here once took
place an expedition headed by an ambitious discoverer who wanted to find new
lands in the eastern seas. Back then these waters were still vastly unexplored,
so there was reasonable hope to come across yet unknown landmasses and end up
rich and famous thereof – or get sucked into the Void if one traveled too far.
Well, nobody knew for sure where the world ended and how, but the dangers of the
mission were all part of the excitement of an undertaking like this.
After traveling for several days the ship of the discoverer finally entered
uncharted waters and the adventure truly began. Everything went well at first.
Until the evening of the third day that is, when dark clouds could be spotted
brewing on the horizon. Quickly they drew nearer. The sea rose and it became
wild and tumbling; the vessel was already rolling heavily, and the wind was
roaring in the rigging. The crew found it impossible to circumnavigate the
rapidly approaching storm and soon the skies were torn by the skeletal arms of
lightning illuminating the night sky all the way from north to south. So it came
that a most vicious tempest descended upon the ship and its crew in the near
darkness of the fading day. Sheets of rain fell thick and fast and the gale
proved so torrential that it broke one of the masts as if it were a matchstick.
Thereupon a great surge came in and rolled over the ship that had lain adrift
already, and the once proud and adventuresome vessel sank there and then,
dragging with it every sailor who was on it into a deep, wet grave.
Well, not all of them perished, because our story doesn't end here. There was
one of the unfortunate crew who survived the disaster, and Vynnolf was his name.
He was only eighteen cycles of age and prior to the expedition had been on only
a couple of minor sea voyages; though rakish that he was, he thought that with
this mission he'd make his dent in history, and so he had eagerly joined the
crew of this fateful ship. Well, maybe Baveras Herself, the capricious Goddess
of the Sea, had pity on him when she saw the youth clinging to a piece of wood
out there in the open sea and plead desperately for his life. He was lucky, for
he eventually was washed up on the shore of a small, yet unknown isle somewhere
in the midst of nowhere. So one of the discoverers had indeed found land in
uncharted waters. However, the isle turned out to be deserted and there was no
ship to return and tell the tale of Vynnolf's miraculous survival.
Stranded on an island without companions and tools but with rather dim prospects
of rescue, the adventuresome youth had no other choice than to make this
newfound place his home. What is my life worth now anyway? Vynnolf asked
himself when he sat all alone at a sandy beach, surveying the sea for days and
days. But there was no other choice. Survival was everything he could hope for,
and survive he would. It proved difficult in the beginning – as Vynnolf lacked
every little thing he had taken for granted all his life – but eventually he
learned to live with the little he had: He made himself makeshift knives out of
coconut shards, containers from palm tree leaves, tables out of wood and nets by
tying together lianas; he taught himself how to make fire or how to construct a
bow and arrows for hunting, and he carved spears to impale fish who swam close
to the shore.
While Vynnolf knew that he was all alone on the isle, he found out eventually –
after a couple of months to be precise – that he actually hadn’t been the first
who had discovered it. There had been people on the island before him, no doubt:
For one day when he went exploring he came upon a cave hidden behind some dense
brush at the edge of the jungle. There was a rock just in front of it that was
clearly marked by someone with glaring red paint. Curious as he was, Vynnolf
entered the hideout, and found a narrow tunnel that led deep down into the
bowels of the earth. A self-made torch in hand he descended the passage that was
winding down with bated breath, and finally entered a large chamber full with
stalagmites and stalactites. At the far end of it he saw something shine and
sparkle, and as he approached with his torch, the chamber was illuminated in
full Vynnolf almost shrank back from the stunning sight: He had stumbled upon
piles and piles of ancient gold coins, goblets, plates, jugs, jewels, pearl
necklaces, medallions and chock-full caskets and treasure chests!
The treasure cave as found by Vynnolf. Image
that the fortune once must have been collected and stored here by pirates, but
that eventually all this wealth had probably been forgotten in the meantime.
Because months and even years after his discovery there still was no one who
returned to it, to either add to the treasure or claim it. Long nights Vynnolf
lay awake under the stars considering the arrival of pirates on the isle, though
he wasn’t sure whether this was something he wanted to look forward to or not.
After all, pirates were a vile, conniving and murderous sort, and he wasn’t sure
whether he’d be better off if he were forced to become one of them in order to
get off the isle. However, no pirates ever showed up to actually put him into
that sort of dilemma. Also, all the valuable things Vynnolf had found in that
secret cave were eventually forgotten during the many, many years that he lived
on the island.
Then, one day – Baveras be praised! –, more than two decades after Vynnolf had
shipwrecked, there was a fateful turn of events. A trading ship veered off
course due to an extremely rough going sea, and thereby happened to come across
Vynnolf’s island. In face of the impending storm the ship steered towards the
isle, and as the crew was riding out the tempest in safety on land they
discovered the bedraggled castaway fellow, the lone human occupant of the
island. Actually it was told that Vynnolf was barely recognizable as a human
back then. After years and years of solitude he didn't even know anymore how to
speak properly and had to learn many things anew. But the traders took him on
board of course, and after they had delivered their goods at their ports of call
they at last returned with him home. There was a big feast held in his honor,
and he was happy.
