Rewins: Missing Dragons (The Keep)ou walk slowly across the grounds outside the Keep, returning from a visit to Lake Lakira. Although it is a fine day, you cannot enjoy it as much as you should. Your thoughts keep dwelling on the strange occurence of about two weeks ago. While it hasn't happened to you, you have heared several accounts of that night, and all of them are similar. In the deepest of night, before even a glimmer of dawn had appeared on the horizon, students have been wakened by whining and scratching. When looking around drowsily, they saw their Rewin Dragon standing at a window or the door, whining and scratching at the panels, obviously wanting to be let out. Students had been trying to calm their dragons down; some by talking, some by petting them, some even trying to distract them with food, but nothing made the little creatures stop the noise. Many finally decided to let the dragons out, hoping to catch another few hours sleep that way. By now, they all wish they had left that window closed; not even a single scale of these dragons has been seen ever since, and worry is great among the students that something might have happened to their creatures. Everyone seems to be mystified about where they have gone.
As you enter the Keep, a young boy, one of the first year students judging from his age, hails you. "Excuse me," he says. "Master Belmos sent me; he wants to talk to you. He is awaiting you in the Nursery at your earliest convenience."
You thank the boy and make haste towards the Nursery. Master Belmos is kind enough under his gruff demeanor, but it doesn't do to keep him waiting.You descend deep into the bowels of the Keep, to the large vaults occupied by the Nursery. After a quick knock, you enter the room; it has the feel of a library, but instead of books, it is lined with nests holding eggs that are kept in the shelves that cover the walls of the vault, only interrupted by the doors leading to adjacent rooms. In the middle of the room, a desk is standing that seems tiny compared to the background of the high shelves. Master Belmos is sitting behind it, peering up at you over his reading glasses as you enter. A low growl comes from below the table, but the master silences it with a quick gesture of his hand. You catch a glimpse of the large, white direwolf lying there and you suspect it to be either Kolsyn or Dydrist, one of the famous pair of direwolves specially bred as guardians of the Nursery.
"Ah, my dear, good of you to come so quickly." Belmos says. "Please have a seat!" After you took place on the chair standing opposite the desk, he continues: "You might have noticed that many Rewin Dragons have left the Keep some time ago and have not returned so far." You nod, but do not interupt him. "Usually, that would not be a matter of concern. It is a journey some of them take upon themselves every few years. However, this time their return is long overdue, and we are curious as to what has caused this delay." The master takes off his glasses and leans back in his chair. "Unfortunately, my duties do not allow me to look into this matter myself. Therefore, I would ask you to undertake this journey on my behalf. You will have to travel to the Callisto Islands and make your way to a small island there, by the name of Rone. Someone among the local fishermen will surely know how to find it. Find out if the Rewin Dragons are still there, and what is keeping them. Of course I expect you to make extensive notes of what you find. Are you willing to undertake this journey for me?"
"Ah, my dear!" Belmos says, as you run into him in the corridor. "Where you not supposed to set out for the Callisto Islands? It doesn't look like the Rewin Dragons have returned yet. Make haste and see what you can find out!"
Rewins: Missing Dragons (Callisto Islands)After several days of travel, you step off the boat that brought you to Olavu, the main island of the Callisto archipelago. It has been some time since you were here last, and you had almost forgotten how warm it is here at this time of the year. All around you, people are disembarking from the ship, meeting loved ones or unloading goods they brought to offer on the island market. You grab your bag with the few belongings you brought and walk down the crowded docks. From what Belmos told you, the usual shipping lines are not passing Rone. You plan to talk to the local fishermen, hoping that one of them would be willing to bring you there for a reasonable price. You direct your steps toward a small inn you remember from your last visit and enter, looking for someone to ask. You talk to the innkeeper and easily secure a small room that you use to store your few things. Then you walk back out into the warm air, ready to seek out a fisherman.
A few hours later, you sit down at a table in a café and order a sweet, cool drink. You have been walking around and talking to people quite a lot; your feet hurt and your throat is dry, and all for nothing. People are friendly enough, and you've found a few that would have been willing to take you out on the sea, but whenever you mention Rone, they suddenly get dismissive and refuse to talk about it. You tried various approaches, but whenever you turn the topic to that island, all you meet is stone-cold silence. You take a big gulp of the drink set down in front of you and sigh. You're at your wits end, since no one seems to be willing to even talk to you about Rone.
