Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, July 19, through Friday, August 22, 1890
With the battle concluded, Jezz approached Lokan’s body and removed the medallion. Jezz approached them and held it out to them. “This is of your people, not ours. Your kind should have it,” she concluded as she handed it to them.
“That has to be it,” Dr. Alexandra Simone said as she saw the medallion. “One of the reasons I was sent here was to recover an amulet,” she informed in a whisper. They obliged her with a spell to detect magic and found the aboriginal medallion to indeed be quite magical in nature.
“Did you know that Kyrian Fischer was a friend of Dr. Irwin,” they questioned Simone. Simone was surprised at that information. “I’d heard that the others had been looking for the amulet,” she confessed, “but I wouldn’t have suspected him.”
“Well, Fischer told Irwin that you were in a secret organization and that’s why he sent Lokan to fetch you,” Evgenia told. “Where is Dr. Irwin,” Dracona inquired. “He led us through the passage but then disappeared before we got to the guards.”
With a promise to return with acceptable food supplies for the reptoids, they made haste back through the tunnel and to the facility. Dr. Irwin turned abruptly from his almost completed packing as they burst into his quarters. “Going some place?” Evgenia said facetiously.
“I have to report on all of this in person,” he lied. “Who do you work for,” Dracona questioned. He refused to talk but a quick frisk turned up a symbol in his pocket.
The symbol identified him as one of the Dark Riders, the lycanthrope cult. They were pretty certain Dr. Irwin was not a lycanthrope because apparently only the Drak Rider leaders were. A few threats from Dracona and Dr. Irwin explained that he’d been sent there four years ago to search for a magical amulet that was rumored to be in Australia.
Dr. Irwin had apparently not expected anybody to return from the reptoids. But just in case, he had planted items to implicate Dr. Peyssonel in any deaths that might be discovered. With enough death by his hands, it was not hard to get him remanded into custody.
Dr. Peyssonel was assigned as the new head of the Magnetic Island research facility. Dr. Simone would stay on at the facility, as originally planned. They stayed there to help ensure a steady supply of suitable food supplies delivered to the reptoids. And they were trying to devise a way to get the Gibraltar reptoids transported to Australia to meet.
But on Saturday, July 26, a telegram came in for them at Townsville. They were to leave on Monday for Mombasa, British East Africa, on a White Star ship. Their old acquaintance Kutata had requested their help in an urgent matter.
Their ship approached Mombasa in the early morning light of Saturday, August 16, 1890. The town of Mombasa lay separated from the mainland by a very narrow channel. The town crouched under the watchful gaze of a Portuguese fortress, named Jesus Fort. Although it was built over 300 years ago, there still seemed to be a palpable menace about the structure.
The land was fresh and green and the quaint town was bathed with white house walls and waving palms, lofty coconuts, huge baobabs and spreading mango trees. The hills of the mainland were heavily wooded and lush.
The bustling docks were plentifully sprinkled with bright Arab dhows. As the ship slipped its anchor, small boats and dug-outs swarmed around the ship. Swahili boatmen rapidly rowed them to the foot of the landing steps with their luggage. The noise and bustle of the port of entry for British East Africa washed over them, again.
Corporal John H. Patterson was waiting for them and escorted them to the same private room they’d met in during their last visit. “Now that we’re alone, let’s get down to brass tacks,” he began. “I’ve received disturbing news from Oliboni Ole Kutata.”
“As you know, he’s a Maasai shaman and a friend to the Fellowship. He sent a message to me through his grandson, Mabruki. It appears that Kutata is now too weak to travel far from his Kraal.”
“Mabruki related to me a vision that Kutata had. In this vision, he claims to have been contacted by the shaman of the Chaga tribe. I must admit that I don’t know much about them as they live further into the interior near the great mountain Kilimanjaro.”
“Kutata claims that she reached out to the spirits for help and guidance because there are strange white men in one of the Chaga tribe villages called Marangu. Kutata claims that the spirits of the land connected them and allowed him to feel and experience her fears regarding these strange white visitors. With their arrival, she felt as if the dread that she associates with the darkness that threatens the land was strengthened.”
