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Despite being who can control the weather is a powerful force in a fellow half-elves, the Wylkeses obeyed the orders of the port city. Foremost among these is the mysterious death of Harbor Lord Graden Wylkes and the ascension of his son Jonas. The new Harbor Lord is far more pliable than his predecessor. Calynden showered young Jonas with gifts and galas, and in the process renegotiated the arrangements made with prior lords. Once complete, this facility could allow Lyrandar a level of freedom unprecedented under the Korth Edicts.

Lord Cal- ynden has been using her to manipulate Jonas Wylkes, and so far Lazrea has no objections to romancing the handsome Harbor Lord. However, if she discovers proof that Calynden was behind the death of Graden Wylkes, she could turn against him. Like many of the children of Lyrandar, Lazrea is a free spirit. If it turns out that the Kraken has dark plans, Lazrea could be a valuable ally to the PCs.

House Lyrandar has two strong allies in Storm- reach. Also, Lyrandar has spent cheeks. Three sahuagin priests, conversing with them in their own of them make deliveries only within the city. Rain tongue. Orien has a reputation to business—something that gives Lyrandar an edge over uphold, and when deliveries must be made to Last independent captains.

However, some in the house say Chance, Zantashk, or dig sites, those in need call on that Calynden is one of the leaders of the Storm Front, Rain. In addition to her own impressive talents, Rain a cult that ascribes the powers of the Mark of Storm has made a few contacts among the drow and the giants. Notables: Culan Silvereyes N male half-elf expert 4. The reach from Khorvaire. The free agents pursuing their own agendas. However, unless would- residence, one man in Stormreach has the Mark of be travelers make reservations with Uskal requiring Detection.

LE rakshasa sorcerer 9. It serves the interests of Sul Khatesh and Khorvaire. This separate enclave in the Temple district. Although the magic on behalf of House Sivis. The eyes of the house study in her space, and she enjoys being a neutral party anyone who comes in search of secret services; if the job in Stormreach. Tialaen tives and bounty hunters, its members using their was scarred in an accident in the jungles, but he hides marks to solve mysteries and track criminals. The the House of Finding makes far more money from bard could be a useful patron or ally for explorers, or prospecting than it does from its inquisitives, and a rival; a PC might want a magic item for its power, over the last two centuries, Tharashk has taken the while Tialaen wants the relic for its artistry.

The Sivis gnomes maintain dedicated to House Tharashk. Thanks to good relations with the dwarves, up the Koronoo River. The enclave is also where people can who is today the leading expert on the bureaucratic go to hire inquisitives. Four bound Tharashk inquisi- system of the Storm Lords especially as it pertains to tives work in Stormreach, and their services are often the workings of the dragonmarked houses.

He manages numerous mining camps and monitors activities 69 within the city, which includes navigating diplomatic tightropes between the Storm Lords, dragonmarked houses, and other forces. To date, the drow have shown no interest in working with the house, but Kurn is always search- ing for new possibilities.

He has the respect of the workers, and has even represented the house in the Red Ring on occasion. Unknown to Kurn, Durgran is a devotee of the teachings of the Gatekeepers. In truth, House Thuranni is a force to be reckoned with in Stormreach, having grown over a period of time and with the calculated precision that comes with the long-lived outlook of the elf race. The strength of House Thuranni today is the strength of rewarded patience, the power of a long and systematic accu- mulation of knowledge. From Shadows, its House Tharashk has had some trouble with its giant laborers.

Near the even to the most hardened Stormreachers. The head of Thuranni in a dirt path that winds its way through rolling grassy Stormreach, a powerful wizard named Lady Mirav- hills toward a central manor and several outbuild- ella, has more important matters on her mind. In ings. A house member greets would-be visitors near order to attend to them, she requires the freedom the road from Stormreach and, after grave warn- and anonymity that neutrality and innocuousness ings about straying too far, guides them through the provide.

In the final year of the war, Mundir from the work for which her house is known; she received a new apprentice breedmaster named Tyris, accepts the occasional bid for assassination or other a young man who had gotten into trouble for alleg- dirty work, but she chooses such jobs carefully and edly conducting unauthorized breeding experiments almost always turns down requests to rid the city of in and around his native town of Erlaskar.

Vaedin, a gifted killer who never leaves a trace. It takes a rare occur- druid 5. All who work for Tyris are sworn to secrecy about is precisely how the local Vadalis head likes it. Criminal Organizations age, blackened and bloated from drowning. Unlike the situation in Sharn, no single arts of stealth and deception. In Stormreach, true name, but most believe he was pushed into the gangs rise and fall overnight, replaced by ever leaner, harbor by a member of the Stormreach Guard and that hungrier, and more ruthless criminals who pick clean his bones are still drifting in the water.

Violent clashes between gangs consume to work with the older gangs, he always expels members whole districts, until the better-armed local militia once they reach adulthood. These crackdowns are bloody, quick, and brutal, with no due process and no Sear and Tick, two current high-ranking gang quarter given.

They move circles. Survival of the smartest is the unspoken law of around the city, focusing their attacks on newcomers the underworld, and nobody stupid stays alive for long. Some are stamped out by the law especially those who challenge the Quickfoot Gang , but most are culled Fleas rely on their youthful appearance to distract by their betters—left in the sewers with a knife in their and disorient foreign adults. A common ploy is for six back or sunk to the bottom of the harbor. If their guise Leader: Cartha. Fleas also Turf: Harbor district. They are Members: 80 dock vermin, 20 wharfbosses, 25 Gifted always looking for opportunities to scavenge or take advantage of others.

Tactics: Bribery, intimidation, politics, violence. Even though they are children, the Fleas have The Bilge Rats are the largest and most powerful gang in seen more horrors than most adults. For more details on the Rats, see page They feel no remorse for their actions, and their only loyalty is to their adopted family. Locksmith Square. The Fleas are typically homeless orphans.

The gang Portfolio: Fraud, petty theft. Harbor district, and Locksmith Square. At any given time, the members of the gang are split between two Life is harsh on the streets of Stormreach, and chil- of these locations. A number of gangs of feral children prey on strangers to the city. Fleas who survive long enough typically advance to become full rogues instead of experts. The leader of the gang is a ghost named Drifter. Most of the Fleas are Small creatures and take a —2 He has the appearance of a human boy of ten years of penalty to Strength.

Turf: The Shrouds operate from beneath the city and Turf: Forgelight, Locksmith Square, the Marketplace; can strike anywhere in the city. Members: 25 Shrouds typically 2nd-level rogues , 6 Members: 30 Lions an ever-changing mix of dragon- wraiths, 12 elf zombies, and Rashade a bodak. Portfolio: Assault, extortion, fraud, minor smuggling. Tactics: Intimidation, violence. Tactics: Financial coercion, political connections, Gliding through the streets in the dying red of twi- violence. They have seemingly heirs to wealthy merchant families, and even the child been destroyed a number of times during this period, of a Storm Lord or two are all counted among its crew.

The efforts they level members, the gang is a training ground for the put into their appearance do not go unrewarded. The Shrouds have to dream serpent hides and Aundairian magic items. Whereas comes from his penchant for torturing people with a many gangs confine themselves to a single quarter, large silver hook. Second, their The members of the Shrouds include a number of enemies in the underworld fear the retribution that undead that have the ability to create spawn.

Wraiths kill mortally of the gang members was maimed or killed. Some a zombie. When the Aurum comes an iceberg. Most assume that the Shrouds are an off- calling, these Lions are likely to make the cut. But which would mean that a dark court of wraiths and there might be more to it than that. Whisper and her allies, so commoners. Even though they are cast in the depths.

Nearly seven feet the Hammers are anything but logical. She is lacked the strength to survive the Mourning deserve a priest of the Keeper, and her talents at intimidation nothing more than death. If it serves the needs They saw the end of the world and survived, and now of the story, W hisper could be considerably more they see themselves as beyond any mortal law. The Storm Hammers are completely unpredict- able. They are capable of acts of astonishing violence Until recently, Whisper was inseparable from her and cruelty.

Sometimes they seem to be motivated by brother, Rashade. The Storm Hammers have been touched by shrouded in veils. They say his gaze alone strikes foes the Mourning, and some whisper that a darker force dead now.

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A invocations, she is capable of causing considerable chaos without resorting to her deadly eldritch blasts. Any crime could be laid at their feet. At a glance, the members of the Storm Hammers seem to have little in common. But time spent in the company of the Storm Hammers were such an experience possible would Turf: Southwatch, Cross, Harbor district. The Storm Hammers are true sociopaths, monsters in human form more terrifying than any The Titans see themselves as the true children of ogre or zombie.

