The Barnacle has been stranded in the thick mists for nine days now. The wind is dead, stagnant, almost frozen in place.
What follows are, presumably, the last words of myself, explorer J. M. Harrington, as I have been chosen to accompany a small group of sailors on a rowboat to scout out the mists.
I eagerly await the dragon-sized fish that will undoubtedly swallow our small vessel and save me from the horror of returning to a ship with only one place to relieve oneself.
Land! Glorious landfall! We have found a small, peculiar island that does not appear to exist on any known map of the area. The sailors were jubilant, and several of the younger men immediately set out in search of the gold and riches that would surely be awaiting them in a skull-covered chest. They have not been seen in several hours.
We begin exploration immediately. If we cannot find food, we will all perish in a matter of days. Though I have my trusty hunting rifle, I fear for my safety. I do not think that humans have set foot on this island in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.
I will do my duty as a proper explorer and document all that I see, in the hopes that someday these pages find their way into the hands of another ambitious adventurer with far more courage than sense.
The Windfeather Crane
We have stumbled across a glorious bird species capable of producing brilliant plumage, and highly protective of their nests.
The birds seem to have an affinity with the winds, and can smooth down their feathers, allowing them to strike rapidly at predators. The matriarchs of the species sing a soothing melody, calming the chicks when they are agitated. The males seem particularly fierce, and will ruffle their feathers to sweep a powerful gust of wind at attackers.
We have hunted the Windfeather for their meat in particular, which makes for a savory, if lean, meal. The feathers themselves seem to lighten the men's spirits, and I must wonder if they have magical properties. I have, on several occasions, seen rustling eggs amongst the nests. If I am able, I shall procure one to hatch on my own for further investigation.
The Ironfur Yak
A great beast that seems to move and think at a glacial pace, the thick coats of the Ironfur Yaks dwarf any ram hide seen in Alterac.
Powerful horns give the Ironfur a thrusting attack that can send a full-grown sailor off-balance, and more than once have I seen a man's leg trampled into the dirt as one of the larger bulls charged at us. We have taken to scattering immediately for the nearest tree just as soon as one of the great males begins to paw the ground.
The meat of the Ironfur contains more fat, and is more filling, than that of the Windfeather. With the fruit found abundantly in the trees nearby, we should be able to subsist for many days here, provided the denizens of the island do not kill us first.
I was awoken this morning to a most curious racket. One of the men had somehow found his way atop one of the powerful bulls. I am certain the Ironfur thought that its response - to tear madly across the island - was quite appropriate.
The Great Turtle
Larger and more sturdy than its cousins seen around the riverbeds of Southshore, the Great Turtle's shell is a whirl of intricate designs, should one ever get close enough to study.
When frightened, the turtle may lash out with a bite powerful enough to cut a cutlass in half. Should the creature pull its head into its shell, do not think it is to retreat. The men were quite caught off-guard when the shell began to spin madly, severing Ol' Jim's hand clean off. We dare not go near the elders off of the coast, which look brutish enough to swallow a man whole.
While the turtles have bequeathed us a spongy, if filling, meat, the men seem more keen on playing with the shells. When thrown, the shell will whirl through the air a distance longer than one would think, often catching one's napping companion off-guard. Several casualties have resulted.
On a separate note, sailor Wallace was sent back to the Barnacle this morning with a full supply of meats and fruits.
The Spineclaw Crab
We continue to search the island for clues and supplies, and happened upon an unusual species of crab today. Covered in hard, chitinous spines, I would venture to guess that some of these creatures are thousands of years old.
After a diet consisting of meats and fruits, our crew was eager to once again feast on crab legs. Perhaps sensing our intentions, one of the great beasts unleashed a flurry of razor-sharp claw strikes against a young sailor, impaling him dozens of times before he knew what had happened. Though the beast made an attempt to retreat deep into the waters, the men made sure that a good meal would not escape so easily.
Having lost my favorite hat in the storm that took our vessel some days ago, I have taken to wearing one of the brightly-colored crab shells as a makeshift helm. The men have commented on this on more than one occasion, thinking that I may be losing my mind.
Perhaps I am, or perhaps I am simply getting used to this place.
The Spotted Swarmer
By some great fortune, we seem to have found a village. As always, the explorer approaches with caution, lest he or she interfere with the local populace. Surrounding the village are several bright flowering bushes, abuzz with the soft chewing noises of small, spotted silkworms.
