Enderal:Account of an Unknown Traveler
Today, on the fifth day of Fundament, our group of scouts set sail from the coast of Enderal. We are the elite, the ones who in the spirit of the old vassal's advance our nation with new discoveries. Out we sail, into the unknown, in what is both our greatest adventure and the greatest challenge we ever had to face. I will end this first, short paragraph with a quote from the works of the famous pioneer of discoveries, Rofus Emmenbrant, in service to the noble Dal'Marak, that is a favorite of mine: “We are only as great as the memories we leave behind.”
This shall be this expedition's maxim. It will encourage us, drive us to greatness and, with Malphas' blessing, guide us out there on the far oceans.
The sea is rough. Several meters high waves are sloshing over the bow, completely covering the wooden planks. The freezing water gnaws at the sailor's bones and penetrates our clothes with ease. We have been on the open sea for three months now, and this is has been the worst day by far. We are five scouts, lead by Sarek Dal'Munir into this previously unexplored region. Isles in the bygone sea without name or outline on a map. Not even their existence has been proven. There only were accounts of “savages” raiding fishing villages and then disappearing on the sea. We left for glory, and honor. If we should make a discovery and reach our homeland again, we can look forward to rich rewards. If not, well, then there will be a few more sailors lost without trace in this world. Who, except us of course, would care for that at the end of the day…
The captain is hiding in his cabin while in this storm the ship is worse off every minute. The sailors begin to tire, but neither land nor aid is in sight. Prayers are all that remains to us. Maybe we will never reach our destination. Maybe we will. We cannot influence the powers of nature.
This evening we spent with the sailors, sharing stories of home and drinking until the storm's noise began to sound soothing. And we talked of our companions, though most sea dogs could only speak of purchasable relationships in harbor taverns. Our thoughts were more with our warm beds and our companions, who were hopefully waiting for our return in there.
One of the sailors showed me the extraordinary amount of weapons they kept on the ship. The crew is to protect us. It felt good to know battle-hardened men on our side, considering we don't know how much there is to the fishermen's stories of a wild barbarian people at our destination. We are aware that, with the impending dangers, our chances of survival are not high.
The mood of the men on board is abysmal. These waters are cursed. Even the air seems to heavy to breathe, as if poisoned. Like oil, the pestilence of magic, remains of the great wars, has sedimented on the water surface in a thick. It is almost tangible. We survived the storm — it finally stopped this morning, granting us some measure of peace. Though cold wind remains, we have overcome the worst now. After sunrise, the captain called us back on deck, when stony shapes were appearing at the horizon. We are close to our expedition's goal.
Without a shred of doubt, we have discovered the foreign islands. They are surrounded by rugged, sharp-edged cliffs, jutting out of the water inhospitably. Many small rocks before the first island were shooting out of the sea like spears. “Skaragg”, is the fishermen's name for the isles. In their language it is the word for “bones”.
It took a whole day to find a suitable place to lay anchor with a flat shore. As far as we know, the archipelago consists of three or four larger and a myriad of small isles. However, we will only be certain of this after exploring the isles.
As for the vegetation — it consists mostly of meagre lichens and withered bushes. Trees are nowhere to be seen and these lands seem dusty, stony and uninviting. After we explored the immediate surroundings and collected combustible materials, we built a preliminary camp for the night. I don't feel well. Ever since our arrival, I have been suspecting that someone is watching us. But as of yet, we have not seen anyone — no human, no animal — except for a certain species of large, crawling insects living on the ground. Tomorrow, Sarek said, we would explore the hinterlands. I dread what we might find.
Devon and Treavor stood vigil and reported to not have noticed anything. We filled our travel bags with provisions and, together with the armed sailors, we will advance on the mountain in the middle of the island. Sarek wants to scout the landscape from there, and hopes for an opportunity to create a first sketch for a map of the islands.
We are currently resting, and I have time to document my observations.
The march before our first rest was long. With its cliffs and crags, the land often makes advancing difficult. Where the ground isn't stony, it is sandy. When we stopped to rest for the first time, all of us had to empty our boots and dozens of pebbles were fell out. There is still no sign of human life on this island. It is possible that the fishers have erred in determining the direction from where the attackers came. But the accounts were too high in number for us to believe that. The sailors are always on alert. Just one, Vard, doesn't take the expedition seriously. He lets no opportunity go by without saying that he'd rather be in a bustling harbor right now, with one or even two women on his lap and a bottle of booze at his lips. He constantly makes inappropriate jokes about his men or us. If one of us should have to die in some unlikely way I'd like it to be him, so his talk sticks in his throat.
