After a particularly harrowing day of flivvervaat birthing, the entire house settled into a deep slumber last night. There were reports of hail and flash lightening in the area, but no one – not even the littlest dragon – woke in agitation. I rose early to check the garden for hail stones and at the foot of my bed was a bat.
Normally, if you find a bat inside during daylight hours, that creature is ill. An ill bat is a cranky bat, and should you find yourself in this situation, I recommend calling for assistance. However, this bat was not ill. It had a letter for me from my brother.
Leave it to Mordecai to send me a missive via Chiroptera and not the United States Postal Service. I take comfort in the fact that he has apparently given up on heat-seeking-missile-mail. My 10th birthday is infamous in my family for that reason.
But I digress. Here is the letter in its entirety. Undoubtedly, you will find it as interesting as I did.
The bat is sleeping in the attic. I am sending it back from whence it came. With some ginger cake for Mordecai. It’s his favorite, and no matter what, I am a thoughtful sibling.
I write to you from the dusty, deserted parking lot of La Maisonne, a gentlemen’s club in this lamentable border town. My two guides are spending my generous gratuities within, on libations first and then more carnal entertainments, no doubt. I will join them shortly, after composing this letter to you, beloved brother. Ha! I shiver at the thought of the “talent” I will discover. This town is half-dead. The only youngish human residents left behind are damaged in some way. But then, as you know modest Brother, I do enjoy damaged playthings…
The penetration into the wilderness sector was uneventful. A bumpy jeep ride through a sylvan tunnel brought us to the base of the massif where we made camp. We chose the shortest but most difficult ascent route since my guides have no desire to loiter in the sector, and I have no desire to linger in their company. Guides are an unfortunate necessary. The sector this far north is unfamiliar to me, and disorienting. The forests are vast and dense, and they teem with unknown things, some dangerous. I left Charles behind in my room in the town, 30 miles or so from the mountain. It is best to remain as anonymous as possible with these people, not that they display any interest in who I am or what my purpose may be. I pay, and that is what matters. Still, Charles can be an identifiable conversation piece and I prefer to limit those. It was perhaps an unnecessary precaution as the guides hardly regarded or spoke to me at all. One prattled on in a disgusting monologue about past exploits in La Maisonne while the other grunted occasionally and more frequently drank from a flask.
We began the ascent at daybreak. I climbed a good distance behind my companions. No need for curious eyes to spy what items I removed. We ascended almost completely vertically, shortly finding ourselves immersed in a wet cloud. Every sensation is more enhanced here and this cloud was no different—very wet, very cold, very blue. I inhaled the cloud mist and it had an indescribable taste. I wonder what changes my body will endure from breathing this cloud. I feel simultaneously more full of vigor and more enervated.
Although most of my targets were to be found above the treeline, I knew I may find some items of interest hidden in the rocks of the scree. I did find some things; I snatched them. Some went into my hiking turban and others into my pack. When I reached the peak, my guides were crouched in a crevice, protected from the wind, chewing on jerky. They regarded me with exhausted, vacant animal-eyes. If they knew what valuable things could be found among these rocks they just might afford to leave the border town, but then again, maybe they wouldn’t want to. Under the pretense of waiting for the sun to burn off the cloud cover, I wandered about the jagged peak. I now have many things to show you, Brother. But first, the treasures of La Maisonne call.