Their leader, Jamraal Ridgebreak, The events they witnessed on the Day of Mourning were claims to be of stone giant heritage because of his gray horrifying and gruesome, though the Hammers relate skin and bald head. If these stories are The Titans tower over their foes and revel in their physical and psionic might. Still, for all their advantages, As long as the tithes are paid, Quickfoot rarely outnumber their friends. Nearly everyone in the city relies on its services Not every criminal operating in Stormreach is backed on a daily basis.

Described below are two independent criminals the PCs might encounter. In truth, Scara- used in blood rites over twenty thousand years ago. Let me ing persons work the Tide and can be found by any teach you all there is to know about assassination. Scaramar trains his minions for a short time before sending them on their first mission. When the target is eliminated, Baudry is a smuggler and a two-copper thief, though the gnome murders his unwitting accomplice and he thinks of himself as an entrepreneur. Baudry is searches for another.

Scaramar has carefully plied interested in purchasing any treasure the PCs bring his trade for years since his forced exile from Zilargo. Scaramar has a thousand enemies who want him dead. If the PCs can expose him or, Tyrl Gol Garin: A bespectacled gnome who runs better yet, kill the old gnome themselves, they can earn the Pestle, what appears to be a simple apothecary shop rewards from the many in Stormreach who have lost in the Marketplace, Tyrl deals in some of the foulest relatives and partners to the assassin.

The dwarf other than the Stirge himself. The PCs might be hired maims himself as punishment for some dark sin in to track down the Stirge by someone he burglarized, or his past. Stormreach lacks an obvious equivalent to the Boro- mar Clan in Sharn; no single power dominates the underworld here. Militias Cyrans are given a homeland once again. If a PC wizard hard to shut down the entire group. Others, an upcoming strike against the Knights of Thrane.

Beyond this, the militias also oppose criminal adventurers. But if that blacksmith lives in named Fury. He maintains multiple identities within Grindstone, the Swords of Karrn avenge his death. Many of the soldiers less; he believes that he is at war with every nation in are veterans of elite units, and Drago Thul and the the world. Beyond the Dark Lanterns both want to capture Fury so he can pay exceptional skills of their soldiers, the militias have for his actions during the Last War.

Cannith and that she seeks vengeance on Cannith as well as the Five Nations. Typical Members: N human warrior 2; N human rogue 2; N human ranger 2. They are not simple criminals or assas- hundreds of thousands of refugees. Some want bloody vengeance against those loss. In their own eyes, they are on a quest for justice, they see as responsible for the destruction of their nation. Some are former soldiers from the Cyran army.

The leaders of the Wrath have stated that they will not stop until the Typical Member: LG human warrior 3. When King Thalin of Thrane died, a popular uprising turned the people against Prince Daslin and ushered in Important Figures: Blackwind Beleth N female the theocratic government that reigns today. Many did, and N human wizard 3. Base of Operations: Whitewash. These knights turned their backs on Galifar and made their way to the expatriate community of Stormreach. Aundair has long been the seat of the Arcane Con- gress and the focal point for mystical research within The Knights of Thrane seek to protect their own Galifar.

Aundair is the smallest of the Five Nations and to preserve the old values of Thrane. They see and lacks the industrial resources of Karrnath or Embers as the last bastion of Thrane culture, and new Breland. During the Last War, the nation relied on immigrants are pressured to conform to their tradi- arcane magic to offset these limitations. Foremost among these is respect for the blood of Wynarn and the royal family of Thrane.

The when she holds her throne once more. Even so, most mages assigned to the Seven Stones project delved into knights are followers of the Silver Flame and seek to live the techniques of the daelkyr, the magic of the Age of by the virtues of the Flame, which sets them apart from Demons, and eldritch machines in the quest to end the the secular Throneholder movement FN Faith war.

Their achievements were terrifying. Even Aun- is important to the knights and the people of Embers. When oppose the theocracy, which will inevitably tarnish the Breland demanded the execution of the Seven Stones values of both church and state. Brelish envoys witnessed the executions of the set foot in Thrane, they are passionately devoted to the idea seven wizards.

That should have been the end of it. This attitude leads the knights to take violent action against those they consider to be enemies At the end of the Last War, Aundair released a of their state. Most of the knights are good people, and number of its soldiers from service. Over the course violent action. The Swords of Karrn are seen as a threat, of the past two years, they have fought off gangs and and the knights occasionally strike at Sword patrols.

To all appearances, the Ninth Wands are Aundairian patriots with no inter- The knights are led by Valen Vanatar, the grand- est in peace, soldiers who traveled to Stormreach so they son of one of the original knights. Taris Irvalo is one of the few The truth is more complicated.

Not all of the instead of at the Keep of the Silver Flame. She is a Seven Stones wizards were executed. The greatest gentle woman, and she tries to prevent Vanatar from among them was a woman named Elira Dawn. Elira is engaging in rash action. The dwarf Arrun Stone is one of the most gifted wizards Arcanix has produced, the last of the original immigrant knights.

When Mordain knights, but he is the strongest among them and always learned of her scheduled execution, he contacted at the forefront of any battle. Minister Adal and provided a remarkable simulacrum of Elira. Adal approved of the work Elira had done for her country, and with his help the simulacrum was executed instead. Elira established a new life in To this day, she studies the ancient works The Ninth Wands are an elite military unit. The of the giants and other powerful forces, waiting for the members know each other well and have developed group call to return to her beloved homeland.

Although most of these are low-power Adal sent the Ninth Wands to Stormreach to serve effects colorspray,rayofenfeeblement , a few higher-level wands Elira. The others know Elira only as the Dragonhawk. Jorian Thiel is one of the top of their nation, but most assume that she is simply an warmages to serve in the military, and he has even been Arcanix researcher studying the Age of Giants.

He preferred to stay with his soldiers and in the service of Lord Adal. Base of Operations: Grindstone. He would no longer serve any Wynarn law. Grim soldiers patrol the streets. It was wears Aundairian leather, another heavy Karrnathi time to create a new kingdom from the ashes of the chain. But both bear the same device on their tabards old, following in the footsteps of Galifar I and Karrn and shields: a greatsword crossed by two longswords, the Conqueror.

Karrn, drawn from among the deadliest warriors of Stormreach is a safe haven for the Swords of Karrn, the Five Nations. The group has less than a hundred members in of the militia lie with Karrnath. This is a mistake. Perhaps the teachings of Karrn the Conqueror, by a secret no one is interested in his dreams of conquest. Drago to return to Khorvaire. Drago Thul is a brilliant military commander. For now, Drago remains in Stormreach. He has He served Karrnath with distinction during the Last transformed Grindstone into a vision of his ideal War.

His common birth slowed his rise in the ranks, state, imposing a rule even harsher than that of the but his skill and his religious connections helped him Code of Kaius. Under the watchful eyes of his soldiers, overcome the limits of his birth. He bitterly opposed Grindstone is one of the safest places in Stormreach. He also is disturbed; criminals might be beaten, maimed, or protested the use of undead and warforged; a student even killed. Kaius had no intention of letting The Swords of Karrn are one of the most danger- the commoner commander interfere with his plans, ous forces in Stormreach.

With the help of a the elite forces of the Five Nations; they are not simply small band of loyal followers, Drago fought his way to soldiers, but among the best soldiers Khorvaire has to the coast and escaped to Stormreach. A thousand and initiates of the Three can be found in almost years before the rise of Galifar, Karrn came a hairs- every army, with the notable exception of Thrane. Faith in the Three will not stop enemies from down the Conqueror.

But his dreams unrealized, his actions and teachings left when two soldiers negotiate or meet in times of peace, a mark on Khorvaire that can be seen to this day. In the this choice is made, it cannot be changed , and can shadows of these institutions, the Three Faces of War select domains from those of Dol Dorn, Dol Arrah, watch and guide the generals of the next age. Adepts or the Mockery. Keeper Tzandra had a vision of a ministry that grasp of tactics. Despite coming from many nations, would bring the Flame to the drow and the giants and the soldiers are bound together by their faith in the a bastion that would hold back any darkness that might Three Faces of War see the sidebar and the words of threaten the city.

Drago Thul. Stormreach time. Mission- Galifar and returning to something pure. This proved to be another turn- soldiers. Both church and crown had Either way, his skills and feats focus on tactics and roles to play, the priests explained, and it was a mistake leadership as opposed to direct combat abilities. He for one to supplant the other; it would only lead the considers the use of undead in battle to sully the teach- church away from its true purpose. To this day, the keep receives no support from Thrane, and the faithful are warned to beware Other critical personalities among the Swords the words of these heretic priests.

