Author: Kayif Ismat, The High Chief of the United Sayran Houses.
Date: 17 AP
From: An excerpt from the Kendraik Travel Services Pamphlet, a monsoorai guild’s attempt to convince the peoples of the proto-Protectorate that space travel is safe by using the testimony of a sayran.
A blind man, no matter how vivid the description, cannot understand the beauty of a masterfully woven tapestry.
He may feel the luxurious fabric, he may understand how the interwoven threads create a design, he may even appreciate the hard work that went into its creation. But without sight, he cannot be made to understand how it looks. Allegories to his other senses could be made, but it will never be the same.
I find myself in a similar conundrum. How could I, a sayran, bring the aliens of our small interstellar community to understand the beauty of traveling the sea of stars through simple text? It’s an ethereal sensation, one not suited to words made by physical tongues. My previous four attempts to explain my experiences off-world have failed. Non-sayran have found my words confusing and detached, while sayran have found the descriptions lacking.
Therefore, on this fifth draft, I’ve decided to stop trying to convince the prospective traveler on the enriching experience of passing the void between worlds. To convey mortal ideas, using mortal words and mortal terms, the language should be direct and clinical. There is no need to wax poetically about concepts nobody will appreciate.
By the end of this passage, you will be made to understand how a tapestry is woven, but not how it is beautiful.
There are two chief components to space travel.
The first is the vessel that will protect the traveler and crew from the vacuum of space: the starship.
The monsoorai have proven themselves to be the premier shipbuilders of our community, and the Kendraik guild have specialized in transporting large numbers of souls from planet to planet. Their ships are wider than most, with flat bottoms so they can also traverse the waters when on-world. There’s large bulkhead doors inside to keep pressure In the ship, and it’s certainly more comfortable than the mess we sayran used to make our way to Peldor on our great journey.
There are other testimonies in this pamphlet that can reassure you of the vessels’ safety. I don’t know how they work, I don’t know if they’re safe, and quite frankly I’m not bothered by the issue.
The second component to space travel is more complicated.
There are three forms of energy that swirl through our universe.
The first of these is the soul, which is everlasting and essential to sapience.
The second is life energy, which is stored within all living things.
The third, and most relevant to space travel, is a cosmic energy known to us sayran as vaalige, which blows between the stars like great waves.
It’s hard to describe the sheer scale of distance between celestial bodies. Were a spaceship to travel at the speed of a dune beetle in full shift, it would take hundreds, possibly thousands of years to travel from one planet to another. But through the utilization and mastery of vaalige, the millennia-long journey requires just weeks at most.
This utilization of vaalige is possible via two methods.
1. Creating a sail which can catch the winds of vaalige and propel your ship at speeds fast enough to make the journey.
2. Having a sayran intentionally manipulate vaalige to move your ship at the desired speed.
The second is more reliable and consistent, but a sayran would be subject to fatigue and would require rest at regular intervals. A sail would only stop moving you if the winds are unfavorable.
The sail created by the shipbuilders is a net coated in a special substance full of life energy to catch the vaalige winds. Each ship comes equipped with various nets, as the type of coating will result in different speeds, but all coatings are full of the second type of energy: life energy. These two types of energies -life and vaalige- don’t mix, and are actually hostile to each other. Vaalige winds hitting nets of life energy will result in those nets being violently pushed aside. When angled right, ‘pushed aside’ means ‘pushed forward’, resulting in travel.
The two energies come from two of three gods which crafted our world.
*The god of life, Alkhayin, and the god of vaalige, Ramil, despise each other and can only be reined in by the goddess Yatanafas, the architect of the soul. This is why the life energy in our bodies isn’t assaulted by Ramil’s winds. He may hate Alkhayin, but he won’t dare cross Yatanafas.
It is through this dynamic of the trio that much of space travel is possible.
For example, how would one get to space in order to use Ramil’s power to sail the stars?
Vaalige blows through space in divine gusts of wind, with varying concentrations and powers. Some of these waves wash over planets. Planets are teeming with life, Alkhayin’s domain. Because Alkhayin is strong on most worlds, He works to remove vaalige and send it back into space. Vaalige is pushed across the surface of planets in great tides until these tides eventually smash together in titanic clashes of opposing energies! As the energies can’t go down, they go up, back to space.
