Leviathans

Gods to some, devils to others. Harbinger of death for all.

Executor Jolbh felt the honor bestowed upon her deep in her bones. She was leading an armada bigger than anything the Expanse has ever seen. About a thousand assault skips and ten times this number in lighter skips, the result of the coalition of fifteen Spheres to take down the Krrklk Alliance. The evildoers' cycles of desolation and slaughter were finally coming to an end, and her own blade will be the cause of their demise. The last sighting of the enemy was still far from there, and the skippers were expecting half a Sker cycle of travel.

 

When the sensor officers of every skips started reporting anomalies in the water before them, Jolbh's blood froze. Her armada was spread out so widely that the left wing could not even grasp the existence of the right wing. Yet, in the center of the swarm aboard the commanding skip, she could hear reports coming from everywhere, about turmoil in the water and missing scouts. Could it be that the Alliance decided to face them head-on with their own Spheres? It would be foolish of them, only accelerating their downfall. Skips have little autonomy and even a fleet this large cannot sustain itself for a long time without a home base. Against warskips, the best weapon of a Sphere is time, the most inexperienced strategist would know that. And the Krrklk were far from inexperienced. So what else could that be?

 

The unbearable wait was what Jolbh hated the most. As an executor, she was cut for action and fighting, not the expectation of the unknown. She let her strategists and scholars debate on the cause of the reports while she reorganized her tremendous fleet in battle formation. Ever since she saw the barely fathomable expanse of the warskips, she thought that there was nothing in this large ocean they couldn't vanquish. As the reports became accurate and the impossibly wide jaws of the Leviathan drew from the dark of the deep waters, she came to realize how wrong she has been.

 

The food chain is quite loose in the Expanse. Filter feeders are on par with active predators and almost any species is considered food by others. Even the mighty Spheres are not exempt of this condition, as they can fall prey to predatory Spheres or desperate fleets of skips. One kind of otherworldly beast is above all these considerations, sitting at the top of any hierarchy. Dreaded or venerated, they are the embodiment of the ocean, unstoppable forces of the deep.

 

Beyond common measure

 
Leviathan by Rumengol via MidJourney

Leviathans do not seem to belong to the Expanse. Spheres are already critters so enormous that few grasp their real size, but even these giants are dwarfed by the unreasonable figures of Leviathans. If the smallest of these behemoths are about the same size as the biggest Spheres like Oblogga or Oppollln, most of them are so big they could swallow them whole. Their size is truly unfathomable, in the sense that it is physically impossible to have a full view of their bodies, even for the most acute species. Not that it would matter, for the unfortunate souls who cross the path of Leviathan rarely live to tell their story.

 

They are enigmatic creatures. They do not seem evil or uphold any moral standard. They are unstoppable forces of nature, leaving desolation in their wake. The bigger ones are oblivious of their surroundings, too large to even conscientize the minuscule Spheres they destroy by accident.

 
   

Just like Spheres, they are unique and no Leviathan is like any other. They are even more diverse, as they don't possess the glowing membrane that makes half of every Sphere. Their exact number is unknown, but supposed to be at least twice the number recorded by the Obloggian's Reef. Since their existence could only be established from the tale of survivors and if it was not sheer luck, it is very plausible that the known ones are actually the less dangerous. If a Leviathan never leaves any survivor, it would be difficult for the Reef to take note of its characteristics. From the few that tried to attack such a monster and came back, the body of a Leviathan is harder than a Sphere's shell, something that can't be pierced by any weapon, not even ice. It is thanks to this feature they all seem to share that they are able to cross the Bladed Streams without going through The Deep Way Down.

Goohllhkl
 
Klll by Rumengol via MidJourney

Life cycle

 

Abyss dwellers, they live most of their long life in the depth below the Expanse. They are supposed to be able to go far deeper than any Sphere could ever, belonging to a whole different world. Indeed, they never rise very high, and none has ever been seen anywhere near the sky. Although they seem to age, their lifespan is extremely long, perhaps infinite. The oldest memory still remembers some of them exactly as they are now

We cannot exclude the hypothesis that they have a limited lifespan, but they live on a different timescale than us. We already know skips undergo hundreds of cycles before becoming Sphere, whereas the oldest Oblogg may only witness two such cycles. If the Leviathans live on even larger scales, the Expanse may very well meet its end before they do.
— Rationalist Krevvl

 
Sslikras by Rumengol via MidJourney
   

Of the origins

 
For the Spheres were created as a boon from our all-father, the Leviathans are their counterparts, so that we are not to forget our holy duty. We are but humble krill populating His immensity, and the beasts come for the wrongdoers and the unfaithful beyond redemption.
— Sermon from a priest of the All-Father
 

For the few of them who actively hunt, the Leviathan seems to only come to Spheres or large schools of skips. The size of the prey does not seem to be what motivates them since they have been seen ignoring impressive Jelly blooms twice the size of the Sphere of Oppollln. Rather, it looks like they are natural predators of the Spheres. Not only are they the only beings that can take down such a great creature with ease, but they are also bigger and faster, superior in every way. This raised an interrogation that gained popularity in thinker circles: which came first of the Sphere or the Leviathan? Did the Leviathans simply find in the Sphere a worthy prey or was this empty ecological niche filled out by very natural shenanigans?