Now that the war is include the Aundairian war-wizard Reng Nagel, one over, some believe that Flamekeep should reclaim the of the few arcane casters among the Swords. The Ninth keep. However, the people of Embers stand behind Wands despise Reng and have tried to kill him on mul- their minister, and Keeper Jaela Daran is more willing tiple occasions. Mordalyn is a diplomat as well as a warrior, and between her skills and her history As a result, the Silver Flame has little power in she has helped Drago sway many from blind loyalty to Stormreach.

Three priests serve at the keep: Minis- the Wynarn line. The keep is a sanctuary for the faith- faiths with them. In addition to these traditional faiths, ful of the Flame, and the priests of the temple are Stormreach is home to many unusual religions. Close glad to work with traveling paladins or clerics. But contact with the sahuagin and the giants introduced they learned long ago that they lack the strength to new ideas into the old traditions of humanity, and fight the darkness within or below Stormreach, and religions suppressed in Khorvaire—such as the wor- they save their spells to protect those in true need ship of the Blood of Vol and the Dark Six—are practiced of sanctuary.

Opposition to the theocracy is only one of the However, a few faiths dominate the spiritual landscape heretical beliefs found in Stormreach. A number of Stormreach. These are discussed below. Although the values are similar to the shattered land. Even though the priests of the temple worship Stormreach—before the Stormreach Compact and the the Sovereigns, their faith is slightly different from arrival of House Jorasco—divine magic often meant the common tradition of the Five Nations; they follow the difference between life and death.

Luckily for the a path known as the Church of the Wyrm Ascendant. Once they defeated the ill-gotten gains. The tales say that these Sovereign Host. According to the rumors, this hoard treasures are protected by traps, dragon spirits, and includes two centuries of tithes combined with a vast terrible curses. But surely these are just rumors. The priests of the Wyrm Ascendant are Sakhesh is a cruel but charismatic man, and he has fascinated by dragons and seek to acquire artifacts and brought a considerable fortune to the temple coffers relics—magical and otherwise—related to dragons.

He was killed by a band of adven- One of the ways in which church doctrine differs from turers in YK, but the Jorasco healers were able to the faith of the Five Nations concerns the afterlife. Cael Duryn the Sovereigns and build a hoard can literally buy is the kindest of the priests, though he still believes their way into the heavens, joining the Sovereigns on in the doctrine that miracles have their price.

Tania a transcendent plane as heavenly dragons. Drake is young for a cleric but has displayed remark- able talent; she is ambitious and hopes to replace In practice, there is little difference between the Sakhesh as high priest once her powers have grown. She has their traditional names, and while they speak of ascen- conducted extensive research into the giant—dragon sion and depict their gods as dragons, little about the war, and she could be a valuable—if unscrupulous— faith is truly alarming; a warrior who has scant knowl- ally for adventurers.

Clerics use the tradi- The primary temple of the Sovereign Host is dedi- tional domains and favored weapons. One obvious dif- cated to the Wyrm Ascendant, but shrines to both the ference, however, is the greed of the priests. Graft and Sovereigns and the Dark Six are scattered throughout avarice are accepted values of the Wyrm Ascendant, Temple Row and across the city, in forms both tradi- since every dragon must have his hoard.

Provided tional and untraditional. He was once part of that human industry which maintained and inked the balance sheets, legal papers and bills of sale that confirmed the business of global empire. His nimble fingers now recorded the contracts, exchanges, loves and the cons of daily London living, into beautifully curled, ink-scripted proofs. After his dismissal, Sutton built a career as a minor-crime bishop, providing fee-for-service and loans to Whitechapel locals who found the language and rituals of business and law threatening and arcane.

Sutton was soon, unsurprisingly, professionally thick with gamers like Turwood and Gall. He knew how to manipulate their youthful bumptiousness. In the terms of his trade, Sutton was flash to every move on the board, the type of man even John Fitzwilliam might have gasped at in admiration. Sutton worked his knowledge of tax evasion into his street-sharp of posing as a tax-collection officer, offering a discount to publicans willing to advance-pay the duty on their six-weekly, liquor licence fee.

William Sutton could treat a street beggar like King George. The dull inevitability of bureaucratic procedure caught Sutton up. Excise work was strictly demarcated into role and responsibility. A check of current excise office personnel listed a Samuel Smith, who prepared the correct total for the daily certificates that would be distributed to collection officers. For an officer like Samuel Smith to sign or receipt a certificate would be a procedural rebellion close to anarchy.

The jury was advised that the charge of forgery should be understood first-and-foremost as a crime against the state. The group survived a Second Fleet voyage in which almost one in four convicts had died on route. Fraternity, history and now shared horror banded them more tightly as a group, which now, also included Robert Jones, the young watch stealer Sutton had saved from a rampaging London mob.

The remaining men had somehow stayed together in convict barracks long enough to organise and steal a government boat at Rose Hill, near Parramatta. With them was an ex- sailor, John Watson. After paddling the river undetected to Port Jackson harbour, they exchanged their punt for a small-masted sail boat. The destination was Tahiti. The blood rush of the escape was now a stomach-squeezing, nauseous seasickness when a southerly shook them up the following dawn. Watson tacked shakily until sail damage forced them into the safety of Port Stephens harbour, just north of Newcastle.

The Port Stephens natives rationalised the appearance of these translucent-skinned men as the ancestor spirits of dead countrymen, returned across the ocean horizon, from the other side of living. This preternatural arrival entitled the somewhat bewildered men to local laws and the renewed hospitality of kinship, which included one being shown his original cremation site.

William Sutton died soon after landing. The mast and sails were irreparable without European tools, while return to Sydney meant likely execution. It was late in , and after their lives of prison ritual and the experience aboard the transport Scarborough , the four Englishmen now existed as returned ghosts of dead loved ones.

In an obtuse but practical way, incarceration and the family way had prepared them well for this moment. They remained with the tribe almost five years. Five years could make a baby a child, a girl a woman, or see a nation fall. An ocean vessel could complete five circumnavigations of the globe. Five years was irrelevant to the timescale of their adopted world, which tuned itself to the annual migration and reappearance of certain creatures, or the arbitrary bushfires and floods.

Their lives were still co-ordinated by the law and customs or tribal wars, meetings, initiations. The idea that time might be ownerless was very familiar to the native translator Wild Man Wilson, who was trudging through the Port Stephens bush in , trying to keep his fellow colonists from shooting wildly at anything that moved. He was a bolter like John Fitzwilliam, but found unique purpose and reason to the bush.

He began reappearing in town cloaked in a kangaroo-skin that barely covered the native scarifications in his chest: this gnarled, honest barbarianism made a few NSW Corp officers seem as dandified as the King of Naples. During one expedition Wilson came across the remains of fifty odd dingo-chewed, calico-draped human skeletons, their rusting knifes locked in tentacled finger-bones. They might have been there for years, one of the early groups of bolters who expected China to be just beyond the mountains.

Wilson learned there was a reality to be found in listening to the bush, whether for hunting food or simply following the darting, zigzag projections of tiny finches seeking their daily water. It was this knowledge used on missions such as the , coastal survey expedition in the sloop Providence that made a quick storm stopover into Port Stephens harbour. A small landing party was not long in the bush when the surveyor Charles Grimes walked off alone and into a misconceived contact with local natives.

Rushing to the shouting Grimes, who could be heard above the noise of wind-torn trees, Wilson found him surrounded by group of speared up native men. They scattered after Wilson fired into the sky. Despite this, Hunter pardoned the four convicts and for a while they were treated as half-man, half-savage curiosities. Like John Wilson, they were used as native translators, but found the various Sydney dialects difficult and sometimes impossible to understand. Their new diet of salted pork and watered-rum bloated their stomachs and shrunk their spirits.

Watson and Chambers died from complications of the gut. It had been easier to swallow stolen, silver coins. Two years later in , John Turwood and George Lee were among the convict-pirates chased north by Lieutenant Shortland. Slavery would be abolished, but the citizen-mass would put the guidance and rules of the wealthy few before their own self-interest.

Such utopias seemed more possible after the wine and rum were finished, the brandy half-spilt and the madak all but smoked. The first colonial Governors were professional soldiers, but reluctant father-figures of an untested social experiment. Combat taught them belief in social systems based on obedience and discipline, where the group came before the individual and self-awareness was making a contribution to it. John Hunter thought the world was beyond any control in , when as a naval officer, he could barely articulate a smallpox-like epidemic decimating Port Jackson aborigines.

