Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Trouble with Amularia - Ilena Thomas

 Journal of William Thomas, son of Martin Thomas, Amularia : Year 65

 maps of Amularia, Melitus and William Thomas' island, in the City Hall

I don't see how Robert gets all the luck - he can sail all around the world and not vomit once.  He didn't even lose it when he opened that box of rotten flesh in the pirate ship - just grabbed the bamboo and the emeralds and kept on sailing.  But me?  I have some sort of Curse.  I can't even get halfway across to the next island, much less to Rivertown, without having to have Tanji or someone else row.  I'm puking a constant stream, it seems, all the way there.  It's much better than what is wrong with Ilena, but still, being a seafarer's son it has not gone unnoticed.

Amularia in Year 68

And the trouble with Amularia is .. well, it's two things.  One, and the most obvious, is it's an island.  I was born here.  I should have sea legs!  But I don't have anything of the sort.  To get almost anywhere here you have to take a boat.  And, being an island, there isn't much of 'anywhere' to get to.  There's Pagossus - a big island to the South.  Beyond that, though, is Kriganzy.  And the Eagle Warriors there still don't like the look of us.  Ever since that thing with Tanji's father - and that girl Krissania who had been betrothed to the Chieftan's son?  We wait for the people of the islands to come over to us, to keep the Peace.  And because Tan would not follow their rules of conduct, they don't want any of us anywhere near their village.  Sometimes they send messages through Tanji's mother, Terezea, when she rarely goes there to trade.  If it hadn't been for her stepping in front of the spears Tan would have been dead. She is still welcome there, even having married an Outsider.  Some would say it is because she speaks the language and knows the ceremonies.  Mostly, though, it is the things she brings are not found anywhere else in the entire world.  At least, not in the 'dry' world.  Tanji has her gift, too - but it is supposed to be a secret.

I've decided to hash my seasickness down the middle and settle on the next island to the West.  It is just close enough that I can make it without entirely losing my breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Although, to sail much further than that alone I think is still beyond me.  I thought about building my house here on Amularia, but the other problem with the island is something I can't quite put my finger on.  It is like a buzzing in m ears I can't quite hear.  Whatever it is, it makes me want to get further away and this is just far enough to give me some peace.  Mom gave me two of the dark grey sheep to bring to the island, and I've brought some crops over.  It will take me a couple of years to get an orchard and fields established.  

 William Thomas' house in Year 66

Once I get the house established I will need to trade on the Mainland for other things, string for a loom, maybe some ink or a woven banner.  Maybe Tanji will go for me... he has a good eye and with his underwater exploring has more to trade than I ever will.   He turned 16 last year and his father took him all the way to Rivertown for the Barracks Council.  They are organizing a new effort to bring young blood back to Rivertown, but it is not the only project.  They are also investigating taking a journey to the NorthEast plains beyond Midland.  Being 'new' that has garnered more interest.  But half of Rivertown stands nearly empty now, and it would be a good place to get a start in many trades.  If I moved to the mainland would this dreaded sickness go away for good?  I still don't know if I want to try to take that journey again.. last time I was laid up for a week regaining my strength.  Ilena and I had to play cards just to while away the hours.  She cheats at cards, by the wayI couldn't win a single hand, but it's nice to hear her laugh when I try to call her bluff and then she pulverizes me.


Tanji Vandreas, letter to his father, Year 69, handed to William Thomas on Amularia then to Tan Vandreas

I know you are likely still angry at me, and I by no means want to run into Martin.  So, I am sending this letter by Will.  First off, I will tell you that Ilena is not dead, by any means.  Will said you and Martin have fought over 'her blood on my hands'.  She is better than she has ever been in her entire life.  I wish you could see her, now.  We are married - we had Herminda witness it, and Will.  And because I fear her parents will drag her back here, to where 'something' is poisoning her, I will not yet let you know where we have settled. 

There is something very wrong in the water near Amularia.  I have wanted to show you, someone, anyone - but no one woujld listen to me.  Partially, it is because I should not be even able to see those places.  No one has enough breath to get down there without drowning.  So they cannot see it for themselves.  They cannot FEEL it for themselves.  Even Mother, with the same ability I have, would not consider that those ancient ruins were affecting Ilena.  She sees them as treasure.  I see them as poison.  


terrible underwater magma fields East and West of Amularia
when travelling over them in boat bubbles arise and shake your vessel
causing quite a disturbance!

So I have done what no one else would - and taken Ilena away from the source of what is hurting her.   If we could have brought her to Ravenna to see Dr. Whitacre perhaps she would have known what the cause was.  But she was so weak, no one wanted to take the risk of the journey.  So no one helped.  They let her lie there and nearly waste away.  Year after year, she grew weaker and even walking to Melitus was forbidden because it sapped her strength.  But after Will moved away, she wanted to go and see his new home, on the next island.  Again, no one would do more than take her to the beach.  That was when she asked me, because I had taken her for those small trips in the boat - the ones Martin screamed at me about.  I took her to Will's house, just after dawn one morning - and what I saw was an amazing transformation. It gave me hope.  It gave Ilena hope.  And that was something I did not want to ever take away from her again.

