Isle of Refuge
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2015 by Tamalain

Tamalain slowly walked up the wooden dock from the ship to the sandy beach. She looked around, slowly taking her new surroundings, the grey white sand of the beach with scattered trees and rocks. To the right of the docks, a wood and stone building on stilts sat, with several people sitting at the tables on the platform out front of the building. Straight out from the dock was a massive wall over fifty feet high. The entry through the wall was thirty feet wide and doors appeared to be ten feet thick. The doors were made of layered tree trunks held together by massive metal bands rusted from the salt air and age.

She saw a single figure standing in the gate, his hands, or in this case paws on hips looking on impatiently at her. Without looking back, she strode towards the Kerran, showing a level of confidence she didn't totally feel. As she approached, he held out a paw to her, she took it and shook it warmly.

He started speaking as she approached in a deep, purring style of speech, "Wellllcommmme, wellllcommme to the Islllle of Rrrefuggge. Iiffff youuu willll tellll meee yourrrr nammme, weee cannn get thingsss ssstarted and heeeelp youuu onnn yourrrr wayyyy."

Tamalain smiled, thinking, 'what a smart ass', and answered, "Tamalain Arrowmark, Born at Upperpass Village, Greater Faydark." She said this in Wood Elven to see if he could understand her, just to tweak his nose a bit.

He did understand Elven, but could not speak it to well, so he remained in common tongue "I guessss youuu arrrre a prrrovinnncialll, youuu havvvennn't beennn taught commonnn orrr anyyy otherrr languaaaasge."

She decided to keep with the game and switched, her next response was in Dwarven, "Want to bet on that Kitty cat?" being careful not to spit as she used the rough language.

"Please, we Kerra, we find Kitty Cat somewhat insulting," he said in plain speech. "Very well then, Dwarven as well as Elven, any others?"

In common, "Human, Orcish, Kobald, High Elven, Some Barbarian, and a bit of Dark Elven. Oh yes, a fair smattering of Dragon Speak. That was the only good thing the cursed armor gave me. So please, don't play the purrrrring speech game with me, unless of course you are, shall we say, a provincial."

Murrar smiled a somewhat toothy grin and laughed. "Oh I can see that nobody is going to get away with teasing you. What other skills have you been trained in that will help in placing you."

"Well, I attended the Trueshot Academy until Skyfall drove my people from the Wood. I have advanced combat arms, A proven Grandmaster Archer, Most of the Advanced Ranger training over the following decade. I am also a master Bowyer and Fletcher, and Journeyman general woodworker. My Masters in the wood works where Heart and Stave Green. Would you like an experience rundown as well?"

He had his writing quill at the ready, he nodded at her to continue. "The more we know now, the easier your placement will be."

"Ok, standard schooling for most of my earliest years. At age eight, I fried a bastard that tried to murder my mother and kidnap me, at ten I put Mayong Mistemoore out of the world's misery for six years," Murrar looked up startled at that offhand remark. "At sixteen I and my squad led several thousand of the Elven and others out of the inferno created by Luclin exploding. That by the way was a result of D'Lere trying to force the portal open after Zek shut down the portal network.

She stopped for a minute to allow Murrar to catch up with his notes. "Then there was year of madness that was erased from my memory. I have all my memories back now in spite of the efforts to stop me from remembering." She allowed a touch of bitterness to creep into her voice at the memory of that betrayal by her friend and mentor. "I spent ten years after the Fall as City Administrator for the New Upper Glenns Village.

During an exploration run back to the Faydark, I discovered the Drakota threat that the explosion had uncovered. I also stopped the Dark Elven in Crushbone from taking over the Elven Council. They had a disguised Inkie posing as a Woodelven controlling the council.

My first encounter with the Drakota Lord left him crippled and unable to fly. I defeated the Drakota Lord in a one on one fight a few days later. That left me in a three month coma and almost a year and half in recovery." She looked at Murrar, "Shall I continue?"

"Please." Murrar had been scraping away, taking notes as fast as he could to keep up.

"Let's see, oh yes, several years later I discovered the conspiracy to murder the Elven council by several of the Trade Families whule on a cadet training patrol, helped save the life of one of the Fey Queens children, though the other died from his injuries he had suffered in the same attack.

