Sailing day came, and you made your way to the dock where the good ship Saint Olaf was moored. Its destination, and yours, was the port of Morgan, on the island called Campierno. While the vessel was being prepared, dock workers were busily unloading another ship, one which had just made the two-month journey in the opposite direction. Two half-orc porters carried heavy chests, the sheen of gold glinting through their half-closed lids. Following them was the owner of that treasure. A human, his skin was tanned and his clothes were strange. He had a purple cloak with silver trim, boots with buckles of platinum, a belt that glowed as if with an inner magical light, a jeweled ring on each finger, two earrings in one ear and three in the other. A pair of swords hung at his sides, and he walked with a bit of a limp.
Spotting you, he beckoned you over. “Hell’s Bells,” he spat out, grinning. “That’s where you’re going, isn’t it? On all the maps it’s written ‘Campierno,’ but we always called it Hell’s Bells. Gods know the temperature’s hot enough down there… My name’s Martus, and here I am, back in the old country after 25, yes, 25 in that pirate-ridden, infernally hot backwater of an island, working my legs off. I mean it!” he said, and to prove the point, he shook his bad leg in the air. It fell off with a wooden clunk. Laughing, he stooped over on his one good leg to pick it up. “Lost the real one fighting Arcish brigands in the jungle. Their swordsmen were in front of me. To the left, cannibal elves with poisoned arrows. To the right, the unforgiving sea. And which side took off my leg? It got hacked off from the back — by my treacherous mates from Morgan!
“That’s the place you’re heading off to, friends… I envy you. Yeah, I said I envy you. Oh, it’s not a nice place to live. Full of thieves, cutthroats, and pirates… good people all. The sort of people who’ll steal your coinpurse, and then buy you a drink with your own money. But that’s just Morgan town. There’s a vast jungle, just past the borders, that’s never been seen by human eyes, nor any by any other civilized folk. And that’s just on Hell’s Bells, just one island! You know even counting the islands owned by the Arcish,” he spat the name on the ground, “there’s maybe a hundred more islands no one’s ever even set foot on? When I was out there, in my time, we had only one mission: survival. We’ve laid the foundation for you, the next generation, to start a new age, an age of exploration. I wish I could be there to see it.
“Anyway, I’ve used up enough of your time. You’ve got a world to explore! Just one thing, one more thing I want to say before you leave,” he says, leaning in conspiratorially. “Make your friends now. Because once you get to Morgan… It’s every black-hearted soul for himself. Easy friends are a dime a dozen, but a mate you can trust is worth triple his weight in platinum.” He straightens up. “Oh, and tell Governor Corley that Martus sends his compliments. You’ll want to be nice to the Governor, he’s dying for maps of his island, and a good explorer could get rich off of him, real quick.” He winks and clicks his mouth.