submerged ruins

The Lighthouse of Alexandria, sometimes called the Pharos of Alexandria, was built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 280 and 247 BC. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, for many centuries it was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world at about 120-137 meters. Badly damaged by 3 earthquakes between AD 956 and 1323, it became an abandoned ruin. It was the 3rd-longest surviving ancient wonder (after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Great Pyramid of Giza) until 1480, when the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on site. In 1994, French archaeologists discovered remains of the lighthouse on the floor of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbor. The Ministry of State of Antiquities in Egypt planned in 2015 to turn submerged ruins into an underwater museum.

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16,22,24

24. Tender


Han could feel her standing behind him, and at once he regretted his decision–stupid of him to retreat into the cockpit, where he was trapped, where she could corner him like this. His hands balled into fists; he should’ve–damn, at least if he was working on something or–or fixing something–if he looked busy, he could’ve just…

Hell, he was way too–vulnerable–sitting there with his head in his hands. No distraction for himself, no, but even worse, no defense from her. Maybe if he was fiddling underneath the dash, rewiring or something, she wouldn’t think he was… or at least he could tell her he was busy and send her off…

Hell.

He heard the soft sounds of her boots on the floor plates and she took a few tentative steps closer to him.

“Han?” she whispered. Her voice told him she was right behind his chair.

Han shifted, wiping his palms against his knees. Had the cockpit always been so small? The walls felt too close. She felt way too close.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Maybe it was because he felt like a cornered animal that he snapped at her.

“I don’t want one of your damn speeches right now, Princess. Leave me the hell alone.”

The harsh tone of his own voice made him feel even worse. Somehow the terrible, roiling guilt in his gut worsened, and was joined by the usual hot tension in his chest that always made an appearance when he realized he might’ve hurt Leia’s feelings. He scrubbed his hands over his face, wishing she’d just leave him be.

A light, warm brush against his shoulder told him his animosity hadn’t scared her off; in a moment of detached absurdity he noted how small her fingers felt on him.

“It wasn’t your fault, Han.”

“Yes, it was.”

“Han–”

“I blew my cover, Leia. It was my fault.”

“You were trying to protect me–”

“It doesn’t fucking matter!” Han snarled, shrugging her hand violently from his shoulder and leaping to his feet. Leia was so close to his chair that there was hardly room to stand, and rather than retreating, stubborn, infuriating Leia held her ground, head tilted back to look up at him with such a sickening expression of pity on her pretty face that Han had to look away from her. He couldn’t bear it.

“If I’d'a kept my damn mouth shut, those Stormtroopers never would’ve fired, and–and that kid–”

Horrified, he clamped his jaw shut, desperate to keep from making such a display of himself in front of her. It was futile, though, and he knew it. He could tell by the way her eyes suddenly shone that she had noticed how choked his voice had become, could tell that his eyes were burning…

“If it weren’t for me, that kid…”

Abruptly he turned away from her, raking his hands through his hair. Over and over again, the gruesome scene flashed before his eyes like a holo projection that he couldn’t turn off. Leia, weaving through the crowd towards their target. The troopers that had suddenly pointed her way, the three of them raising their blasters and making to advance. Han, from his vantage point at the fountain, leaping up onto the stone and calling to them, thinking only of distracting them, of getting them off Leia’s tail, of how she’d have had nowhere to run in the dense marketplace…

He hadn’t thought in a million years that anyone would’ve recognized his face so easily under his disguise–never dreamed that immediately the stormtroopers would’ve started firing on him–he’d heard the mask-filtered voice in the split second before the shots fired:

“Get Solo! The princess can’t be far.”

They’d had no idea they’d been compromised. They’d had no idea the Empire knew they were coming.

Han’s only thought as the blaster bolts had blown past his head had been killing the bastards, or at the very least, causing enough of a commotion that Leia could have gotten away. The Imps would have been sending in reinforcements and they had to get out of there before they were surrounded. He’d taken cover behind the crumbling stone of the fountain, the screams of the fleeing crowd and the shrill blasts of the enemy fire ringing in his ears while he’d shot back at the three stormtroopers, and as he’d dropped the last of them he’d felt one second of wild relief.

Then he’d heard it.

In the severe hush that had fallen over the marketplace in the wake of the impromptu firefight, a piercing, terrified shriek had rent the air. He’d spun around, not understanding–that wasn’t Leia’s voice… and what…?

Through the clearing desert dust kicked up as the locals had fled, he saw, on the other side of the fountain, the source of the awful noise. The murky water was running red, and crouched on the stone ledge beside a limp, lifeless body half-submerged in the now ruined fountain was a little girl, screaming louder than anyone her size should have been able to scream.

Han had stood, stunned, as he understood–as he realized.

