Oblogga

A name you can't ignore

A titanic shadow hovered over the skip, obscuring the faint light and plunging the waters into a pitch-black night. They were still very far, but he could feel it into his guts. It was a warm feeling, one that made all those solitary cycles worth it.   Finally, he was coming home.
 

The twin Spheres of Oblogga have nothing unique about them. Many twin Spheres exist, and though they are second only to Oppollln in size, they are not impressive. Just big. Unfathomably big. What makes it so special isn't the Sphere, but rather the spheria, the people inhabiting Oblogga.

 

Portray of the beast

It is near impossible to fathom the size of such critters when you live on it. To understand how great it truly is, you have to set sail. And better go far if you wish to capture this gigantic figure. Actually, most of you probably won't be able to, since you lack the means to perceive it as it is.
— Professor Twhok, to her class of younglings.
 

How big is a Sphere? They are so grand they can only be compared to each other. Some fools try to quantify it from time to time, but only end up mocked. What could it possibly mean, to be a hundred thousand rays wide? There aren't even enough rays in the Expanse to verify the claim. What can be said about Oblogga is that the Sphere is slightly smaller than Oppollln, and at least twice as big as any other Sphere.

 

In the dark of the Expanse, very few species can truly witness the whole Sphere. Those who do so describe it as a shadow obscuring all sight. Its mass and sturdiness mean the Sphere can't dive as deep as most others, which could be a weakness if ever a predator was to be sighted in these waters. This is very unlikely, nothing can really threaten Oblogga.

 

The Shell

 

The two Siamese Spheres unite in one thick body, with less and less distinction as time pass. Some say that one day, they will fuse and Oblogga will be one, unique Sphere. This process is already ongoing at the bottom of the body, where a monstrous mouth spread all over the face, like an unappealing void.

 

Usually, when they have an orifice this large, Spheres uses some way to filter what goes inside it, mostly with baleens. But between the enormous jaws of Oblogga, it is an actual forest of blade-like teeth that cuts and grinds and shreds everything that comes near, for the siphon to swallow small bits of nutrients. A flock of transparent tendrils around the mouth is used to catch any fleeing prey and then bring it back between the teeth.

 

The insides are strangely cramped for a Sphere of this size, but cycles of digging excavated holes wide enough for a selected few to live. Only the thick bones have been pierced, leaving the fleshy parts mostly untouched. Some argued that it could weaken the Sphere if it were to fight against a powerful enemy, but there is no such thing able to threaten Oblogga. Except for a Leviathan, but then even the sturdiest shell would be of no use.

by wombo AI

The membrane takes the shape of a giant bubble, slightly thinner at the junction between the two Siamese. It is about three to four times the height of the shell, able to harbour hundreds of thousands if not millions of individuals. Twelve bone spires rise as high as the membrane as if they are supporting pillars. Though it is not the case at all, for each one of them have enough room above to let a small skip navigate.

 

Next to the spires, the Backplains are a large and flat surface, where varech forests and jellies are cultivated alongside livestock. In any other area, humps of various sizes create an irregular landscape where all manners of secrets can be found. The nooks of Oblogga are heaven for secret seekers and explorers of all kinds, though venturing outside of the secured area is not without danger.

 

To handle the beast

This last manoeuver took forever. He was even more annoyed than usual. He spent all his life in the deepest layers of the shell, exhausting his mind trying to stabilize the link between mindless workers and unleashed genius. No one has the slightest idea of what is at stake. Should he falter for a breath, all the mental structure could collapse. He's wasted here. On other Spheres, he would be a master spherier, praised and respected. There, he is nothing but a regular spherier of a lousy lineage. Everything is slow, the Sphere resists and is unable to do anything at a normal pace. He was so honoured, a cycle ago, when he finally completed his training and became the real deal.   But now Alkhl is sick of his position, sick of this Sphere. He aims for bigger. After all, he has this higher mind, he can impose his will to the Sphere. He's still supposed to be on a break, but he connects nonetheless to the entity. His mind pervades the Sphere. He's back at the top of the maze. It isn't his assigned place. But it is where he should be. Not at the back, with the other lowlife spheriers. But at the front, treading with the delicate metaphorical filaments.   Some of them notice him, but they don't deem him worthy of their attention. He doesn't care. He's bound to do great things. He knows it. A faint voice tries to stop him, but it's too late. He's already deep into the entangled mind of the Sphere, past the point of no return.
 

