As I crossed over into the dark lands, the change was immediately recognizable. It seemed as if the weather shifted as soon as I stepped foot away from the vibrant lands in which I’d first arrived. The bright, beautiful skies were replaced with gray clouds, and a dense fog rolled in, obscuring my line of sight. It didn’t even look like this area should be on the same continent as the colorful forest from which I’d just come.
I walked forward, and my boot made a sickening squishing sound. The ground here was unstable, and very damp. Moving around was a chore, and my adventuring spirit was briefly stifled by this small setback. However, I persevered and moved onward.
I passed a mysterious ruined village. It looked like it had been destroyed long ago. Stone walls dotted the path with haphazard beams interspersed amongst them. The area gave off a very strong and unpleasant feeling of foreboding. This troubled me greatly, because nothing scares the great Rickard Calvert. Regardless, I continued onward without looking back.
A dirt road appeared to stretch out before me. It wound down a short incline and proceeded around the corner into a dense marshland. I followed it and found myself within the thick of the marsh. Gigantic roots rose from the low waters all around. Above them rose massive mushrooms that looked as though they could almost touch the sky. It felt as if those roots were somehow aware of my presence. I’d never felt such an acute sensation of alertness in all my life, and I knew I had to stay vigilant.
My next sight was a spectacle. To my left stretched the mysterious walls I’d noted previously. They stretched high above me, atop a ridgeline. Built into the stone rock face below the structure was a massive carving of a creature I did not recognize. I have seen every creature there is to see across Tamriel, but never anything like this. The body was huge and muscular, and the head was that of a brutal fish. It felt as though the statue was aware of my presence.
As I approached, I noticed a ruined altar below the creature. On it were dozens of dead fish. It appeared to me that this must be some type of creature of reverence. Perhaps there was still intelligent life in these lands, and they saw this fish monstrosity as some type of god? These questions reinvigorated me. This is why I explore: to answer the questions that appear to be unknowable. I noted this finding in my journal to investigate at a later date, and moved on from the statue.
Directly south of the statue was a ruin. The architecture was unfamiliar to me, but it appeared that this structure had to be at least several hundred years old. I walked into what appeared to be some type of courtyard. The ground here felt especially unsteady. As I looked around, I saw a few towers and walls that appeared to be in the process of being dragged down by the marsh’s roots. They looked to be wrapped around the towers and walls, stuck in a downward dragging motion as if the stones themselves were slowly drowning. It was quite unsettling.
I found a door on the side of the ruin and crept inside, drawing my pocket knife. A long flight of stairs was laid out before me. I began my descent. The stairwell gave way to a large room, with the floor being partially flooded in a thin layer of water. At the head of the room there was another statue, depicting that same fishy creature. Here, however, the statue had been decorated in some way. Chimes made of bone hung from its hands, and at the base, another string of bones lay at its feet.
Most curious of all is perhaps what I saw in the middle of the room: a large campfire surrounded by wooden edifices. I approached the strange wooden totems and saw that they featured the face of another creature I didn’t recognize, this time an angry looking frog-fellow. The face repeated four times across the edifice. I backed away from the fire: if it was burning, it meant that the owners couldn’t be far away. I decided to make my swift return to the surface.
Returning to the world above, I sat down on a root to the side of the ruined courtyard. Although I had not been exploring this land for very long, I found myself drained: it was as if the area around me was sapping my very energy (as ridiculous as that Idea may seem).
I did not like this dreary place. It seemed to be designed to continually confound me. While I enjoy the process of discovering questions and then answering them, this was too much. I knew I had to figure out what this land was all about if I hoped to be able to explore it effectively.
I noticed a strange plant that I did not recognize near where I sat, glowing a faint green. I took out my journal and began to sketch the specimen. It was then I realized what I must next do: catalog all the new and strange things I find here!
I finished my sketch, and wrote a brief description of the plant. I felt a new drive to make the best of my predicament. I would venture forth back into these lands, and find all the weird and wonderful creatures and plant life it had to offer. When I can document the flora and fauna that this strange place harbors, I know that I will be able to better understand it. I looked to the horizon and smiled. Adventure awaits!
Will Rickard uncover all the new fauna and flora of these strange lands, or will he become their dinner? Find out next time on RICKARD CALVERT IN THE ISLE OF MADNESS: PART III - FAUNA AND FLORA premiering next Saturday at 1:00 PM EDT!