About the Rayskel Cays
Rayskel Cays is an archipelago located far west of the main supercontinent. The chain has five major islands that together form a shape that is roughly circular. The circle surrounds a “sunken waterfall” in the ocean - really an illusion caused by currents flowing into a vast underwater structure, whose purpose is unknown. Once a year, this structure rises dramatically from the ocean, prompting many rituals and celebrations, historically including human sacrifice, thought the practice has fallen somewhat out of popularity.
The islands are surrounded by vast numbers of small boats owned by the locals, and traffic between islands is far busier than travelling end-to-end on an island by land.
There are as many as 30 unique languages on the island, five of which I extrapolate are also unique signed modalities or languages.
For more information, see page 157 in the Ninth World Guidebook. Copyright
About Sisepa Culture
The Seaspeakers, or Sisepa as they call themselves, are one of many small communities in the Rayskel Cays. They are primarily fishers and explorers of the shallow seas and tend to stay close to home because they value their tight-knit community. There are three main clans that call their “origin” island, Orite, home; the Matarafi, the Lorile, and the TK. The largest population of Seaspeakers lives on the island, which is off the western coast of Augh-Chass, as well as settlements on that western coast. There are also small groups in the Maer Outpost, Vonnai, and Ces, who have more contact with the other tribes and settlers of the archipelago. A pidgin trade language, Ayon, has been heavily influenced by the mainland language (Truth) brought by settlers. It has a significant amount of borrow words from Seaspeak.
Linguistically it is uncommon for a pidgin to develop into a creole; Ayon is spoken primarily in the cities that see the most trade but is not learned as a first language. A creole language, also (unhelpfully) called Ayon, is developing alongside the pidgin, on the island of Augh-Chass. Children are learning this creole as a first language as a result of prolonged amicable multilingualism between islanders speaking Truth, Seaspeak, Laido (another island language), and a few others.
The Seaspeakers rely on oral tradition to enforce their values and beliefs. They believe their ancestors “woke from a dream in the water”; they call Orite home because there is no memory or tale that extends past ancestors living on the island.
The Seaspeakers traditionally live in close-knit, typically matriarchal clans, or denali. These are led by the oldest able female in a sibling group, dena, who has been trained by her mother or aunt who previously retained the role.
Under the guidance and trust of this dena are the honored elders, baba, most of whom are her blood siblings or siblings by “marriage”.
The children of all elders are usually working adults, seva, or caregivers, peze. No-one is idle in a community that needs all hands for survival, but main distinction is that peze are full time parents who share the responsibilities of the household and childrearing. These roles are generally held throughout a lifetime, peze continuing to support children even if they are not directly biologically related until “retirement” as baba.
Pisha are adolescents and young adults, generally around the age of puberty up to 18, who are apprenticed to someone in the community and beginning to learn a trade. The celebration of a new apprenticeship is a major rite of passage in a young Seaspeaker’s life.
Chitatu are children, and their job is to learn. Curiosity and exploration are highly encouraged in prepubescent children, that they might find what might interest them most in life. They are always welcome to observe craftspeople on the job and are expected to attend to the storytelling of baba and dena so that they learn about their roots.
Epoa are babies and small children too young to be left unattended, usually from birth to around 4.
There is no formal education, and most of the population is illiterate, but learning by experience and returning to share that experience is considered a duty. Chitatu and pisha typically go to whichever baba they feel most connected to share new experiences, and the baba will relay the important points at monthly inter-clan gatherings. Most of what the Sisepa know of the outside world is relayed by word of mouth.
Most of the Seaspeakers work as fishers of shallows and depths alike, and are particularly adept at finding airels (natively sala), which are highly prized tiny gelatinous sponge fish and serve as the unofficial currency of the Cays. There is also a growing number of Seaspeakers perfecting the art of glassblowing.
There is no grammatical gender distinction in Seaspeak, and in fact, gender itself is of little importance to the Seaspeakers. Children are seen as almost genderless, because gender is respected as a form of self-expression. Label distinctions still exist (ability to gestate children or seed them), and there is also recognition of those who fill neither role. We could think of this as “female”, “male”, and “non-binary”, and these adjectives are ahli, idī, and thije. However, it would be incorrect to assume that these terms are a correlation of the modern idea of gender. This is millions of years in the future and not bound by the constraints of current thinking. Grammatically, other distinctions are more common, because one’s role or job informs community interactions. Personal pronouns can take adjectives in Seaspeak. Because age and birth order are so important in social status, third person pronouns might take adjectives for “elder” and “younger”; “she and he are playing” becomes “elder-one and younger-one play now”. There is also distinction between “this” and “that” for determiners, based on proximity to speaker, and generally visibility.
Being polite and deferential is very important in the clans. Beyond the honorific register to speak to/about someone of advanced age and/or experience, it is also considered extremely rude to tell someone what to do, and grammatical ways both to politely request as well as advise someone (“should”) are heavily used.