Not At Home

I have had a most devastating disappointment. Today we arrived at what we had hoped would be the Kalumi capital, the main city, the end of the map and of our expedition, but all was in ruins. After three more days of trekking through sultry, humid, sticky jungle, we finally found the place where the river branched off. We found stone structures, hiding in the thick vines and foliage. We found ancient carvings bearing Kalumi symbols. We found no people. The place had been abandoned, probably for centuries.

Why? Where are they? Did they really leave the city to the ages, never to return? It certainly seems so. As we examined the ruins, moving farther into the city proper, it became more and more clear. They had gone. Close to tears, I sat down on the carved stone head of a jaguar. We had reached the square on the map from the scalp, the indication of where the city should be, but there was nothing. The walls were there, and the carvings, but that was all. I felt a hand on my shoulder, large and warm. I looked up to see the Captain standing over me. His eyes were kind and soft, no longer smiling as they usually did, but filled with a gentleness that I was grateful to see. He sat down next to me without a word, and I, unable to contain myself, leaned my head on his shoulder and wept. He put his arm around me and sat very still.

Eventually I had no more tears to cry, and I sat up wiping my face. I smiled at the Captain gratefully. "Thank you," I said, and noticed the wet stain on his shirt where I had buried my face. "I'm sorry, please let me find a handkerchief..."

He stopped me, smiling as well. "It's fine," he said, and his voice was warm and soft. Not knowing what to do next, I sat there, looking around me. "What now?" he asked.

I shrugged. "I don't know. I was hoping to find the Kalumi still here. But, there is nothing to be done about it. We should examine these ruins, find whatever information we can." I sighed. "At least I was right. The Kalumi were here, they existed, and from what we've seen so far, their civilization was advanced far beyond what anyone had thought to exist in the Americas. We have already seen the indication of technology beyond the Mayans or Incas, even rivaling the ancient Egyptians. There is still much to learn." He nodded, and helped me up, and then we went to find the rest of the party. Rose and Mr. Higgs were together, looking around for shelter and a place to make camp for the night. We found Dr. Smythe and Dr. Manton looking at some carvings on a wall, arguing over them. I was gratified to see that at least they were still intent on discovering all they could.

Looking for Miss O'Connor, the Captain and I heard a strange rustling behind some bushes. The Captain put his hand out, signalling me to stay back, and put his hand on his revolver. He crept quietly behind the bushes, then stopped and turned back to me, a smirk on his lips. He signaled me to move back further, then came to join me. "We should go back" he whispered, almost chuckling, "We don't want to be here." I looked at him puzzled, when from the bushes tumbled Miss O'Connor and...Tom! They were giggling, and looked quite unkempt.

When Miss O'Connor saw me she stopped dead and stared wide-eyed. "Dr. Brabant! long have you been standing there?" I lifted an eyebrow, hoping for more explanation for her disheveled appearance. "Tom and I" They looked at each other and tried not to giggle. It took all my self-control to keep from laughing as well, and assume a very stern look.

"Miss O'Connor," I said, in the most high-handed and authoritative voice I could manage under the circumstances, "Please join Doctors Smythe and Manton, they have found some carvings that need identification and they're having some trouble agreeing on what that might be." She ran off, red-faced. "And you, Tom," I said, piercing him with a deadly stare, "You may join your shipmates in setting up camp. There are many ruins to look at, we don't know how long we'll stay here." He ran off in the opposite direction. I sighed and looked up at the Captain. "I suppose it was only a matter of time." We both burst out laughing.

After many hours of investigation, we all sat down to eat by a campfire Rose had made. We discussed some of what we saw, and what it might mean. I asked Dr. Manton what he and Dr. Smythe had argued about, and if they'd come to some conclusion. He said nothing, and stared at his plate. I asked Dr. Smythe, since he seemed the only one willing to give a straight answer. "Well, Dr. Brabant," he said, "it seems Dr. Manton thinks we should give up the entire pursuit. He thinks all of this falls under the Yanomami history, and is therefore in the purview of Lord Harrison. I disagreed." I looked at Dr. Manton, demanding an explanation. Staring at the fire, Dr, Smythe said "My field may be linguistics, not anthropology, but even I can understand the different patterns and characteristics of the pictographs of different peoples. It would be a mistake to leave the site now, after we have come all this way." He looked up at me. "We still have much to learn."

