Khasikarana is in the great Archipelago, but off the main trade routes, and over seventy miles from any other island. Without much in the way of natural resources beyond fish, fresh fruit and the native coarse fiber, trading vessels have little reason to come here. Still, some do, and with the frequent storms that rake the Archipelago, ships sometimes are blown off course to weather them in the isle’s well-protected lagoon.
The island is heavily forested, although dominated by olivewood trees of little use beyond the fiber painstakingly woven from its broad leaves. Game is scarce, other than migratory birds and a small and wary population of feral pigs from a forgotten ship. Its limestone-and-coral base would make fresh water more of an ongoing problem were it not for the frequent rainfall with which the Archipelago is blessed.
The village is small: not more than a hundred or so people, most of whom fish all the day through. Its dwellings are of limestone-block bases, olivewood walls and thickly thatched with broadleaf, and each cottage has a painstakingly wrought limestone tank for catching rainwater. Decorations and art largely consist of wall and lintel carvings, which are varied and skillfully wrought. The locals wear broadleaf fiber clothing, except for cloth traded to them by merchant vessels, which is largely saved for special occasions and ceremonials. They speak a heavily variant dialect of the Archipeligan creole, and it’s downright difficult to communicate.
The village has little in the way of hierarchy. The most skillful fisher is the “machimara,” who seems to have authority over the fishers while they are on the water. There is always a “rakhato,” the hereditary village healer, and the “bhakhanara,” an aged elder who appears to be a combination diviner/shaman/counselor. None of these three seem to have significantly more pull than any other villager, and decisions seem to be made by consensus among the adults.
A trading vessel is always welcomed. The villagers are happy to trade fresh or dried fish, broadleaf fiber (which makes strong rope), small quantities of quarried limestone, fresh fruit, native liquor (made from fermented fruit) and rare medicinals found in the forest. They’re eager to receive in return cloth, metal tools, hardwood logs, pottery or stoneware jugs, and other such useful trade items. They’re not savages, however, and are unimpressed by mirrors, glass beads, geegaws or anything not recognizably practical to their way of life. After years of intermittent trading, they’re also shrewd enough to gauge relative worth.
Any visit by a vessel is grounds for a feast. The crew will be plied with food and drink, comely natives will invite them to their sleeping mats, and there will be dancing and song.
Contrary to paranoid genre expectations, nothing bad actually happens. No crewman is murdered in his sleep, no one is robbed, no one is informed that sleeping with a native means they’re married, none of that. The next morning dawns without a hitch. Indeed, the sailors are encouraged to stay as long as they please – within reason, as spare food is finite – and are welcome to explore the island to their heart’s content.
... until the ship attempts to leave the lagoon.
An extremely strong wind will rise, preventing the ship from doing so. Nothing the sailors can try – kedging, tacking, trying to shave the headland – will work, and the wind will shift to suit.
Sooner or later, one can expect the sailors to ask the villagers what goes on. The bhakhanara will tell them, regretfully, that the unnamed God of Khasikarana demands a sacrifice upon Its altar: the severed genitals of at least one male sailor. Once that sacrifice is made, the ship will be allowed to leave. The mariners are under no coercion to oblige, but even if they try to build a craft on the outer rim of the island (the natives won’t stop them from trying), the incoming surf is perilous, and the winds will set against them as well. The wind doesn’t impede a fisher’s skiff, unless a mariner is on board.
The altar is deep within the forest, by ways only the islanders know. It is a misshapen lump of meteoric iron, not more than 4' high, and unadorned. The villagers must sacrifice the genitals of one not born on the island three times a year, at the change of seasons -- if not, storms gradually get stronger, the fish gradually become scarce, fruit and food rots more quickly, pregnant women begin to miscarry. They will speak of the terrible time seventy years gone when there were no ships for three years, during which many villagers died.
The severing must be done with a live victim (willing or no) – the rakhato will magically heal the wound to a stump, and dispense native elixirs to help with blood loss. If, however, a ship hasn’t traded in some time, and deadlines have been missed, more grisly sacrifices must be made to make up for the shortfall.
The villagers won’t try to extract the sacrifice by force: it is up to the crew to decide who gets the chop, and the villagers will only sigh and furrow their brows if the sailors do so forcibly. The villagers will resist any violence turned their way. The rakhato and the bhakhanara have genuine magic, the fishers are strong, agile, fit and skilled with spear and harpoon, and they’re quite prepared to melt into the forest to engage in guerrilla warfare.
In any event, the ship will vanish in a fortnight’s time, overnight, along with all aboard, stranding any sailors still on shore -- the villagers have no notion as to where it goes, and it never does return. If the crew decides never to leave, they will all perish before the end of the next rainy season, of various unknown diseases. (In cases where this happens, the village’s ironclad rule is to hurl their bodies and personal possessions out to sea.)
If the sailors make the hard choice, they will find another element to the affair – they cannot speak of it. Even surviving emasculated sailors cannot: they cannot warn people of the island in any way, spoken or written, by omission or commission, even so far as a “Don’t sail there, I can’t tell you why!”
An unscrupulous captain familiar with the curse might well take advantage of this, deliberately planning to sacrifice one of his crewmen to make the trade ... although no part of the curse prevents the sailor from gaining vengeance against the captain.