Day 14: Ruined Settlement
The following day – marking two full weeks on the island – we determined to follow the trail southward again. After several hours, the trail ended in a small settlement; a little farther on was a sheer cliff, dropping into a large bay. The “village” appeared to have been abandoned for years, and it was not abandoned peacefully. Human bones and decaying weapons were scattered over the site. Many of the bones showed signs of violence. Looking around, we noticed a large pentagram painted on the wall of one of the remaining structures, with smaller ones carved into other walls, trunks of trees…virtually anything that could be carved with a knife. Most disturbingly, and incongruously, human teeth had been pounded into many of the wooden surfaces as well. No one in our small group could decipher the significance of such a thing. Mwembe appeared most uncomfortable around the pentagrams and teeth and seemed very anxious to leave the village.
The settlement seemed to hold nothing else of interest and, all of us wishing to be as far from the place as possible, we turned for home. On the way, Phi, Mwembe and their animal friends fanned out to either side, hunting. When we reached camp, Phi had collected four of the typical island rodents and Mwembe brought in three more.
That evening, Gelik entertained us with several jokes; I particularly enjoyed one about a half-elf and a king.
Day 15: The Brine Demon!
Mwembe woke up ill this morning; it appears to be a recurrence of the Red Ache. While the others meditated or otherwise prepared for the day, I began reading Aerys’ Abendego Cantos out loud to Mwembe, for having been raised in the jungles of Sargava, she has only the most basic of reading skills. We are both enjoying the story.
When our reading is finished, she rises and calls to Rarsk; they are on the hunt once again and, once again, return with three large rodents.
Today it is decided to explore the jungle to the east. Phi and Fi hunt as the rest of us force our way through tangled vines and thick grasses under tall, moss-covered trees. All told, the two bring in enough food to feed all of us and more.
Eventually, we reach the cliffs that ring the entire island. Looking down at a small island just off-shore, we can make out a shipwreck. Unfortunately, it is neither of the two we seek. After much squinting, we determine that the name painted on the hull reads Scallywag – a pirate ship if I’ve ever seen one.
Feeling disheartened, we turn to the north and there, lying rotting on the beach is the Brine Demon! The group let out a collective shout of triumph. But by this time, however, it was growing late and the heat was rising, so we thought it best to return to the camp, where we could inform Jask of our momentous discovery.
As we followed the base of a hill, approaching our camp, we heard a distant sound, a sort of rumbling above our heads. We craned our necks upward to see a small herd of the island’s jungle goats rushing down the hillside in our direction. Upon sight of us, they turned tail and ran off the way they had come.