I was later awarded a set of armor made from the Drakota Lord skin and bone. That armor turned out to be part of the reason I am here now. The spirit stayed in the remains and the armor was sentient. It was also bat shit insane. I think you have enough to go on. A chunk of Luclin coming down at just the wrong time destroyed the ship I was on board, then the Far Journey rescued me a few hours later as they went looking for any salvage from the wreck."

Murrar Sharr had stopped writing at some point earlier. "You survived a fight with a Drakota Lord? Even the smaller types are supposed to be unstoppable."

Tamalain seemed lost in thought, in reality; she was reliving the first fight on the ridge above what used to be her home. After a moment, she snapped out of the memory, "I first crossed paths with him at the nesting crater where my home used to be. Luckily, I was able to cripple his ability to fly in that encounter, so the later battle was not as bad as it could have been."

"Even still, they are not to be trifled with." He was looking at her with a little bit more respect now.

"Believe me, I know it. The only reason I'm alive and it's not, is I punctured the separate flame tube in the neck and throat. He blew his own head off when he tried to hit me with a fire blast."

"Now that is something to think about. We have been having issues with the Drakota lately ourselves. These are tougher than the ones that arrived a few years ago with a large storm from the East."

"Those must have been a group of escapees from the battle over the Glenns. That was messy for the city. But on to other matters, what else do you need to know at this time."

Going down his checklist, "That covers it for the moment. I will need you to set up a bank account with the local Far Seas Trading Company Bank. Then you will report to Trainer Hayl McGuinness. He will evaluate your weapons and combat skills. He will direct you from there."

Tamalain looked at where Murrar had pointed, "Thank you sir, I will be seeing you around I am sure." Without waiting for a reply, she went to Hayl with the forms Murrar had given her.

The small shack Hayl had set up contained basic weapons and shields for practice and demonstrations. When she handed him the papers, he didn't even look at them. "Grab a sword; go to the trainer for basic lessons and stop bothering me."

The sword he handed out to her was a hand and a half sword, almost too large for her to manage for a moment. She fixed that by ramping up her strength, then the rest of her abilities to match. Going over to the trainer he had pointed to, she held the sword in a ready stance. The instructor grinned, "So you think you know how to handle a sword kid, well I can tell you right now you are full of it." He drew his own long sword and swung it at her in a way that would miss but was supposed to make her jump back in fear.

She parried then swung in a way that would not miss if she had carried the strike through to its lethal end. "Now Human, if you are a weapons master, get serious or I will gut you where you stand."

He quickly drew back and took a stance she saw as insulting. "So you have been taught to swing, goodie, now to teach you a lesson in manners you little snot."

He quickly stepped in going for a central strike, only to find himself disarmed, on his back and her sword point at his throat. Tamalain then began to lecture him on his ability, or lack there of. "Your center stance is atrocious, you are slow, and I don't know how you ever finished training with that attitude. It will cost your life one of these days." She drew back from him, "Now pick up the weapon and show ME that you are able to use it."

He scrambled to his feet and retrieved his sword from were it had landed. He no longer had a look of disdain for her. "Where did you train girl?"

"I was trained at the Trueshot Academy in most weapons forms. I am a Master at Hand to hand, Short, long and Hand and a half swords. I have advanced training with most blunt and staves. I am Grand Master Archer. Anything else you need to know?"

"Why did Hayl send you to me?"

"He didn't even look at the papers from Murrar Sharr."

The Trainer stormed over to the shack, "Hayl, when the hell are you going to started reading the forms the Cat sends over. That Elven girl just kicked my ass you idiot, I nearly got myself killed."

Hayl looked at him as if he didn't even recognize him, "What are you complaining about now. You know damn well the floaters never tell the cat the truth about their skills."

"Well this one did you ignorant idiot. She could have turned me into chopped liver had she wanted too." He turned to Tamalain, "Ma'am, I am sorry for the way I acted towards you. He's right you know, all too many come here telling lies about what they can do."

"Apology accepted." She turned to Hayl in his shack, "You on the other hand are going to get folks hurt or killed with the attitude you have. As I see it, it is your job to determine if a person can actually handle weapons. What did you see when you handed me the oversized sword?"

"I wasn't looking and didn't give a rat's ass lady. As far as I'm concerned you are a hack and a wench only suitable for bedding. Now get the hell out of here before I gut you myself."

