The island is around 25 miles long by 10 miles wide, orientated roughly EW though curving up slightly at the easternmost end. It lies in the Sea of Bythantus, 50 miles NW of the Laurentian mainland and separated from it by the Mona channel, a place of rough currents. Many dangerous reefs and riptides surround the island itself, though it is possible for a skilled sailor with good charts to sail through them.
The centre of the island consists of a large, arid plateau, bristling with weird and wonderful cacti and other such things. Towards the edge the land falls, sometimes gradually but more often in steep, craggy cliffs, to the sea. Below the cliffs, a much more tropical environment can be found: lush, tropical vegitation, palm trees, lianas and other vegetation of this nature. At places the cliffs fall almost straight in to the sea, at others there are several miles between the cliff bottom and the shore. Surrounding the whole island are beautiful white beaches, the sort that would be a holiday maker’s delight. The water itself is filled with coral, often forming lagoons in which the water is as flat as a mill pond, sheltered from the rougher seas outside.
Springs are relatively abundant and, perhaps because of this, the cliffs and crags about with caves, some going in just a few feet whilst others stretch in an extensive network deep within the island. The cliffs, when viewed from the sea, take on the form of grotesque shapes: human skulls, cyclopes and so on, all of which have been carved solely by the action of the wind, rain and streams.
The most obvious forms of life are the hermit crabs and the iguanas, both of which inhabit (in large numbers) the beaches and vegetation below the cliffs. The hermit crabs, with a shell of 4”-10” in diameter, skuttle purposely too and fro, swarming and making piles. Poor beasts: when they see two of their kind together they assume that food has been found and rush their, forming a huge pile of dozens of hermit crabs. When they realise there was no food they cease their movement and are still, waiting until more supposed food can be sighted and another pile formed. On the rare occasions that they do find food they are usually beaten to it by the iguanas, four foot long lizards who blithely disdain to notice such lesser forms of life as hermit crabs and bowl them out of their way. The rest of the time, the iguanas just sunbathe.
Mona also abounds in lesser forms of life such as lizards, spiders, dragonflies and the like. The central plateau is reasonable abundant in such life, though not as rich as the tropical vegetation below. In the sea may be found shell-fish of all kind, large fish, sharks, eels, sea anemones and of course, the coral itself. In the larger enclaves of tropical vegetation may occasionally be found guacons; rarely seen, these giant beasts are the offspring of the mating between a dragon and an iguana: one of the first hints of the island’s secret past. Unlucky is the unprepared traveller who crosses the path of a guacon: they are approximately the size of a hippopotamus (though in shape they are more reptilian) and, like a hippo, are capable of great speeds over short distances. Unlike a hippo, they are carnivorous.
Places of Interest
The Old Lighthouse
High on the easternmost tip of the island lies the old lighthouse, a strong and tall building stretching to the sky. It dates from eight centuries ago when the feared pirate Hrothgard used the island of Mona as his base. In that time, the north-west of Laurentia was still wracked by the Secession Wars and there was little to stop Hrothgard from ranging up and down the coast as he pleased, looting and plundering as he went. The lighthouse was built by him to guide his ship back at night; it was also, so rumour has it, the place in which he stored his treasure, however, this is not true (see below).
In the eight centuries since it was built, much of the promontory on which the lighthouse was built has been worn away by the sea. Now the lighthouse stands on a high pillar, 30ft or more from the main part of the island (which falls in a sheer cliff at this point) and surrounded by sharp rocks and rapid currents. To cross would be no easy task. Should someone gain entrance to the lighthouse they would find inside a large collection of traps: though some will have decayed with age others will still be working, either because they are magical or simply because of the high degree of craftsmenship in operation. If they pass these then in the tower they will find a small amount of treasure - while reasonably significant, it pales compared to Hrothgard’s full hoard (though is large enough to make people believe that it could be the full hoard).
The Underground Cave
Of the many caves that are found on the island, there is one that is different. On the SW side it can be found. A person who enters it will find, after numerous twists, turens and forks, that the tunnel ends in a small, person-sized hole in the floor. Clambering down this hole (about 12 feet) they will find a substantial underground lake, 4-8ft deep (with a head clearance of up to 4ft) and large enough to easily contain 20 or more people. Beneath the fresh, cool, limpid waters of the pool they will see half a dozen other tunnels, all under water, stretching away as if to infinity.
