Miss Connolly, My warmest regards.
Again my apologies for the delay in contacting you. We remain safe, and have travelled many leagues, through the winding tunnels and tubes that descend and twist in the depths of the Isle of Phillip. Such sights have we seen! Your receipt of this notes shows the pigeon has found some adit through which to pass, as it hoped it would.
Let me preface by recalling our discovery of these caverns- You will have known by now of our encounter with the native tribe here, how most of our party was captured and rescued by the daring Kiralette. My role in the plan of rescue was to circle the encampment, approach and contain from the flanking pathway.
I must admit I became uncertain of my route, and struggled through the heavy bush, but soon found myself at forested vale out of earshot of my fellows; and continued my trudging through this brush, ever wary of Bunneh-sign. Suddenly, in the depths of this forest, a figure of a brawny man dropped from the vines above me, clad only in tiger skin loincloth, muscles ripping, and let loose a loud frightening yodel of doom.
Backward I faltered, tripping, splayed as he towered madly over me. He paused, looking over me, examining my clothing- his anger turned to confusion, he spoke in broken English "You. No Icky!... No Spork!?"
Struggling to my feet, I reached for my revolver, but hesitated to draw, as he slowly moved forward, curious , but no longer threatening. He drew a handkerchief from my jacket pocket as I stood very still (as I usually do with madmen). This was obviously some non-native outcast, I surmised. Perhaps, examining the rickety tree house and garden I now saw beyond, I had stumbled on some sort of native asylum, and it's sole resident.
The savage sniffed at the cologned kerchief. "You. Like Jane?"
"Austen? Hrmm yes, excellent reading:)" I said, thoroughly confused. "Have you tried Cleland? It's like Jane, but Norty" I added.
He reached out and thumped my chest with his palm. "You...not...like Jane." He said with a note of disappointment. "Tarzan..need...Jane" he said, rolling his eyes. "Tarzan...Have...Cheetah," he elaborated. "Tarzan...fear...Ebola."
With this, the savage turned and walked toward his jungle shanty, turning once to bid me to follow. Seeing a potential ally here, I followed, to ask direction a back to the encampment, as the rescue effort was soon to commence.
A strange mixture of jungle furniture and modern relics were strewn about the place. A 5-man poker table, worn and disused, deserted by some long closed and forgotten casino, took up the center of the hut. He immediately sat here, and pointed to the other mossy stump"You sit!' Tarzan..play..Holdem."
Examining my watch and glancing at the door, I asked "Can you show me the way to the Itchysporkchowchow camp, old boy? It would be dashed kind of you."
"Sit..first! Tarzan...go...Long...walk...Tarzan...swim...many day! No Holdem, nowhere! We Play!"
I Said "Erm, is that even legal, now?"
"I look...like...Linden? Sit!"
"Well," I said, sitting, "perhaps one hand.."
After sacrificing my kerchief to my host as ante, he offered coconuts, sex benches, and various freebie boxes which I each in turn denied as worthwhile stake. Finally he produced a crudely drawn island map on fine parchment- this I gratefully accepted, and play proceeded. Having won quickly on a lucky draw to three queens I got up to leave. "Tarzan...waste...life." he sighed. "Cheetah...right. Tarzan...is...Fish." Feeling the press of charity, I left my kerchief in consolation.
I trotted off with a bow and examined the map, finding my way to the path quickly. As I folded the map I noticed it was drawn on the back of a document of some sort, well drawn up. I tucked it away and hurried on to help my compatriots; who, by the time I arrived, had been rescued, of course.
As the Duchesses, Baronesses, etc dried, Dr. Sputnik and I examined the map, noting some nearby markings designated with arrows. One we found nearby- an cavernous opening that led to murky depths. The footprints at the entrance showed evidence of heavy use. Baron Bardhaven , examining certain other markings on the map, which I insisted stay in my possession, had secretive conferences with Darkling, and insisted we immediately proceed below.
Lighting torches and loading the remaining Pengis with what loads of provision they would bear, we set out below. Two more had joined our company, well known to the others, a pixie and Strongman- they seemed no-nonsense and just as concerned for the fate of Caledon, and I was welcome for their company. Downward we plodded, through tunnel after tunnel, The Baron oft muttering at each turning, and Darkling lost in concentration. yet skillfully leading. Or being led, it seemed. Soon the heat was noticeably growing, as I think we neared the active flows of the living cone.
This was proved correct as we passed through a large cavern, open below at a side, and the red fiery glow of a lava flow shone reflected against the walls and roof. Onward we travelled. In another chamber this light grew stronger, and the heat caused us to shed all but essential garments, increasing the burdens of the poor pengi. As we reached another passage we halted- before us great rumblings. I stole a peek around our leaders and saw a narrow rock bridge ahead, straddling a river of lava, burning in it's flow beneath. Beyond this- the unlikely sight of sand leading downward, a glimmer of silver water, and a great roaring familiar to me as the ocean side- yet quite out of place so many leagues underground. As the leaders watched, a great ball of fire, a huge lava orb leaped up and sputtered from the flow. And, exploding, molten rock sputtered and sizzled over the narrow bridge between us and the sand. Quite dangerous, I opined, and returned to the back of the group to rest. Taking a moment to examine the back of the map, I read carefully. It was some sort of deed...Lands in Caledon...Patents for a transferable Duchy! oh my! I must investigate this! yet, I knew that there may not be a Caledon should we not complete this quest...perhaps on the voyage back I shall eat a little better.
So I close here, and fasten this note to trusty pigeon, who, with the help of providence and natural gift of guidance will find way to you. Fear not, for all is not yet lost!
G. Abel (Duke?)