It has been impressed on me to write an account of all the tales that befall the pub known as The Beagle and the Courtesan and its interesting role in the various affairs of Shadowshift Island. It is with the Island that has made up the backdrop for most of my life that I will turn to start these tales. It appearance over a hundred years ago is what started the weirdness that has dominated my life since day one.
On June 8th, 1965 an Island just appeared in the North Atlantic along the 45th Parallel. No scientific theory could explain this appearance of the island and how it escaped detection for so long. To make matters the outside world with its modern and scientific devices could never quite get read on it and the radar people called it a constantly shifting shadow. Thus its name. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad but when it appeared it through off guidance systems all over the world and was blamed for throwing off the trajectory of the Soviet spacecraft Luna 6 so it missed the moon. The US of course denied they had anything to do with it which was true and accused the USSR of staging the appearance of the Island to blame their failure on and cause tensions between the two countries. Both countries sent ships to the Island but when they got close they could not get their radars to even locate the island so they cruised around in circles for several days. Finally, a ship came from the island and after negotiating with both ships, they brought representatives to the Island and in the end convinced both nations that Shadowshift Island was its own country, neutral and looking to trade and offer tourists a getaway location. it has been all those things from that time to the present day.
Even today navigation to the Island is problematic. Compasses spin, charts warp and GPS often loses course when it gets close to it. Mostly, if you want to get to it then you have to rely on the services of the Shadowshift Liner – a small cruise liner that makes a bi-monthly trip between the Island and the coast of the United States which is the closest country to the Island. The liner handles both passengers and cargo and it is the only real link to the outside world we have. It is what has taken us from an isolationist group of wizards, races and oddballs to a country that is one of the top tourist destinations in the world if you can afford the ticket. Tourism has made us prosperous but it probably mostly has to do with our very open view of life.
We also have turned the scientific world on its head. Why? because magic works on Shadowshift Island that why. It was primarily though magic that the Island avoided detection so long and it was because magic we decided as a people to reveal ourselves at the time we did. The problem was the magic of the Island was getting ‘tricky’ and less consistent. Rather than try to keep up a quirky magic force of invisibility, we decided to open up our Island to the rest of the world and the rest is history. Not that we did that without a lot of planning and reconnaissance. We were watching the modern world for fifty years and adapting out island during that time to reflect their culture as much as ours. We decided the US was a better business partner than the USSR but we knew we would have to deal with both.
I was born five years later.
Now if modern GPS worked on our island, you would know that it is roughly twenty miles in length and about five miles at its widest point. The Island has a large and tall single mountain, hills, plains and some of the terrain is very diverse with various hardwoods and pines across most of it. It has a deep natural port and that helps the docks as we have never had to dredge the port area. Our main and only real city is the port city named Tempest. There are of course many other villages and towns scattered across the Island but all roads lead to Tempest which is centrally located on the West side of the Island.
Architecturally, the buildings on the Island are a mix of Modern American and the stuff of medieval Europe. The medieval flavor is part of the tourist attraction as well as the magic. People come to find themselves in a different world and they definitely get that. The outlying villages and towns are pretty much still medieval in look and flavor and magic permeates the air and that gives an entirely different feeling than anywhere else. That along with magical creatures, races and the fact that magic ruled here for well over a thousand years just makes Shadowshift island truly unique. People love coming here and us natives are thankful that the tourism board limits the number of tourist to what the Liner can traverse every two weeks. The liner carries 750 passengers so it keeps the world interesting but we are never outnumbered. People can stay as long as they like but there are only two opportunities each month to get here and go home. Tourists also tend to be rich so we make a lot of money off them and trade is brisk in the specialty magic items that we produce and trade for everything else we need. Oddly enough magic taken from the island works elsewhere as long as it is connected to an object so we do well.
Legends abound on the Island about our history and where the original settlers came from and how they discovered magic, but most of it is so old that it covered in a massive amount of lies, misinformation and falsehoods. Our government is made up representatives from the various races and the masters of various schools of magic and trades. Our constitution severely limits the power of the government over the individual citizen and defines the role of government very specifically – defend life, uphold rights and provide justice. Outside these three things, other issues are left to individuals and private industry to sort out. It actually is a pretty polite place to live as everyone is armed most of the time with things from swords and axes to shotguns and handguns. We have no standing army but every able bodied person is charged with providing for the defense of the nation if we are attacked. It has never happened.
I have only scratched the surface of our mysterious island but perhaps as I relate my tales more will come out. For now this is enough for you to understand part of the backdrop of the tales. I need to get back to running my pub so that is all for now. Next I will tell the Tale of our capital Tempest.