For all his nagging, he got one thing right: There are little to no hideouts that would allow a surprise attack on us. If someone wishes to sneak up one us, he would have to come out of the earth itself. I for my part have not stopped fearing that all of our steps are watched. I am staying alert and prepared for the worst.
Sarek's drive and thirst for action is a true blessing for us. His euphoria enraptures the whole group. Without him, we would have never gotten to where we are now. I hope… The writing becomes scrawly and ends abruptly.
They have taken us. The savages have taken us. It happened suddenly, while we were resting. Vard did his business apart from us others — the first scream came out of his direction. Several sparsely clothed warriors of both sexes, armed with spears, had toppled him. The other sailors rushed forward to help him and slaughtered the attackers. Before we knew where we are, a dozen of additional warriors rose from the ground and fell in our back. Painted in grey like the stones and the sand, they had endured on the ground, likely waiting for prey. We walked right into their trap.
Those sailors who had killed their brothers and sisters had their throats cut immediately and were then scalped. Us others were taken prisoner and brought into their village. Bones, they're everywhere in here. The huts are built out of them, the humans wear them on their bodies. They lie on the ground like common pebbles. The savages were jumping around us like madmen, dancing and hooting. We were presented to a woman who probably is their leader. Most of the time, she sits on a throne of bones that is located on a square with a large fireplace. This woman looks horrible. Her hair is red and unkempt. Her eyes glow like fire, but her skin is nearly snow white. I have never seen such a human. A creature that can't be from this world. She commanded her underlings in a language with cracking sounds and few understandable syllables. Then us prisoners were brought into a hut and put under guard. Sometimes we receive murky water and a kind of paste that reminds me of porridge but is actually much more slimey. After eating it, a few of my comrades had stomach cramps. Diary, quill and inkpot have not been taken away from me. Neither did they shackle us, who did not attack or kill any of them. They just guard us and prevent us from speaking with each other. They are truly savages: Their eyes are sparkling more dangerous than the ones of a Qyranian cat. Their hair is very untended. They often wear jewelry, hair circlets and clasps out of bones. Large earrings are popular with both men and women. They wear cloth, but very sparsely — mostly around the loins. The women walk around libertine, sometimes with revealed breasts. The faces of the savages are covered by paintings of different forms and colors. They are larger with some and smaller with others. They know no path, are pathless creatures.
I was almost certain that they would kill us on the spot. At the moment they treat us better than common prisoners. But this might be misleading. They might intend to lull as into a false sense of security. I don't know what they want to do with those of us left, but I fear them. I don't have much time to write. They have watchful eyes.
During the day, the guards take us to the village square. I was able to observe the surroundings in more detail. We are in a small, jagged vale, surrounded by high rocks. I was not able to observe patterns in the villager's daily routines. They seem to give in to their lusts without control or morals. Man and woman often get it on before the eyes of the assembled village. They do not seem to have a sense of shame.
Upon closer examination, it strikes me that the “Skaraggs”, which is how I will call them, have slit-like eyes that are closer than usual. Their cheek bones are also more defined. With regards to their leader, I can determine that women seem to have the exact same societal position as men, maybe even a higher one. At times I even saw women hunt while the men cared for the village and did domestic work. We can hardly complain about bodily harm. My comrade Devon has received a nasty cut from the fight. It has become inflamed, but I believe he will make it — if the savages won't decide to kill us before
Today, the Skarrags have taken one of the sailors with them, a man whose name I did not know. Only two men came for him. Both wore scary masks without eye slits — I assumed they were blind — but they acted as if they were still able to see. Had they not worn their masks, one would have found no difference between them and the villagers with eyesight. They brought him under large protest to a cave at the village's border. I do not want to imagine what happened to him in that gorge. I can't help but think of dark, bloody rituals and try to suppress them. I wish nothing more than to escape this nightmare, this rattling damnation.
I have not heard the savages speak a single word Inal. Therefore, they could not have had contact to the civilised world . We are the first humans to enter this land from the outside. This does lend a good amount of glory to our discovery, but I doubt that anyone will ever know that we are to credit for this achievement.