 

The main church of the Father Ocean claims they have been hatched from the shattering of the Hateful Beast in its imprisonment in the Abyss, long before the apparition of life in the Expanse. To the dissident church of the All-Father, they have been made alongside the Sphere to punish those who transgress the law of the divine. The cultists of the Sunken Gods tell they have been around since the very beginning of everything, as they are thought to be the makers of life itself. Rationalist Krevvl, allegedly the most eminent expert on Leviathans, certifies that Spheres predates Leviathans. They are coming from a time before the Apocalypse. Albeit no living Memory remains from this time, she found clues on the existence of Spheres long before this time, but nothing about Leviathans.

 

Divine beasts

 

When such powerful beings roam the world alongside the meeks, it is no surprise that they came to be considered godly figures. Every religion has a place for them, and a cult even celebrates some of them. The Sunken Gods are a group of Leviathans which left a lasting impression on the cult's founders, elevating them to deities. To them, the other Leviathans are also of divine essence, albeit lesser ones. The Spherical church is of a different opinion, as to the priests of this religion Leviathans are devil incarnates, demons coming from dark and impure waters to prey upon the pure Spheres. This is of course subject to discord, heated discussions, and bloodshed between the two factions.

 
Leviathan by Rumengol via MidJourney
 

Death of a divine tyrant

 

Killing a Leviathan is not an astonishing feat. It is utterly impossible. Even the rare agnostics acknowledge them as being integral parts of the ocean, an embodiment of the water's will. Or so were they considered before the advent of the Seekers. During their journey to the abyss, Anhvall's crew advanced through many hardships, venturing further than anyone ever had, from the heights of the sky to the depth of the Abyss.

One of their numerous feats was coming down The Deep Way Down, but even that achievement pales in comparison to what they did to return from the Abyss. They ascended back the Bladed streams in the hollowed shell of a Leviathan, looking like Hghariogs, a Leviathan of tremendous size. The Revealer himself confirmed later that they fought the beast to the death and triumphed after a harsh fight. Although he was already weakened and suffering from its fight with another Leviathan, it was still an unprecedented feat.

Hgariogs by Rumengol via MidJourney
 

Despite the skeptic voices, the Leviathan was never seen again, and Anhvall would then be famous as the Leviathan slayer. However, they were not greeted with a celebration of their heroism, but the worry of retaliation from its kin and hatred from the Cult of the Sunken Gods, when it was not pure disbelief. They could not stand the idea of one of their cherished god brought low and vowed to be the demise of the Seekers, gathering an alliance of other churches to form the Divine League, an organization set to track and destroy the infamous skip. Most people simply viewed the story as a fairy tale to further establish the Seekers' reputation and considered it as such.

 
   

Leviathan hunters

 

The death of Hghariogs sparked inspiration in a whole generation of young blood trying to prove themselves. If they can be felled, then there is honor and glory to gain. Oblivious to the backfire the Seekers suffered after their feat, a hundred skips roam the Expanse, looking for an enemy worth their remarkable fighting abilities. The god hunters, as they like to call themselves, never succeeded despite the attempts and the thousands of death. Somehow they still find new recruits, and even Spheres are suspected of funding skips in the vain hope that one of them might reach its goal.

 
Leviathan by Rumengol via MidJourney

On the mind of a giant

 

Krarrhjkckk is one of the smallest Leviathan, deemed almost manageable by the Leviathan hunters. Slightly bigger than Oppollln, it got an elongated Red body, and tremendous speed. It is the one with the highest count of survivors, mainly because it crosses them too quickly for it to notice the skips or Spheres it just met. One time however, a particularly ambitious group of hunters managed to hook onto the giant. Despite the overwhelming force put on their skip, they managed to get to the top of its head.

 

There, spheriers landed on the thick scales of their target, trying to connect to his mind. Way harder than it is to do so from inside the body, it is still possible to enter the mind of a Sphere from the outside shell. The adventurers wanted to know if the mind of a Leviathan would be of the same structure as a Sphere. All six were seasoned spheriers, skilled enough to gain the title of master spherier on a modest Sphere. That did not help them with whatever they found there. Not even a breath after they said they found a way in, all of them collapsed, their inside burnt to a crisp by the heat of their brains. The crew managed to escape swiftly, but that only added to the mystery of the mind of the Leviathans. At least it was then clear that it was not something mortal beings could ever dream of coming close to understanding.

