Survivors from the Mists

 
Survivors from the Mists

Surreal, that's about the only way to describe it. The horrible grinding sound of wood on stone, the crushing and crashing of the wreck rolling in the surf a hundred feet below will not be a sound soon forgotten. A quick glance shows there are other survivors clinging to the cliff, some not moving, others slowly ascending just as you are. Muscles burn with fatigue as you haul yourself upward another foot, reaching for the next handhold. Somewhere below there's a startled cry that morphs into a scream as someone loses their grip, plunging into the churning water far below. They say that before you die your life flashes before your eyes. You must not be dying, at least not yet, as it's only the recent past that comes to mind.

Arms trembling you inch your way up the cliff, hold by hold. The small amount of gear you managed to grab slips, threatening to follow the call of gravity all the way to the water below. Another scream anounces that someone else wasn't so lucky.


Breathing hard you manage to finally reach the top of the cliff. The sun is on it's way toward the horizon, it's position showing that you are definitely on the eastern side of the island. You figure you have about 3 hours of sunlight left. Your hands are torn and bleeding from the climb over the sharp rocks, and some of your equipment is pretty banged up, but the grass is soft and the breeze cool as you recover from your desperate flight up the cliff. A quick glance around shows two others have reached the summit with you, with any luck there will be more.



The climb had been rough. While not heavily laden, Flick's waterlogged leathers did their part to weigh him down. Meanwhile, the mace strapped to his belt swung freely, often clocking him in the shins as he made his ascent. The climb was not easy.

"She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
--Her beauty made me glad."


Worse yet, the cliffside itself fought against him. Random crags that felt secure to the touch would suddenly break free under the strain of his weight. His feet would slip under loose gravel where previously there had been none. Still, he thought to himself, today was not his day to die. If only he could get past this bloody cliff.

"'Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?'
'How many? Seven in all,' she said
And wondering looked at me."

As he climbed, he talked. Or, more precisely, he waxed. He had never considered himself a talented man--certainly not as melodious as certain tavern bards he had met--but liberal practice had honed his voice into something passably agreeable nonetheless. Once or twice, he had even wooed a woman based on his sultry canter alone. That was, until they ran screaming out of the room screaming something about devils...

"'And where are they? I pray you tell.'"
She answered, 'Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.'"

The voices. They were appeased by his voice. When he spoke, they listened. And when they listened, they kept to themselves. For the most part, at least.

"'Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.'"

Of course, he couldn't tell people that. They would think him possessed. Better thought a madman than demon-wrought. People only spat at you for talking nonsense. It was the stake for one such as he were he found out.

"'You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.'"


Clambering his way up to the cliff's edge, he pulled himself over with a strained grunt and threw himself panting on the grass. He allowed himself a moment of reprieve only to hear the sound of a stone coming loose followed by the scream of a man falling to his death. The crash of the waves stole away the sound of impact.

Furious at himself, Flick struggled to his feet, faced the ocean, and shouted from the top of his lungs.

"THEN DID THE LITTLE MAID REPLY,
'SEVEN BOYS AND GIRLS ARE WE;
TWO OF US IN THE CHURCH-YARD LIE,
BENEATH THE CHURCH-YARD TREE!'"

He did this until the last person reached the top. He did this so that they may live. Please, he thought to himself, let them live. I can't stand to be alone again...

Sarah Plowse, Aspiring Author

Rough does not begin to describe the climb, honestly. Used to the outdoors, Sarah's progress up the mountain is smooth and steady, at least at first. There's a terrifying moment halfway up where a foothold crumbles beneath her, but thankfully the rock tumbled back down into the sea just as she was taking her weight from it.

Bare feet from the top, she can't help but squeeze her eyes shut as another one of the crew members of the Mists plummets to his death on the rocks below. A shaky, deep breath, however, seems to galvanize her a little. Come on, Sarah, get it together! You are NOT allowed to die here on some godsforsaken rock in the middle of the damnedable ocean! Who would write about it, for one thing?

Some combination of Flick's song and her own mental berating seems to have done the trick, and with a final surge of effort, she crawls up the last few inches, and almost literally drags herself a safe distance from the edge. Pausing only a moment to pull her salvaged spear out from the coil of rope looped around her shoulder, she flops onto her back, and stares dully at the sky, breathing heavily.

It's only a few moments of rest, though, before she painfully pulls herself back up to a sitting position, and, reaching under her leather skirt, tears a strip off of her linen shift, starting to bind up her hands so they're at least not so raw and open. That attended to, she stands up shakily, lifts the coil of rope off her shoulder, and starts peering over the side of the cliff, to see if there's anyone she can reach with the end of the rope - or if there's even anywhere up here to tie it off to. Calling over the few dozen feet towards Flick, she asks, "Did anyone else survive? Can you see anyone else that needs help?"

Anna continued to pray to Besmara for strength and the will to continue up the ocean-soaked cliff-face. She wished she could just let go, but the thought of her father not getting his just rewards was what forced her on. She grabbed a small outcropping just outside easy reach. It disintegrated the moment she placed her weight on to it. Luckily, she was standing on a thin ledge at the time.

She inched closer and closer to the top as the day dragged onward. With one last push, she threw her full bag over the top of the cliff and then dragged herself up and over. Her muscles burned and ached with the exertion of the several hours climb. She dropped to the ground, gasping for breath.

A minute later she forced herself to stand and look around. Two others had already made it, the other girl and one other. Wonderful, if my luck wasn't bad enough. She waved to the others before picking up her stuff. She slowly made her way over to the others. So, we've got a few hours of light. Where to?