Putrefying bodies floated in the harbour and frightened families stole away to coastal cave-shelters to become grim feed for crabs and gulls. Everywhere people lay down to die. After a round voyage back to Britain, Hacking was back in Sydney Town within two years. For a crack marksman and first rate navigator like Hacking, a colonial tour combined official responsibilities with his joy of shooting and frontier exploring.

He was a discrete and loyal warrior, who thrived in awkward situations. A musketeer of the time could fire and reload three four to six times in a minute. With improved weapon design and relentless drill-training, four became the British Army standard. The Brown Bess, in the hands of someone like Hacking, became a natural extension of the body. Hacking boasted he knew of one or two port-whores who managed their pudenda with equal skill. Guns and pistols demanded daily cleaning: moisture in the works could result in a backfire explosion capable of burning skin layers off the face and hands.

The vessel had survived violent storms during its maiden voyage out, which had left much larger vessels in its fleet still at ports for long- term repair. While performing manoeuvres just north of Sydney, the brig came across a vessel smacking sail back from fishing at Hunters River. Three of its crew had been ambushed and kidnapped by natives, after which their dinghy was ransacked and set alight.

The Lady Nelson entered Hunters River two days later, following a dirty smoke trail to its charred, smouldering source on a white-gold stretch of shoreline in the estuary. Even basic gesturing and finger pointing at trees, hearts, the ocean and the sky meant a little less than nothing. Wary about the natives trying to coerce his group into the bush, Hacking produced a loud, threatening pidgin, peppered with any southern insults and profanities he could remember.

Their boat had been burned so they would have to walk home. The blankets and the sail were non-refundable compensation. The two groups nervously faced each other while residual dinghy smoke continued to spiral up, before dissolving away in the sunlight. When the natives speared-up, about to throw, Hacking calmly fired off three shots. The natives quickly dragged their injured boys into the bush. Sharp, well heated sticks were later needed to remove the hard stones that burned into their flesh. Despite this, the natives were impressed with the way the chief gubba had purposely aimed his weapon at their legs and arms.

A belated search could not find any trace of the fisherman and the Lady Nelson pulled anchor for Port Jackson. They were regarded as lost, most likely murdered. The Hunter River natives, like their cousins south of Sydney Town, had gained a reputation as scrappers. In , Henry Hacking was twice charged and pardoned over grog- induced incidents, one involving the shooting and wounding of a woman. In he and an accomplice were caught stealing naval stores to sell on for a quantity of rum. Drinking was a release from his clandestine duties and also a distraction from the boredom between assignments.

A third drunken assault on a woman was ignored. It was a problem that disappeared when their dependable henchman was returned to the wilderness. Looking along the barrel of a Brown Bess reduces the world to a vanishing point. For Hacking, this space cleared and sharpened his rum-stained, dead calm eyes. He accepted the hundred yards in front of him for what it was. The grog finally soaked him into a shipwreck of a man with the reflexes of a slug.

He was pensioned off to Hobart, an infirm street-drunk whose fractured stories were laughed off as fantasy. And if any of our subjects shall wantonly destroy them, or give them unnecessary interruption in the exercise of their several occupations, it is our will and pleasure that you do cause such offenders to be brought to 20 punishment according to the degree of the offence. The three missing fishermen from Hunters River turned up in Sydney tired and smoke-grubby, but alert and with full bellies.

A dwarf planet was found floating in the outer solar system and named Ceres after the Roman goddess of harvests, plants and maternal love. The Swiss educator, Johan Pestalozzi, proposed that by educating women, society educates its communities. The sentinel island off Newcastle was often referred to as Coal Island until the name Nobbys was formally adopted. Irregular visits to the river were returning with high quality samples of fustic, timber and coal. Despite the rough and difficult entrance, its estuary and natural harbour made it a regular stop-over and storm haven for government and commercial vessels, as well as ubiquitous pirate- convicts.

An armed cutter hunted the ex- longboat to Hunters River only to find it broken and bilged on the northern entrance sandbar. Nine men were recaptured and returned to Sydney. Two of those were executed, while seven others were sent to secondary punishment on Norfolk Island. The constant hunt and chase over these predominantly futile escapades continued to cost the government time, assets and manpower.

Some blamed colonial pirating on the recently deceased writer James Boswell and his support of Mary Bryant during the London trial that followed her fantastic escape from the colony in JUNE I n his second year back in the colony, the recently gazetted Lieutenant-Colonel William Paterson was given a place on the naval and scientific expeditionary survey to Hunters River.

The keen botanist and close friend of Joseph Banks had very reluctantly returned to the colony. His reports to England now complained about the Governor, the liquor currency, the threat of Irish insurrection and the cost of living. The Hunters River expedition not only removed Paterson from a mess partially of his own making, but also the suspicion and mewling his current orders had sparked among the Sydney militia and their business partners.

The Anna Josepha was an ex-Spanish war prize converted for trading. A few months before the Hunter River survey sailed in, she was sitting it out with her cargo of Newcastle coal and timber, waiting on the outgoing tide, when a school of dolphins came through chasing salmon. The crew took to dinghies, driving both hunted and hunter into the shallows, where men waited with hooks, harpoons and muskets. One dolphin had its fin roped to pull a dinghy of men along till it slowed, exhausted, and was shot and then rolled over next to thirty other carcasses being filleted for their thick blubber, an ingredient for making excellent soap.

The team included the surgeon John Harris, an apolitical colleague Paterson had first befriended on Norfolk Island years before, and the surveyor Ensign Francis Barrallier. For Paterson the expedition was a private heaven of recording and cataloguing. His weekly reports to Governor King betray the closest he would allow to a public display of feeling. For Paterson, the world was generally a Linnaean space awaiting the next uncatalogued flower or insect. Base camp was established behind the peninsula cliffs. This dispersed into sub-groups as the survey explored up river, where the dinghy creaked and a dipped oar was barely heard as it pushed through the honey-clear water.

Far from the ocean boom, the quiet fizz and click of persistent insects might as well have been called silence, punctuated only by an occasional sound from the new glossary of bird noise. T he straight made, little old man23 was standing enigmatically on the bank when Barrallier glided around an unmarked bend of the lower river. Back at the camp, he grunted monosyllabically through limited teeth24 before imitating camp members like the quickest magpie.

He allowed his beard to be shaved with a sharp razor that was slid across and down his neck: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen. After eating and song they all slept around the fire. As a gesture of thanks he rattled high up a tree to chop a branch down, showing he understood what the tool did.

He was returned to his riverbank and the day continued on. There was little further contact between the expedition and locals. Paterson assumed it was natural shyness or the issue of runaway convicts in the area, rather than the constant musket fire of the survey collecting specimens and food.

John Harris was more definite in suggesting I am afraid they have been badly used by the white people some time since. Loft claimed one of his fellow escapees died after eating toadfish, while the second was killed by native spears. He had no explanation why he survived this attack, totally unharmed. He followed the beach south, nourished by scant rations and recognisable shellfish, ignoring coloured seeds that suggested itself as food. The slog of paddling around the nearby estuary islands at low tide had completely exhausted him.

Loft endured by imagining what his death would be like. They understood bolting was similar to exploration: a return journey from what was once nowhere. On hearing the name of that vessel, even Paterson shuddered before grunting a mild sympathy for the wretch. Into a tree the letters W.

B were carved. Beyond a rudimentary landmark, it betrayed a gang of boys at play. The mean-faced, gilded-prince of the colony haunted and harassed Paterson throughout his two colonial stays. The easy, good- natured, thoughtless man27 died on the voyage home, appropriately perhaps, between worlds. British colonisation worked pragmatically according to circumstances, but where possible, it replaced the vacuum with its own imported language, law, coin or religion. While they were now protected by laws they had never heard of, they could not witness or represent themselves in those courts.

They inhabited the land they lived on without owning it. Like John Fitzwilliam, they were doubly discarded. Men like Hacking, Shortland, Turwood, Wilson and even John Loft might have been mistaken at one time as lost ancestors or spirits, wind driven over water on white canvas wings, but a spear downed them like any wallaby. They farted, shitted, pissed, humped and ate like any other breathing creature. The natives watched the survey team shoot creatures to examine them. They sang and laughed and shouted and cursed. The sound from their mouths produced music of sorts, but it spent far too long saying something.