“However, the white men have been welcomed and many in her tribe view them as friends. She knows little of the white man’s society and so is not sure what to make of them. Kutata then sent Mabruki to find me and ask for my help and, I in turn, sent for you.”
“To be blunt, we owe Kutata for his help earlier, as you know. While I don’t pretend to understand the connection that he has with the land and how he can share experiences with this Chaga shaman, I trust Kutata. He’s a proven friend of the Fellowship and if he wants our help with this, that’s what he’s going to get!”
“I want you to go to Marangu and make contact with the Chaga shaman there. You are going to be pretty far off the beaten track there, so you’re going to have to use your own initiative to figure out how to best deal with whatever you find. Rashidi is currently in Voi arranging for local guides and porters to take your group to Marangu.”
“When you see him, let him know that I will be along later and ask him to have supplies sent along to Tsavo.” “How is Charles Ryall,” Evgenia inquired. “He’s recovering nicely. Rashidi was able to arrange his return to Nairobi and, after a brief stay in hospital there, he has returned home. Still not up totally to snuff, but much stronger.”
“What can you tell us about the Chaga?” Dracona asked. “Not much. They’re an agrarian tribe that lives around the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. They speak the Bantu dialect,” he answered.
“Mount Kilimanjaro is believed to be the highest point on the African continent,” Evgenia informed, “rising 19,340 feet above sea level. A German chap named Rebmann discovered the mountain in 1848. But when he tried to reveal the discovery to the Royal Society, they laughed him out of the room. He died before he was vindicated.”
“Then, Dr. Hans Meyer, another German,” Evgenia continued, “successfully summited the mountain in October of 1889. “Its name comes from the Swahili,” Patterson explained. “Kilima means mountain and N’jaro means shining. But, I need to get a few things taken care of here in Mombasa so my men will caravan you to Voi. Good hunting,” Patterson concluded as he led them outside, again.
Porters already had their luggage over at the docks and the small boats and dugouts took them across the Straight of Macupa to the British East Africa mainland. The caravan was ready and they left as soon as their gear and luggage was loaded. Bartley kept an eye out for the rifle porter that he had hired last time to travel into the bush hunting the Tsavo lions. He didn’t see him among the native porters and vowed to seek him in Voi before they left.
On elephant back they traveled the trail that they’d traveled a year ago. Their guides reminded them to have enough water with them and keep their guns covered or cleaned daily. They made it to Samburu at the end of the first day and camped there, again, due to the nearby watering hole.
After another night on the trail, Patterson’s men brought the caravan into Voi, about 100 miles from the coast, around 2 pm on Monday, August 18. Rashidi strode out of the station and called out a hearty “Jambo, Bwana! It is good to see you again! Please come with me, I have everything arranged for you.”
Rashidi escorted them to the western edge of Voi to an area where several wall tents had been erected. As they approached the camp several young men ran out of the camp under the direction of a stocky native man wearing western style clothing. The young men tried to collect any baggage that they were carrying and ushered the other porters carrying their luggage toward the waiting tents.
Rashidi led them under a larger dining fly where a camp table and several folding chairs had been arranged. He motioned for you to sit and, immediately, a man appeared with a tray laden with tea. After mugs of tea have been passed around to all present, Rashidi introduced the solid native man they’d seen upon entering the camp as Awaale. He explained that Awaale was their guide to Marangu and then allowed Awaale to speak.
“My friends,” Awaale said, “I am here to make sure that you make it to Marangu. I have arranged for transport of one bag of luggage for each of you and all of the camp equipment. We will have 30 men in our little expedition."
“Myself and one of my askari will be with you at all times, while the other two askari will travel one in the front of the group and one in the back. These men will carry rifles for our protection as there are many dangerous wildlife in bush. We will have a cook and 25 porters.”
“Marangu is about 75 miles from here and can only be accessed on foot. While there are established trading paths, they are still quite difficult and strenuous. It will take us a little over 7 days to trek this distance.”
“For those of you not acquainted with the African bush, I must ask that you stay with me at all times on the trek for your own protection. There have been attacks by lions, elephants, hippo, water buffalo and rhino on this trail before. I also encourage you to only drink that water which has been filtered for you and to drink regularly.”