Admittedly, halfway across the bay we crossed over one of the ruins.  It made the entire boat bump and shake as if we would get thrown out.  Ilena cried out with a bloodcurdling scream.  You might have even heard it that morning, but not known what it was.  But I quickly rowed away from it towards Will's house, and by the time we were on his shore Ilena had gotten up and out of the boat.  I sat there almost dumbfounded.  Will came out of his house, and seeing her, rushed to keep her from falling.  But she did not fall.  She brushed him off and went straight to his pen and started petting the sheep.  We both just stood there and watched her.  Will scratched his head and then went in his house to make soup.

We sat there on that beach, eating fish and carrot soup and tried to find a way to tell you.  But the trouble with Amularia is that none of you listen to us.  I've told Mother about the purple goo coming out of those ruin blocks for years - how they make even me queasy to come near them.  What did she do?  She took the diamond pickaxe from the council hall and broke one of them up - carried it to Pagossus and traded it to a Sorceror in the Eagle Clan.  She was sick for a week after that, herself.  But she still wouldn't believe that was affecting Ilena.  Why aren't we all sick all the time?  Why is she so sick she can't even hardly walk?  I think it is because she feels it deeper than we do. I hear there are others, on the continent, that are having similar problems - that boy in WestSea, and maybe others further out East?  What if we could help them?


 the Spire West of Melitus, on a Spruce tree island Zade Perkins discovered during his travels... it is part of the instructions Tanji gives to Herminda Perkins for how to find Southerland

But I did not try to convince you anymore.  Instead, I found a place farther away - further to the south and the west, where no one lives.  It is a big island - so big I still have not found the other side of it.  Perhaps it is a new continent.  I keep expecting to see people like in Kriganzy - living somewhere in the woods there.  I do worry a little that I don't.  But I have swam in the water all around it and there are none of the ruins, no obsidian structures, no underwater cities.  And it feels different - like it is further away from some terrible buzzing.  I stood on that shore and knew Ilena and I could be happy there.  

I scouted the way several times, then asked Ilena to come with me.  Even though it was such a far way, she said 'Yes'.  There were several of the terrible bubbling places on the way there, but between the two of us we were able to sense or see them and avoid the worst of the pain for her.  You can see the bright shining magma under the sea there, and sometimes there are dead fish or kelp floating at the surface.  There were also several other large islands on the pathway we took, but each of them had one of those ruins with the magma blocks under the water nearby.  I did not want to even chance making our home near one of them.  

the bright coral sea far Southwest of Amularia


We kept going until finally, we crossed the Bright Coral Sea and arrived at the place I had told her about.  When we crossed the coral I worried they might affect Ilena, as well.  But she seemed delighted, instead, and ran her hand through the shining turquoise water with such a look in her eyes it took my breath away.  I've wondered since if perhaps the Coral actually protects this land.  Has it either covered up the old ruins or did it prevent those Other from ever coming here in the first place?

Do you remember when you and Martin arrived at Amularia?  There were ruins of walls, a path, a bit of buildings.  But no one was here.  Porter said it was pirates - because he found buried treasure and maps.  But I think it was worse than that.  I think the people here finally figured out that the ruins to the East and West and South of Amularia are something more than ancient - they are something Other.  And I do not want my wife, or my newborn daughter to be anywhere near them.  

 A Kriganzy native style house Tanji and Ilena built in Southerland

When you can lessen your anger and see reason, please ask Herminda on Melitus for the directions.  I have given them to her, and you will have to convince her first that you have had a change of heart.  You did not hold a grudge against Seralia this long, and she moved all the way to Rivertown and hasn't settled down yet.  You and mother can come and meet your firstborn grandchild, and see this wonderful new Southerland that we have settled.  There are llamas here, like the Wandering Trader has, but roaming free, pumpkins, wild sheep and chickens.

If you want to wrangle the twins all this way I know they will enjoy the hills and mountains.  They will be looking for places to stretch out as well soon, and there is so much room to run here.  Ilena has made a garden, and helped me catch sheep - we have built a house (together!) and at times I wonder if she is actually healthier here than I am.  Think about it.  You taught me to have a good heart.  You should not be angry when I use it.  And do not be too angry at Will, either.  With his seasickness he could relate to his sister, and wanted her to finally to have somewhere to thrive.

Southerland, as seen on approach by boat

 The Vandreas farm at Southerland, as seen from the mountains

If I do not hear from you by the next Spring I will meet you in Rivertown for the next Barracks Council by Summer.  I will be there to register Southerland as an official location with Yuri.  

Until then, your son, Tanji

p.s. your granddaughter's name is Kelda, after mother's mother

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