The moment Anna hoisted herself onto the ledge, Flick looked at her stunned as though seeing her for the first time. He abruptly ceases his recitation and murmurs to himself, "No, no. I don't think she would like that very much! We can't be having that. Shush!"

Taking a quick look about, he begins to rustle through his fanny pack, careful to hide its contents from the two girls near him. In short order, he pulls out a package wrapped in waterproof paper that he gleefully opens, revealing a bar of pink soap. He props the wrapping paper between four small stones and places the soap inside. Shutting his eyes, he begins to chant a series of words which are obviously the formation of a
Create Water, obviously.
spell. Suddenly, fresh, clean water spills from his open palms into the container.

Flick then studiously concentrates on washing his hand thoroughly making liberal use of his soap. After an entire minute of intense scrubbing, he rinses his hands clean, tosses out the inky black water, then refills it again using the same spell. Without much further ado, he extends his hand and offers the soap to the two girls, "Would you care to wash, my ladies? Bloodied hands may lead to infection which may lead to gangrene which may lead to amputation which may lead to blood loss which may lead to death."

"After all," he whispers with a conspiratorial wink. "One boy and two girls are we. Twelve of us down under lie beneath the ledge you see."


Sarah Plowse, Aspiring Author

Shaking her head slightly, Sarah re-shoulders her coil of rope, and turns away from the cliffside. Doesn't look like there's anyone even close to high enough to reach with the rope...

With a bit of a start, she looks up just in time to see Flick fill the container with his spell a second time. She seems a little taken aback by his mannerisms, especially the somewhat morbid proclamation of 'twelve of us', but hesitantly, strips her makeshift bandages from her hands all the same. "I... that's very thoughtful of you... Flick, wasn't it?" Looking back at Anna for just a second, she takes the soap, and kneels by the container to hastily wash her hands, wincing every time she scrubs a scrape or scratch a little too hard.

Presently, though, re-winding the bandages around her hands, she stands up again, offering the soap out to Anna. Considering the woman's question, she replies, "As to what we do now, we need to look for shelter, food, and another source of fresh water, in roughly that order. I think between my magic and Flick's, we'll be okay for drinking water, but it always helps to have an additional source for these things. We can probably rest here for a few minutes, but the quicker we get moving the better off we'll be."

Fishing a full waterskin out of her beltpouch, she takes a rather healthy swig, then offers out the drink to whoever wants to have some. Looking out to the west, she continues, "I think we'll be okay. A jungle like that, there's bound to be some kind of fruit about, to say nothing of hunting. We've just got to survive until another ship comes by." The unspoken thought there is that, hopefully, that other ship won't be the pursuing pirate ship.

The rough soap stings in the myriad lacerations, but all for the best. Down the cliff there is no movement aside from the battered corpse of the Mists rolling about in the surf, bleeding debris from her shattered hold. As the gaze turns landward, the first thing that leaps at you is the jungle edge. Dense undergrowth prevents much of a view within the dark canopy, and the western sun casts the jungle in deep shadows. Animal life sounds prevalent within, the calls of birds and monkeys filter through from the canopy.

Shelter shouldn't be too difficult to contrive, large tree fronds, vines, and branches should lend themselves to a simple construction, and firewood should be somewhat plentiful on the edge of the jungle.


Anna takes the soap and washes up as best she can while listening to Sarah's answer. The cuts, cleaned, still sting and her legs and arms feel like they are possibly cramping after the long climb and then no stretching out from the exertion. She hands the soap back to Flick. Thank you, Flick, correct? Well, I'm quite sure we will never be without water. I, too, am able to create water. Do we travel far into the jungle and then set up camp or just get some things for a camp and wait until the morning to trek the jungle?

Sarah Plowse, Aspiring Author

Re-wrapping her hands with the makeshift bandages, Sarah stops to consider that for a few moments. "Well, I think that for tonight it's best to stay out in the open, light a nice bright fire. I don't think we'll be dealing with any inclement weather. I'm going to try foraging along the edge of the treeline for food and firewood. I don't want to go in too far, not alone." She sets the coil of rope back down, and heads over to pick up the spear she scavenged from the deck of the Mists.

"If you two want to see what you can do with some of these broad leaves and branches to make some kind of shelter, I'll see what I can get us for dinner. If I need help, I'll make a signal." She pauses for just a moment. "The signal will be me screaming like a little girl. I'll stick close." And with that, she starts to head towards the trees.





EDIT:

"We aren't three sisters!," Flick bursts out suddenly. "I already told you, I'm a boy!"

Continuing his one-man tirade, he begins to walk about the campsite gathering twigs, sticks, leaflets, and branches of various sizes, plucking some right off the plants and trees themselves. In a forest abundant with foliage, however, his selection appears just as random as he.

Once he has an entire armload, he takes it to an open area several meters from the cliff's edge and kicks aside the loose debris there with his feet. Then, he drops his cache at his feet...

...wherein they all go flying in different directions.

"$#%&'in *^&$#@ ~$^#@!" he grumbles at no one in particular while regathering his crop. This time, with a meticulous deliberation reserved for infants and explosives, he gently places his verdant loot on the ground. Another string of
Spark, obviously.
gibberish and the wood instantly catches on fire.

"Bwuahahaha! Look what I've created. I have made FIRE!" he shouts joyfully. Unfortunately, his glee is short lived as heavy plumes of smoke engulf his face, inducing a terrible coughing fit. Gasping and with tears in his eyes, he glares at the fire and curses, "Traitorous wench!"





 

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