Excerpts from the Journal of Sarah Plowse

 
Excerpts from the Journal of Sarah Plowse

Day One - Mid-Pharast, 4712

Days like these really make me understand why so many ancient cultures started a new calendar with every significant event that happens. Hell, even the modern calendar starts counting with Aroden raising the Starstone and becoming a god. I feel a little like making my own calendar right now.

The Mists of Dread has been sunk at sea.

Well, run aground, really. When the spotter announced that the ship following us was running a skull and crossbones, the current of fear that ran through the ship's crew was palpable, almost a tangible thing that could be split with a knife. The crew recovered well, though the wind didn't seem to be in our favour. From what I could tell, the pirate ship was somewhat larger than ours, and so the captain hit on the idea of losing the ship in the shallows of a nearby island.

He didn't count on their being a reef, however. If you have never experienced it, gentle reader, and I sincerely hope you never have to, the sound of a ship breaking apart is a terrifying thing. Wood creaking to its breaking point and snapping, horrifying groans that accompany every shudder of the ship, and the unstoppable gurgle of rushing water.

It was sheer luck that I had my book satchel on me at the time we struck the reef, and I barely had enough time to grab a coil of rope, one of the ship's spears, and to jam the axe I was using to cut lines into my belt before the water was upon us. Still, most of the crew made it off the wreckage before it finished going down, and I can't help but think that there would be more of us alive if not for the cliffs, over a hundred feet tall, that stretched for miles in either direction and served as the final gatekeeper to those who would be admitted safely to land. The climb was the most difficult and the most exhausting thing I've ever had to endure. I don't like to think about it too much. In the end, only three of us finished the climb.

Of the others, the first is Anna. She's shorter than me by about two stones, and I guess kind of good looking, if the hypothetical male is into the whole blonde-petite-and-slender-but-busty look.

It's possible that there may be a little bit of jealousy there, upon reflection.

She's claimed the ability to use magic, or, at least, the ability to conjure water. I think she might be a cleric of some kind, but if so, I don't know of which god. Still, Anna seems nice. A little quiet, cheerful enough considering the dire straits we find ourself in, and I'd almost say shy, but she doesn't seem to have trouble speaking her mind. It's more like, she'll talk if she has something important enough to say, but otherwise she doesn't mind keeping to herself.

The other survivor from the shipwreck is a man named Flick.

Where do I even begin to write about Flick.

To his credit, he's a snappy dresser. I'd bet he'd look actually quite debonair if I ever got to a chance to see him cleaned up. On the other hand, he got in an argument with our campfire and lost. There is definitely something wrong with this boy's head. I don't think he's dangerous, precisely, but perhaps incapable of responsibility? I predict that Anna and I will be doing a lot of babysitting until we're rescued. I've seen him actually demonstrate his ability to use magic, but not the same way that Skeeve did, so I don't think he's a sorcerer or wizard, but if he's a priest I will personally stew and eat my own boots. Still, there's just something compelling about him...

As to the island itself, it seems to teem with life. Even as unaccustomed to hunting with a spear as I am, the foraging came easy. Still, one of my first priorities is to find a suitable branch or sapling and make myself a new bow. I shouldn't have much trouble finding something tensile enough, even if all of this wood is unfamiliar to me.

Our current plan is to explore into the jungle interior come morning. The weather seems to be nice still, we've got a bit of a stockpile of meat, and water's not going to be a problem, so we have time to shop around, as it were, and find some place to make a shelter of some kind. Maybe we'll get lucky, and this island will turn out to be inhabited. Of course, given the sailors' tales of tropical cannibals, maybe that wouldn't be so lucky. A grisly thought indeed.

Still, keeping this journal, a record of our explorations, will be a priority. This is exactly the kind of adventure I set out to find - well, maybe not exactly, I could have done without the sinking ship and loss of her crew. But still! There's something important on this island. I have a feeling there just has to be.

Day Two - Mid-Pharast, 4712

Dear Future Me,

If I ever say again that I like the rain, or that I find the rain romantic, or any one of a hundred other pieces of twaddle, I hereby irrevocably give Future Me permission to slap slightly-less-Future Me silly.