The year is coming to an end. Again and again, they arbitrarily select one of us and bring him into the sinister cave. Then only the two guards come out again. At the beginning of our imprisonment, we were thirteen, four of our group and the rest the remaining crew. By now, we are only seven. Sarek's turn had been yesterday and he had to enter the cave. I don't know if they will slowly kill us there. At night, I am haunted by dreams of what might happen in there. I see my comrades, I see them hang on ropes, I see their heads lying at the feet of a Skaragg-hangman. My only weapon against the fear threatening to overwhelm myself, is my clear mind that has not yet surrendered to the exertions. If my sanity should leave me as well, then Malphas help me! Sometimes they speak to us in their language, but we can't answer. It always sounds like angry screaming. I nevertheless have the impression that they wish to tell us something, to communicate with us somehow. It is not senseless yelling.
Only five of us remain. Two others have been brought to the cave, but recently, the pace of the abductions has been reduced. The Skaraggs now make use of us as slaves. We work with them on fields beyond the village borders. They dig deep holes in the ground to get hold of a sort of bulb or root they use as food. The porridge-like paste we eat consists of those as well. It is our task to dig those holes together with them. Overseers with clubs are supervising us. When they notice that we attempt to flee or laze, they strike us.
Today, the village was in turmoil. Two Skarrag warriors returned and threw a tattooed scalp before the chieftain's feet. Then she began to chatter and scream enraged. The Skarrags rallied at the fireplace, painted and armed themselves, man and woman. With a large group they left.I suspect they want to attack something. Is there another people on this island, hostile to our captors? I consider this very likely.
During yesterday’s excavations a young woman was bitten by a snake. The savages wanted to deliver her from her pain and kill her as she lay fevering. This might be the usual cause of action for people with such wounds. I had seen a painting of the snake in nearby caves and had to assume that the Skaragg feared it immensely.
The bite had caused a red, pocky rash on her skin. I had only limited medical knowledge, but since the beginning of our expedition, I carried an old Endralaean cure for many kinds of poison with me. I kept the Skaragg from killing her — almost losing my life in the process — but despite their curses and mutterings, I didn’t let them stop me and instilled the lotion against their resistance. A moment before they could kill me for my deed, her rash was eased and her breath became more constant.
After the work was done, they brought me before the chieftain. She deliberated with other Skaragg, likely on what should be my fate. She brought me to a hut with the young woman I had rescued earlier — I believe they wanted me to care for her. Most of my time is spent there, and her condition improves each day. I had to accept that their medical knowledge is inferior. Until now, I have not found herbs suitable for brewing lotions and tinctures. This, and their behavior when faced with the bite, makes me believe that death is their only option when plagued by pain.
The Skaragg observe every one of my actions. I have begun to give them simple commands by using sign language. It works — somewhat at least. Good enough to make them bring me a wet cloth to place on her forehead. There seem to be personal relationships between the savages, not unlike to us humans. A woman and a man come each day to look after the girl. I suspect that these are her parents. I also learned that the Skaragg are able to count in a limited manner by using their fingers. In this regard, there is not much difference between them and the average peasant from Enderal. Maybe they are not so uncivilized after all.
A week ago, she awoke for the first time and spoke to me. I used sign language to tell her what happened and told her my name. She told me hers — when I understood correctly, it meant something like “Kkraka”. I catch myelf observing her while she is sleeping. Her face is very beautiful, much more refined than one would expect from savages and barbarians as they are described in the books. Her body is more wiry and muscular than is common for women. Everything waiting for me at home — my wife and home — seems more distant with each passing day. I need to control my thoughts, and myself. At times I give in to absurd thoughts of love with Kkraka, which I have to consider disturbing.
We often talk using our hands. Since she still is too weak to leave the tent, we have to spend the whole day together. She is a clever young woman and understands me surprisingly well. I cannot understand every one of her gestures, but a few of them are the same as mine. She made clear to me that I can under no circumstance raise my hand to greet — the way it is common in Enderal and, as far as I know, most parts of Vyn. Such a gesture would amount to an insult among the Skaragg. I thought her a few words in Inal, and, while she recovered from the bite, an odd fusion of our cultures happened. I would have never expected to find a woman like her at such a place. A place every god had turned his back to a long time ago.
