The sound of rushing air stopped as Rysarian teleported. His long, muted blue hair flying in the wind as he held his arms out for balance as rocks crumbled away from what looked like the edge of a cliff just inches in front of his feet. 

“Whoah!” he said as he glanced down to an unseeable bottom, only misty white clouds that engulfed the falling rocks. He looked behind him to make sure he had a place to back up. 

“Ok. I am good,” he said before backing up a safe distance away and looking around. As he took in his surroundings, he saw that he was standing on a floating island. There was a run down keep on it, the west side of the building was mostly destroyed. The tower on the east side had two and a half stories. The last part was half of the stairs. There was a front gate that had been bashed in, broken pieces and rubble surrounding it. 

This was not the destination he had in mind. 

Rysarian decided that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to try and teleport again if it somehow was messed up. He didn’t want to go any higher than this. And there might be something interesting inside. So he headed into the keep to look around. 

He walked through the broken gate, stepping over the broken masonry, and headed first to the partially intact tower. Once inside the bottom level, he looked around the room. It was shadowed, but with light coming in from the broken walls above. The walls were well built, but old. On the ground, there were a few rags, a broken gong and a really old cauldron with what used to be food over a pile of ashes. He looked closer and saw there were a few skeletons of goblins in the shadows of the stairs. He searched the goblins pockets for anything worth something, glad that the bodies were old enough they didn’t smell too bad. He found two rusted daggers that he decided to use as throwing knives.

After seeing that the first level was clear, he went up the stairs to the second level. On that floor there were more goblin skeletons as well as some construction scaffolding. After a quick look at the skeletons he saw there was nothing of value. Up the last intact part of the stairwell to the third floor brought him to an impromptu throne room that was open to the air. Around the throne there were some fake jewels, rags and an already triggered trap door a couple feet away. There were a few jewels that had already been taken. Rysarian decided to take the rest. Then he looked in the trap and found a large goblin. He had broken chain mail and a rusted short sword which Rysarian gladly relieved him of. With the next floor gone, and only a couple stairs up the walls still intact, Rysarian decided he was finished in the tower.

Back down in the first floor, he found a hallway that he walked through, light filtering in through cobwebbed windows higher in the walls. At the end, he found a fairly large door. Interested in what would be beyond it, Rysarian tried to push it open but it wouldn’t move. Rysaraian figured there would have to be something interesting beyond, so he headed back outside to see if there was another way around.

As he did so he saw a flying ship off in the distance. The chance to get off the island distracted him from the possible finds in the ruins so he headed close to the edge of the island, waving his hand in the air. The flying ship turned from its course and headed straight to the island with the ruins he was on.

As the ship approached, Rysarian made out two forms on it, one nearly a foot taller than the other and much broader. As the boat landed on the island, Rysarian was surprised to see the large Dragonborn step out, a large and imposing creature with a hammer the size of the human driving the ship.

“Thank you Ted, please wait for me here,” the Dragonborn said before looking at the blue haired Eladrin already on the island. 

The castle ruins hadn’t been too hard to find, but since it was another floating island, and Phoenix didn’t see any other boats around, she was curious as to how this Eladrin got here. She looked him up and down, taking in his outfit and weapons. He appeared to be a rogue. She immediately didn’t trust him. 

“How long have you been here?” she asked him. He didn’t seem to be in any distress, so he couldn’t have been here long without rations. 

“A couple of minutes,” Rysarian replied casually. Phoenix looked at him distrustfully.

“Have you found anything interesting here?” she asked.

“Not really,” he replied. “Could I get a ride back with you?”

“I must look around to see if this place is dangerous before I leave,” Phoenix said, carefully not answering his question.

“Well it doesn’t have much in it, nothing interesting there,” Rysarian said. 

“You looked through all of it?” Phoenix asked.

“Not exactly,” Rysarian replied hesitantly, recalling the heavy door he had been unable to open. 

“So there’s more to this place than you saw?” Phoenix asked.

“Yes, why don’t I show you?” Rysarian asked, “Right this way.”

“Yes, thank you,” Phoenix replied, cautiously following the Eladrin rogue through the tower and down the hallway to the door. “This is the door you couldn’t open?” Phoenix asked.

“Yes. Why don’t you give it a try?”

“I will do that,” Phoenix replied. She took a step forward, stumbling a little and knocking into the door. It didn’t budge. Rysarian stifled a laugh. Phoenix ignored it, putting her hands on the door again and shoving it open easily this time. The side she had pushed opened creakily into a small courtyard. It had an open ceiling that brightly lit the dingy, patched grass. A tree stood in the far left corner a couple feet from a door on the far side. Phoenix and Rysarian stopped right inside their own doorway when they saw a handful of skeletons. 

