The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 102: Observations of Skull Island
Captain Finwë is entertaining the sages at dinner, when he notices the change in air pressure. He activates the telepathy net. "Mister Forothon, what is going on?"
"We observed a pirate ship ahead of us. We submerged partially to evade detection. Now, beyond that ship, is an island. According to Eric, uh, Mister Wright's maps, it is Skull Island."
Eïr volunteers the information that there is an enormous tree on the island, in hopes that the elf will be intrigued.
Mandorak asks if we could alter course, to starboard, so hasten our separation from the pirate ship, which is crossing from starboard to port. The captain agrees to this. Mannie asks Chekhov to change course. After warning us that this will delay our arrival at Lanthil by several hours, the navigational bust makes the adjustment.
Aldamir examines the tree through the zoomed window. He pronounces the tree to look like a cedar. He starts to fiddle with the magnification. He is therefore the first person to notice some lateen-rigged ships well beyond Skull Island. We are unable to make out any informative details about them.
We pass abaft the pirate ship. Finally, the island is between us and it. We change course to port to approach the island. The lateen ships continue on their course, undisturbed by the pirate ship. We slow to a halt, and rise to 'normal' depth.
The captain cheerfully informs our scholarly guests that we have found an interesting destination. He leads them to the observation deck, and shows them the island through the viewport. One sage remarks that the island looks like it is wavering. Finwë attributes it to the reputed ability of Skull Island to hide from observation. Mannie sends Aldamir outside to check the island's appearance 'by eye.' He does that, and reports back that the island does waver slightly, but that we appear to be mostly inside the limit of the glamour. (We hope that this means we are hidden from view.)
The sages have heard of Skull Island. We urge them to tell us what they know of it. "The primitives who live on this island have never been civilized, because civilized people are never able to find the island." "Others say that it can't be found because it moves. But with that big tree on it… Such a large tree needs a lot of nourishment…" "The natives may be fey. They are reputed to be very fierce."
Aldamir tries to sense the level of magic of the tree. It definitely senses as actively and intrinsically magical. Meanwhile, the sages continue. "There are also tales of some sort of birds, but no coherent stories."
Eïr enlarges the window again. She examines the tree for birds. She definitely sees something running along a branch. Perhaps a bird? A monkey? A person? Something trying to hide? She reports, "Captain, there is something running around on the tree branches." She examines another part of the tree. There is a gnarly part of a branch; it is a house, with a flat roof. Aldamir can't spot anything, but Silmir notes some ambiguous activity in a dense area.
Eïr keeps looking for built areas on the giant tree. She finds a stretch that could be called "road." Some of it is carved, some has nets, some of it has railings. Aldamir find that this leads to a high, flat area on the tree.
We approach the island more closely. Now, the domed rock with the two caves looks more like a skull shape, yet, at the same time, it looks more like rock. More so than like bone, basically. It is splotched with lichen, and similar materials. Aldamir continues to examine the tree. He confirms that it is definitely coniferous. He keeps looking.
After ascertaining that the tree is intrinsically magical, Mannie checks it with psi engineering, and learns that the tree is naturally magical. Bavor, alone in engineering, uses second sight to examine one of the caves. He finds that the far floor of the cave has been disturbed by someone; he can see a shovel-like implement half-buried near the far wall.
Aldamir and one of the sages trade observations. The sage points out a shack; Aldamir explains the rustles he has spotted.
Mannie returns inside. "Chekhov, how deep is the water here?" "Five to six fathoms." This is much more than our draft. "Bring us in closer, Mister Chekhov." As they get closer, Mannie moves down to the Sky Bridge, so that he can watch the undersea approach to the island. There's an interesting rock formation: it's a cylindrical rock poking out of the sand. It could look like a collarbone off a giant, dis-articulated skeleton, if the domed rock were a skull, that is.
Beyond it are the scanty remains of a wreck, just a few planks, that seem more like part of a ship's boat than of a whole ship. Mannie reports this to the others. From Engineering, Bay can hear this discussion, and uses the speaking tube to report his finding of the traces of digging.
The Captain checks with the sages. Would they be willing to stop here and examine the island? Certainly, since they know that Skull Island is notoriously hard to find. We draw closer.
Updated: Oct 21, 2008
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.