To Hades and Back, Part Last

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To Hades and Back, Part Last
by Bt

Part 4

The Engineer was doing some preliminary sketches of a building Bt had pointed out to him
earlier in the day. She and the other ACs had told him their ideas about possible future use for the building and asked if he would determine if their ideas would work. He carefully measured and wrote down the dimensions of the building and then checked the foundation and construction. A smile creased his weathered face, the AC’s plan would work.

Just then a group of Debs spotted him and soon were clamoring for him to continue his story. With a smile, he closed his sketch book, placed it carefully in a carry sack and surrounded by the Debs he sat down on the grass to continue the tale.

“We hadn’t gone far when discovered that the brothers, in their anger, had, in the past, torn out parts of the road leading down from the mountain to hurl at each other. In, perhaps, a show of affection for each other as well as an effort to help us they each reached across the chasm and clasped a hand on the other’s shoulder. In this way we were able to drive across their extended arms and resume our trip down to the valley below. The late afternoon sun glinted off a string of small lakes below us and they sparkled and glittered like the diamond necklace of a pampered princess. A few more turns in the road and we neared the top-most lake. Coming abreast of it we could see it was fed by a stream of melt water flowing from the mountains which emptied into the lake. The first lake in turn, fed the second and so on down the string.”

“Normally, we would have stopped early to make camp at such a pleasant place but the lure of the valley below called to us and we went onward. Rounding the last downward bend in the road, the land spread out before us, a vast grass and tree covered plain. The water from the final lake fed a river which meandered across the valley and by the last rays of the sun we could see vast herds of large grazing animals feeding on the lush grass or making their way to the river for water. As we watched the sun set we heard the howling of a pack of wolves coming from the foot-hills a short distance away. With this in mind, we chose a camp site on the shore of the last of the lakes, built a sizable fire on a barren beach and tethered the horses close to the wagon. With so much in the way of wild life available to the predators we had little fear that we would be attacked but then, as Bt always says, “It never pays to take things for granted.”

“The night passed uneventfully and the following morning we set out to cross the valley. Yes, young lady?” The Engineer said in reply to the raised hand of one of the Debs.

“I guess you’re not gonna tell us about what happened that night after you made camp?” Shana said with a devious twinkle in her eye.

Blushing just a little at the inference of the question, The Engineer retorted with, “I don’t think that’s really relevant to the story.”

“Now where was I? Oh, yes. A short distance from our camp we came across a strange little house set in the middle of the road. A friendly looking troll greeted us as we approached and said, “Welcome to The Yellowstone. The fee for entering is 20 dinars for each vehicle.”

“I, of course, quickly produced my Legion Credentials and explained I was there to inspect the road and bridge projects the legions were building in this area.”

“The Toll Troll, seeing we were on official business, immediately let us in without paying the
“tourist” fee and even presented us with an official map and guide scroll of the area ,showing all the famous natural wonders that could be seen.”

“It wasn’t long before we found the first of these wonders. As we drove along a road that skirted some low hills Bt suddenly told me to stop the team. She quickly retrieved the motion picture machine and, walking quietly to the side of the road, began to capture on film one of the magnificent herd beasts we had seen from afar the day before. The creature, called a Bison, stood almost as tall as Bt and was casually eating a breakfast of native grasses.”

“Hey, Bison!” she called in a soft voice to the animal, “Look over this way so I can record your picture.”

“Obediently the beast raised its massive head and looked at Bt. A whisp of grass dangled jauntily from the corner of it’s mouth as the small black eyes stared inquisitively at her. The shiny black horns protruding from the curly mass of dark brown fur on its head completed a picture of majestic peacefulness. The guide scroll warned that these beasts, although appearing to be placid, could be unpredictable and Bt, and experienced hunter, backed slowing away from the animal as it took several slow steps in her direction. Getting back into the wagon we started up again slowly so we wouldn’t further alarm the animal. But, having moved us on, he went back to his breakfast and we went on our way.”

“Speaking of food, isn’t it about supper time?” the Engineer asked.

“Oh you’re not gonna stop now are you?” Orlena asked. “Maybe we could all eat together and you could continue your story. I just love to hear about other people’s travels and adventures.”

“I think we might be able to arrange that. I was going to meet Bt at the Battlefield. I understand that Maurice has been experimenting with some recipes he found and one of them is a native Roman dish I just love.” The Engineer exclaimed.