“We will be serving dinner in two hours and will be leaving first thing in the morning. Please feel free to wander around the town, relax in your tents or use the dining area. If any of you wish, I can have a bath drawn for you in the portable tub. I must now see to the final preparations for our trek. I will see you at dinner.”
Evgenia ordered a bath drawn and Bartley went to Rashidi about his gun porter. Rashidi smiled broadly and indicated that he was able to retain the services of Bartley’s prior gun porter. To Bartley’s pleasure, it was the gun porter that had previously accompanied him into the bush against the Tsavo lions and not the one who refused to travel into the bush. With their affairs in order, they had a little bit of time to stock up on additional mundane supplies.
Rashidi reminded them that they would only be permitted to bring one bag of approximate 30 pounds with them on the trek. He offered to store any extra in Voi and guaranteed its safety. He was polite, but insistent on the matter. After dinner Rashidi bid them good luck and headed back into town.
A good night’s rest prepared them to travel into the bush on Tuesday morning. As they traveled into the bush, Awaale kept a close eye on them and attempted to keep them together. He tried to keep a steady pace, but allowed for short breaks every hour or so. As they trekked closer to Kilimanjaro, the foliage became lusher and the mountain was hidden from view.
Awaale trekked along quietly until Evgenia talked about one of the plants along the way. Awaale chimed in and was quite knowledgeable about the plants and animals that inhabit the bush and pointed out the various interesting sights.
On the fourth day of travel after leaving Voi, at one of the thigh deep river crossings, Awaale pointed out a dead crocodile and warned them to be alert for danger. Fredryck noticed the water begin to bubble and suddenly one of porters screamed as a great gray beast rose out of the water.
The hippo’s teeth came crashing down on the porter’s arm, shattering bone and tearing flesh. The porter slipped and fell into the river with the beast. Fredryck waded forward, drawing his sword, and attacked the submerging hippo.
Bartley drew his rifle and shot it while his rifle porter unwrapped his elephant gun. Evgenia shot it with her Winchester and Fredryck struck it again with his sword. The hippo bit Fredryck while Dracona waded toward it and blew fire at it.
A second hippo emerged on the same flank but about 20 feet away from the first and attacked another porter. Archibald shot it but missed and then a third hippo attacked Evgenia from the other flank. Awaale and his three askari fired at the hippos while the porters did their best to carry their loads toward shore.
Bartley’s rifle porter moved to put Bartley between him and the hippos as he handed Bartley the loaded elephant gun. Bartley unloaded the elephant gun, hitting with the first but missing with his second shot. Evgenia withdrew from the third hippo and, severely injured from the prior attacks, Fredryck was able to kill the first hippo with a might blow.
Dracona cast a defensive spell, moved up to the second hippo to shield the porters from further attack and blasted it with fire. The second hippo struck at Dracona but missed her while Archibald shot the second hippo. The third hippo attacked a porter that was paralyzed with fear at his spot in the river. The porters continued to carry their loads toward shore while Awaale and the askari fired at the hippos.
Bartley got his rifle back and fired twice at the second hippo as his porter reloaded the elephant gun. Evgenia moved out of the water, staunching the blood loss as she went. Fredryck waded up to the second hippo and struck it twice. Dracona blew fire on it, again, and the second hippo attacked Fredryck but missed.
Archibald shot the second while the third attacked Bartley. Most of the porters had made it to one of the shores and the askari and Awaale fired at the two remaining hippos. Bartley’s porter put Bartley between the hippo and him. With the hippo on him, Bartley used his sword cane to beat the beast and called, “Shoot him!” to the porter, telling him to fire the elephant gun.
The porter got lucky and shot with the elephant gun, hitting the hippo squarely. Evgenia, safely ashore, fired her Winchester but missed due to her injuries. Fredryck attacked the second hippo three times and Dracona blasted it with fire, again. Fredryck was missed, again, by the hippo but Bartley got bit, again, and could tell he couldn’t take another hit.
Archibald shot the second and the askari and Awaale shot, too. Bartley struck at the hippo and his porter scored another hit but it was Evgenia’s shot that killed the third one. Fredryck struck twice at the second hippo and then Dracona finally caught it in her fiery breath. The burning hippo husk smoked as it slipped, dead, into the water as everybody made their way to the same shore.