Episode 8: On Foreign Shores
I awoke to the sounds of waves crashing against the side of my houseboat. The water on the sea side of the bridge was not as calm as the lake. I heard the guards from the two towers arguing about wages or some such nonsense with the well-equipped and beautifully arrayed Spirit Templars from the village between them. One of them said the king did not supply enough provisions for guards in towers along the wilderness expanse, but I cared for none of that. The most important leg of my mission to rescue Eyesgood and Theophilus from foreign shores was about to begin.
I wasted no time. I shoved off and pointed the boat northwest as the gale force winds aided my rowing efforts. I rowed past the village and around a small island. Another tiny island beyond the first came into view shortly and I noticed much debris and a small row boat sitting at the edge of it. There was no token on the island, which was more like a dozen tiles of dirt shooting out of the water. There were no trees and it appeared that someone wanted to use the mound of dirt as a strategic location for another tower for kingdom defense. It was unfinished. Also, there were unfinished walls outlining the island and a few containers. Since it was not deeded and apparently abandoned, I stopped to see if there was anything on the island that I might find useful. A locked small chest was half buried in the sand. The row boat was not locked and contained inexpensive items in various stages of decay. However, it was moored! I stopped to ponder the moral decisions placed in front of me.
First, the land was not deeded and thus was considered public. Second, anything found on public property that was unlocked was basically fair game in Epic - as I had been made painfully aware of back at the cave. Third, it appeared that the boat had very likely been picked open by invaders or thieves. I reasoned that if a person built a boat with a mooring anchor they must have also put a lock on it for that was easier to make than the anchor. Thus, the boat sat on an uninhabited island, unlocked, and filled with decaying items - which meant time had passed since the owner had used the boat. Fourth, there were no valuable items in the boat, leading me to believe that it had been picked through already. All of these reasons gave me the liberty to "borrow" the mooring anchor for my mission. After all, the next person to pass by might just steal the boat itself! I left a quick note which read, "Hello. I found your boat abandoned, unlocked, but moored. I was in desperate need of a mooring anchor for a trip and took the liberty to borrow it. I will return shortly. Please contact Surviverman if you find this note before I get back."
Feeling completely justified, I jumped back in my boat and continued on. It took a long while before I reached the point along the coast where I felt the crossing should take place. Pointing my boat perpendicular to the shore, I sailed for the horizon. There was still a gale blowing which kept me at a comfortable 12 kmh. As I began thinking that the crossing was taking an unusual amount of time to reach, all of a sudden a dreadful message appeared that read something like, "A huge shark spots you from below." I can't quite remember the exact text because it made me instantly lose focus and scan the water. I received this message every several seconds and in a panic I tried to adjust the direction of the boat to gain any kind of advantage against the wind. And then it happened! The shark struck the boat from underneath and threw me several feet from the boat into the cold waters of the open sea. My body sank for a moment beneath the waves and I gasped for air when I swam back to the surface. My stamina was completely gone - the result of not catching my stamina during the perpendicular approach to the distance shore. I instantly started drowning!
A million thoughts raced through my mind as I struggled with all my might to reach the boat before dying. If I failed to make it, I would die and spawn all the way back at the starter deed. It would take days to get back to the boat. The shark was doubtless waiting to consume my lifeless body and with that I would likely meet it again the second time out. What if I died and someone coming over from Elevation saw my boat and picked the lock! I would lose everything I had acquired for the mission. Almost committed to the water and waves, I made one last effort to reach the boat and managed to grab a hold of the side with one hand. Taking hold with the other, I slowly pulled myself up and collapsed inside.
The coughing up of water was the only thing that kept me from passing out. I was wounded, weak, and wet - soaked to the bone from the icy water. Again I received those messages about the shark and by then I realized something supernatural was working against me. With all I could muster, I turned the boat around and rowed back to shore. I beached the boat and collapsed on the ground, thankful to be back on dry land. But I was on the wrong island! What happened! I asked in kingdom chat and was told that I had not paid the king for my citizenship and thus I was not allowed passage to Elevation. I guessed the king had shark monitors along the edge to enforce the passing laws.
I knew what I had to do. I needed to contact my sponsor to make the necessary legal arrangements to pay my citizenship fees to obtain access to the distant shore. However, I gave strict instructions not to reveal the nature of my trip. I received word by carrier pigeon that my access was granted and was told that I was even granted some money and a referral for my troubles. They were little comfort at that particular moment. However, the interim did give my body time to heal from the drowning - something I could not help along with any medical supplies. I entered the boat once more and set my course again. The crossing was uneventful except for the passing of a sailor from my kingdom returning home. We exchanged salutes just before I entered the waters of Elevation.
It was a strange land. Both a black beam of evil light and a white beam of brilliance shot up from the island at opposite ends of it. I glanced at my map and pointed myself at the foreign shore. It was getting dark and I was glad, for a night infiltration was preferred. When I could make out a shore line, I signaled a single wave of my lantern and shortly received a quick two waves in response. I had found them!
