The inhabitants, however, see it differently. They would argue that the overlands is a paradise: the rich harvest afforded by a diminished population and the restoration of the natural landscape. They would argue that they're the envy of their forefathers, and the only true preservers of man's civilization. As far as they're concerned, their subsoil counterparts are inconsequential. Those people can live in their magnificent cities: cities littered with historical monuments and artifacts raped from the overlands. They can float about in their wonderland with all its wizardry and play out their meaningless existences. Just so long as they keep to themselves.
But Carlos has other plans. A shadow-hopper through and through, he's besotted by the rugged appeal of overland life. And he's happy to give up everything, including his life-long friends, to immigrate and immerse himself in it. So, with his fair-skinned partner at his side, he makes a clean break and leaves his old world behind. His friends are devastated. They're still reeling two years later when they get word that Carlos has disappeared--possibly the victim of foul play.
Advised by their council that the overland city-states have no interest in the disappearance, Carlos' old friends are persuaded to investigate themselves. That means going into the overlands. That means subjecting themselves to all the dangers of mortal life. Unfortunately, things on the surface get about as bad as they could have imagined. Their own lack of cultural finesse and local knowledge sees them incarcerated in a tall ship, at the mercy of a local captain. And that man--the last person to see their old klassmates--is no stable individual. The group suffers injury and humiliation on board his wooden schooner, and are eventually marooned on an island. There they run into one of their lost companions, only to find out that the dolt is responsible for the whole mess in the first place.
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