I smiled, glad that his stony expression was so determinedly in my own favor. "Quite right, Dr. Smythe. Who knows what we might learn in the coming days, if we are diligent and precise in our work. Tomorrow we begin fresh." I looked around at the others. "Captain, if you and your crew don't mind, I would appreciate it if you could begin to walk around the perimeter of the city, and make a chart of the boundaries and buildings. Just a simple diagram will do, you don't need to make any conjecture about the nature of the structures, but it would help very much if we knew the extent of this metropolis. It will help us make sure we examine every building we can."

Captain Pankov nodded. "Certainly, Doctor."

I smiled at Miss O'Connor. "You and I will begin by examining the buildings near where we arrived, and Dr. Smythe and Dr. Manton may start on the opposite side, away from the river." I looked around again. "At the moment we are only documenting. Take rubbings, make notations of various markings, and look for repeating patterns and motifs. These will be the clues that lead us to the truth of these people." Everyone nodded, and we all settled down for bed.

Inside Information

We have been travelling now for three days. The day after we discovered the temple in the jungle, Mr. Wayling went back to the village and the rest of us continued on in our search. We decided to test our theory that different symbols meant different kinds of structures. Assuming that the temple we had found was indicated by a triangle, we embarked from the cool interior and into the sultry jungle in search of one of the square symbols. 

As we journeyed, we discovered flat stones jutting through the loamy soil, leading in the same direction we were going. "If I didn't know better," said Dr. Smythe, "I would think this was some kind of road." 

"How is that possible?" asked Dr. Manton. Everyone shook their heads, dumbfounded. 

Mr. Silveira smiled. "The Romans may not have visited Brasilia, but the ancient peoples had many advances beyond what we have today. Roads, medicines, things like that." 

I nodded, "Like the ancient Egyptians. I imagine much of the knowledge was lost during whatever cataclysm drove the Kalumi people into the forest." I thought again to the light producing crystals in the temple on the island.

We journeyed on, following the path and the landmarks from the map in the temple. We finally came upon a crumbling wall, covered in vines and foliage. Iguanas rested on top, and we could barely make out its true shape. We climbed carefully over it, and started to make our way through the thick jungle, somehow thicker on this side of the wall. We started to see that these thicker clumps were rock structures. As we walked around, we started to see what could be a small city. The walls were in a square perimeter, and within them were several structures of different sizes. There was a temple like the ones we had seen before in the very center, and what looked like residences and possibly workshops. The temple had the same crystal lights as the one on the island! Inside we saw another bird altar, and many carvings and paintings on the walls.

"This is incredible," I gasped, "these are the most detailed images we've seen so far!" Miss O'Connor got to work making rubbings of some of the carvings, and documenting the drawings. 

After a few hours, we found the most amazing thing! Some pictographs seemed to describe a great earthquake. There were depictions of armies as well, and tumbling buildings. These pictures seemed to be the newest in the temple, based on their condition. 

We bunked down in the temple, as it seemed the most structurally sound, and the easiest to defend from possible predators. Mr. Silveira has been very helpful in teaching us the best ways to do this.

Tonight after we ate, I was studying some of the carvings, when the Captain approached me. 

"So," he asked, "what is our plan now?" he smiled, his eyes crinkling a little at the corners. 

I smiled back. "I think we have as much information as we can get from this city. It is amazing, but it's only a small fraction of the society I'm looking for. If there is a great city where the river splits, we need to go there."

He nodded, thinking. "If there was an earthquake, as you and Dr. Manton have thought, and perhaps even a war, then there were two sides. Maybe not everyone left the city."

I grinned, excited. "Exactly!" I said, "Who knows what we might find!" We smiled for a moment, a little awkwardly. I turned to him. "Captain, I'm sorry if I've been short with you of late."

