reading List!
3 Oct, 2021 08:27

Glad you liked it! The sidebar in the middle is a trick I was totally fond of in Dylonishere's work. And you're right, I forgot to explain those bits (the issue when you're too immersed in your work I believe), I'll fix it right away!

I gathered some awesome articles in my Reading Challenge, want to take a look? There's also a Reading Challenge Big List combining all mentions of authors for the challenge, maybe you're in there too!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
3 Oct, 2021 13:46

Great article, I continue to absolutely love this world :D The concept of the sphere is fascinating and I love how you've described Anhvall and seeing all the different little pieces of your worldbuilding being reflected in the article. The idea that those skip and sphere are living creatures is also great. Do they have a conscience/are they aware of what's going on, and the pilots are actually communicating with them? If so, what do they think of their guests?   "Whatever the agenda of the Hollene lineage was," you haven't introduce the Hollene by that point so I'm a bit confused. I think yo use lineage as a synonym for the family in this world, and that the Hollene lineage are the one who took possession of Anhvall?   I was wondering about the "signatures" but you've explained that later. The signature an unitone are really a fascinating language and concept, I love how you've adapted that to the water milieu.   I'm not sure about what the benthic cycle is in the context of the spheres. Also, what are the disadvantage of becoming a sphere vs a skip, that the crew are relieved this hasn't happened?

To see what I am up to, here is my civilisation challenge article.
4 Oct, 2021 09:31

Thanks! Happy you liked it!   The conscience and intelligence level of Spheres is a topic that fuels a lot of arguments in both philosophical and scientific worlds in the Expanse, with no real consensus. Spheriers and Skippers are merely connecting with the nervous system to make the giants move to their whims, but none would dare step into the deep maze of their minds. Even standing at the edge of the mental chasm have been proven dangerous.   You're right, I cut out the part where I introduced the Hollene and forgot to put it back. You guessed right, lineages are the equivalent of families, and the Hollene seized Anhvall and were cast out of Oppollln.   The next article will be about communication in the Expanse, it's probably my favourite part of this world!   Benthic cycles are explained in the Spheres article, but adding a tooltip will do no harm indeed. Skips are usually nimbler and even a big one like Anhvall requires only a Skipper to be controlled, where a Sphere of the same size needs more. Strke for example is approximately the same size, but 3 Spheriers are required at the very least to pilot it. It is due to the physiological changes that occur during the first benthic cycle. The mind becomes way more complex and vast, the shell shows a rapid growth and the membrane unfolds (the last part isn't a rule as sometimes a Skip becomes a Sphere with a very tight membrane, but in the case of Anhvall the risk is great as a bigger membrane means being more visible in the depth.). Last but not least, every Sphere or Skip is vulnerable during the passive period, and the Seekers couldn't defend Anhvall against the forces that aim to put it down.   Thank you again for your detailed feedback, much appreciated :D

I gathered some awesome articles in my Reading Challenge, want to take a look? There's also a Reading Challenge Big List combining all mentions of authors for the challenge, maybe you're in there too!
6 Oct, 2021 07:50

Nicely done! This is definitely one of the more unique designs I've seen. There are so many small details everywhere. There's so much description and detail that the only thing I was still wondering by the end of the article was the size of the ship? You mention its great size a few times, being as large as one of the smallest spheres, but that actually doesn't tell me anything because you don't mention how large the spheres are either.

Current Challeng Article: Olimians, and the associated Chronicle: Chronicle of the Silver Age
7 Oct, 2021 08:24

Thank you! Glad you liked it :D   As for size, there is no exact way of measuring distances in the Expanse. Instead, they are considered relatively, with some elements taken as reference. Also, the scale of everything in the Expanse is way different than ours, so using regular measurement units would be pointless. Rather, the size is inferred by the capacity of the skips/spheres. Anhvall can harbour around 50 people, Strke a hundred at most, and the biggest Spheres such as Oblogga or Oppollln contain millions of souls. Hope it answers a bit :)

I gathered some awesome articles in my Reading Challenge, want to take a look? There's also a Reading Challenge Big List combining all mentions of authors for the challenge, maybe you're in there too!
5 Jan, 2022 19:27

Very interesting take on a ship (submarine, not sure about that), have a like.