In a Sphere this large, an important number of spheriers are required to even control it. Two master spherier at least are required at each time, with five currently relieving each other. No other Spheria can produce or even sustain this many masters and the cost of their lifestyles. The spheriers of Oblogga have acquired a reputation of excellence throughout the cycles, thanks to the three great lineages.

 

The Hollene lineage

By far the greatest of the three, the Hollene have dedicated their whole lineage to the pursuit of the perfect Sphere control. As ancient as the Spheres themselves, the lineage flared across the Expanse, harvesting any knowledge and technique to further improve their spheriers. They are the most skilful of all spheriers and though they are not that many, a Hollene spherier surpass ten ordinary spheriers. Currently, only one of the two master spheriers of the lineage guides the Sphere while the other is seeking their lost skip, Anhvall.

The Tkktskr Consortium

Relatively to other species, only a handful of crabs become spheriers. That still makes them the ones with the most spheriers. While other consortiums can produce individually great spheriers, the Tkktskr chose a different approach. Their ordinary spheriers are no better than common workers, but they are meticulous, all strongly bound by the most developed hive mind in the Expanse. The very few of them that reach a higher minds are to be promoted master spheriers, supervising the work of their countless underlings.

The Milloln lineage

Though they are the most ancient Obloggian lineage, the Milloln had to bow in front of the rise of the Tkktskr and the arrival of the Hollene. Pushed into the background, they found a way to stay essential to the proper functioning of the Sphere. They're the link between the consortium and the other lineage, coordinating instructions and synchronizing very different thoughts. The prideful Milloln like to say that the incredible feat of making a consortium and a lineage work together couldn't be possible without them, and they aren't wrong.

 

Demography of the spheria

 

The Twelve Spires

 

The main residential area, where most of the activity of Oblogga is concentrated. Scholars, merchants of all trades and soldiers cross each other in lively chaos. The water is always full of people trying to weave in and out, and that's even worse within the spires. A maze of intricate and narrow tunnels stretch in the whole structure, and only a few are large enough to let outsiders pass through.

Since the passageways are so cramped, it's not really possible to cross paths with anyone. Only the Obloggs by squishing their soft bodies and the small Tkktskr are able to get through. Traffic jam is only avoided thanks to the myriads of sideways and alcoves that allow a smooth circulation. A large number of rooms are hidden behind cracks in the walls or at the end of winding corridors.

 

The shell

Numerous castes coexist in the spires, obeying a strict vertical hierarchy. In the shell live the government members, spheriers, the Seat Holders and the twelve lineages that forms the permanent Council. The greatest temples of the Sunken Gods and God-Ocean cults are dug in the shell, providing shelter for the priests and some attendants.

 

The access to the shell is restricted to anyone that isn't acknowledged by the government. Spheriers, by their close link to Oblogga, act as the wardens of their territories. The only way for the common folk to enter the shell is by the public entrance of the temple, and within the boundary of the sacred place.

 
What to see here ?
  • The Council Chamber, where the most important decisions are made and affect the lives of millions of beings.
  •  
  • The Temples of the Sunken Gods and God-Ocean, luxury places of prayer and contemplation, where there aren't a religious clash going on.
  • The Spheriers' rest, a network of tunnels and roomy alcoves that circulates through the major part of the shell, an almost closed circuit.
  •  
  • The Core, a place so secret only the six master spheriers know its location. It is rumoured to contain the beating heart of Oblogga.
 

The Floor

 

At the bottom of the spires is the interface between the shell and the membrane. What is commonly known as the Floor is a hub for both the cultural, scientific and religious activities of Oblogga. Aside from the entrances of the underground temples, a crowd of religious architectures cover the top of the shell. From the three major beliefs, including the Spherical Church that never got to have its own great temple, to a multitude of minor cults and creeds, every faith finds a way.