The Leviathan

 

Cloud Sculpting is an artform with tight rules, especially on the subjects that can be represented. If most are merely despised and frowned upon, the representation of Leviathans is the only thing that is absolutely forbidden. Once, fools transgressed the taboo, leading to the disaster that is a roaming sculpture up the sky.

 
The Leviathan
Item | Apr 12, 2022

An accursed piece of art.

 

On their feeding habits

 
We all need food of some kind to live. The bigger the being, the more food it needs. Leviathans seem to completely escape this general rule. Realistically, beings of their size would need to eat more in a cycle than the whole Expanse has to offer. However, attacks on Spheres or even skips are so rare we can surmise it has more to do with the poor victims being on the path of the Leviathan than a real hunt. Considering this, Leviathans should be starving and withering out, but they don't seem to care the slightest. This led me to the conclusion that they are either not bound by the laws of the ocean, or that the unknown Abyss holds gigantic amounts of food, enough for them to feed on for their immense lifespan.
— Rationalist Krevvl
 
Spheres
Species | Feb 21, 2022

Gigantic beings, home to the last civilisations of the Expanse.

 
 

On their signature

 
Every living being emits a signature, an uncontrolled spasm that creates waves around them, effectively declining their identity. They are not unique to individuals, but transmitted through one's lineage, except for the most complex species like Spheres which share only a part of their signature with their offsprings. But even the immense Sphere of Oppollln has a signature that is understandable for the lesser minds. Leviathans do not abide by the rules of our world. They do possess a signature, but it is more of a sinister growl than a real signature. Higher minds can extract from them a sort of signature, just a small part. Far from the real thing, it still gives an idea for the lesser minds unable to sense anything else than a paralyzing howl.
— Rationalist Krevvl
 
 
Anhvall
Vehicle | Apr 6, 2022

The mythical flagship of the Seekers.

 
 

On their display

 

For the few of us who use eyesight to perceive the far environment, Leviathans come in no more than three hues: pale, translucent light, reddish, or dark, however, the latter two may only be a different perception of Red. As to why a Leviathan would need to conceal itself is up to debate, I believe it to be a remainder of its immature stage when it may be vulnerable to predators. If my theory proves right, the dark ones would be the youngest and paler the beast, the older it is. It would correlate with the fact that there exists far more pale Leviathans than red ones.

 

To those who make use of other senses to grasp the appearance of things, it gets confusing. Apparently, many Leviathans emit erratic electrical pulses, only perceptible by the most acute species. These pulses, just like their signature, are incoherent and way too massive to handle. Eels and such species often go in hiding when a Leviathan is sighted, as they may turn mad just by feeling the approach of such a titan.

— Rationalist Krevvl

Notable Leviathans

 

The Obloggian Reef keeps a list of every known Leviathans and the information known about them. There is no real purpose other than knowledge, but Rationalist Krevvl insists on keeping the information up-to-date, as they are useful to her studies.

 
  • Hgariogs (dead)


    A myxiniform Leviathan of medium size, one of the Sunken Gods before its demise against Anhvall.

    Hgariogs by Rumengol via MidJourney
  •  
  • Krarrhjkckk


    A small eel-looking Leviathan of impressive speed. Not so threatening compared to others, it is just as deadly. Completely red, it is almost invisible in the dim light of the Expanse, and its speed makes it impossible to detect before it is already too late.

    Krarrhjkckk by Rumengol via MidJourney

  •  
  • The Tendrills


    A terrifying being, only its giant tendrils have ever been seen coming from below. Even a single one of them is bigger than Krarrhjkckk, making those in the know afraid of what would happen if the real body would ever cross the Bladed streams.

    The Tendrils by Rumengol via MidJourney
  • Goohllhkl


    Another Sunken God, it is a big mass of flesh crowned by a giant horn that can impale medium-sized Spheres.

    Goohllhkl
  •  
  • Sslikras


    The most recently added to the pantheon of the Sunken Gods, many tendrils cover its soft body, so as to grasp anything in their reach. It possesses two globulous eyes the size of a small Sphere and a disproportionate rostrum.

    Sslikras by Rumengol via MidJourney
  •  
  • Klll


    Only a small part of it has ever been recorded, something that looked like a pincer large enough to cut Oppollln in half. It is surmised to have similarities with an overgrown crab, although nothing is certain.