This phenomenon is known as a cosmic updraft, and it allows us to breach the atmosphere of our worlds. Usually set atop a body of water like an ocean or sea, a ship merely has to ride out to the updraft (which is invisible to those not attuned to vaalige. As the monsoorai have shown, sailors who have an intimate understanding of the ocean breeze can have a faint awareness that something is amiss in these locations), unfurl their nets, and Ramil, eager to tear a piece of life away from Alkhayin’s treasured planet, will pull the net and the accompanying ship upwards. To descend on a planet, one must simply arrive where the updraft meets space, and use a lower-strength net so Ramil will gently lower you down back into the water.
But this all begs the question. What of a world like Sayar, where there are no great forests or oceans? What happens to the vaalige that washes over a dead world like ours, one mostly comprised of endless sands and deserts?
Alkhayin doesn’t have the strength to remove the vaalige, so Ramil is free to stay.
How does Ramil’s presence affect the world? Well, vaalige is an otherworldly energy, not truly native to our reality.
Alkhayin is the god of life, his domain is purely of the mortal world. When He betrayed His fellow gods of the pantheon and sought to spread His dominion throughout the realm, Ramil renounced His godhood and tore into the mortal realm to excise His life bearing foe. His divine power spread through the stars, creating the vaalige so important for our survival.
But his power was never meant to interact with the physical world. It soaks into the matter that makes up our reality and corrupts it, slowly altering everything it touches to more closely resemble his abandoned domain in heaven. Vaalige soaks into rocks and turns them glossy and metallic, or even into crystals. Plants lose their leaves and grow hard, deadly thorns, twisting into petrified mockeries of their previous forms, often growing faces screaming in agony. This occurrence can only be observed after traveling deep into various caves deep under the sands, too far for the vaalige winds to reach, and attempting to bring these uncorrupted plants to the surface. You’ll have a pure, uncorrupted vessel of life energy at the start of your trek back up, but by the time you can see the sun or stars, in your hands will be a twisted monstrosity of the thing you once possessed.
Where no plant life is alive to alter, vaalige-flora grows in its place. Mushrooms tower over the corrupted soil, creeping tendrils breach the surface of the sands and wait for prey to pass over, domes of glass naturally grow above the branches so light may better reflect into their nutrient-producing sacks. Animals too will twist into various corrupted forms, all vicious omnivores who kill for sport rather than necessity. The only creatures not hostile to humans are that which we domesticated ourselves over the years, namely the species of beetle and worm who lacked the mouths necessary to eat us in the first place.
Because vaalige is affected by gravity and there is no concentration of life energy to remove it from Sayar, the density of vaalige on our world is hundreds of times greater than that found in space. Because of this, humans who lack Yatanafas’s protection -those without a strong soul- will find themselves corrupted too. Their hands warp into talons, skin sprouts patches of blood-red fur, a tail extends from the lower spine, and horns grow proudly on their head. Those afflicted have even been known to grow black, leathery wings. There is no known cure for this, but only those with exceptionally weak souls will find their brains or personality altered.
**It is for this reason that I cannot in good faith recommend aliens travel to Sayar. 45 days -three months in our calendar- is the maximum I could recommend for a visit.
But, as the sayran have spent generations on our vaalige-ridden world, weak souls have been almost completely weeded out. More than that, our bodies have grown sensitive to Ramil’s power, and we can even control the winds ourselves. Every sayran alive has this power, and it’s the only reason we’re able to survive on our harsh world. Some say it was Ramil’s gift to us as an apology for making our lives that much harder, others believe Yatanafas ordered Him to do it. Because even animals have been observed manipulating vaalige, I believe the thanks lies with Ramil, He wants us to spread his glory and name across the stars.
But no matter the reason why, the objective truth is that interstellar travel is only possible through Ramil. Whether it be with nets, or a sayran helmsman’s manipulation, traveling the stars is simple, available to everyone and, most importantly, safe.
*The Kendraik Travel Guild does not officially endorse any religion over another.
**The Kendraik Travel Guild does not accept responsibility for any injuries or corruption that may or may not occur upon leaving our vessels.