 

Around the central spire, the Trade is the core of Oblogga's activity and undoubtedly the biggest market of the Expanse. There, every merchant, storyteller and spear for hire go and look for customers. The trade is loosely regulated, anyone can set up a stall as long as it's not selling forbidden goods.

 

Even stories and knowledge, told or recorded on speech bubbles, are marketable. When times are rough and the Reef founds not enough, scholars are often seen offering their hard-earned expertise.

by pxfuel
There is a saying that goes "whatever your hearts desire, you will find it at the Trade". That's not entirely true, some of the finest goods are forbidden, even here. And only a handful of lucky customers like you, my friend, have a body fit for the real thing. Follow me inside to my stall and I shall show you what you'll never find elsewhere. I even got some Leftovers at a very reasonable price.
— A shady merchant by the Trade
 

If not everyone can enter the narrow spires, the Trade is open to every single species, even the biggest ones. Having a stall on the Floor is especially great for selling material goods and paradoxically avoiding getting stolen. Though many descend there to shop, next to no one lives on the Floor, the constant agitation making life impossible.

 

Slavery

 
by pxfuel

Oblogga's view on slavery is not a peculiar one. They are goods like any other on the Trade, notwithstanding some regulations. First of all, no Oblogg or crab is to be sold as a slave or food, and every merchandise must be registered upon entering the Sphere. Some lineages like to think of their slaves as a sign of their wealth, but the truth is that sometimes slaves are way more affordable than quality food.

 

Most households, at the exception of the poorer, employ at least a slave for common chores. The main setback of having a slave is that for them to be of use, they need to be fed and that can become quite the expense. A cheap and optimised way for the humblest lineages to tread with slaves is to simply make them work until they die of exhaustion and hunger, and then cook their former slaves before buying a new one.

 
What to see here ?
 
  • The Trade, obviously, is the greatest attraction for outsiders and residents alike.
  •  
  • The Temple of the Spherical Church is arguably the most beautiful one of Oblogga. In the shape of a gigantic Bolllni's sphere endlessly preaching the holy homily of the church.
  • The Reef, a great amphitheatre isolated from the Trade, where scholars gather to debate and exchange about their researches. At the centre of the rocky formation, twelve seats are carved into the silicone shell, to welcome the greatest scholars of the spheria.
  •  
  • The Forum is a place rarely used, mostly during public announcements and the occasional showdown between champions.

The Heights

Detailed articles about the spires to come!
 

Above the tumult of the Floor, the Heights are the residential quarters of Oblogga. Though the water is troubled by thousands and thousands of people, the rooms within the spires are waveproof. Being able to live on the lowest floors is a privilege of the wealthy. About the same amount of people inhabit every floor, but as the spires become thinner, so do the space. Where the upper-class of the lowest floors have so much room they can't fill everything, the poorest at the top of the spires have to sleep in confined spaces or in turns.

 

Each one of the spires is unique in its way, with the most obvious one being the central spire and the Trade that surround its bottom. Unknown to most outsiders, a part of the Trade is actually inside the spire, only accessible through the narrow passageways, thus restricted physically to most species. There, black market stalls stand alongside regular ones without worry, for there is no regulation about what is sold inside the central spire.

 
What to see here ?
 
  • There isn't much to see inside the Heights. Most of the activities are organized by small neighbour communities, repurposing rooms for feasts, storytelling or combat training.
  •  
  • In the waters between the spires, grandiose performances by Ink artists dancing and painting in their trails.
  • Shady businesses are found deep in the maze of tunnels. From pseudo-magical artifacts to dangerous substances and even copies of The Genesis hatched from the End.
 

The Backplains

 

Farmlands

 

The Backplains are flat. They cover half of the surface of Oblogga, but are way less populated than the Spires. At least in sentient beings. They are the farming lands, feeding the whole Sphere and more. The extra production is sent over to other Spheres by large skips. Oppollln is the primary customer of the exportations: although the Sphere is the biggest of all, it has almost no arable land.