Upon approach, the worms will swarm their would-be victim, coating them with a vile toxin. Though small, they are not to be underestimated. My stores of anti-venom are nearly depleted after today.
Upon dissection, I have found that the creature's silk glands produce a silken cord far more powerful than even the strongest steel. With it, we have begun to fashion a raft of sorts, lashing the nearby tree stalks together with the sticky substance.
It has been nearly a week, and neither Wallace nor the rowboat has returned. The men fear for our ship, as do I.
Spirits of Old Pi'jiu
Today, we ventured even deeper into the old village of Pi'jiu. It did not surprise a seasoned adventurer such as myself that the spirits of the deceased villagers would haunt such a place. Somehow, it would have been even more strange to find the village deserted.
The spirits battle fiercely with martial techniques the likes of which we have never seen, spinning around in a lightning-fast array of kicks, conjuring mists to mend allies, and calling forth a powerful orb of unknown substance to strike at foes. Without the First Mate leading a properly-coordinated battle unit, we would have joined them in their eternal unrest.
I have found a bottle of a strange, ethereal brew in one of the huts. Upon closer inspection, there seems to be a spirit trapped inside. I will leave it closed for now - I have a feeling that it will be of use to me.
The Stalking Tiger
Chasms hem us in on either side, setting the men on edge. We have seen paw prints on the ground around some of the crane nests and today we followed them to a winding path skirted with odd red stones. Lounging in the shade of the few trees that dot the path, we found brutal cats the size of horses.
One of the men brushed up against a red stone, and with a wild look in his eyes charged into battle against a pack of the fierce beasts. With masterful agility he ducked the swipes of monstrous claws the size of his own head, emerging victorious atop a steaming pile of blood-soaked fur.
The luxurious hide and plentiful meat of these primal beasts will sell for much coin back home. Perhaps on some hidden cove of this strange island, a ship awaits us. It is a thought I must entertain if I am to keep my sanity.
The Mighty Cliffdwellers
They can be heard from miles away, and have on more than one occasion woken me up from a sound sleep with the distant rumbling of falling stones. The enormous cliffdwellers, creatures emerged from the very stones we walk upon, pace the run endlessly.
Why they are here, I do not know. Perhaps over the course of many years, stone becomes bored, and uproots itself in search of adventure, or simply a change in scenery.
I do know that even a single footfall can crush a man flat, and more than one man has perished in this fashion. The gem-encrusted hides of the strange creatures glitter in the sun with thousands of untold gems and riches. A fool's errand.
The Gulp Frog
Today we discovered a small hollow on the eastern shore filled with strange and colorful amphibians. The bloated corpses of many great beasts indicated that, like everything on this island, these creatures were far more than they appeared.
The skin of the frogs is coated with a viscous, toxic substance. Preliminary pokes at one of the smaller specimens resulted in the rapid deterioration of my poking stick.
I procured one of the lily pads that dot the area. Upon inspection, these particular plant species seem to have developed a thick waxy coating in order to protect themselves from the frog toxin. An interesting symbiotic relationship, I shall save one for further study at a later date.
We found little else, and still no means of leaving this island. Personally, I am getting quite used to the tropical atmosphere, and find myself plagued with strange thoughts of staying behind. Perhaps forever.
The Death Adder
One minute Short John was there, and the next he was not. The great serpent slithered back into the dark flora with its meal, and we gave chase.
The great fangs of the beast tore through iron shields and swallowed sharpened battle-axes whole, without a second thought or hint of indigestion.
Surprisingly, when the beast had been thoroughly carved by blade and mace, Short John emerged from the distended stomach, nearly unharmed and chewing on a roasted yak leg he had found inside of the snake.
Now, the question is, who roasted the yak? Surely not the snake... ?
The Jademist Dancer
We have completed our tour of the western shores of the island, finding a misty strand at the pinnacle of our exploration to the northern banks.
Small shapes flitted in and out of the mist, which scalded our exposed skin even at a distance, and we dared not approach further.
Squinting into the ever-surging mists, I believe I caught a glimpse at a small cairn of stones. Something about the stones intrigues me greatly. I shall have to return to investigate further.
A Strange Cavern - The Foreboding Flame
We have stumbled upon a strange cavern lit by an eerie blue light, not unlike the Singing Bogs in the children's tales. Just like in the stories, the lights called to my companions and myself, and we delved deep into the cavern.