There were fives piles of the sun bleach bones, two in front of the far door, two by the tree, and one by itself on the far right of the courtyard from where the two stood. One by the door and one by the tree each had a short sword. The other three appeared unarmed. 

“They appear to have died defending the door,” Phoenix said. Rysarian took that as a positive sign that there was something worth defending on the other side. “Their opponent seems to have made it through.” Rysarian nodded and took a step forward.

Eerie rattling echoed across the courtyard and the piles of bones pulled themselves together and five skeletons rose from their dusty piles.

“Well this isn’t good,” Rysarian said. Always quick on his feet, though, he sprinted his way to the skeleton on its own on the right, attacking with his favored rapier. The skeleton bones fell to dust as the steel made contact. 

Angered by their fallen fellow guard, the remaining four skeletons moved, the two by the door blocking Rysarian, the two by the tree focused on Phoenix. The one with the sword approached her and swung, the dull edge not doing much damage. The other one stayed where it was, pulling out one of it’s ribs and throwing it at Phoenix. The throw went wide and the bone landed behind her.

Phoenix, annoyed at the skeleton in front of her, pulled out her hammer and swung it, easily crushing the bones to pieces. 

Rysarian swung his rapier at the skeleton with the short sword, the bones falling apart at the attack. The skeleton beside him pulled off it’s own femur and whacked it into Rysarian’s arm while the skeleton beside the tree pulled out another one of it’s ribs and threw it at Phoenix. The throw was better this time and smacked Phoenix right in the forehead. Phoenix stormed up to it and swung her hammer with such force that the bones of the skeleton disintegrated before the metal even had a chance to make contact. Rysarian swung his rapier again and the last of the skeletons fell to pieces. Phoenix looked at the rogue, thinking that this had been too easy and worried about what would come next. The two approach the door the skeletons had been guarding and try the door, it doesn’t budge.

“And here I thought you were the strong one,” Rysarian taunts as Phoenix fails a second time. Irritated, Phoenix shoved Rysarian into the door, finally getting it to open. 

The two stumble in to a dark room with only one torch lighting it. The torch was held by a figure in a cloak, the hood half up on the figure’s head.

“Come in, come in. Shut the door behind you, you’re letting in a draft,” the man said, waving at them without looking back at them. The two closed the door behind them.

“Are there anymore torches?” Rysarian asked. 

“Oh, yes, I have some in my bag,” the man said, pulling out two torches from his pouch, a couple scrolls and quills falling onto the floor. The man doesn’t notice. Rysarian and Phoenix approach and take the offered lit torches from him. 

“How did you get in here?” Phoenix asked, holding her torch and looking at the wall the man was still entranced with.

“Oh, I have my ways,” the man said. “Would you look at this? It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Such an interesting find. These writings aren’t from the same period as the castle is.”

“You didn’t come in from the door back there, did you?” Rysarian asked, meaning the door they had come through.

“What? Oh, no I didn’t. Why?” the man said.

“Oh, well, there were just some skeletons out that way.”

“There aren’t anymore, though,” Phoenix added.

“Oh, that’s interesting,” the man said, not really paying much attention.

“Nice shoes,” Rysarian said quietly, looking at the man’s nice leather shoes before taking his torch to look around the room.

“Why are you here?” Phoenix asked.

“I was sent here to find a colleague of mine. But this writing, it shouldn’t be here.”

“What’s so strange about this writing?” Phoenix asked the man.

“The writing is from a culture in the west, but I’ve never seen it this far east. The group spread, but still. I did hear that this castle once belonged to a wizard, and maybe this writing was from him.”

“A wizard? I remember reading something about that,” Phoenix said mutely. “But how would the writings be from a different time than the castle?”

“Perhaps they formed later as a history or a warning about what happened here,” the man said.  “You can’t read it?” Phoenix asked.

“Not right now, it would take a while to translate.” The two looked at the wall of oddly shaped writing.  “What was your name, by the way?” Phoenix asked suddenly.

“Oh, my name is Quinn. Now what’s this part here?” Quinn asked himself, looking closer at a section on the wall. Phoenix looked around and spotted Rysarian over in the corner. 

Rysarian had made his way around the room, finding eight pillars along the walls, the writing only on the back (one)[wall], but finding no other entrances. He had stopped when he found a dead body in the corner. He had searched it quickly for any valuables, but the man had only seemed to be carrying scrolls and quills like Quinn was. The man’s clothes, not high quality and the man’s boots not as nice as Quinn’s. Rysarian had found a journal filled with what seemed like gibberish. The last couple pages however looked like they had been written in blood. 

When Phoenix approached, Rysarian hid the journal in one of his bags. Phoenix examined the body quickly. Yup. Dead. But it didn’t look more than a couple days old. It didn’t smell at all. She looked curiously back at Quinn.