 

Amidst the varech forests, jellies are found in overwhelming quantities. Cultivators harvest both the plants and the animals periodically, rotating across the seven domains. Two lineages, the Xirkllh and the Dermnmll share the ownership of the majority of the varech exploitation.

 

Overlapping on a third of the varech forests is livestock farming. Primals are kept under constant watch in nets that are also used to harvest them when the time comes. The fibres used to manufacture the nets aren't of the best quality, so the shepherds have to be constantly on guard to catch the occasional escapist.

Art and Culture

Artistic talent is not quite as acknowledged as physical prowess are in Oblogga. The population have nothing against performances, but artists can hardly put any food in their plates. When they are able to, they emigrate to other Spheres such as Éthivl where they can live of their art.

 
by pxfuel
 

Jellies, fishes or not ?

There is no way to tell a jelly from a jellyfish, although they are two very different organisms. The latter lives freely in the Expanse, their body composed almost entirely of water, and are rarely edible, let alone nourrishing. Jellies are said to be domesticated and carefully bred jellyfishes cycles after cycles. They tend to be smaller than wild types and are dependant on the Sphere's medium to survive. Albeit their bland tast, they have a great nutritional value. The diet of most Obloggians is about half jellies, half varech, for these two products come at a cheap price and are more than enough to fill the belly.

Most of the livestock of Oblogga is made of lesser fishes and sharks, with two starfishes farms and a single planktonic farm set up as an experiment. Turns out picky eaters don't like to eat mashed micro-organisms. Only one great lineage, the Llonarh, have the charge of the cattle. They aren't big enough to take care of everything by themselves, so a bunch of minor lineages overview the smaller farms and even independent farmers.

 

Training Grounds

The term, taken from the crab military, has lost much of its meaning since the Obloggian soldiers train in the water above the varech forests. All manners of exercises are conducted there, from wrestling to armed sparring. The wide space is perfect for practice, but accidents are bound to occur, especially with sharks getting mad at the scent of spilt blood. On the other hand, training soldiers are free shepherds, and efficient at their jobs.

 
What to see here ?
 
  • The varech forests are wonders on their own, even without considering their value as food. Taking a swim among the plants is a relaxing hobby.
  •  
  • Primals Harvesting took over time the shape of a tradition, where thrice in a cycle, the skilled shepherds bend their nets to capture mature fishes while letting unripped ones go.
  • The Armory is where huge amounts of weapons are stored under constant watch. Hundreds of soldiers are permanently standing guard for fools and robbers. The building itself is quite the sight, considered as the ultimate fortress of Oblogga.
  •  
  • The Catch of the Cycle takes place in the Backplains, and during the cyclic show off many hot-headed skippers dive in the varech and disturb the crops. It is the only time of the cycle where the fields are more populated than the spires, a festival not-to-be-missed!
   

The Border

 

Fringe land around the Backplains, the Border is a forsaken and hostile place where life is harsh. Its surface is all humps and cracks, Too many to be mapped and explored. Upright denizens don't usually wander in this area, often viewed as wild and lawless. Outlaws, runaway slaves and strange beasts roam these lands, attacking the oblivious traveller on sight. Yet they never trespass into the Backplains fearing the blades of the soldiers.

 

The army could easily wipe any threat from the Border, and even the spheriers are able to shrink the membrane enough to eject any living being of the area in the Expanse, where they will be crushed and eaten on short notice. The Council has another agenda and viewed this as an opportunity cycles ago. In times of peace, the leader of warmongering spherias might become bloodthirsty. Then, Oblogga provides a place where they can set their wildest instincts free.

 

While they weren't busy surviving the bloody safaris of the most powerful people of the Expanse, the Border's folk found a way to organise and regroup.

 

The very heterogeneous bunch created a community on the edge of civilisation. They are barely making it through, stranded in a territory that is also a prison, hoping to someday get access to a better life.

 
What to see here ?
 
