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Tervine's Travels, continued

26 Thaumont 1013: This morning I set off alone towards the interior of the island, despite Sarabine's protestations; I assured her that I was well able to protect myself from any natural predators. With some reservations, she let me go, having first plied me with enough supplies to last a week and extorted promises that I would return in three days. She seemed quite upset that I was going off alone; it appears our good Captain has stronger feelings for me than I had dared to hope. . .

I travelled afoot along the beach for the first mile or so, looking for some obvious path into the dense jungle covering the island; finding none, I whipped out my Handkerchief of Travel, converted it into its more useful Flying Carpet state, and rose above the treetops. After a couple of hours' journey, I began to approach the dormant volcano at the island's heart, at which point the trees began to thin out; it was at this point I noticed some small signs of habitation, in the form of carefully-ploughed fields. I commanded the Carpet to descend, in order to examine this curiosity.

The fields were quite large, very square, and planted with - of all things - wheat and barley. Stranger and stranger! I had thought these grains to be found on the mainland only, but apparently not. The crops were well-grown and abundant; the volcanic soil was apparently very good for them. However, a greater surprise awaited me as I coasted around the volcano - the sight of sheep, goats and cows grazing on arable land! Obviously, this was the work of settlers, not natives - I found it impossible to believe such beasts were native to a subtropical jungle. A thought struck me; could this possibly be the island I sought, after all? If so, some divine providence was obviously watching over me! By now, the light was beginning to fade; I decided to explore further tomorrow, and made camp by a rocky outcropping. I cast a Circle of Camouflage to protect me from any curious observers, and settled down to sleep.

27 Thaumont 1013: I awoke this morning to the sound of voices - human voices! for a moment I thought the crew of the Fair Nancy had somehow followed me, but these voices spoke in a strange patois which, after a few moments, I recognised as a debased form of the ancient Vestlander tongue. These must be the people I sought! When the islanders came into view, I was assured of that fact - each one, although heavily tanned from the hot sun and wearing loincloths and beads, had startlingly blond hair - except for the leader, whose carroty-red mane was even more vibrant than his followers. I hurriedly cast Invisibility and Fly spells upon myself, flew out of the area-of-effect of my (fortunately still active) Circle of Camouflage, and carefully drifted after the disappearing hunters.

Within the hour, my "guides" led me to a fair-sized village, built on the side of the volcano. Its buildings were a curious mishmash of Northern Reaches styles, adapted to suit the existing terrain and building materials. At the highest point was a large complex built all of local stone; obviously the temple or keep for this settlement. I was surprised to see that no fortifications surrounded the village; although I had come across no large predators during my short time here, surely the island couldn't be entirely devoid of them? Yet the people here showed no concerns as they went about their business.

I attempted to cast an ESP spell, to learn more about the villagers, and received a nasty shock; the spell inexplicably failed, the resulting feedback causing a burst of incredible pain in my mind! I struggled to retain consciousness while I came in to land - a fall from my current height could be dangerous, if not fatal - but I failed. The last thing I remembered was the ground rushing up to meet
me. . .

18 Felmont 1013: Today, the Fair Nancy sailed away from the Isle of Neogana, as it is called by the natives. I am sorry to leave my new-found friends on the island, but I have promised to return someday.

So many mysteries solved, since I appeared in the village of Arnheim that day. . .after my fall, I awoke in a darkened room with walls of good solid stone, tucked up in a comfortable bed with a feather quilt over me. I had no idea where I was; how did I come to be here? Memories of my rude meeting with the ground returned, and I rapidly checked myself for breakages, but I appeared both whole and refreshed!

My waking obviously triggered some sort of alarm, for within minutes the door opened and an elderly, grey-haired man, wearing simple woolen robes, entered the room. He spoke in the same tongue as the hunting party I encountered; I obviously looked confused, for he pulled a small medallion from beneath his robe and touched it to my brow. Suddenly his words made perfect sense! He introduced himself as Angulf, High Priest of the Spuming Nooga in the village of Arnheim, and told me that I had suddenly appeared in mid-air above the market square four days before - (four days?) - screaming loudly, whereupon I had plummeted downwards. I had been near death; he and his priests had used their magics to pull me back from the abyss. Would I care to explain how and why I was there?

Deciding honesty was the best policy, I related my entire tale to Angulf, from my discovery of the old legends in Karameikos to my "accident," and humbly (for me) requested him to send a messenger to the Nancy - surely Sarabine must be beside herself by now! Angulf promised to do so and, with a curious smile on his lips, invited me to dress and take a walk with him.

Our travels took us into the village, where he related the history of his people, the Ambarssen Clan, from their escape from persecution within the belly of the great whale - my scepticism must have been plain here, as he laughed good-naturedly and continued - to their eventual landfall here, on Neogana Isle, and the ways in which they had preserved their culture and maintained their secrecy down through the centuries. Our walk ended up at the Temple (that large stone complex, as I had suspected, was the Spuming Nooga's place of worship), wherein he led me to a small shrine cut into the mountain itself. Within the alcove, lit by a dozen bright torches, lay a beautiful sea-green crystal sphere, fully two feet in diameter; the Leviathan's Crystal Eye. This, said Angulf, was the source of the village's protection, the means by which both dangerous predators and prying eyes were turned away (and also, it seems, that which turned my harmless ESP spell into a nearly-fatal seizure!). It was the Crystal Eye which let the Ambarssen learn of events in the greater world, and which let Angulf alone - he stared hard at me as he stressed this point - Commune with his Immortal. I was not so dense that I did not take his meaning; to remove the Crystal Eye - even if I could, which I doubted - would be both a foolish and an evil act, and I was neither an evil man nor a fool. See that his point was made, Angulf smiled, and invited me to share his home for as long as I chose to remain.

Both I, and the crew of the Fair Nancy, spent many happy weeks on Neogana, while the villagers of Arnheim helped us repair and re-provision the ship. More importantly (from a personal viewpoint), I was permitted to share in the Ceremony of Landfall, during which Angulf used the Crystal Eye to Commune with his Immortal - a spellbinding experience! - and I was granted the rare opportunity to ask one question through the High Priest - the answer to which, I shall happily follow up when I reach civilisation again! A few days later, the Nancy was fully repaired, and the entire village threw a farewell banquet for us - a riotous affair; I never would have believed any Elf (especially Captain Meditor!) capable of such. . .erotic dancing!

Now, as I sit on deck, listening to the sounds of the seabirds above and the waves below, my eyes stray to Sabarine standing at the helm. She senses my eyes, and meets them, smiling warmly at me; I look forward to seeing them light up when she receives the gift I have made for her, a crystal lens permanently enchanted with the Weather Eye spell. We will have three more weeks together; who knows what may develop in that time?


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This article and all related material copyright 1999 Carl Quaif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.