01. A Not-quite Deserted Island
When Matsya told me of this encounter, my first thought was of the golems of the Far East, said to be driven by intricate wooden mechanisms. However, as Kalika so eagerly explained to us, the people of Aloalo were artisans of a different sort. They created arcane wooden familiars known as “quaqua” to serve as both protectors and companions, of which the creature that assailed Matsya and Player was but one. Nor were their constructs limited to the quaqua alone─Kalika warned against recklessly laying hands upon any of the figures dotting the island, lest they be roused from their slumber to defend their home.
Practitioners of the art of arcanima, which itself originated in the southern seas, employ gemstones to act as an intermediary between the corporeal and incorporeal when summoning familiars such as Carbuncles. The properties of wood, however, make it suitable for the selfsame purpose, and there is now evidence to suggest that early arcanists relied on wooden rather than gemstone cores. The “tiresome lout” of whom Matsya spoke must have possessed intimate knowledge of arcanima to successfully adopt these methods and call upon the quaqua.