(In which we follow Japik as he swims around the island, looking for nearby dolphins and investigating the pillars.)
Japik starts by finding a deserted beach or otherwise secluded place where he can skinny dipping and then change form to dolphin. He will swim around the island just checking and listening for anything. He looks especially in the water and the bottom below the cliff where the covenant is located, if it looks the same as when he searched here last summer.
Then he starts looking for dolphins trying to contact them with sounds if he thinks they are close enough.
The coastline is little changed in nature, although the base of the cliff shows fresh rock that detached during the cold months and the many sand banks have moved due to the winter currents.
Swimming to deeper water to the Northwest of Helgelund, you soon find a group of dolphins chasing fish around.
He tries to contact the dolphins and befriend them swimming with them for a few days perhaps. Then he asks about the area they consider their hunting/fishing waters or whatever name is suitable for dolphins. Are the pillars included there? If not why? If it is he suggests they go in that direction to hunt.
No trouble there. They swim around where the fish lead them. Sometimes that leads them closer to the pillars and the island, but they don't stay there much because there are too many fishing nets, and the biting octopi are more frequent there.
So the reason that the dolphins don't swim close to Helgeland as well is because there are more fishing nets there, nothing else?
Also does the biting octopi eat the dolphins or just parts of them?
When swimming closer to the pillars Japik leaves the dolphin group for a while to look around at the bottom and the presumed rock emerging from it. He swims as close as possible and locks up at the pillars from the surface level. Using no magic but does he see anything that seems unusual?
Mostly the fishing nets and the octopi. When the octopi attack, the dolphins don't stick around. They've lost a few of their pack from them, never to see them again. Also, they don't taste good at all when the dolphins can kill one. One pipes up to say that in the summer they do fish on the eastern side of the island. The water isn't deep and is quite warm in the summer. The others agree, they like the warmth. Small tasty fish there too. But only in the summer. Only in the day. The biting octopi come out at night there too. But most stay in deeper colder water. Bad octopi, they chirp all around Japik, octopi bad.
When Japik moves on to inspect the pillars, the only thing of interest that he notices is that both pillars seem to erupt from the sea floor in a rather abrupt manner. There are a fair number of loose stone forming a small slope around them, but these seem to be mostly from rocks that broke off from the pillars. One is made of reddish rock on the surface (it is much more black inside the water) while the other is a chalky white (greyish in the water). Both are surrounded by many birds -- Japik can taste their droppings in the water -- and many of them appear to nest on the sides of each pillar.
How high are the pillars above water and are they completely unscaleable on all sides without any special equipment or magical means? Do they look flat on the top and approximately how wide?
After swimming around the pillars and then the island again just to look for oddities, he says goodbye to the dolphins for now and gets back on land to look for his sodales.
The pillars are nowhere as smooth as a man-made column of stone would be. They are rough and weathered natural formations, much like Long Anna is. So it can be scaled, although this would be by no mean an easy task, nor safe. A fall would certainly mean a high risk of injury, possibly even death.
The pillars are certainly over a hundred paces high and something like ten paces across. Not exactly flat at the top, but one could certainly stand there. Each is shaped differently from the other.
Just for reference, here's what Long Anna looked in the 1930s. The two columns look pretty much like that, if not exactly the same shape.
(Copying that post here, as I believe this is the best place to continue that story.)
Hjalmar tries to find a boat for some time, but most of the fishermen seem not to understand what he wants. He talks to his wife, who talks to Dietlinde, who remembers that one of the people she was introduced to by the redcap Bernhard was a fisherman. So later the next day she goes with Hjalmar to meet the man and see if something can be arranged -- telling Hjalmar to leave his armor and weapons at home.
So, two days afterJapik has asked for a boat, Hjalmar leads him (and who else) to the beach where Meden's fishermen drag their boats. The fisherman, whose name is Dibbelt, is waiting for them. "So, ye wee peopl' wanting tha' go ain take a look at the wee spires up naurth? Com' aboar' them, the wee tides is aboot to flow in, and that mak't hardish to get out."