I lose my sense of time. I can still determine days and months, but the hours pass without counting. The sun doesn’t appear often anymore. Since about a week now, I am back with my companions. With a heavy heart, I had to leave Kkraka’s side. Only two men remain from our group. They brought the rest to the cave. The Skarrag are more open with me now. They get me whenever one of them is sick or wounded. I care for their wounds and seem to have become this tribe’s healer. Kkraka visits me from time to time and brings me additional food, which I share with the group. When us prisoners are left alone, we mostly speak about the cave. No one knows what happened there, or whether our companions might still be alive. The only way to find out is to be eventually brought there. This is unsettling for us.
I feel deep love for Kkraka. At first, I did not want to admit it, but now I think she feels the same way. She constantly seeks me out and though painting our bodies red, or cutting bones together are weird customs, I can see more behind it. Our hearts beat in the same rhythm.
They permitted us to walk in the village freely. No one of us wished to provoke the Skaragg’s wrath or abuse their trust in order to flee. We wouldn’t have any chance of leaving the island anyway. Three of us can’t sail a ship, especially considering only one member of the crew is still alive. We decided to be peaceful and to try and live in harmony with them. Since then, no one has been brought to the cave. Maybe this is points to a good future. Time inevitably passes and blurs our traces on this dusty ground.
One night, Kkraka came to our hut and woke me. She led me out of the village to a cliff from where we observed the moon and stars. Then we slept together. Kkraka was sensitive and caring, completely different from what I expected of her people. All the same, she had a wild, impulsive side which she revealed during our lovemaking. She was a true warrior. Not imperious or strict, but decisive — completely incomparable to the women in Enderal. Not even to my wife. I betrayed her that night, but I was certain I would never return. Under the stars, I told Kkraka from my home, and the more I spoke, the more it slipped away from me. It slipped over the wide, harsh plains of this island, over the sea and beyond. We completely fell for each other. Since then, several nights with her followed.
I have been a captive for about half a year, and I still live. No matter which end Malphas envisioned for my life, I have the feeling that it won’t be the Skaragg doing it. I consider myself and my companions to be their honored guests. Hopefully, I am not wrong with this.
It is horrible. I thought it had stopped, but another one of us was dragged to the cave today. It may sound despicable, but I am glad it was not me. Though I know that death takes us all at some point, I still fear it like a frightened child. Especially since my shattered life had just gained new worth with Kkraka. As for her, I am no longer certain. I love her, no doubt about it. But the other night I saw her embracing another man intimately. The following moon, she returned to me, and a night of love followed, more intense than any before. Then I observed her with another man again. I asked myself whether she was trying to make me jealous or whether she simply took joy in making me suffer. I became angrier over her behavior and talked to her about it. She reacted surprised and left me. Only then did I understand that I am in a world completely different to my own. My ideas of the relationship between man and woman are connected to the values I learned at home, to the way we live there and does not have to apply to the Skaragg. There might not be an institution like our companionship here. It is hard for me to accept, but besides my fellow shipwrecked, she is the only source of support, and I don’t want to lose her. I asked her to meet with her lovers at places where I would not see her. She reacted both amused and shocked when hearing that one was supposed to promise oneself to one person only and swear off other urges. But after explaining it to her, she took my request seriously.
I am certain now: The Skaragg are at war. These last days, more and more bloody battles occurred. Warriors of both sexes return wounded. These are long and hard days for me. Too many wounded arrive for just one pair of eyes and hands. I try to give them clear instructions on what to do, which sometimes works. I have rescued several lives that way.
The last one of our group, excluding me, has been brought to the cave. I then dared to ask Kkraka for the first time, whether she knew what happened in the cave. I wanted clarity, even if my question might offend her. She did not tell me. Instead she made it very clear that I should under no circumstance speak of this again. She was very serious when saying that. Of course I won’t give up so easily. I will find out what secret the cave holds, sooner or later. Nut I don’t think they will want to lose me at this point. As a healer, I am too important to them, and during the war I am needed.
The day arrived when Kkraka also had to go to battle. I saw her return with many wounds, though victorious. A gulf has opened between us and gets larger every day. I can say with certainty that it comes from me. It is hard to accept that I am not the only man in her life. Much time will pass until I will be able to. I also have the feeling that the tribe faces a decisive battle. Small groups of foreign savages come to our village and unite under the command of the bone woman. It cannot take long before this dispute will be decided.