Unbeknownst to all but his most trusted followers, the lighthouse was merely a decoy. The bulk of Hrothgard’s hoard, a vast sum, was hidden here, beyond the underground lake. If you choose the right tunnel then you may swim down it, emerging in a large underground cavern. The swim is long and hard - 3-4minutes for a good swimmer - however, there are people capable of swimming such a distance, and Hrothgard and some members of his crew (think pearl divers) were amongst them. A cool head is necessary - the claustrophobia of being underwater under layers of rock is enough to cause many to panic, especially with the knowledge that if they have chosen the wrong tunnel then they will not be able to surface but will die here, alone, underground.
Originally, Hrothgard set no guardian over his hoard, trusting in the location itself to protect it. In the centuries since, however, a young green dragon found the hoard and swam in, taking up residence there. Since that time it has grown so that it can no longer escape through the tunnel and remains there, watching over the hoard, to this day.
Melbege dena Farilya (“Beach of the Women”)
By day, this beach is one of the most pleasant beaches on the island - beautiful sands, shade, a lovely lagoon in which to swim. However, once the sun goes down, terrifying shades appear. A person will first see ghosts of dozens of beautiful women of many races and nationalities, but all stunningly beautiful and wearing very little save for a golden collar around their throats. Soon though, a host of fearsome warriors will appear. The women fall to their knees before them but are ignored - the warriors rush upon them, slaying them all. Those who try to escape are chased down and killed. Throughout the rest of the night, the beach will be haunted with the ghosts of the killed women, wailing and screaming in agony.
Hrothgard, when looting and plundering, would sometimes spare the lives of beautiful women, carrying them back to his island of Mona. They were kept imprisoned on this beach, which became known as Melbege dena Farilya in consequence. One time, returning from a voyage, he came to the beach as normal. However, this time he slaughtered all the women without mercy.
Amongst the women was Countess Maria Theresa, granddaughter of Dominic the Great, 37th Sejm of the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth, captured when travelling by ship to her marriage to Crown Prince Hanyarme of Siluria). She fought back, wounding Hrothgard himself, though was ultimately cruelly killed along with all the rest. It is her ghost that haunts this beach, animating the spirits of her fellow dead and moaning. If she could be talked to (which would be difficult as she is quite deranged after so many centuries and filled with hatred against all living people, particularly men) she would be able to reveal the location of the Underground Cave: she believes that Hrothgard slew them to protect that secret and knows that this was the last time he was seen on the island. No doubt he took some treasure and intended to return for more, but circumstances intervened.
If anyone mentions that the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth fell over three centuries ago and that Zechstein and Rotliegendes are today tiny countries she will refuse to believe it and will likely fly in to a rage and refuse to speak to that person again. Her spirit could be laid to rest if the treasure is retrieved and bridal jewellery, of great cultural significance to the Zechen-Rotliegendish Commonwealth, restored to either Zechstein or Rotliegendes: this would satisfy the twin desires of revenge (against Hrothgard) and loyalty to her country.
It would naturally contain much gold, silver and jewels. As it is 800 years old, however, of more value could be items of great cultural significance, worth far more than their net weight in gold. The bridal jewellery of Maria Theresa is an example of this; in addition there could be maps (e.g. to more treasure), rare and ancient books and so on.
- The PCs are marooned on the island, knowing nothing of the legend. Do they decide to investigate the Lighthouse or maybe spend a night on Melbege dena Farilya?
- Knowing of the legend, the PCs go to the island and seek treasure. A classic treasure hunt, but could be tied in to something more (e.g. discovering items of importance to Zechstein, finding a map/book which tells of an artifact, etc.)
- The island has become a pleasure resort for wealthy nobles who spend some weeks there, relaxing on the beach and occasionally going to hunt the guacons. One night, one or more nobles spends a night on Melbege dena Farilya. The PCs could either be the nobles or could be the people called in to investigate.
- On his last voyage, Hrothgard captured an evil artifact (for example, Mirror of Doom or similar. This warped his mind, causing him to slaughter all of the women. He then went to put the artifact in the secret lair in the underground cave; however, such was its tainted allure that he stayed there, watching and guarding it. His bones lie there still, now watched over by the green dragon, which was likewise drawn there by the feel of power. What will happen to the PCs if they too find it?