The Ruler of the Waters
The Ocean in Quatrian Lore
The ancient Quatrians had an abiding respect for the ocean. In their relatively complex understanding of the interrelationships of biosystems, they considered the ocean and its denizens “a strange country,” beyond the understanding of those who dwell on land. The idea of the ocean as “a strange country” or “taboo” realm likely served a practical purpose, as it would certainly have prevented overfishing/overharvesting in Quatrian coastal communities.
Quatrian sailors and fisherpeople, who depended upon the ocean for their livelihood, knew only too well the precarious nature of the waters, and many surviving fragments of charms and spells offer compromises with the denizens of the sea. These magical charms, largely supplicative, contrast rather starkly with similar charms used in land-based occupations, which are addressed, of course, to different entities who are more “knowable” to those who work with plants, etc. (1)
As is, of course, well-known, Anthuor, the Stag-Headed One, was venerated as the Ruler of the Life Force. This seems, however, to have extended only to the living things which were primarily terrestrial. (2) When it came to the waters — particularly the oceans — the Ruler was never addressed by a name.
Usually depicted as a massive Manta Ray or, in certain places, an Orca, the Ruler of the Waters communicated with Anthuor via dragonflies, the only creatures in Quatrian myth who could travel between realms (apparently by transforming into lobsters or crayfish when they entered the water).
The explanation for the absence of the name of the Ruler of the Waters is fascinating. According to the lore, this name could only be pronounced underwater; doing so, though, necessitated the ability to breathe underwater for a long period, as the name consists of 216 syllables, many of which require gills. However, speaking the Ruler’s name in this fashion would instantly grant one access to the Realm of the Seas and the wonders contained therein.
There is a famous legend concerning the only Quatrian who ever learned the name of the Ruler of the Waters, a magician named Salthis. Having uncovered the name using magical methods, Salthis leaped into the ocean from the deck of a boat with weights tied to his legs. He never returned to the surface.
(1) See, for instance, Fragment XIX in Sloane MSS 6013, a Quatrian sea charm asking the “ancestors of the waters” for “only as much as you allow to provide.”
(2) “Terrestrial” varied from community to community. In some areas, especially post-Diaspora, Anthuor ruled fresh water to a certain depth, below which Anthuor’s domain expired.