Part 56: Flamescar

4 to Verdant Sun, Inalis, 55 days remaining

Well, Sa’kull ate my shoes again. No matter! A quick mending spell put it all together in one piece again. I ended up giving Sa’kull a strange little wooden spoon I found in the hallway. It kept him busy enough until dinner. He’s very endearing, but also quite destructive. He came with me to the training room this evening. Actaeon and Torag were lifting heavy weights and Sa’kull wanted to try, so we lifted together. I’m not entirely ashamed to say I think the child might honestly be stronger than me. Whatever would anyone see in me?

I’m saying that jokingly, of course. I’m a fine, attractive, and adorable specimen!

I meant to help Clio in the library, but Sa’kull distracted me because he was hungry. Clio told me later that she did some more research on Fire Island. The lizardfolk there are fiercely territorial and speak a dialect of draconic. Because outsiders are often not welcome on the island, very little of it is mapped. However, Clio made some progress with the painting we got from Salamul’s hoard. It shows an entrance to the island and the caldera of the volcano in its center. The lizardfolk worship a deity in the volcano. Strangely, they have no name for this deity, but I gather that may be intentional.

Clio also got to talk with our siren friend down below deck. Her name, Clio tells me, is Reilana. She’s finally speaking! I’m so happy for her! Clio told me that Reilana seems much more calm now that she knows we do not mean her any harm.

It’s very lonely on the ship now that Mother isn’t here. She was only here a few days, but those few days were such a relief and blessing for me. She is so much more patient than me, and I think she’d do better as the ship’s medic anyway. I’m glad she’s safe. Sa’kull keeps asking where is Old Meat? Not in a I-want-to-eat-her kind of way, either. It’s more that perhaps he misses her. She looks like him slightly, and I think little Sa’kull appreciated that.

Not much else has happened today. I overheard Briar talking with Loreas about learning to play either the flute or lute. She wants to find the melodies of the lullabies her mother used to sing to her. What a lovely thought! Rendu spent most of his time with Ilos and Malikos, and Shadow was fishing off the back of the Gjallarhorn. I think he’s catching dinner tonight.

4 to Verdant Sun, Inalis, 55 days remaining

I take it back. Some more interesting things happened, Heath!

First off, Malikos and Rendu came out and said we will actually be approaching Fire Island tonight. How exciting! Our group, knowing how territorial the lizardfolk are thanks to Clio’s research, opted to stay moored off the coast of the island and approach it in the morning. That way we don’t look like thieves coming to the island in the cover of night.

Anyway, while we were discussing this, Briar had been making her way around the deck. She gave a couple of people some wood carvings she had been working on over the past few days. Ilharg just politely thanked Briar for the unexpected gift, but Briar struck up a conversation with Pholon. It was… odd. Clio and I couldn’t stop laughing. Not because we were mocking Briar or anything! No, rather, Pholon doesn’t actually pick up on Briar’s awkwardness, and it makes for awkward conversations between the two of them.

For example, Pholon’s mate on Scorpion Island – his girlfriend – didn’t like it when he talked during… you know… stuff. Like, Heath and Flee stuff. Or Actaeon and Versi stuff. Wrestling, or whatever bothersome word you liked to say. Mother knew what you meant by wresting anyway, and it was so embarrassing when you would say it, especially so casually. I thought it was absolutely lovely between you and I but I guess other couples maybe aren’t quite as compatible or maybe other people have different likes and dislikes

You know what? I’m not writing that. No descriptions of wrestling in my journal.

Back to the matter at hand, Clio and I have decided that we should probably not leave Briar and Pholon alone together. Neither of them have filters for their mouths, so who knows what other silly things will be said. Also, Pholon now thinks Briar is in love with him now, and Briar has absolutely no idea.

Oh, and back to the wood carvings thing. It seems Briar has been practicing wood carving much more than I had ever noticed. She’s been making spoons. In fact, she gave one to Actaeon while they were caring for Malkarion’s egg. The other day, Mother found a wooden spoon in her belongings. Briar must have made it. And Clio said she saw two of the crew going to eat, both holding wooden spoons that were not like the ones the Queen had furnished the ship with. How many spoons is Briar making? More importantly, Clio and I wondered how come we didn’t get one yet?

