Log Entry 161025.198

Arunga sighed heavily and then he began the tale.
"It was one hundred and ninety-three years ago—" Traeth and I exchanged glances. It wasn't a thousand years after all. It seemed that the Dirrians were very poor historians. "—when the giant arrived. We had seen him for months before, fishing in the seas on his little craft, but then he came and landed his raft on the beach. Our people hid in fear. We had never had a giant on the island before and we were unsure as to his intent."
Yes, I suppose compared to these felines, even the tiny Dirrians would be giants.
"My people stayed hidden in the trees at the edge of the woods and watched him. He dragged his raft ashore and then set about making a fire. It wasn't a very good one. While his initial kindling was dry and burned well, as soon as the flames were feeding, he added bundles of damp leaves to it. The fire began to sputter and fade, throwing out black smoke, so he threw on more and more of the damp kindling."
"He was making a signal fire," explained Traeth. "To tell his family he had arrived safely."
"Ah! That would make sense. Sadly, he did not succeed."
"Oh, but he did. Our history tells us that Farrell—the fisherman, did light a signal fire to tell of his safe arrival."
"He may have done, however," Arunga looked down sadly. "While he did arrive safely, his good fortune did not last for long I'm afraid. Among the leaves that he piled onto the fire were those of the celabub tree; a most unwise move. Rich in highly flammable oils, they suddenly caught, a ball of flame mushrooming into the air. He was not expecting it. Your man was caught in the blast and his clothing caught fire. If he had run into the sea, he may have stood a chance, but he did not. Instead, he ran around in circles on the beach until he finally collapsed. There was nothing we could do. I'm afraid he perished."
Silence fell as we all thought about Farrell's misfortune.
"He was buried on the edge of the woods, but his grave has long ago been forgotten beneath the great trees."
"So you didn't actually meet him?" I ventured.
"No. It was those that came afterwards that we came to fear."

Log Entry 161017.197

So, I'm sitting on a previously unexplored island on an alien world. I've made first contact with a new, sentient, alien species by rolling it onto its back and rubbing its naked tummy. It takes a while for all that to sink in.
Meanwhile, Tom looked up at me with a somewhat bemused expression on his face.
"I think I'd like to get down now," he finally said.
"Oh, sorry," and I hurriedly righted him, setting him onto his feet. Everybody followed suit with their felines, all of us feeling rather awkward.
Tom made his way over to the central bench. He jumped up onto it and sat down, an ear twitching and his tail flicking. I wondered if that was in annoyance. It certainly would have been if it was Beastie, but how similar where they to our own humble, Terran felines? The other cats took their places on the steps, all looking to Tom for direction. Somewhat subdued, we humanoids tried to seat neatly and respectfully on the steps too, which isn't easy when you're not a cat. Our bottoms are a lot bigger than a feline's and our legs a lot longer.
Tom raised his chin haughtily into the air. He debated for a moment and then, with a mere flick of his paw, commanded his cats. They hesitated for a moment but a second more impatient flick sent the majority of them on their way. We were left with just eight of the beings—the inner sanctum perhaps.
"My name is Arunga," Tom began, "I am king of the Mairne and these are my people."
"Nice first contact, Jen," muttered Rutter into my ear. I elbowed him in the ribs.
"I'm ever so sorry," I said, feeling I should apologise for having treated him with such indignity. "I feel I've been rather disrespectful. I mean, I don't usually roll people onto their backs and tickle their tummies."
Arunga giggled—he actually giggled!
"I'd like to think not, but you are forgiven. I accept that it was naivety rather than ignorance, and it was certainly a more preferable greeting to that provided by those that came before you."
We gasped audibly. It seems that at last, the mystery of the missing Dirrians would be solved.