Only two sets of footprints lead into the interior of the island, but it seems that there are also two sets of smoothed-out sand, like something large was drug by whatever caused the footsteps… Hard, cracked earth and jagged boulders will make this path more difficult.
11th of August
The Black Isle
The footprints lead Dugo into the sandy interior of the island. Unlike the golden beaches of his homeland, this desert was composted of finely grained volcanic rock and soot. Large boulders, yet to be ground down by acid rain and the strong dust storms, lay scattered along the path. The set of footprints snaked in and out of the stones, leading Dugo deeper and deeper into the island. In the dimming light, Dugo could just make out a flickering campfire coming from a tightly clustered group of boulders. Approaching quickly, but quietly, and with sword drawn, Dugo closed the gap between himself and what he hoped were his friends. Dugo scaled a boulder to a height of about fifteen feet off the ground, and found himself nestled in a bowl-shaped depression. Scared to pop his head over the lip and risk revealing himself to any possible threat, Dugo waited patiently for some clue as to the camp’s inhabitants.
Barin: I sure hope Dugo made it to shore safely. It seems odd how we all washed up together, but he was nowhere in sight.
Apul: We’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out. For the time being, I’m just glad those weird creatures didn’t follow our trails back at the beach.
Barin: I think we are all glad for that.
Apul: How long do you think until Najen and Naelroe wake up? They must have gotten hit real bad!
Barin: They are both breathing fine, I just think they got knocked unconscious by the blast. They’ll be all right in an hour or two, hopefully. I’m not too keen on spending any more time here than we have to.
Apul: Which brings me to my next two questions: What the hell was that blast, and how the hell are we getting off this island? Our luck with ships has not been good recently.
Barin: I’m not sure what hit our ship. All I remember is talking to Najen up on deck, and hearing this screaming coming from ahead in a wall of fog. The fog wasn’t all that odd; a cloud of it always seems to surround the Black Isle, which just adds to the mysteriousness of the island. I know a few competitors have come here in search of precious gems and ores. The ones that have returned have only made meager returns, and the ones that haven’t… well, I just never thought this place was worth the risk.
Apul: Barin… the crash?
Barin: Right. I just remember the scream, and then we entered the fog. All of the sudden the scream let out again, and it seemed to come directly from the port side. It was a helluva lot closer, too. Then this blue light just comes rocketing out of nowhere. Saw it coming through the fog, lighting everything up, and enveloped in flashes of lightning. It was an amazing sight… until I realized that it was on a direct course for our boat. It dipped below the waves, and Najen and I lost sight of it. She ran to the rail to look into the sea, but just then it came crashing up through the deck. Didn’t even have a chance to yell or react before the entire world just went blindingly white. Next thing I remember was you waking me up and dragging the girls through the sand…
Apul: Yeah, I must have been asleep because I only remember opening my eyes on this beach and wondering where the hell we were. The three of you were lying a little ways down the been in the shallows. I managed to drag you up a bit further into the dry sand. Dugo was nowhere to be seen, so I checked a little ways down the beach in either direction… nothing. When I came back, you woke up pretty much as soon as I checked to see if I could rouse you.
Dugo, having heard the conversation, and more than satisfied that his friends are below, pops his head up over the bowl and makes his presence known. The sudden voice from above damn near scares Barin and Apul half to death.
Dugo leaps down from the boulder, and the group is quickly reunited. They decided that they should get some rest before the girls wake up, so Barin and Dugo hoisted Apul on top of the bowl shaped boulder. Since Barin and Dugo had gotten little sleep on the boat, they both instantly passed out. The dusty environment and uncomfortable ground did not deter them one bit. Apul maintained a careful eye on the horizon in all directions, but detected nothing worthy of raising alarm. A gray skink with red stripes skittered across the bowl and across Apul’s hand and tore off towards the north as fast as its tiny legs could carry it. That little reptile was the highlight of Apul’s night, for all around him everything else was dead… or sleeping.
12th of August
Apul heard Najen moaning down below, and crawled down from his perch to wake up Barin and Dugo. While Barin helped up Najen, Dugo aided Naelroe to her feet. They both had some cobwebs that needed to be shook out, but the party seemed to be in pretty good condition, taking into account the crash that they had all survived. They all agreed that they had better set off in some direction. No one really had any idea which was was best…
Which Gate Do You Choose?
Always Follow Your Lizard
Apul: North is as good a direction as any. At least it’ll take us closer to the straight between here and the Red Isle. If we are really lucky, maybe we’ll meet one of those mineral hunters you were talking about, Barin.
Barin: Not a bad idea, Apul. Let’s head north.
Let the Gals Decide
Naelroe: North looks really rocky… I think we should head east. That looks nice and flat and smooth and easy and…
Dugo: Wide open with no cover?