Herman comes along, after unnecessarily telling Tristan to keep the construction moving.
Prochorus presumes they need him, so he tags along.
"It's such a lovely day for a boat trip. Come on sodales let's get aboard. Can you smell it? Summer salt. It's not long till it's here." Japik is happy and joyful as always as they embark.
Dibbelt seems taken aback at the fairly large group that boards his boat, looking particularly sceptical and disthrustful of the magi. Nevertheless, he makes no comments about them, instead asking Hjalmar to help him untie his boat and raise the sail. The boat is a bit crowded with five people, but still manageable.
(Just to make a few things clear. The fisherman Dibbelt is coming along and maneuvering his boat. Bernhard, when he introduced him to Dietlinde, insisted on the fact that the fisherman had no idea that the new arrivals are "sorcerers", and to treat him well because he was a friend. So any blatant spellcasting will be problematic. Most Intellego spells should not be a problem, but things like shapechanging or levitation would of course be. I don't know what the magi are planing at this point.)
Herman tries to talk quietly with Prochorus. "Can you lift me discreetly so that it looks like I am climbing? Don't want to disturb the boatman too much after all." After that, he watches the water and looks for the pillars. If Aerianos shows up when we get near the pillas, I will ask what he thinks of them (I don't expect him, and don't expect a useful answer if he comes by, but I will ask.)
Japik sits in the front of the boat looking forward. Resisting an inner urge to undress, jump into the water and swim ahead as dolphin. But he knows it will disturb the fisherman.
"Seen any dolphins?" he shouts back at Dibbelt. "You should look out for them and take care of them. They mean good luck." he continues without taking much attention to if the fisherman answers or not.
The fisherman just nods, but doesn't give any more answer than that.
It takes about an hour for the small boat to reach the pillars. The sea isn't any worse than usual, but the boat is much smaller than any ship you've used to go out at sea before. So the going is rough, with the irregular movement of the waves causing Herman and Prochorus to feel a bit queasy. Japik and Hjalmar don't seem to notice.
The pillars slowly emerge from the horizon. They were visible as soon as the boat cleared the island and turned north, but as you approach them they seem to tower over the small boat. They are nothing like man-made pillars or columns, but rather rough stone formations rising out of the sea. The first one you approach is made of reddish stone, striated with paler and darker hues in a slight diagonal. The lower section, wet with sea water as the waves beat upon the rock, is much darker and greenish with algea. Higher, the sides host many bird nests.
Dibbelt furls the sail almost completely as they come with fifty paces of the pillar, correcting for the current that would send you drifting away from it.
Japik turns to Prochorus and Herman and speaks to them in Latin. "What do you think? Do you need to get closer to take a look at it or even touch it?" He looks at both of them but mostly at Herman as he believes he has the best chance to do something to confirm if there is magic potential to this place.
Changing to Friesian he turns to Hjalmar and Dibbelt "How close can we get to it? Is there somewhere we might be able to land?"
Japik is eager and impatient and looks like he wants to jump into the water any second.
Herman replies in the same language "I definitely ned to at be touching the pillars. While there is a chance I could detect something by touching them down here, I would expect the magic, and any Vis source or Aura, to be primarily at the top. So I assume we need to find a way to discreetly get me up there." Looking at the pillars from this close, herman continues "would the fisherman believe I was climbing it, if I stayed close and pulled myself along while Prochorus actually lifted me? Or would he be almost as bemused as if I were to fly up there? Getting dumped in the water because he suddenly decides to take the boat away is not my idea of a good time."
"Land?" Dibbelt is surprised by the question, then shakes his head. "Where? There ain't an'thing but rocks 'here. Waves would just smash me boat on thos' rocks, real liked'ly." The fisherman takes a moment to think, "Perh'ps on a real quiet day I coul' bring yea closer. But ain't today fer sure."