Part 7: Entry 7 - The School and the Tower
Ambient: lapping water and birdsong
With the lake opened up to me, the question was really where to start.
Of course first I had to descend a three story ladder.
After a bit of thought I decided to start with the small building in the corner of the lake. It was a bit closer and it intrigued me more than the tall metal tower.
I was getting better at piloting the submarine too, it was fairly straightforward with a bit of use.
I paused after climbing up onto the dock. It didnt look like a torture chamber or a prison from out here.
In fact, it looked like a school
Looking around, it was definitely a school. Seats arranged carefully, letters put up on the walls in plain view.
The blackboard had a short lesson as well. I doubted I could translate it though, it didnt look like anyone here speaks English anyway.
Well, except Gehn and Catherine I suppose. Wherever the hell they are.
I looked at the device that stood front and center in the classroom. It looked like the giant cage in the Temple. The handle here looked promising.
Turning the handle produced a grainy and shimmering image. A man, speaking in the same local language. No idea what he was saying, but it was the tone of a public speaker, imperious, but gracious with his approval.
Gehn himself, I presume.
I thought back to the image in the gate room. So this would be the realm of the teachers serving him.
I took a look around the rest of the school room. In the corner was a paper and some extra fruit. With no context, I had no idea whether it was the teachers grade book or a students work.
The fruit was tasty though. Tangy but refreshing. I only took one, since these were probably student snacks as well.
On the other side was a wooden toy of some sort. I also noted the lamps all had more pictures of those tusk whales.
Looking at the toy revealed another. It reminded me of hangman, with the little people dangling upside down. It wasnt complicated, though the mechanics needed for this to work must have been impressive.
Turning the ring caused a random symbol to show up in the square at the bottom. Then the little man above the mouth would descend by a number of ticks.
Turning the ring back repeated the process for the other man.
Repeat the process until one of the figures reaches the bottom, where the fish would snap shut on the figure, and the game would reset itself.
I admit, I was avoiding the implications of what I was looking at. Instead I focused on the symbols. Some of them were familiar, and it looked like each one corresponded to a number. I played around until I figured out all of them.
Of course, a lot of these symbols were familiar.
The eyes scattered around the island had these symbols as well. Numbers, two, three, four, and five. It suggested there was a one somewhere here, but I hadnt seen it yet.
The symbol for five though,
That symbol had been everywhere, along with the five pointed star. Hell, just about everything tied directly to Gehn had the number five somewhere.
But there was one more stop to get to. The cage tower on the far side of the lake. Dread began to form a knot in my gut. I had probably already subconsciously figured out what it was for.
Nevertheless, I got back to the sub and crossed the lake. I couldnt just leave it unchecked.
The tower was an imposing structure. Only the Golden Dome had been larger.
I noticed a metal walkway at the top of the cliffs as well. They cast weird shadows on the rocks underneath them.
The birds on the island seemed to fade away as I stepped onto the platform, and the water below that much closer. Something hit the metal below, sending a gonging sound and a brief rumble up the structure.
I slowly took a lap around the circle, I noticed a handle of some sort on the far side.
Wondering what I would see, I pulled it.
Above me something from up high came down, descending on a metal chain to just above the waters surface.
It was a pair of manacles.
I thought back to the childrens toy and the painting in the cave. People were strapped in by the legs and lowered to the water below, where they would be eaten alive by the monsters that were represented all over the island. Symbols of power, but a very real creature that Gehn used to execute people.
Another metal sound rang out as something hit the metal below me. The water was dark and seemed much deeper than the lake surrounding it.
I didnt stick around. As I left the rattle of the chain signaled the manacles making their way to the top of the tower again.
I returned the sub and went back to the village dock. I had been everywhere on the island, and had discovered plenty, but I was still missing something.
Here especially, the upper metal walkways could be seen hanging from the cliffs. There had to be a way up there.
But first I wanted to check something, a pattern that was forming in my head.
The eyes around the island were, I think, associated with the daggers that man was using. One of them was found underneath one, after all.
They had numbers and a sound, and several of them were also shaped like an animal.
And the way that man saved me from the guard suggested meant maybe that they were working against Gehn.
Whatever the eyes were, they might be a clue.
Because whoever put them here went to a lot of trouble to make them hide in plain sight.
I had traveled back to the tram stop, hoping to check on the eye there and confirm the number on it. What I hadnt expected was that the rocks of the tunnel itself to form a shape by itself. Like the beetle at the water pump, or the Tusk whale in the lagoon. Right at its head, I could see the eye itself.
The chirping sound it made did sound like a frog. I checked the symbol on it, three, according to my notes.
I was excited, I felt like I was getting somewhere. There was another bit of wildlife I wanted to check as well.
The pelican seals had come back to their rock, sunning themselves and snorting loudly.
This time I was much more careful, taking each step lightly and slowly, only moving when the creatures were not paying attention to me.
It took a little while, but I stepped onto the sand of the lagoon and looked in the eyes of the strange beasts.
The one on the right lifted its beak in the air, and barked. The same bark I had heard from the eye in the forest. Another animal associated with a number.
When I started scribbling the note in my journal, the beasts took offense and slipped into the water again. I paid them no heed though, because I had another thought in my head.
This island was inhabited, far more so than any of Atrus ages, and the paths I had followed so far were all for the villagers. But they werent the only ones. The metal walkways attached to the execution tower, for example. There had to be a way for Gehn and his lackeys to get up there and prepare the unfortunate to be killed.
That wasnt the only thing though. I returned to the forest and looked up into the canopy. More metal walkways stretched out among the trees.
I thought back to the temple, and its door hidden in a shadowy corner. Maybe there was something similar here.
It might not be just hidden though. The temple, after all, could be carefully watched whenever supplicants were inside. Out here though, with so much space and a village nearby, simply hiding it was dangerous. Guarding it meant people would wonder what was there, and I certainly hadnt run into many more guards on this island.
Far better to scare people away, perhaps.
Soundtrack: Jungle Totem
And what was more frightening than an executioner?
The metal and wood image of the tusk whale wasnt just an object of worship. That was the purpose of the temple, after all, and bugs and animals would get at any offerings left here well before Gehn and his lackeys could pick them up.
The imposing, toothy maw was likely meant to keep villagers from poking around here, discovering something. It certainly worked on me when I first discovered this place. But now I had a mission.
The maw itself didnt have any buttons or levers, but the two lamps at the entrance seemed out of place. I began to feel around on them.
A switch clicked on the right lamp. Bingo.
With a groan, the tusk whales mouth opened up, revealing a set of stairs in its jaw. If the image was worrying before, it was outright frightening now.
But I wasnt going to let superstition keep me away here. This had to be the way to the upper walkways. I stepped inside.
The façade fell away quickly. The insides were rough wooden boards, and head of me...
Was a tram call button, and an elevator.
It was time to see what Gehn wanted to hide from his people.