The Arrival

“I will do my best to explain all the events that led up to my arrival on the “Isle of Appleshire” a few years ago, as it is becoming a very lengthy story, but I can tell you that this rare and enchanted island is one of my most extraordinary discoveries. In the very first days of exploring and meeting many unusual inhabitants, I found myself involved in a dangerous and arduous adventure.”
“The Light of Black Lake”

Arrival - Day One: October 05
“I woke with the sound of the ocean’s heart beat pounding in my head and coughing seawater from my aching lungs onto a white sandy beach. Dazed and exhausted I had no idea where I was. My last memory was being on a small sailing vessel bound for a coastal port when the blue sky seemed to be swallowed up by a mass of dark clouds. Bolts of blinding light flashed through the raging wind and towering waves hammered at the deck, pounding me into darkness.”
As her battered body slowly rose from the hot dry sand, she searched the horizon for a glimpse of her boat but the ocean gave no hint of arrival.
There was a magnificent coastline of deserted beach and rocky coves stretching for miles, to the north and south and about fifty feet behind her was a dense wall of brush standing watch over a primeval forest that caused a shiver of apprehension to rush through her. To the south, she began to see tall shapes, rising from the morning mist, perched on high cliffs at the ocean’s edge. “Those look like buildings, maybe I can find some help,” she muttered to herself. She did not want to venture inland, so gathering what little strength she could find, she headed toward a hopeful rescue.
It wasn’t long before she began to realize that this beach was unlike any other. It yielded a large number of great shells and odd lush plants that she had never seen before. Being a collector of the curious, she could not resist the urge to gather a few exceptionally good examples.

Suddenly she noticed a dark shape wedged between the rocks and she couldn’t believe her eyes, yes, it was her wooden trunk from her boat. It felt as though she had found an old lost friend, “All right, some supplies,” she cheered.
It took all her strength to drag the heavy trunk away from the advancing tide to some heavy brush at the edge of the thick forest. She turned the padlock dial until its familiar click and quickly opened its heavy lid to reveal all of her most essential belongings and even a small amount of dry food. After a small snack of nuts and fruit, she continued to rummage through the chest to find any items that she might need until her rescue, beginning with her old leather pack. She filled the pack with bits of remaining food, extra clothing, an old pocket knife that had belonged to her dad, a box of matches, an empty metal flask, and her grandfather’s magnifying glass (for sentimental reasons). In the bottom of the trunk she found a cloth bundle that contained several pencils and her leather bound book titled: Daily Journal – Sydney Star and was instantly swept away to visions of home, her writing and of course her art. At that moment, she decided to look at her situation as an opportunity to get fresh ideas and drawings for a new book. “This is just an inconvenience, someone will find me. I’m not hurt, just a little shook up, I’ll be fine.” She found this method of personal communication very helpful, often using it to boost her confidence or help solve day to day problems. So after her little pep-talk, she made a few sketches of shells and the surrounding area.

She had no way of knowing how long she walked before she found a curved pier of large rocks. They looked warm and inviting, a perfect place for a short rest so she moved out onto the edge and found a flat sunny spot to stretch out. Lying at the edge of the pier gave her a clear reflection of herself in a small tidal pool. Her wind blown blond hair looked dry and bleached and her blue eyes revealed a definite lack of sleep. She had never viewed herself as beautiful but more, what you might term, utilitarian. Her father had the same sad eyes, round nose and ears.
She had had visions of being a dancer or pianist but never felt that she possessed the physical attributes of either. She was not what you would call a tall, graceful gal and she did not have long delicate fingers, instead she was rather short and athletic, with strong, muscular hands; traits perfectly suited to her adventurous, artistic lifestyle. Her reflective thoughts carried her off into a deep sleep, filled with eerie images of dark mountains.

