Serial Settings 1: Ubiquity ~ Week 41

The entry this week for Serial Setting 1 for Ubiquity further details an aspect of the anomaly responsible for many of the mysteries of the beautiful yet 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.

41) South Pacific Anomaly – Passages, South Pacific

Throughout the Windlet Islands, formed by powerful but now mostly dormant volcanic activity, physical passages deep into the Earth may be found. Most are far too small to admit the passage of a person, and only the enlightened would recognize the difference between one hole in the Earth and another, but there are those on the islands whose whole life is wrapped up in finding a passage they have become convinced must be there. No amount of failure seems to be sufficient to dissuade the most ardent searchers.

Some of the smaller cracks – if recognized – appear to allow transport in a single direction only despite not seeming to be at all mystical in nature. Strange sounds or scents may be detected with no visible source, but for a tiny hole in an otherwise innocuous piece of rock in a subterranean passage. Music, fragments of chanting, the raging cries of monstrous beasts, or the alluring laughter of children…  one moment there, the next – gone forever.

Anyone actively surveying and searching for such phenomena logically and systematically, will soon discover that the placement of Company holdings in the islands prevents access to very specific parts of the islands, and that the location of settlements and public areas would not have been based on ideal standards – indicating that other considerations than access to potable water, arable soil, and easy porting must have been dominant when planning the communities.

This supposition is somewhat confounded by the willingness of Company personal to admit researchers into the Interior with or without local guides and assistants, and the presence of restricted areas on private corporate property does not in and of itself speak of conspiracy, but an impression of that can be gained nonetheless. Determining motive is something else again.

For the most part, these tiny passages are found deep in the Earth, in lava tubes and other deposits of volcanic rock associated with the violent past of Mount Cairn. Common measurements would range from pinpricks to perhaps the size of a large hand, extending in curves down deeper into the rock farther than the eye with the aid of projected light can see.

Such things can often be the final straw the weight of which can pull a person from the ledge of curiosity down to the depths of obsession.

 

Usual Suspects: Esther Dorian  “Mother of us All”

Should a person be noted as showing signs of a secretive and unhealthy interest in a specific area of the islands, eventually they will receive a visit from the inimitable Esther Dorian. She will quickly and privately explain the rules of public safety for research of this type, how they are enforced by the Company, and will arrange for regular reports. Infractions will not be overlooked.

The rules are painfully simple:

  • Do nothing which may lead to the harm of the settlers
  • Report all findings immediately
  • Failure to comply will result in immediate expulsion from the Islands

The way Ms. Dorian delivers this short speech, is very convincing, and its lack of detail often works in her favour – allowing the listeners to fill in the blanks with imagined threats of their own devising.

Ms Dorian, a spinster somewhere in the tail end of her seventies, very much active and showing no signs of age-induced slowing, speaks clearly with a cultured but strangely international accent. She is forceful without resorting to anger, threats, implied threats, or abuse of status. She is cheerful without giving in to amusing banter, chit-chat, or camaraderie. She is simply more often right than others, and naturally compelling. The locals’ reference to her as the ‘Mother of us All’ makes perfect sense as soon as you meet her – no matter the context. Whether she be leading a board meeting for a Company building project, taking pies from an oven at a community celebration, or informing a rowdy sailor of his options for making reparations to the residents whose sleep he may have disturbed, Esther Dorian is simply, naturally, and unequivocally “in charge.”

Slim and with the muscles of a lifetime of physical activity and hard work, Ms. Dorian is every inch a global explorer and adventurer with many miles left in her, and no sign of slowing down. Her hair has long-since turned white, but her tanned skin, strong teeth, and bright eyes lend a youthful cast to her features which makes it hard to pin down her age. She has more energy than many, and more know-how than most, and it shows.

Rumors: Potentially heard anywhere

  • She has been with the Company since the current administrator’s father first took charge, hired by that great man’s equally great father.
  • She chose this assignment rather than running her own project in Northern Europe.
  • She once killed an attacking Grizzly in the Canadian Rockies with a rock and a survival knife – without a scratch on her – when taking a member of her team back to camp after a brutal fall which shattered both of his legs.
  • She used to out-gamble, drink, smoke, and fight everyone on the explorations she did for the Company – everywhere in the world
  • She still carries a torch for the Administrator’s father and will brook no ill word to be said about the family or the Company in her presence
  • She has no living relatives
  • She comes from Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Canada, or Egypt… probably
  • She is learning how to pilot a plane

 

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