The roaring of the waves, crashing one upon the other and breaking with a terrible noise on the steep rocks of the island, and raging as they roll onto the sands of the opposite shore, would make the most intrepid sailor tremble. Barrallier was piloting the Francis, responsible for shuttling regular supplies, people and dispatches between the survey team and Sydney. The accumulating reports convinced King to stake out and extend the three month old camp: a retinue of supplies and men would remain behind to assist in the formation of a hard labour outstation, based around mining.

A July supply run brought with it one miner, a dozen male and female convicts and eight privates, selected personally by Corporal John Wixtead, who Paterson had levied for the new command. The survey team left a comfortable hut, tents, a small boat, arms, ammunition, tools and the miner John Platt, who had skilfully worked at seams without carpenters, blacksmiths or even a wheelbarrow. Platt was a modern engineer using medieval technology.

The entrance was a hole in the cliff-face which tunnelled horizontally until it fingered into another tight complex of seams, all running in and under the headland, barely lit by small candles. The coal was excellent quality, reckoned clear and transparent, mostly free from earth and smut. Pork-scented gruel was somehow appropriate for the days of dog-arsed labour.

When the only fishing net busted, an imitation native trap-pool was created, which worked more by chance than design. The mutual respect and enthusiasm of the survey expedition was soon replaced with male ear- wigging: convict and galoot united against the placid Wixstead, who, they had decided, was misallocating the rum and food ration.

Winter seeped under tents and blankets at night, sharp as any London slum-house, before days and days of angry rain, which stiffened muscles and dulled conversation. Some of the convict labouring involved chopping fustic trees that lined the harbourside banks. Its shaved or hearted wood produced a dazzling, gaudy-yellow dye which seemed an appropriate warning sign for the waspish machinations that had started to insinuate throughout the camp. Journeys to the edge are also about collective endurance. The camp was his first command. Daily life at the outstation took on an irreversible, malicious edge.

Any promise of sex was lubricated nightly by drink. The men shared drink and tobacco rations with the women. Nightly expectation became a self-pitying loneliness for some. This seemed to be justified when they were off to another day chopping logs or digging in the claustrophobic zigzag of hothouse tunnels, without enough room to swing your dick. As a military matter, Barrallier conducted a makeshift court of enquiry. Mason, a recently approved civilian magistrate, observed.

Wixstead was found guilty of imprudence, but not the more serious charge of converting government spirits for his own use. He would retain his rank but be replaced as Commandant by Doctor Mason. They tell of an accomplished leader who transformed a dysfunctional camp into a working mine within days of taking command. Spring was unfolding and Mason had diversified work between mine and fustic collection, scientifically taking weather and the time of day into account.

Up to three tons of quality coal was now dug by shift, filling measured baskets that were dragged across the sand to dinghies, and then rowed out to vessels anchored in the harbour. The movement of individuals and resources between water and land, convict and soldier, sailor and female, was strictly regulated if not always enforceable. Wixstead ran a five-day working week that Mason extended to seven, with additional penalties for what the new commandant considered slacking. The small population was soon operating on starvation rations and a raw, new resentment.

The soldiers and prisoners who originally jacketed Wixstead had duped themselves. Doctor Martin Mason had Northern dreams. Given just a couple more competent miners, a blacksmith and some reliable tools, he would give Governor King and the Empire a profitable prison mine. He begged the Governor to transfer Platt permanently as mine supervisor while humiliating the man in letters as a weak-thinking, semi-barbarian.

He asked for hardier cattle; successful hewing and heaving was not for the locust-thin, city bred bodies now at his disposal. What mattered was that mining cheated nature and allowed men to work free of clocks and sunlight. Mason was a competent physician but never understood human beings. King then received a letter from Mason describing how he had calmly taken on two maniacal and mutinous nd soldiers; holding one down while simultaneously taking a loaded pistol from the other.

Young Cole was an odd fit for an outstation stores officer. Mason was shocked, but abrupt or seemingly contrary decisions were normal in an itinerant and reactive organism like the military. The outstation and the supposed mutiny were, for the time being, forgotten. The abandoned camp regressed into a ramshackle, occasional stopover for small, independent trading ships paying Government duty to fish, mine and log cedar. John Platt remained on in his labyrinth, praising coal more flexible and rich than Leith Black.

His Newcastle command was forgotten until ten years later, when, living back in England, he was called to give evidence before the Court Martial of those accused of the insurrection and removal of Governor William Bligh. In his witness memorial, Mason detailed the mistreatments he suffered as a so-called Bligh supporter, including a false arrest after soldiers raided his home over an unlicensed still, which was standard equipment for any medical man.

He rejected the implied criticisms of his command of Newcastle, which was now referred to as a township. Mason was prepared: the woman, he defiantly noted, had been charged with a misdemeanour. Any subsequent irregularities were proved to be the gossip of ex-criminals. Mason left the witness chair and a few pointed moments were just as quickly returned to the forgotten past.

Irish humiliation, kept as a collective memory in song, stirred the dust of early Sydney streets. They were songs born of death, anger, revenge and complete bewilderment. Their sad and boisterous lyrics were grog-pumped and fractious. They could make defeat seem uplifting. The tunes might have irritated Hunter and King, but as men of war they both respected the core of honest bravery belying their tin whistle melodies. One or two songs chronicled the use of grapeshot by English artillery on fleeing women and children, firstly at Vinegar Hill, and then at nearby Enniscorthy.

A hospital filled with the injured was later set alight. Incinerated human bodies popped and hissed in the burnt remains well into the following day. There are things that should never be forgotten, if only because re-saying them might be all there is left. Ringleaders were sent to the Norfolk Island outstation, where they could sing and conspire to the gale whipped, metronomic pines. Executions just seemed to encourage them.

It required a firm signature on a contract and a steady head when the grape-shot exploded. The Irish and the French had proved there was no civilisation in revolution. If he constantly scanned overseas dispatches for colonial unrest and trouble, Portland and his privy counsellors knew the most dangerous group of all was the English people. What stung the Irish about the English attitude was its fundamental dishonesty.

Instead of calling conquest an invasion, they disdainfully and haughtily believed the accession of Ireland was morally correct and civilising. The Irish recognised in this a pampered child, who only glimpses right or wrong for what they can get out of it. On the evening of the 15 May , the audience was especially excited as it rose and faced George and his son Prince Frederick, resplendently real in their Royal Box.

He raised and aimed it at the King before calmly firing off a shot-and-ball load. It missed the royal target by 14 to 18 inches, though reports varied on the distance and the importance of this fact. Six years before that wild evening, James Hadfield was laid out on the battlefield of Tourcoing in French Flanders. A French sabre had slashed an awful cut along his cheek before cracking a hole in his skull. His disposition mimicked Britain at the time: mad like its monarch and war weary like its citizenry.

Lord Portland and the privies knew a fractious public required something more real and fanciful than public executions to distract it from the hard times. Treason was topical and fitted like a well repaired wheel spoke, but for the public to adopt it, Measures for Preserving Tranquillity needed something oppositional. The reality was hot air and confused shouting amidst colliding metal and projectile gun and cannon fire. Smoke is everywhere, thick as tobacco in the eyes, the mouth and up the nose.

Veterans tell a repeated story of an unearthly, orchestrated noise that sometimes penetrates the medley of gunshot, cannon fire and death- screams. It continues until the fighting stops. It is enigmatic and sourceless. Some call it a divine protection from madness, while others consider it the temporary muffling of hell. Wellington once said that the next worse thing to losing a battle is winning it. Back in London and head-fucked in mayhem, James Hadfield found his own tranquillity in the millenarianism of apocalyptic eschatology, as articulated by radical London street-prophets like Richard Brothers, who claimed, among other things, that God had commanded him to assume the throne of England.

James Hadfield passively surrendered to Prince Frederick in the post theatre confusion. The Duke of York recognised the green, Light Dragoons waistcoat and also the twenty eight year old Chelsea pensioner as a veteran from his troop. Hadfield felt suddenly at peace. After being responsible for some early military debacles, the Duke developed into a respected army commander whose modernisation of the British army included officer commissions based on merit rather than class, wealth or birthright. The changing sophistication of war required more than the legend of a brave, aristocratic, ancestor.

The discovery and possession of this mysterious letter was interpreted as an example of strong government, alert to any threats against the Fountain of Mercy. When not saving the world, Truelock was an excellent shoemaker: cool, steady and deliberate in all his actions, cleanly in his person and regular and decent in his apartment. Like Truelock he was mad but scrupulous. He would never use his weapon unless dressed in uniform. His execution would trigger the second coming of God allowing James Hadfield to save the world and also his own tortured soul.