“MAMA!! MAMA!!” the child wept, clawing at the woman’s unseeing face. Both mother and daughter, like many of the people in the marketplace, were dressed in rags, covered in grime and dust, and there were streaks down the kid’s filthy cheeks from her hysterical tears as she screamed for her mother to wake up. Even from the distance he was at, Han could see that no amount of screaming could have roused the woman…

“That kid’s an orphan now cause of me,” he ground out. He’d wanted to at least… to take her with them, to grab up that tiny shrieking little thing and help her, save her, but a squadron of troopers was spilling into the enclosed area, blasters blazing, between him and her, and Leia was suddenly grabbing at his wrist, pulling him…

He knew he was basically crying in front of the princess, but he couldn’t control himself. When had his hard, cynical armor fallen away? All the suffering he’d seen in the galaxy, and now he was getting himself all worked up over one motherless kid?

Maybe it was because he knew what happened to poor little orphans in cruel, callous cities. Maybe it was because he knew he’d just damned an innocent little thing to the very hell that had made him what he was. He couldn’t unsee the blind terror on the kid’s face. She’d been tiny looking, and her hair was the same brown as Leia’s.

“Han, listen to me. It wasn’t your fault,” Leia repeated softly. It shamed him that she was still there, bearing witness. “Children like her lose their families every day because of the Empire. Not because of you. This is why we’re fighting–”

“This isn’t about your fucking rebellion!” Han barked, rounding on her once again. “This is about the fact that a five year old girl is a fucking orphan because I drew imperial fire at innocent people!”

“You didn’t shoot those people, Han!”

“Just get out. You don’t know what you’re talking about,” he snarled. “You’ve never been hungry a day in your life. You have no fucking clue–”

His voice died in his throat, and he froze, overcome by cold horror.

Leia stared up at him, unmoving and resolute.

He wanted to throw up. He wanted–

“I know what it’s like to be an orphan, Han,” she whispered. He swallowed thickly, shame and contrition burning his throat, but she wasn’t glaring at him, or shouting, or condemning. Nothing in her expression or her voice was what he would have expected after such an insensitive blunder…

Her eyes, huge and brown and full of compassion, dipped down to the ground for a moment, and when she glanced back up at him Han was bewildered to see that she was suddenly the one who looked vulnerable and uncertain and raw.

She seemed to hesitate.

“And I know what it’s like to put on an act… to be cold and angry and hard so that no one will see that you’re vulnerable… and because… because by convincing everyone that you don’t feel, you think you can convince yourself…”

Her voice wavered, and her eyes looked bigger than Han had ever seen them, and then suddenly he didn’t know what he was doing anymore, only that somehow he’d collapsed back into the pilot’s chair and she’d wound up perched in his lap, and he had his arms wound so tight around her that he was afraid he’d break her, and his head was pressed against her and her hands were rubbing his back and his hair and scalding hot tears were leaking out onto his cheeks no matter how stubbornly he tried to stop them.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Leia whispered over and over, and Han was shocked by the way she held him and touched him. Like she was cradling him against herself, and her voice was tender in a way that he wasn’t sure anyone had ever spoken to him. Not since before he was a lost, orphaned little boy starving to death in the gutter on Corellia. Hell, when was the last time he’d cried? He couldn’t remember, but thinking of the little girl in the market kept his eyes stinging and his breath staggering roughly in and out of his chest. He wanted to feel embarrassment, to feel too-exposed, but instead all he could think about was the fact that somehow in the year and a half that had passed since Yavin, Leia Organa had become the one person in the galaxy that he would allow to hold him while he cried.

“Leia,” he whispered against her collarbone. “I wanna go back. I wanna–I wanna find that girl.”

He felt her rest her cheek against the top of his head.

She nodded.

ZUTARA WEEK 2017, Day 2: UNDERWATER

Title: Teardrop of the Moon

Read on FF.NET

NOTE: Set post-series, when all is well and Kataang is not a thing. A short, lighthearted piece for a pretty interesting prompt. It was tempting to go the mermaid AU route but I didn’t have enough creative ideas for that so I settled on this one instead. And it turned out better than I expected.

Enjoy!

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Kailashnath Temple, India by Graham Hancock

One of the most mysterious and most beautiful sites I visited on my recent trip to India was the Kailashnath Temple in the Ellora Caves complex of Maharashtra state. From a quick glance of the attached photo you do not immediately realise the scale, but look closer, find the people in the shot, and then you will begin to get the idea. The temple, which is intended to symbolize Mount Kailash in the Himalayas, mystical abode of the god Shiva, was not “built” but is rather sculpted in one piece out of the solid basalt bedrock of the area. It is estimated that close to half a million tons of this very hard igneous rock had to be removed, cutting downwards from the top to isolate the core body of what would become the temple before the mass of intricate relief carvings were begun. So far as I am aware none of the tools used to create this stunning monument have ever been found and it beggars belief how the work was done with the rather simple technology that archaeologists tell us was available in India in the 26-year reign (757-783 AD) of King Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Either there is something wrong with archaeological undertstanding of the technology of that epoch –very likely in my view –or with the time-frame attributed to the temple, or both. But however it was done it is undoubtedly a tribute to ancient Indian craftsmanship and aesthetics on an exceptionally grand and breathtaking scale. Though smaller I have visited similar temples, also hewn from solid rock, at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu in south India. It is noteworthy that the Mahabalipuram shore temples overlook extensive submerged ruins which may date back to the last Ice Age when sea level was 100 metres lower. I dived on the underwater ruins at Mahabalipuram in April 2002 as described in my book Underworld.

