Forsaken Isles

The Forsaken Isles can be found between Mistone and Dregar. These islands have suffered from an energy-draining force ever since Sinthar Bloodstone returned with his armies. However, as of approximately 1410, due to the actions of a company of heroes, the energy-draining force no longer seems to be expanding and it is hoped the islands can return to their former state.

Before they were known as the Forsaken Isles, these islands were known as the Islands of the Dawn. From north to south, the names of the bigger isles in this chain are: Prajanas, Loama, Pamalita, Rie, Soralis, Xoroma, Quoa, Janipola, and Rulipanas.

Extracts from the Journal of Malik read as follows:
Day 45, Aboard the Queen's Exploration Trireme Malhazaar.

I awoke early to the sound of the anchor being dropped into the water and the rattle of its chains. The shouts of the crew as they went about their well-rehearsed drills mingled with the calling of the seabirds soaring and swooping overhead. I guessed we must have found land, so I dressed quickly and proceeded to the upper deck. As I came up on deck, there before my eyes was the view of a sunrise just visible over the horizon, forming a glowing ball and coalescing with reds and oranges in the still water, around it the sky took on all the colors of the morning. With the ascending sun to my back, I turned to gaze at the reason we had dropped anchor. Three hundred paces to our right was an island. The coastline that I could see stretched for several statute miles, until the morning's haze blurred it to a confusion of dull grays. The gently breaking waves over a white sandy beach gave the impression of a serene and gentle place. Above the gently sloping beach, the sand came to an abrupt halt. A wall of large spindly trees stood sentinel to its encroachment. To all intents and purposes, this looked like a paradise. No doubt our post breakfast explorations would confirm this--or maybe not.

Our landing party, consisting of eight, set up a base camp against the tree line at the head of the beach with a small lean-to shelter to protect against the sun, a fire, and several crates of supplies. Sitting beneath the shelter, I listen to the sounds of the island awaking--most curious sounds indeed! Some sounds are difficult to identify; I struggle even to determine if they're from bird or beast. The white sand that covers the beach is soft and warm, but as the beach recedes into the tree line, the substrate gradually darkens until it becomes a dark brown covered in a thick layer of fallen leaves and foliage. The trees that make up the majority of the cover are most bizarre. They each have a tall, thin, curving trunk, atop of which sits any number of long, fern-like leaves. Beneath the leaves hangs a strange head-sized green fruit, if it can be called such. This fruit, which litters the ground, contains a sickly sweet smelling milky liquid, and is covered in a tough fibrous husk. Trentle the Alchemist assures us they are harmless and quite edible. We will however wait for him to feast upon them before we partake of this strange fruit. We must take care prior to venturing inland, lest one of these fruits fall upon our heads.

Due to its proximity to the sea, a profusion of seabirds occupy the surrounding skies; their diversity is astounding. Never have I seen such a wide range of species, some of which I have never before beheld. Some of the birds roost among the tree line, but others must travel seemingly large distances to roost. Among the trees, several of the survey team sighted large flightless birds, some as large as a turkey. Maybe these will provide a decent meal? As of yet, we have sighted no mammals or reptiles, though due to some of the noises emanating from further inland, I am sure that some must exist. Although the place seems uninhabited, there is a constant feeling that we are being watched. No signs exist as yet of any civilization. However, once we have prepared our camp and completed our survey, we will venture inland.

With the sun rising, we are able to see more of this land. The beach stretches in both directions as far as the eye can see. After our foray inland, we plan to sail close in to land to determine the nature of this place, and whether it is an island--as I suspect--or the coastline of a much larger land. Although the tree line appears dense from a distance, the tall trees are sparse, and it seems that the earth here does not favor ground plants. So, a trek inland should not prove too difficult. We decided to venture west for a few hours, both to see if anything of interest lies that way, and also in the hope of finding some game to serve as our feast tonight.

We have now been walking since early morn, and with the sun now at its zenith, we rest to complete our logs and partake of a snack. The walk has been uneventful, even bordering on monotonous. The tree growth has become more lush, and the further we move inland, the move jungle-like it becomes. There is very little undulation in the land's topography. However, one of the sailors with us, upon scaling a tree, did say he saw a range of hills to the north. More worrying, though, was that he saw several extremely large, flighted creatures circling those hills. I still get the feeling of being watched. I mentioned this to the ranger who is our guide and tracker, and he also senses this, though cannot be more specific about its origin. I have noticed, however, that whenever the feeling of being watched befalls me, there exists an eerie silence among the trees. If there are any people here aside from us, we have as yet seen no signs.