  • No ordinary denizen can go past the Net, a semi-physical barrier that marks the frontier between the spheria and the Border. Soldiers zealously protect the demarcation, forbidding the passage from any side to the other.
  •  
  • Safaris are a hobby reserved to the richest caste, which enjoys the feeling of the old-fashioned, almost primal way of hunting down their preys. Depending on the hunters, the catches are either brought back for dinner or left behind to help autochthons repopulate.
  • If you get aboard a skip off the coast of the Border, it is possible to witness solitary lights. They are baits set up by beasts to attract preys, a behaviour observed quite often in hunting strategies of primals. Though not threatening, these displays can be quite the sight.
 

The life in the spheria

   

Social Mobility and Military Power

For self-proclaimed guardians of peace, the Obloggians think highly of the war. Becoming a scholar or a merchant is valuable, but a soldier brings fame and glory to their lineage. The only better career for social recognition is spherier, but that is simply not open to anyone. Even within the army, there is a set hierarchy between the different corps.

 

Warrior Corp

The warriors are the lowest of all soldiers, and logically the most abundant. Choosing to become a warrior is open to anyone, but whether they'll survive the training is another matter. The Obloggian army takes pride in being the best of the Expanse, and the hellish discipline plays a big role in this fact.

 

Though the signature weapon of the spheria is the long spear, warriors must be proficient with many kinds of tools. The mastery of tridents, handblades and pressure beams is the basics. It usually takes a whole Obloggian cycle to train a fully-fledged soldier, and twice this time before they are able to take part in real missions. Nonetheless, most of the work of a warrior is to patrol the Border or watch over the Trade. If they are ever to be called to war, it would mean that severe matters are at hand.

 

Champions

Only the cream of the crop of the warriors can ever dream of ascending to championhood. Champions are the finest blades of Oblogga, mastering every type of weapon and combat style. They are usually among the eldest fighters, as such a mastery can't be gained by another way than heavy training. One of the most powerful tools of a champion is its higher mind, allowing them to fight both physical and mental battles.

 

The idea of champions is widespread through the Expanse, where any large-scale conflict may lead to the complete annihilation of both Spheres, threatening the fragile balance of the whole ocean by domino effect. Then, instead of putting millions of lives on the line, most conflicts are solved by duels between champions that decides the outcome of the dispute. When they are not busy training, showing off their skills or killing off their adversaries, Obloggian champions are the elite guard of the Shell.

 

The Swarm

 

The bigger the Sphere, the more offsprings it produces. This rule of thumb isn't entirely true as Oblogga, second in size, is only fourth in terms of offsprings hatched every cycle. About a quarter is captured during the Catch of the cycle by independents, and the rest is seized by the fleet. If not all offsprings are turned into skips, they are given to the Hollene or Milloln lineages. They take care of the vehicles until another batch of aspiring skippers is ready.

The approach of the Obloggian fleet, named the Swarm, is rather odd for a Sphere with such skilled spheriers. They act like a Consortium of sorts, each individual being mediocre at best, but they move together, swarming their opponents with overwhelming numbers. The Swarm patrol around Oblogga, ready to converge to any position in a matter of breaths. The fleet's skippers are also custom officers, checking any oncoming skips.

by wombo AI
 

Oblogga in the Expanse

Holy War

Every Sphere is revered by at least one cult of fanatics. The bigger ones, such as Oblogga or Oppollln, have several. Among them, two groups of bigots of Oblogga stand out. The Oblogg Temple and The Holy Followers wage a terrible and bloody war between themselves. They believe only one of them can set foot on Oblogga, their holy land, and that they are unworthy until the enemy is destroyed. Some historians found out thanks to memories that their quarrel may have started long ago over a disagreement about the unity or duality of Oblogga. As time went by, they found other explanations and evidence to kill each other.

 
— For the legitimate descendant of the Oblogg !   — For the retrieval of our promised land of Oblogga !
— Typical warcries to before a pointless battle.

Diplomacy

Even though Oblogga is very open to the Expanse and tread with many spherias, two of them are more often in contact with Oblogga than the others.

