We landed on the island with no further incident and I secured the boat above the tideline to ensure we were not once again stranded. Soma and Whitmore immediately noticed an intense magical aura to the island, permeating the fabric of existence, and a collection of energy around a large rock towards the center of the beach. A quick examination of the rock unfortunately identified it as the rock on which the pirates performed their disgusting, perverted wedding rituals. Giving the rock a wide berth we examined the rest of the cove, finding nothing of interest. Aside from this somewhat sheltered cove the island's perimeter consisted entirely of sheer cliffs which we would have to scale if we wanted to head towards the island's interior. Largely utilizing what appeared to be the remains of an ancient road, in extremely deteriorated form, I was able to climb up and lower a rope for my comrades to follow. It was at this point that some of us began suffering mysterious symptoms, most likely a result of the strong magical field on the island. Thanks to my training I was able to simply shrug off these effects, but my comrades were not so fortunate.
The map that the pirate captain had given us pointed out a series of ruins on a plateau surrounding a larger, central plateau that seemed to be the center of this ancient settlement. We decided to investigate the outlying ruins and try to glean some more information before heading into the center and trying to find Gerlach. Well, and loot the place, but that's just standard procedure for Whitmore and me at this point. The first ruin turned out to be inhabited by these giant enemy crabs. One of them sadly managed to grab a hold of Whitmore and shake him up pretty good. Fortunately we were able to attack their weak points and dish out some massive damage, and get a pretty good lunch in the bargain. We also managed to find some magic gloves of climbing and swimming which will come in handy with all these cliffs. The next ruin was an old barracks building that's barely worth noting, but the third one gave us a bit of trouble, and unfortunately Soma only added to it.
It turned out there were three will-'o-wisps hiding out by that third ruin and they were some downright speedy guys, zapping all of us pretty good. We were scrambling on the defense for a bit there, but we managed to get back on the offense and drop them. We were down to two critically wounded when one managed to pop back up, turned invisible, and asked us who we were and what the hell we wanted. I started trying to explain that we were looking for a fellow named Gerlach and trying to find out where he was and what he was doing. The wisp said they were angry because we had started looting the place, and it only got more angry when Soma double-tapped his buddy. Overall we were just kind of pissed with the situation: Soma had prevented us from getting more information about what exactly we were getting ourselves into, but more importantly the wisps attacked us with no warning and then got indignant when we had the gall to defend ourselves. And it's not like the wisps could have used the gloves. They don't even have hands! Anyway, the wisp made some vague threat about how it'll be watching us and buggered off. Ultimately his threats proved ineffective and we continued to loot the shit out of the place, potentially more so out of spite now than hope for profit. The third ruin didn't have any mobile wealth but it did have a really old mosaic dating from Azalanti times that Soma said was worth a good amount. Whitmore suggested instead of trying to cart the thing off of the island we sell a deed for it to someone and let them worry about getting it off the island. I rather liked the idea and suggested that we could even draw up multiple deeds and sell them to a bunch of nobles and walk away with even more cash than what the mosaic was worth. Everyone responded pretty well to that idea and Soma went ahead and drew up two deeds to it, although we may make more at some later point.
Finally we headed straight into the center of the old settlement, scaling the last cliff. Although I continued to remain unaffected by the island, everyone else was showing strong signs and in some cases the conditions were getting worse. We headed into the closest ruin that turned out to be a library of some sort, with numerous books made up of copper plates floating through the air, suspended by some sort of magic. Before we could investigate further Meda heard the sound of metal on metal and a number of creatures came scurrying towards us, and for one of the few times in my life I felt genuine fear. For scurrying out of the recesses of that library came four rust monsters, the most dangerous foes a warrior can face. I was left with no option but to quickly hide my greatsword in my quiver and try to dodge their attention. Unfortunately, I was not quick enough and one of the monsters managed to severely damage my breastplate. I was left with no option but to flee out of the building and let Soma and Meda handle them. Fortunately unless you're wearing metal, rust monsters aren't terribly dangerous, and they were pretty quickly taken care of. Whitmore was even able to use some of his alchemy to reverse most of the damage to my armor. We also managed to find some more or less intact books and Soma was able to glean a little bit of information. It seems that this whole island was a research colony with an observatory at its center, and quite a lot of research experiments being performed. Aside from some ominous signs we weren't able to gather much else. On the bright side, we also found an artifact that acts like a crown of blasting, so I can sear somebody with daylight if I really, really want to. Hopefully we'll be able to find Gerlach soon and get to the bottom of this mess before it gets much worse.