Friday, December 15, 2006

aboard this tiny ship...

The drumming continued late into the night. Pirates appeared with good beer and delicous food all offered to me freely. Laughter and song, drumming and fire, dark green eyes flashing from behind a gossamer veil...

When I finally broke free of those bonfire enchantments the island tried a new tactic to keep me past the timegate's closing. A large, snuffling beast blocked the path leading back to my camp. My first thought was it was a wild boar for it was of that shape and size. It made a slobbery, sniffing sound there in the dark. I stood paralyzed for a moment and then press forward, hand on my knife by my side.

I would not fear this place.

Illusion. As with everything on this island, it was just another illusion. My path was blocked by Steve, the pirate who had originally invited me to join the drummers fire. He had wandered off earlier that evening with a flagon of ale and now lay here passed out from drink.

The island knew it couldn't scare me into staying so it tried playing on my kindness. The temperature had been dropping and this pirate, he would fair poorly if left as he was. I returned to the drummer's fire and led them back to their friend. The dancers followed in hopes of teasing the pirate, but when they saw his state they had naught but pity for him. The men lifted Steve up and set off to return him to his ship, The Dark Cloud. I was left alone in the dark with the dancers.

This island does not give up souls lightly. Once again I found myself heading away from the nexus point to lead the dancers safely back to their camp. At the edge of their bonfire's light I stopped and bid them a good night. Turning then I left once more for my camp. This time the island did not try and stop me. The dried cow-dung I had fed my fire earlier had burned down to three small glowing embers but it was enough to lead me back to my camp. I crawled into my bedroll and stared up at the tree branches.

Off in the other camp the drums started again but, being warm and comfy, I felt little draw to them. I drifted off into that weird half-sleep...

Only to snap awake again to yipping and howling of coyotes. My fire had died and suddenly I felt defenseless and trapped in my tight-fitting mummy bag. I can defend myself against beautiful women offering ale but a pack of wild dogs? Those can be trouble. I freed my arms from the bag and pulled my kukhri closer. The coyotes did not sound close, but they did not sound far away either. As I listened trying to pinpoint them a new sound rose up. Rain falling on leaves. A cold, wet, frightened person alone in the woods would surely return to a warm bonfire shared with good fellows.

But the island still hadn't realized it was dealing with an adventurer.

Rain fell. The outer layer of my bedroll is a waterproof canvas cover and it kept me dry. I drapped it's large "awning" over my head and was sealed off from everything but the sound of the rain and the occasional coyote's howl. Eventually I drifted off again.

Morning came with birdsong replacing the coyotes. The drizzle came and went as I made more oatmeal for breakfast. After that it took just a few minutes to pack up Jade Hawk and head back through the nexus, back to my time.

I had escaped the island.

But...I can still see the silken women and taste the fine meats. I hear the songs and laughter of those who called me friend. I smell the blackpowder of the cannons...

It calls.

And I know when the heaven's align again and the gateway to that time-caught island opens I'll be there waiting to cross over again.

It calls...

Adventure! Excitement! Avalon!

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