“The island is cursed,” said the ferryman. “You’d best beware.”

“Yes, yes I know,” said Alquis, and he waved a dismissing hand. “I’ve read about the island’s history in the temple records, and interviewed a number of people from your town, here. I know exactly what I’m doing.”

“And yet, here you are,” replied the old man. “Not to mention alone.”

“Here I am, indeed.”

“What’s to stop you ending up like your ladyfriend who came out this way a few days back?”

“As I said, I know what I’m getting into.” said Alquis, calmly.

The ferryman ceased his poling until Alquis turned to see what the matter was. The old man looked Alquis in the eyes, and said “You’re a damned fool, and I’m going to be the one to drag your sorry carcass back to shore when the creatures on the island are done with you. And that’s only if there’s enough of left to haul back.”

Alquis made a mental note of the man’s threat and silently turned back to stare at the island.

“Did you not hear what I said?”

Alquis said nothing, and waited for the ferryman to resume poling the watercraft to the lake-isle. When they reached the island, Alquis quickly climbed off the craft and ignored the disapproving shouts and insults of the ferryman — Alquis knew his business.

The island was much as he expected it, both from descriptions he read and from questions he asked of the locals. He walked around the island and noted with excitement that Esther had correctly assumed the island to be longer around than its size would indicate — a fascinating and terrifying discovery.

Alquis approached an area of the beach where the sand was dark with what he assumed was Esther’s dried blood. He used a piece of driftwood to stir up the sand. He found to his dismay that the dark sand extended much farther beneath the surface than spilled blood would account for — Esther lost a significant amount of blood, but her description indicated the creatures she fought had no fluids.

He heard a strange sound coming from the water, and looked up to see the water swelling not far from where he was standing. From beneath his tunic, he produced the small set of pipes he’d started practicing with, and blew a short note on them, and waited for the creatures to come.