Also: Merelew History
By Pralel Erigowia
Professor of the Academy of Learning
I've always had a peculiar interest in the people known as the Merelew ever since I first arrived in Riverhaven as a young man. The last time the island city of Andreshlew floated to the Reshal Sea's surface, I spent a considerable amount of time studying their home, their folklore, learning all I could about them. I have spent the past hundred years compiling and adding to my research, just in time for the next Feast of Eluned's Rising.
Long ago, before the Empire of the Seven Pointed Star was but a dream in the heart of the people within these Realms, the Merelew dwelt across the Ocean. They were little more than beasts when the Elves of the Ocean discovered them, and began teaching them like a Human boy would teach a dog. From the Elves, the Merelew gained intelligence and the art of Lifesculpting. And then the Elves mysteriously fled the Ocean, leaving their pets to fend for themselves in a dangerous world.
The Merelew sought shelter in the watery depths, and began putting their talents to use. However, where the Children of Morganae mold stone and the Silent shape the trees and plants of their forests, the Merelew Lifesculpted from the coral and sandstone and pearl of the Ocean a magnificent city: Andreshlew.
The Merelew are impressive in height, though shorter than the Elves. Their skin is scaled, but unlike the S'kra, Merelew scales are more metallic and fishlike. The most common colors are blue, silver, grey, and bronze. Merelew have pointed ears, and webbed hands and feet. Most Merelew males are bald. The females have one swath of hair, in the center of their head. Their style is to brush it to one side, so that half the scalp appears bald. The Queen and other high-ranking citizens brush their hair to the right as a status symbol. Others brush their hair to the left. Common colors are silver-white, pale blue, pale green, and black.
No one knows why, or how long ago, but at some point the Merelew detached their city from the ground, allowing the coral island to float away with the currents. Andreshlew was carried westward, across the Ocean. This time is known to the Merelew as their Exile, a period of great change and upheaval among the Merelew.
Andreshlew suffered numerous damages during the Ocean crossing, and many Merelew were killed. It was during the Exile that the Merelew first found the need for an organized government. A few leaders stepped forward and directed their people, in the damage control and rebuilding, in the hunt for food. It was the organization of the new Merelew King that allowed their people to flourish so far away from the land they had once depended upon. When the first king of the Merelew died of old age, his firstborn was given the leadership of the people. It is interesting to note that the Merelew opted for this form of government, just as the River Elves have done. The current Merelew royals also oversee trade agreements, and gain first pick of salvage as a privilege of their rank.
In time, Andreshlew arrived in the Reshal Sea of the Five Realms, though the lands were not known as such then. The Merelew proceeded to begin massive Lifesculpting to enhance their city, as well as repair parts of it damaged during their long voyage. Never before had so much Lifesculpting been performed on one thing so much as this, and the results amazed the Merelew. Andreshlew gained a form of sentience. The city, they discovered, had become ill. Andreshlew floated to the sea's surface while the Merelew desperately searched for a cure.
Passing ships of the Elves spotted the floating city and sailed towards it. The Elven people were surprised to see the Merelew (just as the Merelew were surprised to find Elves) that their folklore spoke of, but the insouciant River Elves took it all in stride. The Elves offered to help the Merelew heal their island in exchange for rare materials from the depths of the sea. The Merelew king happily agreed, cementing the long-standing alliance between Merelew and River Elves.
Once Andreshlew was restored, the Merelew began to learn of this new world they found themselves in. The land was in a state of tension following the Elven Human War. Peace was fragile, the land drained of resources. The Merelew were pleased. Their ships traveled to the major ports, carrying pearls, gold, coral, and shell; jewelry with craftsmanship to rival that of the Dwarves of Darvagai Anliker; precious items salvaged from sunken ships; exotic foods. In exchange, the Merelew received forged metals, something they are unable to create underwater. The Merelew traded extensively with a small village on the land near modern Riverhaven, and one or two young Merelew even opted to live there.
Things went well, for all sides. Then came the Empire. The Empire of Throne City was determined, in the tradition of Akroeg, to rule everything. Armies were sent everywhere people did not submit to their rule, and garrisons were built in all cities to maintain the peace. When Imperial forces approached the village and ordered the Merelew there to acknowledge the Emperor as sovereign, they fled to Andreshlew. Merelew ships ceased sailing to ports of trade, and the kings would deal only with the River Elves (and then only rarely).
The Merelew remained secluded underwater during most of the Empire's lifetime. Once during this period, Andreshlew became ill again. This illness, and the city's rising, became known as the first Feast of Eluned's Rising. Merchant ships from all over the Empire went to Andreshlew to trade and to win the great reward offered by the Merelew king to whoever healed their city. Upon Andreshlew, games and contests of skill and wit were held, exotic treasures from the world over unveiled, and fireworks displayed to dazzle the eye. This Feast of Eluned's Rising lasted only a short time, and then Andreshlew sunk back beneath the sea. Merelew contact with the lands grew less frequent; only an occasional deal between the Merelew and the River Elves.
One hundred years ago, a second Feast of Eluned's Rising took place. I was on the first ship to Andreshlew, a fact of which I have considerable pride. A peculiar people. Carefree, but secretive; when I asked a question of them, they were more likely to smile and hand me a drink then to actually answer. But I learned all I could of them, and now messengers from King Lithralia have announced that the Feast of Eluned's Rising is to again return, to the delight of all in the Five Realms. May Lemicus bless this joyous occurrence.
"Long ago and far away, the stories all began, The ocean parted and from the waves, the water became land, And merfolk did with landlings meet, contesting for to see Just which would o'ercome the other, the landling or the sea. Now soon, again, the island comes, as seas grow rough and grey, And visions seen upon the waves do grow with each new day, And albatross, their massive wings, across the sea do spread So gather one and gather all for the Feast of Eluned! The merchants eyes do glitter bright with thoughts of Drogor's gold, The fighters wish to prove their might a'jousting as of old. The healers and the woodsmen have, as well, their part to do For the living island groans in pain and seeks relief from rue. So come you one and come you all and take to ships to see, The festival of Eluned as the island rises from the sea."
[From a Merelew poem]