Vynnolf had changed however. Not only had he aged by two decades, his features
were also now marked by the permanent exposure to the sun and the forces of
nature, and once he shaved, it was almost as if he unveiled another man
underneath. Which wasn’t that far from the truth, because the former youth who
had aspired to fame and fortune had turned into a humble man. He had learned to
value the blessings of a simple fire, of roasted meat, a bit of cheese, fresh
juice – and what it meant to have friends again, who enjoyed listening to him,
asked questions and told stories themselves. He felt like he was in heaven.
Until the day when Vynnolf mentioned in one of his narrations about his
adventures on the isle that he had discovered an enormous treasure in a cave. In
fact, as he related this tale, he didn’t think much of it, because the treasure
didn’t matter to him back then and didn’t now, and so he just thought of it as
an interesting story, and that was all there was to it. However, since the day
he had told it, people didn't want to let go of him. Immediately an expedition
was planned among his friends – or so-called friends – to retrieve the gold. The
isle still hadn’t been charted yet, but it was possible to find it again, if one
set one’s mind to it, he was told.
”Think about the life you could have with all that gold!” they tried to convince
him to join the search – after all he had been there!
But Vynnolf wanted to have none of it. He saw the greed and the selfishness of
the people who only wanted to gain riches and didn’t honor what they already
“No”, he told them, “I will stay back here, safe and sound, that’s just how it
is. Never will I join such a mad endeavor, for I’ve seen the storms beating down
on the sea in these parts of the ocean – these are mighty dangerous waters, they
almost cost me my life!” And then he decided to add some more to the story and
outright lie to them for their own good. “Besides, I didn’t want to tell you,
but if you really must know: There's a wyrm in there in that cave, guarding his
treasure!” he said. “Quite a vicious wyrm in fact, a two-headed one, with a
fiery breath and a massive spiked tail and a serpentine neck that can wrap
around you in an instant and have you strangled before you even know it! When I
saw him I turned around immediately, for luckily the beast doesn’t leave his
abode, so I kept away from him all the time and left him to his coins. – You
see, even if you find the cave, which is unlikely at best, that dragon will kill
you if you try to take away what he considers his...”
“Don’t you worry,” one of his friends said. “We’ll smoke him out!”
“And we’ll put up traps, lots of traps,” another one suggested. “Just to make
“If that’s not enough, we’ll also bring decent weapons to defeat him!”
“Besides, he might be dead by now anyway,” the last one chipped in. “Even wryms
don’t live forever!”
None of Vynnolf’s friends were deterred. Quite to the contrary – fighting and
defeating a dragon seemed an even better reason to earn themselves riches beyond
“Don't go there!” Vynnolf continued pleading to his friends, for he was in fear
that the wealth would change them. As a matter of fact already the prospect of
fame and fortune had done so, for Vynnolf hardly recognized his comrades
anymore. “Treasure is not everything in life!” he urged them, but it was all in
vain. Nobody listened to Vynnolf. A ship set out finally, intent on defeating
the giant wyrm and collect the riches, on it half a dozen of Vynnolf’s
A month passed, and then a second and a third. Vynnolf dreaded the moment when
the adventurers would arrive from their successful expedition. Surely they would
brag with their wealth and laugh at his cowardice, and they would inquire about
the whereabouts of this fabulated wyrm. He wouldn’t know what to answer.
But nobody ever returned from this mission.
Months later another ship set out to investigate the matter, with some more
courageous men on it who wanted to try their luck, to perhaps find the lost
ship, challenge the wyrm and return with the riches. But it returned neither.
Also a third ship eventually left, but it suffered the same fate.
Well, that's just as it happened. Nobody can tell what really took place out
there in the deep seas, far, far away from the Santharian mainland. But many
people back then agreed that the sailors shouldn't have tried to challenge such
a mighty wyrm, especially as they had been warned repeatedly what a fierce beast
it was. They said that only Vynnolf who never attempted to fight the dragon, was
spared, because it was the wise thing to do, and that he was saved because of
But since Vynnolf had told his son on his deathbed that there never had been any
wyrm, people don't know anymore what to think. Maybe the waters out there were
just too stormy for all three ships, just like back then when Vynnolf had
shipwrecked? Was it all just coincidence? This indeed is hard to believe. Some
therefore call the incidents "Vynnolf's Curse". Others say that Baveras
understood Vynnolf’s concerns about the gold that had corrupted the sailors even
before they had actually found it, and that the Goddess might have done just her
Well, the truth we'll never know.