Love, Past Me.

Day Four, Mid-Pharast 4712

It has been an interesting two days. And now I understand why the Tien use the phrase 'may you have interesting times' as a curse.

When I last left off, Flick had just gotten the idea of climbing a tree to get the lay of the land. It was a pretty good idea, and it told us a lot. The island itself is made up of two volcanoes, it would seem; currently, we're in the inactive caldera of the southern one, at the center of which is a marshy lake. If I had to guess, I'd say about five miles to the north is the other volcano, and as it was currently smoking, I'd have to say it's still active.

The three of us decided to head south to the lake, and that's when the trouble started. The entire jungle around us went silent, and I started to fill with a sense of unreasoning dread. I... I'm not proud of what happened next.

I fled.

I couldn't tell you how long, or how far, but when the fear finally receded, and I am convinced that it was not natural fear, I was alone in the jungle. I made my way to the south, hoping to rendevous with Flick and Anna where we intended to meet, at the lake.

Along the way, I found something rather unsettling. My path took me to the edge of a wide, circular meadow, with the stench of sulphur in the air, and a fine layer of soot and char covering everything in it. I didn't stop to investigate; something like that is best explored as a team.

Eventually, as the sun started to sink close to the horizon, I found the marshy end of the lake, but it was too late to scout out the water's edge for a campsite, so I grabbed what loose wood I could, and made my way back to the rocks I'd passed on my way there, to make camp. But, on my way back to the rocks, I saw something that disturbed me.

It was a goblin.

And it had Flick's boot.

I did what any red-blooded adventurer would do in the situation; I took a poke at him with my spear. I guess it tipped him off when I dropped my wood pile, though, and he managed to skitter away into the brush unharmed. He was acting very odd for a goblin, though. No giggling, no laughing, no singing. And then he called out of the brush, telling me that he wanted to be friends, and that he had been on the Mists with us! I was somewhat relieved to find out that the island was in fact probably not overrun by a goblin tribe.

The little goblin's name is Jimjie, and after a little bit of negotiation (and a monumental leap of faith on my part), we made camp. Thankfully, I woke in the morning to not regret the decision, though.

However, that night, I had a dream...

I was running through the jungle when I came across Skeeve, tied to, of all things, the mast of a ship by a cliff, the stench of sulphur in the air. I cut him down, and he told me that he'd found my father, who was standing on the edge of the cliff. My brother then handed me a dagger, a great jewelled thing with a sunburst of gems on the hilt, and told me to kill him. I approached him, but despite my brother's urgings, I just couldn't do it.

That's when something threw me off the cliff. I saw a brief flash of yellow eyes, and a red-skinned beast, a demon-beast, standing beside my father, and yelling that I was too weak to face my destiny, or to escape the island. I woke up before I hit the rocks below.

Most of the dream, I recognized, but the knife, and the demon... they felt significant somehow.

When Jimjie and I were ready to go, we headed back to the lake. The west side was more likely to be solid than the east, and that would give us the opportunity to light a signal fire for Flick and Anna, but it turned out not to have been necessary. We followed a game trail back to the lake, and came upon the two of them fighting some kind of razorback boar!

I've never had a chance to be the heroine that arrives in the nick of time. When no one gets hurt, it's actually kind of fun.

Well supplied now, I, ah, introduced Jimjie to Flick and Anna. Anna seems suspicious of him, which really just makes me feel better about Anna's judgement, but since Flick ended up getting his boot back, he seems to enjoy the little goblin's company. We're spending the night now in the cave that Flick and Anna spent last night in. It's a bit cramped, but at least I'm not alone.

There is something I'm concerned about, though. I remember, just after Flick lost his boot the first time, that Anna tried to heal him with her priestess' gifts, and he screamed as though burnt, and then he cast a spell of his own to close his wounds. I don't know enough about magic to tell if Flick was being hurt by the power of the divine, or if Anna was using harmful magic on him. I shouldn't say anything; I don't want to alienate them, but still, it bears watching...





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