The 10-day voyage from Plymouth to Xendrick is not the most comfortable. The Swift Wind is fairly small, and we are cramped. Mery badgers Milo incessantly trying to learn how being poisoned feels, how to treat it, and a whole slew of topics I didn’t bother to remember. I work on learning Polish with Twaine, Makepeace, and Milo.
After far too long just watching mostly-featureless ocean, we finally sight land (10 December 1911). And on that land some kind of clearly ancient and abandoned city of some kind. This turns out to be our destination, as we anchor and start offloading supplies. After some observation, we realize the scale of the city is larger than we first observed — this is a Giant city (Stormreach)! On shore, we’re greeted by the expeditions camp supervisor, Benjamin Cleary, and taken into their camp. Horses, oxen, goats, animals, many people, tents, supplies. Clearly this is a larger and longer-established organization that we first suspected.
The air is incredibly hot and humid, like walking through a dwarven sauna. The City is surrounded by an incredibly tall and dense wall of green foliage. The worksmanship of the buildings is incredible. Hand-joined, minimal-gapped, still-whole buildings and walls of assembled stones. Did I mention this place was hot? The camp team has a sand table, showing what looks to be about a roughly five mile range around the city on the river delta. Benjamin reports that the locals are some kind of Elves, a variety of humans (one serves as a scout/guide for the expedition). Rayna Ingle is the cook and quartermaster. Garrick promptly disappears into the jungle/forest with the guide, ShoSho. Jacob Rand is the guard captain, leading a group of about 10 guards that rotate through a bunch of assignments. Clancy is the blacksmith and resident animal wrangler.
Makepeace initiates a planning session with us. Their original plan on this expedition was to continue the excavation, and spend a week at an up-river settlement. They also mention the Curse(!), that of the ever-changing land. Two groups leaving from the same place, heading in the same direction, at slightly different times will not end up in the same places. Mery mentions that this sounds just like the Romanian Mists. The local humans appear less affected by the Curse.
In reviewing our map with Twaine, we learn that our map is magical, likley of European origin, and inked by a Slavic-trained artist, possibly Russian. The map may be an artifact from one of the prior expeditions from Europe (some little-documented Russian ones, a few unsuccessful French ones), of a long time ago.
The local Elves are called Drow. There are signs they may have been, post-Giants, a major civilization of their own. No longer.
The Swift Wind is loaded up with things to be returned to England. We notice coins, ore, gems, and artifacts heading out to the ship. A few days after we arrived, the Swift Wind heads off to sea.
We head inland on the 14th. Berringer is the only Explorer that chooses to come along with us, and Jared decides to stay at camp and try his hand at archeology. We take three boats, giving us enough room to cart supplies and have a spare hull for emergencies.