This curious tome in four parts was found lodged behind one of the many shelves in the library by one of my assistant archivists. By modern standards it is, of course, a fairly accurate depiction of the world as we know it – even if it is fanciful and many of the details seem exaggerated. I have done some small measure of research into its origins and recently discovered that it was first published no less than two hundred and twelve years ago, just as the Fourth Age was drawing to a close. Alas, it seems the second half of the manuscript is currently lost, though I shall endeavour to find it (or, rather, I shall have my junior assistants move all the shelves around in case it has also fallen behind some less interesting tome). - Reldo
In which the author tires of his life of drudgery and wistfully recalls his younger years upon the seas. He returns once more to decks and swabs, but is most cruelly cast adrift. He encounters some little people, befriends them and is of great service, but is most heinously betrayed. His return to these lands.
I had often thought upon the earlier days of my life with much fondness and a certain nostalgia, but the necessities of maintaining the comfort to which I was accustomed left me with little time nor the impetus to change my destiny. I lived then as a landowner of some repute, and the servants and tenants upon my farms and in my townhouse thought well of me. I imagine that I was content – in some measure, at least – but since my many journeys I can no longer consider such trivial pursuits to be conducive to any true happiness. My youth had been filled with relative poverty, but also great joy as I had served upon a small number of ships of varying size, running goods from port to port along the southern coasts. Since those days of youth, I have been thoroughly bored.
Six months past I took it upon myself to remedy this ailment of mind and soul, and so travelled south to the ports once again in search of some position aboard a ship – perhaps as a physician or botanist (for my time in comfort has not been completely fruitless). It was in Port Lina (Reldo – this appears to have been a settlement approximately in the same location as Port Sarim) that I met Captain Gillan, a most worthy officer who is by no means easy on his crew, but is at least not too quick to draw the lash. He offered me the role of purser, and entrusted me with the chests that carried all the expedition’s wealth. The Glass was a long schooner, and was thus lacking sufficient space for cargo. It had not yet occurred to me that the schooner was designed less for trade than for its speed, which is most conducive to escaping the depredations of pirates and corsairs. I was quickly relieved of this foolishness, for a mere three days into our voyage we were beset by a veritable flotilla of ships bearing the black flag. Despite our speed we were quickly overrun and boarded, and no amount of impressive swordplay on my part or Captain Gillan’s would dissuade those reprehensible curs.
I was cast adrift in a narrow barrel and, by the looks upon their malformed faces as they loaded the cannon, I thought then that I was surely doomed to meet my lord Saradomin at the behest of a cannonball. As I gathered my faculties to prepare myself for such a miserable end, the pirates suddenly became raucous and made expressions of terror. They thrust their twisted fingers skywards, and I am sure I heard more than a few prayers to both Saradomin and Zamorak.
Looking into the blue ether, I espied a great white shape which must have been a bird: but what a bird! I soon discerned that it was an albatross – well-known to sailors across RuneScape – and watched with shameless glee as it harried the pirates upon the schooner’s deck. Its beak cut down rigging and its talons raked the hunched backs of a number of the villains.
I laughed then, and merrily observed the ships departing with great haste. It was only with slow realisation that I discovered myself alone at sea in a barrel too narrow to comfortably sit, nor with a paddle or any kind of provisions. My view of the sea presented me with only horizons and I felt only a gentle zephyr that was unlikely to lead me to shore. I am unashamed to admit that at that moment I wept.
Of course, the greatest of journeys may begin with the most unfortunate of circumstances, and I know now that my lord Saradomin has plans for his humble servant, Samuel Scourduel. I was left bobbing like a cork for two days upon the waves, with only sea water to tempt me and the sun to burn my pale landowner’s skin.
On the morning of the third day, feeble-minded and weak-limbed from starvation and dehydration, I saw a green crescent grow in the far distance. By mid-morning it was obviously land, and I paddled towards it with what little strength I had remaining. Just before what should have been my lunchtime, I saw that the water was shallow enough to wade through and thus I staggered like a drunkard towards the beach, where I collapsed into a fevered sleep.