Hadfield was tried for treason, not attempted murder. Thomas Ervine would prove the poor man was mad, but specifically, common-law precedent mad. The fact that his illness resulted from the defence of his country made this all the more saddening and untreasonable. Except for one subsequent escape, James Hatfield lived out his asylum days keeping birds and cats, while writing Byronic poems which he bartered for tobacco.

His motive was to convert the King to Catholicism. Ravaillac unsuccessfully pleaded insanity and his body was torn apart. Will ye march with O'Neill to an Irish battle field? One upstart organiser, Joseph Holt, was sent to Norfolk Island, while another select group were chain-marched to Sydney harbour to board one of three vessels bound for the Hunter River, or, to give it its new official name, The Settlement of Newcastle.

Fitzgerald withstood three hundred lashes before being dragged onto a waiting cart. The final hundred were delivered across his calves. Witnesses recalled how the baking wind picked up and sprayed bloody, ripped, flesh over spectators shading themselves under nearby trees on the Government Farm. British law required surgeons and physicians to attend floggings and halt them if they became excessive or life threatening. He was noticed throughout the punishment consulting with his spiritual advisor and fellow magistrate, Samuel Marsden.

The magistrate had gallantly left an unfinished meal, and, with four females in tow, moved faster than a plague rat down to his Parramatta River boat wharf. Religious faith was a simple concept for Marsden that required little debate. Irish Catholicism was its antithesis The number of Catholic Convicts is very great As they never appear to reflect upon Consequences; but to be No confidence whatever can be placed in them If Catholicism were tolerated they would assemble together from every Quarter, not so much from a desire of celebrating Mass, as to recite the Miseries and Injustice of their Banishment, the Hardships they suffer, and to enflame one another's Minds with some wild Scheme of Revenge.

Supervising them was a small garrison of the NSW Corps, along with a surgeon, a natural history painter, a store keeper, a convict overseer and a botanist, all under the command of a twenty-one year old marine officer, Lt Charles Menzies. Witnesses spoke of an incredible rumbling noise and light show as it speared, tail-flaming, at the ground.

Scientists, not priests, were asked by newspapers to explain the phenomenon. The Castle Hill uprising created a major logistical distraction in a world of finite, material possibilities. The colony was no place to horde dreams: an achievement in one area meant something else had to be left behind or forgotten. Beyond the casual, natural beauty of the sweetly rolling hills surrounding the Newcastle settlement, there was, authorities predicted, a sufficiently frightening wilderness to dissuade most would-be runners.

The winter sun loosened their bodies after a forty hour voyage from Port Jackson. Some might have looked to the dusk sky expecting the lost stars of eternity to finally appear, so far away did it feel. The Molech bible story tells of adults banging drums to drown out the screams of their sacrificed children being burnt alive under the ground. While not his kindred, Marsden was happy enough to sacrifice a few ignorant and savage Catholics down the mines of Newcastle.

Marsden did not mention that the same Book of Leviticus commands priests to love all aliens residing with you as you would yourself. It takes only a few shifts for lungs to be heavy with coal dust. Then there is mine-hole blackness, which is overwhelming, especially where it involves unstable floors, or dragging the body along tight crawl spaces, arse-to-head with your fellow man, expecting the crumbling roof might, at any moment, collapse and bury you.

An axe spark or a candle flame could also ignite dampf gases down a tunnel wind and become an incinerating, projectile fireball. It would take a polymath like Henry Cavendish to experimentally reveal that this terror was not caused by different types of air, but different elements within the air itself. Men like Platt imagined a vertical future where miners would dig standing upright, free from explosive dampf, while the interminable water might be sucked away by the gas-hammer of a surface level, Leviathan pump.

Henry Cavendish was wealthy, snobbish and misanthropic. He was also awkwardly shy and mentally unstable in public. He had already calculated that the world weighed approximately 13,,,,,,, pounds, but Cavendish was dismissive of scientists who called themselves discoverers. Experimentation merely illustrated what nature had always been doing. Like Molech, some belligerently stole children, while others revenged lost lovers, desecrated the land or broke promises because they could. The stories triangulated metaphysically down the valley, co-ordinating at Nobbys Island, where each year, young men paddled ridiculously threadbare canoes across surging waters to climb its crumbling walls for nest eggs.

S omewhere in the western Newcastle hills — during the creation time — a rogue kangaroo jumped from the bush and raped an unsuspecting wallaby. This broke one of the laws holding the world together so a posse chased the kangaroo to the coast. He was last sighted pawing desperately in the ocean off Nobbys, before disappearing under the cover of a thick sea mist. He was left as drowned and forgotten until a thumping, louder than the crashing surf, began vibrating along the ground and up through the valley.

Nowthat would be something. His brother came out of the house and rattled down the wooden ramp leading to the dock. He was holding a piece of ice on his neck. All those bees could see was your skinny butt running away. I was right there. And far beyond, the blue outline of Ragged Island, appearing and disappearing in the stubborn mist that refused to lift even on this beautifulmidsummer day. Beyond the islands, the open ocean was, as his father often said, as calm as a millpond. Languidly, he tossed a rock into the water and watched the spreading ripples without interest.

He almost regretted not going into town with his parents. At least it would be something to do. He wished he could be anywhere else in the world—Boston, New York—anywhere but Maine. Johnny nodded solemnly. Before you were born. As if Johnny would remember anything that had happened when he was less than two years old. But saying so out loud would be to risk a swift punch in the arm. Malin's eye fell on the small outboard tied at the end of the dock.

And he suddenly had an idea. A really good idea. They won't be back until three, maybe four. Who's gonna know? Then, recklessly, he added, "Who'schicken now? His eyes were on the boat. Despite their solitude, Malin lowered his voice further. Johnny was interested. Malin kept quiet, letting the monotonous morning solitude do his persuading for him. Abruptly, Johnny stood up and strode to the end of the dock. Malin waited, an anticipatory Page 8 thrill coursing through him.

When his brother returned, he was holding a life preserver in each hand. He wondered why they hadn't thought of doing this before. Neither boy had ever been to Ragged Island. Malin didn't know any kids in the town of Stormhaven who ever had, either. It would make a great story to tell their friends. The engine coughed, then fell silent. Johnny yanked again, then again. Ragged Island was six miles offshore, but Malin figured they could make it in a half hour on such a smooth sea. It was close to high tide, when the strong currents that swept the island dropped down to nothing before reversing.

Johnnyrested, his face red, and then turned again for a heroic yank. The engine sputtered into life. As soon as the rope was uncleated, Johnny shoved the throttle all the way forward, and the tinny little eighteen-horsepower engine whined with exertion. The boat surged from the dock and headed out past Breed's Point into the bay, wind and spray stinging Malin's face delightfully.

The boat sent back a creamy wake as it sliced through the ocean. There had been a massive storm the week before, but as usual it seemed to have settled the surface, and the water was glassy. Now Old Hump appeared to starboard, a low naked dome ofgranite, streaked with seagull lime and fringed with dark seaweed.

As they buzzed through the channel, countless seagulls, drowsing one-legged on the rock, raised their heads and stared at the boat with bright yellow eyes. A single pair rose into the sky,then wheeled past, crying a lost cry. Their dad hated the place and never talked about it. Schoolyard legend held that countless people had been killed there digging for treasure; that the place was cursed; that it harbored ghosts.

There were so many pits and shafts dug over the years that the island's innards were completely rotten, ready to swallow the unwary visitor. He'd even heard about the Curse Stone. It had been found in the Pit many years before, and now it was supposedly kept in a special room deep in the church basement, locked up tight because it was the work of the devil.


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Johnny once told him that when kids were really bad in SundaySchool , they were shut up in the crypt with the Curse Stone. He felt another shiver of excitement. The island lay dead ahead now, wreathed in clinging tatters of mist. In winter, or on rainy days, the mist turned to a suffocating, pea-soup fog. On this bright summer day, it was more like translucent cotton candy. Johnny had tried to explain the local rip currents that caused it, but Malin hadn't understood and was pretty sure Johnny didn't, either.

The mist approached the boat's prow and suddenly they were in a strange twilit world, the Page 9 motor muffled. Almost unconsciously, Johnny slowed down. Then they were through the thickest of it and ahead Malin could see the Ragged Island ledges, their cruel seaweed-covered flanks softened by the mist. They brought the skiff through a low spot in the ledges. As the sea-level mist cleared, Malin could see the greenish tops of jagged underwater rocks, covered with waving seaweed; the kind of rocks so feared by lobstermen at low tide or in heavy fog.

