The Island of Time
No one knows where the Island came from or how The Empress came to live there. Many speculate the place is as old as time itself. Some even suggest it exists independently of our concept of time. This much is certain: the Island is a dangerous, volatile place and should be avoided at all costs. Surrounded by jagged shoals and outcroppings, the storm-tossed seas surrounding it have sent hundreds of vessels to an early end. A veritable ship's graveyard encircles the entire Island, a grim warning to anyone who dares tread too close. In addition to these natural defenses, the Island is constantly patrolled by The Empress' minions, for while she exists only in the past, her influence extends into the present as well, owing to the myriad portals scattered across the Island.
It appears that at one point the Island was simply the tip of a massive undersea mountain. However, centuries ago construction began on an enormous fortress, carved out of the existing rock. It was designed and built in concentric layers of increasing complexity, centered on a massive Central Chamber. Two prominent - and strikingly different towers can be seen at its eastern (Garden Tower) and western (Mechanical Tower) edges. The south side faces a desolate beach while the north end of the Fortress seems to simply recede back into the mountain from which it was constructed, giving the entire complex an eerily organic appearance.
In all recorded history only one man has successfully braved the Island of Time and lived to speak of it: The Maharaja. It is said that the Maharaja discovered many wonders on the Island: towers filled with marvels of engineering, lush gardens that housed fantastic creatures and portals which allowed travel through time itself. It was also where he discovered The Sands of Time. In retrospect it seems likely that the Island was as much designed to keep intruders away as it was to keep the Sands contained. For what is not often mentioned is that of the five thousand men the Maharaja brought with him to the Island, less than 10 returned...