Photo of the Kailashnath Temple at Ellora by Santha Faiia.

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“Inner Waters” is finally complete!

Somewhere, far away, submerged ruins reflect in crystal waters. These mysteries lay undisturbed for untold centuries until the intrepid adventurers Kikivuli and Utunu use deep magic and clever might to work their way into the inner waters of the lost city.

Now Utunu has found a prize for his beloved hyena, who waits above with some mischief in mind. Poor ‘Tunus.
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Created in Corel Painter X for the wonderful Kikivuli and Utunu.

An excerpt from the zoological text The Hunter’s Encyclopedia of Animals (First Edition).


CHAPTER II: An overview of the Moga lagiacrus

The Moga lagiacrus (Heres jormungandrii) is a large, predatory, euryhaline reptile and the sole species in the family Armutonitridae. It is informally known by a plethora of names, the most common being lord of the sea, lagia, and sea wyvern. The lagiacrus is the largest of all marine, brackish, and riparian reptiles, reaching a weight of 19 tons and 24 meters in length. These ectotherms are extremely sensitive to cold and are found exclusively in tropical climates, dispersed throughout the South Elde seas and coastlines. On land, the lagiacrus is capable of short bursts of speed at a “belly walk” of 15 mph, coupled with quick, agile torsions of its elongated body; in water, the lagiacrus has been observed swimming at 32 mph, although when cruising it will reduce its speed to a lethargic 6 mph.

Originally, lagiacrus were estimated to live 50 years, based on measurements of lamellar growth rings in bones and teeth. It was later suggested that these measurements may be an inaccurate way of gauging age. Lamellar rings reflect changes in growth rates, which correlate directly with the timeframe of wet/dry season transitions. The inaccurate reliance on seasonal changes and the fact that the innermost rings degenerate with time suggest an underestimation of age. A revised longevity is upward of 70 years.

The lagiacrus is a solitary hunter that frequents both demersal and pelagic habitats, patrolling the reefs and intertidal zones of coastlines. Lagiacrus are known to swim inland as well, and lurk within brackish mangrove swamps or freshwater jungles further upriver. Breeding takes place during the end of the dry season, in which the polygynous males mate with as many females as they can. They are apex predators, regularly killing and consuming any individual that wanders into their territory.

The seas of South Elde have been high-trafficked waters for thousands of years. Merchant ships passing blithely through the territories of lagiacrus were often sunken. Early Guild cartographers would depict horned leviathans mantled in lightning, with the oldest known examples of these maps dating back almost 3000 years. Indigenous peoples of the Moga Archipelago developed techniques for hunting and tracking lagiacrus thanks to centuries of cohabiting the same islands. One such technique involves chumming around the piers, conditioning local sharq populations to regularly visit the area. Sharqs are highly electroreceptive fish capable of perceiving the electric fields given off by lagiacrus. Upon detecting the lagiacrus, the sharqs flee, and thus act as an early warning system for the people of Moga. The lagiacrus is seen as a harbinger of earthquakes, maelstroms, and famine, with at least an eighth of all known shipwrecks attributed to it. Harbor and port towns such as Tanzia specialize in delicacies prepared from grilled and braised tails.

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Ancient Egyptian underwater treasures to be exhibited for the first time

Spectacular ancient Egyptian treasures are to be exhibited for the first time having been discovered underwater in the submerged ruins of the near-legendary cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus.

A finely sculpted statuette of a pharaoh and a golden-eyed depiction of god Osiris are among antiquities to be unveiled in a major exhibition in Paris from next month.

The cities were almost erased from mankind’s memory after sinking beneath the waves in the eighth century AD following cataclysmic natural disasters including an earthquake and tidal waves.

Across a vast site in Aboukir Bay near Alexandria, the seabed has been giving up secrets from a lost world in an excavation led by Franck Goddio, a French marine archaeologist. Read more.

Fierce Historical Ladies post: Queen Nymeria

During the Wars of Valyrian Expansion, one woman emerges victorious.

The Rhoynar city-states; map courtesy of wikipedia.

