The Wager Luminal

DAY 3: A Mighty Storm

Also BLOODERFLIES

I hate to write it, but had it not been for Annam’s quick thinking and spellcasting, I could have well and truly gone to my death beneath the waves. Thankfully, I washed up on the shoreline.

On the other hand, it was his holy symbol that led us to shipwreck on the shore of Sundarban, so I will reserve my judgment of his god as of yet.

I’m limping now, but I am sure to be sore tomorrow. After almost drowning, I encountered both a giant crab and a native with a spear. The crab lost a claw and the native lost her head. Both lost their lives.

The storm was mighty, and I fear we have been driven far off course. The ship has taken heavy damage and is in need of significant repairs. Thankfully, we washed up close to the pirates’ cache and Jayanam says that we stand to recover both canvas and lumber.

Annam and Erredil found our location on the pirates’ map, and our journey to the drop site was eventful. I sport a nasty neck wound from an encounter with those disgusting gigantic bloodsucking butterflies that the maharajah used to keep to make examples of the slaves.

Still, it’s a small price to pay for the egg we pillaged from the butterflies’ clutch. From what I remember, those eggs are worth hundreds of gold pieces, and we can sell it when we reach The Carraigh for passage to the far eastern islands. We only have a limited amount of time to fulfill our wager, and I want to spend as little time on this godforsaken continent as possible.

I write this as we camp for the night outside the cave that contains the pirates’ cache. I am very uneasy. Someone set up the bones — ribcages, arms, skulls. I’ve seen them before, on smaller islands, and I’ve seen sailors crossing themselves, asking Tamar for protection against evil.

Old Fahim told me once that it was a sign of great evil nearby. He told me his pirate brother moored near just such a place. They needed to go ashore for water, but decided to wait until first light. Their lookout swore he saw movement — always out of the corner of his eye, and they seemed to multiply in the darkness. But the bones were too far away to distinguish. Some of the crew thought that the lookout was moon-addled or in his cups, but pirates are a superstitious sort, and they shoved off in the opposite direction, without the water they came for.

The same dragon sigil is in front of the cave — the same on an idol we encountered on our journey here — the same that Erredil saw in the clouds before the shipwreck. The blood of the dragon is said to make the dead walk again. Is that all we face inside this cave, or are there other dangers of which we are unaware?

The sun fades, and it is difficult to write without any light. We face a dark lookout tonight.

ADDED IN HASTY SCRAWL
Just after dawn, the following morning

Three more stakes in front of the cave. One for each of us that enters today. The corpse in the boat wears a golden mask with a gaping mouth. The moon hid her face from us, and we saw and heard nothing last night – movements out of the corner of our eyes, maybe. Tricks that darkness plays.

But something saw or heard or sensed us. Something knew we were here, and has prepared for us. For our entrance. For our death

What was it that Jayanam said —

The walking sand does not sleep here
The golden mask can see me
THEY ARE NOT GONE

Let’s see if Annam’s beloved god can help us with whatever evil dwells in that cave. Despite the warning, we cannot turn back. Ever forward, even unto death.

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Wednesday

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