But now the tide was high, and the little motorboat slid past effortlessly. After an argument about who was to get his feet wet, they grounded on the cobbled shore. Malin jumped out with the painter and pulled the boat up, feeling the water squish in his sneakers. Johnny stepped out onto dry land. Just up from the stony beach, the sawgrass and chokecherry bushes began. The scene was lit by an eerie silver light, filtered through the ceiling of mist that still hung above their heads. A huge iron boiler, at least ten feet high, rose above the nearby grass, covered with massive rivets and rusted a deep orange.

There was a split down one side, ragged and petalled.

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Its upper half was cloaked by the low-lying mists. Malin knew that fishermen passing through the Ragged Island Channel called these rocks the Whalebacks. He scrambled up the closest of the Whalebacks and stood high, trying to see over the bluffs into the island. Malin followed, feeling aggrieved. It was his idea to come out here, but Johnny always took over. Coming to the island was his idea. He should have been the one to find it. And I bet it's from a man. Or a pirate, maybe. I'm gonna take it home and keep it under my bed.

Page 10 Johnny handed him the bone. It felt surprisingly heavy and cold, and it smelled bad. They poked among the rocks, finding nothing but a dead dogfish with goggle eyes. As they rounded the point, a wrecked barge came into view, left from some long-forgotten salvage operation. It was grounded at the high-tide mark, twisted and pounded onto the rocks, buffeted by decades of storms.

He scrambled out onthe heaved , buckled deck.

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All around it lay rusted pieces of metal, pipes, busted gears, and nasty snarls of cable and wire. Malin began looking through the old junk, keeping an eye out for the gleam of a pirate doubloon. He figured that the pirate, Red Ned Ockham, was so rich he'd probably dropped a whole lot of doubloons around the island. Red Ned, who'd supposedly buried millions and millions in gold on the island, along with a jeweled weapon called St. Michael's Sword, so powerful it could kill any man who even looked at it. They said Red Ned had once cut a man's ears off and used them to make a bet in a dice game.

A sixth-grade girl named Cindy told him it was really the man's balls that Red Ned cut off, but Malin didn't believe her. Another time Red Ned got drunk and cut a man open, then threw him overboard and towed him by his guts until the sharks ate him. The kids at school had a lot of stories about Red Ned. Tiring of the barge, Johnny motioned for Malin to follow him along the rocks that lay scattered at the bottom of the bluffs on the windward side of the island. Above them, a high dirt embankment rose against the sky, roots of long-dead spruce trees poking horizontally from the soil like gnarled fingers.

The top of the embankment was lost in the clinging mists. Some of the bluffs were caved in and collapsing, victims of the storms that slammed into the island every fall. It was chilly in the shadow of the bluffs, and Malin hurried on. Johnny, excited now by his finds, was bounding ahead, heedless of his own warnings, whooping and waving the bone. Malin knew his mother would throw the old bone into the ocean as soon as she found it. Johnny stopped briefly to poke among stuff that had washed up on shore: old lobster buoys, busted-up traps, pieces of weathered planking.

Then he moved toward a fresh gash farther up the bluffs. A bank had recently caved in, spilling dirt and boulders across the rocky shore. He leaped easily over the boulders,then disappeared from view. Malin moved more quickly now. He didn't like having Johnny out of sight. There was a stirring in the air: it had been a sunny day before they disappeared into the Ragged Island mist, but anything could be happening out there now.

The breeze felt cold, as if weather was coming on, and the sea was beginning to break hard over the Ragged Island ledges. The tide would be close to turning. Maybe they'd better start back. There was a sudden, sharp cry, and for a terrible moment Malin feared Johnny had hurt himself on the slippery rocks. But then the cry came again—an urgent summons—and Malin scrambled forward, clambering over the fallen rocks and around a bend in the shoreline.

Before him, a huge granite boulder lay at a crazy angle, freshly dislodged from the bank by a recent storm. On its far side stood Johnny, pointing, a look of wide-eyed wonderment on his face. At first, Malin couldn't say a word. The movement of the boulder had exposed the opening of a Page 11 tunnel at the foot of the bank, with just enough room to squeeze behind.

A clammy stream of stale air eddied from the tunnel mouth. Take a look, Malin! AndI brought the matches. Deep down, he'd believed his father when he said there never was any treasure on Ragged Island. But now, he wasn't so sure. Was it possible his dad could be wrong? Then he leaned back quickly, nose wrinkling against the stale smell of the tunnel.

The mouth of the tunnel looked very dark. And you'dbetter not get lost. Malin knelt also,then hesitated. The ground was hard and cold beneath him. But Johnny was already disappearing from sight, and Malin didn't want to be left on the lonely, fogbound shore. He squirmed through the opening after his brother.

There was the snap of a match, and Malin sucked in his breath unconsciously as he rose to his feet. He was in a small antechamber, the roof and walls held up by ancient timbers. Ahead, a narrow tunnel led into blackness. Then he did something even more surprising: He turned and shook Malin's hand with a childlike formality.

The match died as they took another step forward. Johnny paused and Malin heard the scratch of another match, followed by a flare of feeble light. He could see his brother's Red Sox cap haloed in the flickering flame. A sudden stream of dirt and pebbles rattled down through the timbers, bouncing across the stone floor.

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You'll cave the whole thing in. Page 12 They went forward along a downward incline,then Johnny cried out and jerked his hand. The light went out, plunging them into darkness. There was another scratching sound and the match flared. I got at least forty matches in here. And look—" He dug into his pocket, then turned toward Malin, a big paper clip held between his fingers. He stuck the lit match into one end.

No more burned fingers. Suddenly, he heard a hideous sound, a hollow groan that seemed to erupt from the heart of the island and fill the narrow chamber. The sound sputtered away into a deep sigh as another trickle of dirt fell from the timbers overhead. Johnny shrugged his arm away. It's just the tide turning. It always makes that noise in the Water Pit. Keep your voice down, I said.

Malin bit his lip tokeep it from trembling. A few matches later, the tunnel turned at a shallow angle and began sloping downward more steeply, its walls shorter and rougher. Johnny held his match toward the passage. We'll tell Dadafter we get the treasure. Malin could see that this passage wasn't more than four feet high. Cracked boulders supported the wormy timbers of the roof.

The smell of mold was even stronger here, mingled with seaweed and a hint of something worse. He paused, and for a hopeful instant Malin thought they were turning back. Then Johnny straightened one end of the paperclip and stuck it between his teeth. The wavering shadows thrown by the match gave his face a ghoulish, hollow look. That did it. He'll save a whole two dollars a week on allowance.

Johnny turned in the narrow space and placed a hand on Malin's head. Sobe a pal, okay, Mal? He got onto his hands and knees and followed Johnny down the sloping tunnel. Pebbles and grit from the tunnel floor dug into the palms of his hands. Johnny seemed to be lighting a whole lot of matches, and Malin had almost screwed up the courage to ask how many were left, when his older brother halted abruptly. Malin tried to see around his brother, but the tunnel was too narrow.

There it was: a row of thick planks, with two old metal hinges set into the frame of the tunnel. Large slabs of dressed stone formed the walls to either side. Damp and mold lay over everything. The edges of the door had been caulked with what looked like oakum. Lying across the front of the door was a fancy embossed seal made of wax and paper, stamped with a coat of arms. Even through the dust, Johnny could see that the seal was unbroken. They really had found the treasure. And it had been his idea.

Johnny grasped the ancient iron handle and gave an exploratory tug. There was a sharp creak of protesting hinges. All we have to do is break this seal. And move back a little, willya? We can get out in the dark, I swear we can. Only four more, he thought as Johnny muttered impatiently. The next match sprang to life and Johnny placed both hands on the iron handle. Page 14 Malin opened his mouth to protest, but Johnny was already tugging at the door. The seal parted abruptly, and the door opened with a shriek that made Malin jump. A puff of foul air blew out the match. In the close darkness, Malin heard Johnny's sharp intake of breath.

Then Johnny screamed"Ouch! Malin heard a thump, and the floor of the tunnel shivered violently. As dirt and sand rained down in the darkness, filling his eyes and nose, he thought he heard another sound: a strange, strangled sound, so brief that it might almost have been a cough.

Then a wheezing, dripping noise like a wet sponge being squeezed. It was so very dark, and things had gone wrong so suddenly, and panic began to overwhelm him. In the close, listening darknesscame another noise, low and muffled. It took Malin a moment to realize what it was: a soft, continuousdragging. Then the spell was broken and he was fumbling in the dark on his hands and knees, hands outstretched, searching for the matches, bawling his brother's name. One hand touched something wet and he snatched it away just as the other hand closed on the matchbox. Rising to his knees, choking back sobs, he grabbed a match and scratched it frantically until it flared.

