[OOC: No, this isn't you.]
Spirshash used to enjoy them. Perhaps he still does; I
haven't spoken to him much of late.
Real-Eel and Vingi have been overheard discussing them
eagerly in Cafe du Fronde.
Strenata has rather more to do than the other Orren I know,
but she is known to enjoy them in her spare time too. And
she was chattering excitedly to me about them.
So, well, if I'm going to keep dating Orren this year -- any
Orren -- I thought I had better read some of them myself.
I borrowed the first collection from Real-Eel, and sat in a
treetop, and read the whole cursed sticky-thick thing.
Water Tree, by three authors pseudonomynously known
as Arvolest, Bevolest, and Cnauvolest, is a series of short
stories about the Water Tree. Which is a not-so-distant
universe, in which the World Tree is largely covered in
water -- where Choinxeia has two main rivers near Vheshrame,
say, Water-Choinxeia has thirty. Seven of the prime species
are different, adapted for water; only the Orren remain
unchanged. Everyone gets cley back at midnight, except for
the few heroic people. The Water-Khtsoyis are the dominant
In each story, Arvolest, Bevolest, and/or Cnauvolest slip
accidentally over to the Water Tree -- by a different
preposterous route each time -- and must solve some
difficult puzzle or perform some act of heroism before they
can return. Conveniently they are all three Orren, so they
don't have to explain what a real Rassimel, say, is doing
The authors assert that the Water Tree is real. All the
stories are presented as fact. Vingi believes them.
Real-Eel and Strenata are quietly undecided.
I don't believe them a bit. I don't feel like getting into
an argument with a friend about it, so I'll rant at the
monsters (apologies to real and water-primes who might be reading):
- The stories are formulaic. Not to put too fine a point
on it, but they are all the same, with minor variations in:
means of travel, details of locale visited, heroic deed
performed, and means of return. (There is no explanation
why the author/heroes keep going there and nobody else does.)
- The Water-Tree is too much of a distorted image of the
real World Tree. Everything there refers back to the real
one, in ways that would only make sense if the water-primes
were constantly peering over here and taking us as the
absolute determiner of their culture.
- Water-Tree words keep referring to real words:
Water-Khtsoyis are called Water-Khtsoyis. (Evidently the
common tongue of the Water-Tree is exactly the same as ours,
including words for all the prime species, seven of whom do
not exist on the Water-Tree.)
- For that matter, the Water-Ketherian language is just
like Ketherian, except that it uses "t" where we use "s" and
vice-versa: Real-Eel is nice and pretty; Krimvan, the first
Water-Tree Orren that Arvolest meets, says that he is "nite
and pressy". This doesn't make much sense, given how
languages are adapted from common. [Sythyry explains,
poorly, how "pretty" comes from a phrase in common
that has the same consonant as in "pretty" in the same
- Lots of other things there refer back to things here.
For example, in Slow Barge to Despair, Cnauvolest
races to find an underwater temple with iron Sleeth
statues guarding the door. Not iron water-Sleeth
(which look like real Sleeth front halves, with big fishy
tails). Regular quadrupedal Sleeth. Which do not exist on
- Lots of other things refer back to the World Tree, but
reversed. Metal and stone are common; wood is rare and
- The reversals are not entirely consistent though. When
Cnauvolest wants to poke a sleeping water-Cani, he picks up
a stick that happens to be lying around. Not a metal rod,
but a stick. Which should, by the previous comment, be
inordinately expensive -- worth its weight in amber ten
times over. And, unlike here, you wouldn't just find one
lying around. (For that matter, their coins -- "nozel" --
are made of amber too, and seem worth about a lozen each,
and you'd think amber would be a whole lot rarer and more
expensive on a world without many trees.)
- Water-Tree words keep referring to real words:
- And how do all those big dangerous carnivorous
animals that the heroes keep having to slaughter, find
enough food to live on? There doesn't seem to be a lot of
vegetable matter on the Water-Tree -- a few stands of
pondweed maybe. Most of the ground is covered with what
seems to be growing silverware, and lots of the underwater
scenery is full of big hulking rock statues. Not much plant
material. Which, one expects, would mean not many
herbivores, and thus not many predators. But every time
anyone goes on dry land, there's a huge krango or remorshka
waiting for them. I can see why the predators would be
hungry -- but how do they get to be there at all?
- The authors cross over to the Water-Tree from all sorts
of places, generally here or there in Vheshrame. Now, I am
not an expert in Locador, nor yet in Magic Theory, but it
seems to me that inter-universe travel would be a mighty
Locador effect. Surely someone (e.g, someone who
has verifiably been to other universes) would have
- There are odd inconsistencies between this and that
story. For example, in Ritornello, water-Sleeth are
described as fearsome as, well, my lab partner, or worse.
In Castle of the Fishes, we actually get to meet some
water-Sleeth -- who, like all their kind, are toothless,
clawless, meek, and vegetarian.
- None of the actual world-crossers seems to take
them the least bit seriously.
- Time on the Water-Tree is measured by fours not threes
-- a month is 64 days long, a year is 16 months = 1,024
days. Yet, somehow, everything works out sensibly in our
calendar -- the year is 4,259 there (the first book was
published two years ago). Paingang was killed by the Knights
of the Azure Fountain in water-year 422 (cf. being killed by
the Knights of the Crimson Flower in our year 422). The
Choinxeian League was founded in their year 4102, as was
ours. Every story seems to have exactly one such duplicate
event mentioned, generally on page three. Oh, and the
water-primes think more naturally in triples anyways -- the
nendrai keeps saying things like, "It was over 273 of your
- In fact, every bit of history and anything we see in the
stories comes directly from the World Tree. They build
their cities in the same places as ours, and call them the
same -- even Inihithre, and why would a city that was
originally made from sheets of iron and gold leaned together
be called by a name that means "Leaves On Top" in their
ancient language (which was the same as ours)?
In any case, I don't believe a word of it. Very silly.
But of course I did have nightmares about
water-Khtsoyis afterwards. Ugly things! They look like very
large squids, the size and weight of a Cani. Their shells
are stone. Their tentacles are curved and made of stone too,
jointed in a couple spots, and very very sharp on the tips.
Fortunately, I dreamed that Dustweed was there with me, and
she picked up a big metal sword -- there are big metal
swords lying around on the Water-Tree for the taking (though
somehow the authors forget to bring them home) and stick it
in the water-Khtsoyis mouth. And then I woke up.
Only, when I woke up, I knew it had been a dream.