Aug 7, 2007

Journey to....Mysterious Island - A Journey of Titanic Proportions

Watching from the bow of the ship, Aronnax, as the last of my equipment was sent below decks, I reminisced about the last time I sailed on her. It was another voyage for the Royal Society; a voyage that took us in search of Scylla and Charybdis. I shivered at the thought of the peril that we faced on that trip. Professor Krogstad barely made it back to Caledon with us in one piece as the angry heads snapped him repeatedly whilst he was taking measurements and recordings, and Kate nearly lost her life when she fell into the whirlpool.

Shaking those memories from my mind by taking the flute of Dom Perignon offered by Gabrielle, I went back to the work at hand. I carried a heavy small box with me to the prow of the ship. We were now underway to Phillip, and were making fairly good time at what the captain had estimated to me was about 5-10 knots at present. It seemed a good time to set up the theodolite for the accurate surveys we would need as we approached the volcano. I placed the box on the ground, walked as far forward on the prow as possible, and sipped the champagne. Mmm. Yes. The divine taste for which Dom Perignon is renowned. As the last golden drops fell from the flute onto my lips and tongue, I closed my eyes and felt the wind flowing through my hair and gown. We were not yet so close to Phillip that the air was intensely hot or acrid. As I stood there for a moment with my eyes closed enjoying the sensations taking over me, I heard what sounded like singing coming from - of ALL places - Phillip. I kept my eyes closed and concentrated on the sounds which were floating on the air. Low. Rhythmic. Enchanting. My hips began to sway almost involuntarily almost as if I had heard those sounds before. But how would that be possible? I had barely begun to attempt an answer to that question when I sensed a presence behind me.

Movement - slow movement.

Nearly silent.

Standing still with my eyes now open, I caught a familiar scent. A musky cologne. Then a whisper in my ear as he stood there behind me on the prow of the Aronnax.

"I'm the King of the World."

Turning my head slightly I felt and saw Lord Bardhaven standing just behind me. Darkened spectacles hiding his eyes as always. Breath hot on my cheek. Hands playing with my....... theodolite.

"Are you now? The King of the World?" I asked voice low and a bit husky from the salt air. "And when were you elevated to such great heights, laddy boy?"

The Baron merely smirked. Then responding in a low - almost hissing - voice, "It was merely a moment's dalliance as I saw you looking quite the siren here on the bow of the ship. But, surely Your Grace, you know I always have a thing or two in my pockets that may be pulled out as a situation warrants. Title is but one of them."

"To be sure. Satin ribbons. Hand-cuffs. Blindfolds. Cat of Nine Tails." I detailed.

Oddly, I realized that I had begun fanning myself furiously even though the breeze off the sea was strong. Anyway...

I turned to face him fully and took the instrument from his hand.

"Have you the pole in that pocket of yours, then?"

He curled up one corner of his mouth as he began, "Well now, Your Grace, perhaps you would like to place your....."

Interrupting, I said, "No. I doubt that you have the detachable model #657-03, which is the only one that will fit this particular...theodolite. Never mind searching through your pockets. Do be a dear though, ‘Mr. King of the World’, and hand that pole in the box out to me. I need to get the equipment set up."

Chuckling, the Baron deftly handed out the required piece of equipment. Just as I was setting the post, I caught sight of our illustrious Captain Sparrow sliding willy-nilly across the deck as he nearly fell over himself running down the stairs to us.

"Captain? Are you quite all right?" I said with an arched brow and a grin.

"Savvy! Without doubt, Yer Duchessness, Ma'am. Just thought I heard that we had high ranking royalty on board. I mean higher than yerself and the other Duchy-girl. And of course I was wonderin’ whether there might be more money to be had….I mean more make-up….or rather, whether further special accommodations needed to be made."

“No Captain. No one is higher than the Duchesses on board this ship.” Bardhaven crooned.

I scanned the deck quickly to make sure that no one had found my stash of ceremonial herbs and my hookah. Then I chuckled a little at Lord Bardhaven, turned and began to put the instruments use.

One again the music came to me. This time it seemed that the Baron and even our strange ship’s captain heard it on the air for they stopped their bantering and turned towards Phillip. The music was otherworldly and driving. My body longed to move to these sounds yet again, but my mind was more fully in control this time. Spinning on my heel, I turned and seeing that the good captain had a telescope on his person, I pulled it from his belt (oops that was apparently holding up his belt. “Sorry there Captain.”) and searched the island for clues to this music.

Lady Darkling had emerged from below decks with Miss Lightfoot. They were both now looking at the mountain. It was clear they heard the music as well since both of them seemed to be engaged in animated discussion and were spinning around together.

The ship was now fairly buzzing with activity. All our party seemed to be manning the rails anxious to see what might await us as we came nearer the island. One could almost hear the thoughts and questions in the minds of our group as they stood there transfixed:

What danger lurks within the lava flows and steam vents?
Who or what is creating the music that we keep hearing?
Is there an evil mastermind behind this sudden upheaval in the Caledonian Sea?
Will they be selling plots? Or subplots?
Who will serve tea?
Are the public restrooms clean?
Is there a public house?
Will there be trees to climb?
Will there be artifacts to plunder and sell at ridiculously high prices on the black market?
Dear God, let there be a higher form of life found here. I need more intelligent conversation.

Hronk? Well now that caught my attention. Turning slowly around I saw one of Mr. Abel’s young Sherpas standing there looking at me. Actually, he was staring at me as if I were a dish of fine smoked salmon with a little caviar and crème fraiche.

I will tell you, I felt more that a bit odd about the way he was watching me. “Mr. Abel! Would you please get Pengi here back below decks?”

Next time: A surprise guest.