Evidence of Civilization
Several hours after midday, we found evidence of civilization. As the trees and brush gradually thinned into grassland, we stumbled upon a large ruined building that stood at least 40 feet in height, with its four sides each the same distance. It has what remains of very intricate patterns carved into every stone. Although worn and weathered and covered in moss, the attention to detail is amazing. It has stood this way for a long time. There are no worn pathways, and save from our own, there are no tracks or evidence of it being visited in a long time. We decided to stop here for night and set up camp.

With a fire lit and blazing away, several of us looked around the ruined building. By the light of our torches, we came across what seemed like a doorway; what was once an archway now stood in ruin. The supporting pillars and headstone lay scattered among the grass and brush. The entrance, draped in grasses, vines, and roots, had a bush blocking the doorway. Several strokes of an axe revealed, in the meager light of our torches, a passageway leading into the building. Peering inside we did not see far. We have decided to wait for morning before venturing inside.

I have been awake for several hours. Dawn is just a moment away. My sleep was troubled by dreams; dreams of sadness and suffering. Now a vague and distant memory, all that remains is the sadness my sleeping visions left in my mind. The fire has all but burned down; a few embers smolder in the white ash that was once logs and leaves. None of the others stir. I will collect some more wood for the fire.

I have just returned from inside what I now guess to be an ancient seat of worship.
After the rest of the party awoke and ate some of our rations, four of us decided to venture into the building. Through the ruined entrance, a short corridor led into the building's one and only room. It took several minutes for our eyes to grow accustomed to the interior, illuminated by the light of our torches, but once they had, the most interesting sight befell us. Four walls, each covered by a smooth and faintly reflective pale stone, were covered to the last inch of stone, carved with small pictographs: a man here, a bird there, waves, trees, suns, moons, a whole host of others that could be anything, and some that resembled nothing at all. Interspersed among these were larger images: some resembling maps of islands and continents, some showing stars and moons, and others with representations of human-like faces. It seemed as if the walls of the room had been used to tell a story.

Midday -Day 46
We have sent two of our company back to the beach to get more supplies delivered to us and to inform the ship of our find. In the meantime, we will attempt to discover the meaning of these carvings. It has taken many days, but several of us have managed to put some semblance of meaning to these symbols. Our first assumption is that this is the history of this island, but many things remain a mystery to us.

Evening - Day 47
From what we have managed to glean, it seems that this island is the smallest of a chain of twelve islands, which is known to its people as the Islands of the Dawn. On these islands live the people who call themselves “the hidden ones”. From their drawings, they seem to have a well-established culture, based mainly on farming and fishing, and have lived here for many cycles (years) of the sun. I am not sure of the age of these carvings, but judging from the degree of dereliction and decay present in the surrounding building, I would estimate that they are least 500 years old, maybe even more. We must find a starting point in the story, a place on the wall to begin.

Midday -Day 55
A breakthrough! We think we have found a pattern and have a meaning for a majority of the symbols.

Morning -Day 61
Our research is now drawing to a close. We have recorded excerpts from each and every wall and translated a large number of the symbols. However, once we return home, our libraries may verify our findings. Time and our supplies will not allow us to record everything. Our fear is that we may have missed something of an earth-shattering magnitude

It appears there are twelve islands, nine large and three small; they are called by their inhabitants the Dawn Islands or Islands of the Dawn. The people have lived here in peace and harmony for many centuries. It seems that two races inhabit these lands: one like us, human; the other, referred to as the builders, live beneath the land but in harmony with the men above. Little is said of the builders, just that they exist and live their own way. The human population (I am assuming that the Dawn People are like us in appearance as the symbol for person is a stylized stick man) has a highly-developed culture with a central ruling family. Each island is managed by a council of elders and is headed by a member of the ruling family. War, it seems, has not visited these lands, for there seems to be no mention of man killing man. It does seem that these lands have suffered the occasional visit from outsiders, though the only reference to these visits is that the outlanders come from the setting sun and leave with the tide.

Our lands are spread across the water; twelve islands are ours: Prajanas, Loama, Pamalita, Rie, Soralis, Xoroma, Quoa, Janipola, Tiamos, and the smaller islands of Wilao, Haratu, and Nanimosa. Our people are spread across these lands, and we call ourselves the People of the Dawn.

