The Captain’s crew explored the reef and lagoon for several hours, many of them marveling at the long-silent technology and well-preserved relics of the Bygone Age that still littered the beach. The tower at the center of the lagoon was at an unsteady angle, and exploration was limited to ten minutes at a time by the Captain’s orders. He also opened the arms locker to make sure that none of his men attempted to make off with a valuable antique, as he fully intended to see anything they took from the islands placed in a museum or given over for a thorough examination.

“Look at this, Cap’n,” said the bosun upon returning from his shift exploring the unsteady tower. “A message in a bottle.”

“Aye, that it is. And a fine way of keeping the note from being corroded by salt water and spray.” Uncorking it, the Captain read the missive aloud:

To all who may read this, know that I have struck out in search of something bigger than my island and myself. I do not regret taking this chance over a life of safety and comfort. All I ask of anyone who finds this note is to honor my choice and to do what they can to see that our little home, and the years we spent there, are not wholly forgotten.

-Nerissa-of-the-Sea
-5734-MY

“What do you make of that, Cap’n?” said the bosun, noting his commander’s silence after the last words faded away amid the roar of surf and sky.

“I suppose that whoever lived here made the same choice we all did,” the Captain said thoughtfully. “We’ll do our best to honor their wishes.”

“Do you suppose they found their way? Found another shore?”

The Captain looked out to sea, taking in the green swells, the dark shape of his own vessel, and the towering clouds on the far-distant horizon. “I’d like to think so,” he said after a time. “I’d like to think so.”

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