The Hungering Coast
The following piece takes place within the setting of RoA. None of what follows should be considered what your character knows. If your character has heard of any of the events listed in it, it was likely in passing or as a rumor. I just thought it’d be good fun to write some fiction taking place within the setting. I hope you enjoy. I’d like to make a series of these eventually.
The Hungering Coast
My name is Martin Addington. I fear these may be the final words I write to parchment before something terrible befalls me. I feel my story must be known. I am a water mage of great talent. I made the mistake of seeking out Yazdil the Mad himself. So many over the years have been curious about Yazdil, as the legends and rumors about him grow by the year. But I alone have come the closest to seeing him with my own eyes. I have seen what he can do.
All who have done the most cursory amount of research know that Yazdil’s tower exists at the top of some very large hills. Most accounts are the same by those seeking the tower as well: there are strange creatures that stalk the woods near the tower, and the tower always seems terribly far away. As I researched the legendary wizard further, I found a few small accounts of small fishing vessels navigating near the coast north of the tower’s location on the map. I took great note that these boats never attempted to sail closer to the tower. I knew that if I found Yazdil himself, I could take his power for my own, and make a name for myself in history.
Armed with what I felt was an edge, I chartered a small ship (The Golden Rose) to take me to the coast north of the tower. It was strangely difficult to find them. Most of the ships I could find were unwilling to sail close to the shoreline. We left from a small port west of Dunkalter, and planned on sailing around the Northwestern tip of The Twin Kingdoms. The weather was unlike anything I’d ever experienced in Vondara. The cold felt as though it had a life of its own. How do the tribesmen live up there?
After about a week of sailing within sight of the shoreline, our lookout spied a tower. We could only see it from far off, but it looked unbelievably ornate. To be visible from this distance, it must truly be gigantic. Our captain ordered the ship turned toward shore.
After the next hour, we noticed something strange: we didn’t seem to be getting any closer to shore. When the captain ordered the helmsman to change course, we’d still find as though we’d not moved from the same spot, even hours later. Even the small landing craft we used seemed to get nowhere outside the immediate vicinity of the ship. The sun sank below the horizon, and we were left in the dark. A pale blue light could be spotted at the top of the pitch-black tower.
Fortunately, the captain was a smart man. After a few days of this, he ordered that all food and water be tightly rationed. The trip was never intended to take as long as it had, so there was very little to ration to begin with. For some reason, no fish could be found in the water, and no sea birds could be seen.
A month passed. The shore was no closer. We could not sail away from where we were. The captain kept largely to himself in his cabin. Some crew members were thrown overboard for attempting to steal what little food was left for themselves. Every night, the pale blue light glowed in the distance.
I’ll never regret doing what I had to for survival. And I know the families of those men would understand. Two months had passed. We had no choice.
One night, I awoke. I was a skeleton of a man. I stopped wearing clothes a month ago. Something was amiss: there was no sound of life around me. Not even the terrible noises men starving to death make. I stumbled about the boat on my weak legs. The rowboat was still there. I could not find a soul. I didn’t even find bodies. I looked towards the tower. The pale blue light stared back. I knew what I had to do.
With aching arms, I loosened the ropes that held the rowboat in place. I didn’t have the strength to lower myself slowly, so the boat slammed quickly and painfully to the water. I put my back to the light, and began to row. I swear I could feel the light burning into my bare back as I moved over the waves. With mad glee, I noticed The Golden Rose growing smaller before my eyes. I vowed not to look back towards the tower until I hit land. Despite my exhaustion and weakness, I rowed on for what seemed like hours.
Something large grazed the bottom of the boat. At first, I assumed it to be some sort of outcropping near the shore. But I did not hear the crashing of waves on a beach. Moments later, it happened again, much harder. Something was beneath my boat. Without further warning, I felt myself thrown from the boat as it flipped over. I began swimming as hard as I could. As I went, I felt something grasping at my legs.
The next I knew, I was tumbling end over end. I sat up to find myself on a beach. I began to cry. After I composed myself, I took in my surroundings: I discovered dozens of skeletal remains in my immediate surroundings. I began to hear a whispering on the wind. It spoke of many things, but foremost: Hunger.
To my horror, the skeletal remains began to stand one by one. Each one of them stared at me with gaping skulls, and began to approach. Dumbstruck, I could only look on in awe as the first of them tore into the flesh of my bare arm with its sharpened teeth.
I found myself standing on the deck of The Golden Rose. The lookout shouted loudly that he’d sighted a tower. I turned towards the tower, and could see the pale blue light even in the daytime. Quickly, I ran to the captain and all but begged for him to turn us around and take us back home. It wasn’t difficult to persuade him, since he was going to collect his money with either outcome. The captain ordered the helmsman to turn us around.
The trip back to port was swift and uneventful. But my time at home has not been. It was only shortly after returning that I discovered why most won’t go near the area I’ve described. Those ships that stray too close do not return. Some, such as the captain of The Golden Rose attribute it to sandbars or hidden underwater rocks. But others claim terrible fates befalling those who wander too close.
I know the truth. Since we left that place I have begun to hear whispers upon the wind, speaking of hunger. I have seen shadows out of the corners of my eyes. They seem formless, terrible creatures that watch my every move. He must be watching me. If only he could know I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t want his power. Not anymore.
Every day I feel as though the whispers get louder and the shadows get closer.
I know the way out.