You have just taken another sip when someone approaches up to your table. "May I sit down?" a deep voice asks. You look up at the man standing there; he's rather old, with white hair and a matching short white beard. But he still looks spry, and the calloused hands and sun-darkened skin tell you that this is someone who is used to working outside. A quick look around shows you that there are enough empty tables for him to have found another place to sit, which probably means he wants to talk to you for some reason. "Of course," you reply politely. "Please have a seat." He complies, tucking his weathered robe around him, and then looks at you with a half-smile. "I hear you have been asking about Rone. And I think you haven't had much luck with your questions, have you?" You nod and answer him: "No one seems to be willing to even acknowledge that place exists." The old man smiles, seemingly expecting that answer. "It is considered unlucky around here to visit that place, or even talk about it. These people will not go near the island. But you're in luck," he continues, before you can say anything, grinning broadly. "I am not as superstitious as the others. I will bring you there, for the small price of 5000 gold." You sit back in your chair, shaking your head. "Five thousand!" you exclaim. "I want to rent your boat, not buy it!" – "Ah, but you are also paying me for the bad luck that may befall me when I go to the cursed island," the man says,"and if you find someone cheaper, I won't hold it against you if you take his offer instead." The wizened old man smirks, obviously well aware of your inability to find anyone else so far. "It is your choice, of course. Do you want me to bring you there or not?"
"5000 gold, not a copper less," the fisherman declares. "That's my price, and if you want me to bring you to Rone, that's what you'll have to pay. Or did you find someone else who is willing to give you a ride after all?"
With a sigh, you hand over the gold to the fisherman, who has given his name as Koval. He smirks and then gives a small, mocking bow. "Welcome on board!" he says, stepping aside to let you step onto his boat. "We will disembark as soon as you are ready!" You make your way onto the small craft, an old fishing boat that has seen better days. Still, it looks sturdy and well cared for, and as long as the weather holds, you shouldn't be in any danger. As soon as you are on board and have settled down, Koval busies himself hoisting the sails and a breeze carries you out into the ocean.
Several hours later, Koval points to the right, or starboard as you have learned it is called on a ship. "There's your island, my friend! We should be there within the hour!" You get up and peer at it; from here, it doesn't look any different from the hundreds of other islands in the archipelago. The island is just a small, flat piece of land, with sandy beaches and a bit of jungle on top of it. There's nothing that would explain why the people of Olavu would think it is cursed - or at least nothing you can see from here.
A short time later, the keel of the boat crunches against the sandy beach of Rone. Koval springs out rather quickly for his age and wraps a line around a nearby tree to secure his craft. "Here we are, my friend!" he says to you. "I'll be waiting for your return; but don't take too long, or I might decide you fell victim to the curse and will not return at all," he tells you, with a wink. You frown but give no reply; instead you gather your things and walk away into the jungle.
Soon, you have lost all sight of the beach; you are only surrounded by the green of the jungle, and the myriads of sounds made by its inhabitants. You have been to the Jungles of Raza a few times and so this is not completely new to you. Thinking of Raza, you are thankful that on a small island like this, you are unlikely to meet a predator of the size and power of a manticore or telvian panther. Suddenly, a strange sound interrupts your musing; something like a sad bark. You turn in the direction of the sound, curious as to what caused it, and soon you enter a clearing. It is dominated by a large rock pillar, jutting from the ground. You look at it, wondering if it is a natural formation or was built by someone, but try as you might, you can't decide. The top seems to have a kind of recess that looks like it had something set into it, but it is empty now. Looking around, you see dozens of Rewin Dragons sitting around the clearing and on the trees at its edge, all of them fixing a sad stare on the pillar. It's an eerie sight, seeing all these usually jolly creatures sitting there in silence. You step toward the large column to examine it closer, when suddenly all the Rewins around you erupt into loud, sad barking, spooking you with the sudden noise. Still, you can see fresh scratches on the rock, especially around the recess on the top. Something has been removed from there, only recently, and you suspect it has to do with the strange behavior of the Rewins.
You step back and think for a moment. If someone removed whatever it was that was set into the pillar, he must have come here; and unless that someone had his own boat, there are not many options for how he got to the island. Quickly, you retrace your step to the beach.
