World:Loquitur/The Eastern Bowels

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While the other near-water parts of the continent are vastly diverse, the eastern part of the land is a hell-hole, inhabited by few and visited by far less. None can truly say where the name Eastern Bowels came from, but reflecting on the truth of it, the general population has come to adopt it as the unofficial name for the Eastern edge of their world. Some say it is named so because of the foul odor that hangs about the place, thick of sulfur and death, the heat only worsening the smell. Others swear that all who see it firsthand, loose their bowels at the horror, thus naming the place...

As far as the eye can see, the Bowels are a desolate, terrifying wasteland, the earth black with death and red with heat. All around, pools of firey liquid, lava oozing from the ground. Where it cools, black chalk-like formations, each more fearsome than the next. Nothing moves, nothing breathes, nothing lives; all is quiet in the Bowels, at least on the surface...

Every village has a story about the Bowels, and every city has a dozen or so. All begin the same way, a band of brave men, sensing their destinies lie to the East, departing town with much bragging and fanfare, never to return. Some feature only a single man, more insane than brave, but none ever have a happy ending. From time to time, a wandering merchant or gypsy might proclaim to have treasures from the Bowels, swearing on his life that he'd fetched them from some dangerous crevasse, or looted them from the corpse of one of those many lost adventurers. But when doubly questioned, the merchant inevitably could not back up his tales, and his story would change in the next town...

Far off the eastern coast of the world, lies the Floating Isle. Some call it the Swimming Island, some the Roaming Isle, but all know its legend, and though many tell its tales loudly and with determination, none have been there in person. Or rather, none have returned...

It is said that somewhere off the coast, far into the ocean beyond a man's sight, lies a beautiful tropical island, expansive and impressive. The common knowledge is that, somehow and for reasons unknown, the entire island moves about from place to place, like the nomadic desert-dwellers of firm land. At times, its movements echo those of the ocean currents, but at other times it seems to float of its own volition, seemingly unaffected by the powerful ocean tide and winds. During the warm summer months, the Isle spends much of its time far out at sea, basking in the warmth and energy of the sun. The place is said to be a paradise, a vision beyond vision, a sight that no man can comprehend, nor any truly appreciate. A dream for all, it is a destination for a few brave souls every year, and it is said that its beauty is so great, its wonder so magnificent, that all who visit decide to stay, unable to depart from such an amazing place back to the mundane life they might have had ashore. In winter, however, and occasionally during the intense storm-seasons, the Floating Isle nears shore, approaching a different place every time. Some places go years without seeing the Isle, and others receive semi-annual visits from it. Of course, the Island never gets too near the land, certainly not close enough to touch it, or to swim back and forth, but rather stays several miles offshore, sparkling in the distance as it inflames the dreams and passions of the nearby city's inhabitants. Without any word or plan, shortly before the Island's departure a few boats find themselves to the shore, ready to take any willing visitors to the Island. These vessels, unmanned though they are, seemingly have an intelligence all their own, settling upon the land for a day and a half while awaiting passengers, and leaving when they are full, or when the allotted time expires. Those who board are allowed a minimal amount of personal baggage, but only humanoids are allowed - no horses, dogs, carriages, and so forth. When its passengers arrive at the Island, the whole thing departs, soon disappearing into the ocean mists...


As expected with such a strange place, hundreds of legends abound about its origins, design, and inhabitants. Some say it is merely an illusion, a ghostly visage designed to lure the unwitting to their death upon the open ocean. Others maintain it is the paradise spoken of, a final destination for glorious heroes, wizened old sages, and brash youngsters seeking their fortune, the proverbial "greener pastures" that all seek in life. A few say it is simply a slave of the tides, soaking up the sun in the summer months out on the ocean, and heading for the heat of the Eastern Bowels in winter. Nothing more, nothing less, and anything else is fools' talk! There are even more sinister rumors, of course, those of a terrible cult operating from the Island, more akin to a Pirates' haven than a paradise, and that only those who seek death should board the strange boats. That none have ever returned from the Island, nor any of its inhabitants seen, would only seem to back these dark tales...