Sep 27, 2007

Journey to....Mysterious Island: The Chow Chow Club

Gratefully accepting the dark red, heavily starched men's shirt from Bardhaven (how did the man tolerate wearing something that could essentially stand upright of its own accord?) after Professor Avalanche and his dear Pixie crashed into us and aided our escape, I followed the group into the caverns of the volcano. Bless those dear souls who shared their last bits of clothing with the nearly-itchysporkchowchow-soup members of the team. It should be noted that dear Kiralette looked none to happy about going in there, but she did indeed follow along as well.

That we all survived the last several hours is testament to the tenacity that is representative of Caledon. Here we were reunited and pushing forward with the expedition. Barefoot and wearing very few clothes, but alive and relatively well. Gnarlihotep had returned to us with a strange look on his face and a very primitive map of the island. I was only able to study it for a short while as Lady Darkling and Bardhaven took control of the map and the situation.

Gnarli's little Sherpas were milling about with a number of packs on their backs. The little one, whom I had earlier in this journey chastised soundly, timidly approached me. Bless him. He had several of my scientific instruments, my journal, pen and ink, and my Claymore. In his dirk! He must have picked it up as we scurried from the fires and pots. I smiled at him, promised him some lovely fish at the end of this expedition, and told him that he would be most welcome to come to live with me at Loch Avie if he should desire it. Despite his shortcomings, he was doing me good service....and Nellie might enjoy a new friend (or dinner - may need to rethink this).

As we entered the caves, I saw that Lady Darkling noticed the same strange organ music that I had heard days before - and now again. Looking around Lady Amber also seemed fairly entranced, and in fact, almost everyone seemed to hear it now. It was deep and dark...coming from the belly of this beast. I sensed a change, however, and saw Darkling leading us along as if hypnotised. We all followed her. It seemed the right thing to do. With my dirk tucked into the pocket of my newly acquired shirt, and my Claymore in my hands, I walked along through the pressing heat. The heat was growing as was the music, and some deep rumbling sound....a different sound than we had heard from Phillip before now.

As the passage grew wider and an opening was spotted, I moved forward to see what had been found. Gasping, I realized that we had found the portal by which the lava and ash were sent forth from the sim. The height was dizzying, and all that I could see from my spot along the trail was a fragile rock bridge which would apparently lead us further down into the beast. Suddenly Gnarli went quickly past me stating that he needed to be at the back of the group for a rest. Gabrielle, Terry, and Oolon were looking all around the chamber apparently not fearful of the heights.

Just as I noticed that Darkling was against the wall and as still as the stone, the mountain groaned loudly and spewed forth a huge magma ball. It flew past us – but only barely. I heard screaming. Most of us had run for cover back through the passage from whence we came. Darkling, however, stood with her back ramrod straight against the wall where she had been since we found the bridge. She was screaming. No! She was singing….with a very odd quality about her voice. Singing as I had never heard her sing before. I might have sworn that someone else was singing with her; however, looking around I noted that the rest of our crew was gathering their belongings, their companions, and their wits about themselves, but no one was singing.

Soon Bardhaven came forward and took Lady Darkling’s hand. They exchanged a few words between them and then started moving forward to the bridge. Her singing began again. This time, I joined the eerie song. I did not know the words, but somehow the strange melody came easily to me, and provided a strong counterpoint to the music of the mountain.

One by one, as the mountain shook all around us and the bridge crumbled away, we made our way across the bridge. The molten rock below us was churning and boiling. I attempted to commit as many details of the scene to memory as possible for there was certainly NO time to sketch it or to take any readings with my equipment. Professor Krogstad and Lady Kate would be expecting some sort of report if I ever made it out of these caves.

Incredibly we all made it across the great chasm without injury. Gnarlihotep went forward to discuss the map with Darkling and Bardhaven. Kiralette was close at hand. The poor thing still had the memory of her burning, injured hands, and we were now placing her in much greater danger. Indeed, I think she may have found more adventure than she was looking for. As the four of them talked quietly of the right route to take, Terry and Oolon seemed to be taking some scientific measurements of their own, sampling some of the rock and muttering something about ancient energy sources. The Professor was assisting Miss Fuchsia along the trail. Amber, Gabi, and I were standing nearby awaiting the decision of the navigators. Whether it was fear or some strange connection to the mountain, I realized the three of us were all now singing and swaying (nearly dancing) as we waited.

Finally we were all moving again. Shortly we came to a fork in our pathway. Lady Darkling continued on down a path with Bardhaven, Kiralette, and Gnarli following. I was, however, drawn down the other path. I felt sure the music was coming from that direction….and now I heard drums. Amber, Gabi, Oolon, Terry, Alfonso, and the Pixie followed along with me, as did a few of the pengi. The others must have been behind Gnarli (I hope).

Moving along as quickly and quietly as possible, we noted that the music was growing louder and louder. The mountain seemed to be vibrating with this sound rather than the flow of magma and rock.

Suddenly, the space opened up before us. Through the haze and smoke, I saw rock, poles, a platform of some sort, movement…..Blinking, I rubbed my eyes with the edge of my shirt and looked again.

“Good Lord!” I cried “It’s a Gentleman’s Club!”

There it was laid out before us, here in the center of the volcano. Natives dancing everywhere. Beautiful Itchysporkchowchow women dancing around poles. Surely it must only be ritualistic dancing.

“Miss Bellambi, I believe you are right on the first count” said Professor Avalanche, “for I have never seen any ritual quite like this.”

Our mouths were agape as we took it all in….dancers, patrons, the drummers on the platform seemingly in a trance.

And over to the other side of the space…the organ! An enormous instrument carved directly into the mountain! And on the bench, a dark figure. Playing. Playing the terrifying music. A man? Yes I think so. Through the red haze of the room, I could just make out a light colored vest and dark closely cropped hair.

Who is this fiend? Just as we were about to approach the figure, the warriors descended upon us. Oh great….and Templeton was in the lead and heading straight for me.