Monday, April 8, 2013

[prose] - An Introduction to Hot Springs Island

Day 15 - Aboard the Siren's Edge
Our search for a suitable location at which to found this new port continues. After the incident on the Webbed Isle, and Vance's death on the Island of Blooms, Captain Rand has ordered all crew to remain aboard the Siren's Edge and Siren's Folly until scouting parties from the Martel Company return with an initial report. Scuttlebutt is beginning to turn sour, and the pranks the crew normally direct towards the Martel Company representatives that remain with the ships are escalating into almost open hostility. The crew is clearly not handling the death of Vance well, and while I understand Captain Rand's desire to not risk his crew unnecessarily, our men are itching to get off these ships and explore the islands that will be their new home, even if they have proven rather inhospitable so far.

This island, and the one further south, are two of the largest in the Swordfish Island's chain, and the Martel Company told us they had the most promising looking deep water ports. Now we just have to wait and see if any of the inhabitants want to drink our innards or use our teeth as currency here too. That said, if the marines keep returning to the ships with reports of "no suitable locations" and packs full of treasure, I'm not sure how long Jeremy can keep the crew in check, captain or not.

This island does appear quite beautiful from the safety of the ship. Twin volcanoes, heavily cloaked in jungle, rise nearly 3000 feet above black sand beaches, and I have spotted numerous signs of hydrothermal activity. The ruins of an ancient city tumble off the lower slopes of the smaller volcano and into the sea, and appear to contain the remains of elven pleasure palaces, and a large wall in the same style as those found on the Island of Blooms. A large structure of white stone gleams from the volcano's slope above the rest of this city, but I have not been able to discern its true purpose from this distance. Curiously, these ruins seem to lack the broad avenues and colonnades seen on the Island of Blooms and Ruined Isle. In their place are what appear to be giant sized stairs resembling white, woodland fungi. Hopefully the beauty here does not prove deceptive too. I look forward to the marine's report.

Day 16 - Aboard the Siren's Edge (morning)
Sunny with winds south by southwest. Mood among the crew remains sour. Twelve Martel company marines, led by the recently promoted Lieutenant Barvus, dropped skiffs at dawn and headed to the ruins. Representative Amberlin continues to express her conviction that this would be an excellent location for the new port town, but my analysis of the crumbling wall and ruins leads me to believe that much of this city rests beneath the waves and would make these waters quite treacherous. Opinions aside, for now, we wait.

Day 16 - Aboard the Siren's Edge (midday)
Smoke has been spotted in the ruins. Speculation rampant. Orders are to remain anchored off the coast for 48 hours for any survivors to return before heading to the southern island.

Day 17 - Aboard the Siren's Edge (morning)
Calm and overcast. Heavy clouds rolled in during the night but the tropical heat has not abated. As the day heats up, this humidity may steam us like lobsters in a pot beneath this lid of clouds, and the crew's heated enough as it is. Representative Amberlin was fished out of the sea in the pre-dawn hours this morning after reportedly tripping over a pile of poorly stowed rope while walking the deck. Captain Rand has requested Stonejaw investigate the incident. A change in weather or mood can't come soon enough.

Day 18 - Aboard the Siren's Edge (pre-dawn hours)
Overcast. Light breeze, south by southeast. We are now sailing towards the island to the south, and my hand feels as if it will drop off at any moment as I have been stuck in Captain Rand's quarters writing almost non-stop since about midday when the four survivors returned. I know that I can trust Zilbee's quill of transcription to accurately record conversations as they happen, but old habits die hard in old men, and writing down what I hear as I hear it helps it stick in the memory as well as on the page. Over the coming days I will compare my notes to Zilbee's auto-notes and compile the three accounts we heard into a sensible order, but for now, a recap.

This island, which I now call Hot Springs, has proven to be unsuitable for our port town. As I surmised, much of the coastal ruin (confirmed to be elven) continues into the sea, making the waters treacherous for large, ocean-going vessels. The broad ways and avenues I'd thought missing from the ruins are still there, but overgrown by terraces of white rock formed by overflowing pools of hot water the marines swear to be as blue as sapphires. These white terraces, resembling woodland fungal growths, demonstrated that the hydrothermal activity on this island is even more robust that initially suspected, and the marines reported seeing many smaller hot springs, mud pits, and small steaming geysers as they fled through the jungles and away from the ruins.

Hot Springs Island seems just as hostile as the other islands we have come across, and Lieutenant Barvus' poor choices in the ruins (splitting the company and focusing on loot) led to his death, and the death of most of his troops to a lizardman ambush. Of the twelve marines that went into the ruins, only four returned to the ships, and one (Unger) sustained a belly wound that may have placed him within the reach of Death's bony hand. The marine Harp fled northwest from the ruins and spent last night in a tree on the shores of what he calls Crab Mouth Lagoon. The marine Harvard carried the wounded Unger southeast and camped in a glade of ancient pine trees filled with swarms of exceptionally friendly bees and the marine Indio braved a night in the ruins themselves.


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