“Oh?” several of the Debs exclaimed.

“It’s not one of those weird things like squid stuffed with tiny eels, or something.” Orlena asked, wrinkling up her nose at the thought of such strange things.

“No nothing like that!” The Engineer laughed. “I don’t care much for exotic food, myself. This is a sort of pie with meat and cheese and other things on it. It’s called Pizza. From what I understand this is wb’s own private recipe and you can order the exact size you want so that you get just enough for a meal but never so much that you have leftovers.”

Later that evening after all had eaten their fill of Pizza, the Debs again urged him to continue the story.

“Our next stop shown on the map was a very strange place, indeed. There were some great holes in the ground and filling those holes, if you believe me, were hot mud puddles. The sign said they were Mud-Pots and I suppose that’s as good a way to describe them as any. There was a great deal of hot moist steam coming from them. So much, in fact, that we had to wait for the wind to blow the steam in another direction to see the bubbling mud in the holes. Unfortunately the wind blew back in our direction and that was when we caught the sulfur scent of these mud pots. It wasn’t very pleasant, I’ll tell you that for free. After taking some pictures of them we went on to the next attraction listed in the book, The Geysers.”

“There are, it seems, all kinds of geysers. Some of them are just holes in the ground that rumble and spout steam every now and then others spout great fountains of very hot water higher than the surrounding trees. Those are quite a sight to see. I was quite proud of the Legions that day. They had taken care to build their roads and pathways around these beautiful but dangerous obstacles so that people could see them but not be in any danger of being hurt but the scalding water or hot steam.” “Apparently the animals who live in The Yellowstone learn very early where the safe places are for them to walk and graze for we saw many tracks of the Bison and other animals in the geyser areas but none went closer to the geysers than it was safe to be. When I talked with some of the men who were working on the roads they told me they used the animal tracks as a guide for laying out safe passage ways in these areas. I thought that was quite intelligent of them to do so.”

“Night was fast approaching and so we sought a place to camp for the night. One of the Legionnaires told us that the area around Porcupine Creek was especially nice and directed us to the spot. During the night a very strange thing happened but I think maybe Bt should tell you that part.”

“It was very strange.” Bt remarked, as she shifted a little in her chair to get in a more comfortable position. “I’d fallen asleep, listening to the gurgling and chattering of the small river and thinking what a peaceful place The Yellowstone was. Someone, the day before, had remarked that there is a peculiar magic about the area and that many people who visit there find themselves staying on permanently. I guess I was dreaming, or maybe not, but about that time I heard a familiar voice calling to me.”

“The voice said, Bluetopaz we need you, come home as soon as you can! It was my daughter, Manto. Just as clear as if she was standing next to me. I got up and called out to her, Manto, where are you?”

“I didn’t receive an answer but, I do believe it was a sign telling me that as beautiful and enticing as The Yellowstone was, it was time for me to head home.”

“The following morning, I related what had happened to The Engineer and he agreed that we had both accomplished the tasks that were sent to do and it was time to head back to Deb U. We hitched up the team and headed south. I must admit, though, the southern road was as beautiful and filled with as many wondrous sights as the road we had traveled the previous day. It took us the rest of that day to reach the southern boundary of the area. We saw more spectacular geysers and pools of water with strange fanciful colored growth in them as well as waterfalls and, and so much else it’s hard to remember all the wonders we witnessed that day.”

“After we left the Yellowstone area we entered a desert country. It was quite a change from the mountains with tree covered slopes we had passed through earlier on our trip. There was a great deal in the way of things to see, however. There were peculiar rock outcroppings, strange animal and plant life and in many cases you could see from horizon to horizon without interruption. As one raised in a forest environment I confess, it was a little daunting to be out in the open and so exposed. But this is the Engineer’s story so I should let him finish it.” Bt said with a smile as she gestured to her old friend to pick up the narrative.

“Several days later we began to see farms and small settlements and knew we were close to home. The last part of the trip was uneventful except for Blue’s increasing impatience to get back here. I trust she has now settled whatever problems were bothering the ACs and we  can get on with my job here.” The engineer said with a questioning look.

“Not entirely, ”Bt replied, “But, I think it is safe to assume that your part in all this, at least, can go forward.”


Thanks for reading! As you can tell we had quite a trip. I hope you enjoyed my sharing it with you in this rather unusual way.


Posted on Oct 05 1999, 10:22 PM

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