Oh, right, I remember! Earlier today I gave a wooden spoon to Sa’kull. Sorry, Briar.

We ended up approaching Fire Island just as the sun was setting. The smoke from the mountain darkened the sky prematurely, but the fire and lava inside the caldera gave it an ominous but warm feel. The island is very loud with wildlife. A lot of birdcalls, I mean. Sa’kull was beside himself with excitement over being so close, and it took quite a bit to get him to settle down long enough to go to sleep. He recognized the volcano immediately, and we could all feel his energy.

We’ve got a lot to do tomorrow on the island. I finally got Sa’kull to sleep, long enough to write this entry, though now I’m quite tired. I’ll send a message to Mother tomorrow if I have the magical energy. I hope she’s okay.

3 to Verdant Sun, Inalis, 54 days remaining

Good news, we’ve made contact with the Flamescar Tribe, and they’ve been incredibly welcoming of us! Here’s how that went down.

We moored the ship as close to a bay as we could. Malikos told us that there was a large coral reef below that would injure the ship if we got too close, so we ended up rowing quite a distance. That was unpleasant enough with Sa’kull trying to jump out of the boat to get to Fire Island that much quicker. Once we landed on the beach, Sa’kull ran to the tree-line immediately. He could see the lizardfolk hiding amongst the branches that we couldn’t, and he called out to them. We were surrounded by perhaps a dozen lizardfolk soldiers with spears.

Their apparent leader, a shaman, asked why we soft ones were here and if we bore the mark. He meant our dragon marks, so we all showed them. Once we had done so, the soldiers around us lowered their weapons and seemed much more at ease. The shaman invited us to speak with their queen, so we followed them through the jungle. Wow, it’s hot here. Wow. The jungles of Fire Island seem so much more humid than the Wyldwood. I know Clio is from the woods out east on the mainland. I wonder if it’s as hot there as it is here? She didn’t seem bothered by the heat. But then again, she is dressed much more comfortably than I am. I may rework my apparel next time we rest.

We came to a waterfall where more lizardfolk had gathered. Their queen was brought forth on a platform carried by her sons. The queen, Iquala, asked why we were here, and we told her that we intended on returning Sa’kull to his own people, as well as look into the case of the dragons here. Iquala seemed quite pleased at this, and indicated to Sa’kull. The boy was already so much happier and had been given a small creature to chew on while we parlayed.

But something about her dialect confused me. She and the shaman kept using the word ‘destroyers’ when describing us. I asked about that, and she told us that they believed those that bore the dragon marks – literally, us – were to deliver them from the oppression of another lizardfolk tribe. This other tribe, the Fire Walkers, had turned away from the God in the Fire, and as such have blasphemed the island. Heretics, cried the Flamescars, and they begged us to help them. The Fire Walker chief, Krog-Tor, has chosen to serve Amalj’aa instead of the God in the Fire, and will almost certainly bring doom and destruction to the people of Fire Island. The quest is simple: destroy Krog-Tor. Once he is slain, Iquala will claim his seat and instate the Flamescars as the leading tribe on the island. In return, Iquala announced that she and her tribe would forever serve us.

I don’t like to get into political wars, but… I guess we’re already doing that with the Amazon Island soon anyway, right? We already have the army of the dragonborn on our side. Having the lizardfolk help us in the upcoming war would be tremendously necessary. The others agreed, and I translated, announcing our plans to assist and help the Flamescars. Iquala informed us that Krog-Tor was given unique weapons by the Lord of Storms in honor of their pact, and two cyclopes to protect him. Whatever Amal’jaa wants to happen on this island must be important. It is in our best interest to disturb it.

To our utter shock, Iquala announced a feast before we moved out to the Fire Walker fortress in the caldera. She pointed to one of her sons and ordered him slain and cooked as the feast’s meal.

