Enderal:Account of an Unknown Traveler, Volume 1
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.