Approximately one thousand years ago, the loose collaboration of city states located along the Rhoyne river network came under threat as the civilization of Valyria expanded towards the Western coastal regions of the Eastern Continent. Though the city-states were not unified, in the face of invasion, Prince Garin led 250,000 men in defense of the cities. Though Garin’s forces temporarily halted the Valyrian advance, they were soon defeated in the face of their adversaries’ superior military technology. The great city states—Chroyane, Ghoyan Drohe, Ar Noy, Sar Mell, and Ny Sar—of the Rhoynar were utterly destroyed in the conquest and the continental power vacuum which engulfed the Eastern Continent 500 years later following the geological cataclysm of unspecified nature (the so-called “Doom of Valyria”) which destroyed the center of Valyrian power.

Map depicting the path of Valyrian expansion, and the path of Rhoynar migration. Courtesy of wikipedia.

In the face of Garin’s defeat and the slaughter of the vast majority of Rhoynish men, Queen Nymeria of the Rhoynish capital and city-state of Ny Sar emerged from out of the chaos to unite the survivors—primarily female—of the conquest. With her in the lead, the remnants of the Rhoyne fled in a ten thousand ship fleet across the Narrow Sea to the Western Continent. After a voyage marred by grief, storm, disease, and encounters with slaver vessels, Nymeria’s fleet landed on the east coast of the peninsula now known as Dorne. There, instead of going to war against the massive fleet at his door, Dornish regional hegemon Mors Martell formed a marriage alliance with the now exiled queen. On the day of their marriage, Nymeria burned her ten thousand ships in a gesture symbolizing the collective grief and new identity of the Rhoynish people.

Dramatic re-imagining of the arrival of Queen Nymeria and her ten thousand ships on the shores of Dorne. Art by Roman Papsuev, image courtesy of the Braavosi Museum of Art.

In a conflict rather revealingly known as “Nymeria’s War,” Mors Martell harnessed the collective power of Nymeria and her forces to unite the peninsula of Dorne from one of loosely allied and warring lords into a singular political entity. As a symbol of his own assimilation to Rhoynish governmental customs, Mors Martell took the title of “Prince” instead of “King” and introduced equal primogeniture to the peninsula. The line of Martell has ruled the peninsula ever since. Martell rule and their historic union with the Rhoynish helped keep the peninsula strong even in the face of continental dynastic conquest 700 years after Nymeria’s arrival.

The conquering dynastic house—the Targaryens—consistently failed to conquer Dorne, and it remained an independent polity for 197 years after the initial conquest of the Western Continent. Indeed, Dorne only became a part of the political entity known as the “Seven Kingdoms” as the result of a marriage alliance. Their resilience in the face of the power and advanced military technology is often credited to the enduring spirit of the unifying Queen Nymeria in the Dornish people.

And indeed, the influence of Rhoynish culture on this region remains strong even one thousand years after their flight from the Rhoyne. Its rulers retain their titles of “Prince” and “Princess,” and women retain their inheritance rights despite a Northern culture which places little political or social importance on the rights of women. However, Rhoynish assimilation to life in Dorne was never total. The “Orphans of the Greenblood” imagine themselves not as a community of Dornish men and women, but as lost children, separated from the waters of Mother Rhoyne—the deified form of the great river. Some returned to their ancient homeland and can be seen rowing up and down the Rhoyne in pole boats carved out of the burned hulls of their great queen’s fleet.

Dorne’s location within the Western Continent. Map courtesy of wikipedia.

Today, the ruins of the great city-states of the past lie along the banks of and submerged within the Rhoyne and its tributaries. Legend has it that, as the Valyrian conquerors captured the defeated Prince Garin, he invoked a curse in the name of Mother Rhoyne to destroy the conquerors. That night, the story goes, the waters of the river rose, and the invaders were drowned.

The submerged ruins of Chroyane. Painting by Dimitri Bielak, image courtesy of the Volantis Museum of Art.

Regardless of the veracity of this legend, it is a fact that the ruins of that city of once legendary beauty, Chroyane, lie partially submerged in a portion of the Rhoyne known as the Sorrows. The ruins of Ghoyan Drohe, Ar Noy, Sar Mell, and Nymeria’s great city of Ny Sar may be seen along the banks of the Rhoyne and the Little Rhoyne.

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ETA: HAPPY APRIL FOOLS’ DAY

{ Please read! } Update. [ 3/13/2014 ]

Hello community!

Although we recently had a policy update, we figured that it’s time for a payoff for your loyalty, for quite a few of you have stuck by us for nearly - if not, precisely - a year by now.

Whew! That’s a long time, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated having you every step of the way. As a token of our gratitude, we have decided that it’s time to implement yet another content update, including the expansion of areas, a new rank, and a package that may apply to quite a few of you for sticking in there with us. Our last update was solely based upon maintaining order for all involved.

This one is for you.

(Long reads and goodies beneath the cut.)

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