When I awoke, I discovered a small shell filled with fresh water being held to my lips by hands that seemed those of a child. I was still ill with hunger and thirst, and my eyes could focus no further away, though I fancied I saw all around me dozens more children. I tried to rise, that I might hold the shell and quench my thirst myself, but found that all my limbs were tightly fastened to the ground, and that my hair had been tied to some restraint that prevented me from moving even the slightest fraction of an inch.
A strange food was placed between my lips, and a rough hand encouraged my jaw to chew and my throat to swallow. Whoever these children were, they carried with them excellent foods. By the time I had finished with the strange meal, I could focus my eyes further afield and beheld the strangest sight I had then seen: all about me was a circle of small people no taller than my hip, but with all the physical build and trappings of adults.
Each of these strange people had oddly elongated chins and a mischievous look about them. Though I did not speak their tongue, I was able to comprehend that they were in some discussion about what to do with me. It quickly became obvious that they had encountered humans on some few occasions, and that all such encounters had not been completed to their benefit. Realising that they might simply slit my throat to save themselves from whatever evil they perceived I might bring, I gathered my strength and tore myself free from their bonds.
Rising up to my full height, I saw that not one of them stood taller than my waist, and they scattered quickly to hide behind bushes and small trees. A few of them pulled back strings on tiny bows and fired ineffectual arrows at me that mostly bounced from the thick leather of my coat, though a small number punctured my skin but went no further, feeling like little more than pin-pricks. I gestured quickly that I meant no harm, and sat upon the ground to drink from one of their buckets and to eat a few of the foods that were arranged near where I had lain.
After a half an hour, several of them crept from their cover and approached me. I extended my hand towards them, relying on the belief that all sentient creatures would judge this a friendly act. One by one, they approached and wrapped their small hands around one of my fingers and shook it – though one of these tiny humanoids stood back and glared fiercely at me with crossed arms and hunched shoulders. It was clear that though the majority of this group felt they could trust me, this one miserable creature was determined that I should not be allowed to live.
Soon there was an excited chattering among them, and four or five of them pulled upon my wrists to encourage me to rise. It was obvious to me then that there was some service they needed me to perform. I could only assume that some disaster or puzzle that had vexed them could be resolved by a man of true human stature. I followed the little people back to their settlement, though they insisted on blindfolding me to be sure that I would not be able to betray them by memorising the path to their village. Once in the village I was introduced to a regal gentleman of the same size as his people but dressed in such excellent finery that I felt compelled to kneel before him.
This ‘king’ pointed upwards quickly, indicating that a branch of the magnificent tree behind him had sickened and begun to rot and would eventually sicken the entire tree. A few of his subjects indicated the fragility of the tree, and that they were forbidden to climb upon it for fear of causing further damage. So it was that I was given a tiny saw and a small pot of some pungent liquid, all for the treatment of this ailing tree. While I knew not why they should care so dearly for this plant, I quickly set to work and reached up for the rotten branch with the saw.
Some few minutes later I had removed the ill limb and covered the exposed stump with the oil. With a cheer, the small people rushed to the base of the tree and looked up towards its trunk. I was quite surprised, then, to discover a face wrought from the tangled knots and grooves in the bark – I was yet more surprised to see the face move and to speak! A short moment later, the tree had fallen once more into silence and I felt the small hands of these diminutive fellows clutching my fingers with gratitude. It was then that my eyes fell upon the angry little fellow from earlier, whispering something into the king’s shell-like ear.
So it was that despite my good intentions and the rapport I felt I had nurtured with these charming people, I was forced to flee their little village with arrows in pursuit (each cunningly aimed for the softer parts of my face and hands), finding myself at once lost in a maze populated by beasts both common and weird.