Now, I’m a very equal-opportunities religious person. Everyone can worship however they want and whoever they want. In addition, I understand that cultural differences exist in all peoples. I mean, my own friends here thought my morning prayer rituals were strange at first. And my friends? Briar’s centaur tribe doesn’t really cajole with anyone at all. Shadow’s people have names based on personality, or action, or something in between. Clio won’t sleep unless she sleeps on grass. I find that charming and beautiful now and I love joining her when we sleep outdoors. But at first, do you know what I thought, Heath? I thought bugs will get in her hair! Actaeon… I don’t know… he collects hands? And I think it’s bizarre how the fey and the mortal races seem to seldom mix. They could all get along swimmingly if they just put aside their cultural differences. What’s society without a little bit of everyone’s weirdness?

That said, eating your son and serving him to others is… uncomfortable. And it certainly didn’t taste right. I may join Clio and Briar in their vegetarianism permanently from now on. Briar asked why we would eat her son, and Iquala misunderstood, asking if we wanted to eat one of her older, bigger sons instead. To avoid such misunderstandings, we all quickly began to eat the meat and didn’t ask anything further. Iquala asked which one of us was to eat the heart? Actaeon reluctantly agreed to take on that task while the rest of us just closed our eyes and prayed we wouldn’t throw up in front of the queen.

The plan was made to infiltrate the Fire Walker fortress “under the moon”, so we had plenty of time to strategize. After seeing Sa’kull become accepted into the tribe – they painted him in their tribe’s colors, he’s so cute! – I asked around. No one in the tribe here seems to know of another way in other than to simply go busting through the front door. We instead opted to look into the other entrance from the painting. The shaman suggested we investigate an old temple at the foot of the volcano. None go out that way apparently (at least, not from the Flamescar tribe), so no one could give us much details on it. Seeing how we have a lot of time until nightfall, we left the Flamescars and went off into the jungle towards the temple ruins. A few Flamescar scouts were out while we passed through and we got directions from them.

Soon we came to a clearing where a sunken temple was found broken and destroyed amidst a small pond. Now, when I saw it was quiet here, I mean very quiet compared to the rest of the island. The Flamescars like to chant and bang on their drums, and the birds of the jungle are incredibly noisy. Here? Nothing. Just the sound of our own footsteps and breath. The shaman was right that none come out here. Clio believed we weren’t alone, though, as she saw a dinosaur flying overhead at one point.

The “secret entrance” – that’s what we called it – should be around here somewhere, but we were a little stuck. Shadow, ever fearful for the group, decided to scout ahead. Clio put an invisibility spell on him to keep him hidden, and we saw his padded footprints disappear between the broken walls and floors. I spied a few interesting sights near the edge of the water. The leap towards them was too far for me to cross, so Torag went in my stead. Briar had summoned a familiar spirit in the form of a blood hawk, and it circled wide around the clearing while we investigated.

I don’t know how much time had passed before I saw a reflection in the water and cried out. Two tyrannodons with Fire Walker riders were upon us, dropping makeshift bombs that reeked of sulfur. We got out of the way while Clio, Shadow, and I shot down the riders and chased the tyrannodons away. We must have been too loud, though, because the water started bubbling soon after. And then, a hideous beast sprang forth from the murky water!

Actaeon tells me it is called a ‘shellborn hydra’. Like mythical hydras we learned about as children, this creature has multiple heads that can regrow. But unlike a regular hydra, this one was mostly in the shape of a large snapping turtle. Its four sharp maws sprang after Shadow, who only barely got away. Clio stunned the creature while Rendu and I traded back and forth hitting it with radiant fire. Torag and Actaeon jumped on its back to fight it while Briar called down lightning magic to strike it. Actaeon was victorious and slew the beast with Xander’s axe.

For a while, we’re going to rest here. It’s hot and muggy, and now we’re sweaty again. Torag and Actaeon kind of stink from being in the murky water, too. We’ll rest a minute before we get back to searching. I think whatever this “secret entrance” is, it will be found soon. Cross your fingers and wish us luck!