This morning, the tribe and all allies have rallied in the village center. The bone woman announced with thundering voice that the fight will begin now. I understood a few words of her speech. What she said makes me think that a decision is inevitable. Every member of the tribe able to fight is encouraged to become part of the army. Body painting is distributed and spears are given away.
I will join the fight myself. Not because I wish to kill enemies with my own hand. This will most likely be impossible to avoid, but I hope to work as a healer directly at the sight of battle. I take the risk mostly out of fear what would happen if Kkraka doesn’t return. She is my only hope in this land. If I lose her, I lose myself. I got myself a spear and packed a bag of the remaining herbs and lotions. Should I survive, additional entries in this book will follow. May the merciful Malphas guard my fate and lead me safely through battle. My body is shaking. The tension hurts. I have never before felt so much fear as in these moments, as we are preparing to march on the battlefield.
We were victorious. The battle was horrifying, more gruesome than anything I have experienced until now. The countless dead were soaking the earth with blood, turning it into reddish, dirty mud. The hostile tribes had arrived by the hundreds, their faces painted like skulls and their bodies covered in black color. They tried to frighten us with war-cries and wild dances and they had killed prisoners from the last skirmishes with our forces before the Bone Woman’s eyes. The provocations merely increased the Skaraggs’s lust for murder. During the battle, I attempted to stay in the background and watch out for Kkraka. It was impossible. Spears and stones filled the air, crushing skulls and splintering bones. Screaming, everywhere. In a battle on open ground, without strategy or heavy machinery, but with everything at stake, our side finally asserted itself. The enemy’s last warriors were driven out into the waste. I was forced to kill. It was inevitable as I was trying to look after the wounded. We suffered high losses. The Bone Woman had no mercy and scalped all enemy warriors who failed to escape. She pursued the fugitives until every last of them was dead. The celebrations has already lasted a night and a whole day. The Skaraggs dance around a big fire and inhale smoke, entering a trance-like states. They sing, shag and feast like there’s no tomorrow. Soon, I withdrew to care for the wounded. For my part, I’m just glad that Kkraka survived the fight. Observing her in her orgies with four different men in one night would have simply angered me unnecessarily. I need silence to digest my experiences. The course of the battle becomes vague whenever I try to accurately remember it. My head represses the memories. Me, as I thrust my spear through a hostile warrior’s soft abdomen. Me, as I take up a stone to crush the skull of a man who entered this fight with the same authority as I did. At first his unspeakable fear as he realizes that he will die. But only for a fraction of a moment. Then the last glow of life leaving his eyes, followed by the breath of death. I see it when I close my eyes.
I hardly feel like writing. Ever since the battle I feel strangely drawn out of my body, as if I were standing next to me. My hands carry out the necessary medical tasks without my mental investment. My head moves in spheres of absolute emptiness. Even Kkrakas intimate love and desire can’t change it. Her wildness has further increased after the triumphant victory. I have terrible nightmares. They mainly are about the events during the battle, but always end with me walking into the dark cave. The Maw draws me like a magnet. Throughout the day I watch it several times. Sometimes I stare into the black hole for hours, staring into the dark for answers. What is hidden in the darkness? Shadows and horrors.
Last night I once again had a nightmare in which I started my transition into the cave. There I found my comrades. On arms and legs, they had been impaled on the walls. They begged me for help, but I was not able to free them from their suffering. They condemned and cursed me before I woke up drenched in sweat. This can not go on. My heart threatened to consume me. When everyone is asleep, I’ll go into the cave. I am hoping that, whatever I find there, it will stop these dreams that torment me. It is my only hope of salvation. I’ll be prepared for anything. My spear from the battle and my diary I take with me. It shall not go unsaid what end my companions met; and what exists in the cave. I am also taking a bag with tubers and some water with me. I know that caves can reach very deep into the rock. In my previous life, in Enderal, I sometimes spent full days locked in them. From materials that I found in the village, I’ve tinkered several makeshift torches. Two flints complete my equipment in order to solve the mystery and to finally provide clarity. Once the moon stands high in the sky and everyone has gone to rest, I sneak to the cave entrance. Kkraka knows nothing about my plan. I think it is better not to put on notice. Our last conversation regarding the cave has made it all too clear that the Skaraggs neither reveal anything about what happened to her, nor like talking about her. I’ll find out the reason for such secrecy.