“There weren’t any other entrances that I found,” Rysarian told her quietly. Phoenix looked at him and nodded in understanding. The two both looked back at Quinn. Could he be hiding something? “How long did you say you had been here?” she asked him.

“Oh, what day is it? What month? Oh I forget. How old am I?” He muttered to himself for a little bit. “What time of year is it?” he asked the last question at them.

“Just the ending of winter,” Phoenix replied. He appeared to really just be in his own little world, not trying to deceive them.

“Ah, then I am 23 still. But how long have I been here? Perhaps a week?”

“A week?” Phoenix repeated, looking down at the body. “How did you you say you got in here?” Phoenix asked again.

“Oh, I have my ways,” Quinn replied again.

“Do you know magic?” Rysarian asked.

“Magic? Yes, I do know some magic.”

“What kind of magic do you know?” Rysarian asked. “I found this,” he added quietly to Phoenix and handed her the journal. “It looks almost like words but, not.”

Phoenix took it and looked through it as the Rysarian continued his conversation with Quinn about magic. Phoenix saw the same as Rysarian, that it almost looked like words, but it didn’t make sense. Also, the pages that seemed to be written in blood. She looked up at the writing on the walls, but it wasn’t the same language.

“Do you know a magic like teleportation?” Rysarian asked Quinn. “Or, I mean, I think that’s what it is called. Where you disappear and reappear somewhere else?”

“Ah, yes! I have heard of it, and I’ve studied the theories of it. I know the spells, but I’m not nearly that advanced as to be able to perform teleportation. That’s very advanced.”

“Yes, I see,” Rysarian said to Quinn, then looked at Phoenix. “I think we should go back to the boat,” he whispered. Phoenix gave him an annoyed expression.

“Not now, I don’t know the danger level yet,” she whispered back. 

“Well you can stay, I’m going to leave,” Rysarian replied quietly.

“Ted won’t leave without me,” she whispered back. “So what languages do you read?” Phoenix asked Quinn as she walked back over to him, holding the journal of the dead guy casually behind her back.

“Oh, several, if I have the time for it. But these ones, oh it would take a while. If only I had the notes of my colleague. Oh, you haven’t happened to see a dead body around here, have you?” Quinn asked. 

“Yeah, actually, right here,” Rysarian said, still beside the body. 

“Oh! What a fantastic spell he must have done! Look at how well preserved his body is! You didn’t happen to find his journal with him? He should have been keeping notes.” Rysarian and Phoenix exchanged looks, Rysarian shaking his head. Phoenix frowned.

“We did actually. It’s right here.”

“Oh fantastic!” Quinn said, taking the journal from her. Then flipping it upside down. Or, rather, right side up. It looked even more like gibberish to Phoenix and Rysarian, though. “Ah, that’s better. Wow, what expensive ink! Red Demon’s blood. It must have been used for his spell.”

“His spell to preserve his body?” Phoenix asked.

“Yes, yes, let me look. It greatly slows the rate of decomposition, but it seems like he’s been dead for a century or two now.”

“And you didn’t notice him lying here even though you’ve been here for a week?” Phoenix asked.

“Why would I have noticed that when there’s writing on the wall?” Quinn asked curiously. 

“Right,” Rysarian agreed. “I think we should go now,” he whispered to Phoenix.

“Not yet,” she said back. “So can you read his notes?”

“Yes, yes, it’s sort of a short hand of what’s on the wall. Much easier to translate, yes,” he said as he flipped through the journal. “I should take this back to the Capitol. They’ll want to see this.”

“Would you like to come back with us?” Phoenix asked. “We have a ship and it has plenty of space.”

“Oh yes, that would be wonderful, thank you,” Quinn said. 

“Great,” Rysarian said. The three left the dead body and headed back through the courtyard and hallway and out to Ted wating by the boat.

“Oh, hey, look there’s another guy,” Ted said. 

“Yeah, we’re going to be heading back soon,” Phoenix said.

“Hey, guys, you have to look over there, see that island over there?” Ted asked, pointing out a floating island of rocks. “If you turn your head a little to the side and squint, doesn’t it look like the mayor?” The three others looked and did as he said. 

“Yeah,” Phoenix said. “I can see that. Well, we should get going.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll start the boat.

“Oh! I forgot my bag. I’ll be right back,” Quinn said, sprinting off back through the keep as the other two got on the boat.

“I don’t know if this is a good idea,” Rysarian said.

“He seems just as trustworthy as you,” Phoenix replied calmly. “Maybe more so.”

The two stayed silent as they waited for Quinn. When he got back, stuffing scrolls into his bag as he ran over, the four of them took off.

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