A splash of water on her face quickly shattered her dreams. “What the…” she shouted, noticing a movement in the water. Just below the surface was a large-eyed fish. “Oh, it’s just a fish….a fish with a shell on its back. Wait a minute, that can’t be right.” Feeling as though her head was spinning she thought, “fish don’t wear shells on their backs but, yes, it was definitely a shell. No, it can’t be, contradicting herself, that’s crazy”. Hoping to validate her vision she put a finger into the water and the image vanished.
“Geesh, what an imagination I have!” As she spoke her thoughts aloud, the water stirred and again the fish appeared. Its mouth moving and bubbles rising gave the distinct impression that it was talking.
“Gobi, Gobi, stop trying to talk to her,” called a small commanding voice from behind. “She won’t understand you!”
With a start, Sidney turned to see a very little girl that looked perfect in every way except that she was no more than twelve inches tall and hair like seaweed.
“I must be hallucinating,” thought Sydney, “This can’t be happening.”
The girl moved closer, “Don’t be afraid. We won’t hurt you.”
Sidney chuckled, at what she thought to be an absurd notion, and asked, “Are you for real?”
“Oh yes, are you?” she replied but did not wait for a response, “I am Selena and this is my friend Gobi. Who are you? I have not seen one like you for a very long time.”
Sidney was stunned. So many questions were swimming through her mind that she didn’t know where to begin. It seemed like an eternity before she was able to find her voice. “I have never met anyone like you either. Am I dreaming? Are there more like you? Where am I?” Selena casually climbed onto the rock beside Sidney and answered, “I do not stand and talk with my eyes open when I dream and yes, there are many like me,” and without a moments hesitation she continued, “You are on the Isle of Appleshire and that, pointing out to the shimmering blue water, is the Sea of Imagination. I have heard many stories about the tall ones, like you, that used to be here.”
“What do you mean, used to be here?” questioned Sydney.
“Well, the stories say, they faded away because they lost their imagination.”
“Oh, that’s ridiculous, exclaimed Sydney, I have never heard of people disappearing because they loose their imagination.”
“Maybe where you come from it is not so, but here the Sea protects our island from all those who cannot imagine its existence. Many of our inhabitants have lived in peace for a very long time, using the structures abandoned by the tall ones, as sanctuaries or homes but lately we hear rumors and whisperings saying that many have been taken over by evil beings and creatures who seek power.”
“Are you saying that there are no others like me on this island?” asked Sydney.
“I do not know for sure but you are the first I have seen. I will tell my village about our meeting and they will put it into the story records.”
“I am really not interested in stories and rumors right now. My boat capsized and stranded me on this beach. I need to get to a phone and find a way home. Is there someone in your village that can help? “
“What is this phone thing you ask for? Is it a tool or a boat?” inquired Selena.
“No, no….its what you use to…what am I saying. Forget the phone…. I need a boat. Can your people give me a boat?
“My village of Windpoole is the home of the Windsea people and it is far away on the north side of the Isle. We are a peaceful people who live in harmony with the ocean. We have many types of watercraft that we use for travel and collecting food but none, I fear, are large enough to hold you!” said Selena.
“Well, maybe if I came to your village they could help me.”
“It is much too far for you to travel by land. Only a few of my people, like me and Gobi, have come here. We are… she stopped speaking and turned to the water.
A fury of bubbles was erupting from the large fish and Selena spoke to him, with a hint of frustration in her voice. “Alright, I understand.” Then turning back to Sydney, “Gobi is saying that it is late and we must go.”
With a slight tone of panic in her voice, Sidney begged, “Oh no, not yet, I have so many questions.”
“I must listen to Gobi. He is a Spirit Fish, my companion and friend. I am one of the few who are chosen to live and work with them, to gather food and shells that our village uses for tools. I am sorry but I must leave right away or I will be late for my mothers’ birthday party. See, I made this for her,” and she quickly retrieved a marvelous little water dipper that was dangling from her belt.
“Alright, that’s really very nice, replied Sydney, but please, where should I go for help? Are those buildings on the cliffs, down there,” pointing to the shadowy structures to the south. “Would that be a good place to start?”
“Oh no, those are the KRAGS, a place that is forbidden.” Pointing to the North, away from the water, she said,“Go that way; along the edge of the trees and you will find a path through Korwood Forest, to the village of Earthgate. There you will find the Beginners, they are the first of the isle, the elders who know the past, present and future of Appleshire. They will have knowledge of your story and the answers to your questions, but take heed…. Korwood Forest is home to many, not just the Beginners”, mounting the shell saddle on Gobi’s back, she continued, “but do not wander off the path as you will certainly get lost” and without another word they sped away.
Sydney stood in silent thought, “Did that really happen? Then she looked at the journal in her hand and saw the small sketch of a little girl.
Daylight was now fading, to late to find a path, so she decided it would be best to spend her first night on the beach and leave bright and early the next morning for the village.

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