When I found myself outside the maze again, and had time enough to pluck the small arrows from my back and legs, I turned to the north and wandered in search of more hospitable folk, finding myself at a small town attached to a port. With some gratitude, I returned to my native home.
In which the author once more ventures upon the seas and is abandoned on the slopes of a spitting volcano. He seeks shelter and discovers a hidden city of giant men of stone. He is kept as a favoured pet and is forced to escape. His wandering continues.
A few weeks later, having recovered from my earlier trials at the hands of those mistrustful midgets, I once more set my feet upon a gangplank in order to see more of this world in which we live. Our journey was to take us west from Port Lina to the dark lands of Karamja, there to find rum and bananas, for such delicacies were rare in those days. Arriving on Karamja, I took my rest upon the shore, picking up interesting shells and eating a few bananas that hung low to the ground. A mere two hours later, however, I felt myself struck about the head with what felt to my pampered senses much like an oar. Dazed and thoroughly horrified, I quickly found that I was bound and carried upon a stick up the slope of a great mountain that spat fire and ash. The crew of the ship upon which I had signed as ship’s doctor had mutinied! Lucky am I that I was not Captain Stephens, for that poor wretch was most cruelly made to walk the plank, and the sharks, I am told, made quick work of his wind-leathery skin.
I came to my senses a few hours later, to find a hellish mixture of sleet and molten rock raining about me. Rapidly hunting for shelter, I came upon a narrow crevice in the rocks and there ensconced myself to wait out the inclement weather. Alas, two days passed without change, and I was forced to seek food and water deeper in the caves. I quickly found myself tumbling through a hole in the floor and into a much larger cavern filled with demonic creatures, the walking dead and monstrous bats – this spacious hole was lit by the glow of incendiary magma.
Driven by panic and the horror of that place, I fled to the nearest niche that led deeper into the mountain and was greeted by a blast of hot air. My eyes streamed and I struggled to breath for a few moments until I gathered my wits and saw myself encircled by dozens of four-armed statues. Though my vision was obscured by the steam that rose from vents in the floor of this new cave, I could have sworn to Saradomin that these statues moved towards me. I should have observed more, but the heat and oppressive atmosphere of that place threw me to the floor in a swoon.
When I came to I was lying upon a bed of stone and staring up into the enormous face of a gigantic stone statue, much like those I had seen just before I passed out. Now, though, I knew that the statue moved and it used a single massive hand to hoist me upright, thrusting another of its limbs towards my face. I looked into its hand and discovered there the mangled remains of what I can only assume was once a rodent of epic stature. These victuals had been slightly singed by the heat of this place but still smelt strongly of the animal’s juices. My hunger forced repulsion aside, and I hurriedly ate the rancid meat.
With my meal done, I was free to observe the giant more carefully, and noted how like ourselves they were. To be sure, they bore an extra pair of arms and their skin was as solid as the mountain in which they lived, but their homes were not unlike our own and they moved about upon a single pair of legs, often carrying crude weapons or staves to aid their progress. The giant that had taken me into its house looked carefully into my eyes and spoke slowly. To my great shock and joy, it haltingly spoke the tongue of men! She explained that her people, the TzHaar, had lived for eternity within the volcano and had little to do with the barbaric races upon the surface; there was little for them up here, where we humans live, for the mountain provided them with all their needs. As she spoke, I was as much struck by the nobility of these creatures as by their great size. She told me of their culture, though when I asked of their science she seemed confused, and only spoke of the natural memory with which the TzHaar are gifted. It seemed that what one of them learnt, all their children and their children’s children would know, and so she knew the language of men from one of her long-departed ancestors.
