A/N: This is an adaption of a story I wrote four years ago after a particularly vivid dream. A majority of these characters are based off of real-life people, with a few exceptions, but their names and personalities have been changed. Needless to say, the synopsis is entirely my own.

Before you proceed, let me warn you that quite a few of this story's aspects are entirely unrealistic, especially the magical, scientific, and religious components. I'm aware of this. I'm not religious myself, nor do I believe in magic. I'm simply using these components in hopes that a story that began as a dream will make a little more sense. Therefore, I ask that you read with an open mind, knowing that there's a one hundred percent chance that I'll try to adapt this further in hopes of reaching a level of realism once finished.

I do want to mention that the final result should be 30,000 - 40,000 words, unless I decide to expand the plot. Most chapters have approximately 2,500 words, give or take. I'm expecting twenty chapters at most. Bear with me as I struggle to make time to write in the midst of a busy schedule.

Many thanks to D.S. for the editing help!

Edited 8/15/15, 12/29/15


Prologue

According to the South American Armada, the continent of Apolonia is cursed.

Of course, this is product of myth and legend. After the Red Plague swept the nation a century ago, a group of researchers explored the remnants of long-lost Apolonia to ensure it was not ridden with disease. It wasn't. They deemed it fit for immigration, as long as the rest of the world provided funding and volunteers for the renewal of every boarded-up house.

Meanwhile, the South American Armada began to spread false word about a group of their men that went to Apolonia and never returned from their expedition. Since people are always driven to fear the worst, the researchers were ignored, and the funding was never carried out. Barriers were constructed around Apolonia to prevent further spreading of the Red Plague. The continent was abandoned, as it has been for nearly two hundred years.

But if you question the claims of the SAA, there's hope for you yet. In a dilapidated wooden shack on the coast of California lives a man who led the original Apolonian expedition. He knows all there is to know about the Great Quake, Apolonia, and the Red Plague itself. He's pushing the age of one hundred nowadays, so I'd recommend giving him a visit before it's too late. He'd appreciate it.

All you have to do is locate the shack and knock on the door. If he manages to answer it, introduce yourself. Tell him straight off that you are disbelieving of the SAA's claims. He'll smile, invite you inside, and offer you a drink. Get to know him a bit. Explain your desire to learn about Apolonia and its secrets, and if you're lucky, he'll tell you the story of his expedition.

"It began like this," he'll say, his words slightly accented. "Me an' Sammy, we were young and curious fellows. Thrill-seekers, if y' will. I 'ad my degree 'n epidemiology, Sammy 'ad 'is journaling occupation, an' suddenly we 'ad the 'ankering to go off 'n explore."

The man will tell of their attempts to gather up a group of young men who were interested in the exploration. He'll tell of their cruise across the Pacific Ocean and their first step onto the continent. He'll tell of the barren lands, the empty houses, the piles of bones in the alleyways, and the oxygen masks they wore in the beginning but gradually began to discard. His story is depressing, exciting, enlightening, and will leave you wanting to explore Apolonia yourself.

Finally, when you think his story is coming to an end, he'll tell of the day he entered the park. The man will describe patches of worn grass and bleak willow trees, but will speak most fondly of the mosaicked marble benches. He'll explain his discovery of an old woman's bones lying on one of these benches, with a small book clutched in the skeleton's hands.

The man will unlock a secret compartment in his desk drawer and show you the book, which looks to be as good as new. Questions will rise in your mind. "Why hasn't the book been damaged if it's two centuries old?" you'll ask, incredulous. "Didn't it become wet when it rained? Why haven't the words faded over time?"

"Magic," the man will reply, his grin displaying graying gums, and you won't be able to decide whether to believe him or not.

You'll get up to leave, thanking him for his time, and if he likes you enough, he'll stop you just before you reach the door. You'll turn around, and he'll hold out the book to you. "Take it," will be his last instruction, and you'll reluctantly close your hands around the leather jacket, vowing to read the book and share its secrets with the world.

By the time you will have read it, he'll be dead, and you'll be in possession of one of the greatest stories the world has ever known.