"Sign off my paperwork, then I will be done with you." He signed them, and tossed them to her. "One piece of advise, don't come at me if you think you are able to try and act on your little threat. The guards here will be finding bits of you scattered over several acres when I am done."

The trainer had backed well away until she left the shack, heading back to Murrar Sharr. "Hayl, she isn't kidding about turning you into Goblin food. Don't mess with her, please. You heard the name didn't you?"

"No, can't say I did, wasn't paying attention and don't care one way or another."

"You had better care; I've heard the family name before. Arrowmark, as in Tamalain Arrowmark, granddaughter of the Tamalain of the Kelethin Last Stand Battle. Ring any bells now?"

"Hayl thought about it, "Nope, not that I have any knowledge of."

"It's your head then. Just leave her alone and continue living."

"Yeah, yeah, what ever."

"I have your papers Murrar Shar, but if that Hayl fellow tries anything, you will need a new idiot to man that post."

"You are not the first to complain about him, but there is little I can do about him. He is part of the Freeport operations group, so I have no way to have him removed, at least not legally." He said that with a toothy smile.

Tamalain looked at Sharr for a minute then shrugged, "Well enough of that, where to next?"

"Best to visit the bank and then quartering for your billet, from there check in with the dining hall staff. They always have work they need help with there. You will probably spend a few days working in the kitchen until more work opens on shore."

Tamalain walked swiftly to the building he pointed to as being the bank. She was surprised to learn that she was able to access her home account and storage vault from here. This changed everything in her view. She kept some cloths and personal items in the vault in case she ended up far from home and needed a change. She looked at several of the boxes and decided not to tempt fate yet by suiting up in her favorite skintight black leather.

Once she took out some cash and clean cloths, she headed over to the billeting office and found out where she would be staying. She was once again warned that rapes tended to be all too common with the few females that arrived on the Island.

"I hope you have a good medical staff here, any that try will never be able to produce kids again, and have broken bones as a life time reminder."

The agent looked at her, but did not seem too worried about the threat just issued. "I have heard that before lady, and it always ends up the same way for all of you."

Tamalain looked at him not believing he actually thought it normal for the men here to treat women in that manner. She knew she had never been in this kind of environment before the Far Journey, but that issue had been resolved easily. She would find a way avoid being raped here as well. In the mean time, she headed over to the kitchen to see what help she could offer.

As she approached the building that served as a public dining hall, she heard a woman screaming at somebody inside. "What do you mean you can't find fish and crabs? The beach is crawling with those shelled monsters and the harbor is over flowing with fish and shark. You are a lazy, worthless piece of crap that should be dumped on Freeport just for the hell of it!"

"Yeah?" came a man's gruff voice in reply, "Let see you go out there and face those monsters. One of the sharks out there is big to take me in, in one bite. I'll be damned if I go back out their and try to catch one."

"Well you know the rules, no work, no eat, so grab the mop and get busy." She went off muttering about getting Murrar Sharr to find her another sucker to get the fish they needed.

Tamalain went over to the man that had refused to do the fishing job. "What do you use to collect everything in?"

The upset human looked up startled at her sudden appearance. "Over there, those baskets and bags. Use the net for the smaller Trigger Fish. The crabs go in the covered baskets, and the sharks, well you will have to figure that out for yourself. They are big."

"Thanks." Without another word, she gathered the gear and headed down to the beach. She immediately saw that Crabs were everywhere and easy to catch. In less than an hour, she had collected four large baskets worth of the largest crabs. Next was the smaller fish. Rather than run the net out, she used a trick one of the gnomes on the steam wagon had taught her.

She found a good piece of wood, walked down the shore a ways from the buildings and docks, then applied a lightning charge to it. She tossed the charged stick out into the water, causing it to release all the power at once. The resulting shock and explosion killed or stunned all the fish within thirty feet. They floated up and Tamalain was able to gather them up in one of the bags. She did this several more times until she had a full load ready to be taken back to the kitchen.

Several men and women from the docks had come over after the first blast to see what she was up too. Now, since they were there, she had them help haul the crabs and fish to the kitchen. The head cook was still complaining loudly that now not only was she out a fisher, somebody had stolen her baskets.