When I asked of her family, she swiftly lifted me with a single one of her arms and hastily carried me through the city (and what a city it was! Great obsidian spires rose within the cavern and grazed the ceiling; the children bathed in lakes of magma; thousands of these great creatures walked about in the haze of steam that marked their lands) to a grand hall filled with statues of their kind. These, she explained to me, were her ancestors – Carved into their likeness? I enquired. She seemed confused and explained more carefully that these statues were, in fact, her ancestors, locked into their stone bodies for eternity. As if to illustrate the fact, she pulled a few coins of volcanic glass from a small leather pouch and indicated that they were made from these statues of her relatives. What an horrific fate to await all those of the volcanic city! As awful as that fate seemed, my guardian explained much to me of the TzHaar, and I came to be in awe of their society. They suffer few of the ills of men: sickness only rarely comes upon them, they know nothing of crime, honour stands above all other virtues. That such a society not only endures but has made itself regent of this volcano astounds me still. I was an object of great curiosity to these giants, and many times as I walked through the avenues I was prodded by the great creatures who had heard that I had spongy flesh and weak limbs. On more than one occasion I had cause to cry out in pain as one or another of them gripped my arm or leg tightly and wrenched it to see how sturdy my bones were. With a haste I am proud to recall, I would draw my blade and thrust it at the curious creatures, confident that though I would be seen defensive, I could do no more harm to them than I could to the mountain itself.
All those days or nights I lived there – for a man’s time is acquainted with the sun, and where there is no light in the sky there can be no passage of time – I was forced to eat the rank meat of rodents, and I became thin and pale. TzHaar-Hur-Ix, my guardian, saw this and became worried as a man would at their dog’s illnesses. I was well-treated there, but I was also little more than a pet. Knowing I could not live among the TzHaar for much longer, I began to tell my guardian of the beauty of the lands above and of the things I missed. I hoped that she would comprehend my woe and set me free, but I had misunderstood just how much she considered me her property. Like a petulant animal, she placed me on a leash when we were apart and pampered me with soft furs and doting attention when we were together.
I thought constantly of escape, but I knew that it was impossible without the assistance of TzHaar-Hur-Ix. Though I could leave the city to reach the cavern beneath the mountain wherein bats and giant skeletons wandered, I was aware that I could not hope to reach the safety of the world above. I had no rope and the TzHaar had no need of it, and only the height afforded by standing upon their shoulders could grant me the gift of freedom. A further complication came from the fact that the leaders of their people saw me as a great source of entertainment – should I be set free by any member of their tribe, they would be marked with the great shame of dishonour.
Daily, I grew weaker and more pathetic. The TzHaar have little concept of physical weakness, for their society is split into four distinct castes. The weakest of them are the craftsmen, whose relative weakness is balanced by their fine vision and dexterous hands with which they mould the black volcanic rock into tools, weapons and structures of dazzling beauty. My gradual descent into a haggard and feeble state went unnoticed by all except my guardian, and her comprehension of the possibility of my demise was limited – I was not solidifying, so there was no sign of illness in their eyes.
My freedom finally came when I discovered among TzHaar-Hur-Ix’s possessions a number of long rods of black glass. Each time I was left alone, I would cut a thin strip from my bedding and lash more rods together. Before long, I had a crude ladder. It weighed a great deal, but never before had I seen such a beautiful thing. In its form was combined the unearthly grace of that unusual stone, the sweet sight of my own hands’ work, and the intangible touch of the hope of freedom.
Late one night, when all the TzHaar had retired to the hollows in which they slept in their houses, I took my ladder, dragging it noisily through the streets – for the TzHaar sleep heavily, as one expects stone to sleep. I reached the cave and kept the ladder as a shield between myself and the horrors that lurked there. Seeing the low glimmer of a night sky through the crack in the ceiling, I braced my ladder and slowly, with the agony of weakness in my limbs, ascended and threw myself towards liberty. Once freed from the city beneath the volcano, some strength returned to my limbs and I stumbled down the slope to the food and weather of the fields of banana trees below. True freedom was yet many months distant, but I was, at least, able to preserve my fragile body from the slow, unwitting death the TzHaar would have put me to.