We were surrounded when the lights took on a menacing illumination, and our skin began to burn with unearthly fire. We screamed, and we ran until we could run no more.
Bonfires, lit by the same blue light, dotted the damp caves, but gave off no warmth. Simply being near them eased our pain, and we fought back the blazing lights.
We told these tales to frighten children away from the dangerous wetlands. Perhaps we should have listened ourselves.
There are only six of us, now.
A Strange Cavern - The Damp Shambler
There was only one way to go - forward. We made our way into the deepest grottos of the dank cavern, followed by the whispers of the spirits of our dead. They would find no rest in this place.
We were greatly surprised when the moss and lichen lining the wall detached itself and began shambling towards us. A choking gas billowed from its many fungal blossoms. The vines and ferns making up its hide regrew rapidly wherever it was struck.
Backed into a corner, we did the only thing we could. When the moss chose its victim, we escaped.
The echoes of his cries will haunt me until the end of my days.
The Ordon - Candlekeeper
When we returned to our camp near the old village, we found it ransacked, and many of our supplies burned on a great pyre. This was no mere animal - something wanted us off of this island.
In the night, they came. Heralded by the blast of a deep battle-horn, great bull-men wielding blazing arms dragged three of our men screaming into the darkness.
With a great breath, one bull-man breathed out a gout of flame that set half of the camp on fire, scattering us into the jungle and covering their escape.
To my great surprise, the spirits of the village awaited us when we returned to the camp. They did not speak, but pointed towards a distant stone arch and nodded. Perhaps it is their intent to aid us?
The Ordon - Fire-Watcher
A great battle, perhaps the greatest I have ever experienced, took place around me as I hid inside one of the crates of the great bull-men. My rifle did little to slow their charge, though the spirits around us fought fiercely, a silent tide of death in the darkness.
The Ordon were not without magical prowess, conjuring great balls of fire that rained down upon those nearby, blackening the ground around them. One such wizard caught one of our men full in the chest with a massive boulder of fire, blasting his torso clear apart from the remainder of his limbs.
In the commotion, I have procured some of the carved symbols and robes of the wizened of the bull-men. With some work, I may be able to fashion a costume of sorts, and perhaps ward others away from my location.
The Ordon - Oathguard
I breathed a sigh of relief as the great warriors of the bull-men let me pass in my makeshift garb. I proceeded further up the mountain, catching a glimpse of a ruined temple in the distance. Perhaps here I will find my eternal salvation.
The great brutish warriors were quite intelligent in combat, when I reflect back upon the battle. When attacked, they would raise heavy shields, deflecting nearly all blows and allowing their brethren to flank foes. When attention was turned to their allies, they would chant a deep, guttural melody, surrounding their allies with a mystical sheathe.
Their cooperation is a bitter reminder of my solitude. I am alone now, save for my thoughts and this journal.
The Ordon - Burning Berserker
I can do little but hide in this ruined tower and watch the world pass around me.
I see more of the bull-men, wielding blazing daggers, gathering herbs and foliage from the rolling hills. I can only surmise that the rapidly-growing underbrush serves to keep their eternal braziers alight.
When pounced upon by one of the great cats, a vicious battle erupted. I questioned which of the two - blazing bull-man or primal tiger - was more animal. The bull-man whirled around, carving deep gashes into the beast, before alighting both daggers on fire and plunging them deep into the creature's neck.
I am so very hungry. I will not last long if I do not keep moving - but to where?
The Ashleaf Sprites
My salvation came in the dead of night, as a screaming fireball flew overhead.
The woodland creatures that make the trees their home appear to be foes of the great flying serpents and bull-men of the area. As the blast of hot magma arced towards one of the trees, the little wood men formed a shield of leaves, deflecting the fire and warding off the would-be attacker.
The impact of the blazing ball shook several large nuts to the ground. While the little wood men warded their tree against another assault, I snuck in and procured a few of the gourds, as well as some of the leafy berries off of one of the wood men that did not survive.
The nuts were filling and berries heavy with a rejuvenating syrup. I feel nearly strong enough to leave this place now.
The Crimsonscale Firestorm
The strange, and beautiful, serpents seemed to be playing a game with the little wood men. They would circle for hours, then assault one of the wood men's trees with a burst of fire. The wood men seemed adept at shielding their homes, and the great serpents did not seem to be interested in destroying the men themselves.