It seems like paradise here. Food is bountiful and the rich soil and warm climate provide ideal growing conditions for all manner of fruits, vegetables, and grains. The lush jungles and grassy plains provide game aplenty, as well as rich grazing for domesticated animals. The seas are swarming with fish and the skies with birds. Timber is plentiful, and it appears that the amazing trees that adorn nearly every coastline provide all one needs to create housing and furnishings.

The land provides our needs. The sea and sky rain their treasures upon us.

There is constant reference to a thing or place called the Way or Route (translation of the symbol in the context of its surroundings is difficult as it has many names and meanings). This seems to be the hub of all that the Dawn People do. Whether it is a way of life or a belief I cannot be certain. They don't seem to worship the Way--more revere it and rely upon it. It does appear, though, that the builders control and guard it.

I, the Keeper of the Word, record our history, our stories, and our hopes, as did my father, and his father, and his father before him. We also stand as Sentinels to the Way, for the Way is our life, our heart, and our being.

Evident in the elaborate drawings and writings that adorn all the stonework, art and artistry possess prestige in the life of the Dawn People. Not only art but also many of the classical sciences appear to be revered by these people:

Alchemy - It appears the islands harbor many types of exotic flora, many of which are a valuable source of medicine. In this area, the islanders seems quite advanced compared to us in their ability to use locally obtained herbs, flowers, and roots to cure a whole host of ills. What is of concern to our cleric is that some of the ailments described are unknown to us and some present a very disturbing pathology. One in particular is a horrible debilitating illness that, once contracted, has to be treated rapidly or the body becomes covered in a mold like that seen on rotting fruit. The consequence for the unfortunate untreated individual is a slow death as the mold eats away the body hosting it. Luckily, the cure is described as the root of a large waterborne plant, which is found in abundance on the islands.

Mathematics - As it is the basis for all branches of science, mathematics features highly in the writings of the Dawn People. Among the discoveries made are calculations that can determine accurate distance between two geographical points and calculations that provide accurate positions of the stars at an exact moment in time. Most amazing--and possibly also most confusing--are writings on the manipulation of time. A difficult symbol to translate, I cannot yet determine its meaning; it is either a science or a branch of magic, but even of that I cannot be certain, for the block that accommodates it talks of movement without moving, lifting without effort, and talking without words. It is most bizarre and unusual. Perhaps someone at a temple to Aragen will be able to shed some light on it

I lose my eyes to your words and see you, I do not listen but hear your word, I do not lift and it rises. From within, I am.

As well as the study of sciences, there are mentions of a calendar and a means of measuring time by observing stellar and solar positions, a monetary system that appears to use shells for currency, trade and economic structures with laws and penalties for crimes, laws for family and life, and a schooling system for the young. This culture looks in some areas to be far more advanced than ours. I wonder where they are now. Have they all up and left? If so, why? Where could such a seemingly advanced culture go? Although we have yet to visit the other islands, I have a strange feeling that they will be as empty and derelict as this place. We could have learned so much.

Nowhere is magic mentioned directly. Either it doesn't exist in the lives of these people, it is not spoken of, or it is described as something else.

Morning - Day 69
Dawn has come and passed. We broke camp and readied ourselves for our journey back to the white sand beach and the waiting ship. I afforded myself one last look at the magnificent building that has provided us with such revelations and insights. As I gazed at the door and its tumbled pillars, I noticed beneath the weather-worn stones something dark and shiny. With my staff, I scratched out the dirt and the leaves around it and dragged it out into the clear so I could pick it up. In doing so, I realized that it was a stone knife blade, perhaps the length of a man's hand, warm to the touch and fashioned from a stone the like of which I have never seen before. At first it appeared black like obsidian, but closer inspection revealed a hidden depth to its luster. It has a wonderful depth to it, like dark water with swirling mists and clouds. I cautiously touched the blade, and although my touch was gentle the blade drew blood. Never had I seen such sharpness. More astonishing, though, is that with the drawing of blood, the knife seemed to pulsate and glow. As soon as it happened, it stilled again. I was mesmerized by this strange happening, but a shouting voice bid me hurry and brought me round. I turned to see the party moving off on the trail that brought us here. I turned as well, and carefully placed the blade in my belt pouch and ran to catch the others.

Within its depths, the Way can be seen. Fear not and walk the Way.