"Anyone who lands on the Isle of Yunck
expecting to see a town will be confused and disappointed. The
casual eye sees nothing here but a mound that rises into a mountain,
falling, at its apex, into a gigantic sinkhole. A thick, steady
stream of water pours down this hole and disappears into the
darkness. It is an impressive and unusual sight, but surely not
worth all the trouble they went to crossing the violent water of
Pithistle Strait. A casual stroll around the island reveals nothing
beyond a series of low mounds which lie scattered across the remains
of the area. They hear laughter, human voices blown back and forth
by the wind, but where are these noises coming from? The visitor
with any susceptibility will shudder here. The island seems haunted.
Then his foot strikes against something flat and hard on the top of
one of the mounds and he wonders what it is. The mound opens. He has
just knocked on somebody's front door."
(From A month in
Cumber Poidy, by Stanley Godribbon.)
A network of
underground caves forms the skeleton of the Cumber Poidy settlement.
These caves lay undiscovered for centuries, even while the island was being used as a handy resting place for fisherpeople sailing the Strait. In the Year of Established Stone (1530), a band
of Exians climbed down the hole at the bottom of the
Poidy Waterfall and there they found a lake inside a large cavern
which gave way to a honeycomb of chambers and tunnels.
A map of
Cumber Poidy's tunnels.
The squarish bulb at the
bottom right of the map is the town meeting place, or Great Hall.
The corridor to the right of the Hall leads to the Poidian
Governor's chambers. The open area above the Hall houses the lake
into which the Poidy Waterfall pours.
Modified by the
Exians into an inescapable jail, the caves were filled with prisoners in the Year of the Prison (1600). The jail was dismantled in the Year of Spreading (1687). (See The Cumber Poidy Prison for details.)
Today, the former prison is inhabited by descendants of the prison guards and prisoners of long ago.
Poidians are gracious and hospitable toward visitors,
but any outsider who plans to move in for good must be prepared to
wait for a while before they are fully absorbed into town life. They
are entering a very close-knit community.
It is also a
surprisingly wealthy community, thanks to the Poidians' skill in
exploiting the abundance of edible marine delicacies common here but
rare in the rest of the country. The Yunck oyster and deep-sea Table
Weed are two prominent examples.
The Governor's chambers,
formerly the home of the Cumber Poidy's prison governor, is the
grandest set of caves in the town. It is the only home without a second
doorway in the roof. To access the entrance, one must first walk along a narrow path around the Cumber Poidy Lake, pass
behind the curtain of the Poidy Waterfall and cross the Great Hall.
The Governor's Ministers and their families live adjoining this hall
in the rooms that used to house the prison doctor, the cook and most of the guards.
nearby jetty is Cumber Poidy's only connection to the mainland. Read
about the group of volunteers who maintain the jetty's health: The
Cumber Poidy Citizens' Jetty Watch Team Alliance.
also read about the famous Cumber Poidy