 

The Sphere of Oppollln

Both commercial partner and rival, Oblogga and Oppollln share a constant competition over, especially from their inhabitants. Truth is, they are both heavily dependant on the other. Oppollln couldn't feed its denizens without the massive exportation of Oblogga, and the wealth it gives back allows the opulent lifestyle of the upper caste in the Shell.

The Mammlammenm Gathering

Biggest trade platform of the Expanse, Mammlammenm is the name hatched from the gathering of ten small Spheres. They form a trade league, leaders in every tradable category. Since the Spheres of Oblogga are also a big player in the trading world, the Gathering developed a strong bond between the two markets.

The Obloggian Perspective

Talk to anyone in the Expanse, they will say their Sphere is more precious than their lives. But they rarely think further than the continuity of their lineage, and not about their link to the Sphere itself. Oblogga is something else entirely. It is our pride, our jewel, the mere idea of protecting it is worth dying for.

 

The Oppollln may call us pedantic, but we're merely stating facts. Aside from its ridiculously big size, their Sphere has nothing to compare with Oblogga. Every time they dared to challenge us, our champions showed the extent of the superiority of the Obloggian martial style. And of course, both our merchants and scholars have nothing to be ashamed of others.

But our people truly shine in Sphere taming. Many Spheres can brag about the skill of their spheriers, but the truth is they all come from Oblogga, and the Hollene lineage. The only ones genuinely able to match our experts are the masters of Strke, and they are a unique breed.

 

Some would disagree, but most of the Expanse-wide decisions are made here, on our dear Sphere. What's more, many personalities known throughout the Expanse came from here. Of course, the infamous Revealer and his Seekers, Akllarelsllh and Bolllni's are some examples. They may not be unanimously acclaimed, but still another mark of Oblogga's glory.



Cover image: by pxfuel

Comments

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11 Dec, 2021 08:48

The setting painted here is intriguing and I am keen to learn more after reading it. It's like a vision of a world made entirely out of bubbles, wonderfully weird, and I'm here for it.   Very good stuff :D


Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
11 Dec, 2021 20:12

Very glad you liked it! :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!
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Dec, 2021 18:28

Amazing article :D I'm delighted to be able to glimpse what ordinary life is like for most of your characters :D This is a long article, but very well presented and organised and full of fascinating information! The society your articles are painting is very alien and interesting. I love the emphasis on hierarchy and lineage. I feel like I really got a better idea of how things function now, with the primal species serving as food, etc   Also I don't think I have commented on it before but I really like your css and the colour choice, it fits very well with the world :D   Only thing I feel could add to the article is a kind of map or schema to show where the big area are, as I think having this visual reminder would be very helpful while navigating the article, since so many of the terms used in this world are new or used in a new context.

To see what I am up to, here is my civilisation challenge article.
11 Dec, 2021 20:22

Awww thank you so much :D I thought about you when detailing the farmlands and the food ^^   I take no credit for the CSS yet, it's just the Saltmarsh theme with very few tweaks, but it is indeed a great fit! There are some parts I want to change, especially about the images. But since I'm not a CSS wizard so I'll probably need days to work this out.   Oh you're right I forgot to note that there was a map of Oblogga in the making ! December will be a busy month so I wanted to publish the article first, but I'll definitely add a map in the same style as Anhvall's one (hopefully better made) !

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 Jan, 2022 09:42

Oh wow, what an incredibly unique world! This is my first real exposure to it, and I'm blown away. It's so weird and wonderful. I love how much detail is spread throughout this big article, it answers (and also creates) a lot of questions as I read it, and excites me to learn the answers as I read more of it.   Absolutely adding this as an entry for my reading challenge :D


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.
12 Jul, 2022 05:20

I can't believe I missed your comment up until now D: Thank you, I'm very glad you liked this article to this extent!

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!
12 Jul, 2022 16:13

Haha, no worries! Comments are so easy to miss sometimes xD   But yes, I definitely loved the article :D


Cathedris, the world of God-husks and New Magic, welcomes you.