"Here is the first load, Trigger Fish and Sand Crabs. I will head back out in a few minutes to get a few sharks. Just need better weapons for them." Tamalain had the bearers place the baskets and bags on a counter then thanked them for the help.

"Hey lady, least we could do, this is our dinner as well. If you need help moving the sharks, give a holler and some of us will come running. These are some of the best tasting sharks on Norrath."

"I'll do that. Now Cook, how many sharks will you need tonight?"

The head cook looked around at the load that had just been brought in. "How did you get the fish, the crabs are easy, but the fish..."

"Just a little trick a gnome taught me. Worked great, now, how many sharks?"

"Six will last us the week."

"Six it is. I'll be back in a bit." The man with the mop muttered, more likely she will get bit. The cook made as if to smack him with a rolling pin and he quickly returned to mopping the dirty, sand covered floor.

Tamalain headed back to the bank and pulled out her Raincaller Bow, Battle Quiver and a full load of arrows. One of the men that had helped her carry the first load commented, "You can't use a bow to hunt under water girl, the sharks like to stay deep."

"Then I just need to give them a reason to come up and visit now, won't I," she replied with an evil grin.

She grabbed a large stick from a nearby tree and headed out to the beach. She charged the stick and tossed it out killing more of the smaller Trigger fish. She now had her shark bait. She went around the beach and up the slope a bit so she was looking down from about fifteen feet. From here she could see the shadows of the sharks moving slowly around under the deeper water. They looked to be about thirty feet down, but she was not concerned. She used her dagger to slice up the stunned and dead fish then started tossing them in the water. Several of the sharks immediately surfaced to snatch up the snacks.

Tamalain waited until there were ten sharks feeding at the surface, then she started firing arrows into the feeding monsters at her highest rate of fire. In thirty seconds ten sharks were floating belly up and motionless. She and her observers quickly pulled them to shore to keep the rest of the sharks in the bay from tearing them apart.

"I'll get the others, this is the best haul in months." He ran around the corner and yelled for everybody standing around to get over here and help. In a few minutes, they had all the sharks on land, then as a team, quickly skinned and gutted the monsters.

"Ma'am, who ever you are, this is fantastic. We have to clean them right away or the meat gets spoiled. These also have a bit of material that belong to you." He handed her several small balls of tacky material. "These make great glue. If you get the cook to let you have the chitin medallions from the crabs, you will have the start for a nice piece of jewelry. What is your name? I am Randle by the way. I work for the Qeynos consulate."

"Call me Tam, Randle. I hail from Kelethin. I hope to go the Qeynos as well." They shook hands and continued field stripping the sharks. "Will this be enough to keep folks fed for a few days?"

"For a few days, yes, over a week in fact, I have never seen anybody able to make a stick explode like that before."

"It is part of my training and skills. I just adapted it for this bit of work. Normally I use it to kill enemies in combat."

"I can see were that is a handy skill, and to be able to use it for good purposes like this is even better." He looked around and saw all the bags were full to bursting, so he yelled, "Ok folks, we need to get this meat to the coolers and fast, move out."

Tamalain noticed that she could tell who came from which city by cloths and demeanor. The Freeport crew tended towards sullen and slow to move when ordered. The Qeynos folks on the other hand tended to the cheerful and had a can-do attitude that got things done fast and neat. The crew quickly returned to the kitchen with the load, causing the head cook to stop her ranting and just stare in wonder.

"How, how many, and how did you do this?" she stammered in disbelief.

Tamalain answered, "Ten sharks, all large, and it's easy if you use your head and skills."

"TEN?" she shouted, "You said ten? That is unheard of. There is no way you swam out there and got ten sharks before they got you."

"Who said I went swimming to get these."

"Well you certainly can't use a bow to catch a shark, they are too deep to shoot."

"Well lady cook, I gave them reason to come up and say hi, then I shot them."

"She did, cookie, she did, I watched her do it, and it is a method I will try myself in the future," interjected Randle.

"If she can teach this, then our food supply will be better. Now if we could just get the farms up to speed, it wouldn't be so bad. Damned spiders and Sipswill goblins keep digging them up.

"Spiders? I can handle those. I have never met a goblin I didn't dislike, so those will be no problem," said Tamalain. "Now if you will excuse me, I want to go clean up and get a little rest. I have had one hell of a rough week."

Chapter 2 »