The Isle of the Tablets
This forested island is well known for the thousands of ancient stone tablets that litter it, slabs covered with graven glyphs in archaic and forgotten tongues. These antediluvian writings can be found buried in the rich soil, lying at the bottom of the island’s streams and mangrove swamps, and even stacked in heaps along the trails of the tiny spotted deer native to the place. (These deer, a mere 2’ in height, form the major food source for the island’s small population of poisonous giant toads.)
While many ships put ashore here to replenish their water supplies from the island’s clear streams, knowledgeable captains warn sailors not to tamper with any of the stone tablets, for a madman dwells within the forest, constantly digging in a vain search for one of the stone slabs, a slab holding the countercharm for a “curse” placed upon him long centuries ago.
The Tale of Fulminus
In the time of the old Empire, long centuries ago, this madman was a noted sorcerer, a master of arcane lore known as Fulminus. Mighty and arrogant, Fulminus even attempted to impose his will upon the god of knowledge and lore, Holarus the Lorebringer. With incantations of control and domination, the arrogant mage tried to bind his people’s god of arcane power. With amazing hubris, he planned to demand the secrets of immortality, but discovered too late that his magic was far too weak to bind a god to his will.
Holarus, more amused than angered by the man’s presumption, granted the sorcerer a portion of what he sought. He gave the man physical immortality, but withheld the mental flexibility needed to adapt to eternal life. Fulminus does not age and cannot be slain by mortal weapons, yet his mind does not have the same resilience as his body. Bit by bit, his mental abilities falter and fade.
The Lorebringer magically transported the mage to the Island of the Tablets, where a massive library once stood, ancient when mankind was young. There he bade the sorcerer to search until he found the spell that would give his mind the same immortality that his body had received. The man has searched there ever since.
Centuries of experience and the monotony of his frustrating, lonely quest have severely strained the mind of the ancient sorcerer. A haggard, weather-beaten figure clad in a ragged breechclout, he has become quite absent-minded and scatterbrained. He remembers that there is a tablet that will reverse his condition; he remembers that the god of knowledge showed it to him and then hid it, but he doesn’t remember where it is hidden.
The island’s trails are interrupted by numerous pits and trenches dug in the sorcerer’s vain attempts to find the tablet that will aid him. Capricious familiar spirits, invisible creatures of air, have been ordered to observe those visiting the island and warn Fulminus about any attempts to remove or deface the ancient writings there. He is not patient with those who interfere with his futile quest.
After a long day of searching the island, the immortal mage retires each evening to a decrepit hut near the center of the island. There he relaxes, filling his battered wooden cup with rum traded from passing vessels. He sits there, warming himself at the small fire pit in the center of his hut and dreaming of immortality.
Of course, the stone slab upon which Fulminus’ fire is built is one of the first slabs he recovered, one he overlooked when he was organizing the ancient tablets to be translated.