The silence was deafening. Where was the sound of the wildlife this area was so famed for? The chorus of birds in the trees, the wild horses galloping through the meadows? Stace knew something was deeply wrong. She had travelled this route to her Uncle’s home many times before, but she could never remember the air being as eerily still as it was this day.
As she approached her uncle’s home, her pace slowed, fearing what she may find. She was ill at ease, though she knew not why.
Knocking gently upon his large wooden door at the front of the modest home, there came no reply. It was a magnificently crafted house, constructed with the best wood shipped in from the coast of Yew. Stace held many fond childhood memories of the place, and she smiled as nostalgia eased her tension.
She knocked again, still no reply.
“He’s probably out the back tinkering with one of his inventions,” she muttered as she swung open the small iron gate that lead round to the back garden.
The air inside was thick with a pungent odour, and it was immediately obvious that no one had lived here for many weeks. Panic set in as Stace ran from room to room, hoping to find some clue as to her Uncle’s whereabouts, but her search proved fruitless. All she found was a stained old map, with a ring around a small island in it’s centre.
A sheriff’s office was in the next town, so running back out the house Stace set off down the road again, clutching the folded map in her hand. Almost an hour later she saw the twinkling lights of Minoc on the horizon, as the moon began to drop behind distant mountains.
Captain Harn Frass was busy rearranging his cluttered desk, when the door crashed open, and a short young lady came flying in. She looked rough and dishevelled, her long black hair almost covering her face.
“What in blazes is going on here?” He shouted. The young lady looked up, regained her composure, and brushing the hair from her face spoke quietly.
”My name is Stace, my Uncle has disappeared.”
“Who is your Uncle?”
“Malcolm. Malcolm Linege.”
“Hmm… a resident of Minoc?
”No, sire, though his house is but a short way from Minoc’s border.”
“You must help me!” Demanded Stace, already irritated by the seemingly carefree attitude of the captain.
“I shall, young lady. It is important not to rush such things. Tell me what you know.”
His sudden change of mood stunned Stace, but she related to him the exact circumstances she had encountered earlier that evening, and handed him the old map.
“Ahh, this is Buccaneers Den” Said Harn, his finger hovering over a large island. “This small island is ringed, a good sign. I would imagine he has ventured to this place. Would you have any inclination as to why he would show interest in such an island?”
”No idea. Though he is always building contraptions, may haps it is linked with his latest project?”
“Project?” Spoke Harn, somewhat confused.
“Aye milord, though I have no clue as to what it was he was building. He is a scientist and a mage.”
“Ack! A dangerous combination.”
Stace managed a smile. She was warming to the old man and his odd mannerisms.
“If your Uncle has not returned within the next month, I will send out a search party to this place. It is a long voyage, so we will have to wait, lest the journey be made in vain.”
Stace nodded, she knew that he could offer no more.
“Thank thee Harn.”
“Captain Frass, thank thee. Have you anywhere you might stay?”
“There is a refuge just down the road, they will look after you for the time being.”
Harn scribed a small note on a scrap of paper.
“Give this to the owner, he will understand.”
A few hours later Stace had arranged her shelter, and immediately set about sketching a picture of her Uncle. She would hang pictures throughout the area, in the hope that someone may know what had become of him.
There must be clues she had missed, from his home, or on the island, if he had even been there. She would return the next day; indeed there was much to be done.
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online