It went deep into the rock. My torches were able to brighten my way through the tunnel. There were not many branches in the cave. Most of the time the way was straight, but rough. Some bifurcations led to dead ends or into shafts that were too tight to advance further. Again and again faint moonlight shone through small fractures in the rock. My search for truth led me on until the stones became more slippery. The sound of dripping water became ubiquitous with time. In the end, the path gave way to a circular chamber with a large hole in the ceiling. Moonlight flooded the room. Roots of plants grew inside via the opening of the chamber. Slowly, I felt my way down over steps, into a sink with a base made of smooth stones. In the center of the chamber was a round altar, radiated by the moon. I had expected a place of sacrifice like this and braced myself on finding blood stains and the last remnants of my comrades. But there was nothing of both. The altar was clean. Not even a smell of mildew and rotting flesh. The entire chamber was filled with tension. As if something strange were in the air. A force that was not of natural origin. Fear spread through my limbs. I took my courage in both hands and explored the sacrificial chamber. There was nothing remarkable to discover, except for paintings that stretched across the walls of the entire round. When I looked closer, I realized that they had been made with a kind of oil paint. The procedure was, as opposed to the traditional, primitive paintings of the Skaragg culture, completely different. It was clear and penetrating. What I saw on the walls did not fit their simple murals. The contents of the images were of such cruelty and so grotesque that I am unable to put it into words. What I found was deeply disturbing. Animals copulating with human counterparts in reproductive rites. Indescribably brutal executions. And that was not all by far. The paintings culminated in the middle of the end wall in a large painting. I remember the feeling that came over me very well. My body refused to consider the painting. It refused with vehemence, for it knew that what I would see would change me. I forced it to. In the painting I beheld several people in between the hands of a deity with five animal heads, suffering, having opened their mouths to scream. When I regarded it closer, I discovered the face of one of my companions among the tormented. As if someone had torn it directly from his skull and put it on the rock. With growing horror I found more faces resembling those of my kidnapped companions so closely it sent shivers down my spine. I saw Vard, the insufferable sailor and our leader Sarek. They were all in the painting, as if they had already been there for centuries. The images put me into an abyss of fear. In the cave, it was worse than during the battle. Even now, I suffer of inexplicable fear that makes me cry when I think of it. I can neither understand nor explain. All I know is that these drawings deprived me of any self-control. Frozen with fear as I was, they forced me to raise my spear against me. They enticed me to put an end to my life. To kill myself, by my own hand. To my amazement, the spearhead was trembling right under my throat as I managed to escape. Can paintings drive a person to kill themselves? This is not possible. They are only pictures, only simple drawings created by a cruel hand. Nothing has become clearer. The cave caused more questions than before, and my nightmares are horribly worsened by this discovery.
My condition has worsened further ever since I left the cave. Sometimes I hold the same suicidal thoughts that stalked me there. I can hardly resist them. If there are objects near to me with which I could harm myself, my hand sometimes starts to arbitrarily reach for it. Then I have to stop it with my other arm, summoning all my mental and physical strength. It is as if these drawings changed something in me. It seems like a gateway to the world of the dead, trying to get everyone who has seen it into its kingdom. The time came when I could no longer bear it. I told Kkraka, my only confidant, what I had done and what was going on inside me. Her face froze in front of my eyes as I told her that I had entered the cave. She paled. Then she ordered me to keep silent and covered my head with both hands. She looked deep into my eyes. Hers, shimmering with tears, searched for something in particular. In the broken Inal I had taught her, she told me that it was forbidden for members of the tribe to enter the cave. Anyone who dared to, was condemned, for he brought the tribe in great danger. Only the two blind men were allowed. I asked her what happened with the paintings in the sacrificial chamber. She became even paler. I should have never entered the cave, she said, and backed away from me. Kkraka thought I had brought disaster upon us all. She quickly left the hut. I do not know what exactly she meant by her words, but they are certainly no good for me. I won’t sleep tonight. I hide all sharp objects so they are no longer in my sight and then await the next turn of fate.
