The sistrini /sɪsˈtrini/ is a delicate, aquatic stranger with white skin and thin blue stripes that spiral around its body from its nose to the tip of its tail. The exact shade of these stripes varies regionally, with cyan, navy, blue-grey, and aquamarine being the most common shades.
above: variations in color. from left to right: sufri, selsari, kivra, hishra, ruvari.
Lacking legs, the sistrini instead, possesses blue-colored tendrils, which it keeps close to its side as it swims. It is capable of growing and receding these appendages from its body as needed, with older individuals possessing more tendrils. The flesh is light-colored, and much softer than human tissues, offering little resistance to being cut or torn. Its jaws contain row after row of jagged, uneven teeth, although the sistrini rarely opens its mouth wide enough to show them.ƈ Its mouth does not connect to its internal body cavity, which is filled with a bright blue liquid composed of hydrogen cyanide (80%), chlorine (15%), and sulfur mustard (5%).
ƈ Feeling shy...?
Injuries tend to prove fatal to the sistrini, with the flesh softening and growing ragged around the point of injury, and the caustic inner liquid seeping out into the surrounding water.
The sistrini appears in secluded underwater locations. It is mostly found in enclosed pockets of waterɮ deep underground, but also appears in man-made structures such as large pipes, reservoirs, and underwater cooling tanks. It appears to slightly prefer mid-sized, spheroid chambers over thin pipes and cavernous, irregular spaces, and never appears in any space occupied by fish, plants, or other life forms.
ɮ Have men reached their lairs? Have they donned scuba tanks and wetsuits, squeezed their way through pipes and vents, to see with their own eyes these wet-world opera-singers? Yes! But these are no elegant mermaids...
Ricarda Pointe Shearer, Phenomenon Papers, issue #60.
When it first appears, the sistrini is small, lacks markings, and swims in weak loops. During this stage, its body cavity is filled with a clear, lymph-like fluid, and its eye markings are pale and closed. As it grows larger, its teeth grow in, first as small translucent nubs, then into yellow, opaque fangs. Its inner walls begin to exude the sistrini's characteristic poison, filling its body cavity, and the markings fade in during this time, as well. The sistrini's tendrils are the last feature to form, and its eye markings open shortly afterward.
Exact duration of development varies regionally; it can take anywhere from six days to several decades for the sistrini to reach maturity. Only 64% of sistrini develop fully, however; these "unfinished" sistrini dissolve away into chalky water once their development ceases.
The sistrini's demeanor is graceful and mesmeric, and it spends its life swimming in circles with twining, hypnotic motions. Although its weak body makes it vulnerable to snags or tears, it always swims in such a way so as to avoid contact with any solid surface. Groups of sistrini spiral around one another with coordinated, ribboning motions. The sistrini generally stays within one specific chamber within its environment, and when no single large chamber exists, it travels through its territory in consistent circuits.
what you heard was real
missing some old records? we'll get you that song again!
we have authentic Carrie Sands records ?? ... you don't have to play them in your mind, you know – it's like she's right there next to you, singing to you...
As the sistrini swims, it emits haunting, wordless songs, which echo upwards from its underwater lair. Its tone is always in the soprano or mezzo-soprano range, and although its pitch varies between individuals, all sistrini possess a voice that rivals even the most trained of opera singers. Its melodies, when slow, are never sluggish, and when fast, are never frantic, but instead, remain perpetually ever-changing, with no discordance or disruption. Groups of sistrini harmonize in more complex arrangements, enamoring all those who hear their lullabies.
The sistrini's melodies carry across such boundless expanses so as to be audible to sensitives above, with water acting as a carrier. Many sensitives become enrapturedɓ by these melodies, only to grow maddened at the impossibility they face in amplifying or clarifying the sistrini's distant but omnipresent voice. Those who attempt to follow the source of these songs face equal disappointment, as the stranger's secluded, underwater home makes it all but impossible to reach.
All sensitives develop a natural resistance to the sistrini's melodies, which grow weaker to them each day, leaving them only with flat and silent memories.
ɓ When you stand in your bathroom, the sound emanates from the pipes, hard to hear and tinny, too. Old opera broadcasts from a radio that no one's played for years. And yes, you love it! But it's so, so quiet. So you kneel on the floor and press your ear against the metal. The pipe's hot, and you know you should care, but, the song is louder now, so you don't. You forget about the water you had running and remember when you feel it hot and soaked into the bathmat. Well. You stand up. You do your best to mop it up. And you're back to normal, for a spell.
You leave without time to enjoy that bath after all, then ride the bus to work. In every idle moment, you lean back, and hold your finger against your tragus so that you can seal out everything except the tune that still swims inside your head. But now, it seems all mis-remembered, warbling, discordant.
When you're home again, you flick the bathroom lights on. There's a thin burst of cyan just around the edges of your vision and as you kneel again, your eardrums trembling in anticipation like frightened mice. You close your eyes. It's there again...
Rey Crud, Hypotheum: Muralia Rising.