It reminded me of my cat, Simon, whom I had left in the care of a friend. Thinking of Simon reminded me that I did not know how long I had been stranded here. Was it days, weeks, years? And what had happened to the Barnacle?I was broken out of my reverie by a violent battle between two of the great serpents. Breath of fire cut swathes of light through the dark night sky, temporarily blinding me. Pools of blazing magma erupted across the ground. It must have been a territorial dispute, because the victorious serpent seemed uninterested in the charred corpse of his adversary.
Clutched in the burned hands I found a most curious egg.
The Ordon - Molten Guardian
Great golems made of stone and fire bar my way further up the mountain. Do I dare try to pass them as I passed the bull-men before? My costume has gotten better, with twigs and brush propping up the shoulders, giving me the silhouette of a true bull-man. I daresay I could walk right in. What is the harm in trying?I clutched the egg to my chest protectively as I passed by the guardian. The blazing heat radiated off of it in waves, searing my flesh. Where was I going? I did not know. Up, I suppose.
I found a smoldering kiln that may be used to create the golems. A burned-out husk lay nearby, along with a stone that appeared to blaze without ceasing. Perhaps the stone was used to imbue the creature with life? But where did such stones come from?At that moment I was grabbed from behind, and the world went black.
The Ordon - Blazebound Chanter
These bull-men, more well-dressed than their brethren and with weaponry carved with intricate runes, carried me to the great pyre at the center of their temple.
I can only assume one of their religious order presided over the initial searing of my flesh. They spoke in an unknown language as they carved into my skin with white-hot daggers. A rain of burning meteors fell around us, obscuring the temple from outsiders while the bull-men performed their tortuous rituals.
When they had finished, the chanter spoke a word of power and called forth a monster of magma and stone.
I could only surmise that my soul would be formed into one of the burning stones, and used to power a lifeless automaton for all time.
The Ordon - Eternal Kilnmaster
The muscular guard thrust his polearm into the ground, conjuring forth an eruption of flames that spread into my obsidian cell. I ceased my wails for a short time.
I did not know what they planned to do to me, but I did know that my journey had come to an end. Despite myself, my curiosity firmly took hold, and I continued to watch them in earnest.
I noticed that then these hulking bull-men came close to their campfire, a cauldron of flames, they seemed empowered by the fire. But I could not think of a way to use this to my advantage, and crumpled into a heap in the corner of my cell to await my fate.
The Ordon - High Priest
I was brought to the center of the bull-men's great temple once again. Before me stood an imposing figure, a bull-man that radiated such power that I nearly had to close my eyes, lest I be blinded. His hands were charred black, and fur similarly burned in places.
I was led to a great cauldron. In their guttural speech, the word "Ordos" rang out several times with obvious reverence. In the distance, a great figure approached, his mane an ever-burning inferno, his eyes weeping tears of molten magma. A spear in the back pushed me ever closer to the cauldron in front of me.
In desperation, I flung the serpent egg into the cauldron. It was my last, and only, resort. The egg burst open, and a small serpent emerged, shook itself, and rapidly began to ascend.
I leapt, grabbing the tail of the creature as it flew high into the sky. But I could not hold on for long, and soon I found myself plunging into the cold, dark waters far below.
Inside the Great Evermaw
As the icy waves closed around me, I found myself swept up in a powerful current and deposited into a rank hollow.
My surroundings became lit for but a moment as the cavern behind me opened to allow a fresh rush of sea water, and it was then that I realized that I had been swallowed by a great fish.
Before the maw closed again, I took note of my surroundings. The smooth, muscled walls stretched far back into the distance. Deposits of flotsam and jetsam had become lodged in various locations - from the wreckage of ships small and large to the picked-over bones of strange undersea creatures.
Far back in the cavern, I saw a faint light. For some reason, it reminded me of the soothing whispers I had heard on the misty northwestern shore. And thus I found the lantern - a dull, rusted thing, but somehow comforting.
And so here I sit, writing an end to my tale that none will hear.
It has found me! No, no no, I have found it! Yes! It was meant to be, this is where I was always meant to be, a portal to the future, to my future.
The lantern illuminates my scrawling, it helps me find the way. Vazuvius calls.
And so I will answer. I will light the lantern and plunge my head into the stagnant waters, and breathe deep the salty air of my brethren.
AND I WILL JOIN THE DREAD CREW IN ETERNAL PLUNDER.