I had to learn that love does not protect one to be betrayed. Kkraka had done just that. She did it out of faith to protect her tribe and decided to act against my life and our love. Abruptly the Skaraggs came into my hut and dragged me roughly to the throne of the chief. The entire tribe yelled at me. Stones flew. I saw Kkraka next to the chief. She suffered my conviction with dignity. A warrior like her showed rarely weakness. The Bone Woman spat at me with insults, of which I knew to interpret only half. The Skaraggs dragged me to a wooden peg on which they firmly tied me. There I stood, tied up and could not do anything besides squirming and seeing my terrible end directly into the eye. Even now, when it’s all over and I look at the stake, I can not believe that I survived that situation. I did not die. When I was born, the kindly Malphas gave me the toughness of a cat. Otherwise I can not explain what happened. I fainted, just at the moment when the chief hit me in the face, pulled my head up and put a bone knife to my hairline. She was ready to claim my scalp for the offense of entering the forbidden cave and having harmed the tribe. When I awoke, I knelt in the dust. My shackles had been severed. My body was stiff, as if I had remained a whole day in this crouching position. My eyes only slowly regained sight before they were able to see that all Skaraggs lay on the ground - I rose sluggishly and looked at me the countless corpses. The Bone Woman, right at my feet. She held the blade of sharpened bones, with which she had intended to kill me. Beside her lay Kkraka. Her hair was matted with blood. She had rammed her own knife in the chieftain’s back. She in turn had been murdered by another member of the tribe. As if the Skaraggs had suddenly been possessed by a collective self-destroying madness, they had killed each other, every one the one who had been closest to him. I looked blankly from corpse to corpse. The wind swept it over the bloody bodies. It was the only sound in dead silence. They had exterminated themselves. I sank down to my knees beside Kkraka and put her head in my lap. But I could not cry. Not even scream my grief from me. Nothing was possible. A week has passed since the accident. I do not try to understand. Everything would amount to the fact that I am the one who is to blame, however this might be possible. Maybe I had taken the horror that was in this cave outside. As if through the mischievous intent of a vile, supernatural power that loves to see people suffer, I was spared. It let me live. My thoughts are twisted. I can not speak, eat or drink. The shock has made me useless. Just now, as I write, I can use my mind. Once I put the book away, I begin to rot. What should I do now? I do not know.
I have decided to bury Kkraka properly. I have prepared a bed of dry shrubs for her, laid the most beautiful stones I could find on her breast, and burned her. My tears evaporated in the flames. I can not honor the rest of the tribe in the same manner. I do not have enough strength left to pile them up. Before hunger or the lack of water will kill me, I will leave the islands. The urge to kill myself does not persecute me anymore. It is the numbness that makes it impossible to be my own master. I know the Skaraggs had fishing boats. Perhaps I will be able to use one of them for my escape.
It has been nearly two months since I last opened this book. I am safe, in the care of a refugee settlement on the coast of Arktwend. How I ended up here, I will now briefly describe: As I had already written in my last entry, it was my goal to escape the islands. I fought my way through to the coast. From the village, a path directly led to the rocky cliffs. Between spray and stone I found the small bay I was looking for. With great effort I pushed a small Skaragg fishing boat into the water and paddled out into the sea. The small sail caught little wind, and I was slow. I could only hope that the current would carry me to a safe harbor. After a few hours I was so powerless that I had to lay down and fell asleep immediately. For a long time I rested - until the gentle touch of a hand on my cheek aroused me. I saw Kkraka, whose black hair was around her skin and fell on my cheeks - at first. As my eyes cleared, the face of a woman with hard features appeared. She dabbed my forehead with damp cloth. I remember the first smell I noticed very well. It was Trabantis herb, a bitter plant with which they treated my wounds. I knew it from times past, of the times when I had roamed the woods of Enderal. The current had carried my little boat up to a beach on the continent of Arktwend. Once again I had been impertinently lucky, having been washed up near a refugee settlement, for, as is commonly known, there are not many living souls to be found on Arktwend anymore. The inhabitants of the small settlement found me completely exhausted. They were mostly good-natured people. They could have left me there in the wet sand, but they did not. One family agreed to look after me. After my first awakening, I could hardly speak long enough to thank them for their help. The words did not come to my lips. They seemed to be locked in me. The woman named Karmilla, who looks after me with her eldest daughter and her husband Arvil, is very tender with me. I notice that she does not trust me completely and is very cautious with me. Little by little, the inner emptiness that filled me, vanishes. The year in the company of the Skaraggs has marked me. Above all, these last events certainly have not passed without trace. But slowly, I regain the feeling of how life really is, and my taste buds even enjoy a meal other than tubers. The inhabitants of the settlement integrate me into their daily work. They give me simple tasks and invite me to dinner together. Some men are suspicious. They are asking me questions about my origin. I can not blame them. If a stranger had been washed in front of my door, I would have done exactly the same thing. At some point I have to explain to them where I am from and what has happened to me. So far I was unable to. It is still too recent. The Fundament and the day of our departure have long since passed. For a whole year I am already on this trip. When I remember that day, it seems as if my comrades and I crossed the wooden plank to the ship deck just yesterday.
