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Viseka-painting

Viseka and Janama, silk oil on canvas, Dassus Library of Art

Viseka and Janama is a legend originating in the Thessian city of Dassus during the pre-Myacolan age. It is part of the canon of mythology concerning the goddess Viseka the Ever Maiden, whose body is the oceans of Thessia, and the sailor Janama, her lover.

Legend

Janama was a sailor, the best the world had ever known, able to read the winds and the tides at a glance, and steer her way through any storm unscathed. Viseka the Ever Maiden, body of the ocean who would permit no asari to tame her, would continually throw storms and night-tides and all manner of things at Janama, yet Janama always prevailed over these challenges. In time the contest between the two became a lover's dance, Viseka lashing with wind and rain at Janama, who delighted in her goddess's touch, and Viseka in turn delighted at seeing her lover triumph.

One day the two's dancing became especially tempestuous, and without realising, one of Viseka's storms tossed Janama's catamaran into the Lost Deep, a region of the ocean where the ocean floor sank down so far that it reached through the bottom of the world, and opened into an alien, unknowable ocean. Above the sinkhole, the hungry forces of the other place held dominion, so Viseka was powerless to save Janama as they summoned an other-storm and drove her to the centre of the Lost Deep. Janama was forced onto the shores of the Armada, a desolate island of wrecked ships driven together, turned to stone on top and floating on the bones of hundreds of vessels below.

Janama tried with all her skill and tenacity to reach safe waters, but every time she did the other-storm would catch her sails and drive her back to the Armada. Viseka, wracked with guilt and desperate to save her lover, threw all her power against the influence of the other ocean, but where Janama was, directly above the sinkhole their power was too great for her to challenge. Finally, in desperation, the goddess appealed to the other ocean directly, asking that if Janama was to die on the Armada, that she at least be allowed to make her lover's death quick.

The other ocean - following whatever unknowable impulses guided it - drew back for an instant, just enough for Viseka to cast one bolt of lightning. But at the last second, instead of striking Janama, Viseka turned it aside, and struck the rock of the Armada, blasting a hole in its shore, and the waves filled the hole with water which rushed out as steam. The other ocean furiously closed itself to Viseka again, knowing it had been tricked somehow, but unable to figure out how - until Janama, after weeks of work, set to sea again, with no sails for the other-storm to catch, but a steam engine powering her rebuilt catamaran. And so she returned to her home, and passed on her discovery - but Viseka didn't care that her power had been lessened, because Janama then set out to sea again, and even though she could have used an engine to propel her boat, she raised sails instead, and invited Viseka to play with her again.

Historical relevance

The legend is tied to the emergence of the Dassus Craft, a body of technical literature, and some surviving artefacts, which represent a dramatic leap in the sophistication of mechanisms, including (as shown in the tale) the first steam-powered engines, and most famously the Dassus Clock, a calculating mechanism that many craft historians regard as the first computer (in a simple form) created by the asari. There is historical evidence of several individuals and guilds contributing to the development of the Dassus Craft, but the earliest recovered records cite earlier mechanisms whose creators remain unknown.

The modern city of Dassus retains the tradition of seafaring that has characterised all its historical incarnations; both Viseka and Janama are commemorated in numerous historic and modern artworks, most notably the Lovers, a colossal statue of the couple dating back to the early Athame era, which is fashioned from the north head of the lands encircling Dassus harbour.

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