Serial Setting: Week 14 ~ Ubiquity

This, the 14th weekly instalment of this year’s Serial Setting project, adds another  hint of detail to my mysterious island setting in the South Pacific, intended for use with Hollow Earth Expedition or Daring Tales of Adventure. Ostensibly a corporate holding off the usual shipping lanes, known to savvier career sailors in the region as a possible refuge between Pitcairn and French Polynesia, the Windlet Isles strangely represent both peaceful community living in an island paradise, and secrets perhaps best left unexplored.

This month’s entries will look at some of the more dangerous jobs on the islands, and perhaps peel back another veil obscuring the mysteries to be found in the interior.

14. The Three Brothers’, Windlet Settlement, Greater Windlet Island

Near the centre of the settlement is the earliest known structure, reports of it appear in the initial log of the survey expedition which discovered the island chain. The log, proudly on display under glass in the main lobby of the island’s only real hotel, puts into words the question which eventually occurs to all who realize the exact nature of the Three Brothers’.

November 12, 1831 – Found safe anchorage after some difficulty with the barrier reef around the islands spotted yesterday. Replenished supplies from the lush jungle, but not without cost: Landing party returned for greater numbers and arms after loss of 2 (Windlet and Gast) to a large predator.  Survey team sent ashore to search for Gast’s remains failed. Overgrown trails cut in the vegetation suggested human occupation. Searches found no sign of inhabitation, but did find a weathered, carved stone burial marker inscribed in latin, memorializing three fallen comrades. Inscription reads simply: My three brothers rest.

No sign of the poor soul who prepared the grave and marker has been found. What fate could have befallen him – and when?

There are numerous theories about the monument, ranging from hoax to pirate treasure, but few who visit the site go away with either impression. Something about the marker, carved painstakingly into a three-pronged fork from a 3m by 2m by 1m spur of glittering black volcanic stone says otherwise. Perhaps it is the inscription, deeply set, and precise, carved with some kind of small hand tool, and the sense of loneliness evoked by its words. A sole survivor, filling his last days leaving tribute to his comrades – his brothers – where none will be left for him.

Over the years, a tradition has sprung up where all those who work for the protection of others renew their dedication and demonstrate their continued fitness to serve in the small park which has been left mostly untouched about what islanders refer to as the Three Brothers’. From firefighters, Fence Guards, Company security, to the newly formed Constabulary, each group of men and women whose job it is to sacrifice their time and safety in the protection of others pledges their oath of service in front of the stone, and participates in feats of skill and physical prowess before the assembled leaders and people of the Settlement. The competitions and demonstrations, are beginning to become something of an attraction, and sailors often come to watch, bet on, and root for participants.

A festival night has grown up around the practice, with singing, dancing, tale-telling, and a massive feast sponsored by the Company. It is not a night to be missed, and all are welcome. Many of the festivities are presided over by Faipa, but the pledges of service are received by the Administrator.

Next to the park, the only true hotel on the island is also known as the Three Brothers’. The hotel is mostly empty when there are no visiting researchers, sailors, navy officers, or Company guests, but the restaurant does a brisk business during lunch hours, and the bar and laundry services are popular. The hotel has a small full-time staff of 5 through the year, but has a large, well-trained cadre of part-time service staff which can be called on in times of plenty. The full-time staff, are of course mostly the proprietor’s family.

The hotel is owned and operated by the former head of security for Gast Procurement, now retired, Leon Zukauskas. A former heavy-weight wrestler and student of judo, Zukauskas made a name for himself in the ’20s by being one of the few men in the hospitality industry who could keep things civil between hot blooded gangsters and their business associates. His relocation to Greater Windlet, to run Security for the Company occurred in 1929. His family arrived with him. He retired and took over construction of the hotel two years ago. The hotel definitely benefits from Zukauskas’ close ties to Gast Procurement.

Most of the road and fence guards use the hotel bar, The Natural Consequence, as their gathering place, and some members of the Constabulary do as well. Despite all the testosterone and muscle filling the bar night after night, it is most likely the most civil watering hole in the whole chain – perhaps the Pacific.

Usual Characters: The Zukauskas family

Leon is still very muscular and fit despite being closer to 60 than 50. He has large, steady hands and his hair is still the bland shade of brown it has always been. His eyes, hazel and unflinching, have ended more fights than his fists – which have ended more than their fair share of brawls and altercations. He is not classically handsome, but draws admiring stares from women nonetheless. He only has eyes for Tara, however. “Lust consumes,” he advises men known to wander from their mates, “Love sustains.”

The bar is tended by none other than Leon Zukauskas himself, and he has but three rules:

  • Pay for what you drink
  • Drink what you pay for
  • Don’t piss off the Missus

Mrs. Tara Zukauskas is a former ballerina and dance instructor who gave up her life in the arts to pursue a life of exotic adventure after meeting Leon. She is tall, and of a trim build. Those unfamiliar with the rigors of dance are often surprised by her physical strength and fearlessness. She and her hulk of a husband practice a variety of athletic pursuits together, namely marathon running and swimming, and are rumoured to have an interest in taking up snake charming next. Although she appears to be entering her forties, most believe she must be in her mid-fifties. She has warm green eyes, and her auburn hair is just now beginning its transition to the white hair of later life. Most of her time during the day is taken up home-schooling their two adopted children, Carol and Virgil, ages 9  and 8, and she runs the front desk when there are guests.

Usual Characters: The Cook family

The laundry and housekeeping departments are handled by Tara’s sister, June, and her husband, Bertram Cook. Bertram was wounded in the Great War, losing both his legs below the knee.  His quiet, diligent nature, and June’s unfailing devotion to him, are heartwarming to see. If ever one were to wonder why great deeds of heroism must be done, and for whom, it would be to people such as these that one could turn to say, “It is for them that I make my sacrifice.”

June and Bertram are both in their late 40s, but seem older and more careworn than that. They have both gone grey, and have grown soft and plump with middle-age, but work just as hard or harder than the next man. June has green eyes like her sister, but little color remains in the red hair they also shared. Bertram has lost most of the hair on his crown, and the thin white hair which remains seems nothing like the thick black shock he had through most of his life.

Both couples, and the two children live in the hotel year-round.

Usual Characters: Kumiko Fallon

The restaurant fare is provided by a Canadian woman of Japanese-Irish descent, and might be the only place in the world where one can find maple syrup, and chopsticks on every table, and potatoes listed as a side for all the items on the menu – including sushi.

Kumiko Fallon, widowed 9 years ago by a storm off the coast of Lysette Isle, travelled all the way here to see the place which ended her husband’s life. Lacking the money to return home, she took a job as a cook in the company cafeteria, and has remained here happily ever since. After the opening of the diner in the company holdings within the Settlement, and the establishment of the hotel, she has started working for the Zukauskas’ – to their mutual pleasure.

Mrs. Fallon lives in a small home closer to the beach. She is a tiny woman with a powerful voice and an indefatigable nature. She keeps her dark hair short, and out of her honest face.

Rumors: heard anytime the Three Brothers’ is mentioned

  • the original discovery included strange artifacts, one of which was a helmet or something
  • the log details other discoveries, on subsequent pages but the owner only wants to display the initial entry
  • some of the local women have been saying that leaving an offering at the stone will increase fertility
  • some of the local men have been saying that touching the stone before gambling brings luck
  • at certain times of year, but particularly in the spring, some people report unexplained activity around the site

Truths:

Coming!

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