"Rumpled convolutions of coral fill the water, glimmering with silvery light. The harder you look, the more you see shapes amid the chaos, almost as if they were sculpted. This one could be a crenellated castle: that one, a horse's head.
A neat little port huddles into the side of a coral island - prosaic Imperial docks and houses tucked away in a baroque organic chaos. In that curious silvery light, among the frozen chaos of coral, the scene has the unreal air of a pencil sketch, crumpled and discarded."
Port Cecil is a town on the largest island in a coral reef in the eastern Unterzee. Its main export is scintillack - glowing coral. Its inhabitants are strangely fond of chess; it seems that because of this they hallucinate that the pieces (which are sharp and often blood-soaked) have their own agendas. Well, those may not be hallucinations, as the chess matches the inhabitants play mirror the power struggles of the Neath, between the Lorn-Flukes, the Bazaar, Mt. Nomad, and the gods of the Zee, among others.
Underneath the port, there is another chess-loving power, called the Principles of Coral, waited on by Rubbery Men. It used to be a Lorn-Fluke, and it wishes to descend to the bottom of the Great Chain of Being (it actually wants to become less important). To do this, it has to transform itself into inanimate rocks, and as coral, it's already most of the way there. It just needs a few more items to complete its odd goal...