Serial Settings 1: Ubiquity ~ Week 34

The entry this week for Serial Setting 1 for Ubiquity adds an additional entry point into the lives of the residents of the deadly Windlet Islands. The Serial Settings series of posts is intended to provide usable setting material for busy GMs. Series 1 is for those looking to run Daring Tales of Adventure or Hollow Earth Expedition.

34) The 23 Unexplained Steps, Mount Cairn, Greater Windlet Island

On the South East face of Mount Cairn, there are many treacherous crevasses and gaps which seem to descend down into the Earth forever. Only a few have been explored due to the pressures of time, and the typical perils which come with journeys into the heart of a volcano which may not be as extinct as one could hope, and which resides on an island seemingly inimical to human life.

One such journey, made by a British team of explorers, was conducted in 1929. The team kept careful records of their explorations, but were very tight-lipped about what exactly they were trying to prove or to find. They were not very convincing as volcanologists, but as they had no one to harm but themselves, the company let them pass the fence, and explore to their hearts’ content. That only one member of the expedition survived, an older man serving as the chronicler, medic, and camp cook was something of a surprise. No one thought there would be any survivors at all.

In 1931, a limited publication of the expedition’s findings was circulated in Gentleman’s Clubs and Adventuring Societies in and around London, but most laughed it off as pure whimsy. A select few knew better.

The chronicle described a passage into the mountain which at odd intervals was marked with a curious series of symbols which bore every trace of being an organized language. Additional carvings demonstrated an aborted attempt to carve out dwelling spaces deep within the stone of the mountain itself.

The biggest find was a flight of 23 steps, perfectly carved and level, descending down to what was described as being a stone door. The explorers were very excited by their find, and rushed to document it properly. Returning to the surface, they provided a complete description to their aide-de-camp, and then settled in to rest so that they could make an early start of it the next day. At the crack of dawn they descended into the Earth once more.

They were never seen again.

After waiting a week, and running low on supplies, the aide decided to go for help. He got lost and fell victim to a fever, but was miraculously spared the attentions of the islands’ ubiquitous predators. Fence Guards found him, poisoned and partially eaten, near the road to the summit of Mount Cairn.

Being of tough, and most would say, profoundly lucky stock, he survived, and a few months later was able to take ship back to England. He died in the winter of 1930, never fully recovered, and never fully thought sane by the friends and family who took him in upon his return.

His tale of the 23 Unexplained Steps, glittering, diamond-filled stairs cut from the living rock in the heart of the volcano, descending to an intricately carved stone door, was dismissed as the ravings of a man who had survived a great shock and a virulent jungle fever.

Still…  there are those who recognize the transcriptions of the written carvings, and others who recognize the inscriptions from the door, and wonder. Some few of those find the strength to make the journey to the Windlet Isles. Most of them die, but some of them just stay, and search, and wonder…



Seek and thou shalt find!

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