Far to the north of Cioria, and even north of the crystalline kingdom of Kriilani, there were the islands. What had happened there long ago, nobody could say, for every who could have said was now dead. There were explorers who came to it from time to time, but none of them had been able to piece together the mystery of what had happened on those islands.
In Kriilani, the story goes that visiting the islands in the northern sea can change you. Nobody had an explanation for how it happened, but anyone who came back was different. It was subtle, they said, and different for everyone, but enough that it was noticeable.
Gelfrey did not care. He was determined to search the ruins if the islands and find the answer to everyone’s questions about what had happened there. Many called him a fool for wanting to go alone, no matter how experienced of an explorer he was. Still he did not care; he had sailed over the oceans, found treasure in the labyrinths beneath Jzamneh, helped map out one of the giant pavilions of Rréviihn, and even wandered the hidden desert for a day.
“An abandoned island is nothing,” he told the shopkeeper as he loaded his pack.
“Nothing is just what we know about,” the shopkeeper reminded him. “At least hire someone to help your with your packs.”
“What would be the point?” Gelfrey asked. “It would only double the amount of food that I need to buy, and he would need a pack of his own. I can manage better alone.”
“Do you want to be one of the ones who never come back?”
Gelfrey shook his head. “Those ones did not take enough food with them. We know now that there is nothing living over there. Not even grass.” He pushed another loaf of bread into his pack. “That is why I bought so much food.”
“You should buy a few more wineskins, too,” the shopkeeper told him. “Fill them up with water before you leave.”
“I have given you enough gold,” Gelfrey told him. “I will buy nothing more. There are wells over there that I can drink from.”
“Wells with water that you should not be drinking.”
“Nonsense!” Gelfrey was starting to look annoyed. “I must be off now.”
“Safe journey,” the shopkeeper told him as he walked out the door.