Leaving the cave entrance, we return to the fountain w/o difficulty. As we arrive, the urge to drink once again overwhelms us. We indulge ourselves of the water. It appears cloudier than before, near opaque, but as we drink, it feels as if we become whole again, the part stolen from us seeping back into our beings. Our shadows return. In an instant, the world itself appears normal and we are surrounded by the enemy islanders, those servants of Styphon, armed and posed at the ready but wild eyed and terrified, seemingly of us. The chief stands among them, equally hostile and on edge. In a disgusted voice, he informs us that we were not supposed to survive but he will honor his agreement. It seems that we went through not only a non-traditional form of their rite of passage but one meant to be a suicide mission. It is nice to disabuse him. However we, as members of the tribe, are now banished from the island but may leave unharmed. The warriors make way for us as we walk through them,
We note to ourselves that King, now a member of both tribes, may face some interesting social ramifications in the future. Will it lead to peace negotiations or trouble?
A scout takes us back to our outrigger and the Virtuous Maiden. The homecoming is rapturous. Alta and Mug were overjoyed to see me. Sleep, as much as it’s desired, doesn’t come easily. On return to the village, the celebration lasts days. Food, drink, and dancing fill the hours. In the passion of the moment, I propose to my beauteous Alta w/ a ring that I searched out in the volcano. She accepts with her whole heart. The islanders cheer w/ one voice. The night is filled w/ much rejoicing, storytelling, and more drinking.
The next morning… late morning… we begin discussing and preparing for the next phase of our quest. A return to Ye'tu and traveling to the third island, the island of spirit. We get our armor repaired, stocks resupplied, arrows and gear worked on. All the necessary tasks for another long journey. Alta and I spend much time together. She is reluctant to leave my side, knowing how dangerous the past has been and the future has become. During the down-time, I send off a magic pigeon to the family, general notes on our well being and an aside of the news of my engagement, just to aggravate my sisters. Unbeknownst to be though, it doesn’t make it through the barrier we passed through those many weeks ago, hitting and exploding in a puff of magical feathers. We are truly isolated.
The decision is made to take King w/ us. Not only are his hand to hand fighting skills none to be despised, he is also an expert in what we expect the native flora and fauna will possibly be. I am also reluctant to put Alta in the face of the dangers like we’ve encountered so far. To mollify her over my leaving again, I make a fateful decision.
Alta and I are married among the tribe at high noon on the clearest day. The Chief and Rod jointly conduct the nuptials. While it will have to be repeated for the families upon our return, this, thousands of miles away from our homes and surrounded by skin covered human savages, will be a binding ceremony in the sight of the Gods. As soon as the vows are said, the sky darkens as an eclipse covers the sun. Rod closes her eyes, apparently in a trance. When she opens them, they are not hers, they are those of the Dragon, burning with wisdom and age. In a deep booming voice also not her own, ‘she’ declares “I hereby recognize this union, and give my blessing to its longevity and faithfulness”. The tribe is on their knees, faces planted to the ground in genuflection. Rod recovers, a bit lightheaded after being possessed by the spirit of Kym Nark Mar and the sky clears. Wide eyes stare at us, unsure how to react to this direct blessing of the Great Blue Sky. Theirs are not the only ones. Alta appears a bit startled and shaken by the realization of just how powerful this relationship has become. What is she thinking? I’m sure I’ll find out later.
Over the next few days, we continue our preparations and my Honeymoon. A dream reveals to us that Kym Nark Mar is using us to draw out our nemesis in order to stop him. His/It’s goal being to find a source of power and use it to arm an army and destroy the Old Ones once and for all, an impossible task. We, as heroes, have been chosen for this task since the nemesis is invisible to the Gods. We are deific bait. We will not be lambs to the slaughter though. My suspicions as to what this source of power is, being a former Dwarven stronghold, leaves me wondering what to do w/ it if we survive. Leave it hidden? Bring it back into the world? What consequences for the world might our decisions lead to?
I part from my bride as we begin the third part of our quest on these islands. We travel to Yetu’s domicile once again. He reveals to us that he is the guardian of the ‘passage’ to the third island and that our worthiness will be decided by the trials of the passage itself. We move on to the mountains covering the west part of the island. In the mountains is a stone gate which leads to a tunnel that connects the two islands, underneath the waters. In the tunnel are three shrines. Kym Nark Mar has enchanted them so that only those w/ the three keys (stone plate, jewel, claw), each one connected to one shrine, may open them and continue. At the entrance, Yetu opens the tunnel for us. Our first glimpse shows the ruins of an ancient trade way long abandoned. He warns us that darkness and dangers lie below. I bite back a sarcastic comment as we enter.