I made myself tell the inhabitants of my story. Some did not believe me until they saw the broken man’s gaze, my gaze, in the glow of the fireplace. This look was proof enough that I did not give them a mere fairy tale. I left the remaining, eternal doubters their belief. I paid my debt with Karmilla and Arvil with hard work. This is the least I can do for them, after all they have done for me. At a small festival, the children of the settlement asked me about the savages of the bony islands. I told them harmless stories, which were far removed from the reality of the Skaraggs. The little ones liked it. I start to see the world with different eyes and I also believe that the world now sees me with different eyes. I have become dumb, and seldom a laughter escapes me. Still, I am back on my own feet. As I have left the strange world of the Skaragg islands behind me, it is becoming increasingly clear to me where my roots lie. I suddenly feel the old memories of home sneaking back into my head. It pulls me back to Enderal. If I have survived all this, it may well be the predestination of my path to return there and make my discoveries public. Malphas’s will, it could be called. He gave me more luck than cleverness, to accomplish this, my task.
An expeditionary ship from Qyra arrived in the village. The scouts were on their way back from Nehrim’s northern edge. I had a conversation with its captain, to whom I described my situation. He allowed me to go to Qyra. Because I followed the same vocation and insisted that I do not need much provisions, he did not demand payment. I did not have a single coin, so I was very happy about this circumstance. Karmilla and Arvil gave me all the supplies which they could spare. I embraced her in parting. Any kind of thanks is inadequate to weigh what they have done for me. I am forever in their debt. For several weeks I have traveled the coastline of the continent. Sometimes I go on foot, every now and then I meet a kind merchant on whose cart I can ride for a while. I discover a very special beauty in the desert landscape and write a few poems about prominent points. I had already done this in my youth when I stumbled across fascinating landscapes. The time here makes me at least partly forget my sadness. With every sunrise I move a little closer to home. It will not be easy to return to my old life. If I tell the truth to my companion, she will certainly leave me if Malphas does not give me a second chance in love. I could tell her that it was necessary to cling to something like love for Kkraka and that I would never have survived without her. Certainly she would not understand that. She would react as any tested companion would react to betrayal with another woman and ignore the disproportionality of the situation in which I had been. I do not know if I could ever give her what she deserved, whether I would be ready to love her as if I had never been gone. Who knows if in the two years of my abstinence she has not already found a new companion for her side. As you can see, the troubles of the ordinary little man enter me again - after they have been absent for a long time.
This will be the last entry of this report that was initially supposed to document our journey. In the days of my imprisonment, it has become my most faithful companion, and survived the greatest dangers with me. Here I was able to write down all my thoughts. On these pages my mind was always cool and keen, even if it threatened to disintegrate when I was not writing. It is not easy for me to put my feather on the parchment for the very last time. But it is time to seal the end and hand over this report to the hands of our guildmaster so it can be published. I do not want any pay for what we have found. Having safely arrived in Enderal is more than enough for me. What I am hoping for is a monument to my brave friends, whom I doubtlessly lost in an inexplicable tragedy on the Skaragg isles. I will tell their families what happened so they do not have to remain in uncertainty. I can not explain their death. It is linked to the murals I found in the sacrificial chamber of the cave. Let the people, who do not want to believe it, declare me crazy. I know what I saw and do not deny a single word of what I have written down. Malphas himself is to be my witness. This report is the achievement of many. Our discovery forever lives in it. We were the first to land on the Bone Islands in the Lost Sea. May the souls of my comrades, my friends, find their peace, wherever they may be.