    Klll by Rumengol via MidJourney
 

The Obloggian Perspective

 

I will be blunt: we obloggians fear no Sphere. But these things. It scares us. We may be the mightiest, they mock our strength. Those self-proclaimed god hunters are nothing but fools, let me tell you this much. Legend has it it took a crew of mythical champions led by a dark adept aboard the most formidable skip to take down a dying Leviathan. And this story might not even be true. Whenever the sky leaves our sight, we pray whoever our god is to be spared the encounter with a monster. So far, we have been lucky, and well-organized. Hundreds of scouts observe the Expanse far from Oblogga, giving us thrice the sensory range than our Sphere has. If one of them detects something, our skilled spheriers make our escape to the heights and we live another cycle. There is nothing but close call, and even a single failure to notice an approaching Leviathan would mean the end of us.

 
Leviathan by Rumengol via Md


Cover image: Leviathan by Rumengol via MidJourney

Comments

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Master PrincessESH
Aster Blackwell
31 Jul, 2022 20:10

I love this sooo much. I've always been fascinated by leviathans of all concepts. I love the art you have in here, I love how sinister and terrifying they are depicted, and I love the opening quote, it gave me chills! Leviathans are my favorite part of any ocean world and your take on them is just awesome!

3 Aug, 2022 19:01

Thank you! That's the same for me, the concept of beasts defying the imagination lurking in profound waters is certainly one of my favourite, glad I could do them justice!

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
1 Aug, 2022 18:32

Yes, the leviathans!!! I'm happy we got to finally learn more about them <3 The Abyss having to be full of food is a good point, there isn't enough spheres for them to be their main meal... I'm getting more and more curious about it, but I'm guessing you're not going to explore that part XD   I love all the ways the leviathans are aliens and the ways the other inhabitant of your worlds are trying to make sense of them. And the quote you have at the start is great to set the tone :D Great article!

To see what I am up to, see the list of my Summer Camp articles—my favourite is Sentient Cells.
3 Aug, 2022 19:07

Yeaaah, I've wanted to write about them for a long time, and finally MidJourney gave me the opportunity to make it a beautiful article! I think I wrote all my planned articles regarding the Abyss except maybe one, but the novel I want to write in this world will tell the early days of the Seekers, especially their exploration of the Abyss. If I manage to write it someday, many answers will be there :p   Thanks! They're definitely out of this world... or are they?

2 Aug, 2022 23:47

Well I'm going to have nightmares now. Amazing job, hun!

Explore-SigBanner
3 Aug, 2022 19:08

Don't worry, they won't come for you if you stick to the surface. Well, most won't :p Glad it made its little effect :D

3 Aug, 2022 19:11

It's a good thing I'm not a great diver, then, ha

Explore-SigBanner
4 Aug, 2022 06:59

This Article is as overwhelming as a leviathan itself. It took quite an effort to dig through the whole article, which ties a lot of your world on one place. I think I got an understanding of how your world works just from this thing alone.   Would probably not recommend this article as a starting point. Reading this without the interruptions to learn about the other things would most likely make it more enjoyable.

8 Aug, 2022 16:31

We discussed it already, but thanks again for your feedback and I'll make sure to think about it in my next articles!

4 Aug, 2022 08:52

Wow! totally amazing. I love this so much. :)

A.J. Ponder (author)
8 Aug, 2022 16:29

Thank you, glad you liked it :D

Grandmaster tlcassis
Polgara Badass of Azeroth
4 Aug, 2022 13:26

This was great! I have no idea how you managed to pull it off during SC - fascinating and very well done.

Author of the world of Arrhynsia https://www.worldanvil.com/w/arrhynsia-tlcassis   Catch my Summer Reading Challenge Reviews and Read my articles (in order) https://www.worldanvil.com/w/arrhynsia-tlcassis/a/summer-camp-2022-reading-challenge---tlcassis2Fpolgara-article?preview=true   I will never understand surface dwellers.
8 Aug, 2022 16:32

Thank you very much! I knew ahead of time that it will be a big article so I rushed the other diamond prompts to dedicate three whole days to the Leviathans. It also helped that I had already the core concepts in my mind ;)

4 Aug, 2022 17:50

Fascinating article. Possibly a bit overwhelming to someone who's only just discovered your writing, but....these things are very cool, and the article is very well formatted!

8 Aug, 2022 16:33

Yeah, I realized it quite late, sorry if it was a bit hard to read ^^ Thank you anyway for your kind words!

6 Aug, 2022 15:34

Amazing article. Long, in depth, full of anecdotes and stories as well as factual information. Absolutely fascinating world.

8 Aug, 2022 16:34

Glad you liked it, I had a lot of fun writing this one :D