In the sudden light he looked around wildly. Johnny was gone. The door was open, the seal broken—but beyond lay nothing except a blank stone wall. Dust hung thickly in the air. Then wetness touched his legs and he looked down. In the spot where Johnny had stood there was a large, black pool of water, crawling slowly around his knees. For a crazy moment, Malin thought maybe there was a breach in the tunnel somewhere and seawater was leaking in. Then he realized the pool was steaming slightly in the flicker of the match.

Straining forward, he saw that it was not black but red: blood, more blood than he ever imagined a body could hold. Paralyzed, he watched as the glossy pool spread, running in tendrils across the hollows of the floor, draining into the cracks, creeping into his wet Keds, surrounding him like a crimson octopus, until the match dropped into it with a sharp hiss and darkness descended once again.

Chapter 2 Cambridge, Massachusetts Present Day The small laboratory looked out from the Mount Auburn Hospital annex across the leafy tops of the maple trees to the slow, sullen waters of the Charles River. A rower in a needlelike shell was cutting through the dark water with powerful strokes, peeling back a glittering wake.

Malin Hatch watched, momentarily entranced by the perfect synchronicity of body, boat, and water. Hatch turned from the window, reverie broken, suppressing a surge of irritation at his well-meaning assistant. In his usual nervous way, Bruce opened the incubator and removed a large tray of agar plates, bacterial colonies growing like glossy pennies in their centers. These were relatively harmless Page 15 bacteria—they didn't need special precautions beyond the usual sterile procedures—but Hatch watched with alarm as the assistant swung the rattling tray around, bumping it on the autoclave.

Hatch gave the tray a practiced sweep with his eyes. Rows two and three showed good growth, rows one and four were variable, and row five was sterile. In an instant he realized the experiment would be a success. Everything was working out as hypothesized; in a month he'd have published another impressive paper in theNew England Journal of Medicine, and everyone would be talking yet again about what a rising star he was in the department.

The prospect filled him with a huge feeling of emptiness. Absently, he swiveled a magnifying lens over to make a gross examination of the colonies. He'd done this so often that he could identify the strains just by looking at them, by comparing their surface textures and growth patterns. After a few moments he turned toward his desk, pushed aside a computer keyboard, and began jotting notes into his lab notebook. The intercom chimed. Bruce jumped up, sending his notebook clattering to the floor.

A minute later he returned. Hatch straightened up his large frame. Visitors to the lab were rare. Like most doctors, he kept his lab location and telephone number under wraps to all but a select few. Winslow's on call today. Hatch's gaze drifted once again toward the window. The afternoon light was streaming in, sending a shower of gold through the test tubes and lab apparatus.

With an effort, he forced his concentration back to his notes. Probably a researcher from the hospital, he thought. He took a deep breath. Show him in. Malin looked up to see a spare figure gazing at him from the far side of the doorframe. The setting sun was striking the man full force, modeling the sunburnt skin drawn tight across a handsome face, refracting light deep within a pair of gray eyes. Couldn't spend much time in a lab or the OR with a tan like that,Hatch thought to himself.

Must Page 16 be a specialist, getting in a lot of golf time. Neidelman," he said. Simply by the way he stepped through the door, head bent, hand on the upper frame, it was clear the man had spent time at sea. Hatch guessed he was not old—perhaps forty-five—but he had the narrow eyes and roughened skin of a sailor.

There was something different about him— something almost otherworldly, an air of ascetic intensity—that Hatch found intriguing. Hatch introduced himself as his visitor stepped forward and offered his hand. The hand was dry and light, the handshake short and to the point. Bruce spoke up again. They shouldn't be left out too long in—" "Why don't you put them back in the refrigerator? They won't be growing legs for at least a few billion more years. He made a quick decision. I'll put you down for five. Just don't tell Professor Alvarez.

He was so thin he would have seemed spectral, were it not for the intensity of calm assurance he radiated. Hatch looked at the man's back, mildly surprised that he felt unoffended by the interruption. He thought of asking the man his business but decided against it. Somehow, he knew Neidelman had not come on a trivial matter. The Captain smiled and withdrew from the window. May I ask a few minutes of your indulgence?

I'm about finished for the day here, and this important experiment I've been working on"—he waved his hand vaguely in the direction of the incubator—"is, how shall I put it? The man smiled.

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It wasn't nearly as exciting as it seems. Life on Memorial Drive seems rather tepid by comparison. There was some kind of insignia embossed into the leather that he couldn't quite make out. Except Stormhaven, Maine. He felt a numbness begin in his fingers and move up his arms. Suddenly it all made sense: the roundabout questions, the seafaring background, the intense look in the man's eyes. Neidelman stood very still, his eyes steady on Hatch, saying nothing. Does this, by any freak of chance, have to do with Ragged Island? Am I right? Recovery specialist. Sort of like 'sanitary engineer.

And let me guess: Now, you're about to tell me that you, and only you,hold the secret to the Water Pit. Or Page 18 perhaps you've enlisted the help of Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyant? Dowsers, psychics, oil barons, engineers, everybody with a foolproof scheme. I know about the tragedies that befell your family after your grandfather bought the island.

But his heart was in the right place. Thereis a vast treasure down there. I know it. They all do. But if you think you're the reincarnation of Red Ned himself, it's only fair to warn you that I've heard from several others who already claim that distinction.

Or perhaps you purchased one of those old-looking treasure maps that occasionally come up for sale in Portland. Captain Neidelman, faith won't make it true. There never was, and there never will be, any Ragged Island treasure. I feel sorry for you, I really do. Now, perhaps you should leave before I call the guard—I beg your pardon, I mean the security specialist— to escort you to the door.

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What makes you any different from the rest? Hatch looked at the document without touching it. It was a simplified financial report,notarized, indicating that a company named Thalassa Holdings Ltd. The sum was twenty-two million dollars. Hatch glanced from the paper back to Neidelman,then began to laugh. You must have some pretty pliant investors. Hatch, you've had every right to show treasure hunters the door for the last twenty years. I perfectly understand your reaction.

They were underfunded and underprepared. But they weren't the only problem. The problem was alsoyou. But I sense that, after more than a quarter century of uncertainty, maybe at last you're ready to learn what really happened to your brother. Then he began again, in a tone so low it was barely audible. And I understand how your grief has made you hate that island. That is why I come to you with everything prepared. Thalassa is the best in the world at this kind of work. And we have equipment at our disposal that your grandfather could only have dreamed of.

We've chartered the ships. We have Page 19 divers, archaeologists, engineers, an expedition doctor, all ready to go at a moment's notice. One word from you, and I promise you that within a month the Water Pit will have yielded up its secrets. We will knoweverything about it. Hatch, is not within my nature. Is it within yours? The silence stretched on into a minute, then two, and then five. At last, Neidelman removed the paper from the desk and placed it back in his portfolio.

Tomorrow, I'll inform our partners that you have declined our offer. Good day, Dr. To answer your question, thereis something that makes us different from all the rest. We've uncovered a small piece of information about the Water Pit that nobody else knows. Not even you. Involuntarily, Hatch felt his fingers stiffen and curl in toward his palms.

And there's something more. We have the journal he kept during its construction. He looked down at his desk and shook his head. I guess I underestimated you. After all these years, I've heard something original. You've made my day, Captain Neidelman. It was several minutes before he could bring himself to rise from the desk. As he shoved the last of his papers into his briefcase, hands still trembling a little, he noticed that Neidelman had left his card behind.

A telephone number had been scribbled across the top, presumably the hotel he was staying in. Hatch brushed the card into the wastebasket, picked up his briefcase, left the lab, and briskly walked back to his town house through the dusky summer streets. At two o'clock that morning, he found himself back in the laboratory, pacing before the darkened window, Neidelman's card grasped in one hand. It was three before he finally picked up the phone.

Chapter 3 Hatch parked in the dirt lot above the pier and stepped slowly from the rented car. He closed the door,then paused to look over the harbor, hand still grasping the handle. His eyes took in Page 20 the long, narrow cove, bound by a granite shore, dotted with lobster boats and draggers, bathed in a cold silver light. The little town of Stormhaven struggled up the hill, narrow clapboard houses following a zigzag of cobblestone lanes.

Toward the top the houses thinned out, replaced by stands of black spruce and small meadows enclosed by stone walls.