"Koval!" you shout, when you reach the boat. "Tell me, have you brought anyone else to this island recently? Say, about three weeks ago? Perhaps a bit more?" Koval smiles his crooked smile and replies: "Perhaps I have; what is it to you?" – "I'm not in the mood for games!" you answer angrily. "I've paid you enough for this journey; tell me who it was!" Koval spreads his hands peacefully and says: "Calm down, my friend! I'll tell you. She was a trader from Olavu, someone who deals in all kinds of curiosities. Her name is Madame Aquile. You will find her shop on the promenade near the docks." You shake your head at the old man impatiently."Then bring me back! I will have to talk to her!" you order.
Rewins: Madame Aquile (Callisto Islands)You enter the shop Koval has pointed out to you as belonging to Madame Aquile. It is brightly lit by valuable lamps imported from Synara City, which throw their light on all kinds of things from various places of the world. Masks, carvings, small statues, tribal weapons and a multitude of other things hang on the walls or are displayed on shelves. In the back, you see a counter, with a woman sitting behind it. You step toward the counter, taking in your first impression of her. She's very fair of skin, too fair to be a native of these islands. You rather judge her to be from Synara City, or perhaps even farther north. Her long, reddish-blond hair is worn back in a thick braid and is half covered under a large hat decorated with fruits. She looks up at you and smiles, a thin smile that doesn't reach her eyes. Her face could be called more handsome than beautiful, and you would judge her to be in her forties. "Hello, my dear," she addresses you. "How can I help you?" – "Are you Madame Aquile?" you ask, and when she confirms this with a nod, you continue. "I have been told you have been to Rone recently. You removed something from there, and I want whatever it was." – "Ah; you wish to buy," she replies. "This thing does not belong to you…" you answer hotly, but she cuts you off. "It did not belong to anyone, my dear. Finder's keeper, you know. If you want it, you will have to pay my price." You take a moment to gather yourself, trying to control your temper. "What is your price?" you ask, once you are sure you will be able to speak calmly again. "You are one of those magi from the Keep, are you not? There's great profit to be had with some of those creatures you have. I would trade that crystal for a pair of axolotls, a male and female hatchling. Their offspring will make up for the loss of giving away that crystal."
Madame Aquile looks at you, taking in your empty hands. "I thought I told you what I would trade that crystal! Bring me a pair of axolotl hatchlings, one male and one female, then you can have it!"
Wordlessly, you hold out the jar that has two axolotl hatchlings swimming around happily to Madame Aquile. She takes it from your hand, holding it up and looks closely at the two creatures. "Yes, I think those two will do nicely," she says. Taking note of your expression, she says: "Don't worry, I will care for them very well, my dear. They are valuable merchandise after all." She reaches below the counter and pulls out an object wrapped carefully in a soft piece of cloth. "Here's what you wanted. It's still in the same shape as it was when I took it from that island. I didn't do anything to it." You unwrap the item and look at a clear crystal, a bit smaller than your fist. It glimmers in the bright light of the lamps and you admire it for a minute. Then you rewrap it into the cloth and carefully stow it in your bag. "I will return this to where it belongs," you tell Madame Aquile. "Be aware that the Keep will set watchers on that island, to prevent it from being stolen again!" Before she can answer, you turn and walk out of the store.
You enter the clearing on Rone again and step up to the pillar. You draw the crystal from your bag and slowly unwrap, and suddenly, all the heads of the Rewins swivel and fix their stares on you. A bit unsettled, you reach up and place the crystal into the recess, where it fits perfectly. You step back and the crystal suddenly starts to glow with a bright inner light. Around you, the Rewin Dragons start to bark loudly, rearing up and flapping their wings. You quickly retreat to the edge of the clearing and watch in wonder as the little creatures start to grow, their bodies and wings elongating and the scales on their necks hardening to sharp points. One of them, already grown quite large, fixes you with a cold, hard stare and you realise that you are not wanted here now. Slowly, you walk backwards into the jungle, careful not to make any threatening moves. Once you have lost sight of the pillar, you turn round and almost run back to the boat, where Koval is already ready to leave, obviously frightened by the sudden ruckus from the forest. As you watch the island from the boat, you can see large shapes ascending to the sky, turning into various directions, and you wonder if the Rewin Dragons will return to the Keep soon - and what the magis will think about their transformed companions.