WARNING: Other players should not read Chapter 1 posts until Chapter 2.
Music: Chapter One – The Adventure Begins
Ista Island in late spring was a sight to behold. It was a tropical paradise of wide beaches and deep forests dominated by a massive broken volcano on the southwestern shore. The landscape was dotted with giant flowers in bright shades of orange and yellow. No one had to wander far to find a fresh piece of fruit or a tasty spiderclaw.
Sea Cliff was one of the smaller holds, but it was the most exciting. Located in a tiny cove on the northern tip of the island, it was the receiving port for all trade and passenger ships arriving from the west. Visitors from Ruatha River hold, Fort Sea hold, Hold Gar, and even the distant Southern Boll could be seen regularly, socializing in the cozy Great Hall.
Headwoman Bronwin was always busy seeing to their needs. She was in her mid-fifties, a bit manly in both appearance and temperament. Her forceful personality was something to be reckoned with. She was hard-working and expected the same from everyone around her. As a result, there were very few idle days for the hold’s children. Luckily for Tanivel, today was such a day.
Tanivel was resting comfortably in the shade of a palm-woven canopy with a view of the beach.
“Hey, there you are!” a voice blurted out, breaking the peaceful serenity of the little terrace. “I found a new cave!”
Tanivel’s best friend Levon came into view. He was fourteen, tall for his age and lanky. He was the Mining Master’s assistant, a job Tanivel was interested in.
Tanivel jerked upward with excitement. It was rare to find a new cave anywhere near the hold.
“Just a couple of klicks to the south,” Levon replied. “I can’t believe we didn’t notice it before. The opening’s hidden in a patch of manicata. I already hid our gear nearby.”
Tanivel’s excitement diminished somewhat. Manicata plants had massive, flat leaves edged with needle-like thorns. The adult plants grew to twenty feet tall. With any luck, they could crawl through the gap beneath the fronds.
Levon didn’t seem concerned. He had a round, innocent face that kept him out of trouble he should have rightfully been in. Tanivel, on the other hand, would have to account for any cuts and scratches he picked up along the way.
If Tanivel and Levon didn’t explore the cave, their rival might find it first. Radek would undoubtedly boast of the discovery at the next wrestling meet.
Tanivel nodded to Levon, “Lead the way.”
Levon set out at a brisk pace, waving and smiling at people he knew, with Tanivel right beside him. Once they followed the winding road away from the hold, they were alone.
After an hour of hiking through dense underbrush, Levon let out an excited whoop.
“This is it!” he exclaimed, revealing two sturdy leather packs and a small pile of climbing gear. “Here you go.”
As Tanivel pulled on his well-worn harness, he noticed Levon checking a carefully wrapped bundle in his pack.
“Oh it’s uhm… it’s just an anemometer, in case we go deep,” Levon reluctantly revealed.
The anemometer was an expensive and delicate miner’s tool, used to measure airflow. The air in the deepest caverns wasn’t always safe to breathe. It looked like a set of fan blades inside a metal hoop, about six inches wide and two inches deep, with a measuring dial in the middle.
There was no chance that Mining Master Haelan gave him permission to borrow it.
“I already explored inside,” Levon admitted, quickly adding “Just a bit!” when Tanivel looked cross. “There are crystals in there somewhere, I’d bet a mark on it.”
The mines near Sea Cliff brought up dolomite and copper. A quartz find would be truly amazing. And valuable.
Levon finished buckling his harness and tying off the climbing rope. He tossed the end down into the shaft and uncovered the glow on his helmet.