Approaching the shore, I noticed a kingdom tower, thankfully my own kingdom, situated as it appeared, almost in the middle of the inlet. Reducing my distance ever cautiously, I also realized that the tower was supported by a land bridge that ran the length of the inlet. I moored to consider my options. I would have to drag the boat across the land bridge to reach the inner shore of the harbor. This would place all three of us in particular danger as it takes time to push a boat. Furthermore, a brown bear was splashing around near the land bridge on my side. He would have to be led away before I could safely anchor by the tower. I did not want to call the guards and raise an alarm. By that time I saw a few signals from my friends. They wanted to know what was keeping me. I signaled back to stay low and wait about 10 minutes, then, the one carrying the least amount of supplies should make his way to the land bridge. I would meet him there.
I took up anchor and rowed with the wind just right to lead the bear away from the land bridge. He followed me for a while and then lost interest further down the shore. I returned to the land bridge just in time to see the silhouette of Theophilus headed for me against the night sky. He was approaching swiftly but cautiously.
"It's about time you got here, SM."
"Sorry, I had a few minor delays," I said as he stared at my soaked frame.
"Dilly-dallying in the water, eh?"
"Yeah, I was almost shark meat, Theo."
"Well, glad you made it and thanks for coming to our rescue! This is indeed a dangerous place."
I signaled Eyesgood to make his way to the land bridge. But then shortly, he signaled back. There was another brown bear that had caught wind of Theophilus' scent and was sniffing along the shoreline between his position and the land bridge. He couldn't get to us and was hunkered down beneath an olive tree. Theo and I agreed that we had to drag the boat across the land bridge to the inlet and over to Eyesgood. However, Theo was a Vynora priest in training and very weak. I had to do it myself. I jumped out and dragged the boat. I'm not sure if it was adrenaline, strength, or both, but I actually managed to drag the boat over the edge of the land bridge without having to push. Only two corners of the bridge were above the water, but I could not tell from the side I was on. As soon as I cleared the bridge, I jumped back in and rowed towards Eyesgood's position. When I neared the shore, he took off towards me, wading out to the boat in a panicked series of splashes. He jumped in and I turned the boat around to head back.
"It's about time you got here, SM."
"Sorry, I had a few minor delays," I said as he stared at my soaked frame.
"I'll tell you later," I interrupted as it was apparent being identical triplets made us brothers think the same in a lot of ways. Eyesgood grabbed an oar. "Let's get out of here!" he said.
When we cleared the land bridge, we pointed the boat back towards Serenity and had some time to catch up. I told them (almost) everything that had befallen me in my preparations and subsequent journey. They admired the row boat and congratulated me on a successful clandestine operation.
"We were for the most part fairly safe while we waited for your arrival. The starter deed Templars were very nice and treated us as dignitaries," Eyesgood explained. "However, the bar tender was rude and refused to give us anything to eat."
"There's some casseroles in the boat. Help yourselves," I said as we rowed on.
We crossed over. As Eyesgood is technically the oldest of the brothers, he instinctively started to give instructions on which way he felt we should go to find a place to settle.
"Sorry, brother. But I have one more thing to tidy up before we are free to explore," I said. I explained how I had acquired the anchor and we argued as brothers sometimes do.
"Well, you simply should not have taken it," preached Theo.
"I agree with Theo," said Eyegood.
"Well, I didn't steal it. I just borrowed it for a bit, that's all. Besides, I am heading back there right now to return it!"
I kind of expected a thrashing anyway, so I was not too much annoyed at their reprimands. We arrived at the small island to find the row boat gone! I had pushed it up on the shore so it would not slip away in the water, so I was sure it had not drifted off. I sent a tell to the owner but she was nowhere to be found. I felt horrible! I had only been gone a few hours. Did someone steal her boat or did she come to claim it? I asked in kingdom chat if anyone knew her. No response. By this time, Eyesgood was getting anxious to let it go and move on.
"No! I want to know what happened to that boat! If you guys want to take my boat and go scouting, have at it, but I am going to try to find that boat so I can return this anchor," I said with a firmness that made even Eyesgood take notice.
"Ok, Ok, I understand," Eyesgood said as he placed a hand on my shoulder. "You are right. Let's row along the shoreline on each side of the inlet and see if you can spot the boat."
We rowed up and down the inlet for over an hour searching for the boat, the owner or both. The sun was coming up and all three of us were fairly exhausted by then from the trip. Just then, Theo spotted a piece of parchment in the water. he scooped it up and read it to us. It was my note I had left in the boat!
"Well, that settles it, SM. Either the boat was stolen or the owner has discarded your note as if to say, Don't worry about it."
I hated to admit it, but Theo was right. We might be looking for hours, days even! I decided to take a stone chisel and carve her name in the anchor so I would not forget her. If ever I found her, I would return the anchor that I had borrowed. It was the only thing I could do.
Rubbing his hands along the side of the boat, Eyesgood said, "Well SM, you did good! We could not have ever swam the distance and made it here alive. Now, with our tools and your supplies and boat, we have everything we need to find a place to settle on this serene map. Surely we will become great!"
"Maybe," I said. "But promise me one thing!"
"What's that," said Theo.
"Promise we will never become pig farmers!"
They both stared at me with awkward, confusing looks as I grabbed my left shoulder and exercised my arm.
"But I thought you loved ham..." were the last words anyone in local could hear as we rowed off into another Wurm adventure.