I made a character and I think I'm a fighter (how do I tell?) and am in a town with a bunch of people discussing valor and a red stone. I found Aesop and got the RA mantra but now what? I'm on a small island and I can't get off of it and all it seems I can do is talk to people and get poisoned. What do I do to advance the game? I feel trapped on this island with no idea of what to do.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax. Then listen to me.
It sounds like you are a fighter. To tell, press the Z button to bring up your stats. It should list your character's name, their gender, their class, their attributes, their level, their XP, their armour, and their weapon.
To avoid being poisoned, do not walk over strange looking terrain tiles. These are basically swamps that poison you. If you are poisoned there will be a P next to your hit points. You will lose hit points with every step you take after being poisoned. You can either cast a cure spell to remove the poison (not an option right now because you are a fighter), or find a healer in a town to cure you.
As you are a fighter you start off next to the town of Jhelom as it is the home of fighters. You can talk to the residents and ask them things to pick up clues about the game world. However, there are only two ways to get off the island at this point in the game. The first is to wait by the coast for a pirate ship to attack you. You can then kill the pirates and sail the ship yourself to other lands.
The better way (at this point in the game) to get off the island is to wait for the moongate to appear next to the town. If you look at the map that comes with the game you can see your position in the game world. You are on a small island to the extreme south west (bottom left). The little circle on the map on your island with the left half white and the right half black indicates that there is a moongate at that position and that it opens up when the first moon (indicated at the top of your screen) is white on the left and black on the right. Wait around outside of town until the moongate opens up and jump through. Your destination is indicated by the second moon at the top of the screen. If the second moon is all black when you jump through the moongate you'll end up at the place on the map that has an all black circle. This would be the town of Moonglow on an island to the far east as seen on the map.
At this point in the game you should really try getting to the Castle of Lord British. This is in the middle of the main continent on the map. As you can see on the map, to get there you have to enter a moongate when the second moon at the top of your screen is mostly black but with a slither of white on its left side. However, it's worth mentioning that you may not be able to get to where you want to go to from each moongate. You may have to hop between multiple moongates by jumping through one to get to an intermediate location and then jumping through another to get to your final destination.
Mastering the moongates is an important part of the game. It might take a while but it's hugely rewarding.