He looked away, rubbing his neck. "No, I was too childish on the dock. And besides, I may have been dismissive of you as well." He looked back at me, right into my eyes. "You really did me a great favor back there. I hope we find this city. I think you're right about it." He smiled warmly.

I smiled back, glad that the air had cleared between us. I am still a little curious about his history with Miss Rose, but I am resolved to put it out of my mind. Besides which, his history really doesn't have any bearing on my research. 

On The Doorstep

This morning we woke with the sun, gathered our things, said our final farewells to the tribesmen, and started into the forest with the hunters.

The morning in the jungle was still cool from the night's rainfall, and smelled loamy and thick. It wasn't long until the sight of the village was overtaken by foliage and disappeared into the forest completely. We were glad to have the hunters with us for much of the journey, as they made easy work of the thick roots and vines in our path, slashing and hacking at them with long, sharp machetes. All too soon they split off from our group to begin their work. It was about midday, so we sat down in a clearing and had a bit of lunch. The women of the village had packed some food for us, and we ate it heartily, thankful for such a repast after our long morning walk.

I happened to sit down near Mr. Higgs, who was very cheerful company. By and by I asked him, "How long have you worked for Captain Pankov?"

He scratched his head and thought a moment. "Oh, I suppose I've been flying with the Cap'n nigh on seven years or so. Seen many strange things, but this is my first time to the Americas."

I smiled. "Mine too. What are your impressions thus far?"

"Well," he said, adjusting his position on the flat rock he had made his seat, "I suppose it's alright for some, but it's a bit muggy. I can't say as I'm particular to staying in any one place though. The Cap'n and Rose and me, we don't berth many places other than the Pegasus. Not for very long, anyhow."

I nodded, thinking. "How long has Rose been flying with you?"

"Oh, Rosie's been with the Cap'n longer'n me, for sure. Probably they started out about 10 years back. They been through many the tight scratch, I'll warrant."

"Really?" I asked, "Are they...married?"

Mr. Higgs laughed, seeming to find great mirth in the suggestion, "Oh, no, not that lass. They might have been on that track a while back, before I joined up, but not now. All I know is they've got an eye on the other's back; Rose wouldn't let anything hurt the Cap'n, and he keeps her out of trouble as much as he can. They're both the kind that attract a lot of attention though," he said in a low voice, winking at me. "There are a few lads in the airfields of The Continent waiting for a letter from our Rosie."

"Oh," I replied, "I see."

Shortly thereafter we started on our way again. It was slower going now, but we still found the small hill before nightfall, just as Mr. Wayling had described it. Leading up to the site was a trail of broken stones, but as we looked closer we could see the shapes of animal heads carved into them. Dr. Manton described one or two as a Jaguar or a Quetzal, and said they were similar to some of the carvings recently found in Mexico. As we approached the hill we could start to make out the doorway. It was almost completely covered in vines, but we saw the dark shadow of the opening, like that of a cave. We investigated further, and saw that the outside had a carved square arch made of two tall stones supporting a shorter one. On the pillars were many carvings, mostly of animals with some pictographs as well. There, situated in the center of the top stone, was the bird symbol of the Kalumi! We were definitely on the right track.

We lit some torches and as soon as we could get the branches cleared away, we started inside. The Captain, Mr. Higgs, and Mr. Wayling led the way, keeping an eye out for any large predators that might have taken up residence. We found a large circular chamber, similar to the one on the island. There were no crystals, but there was an identical altar in the center! We quickly split up, examining the walls which were covered in paintings. Soon we found what looked like a map, with the coast and the Amazon river marked in a bright blue woad. Criss-crossing the river in a serpentine pattern was a long line, broken by triangle symbols. Other lines branched off from those, leading to more triangles and some squares and circles.

I looked at my comrades, who had gathered around. "It's a road map," I whispered. "Look, these triangles are probably all temples, like this one. I don't know about the other shapes, perhaps they denote other types of structures. Clearly this one was like the one on the island, maybe even used for the same purpose; some kind of group worshiping place. Is it possible the circles were smaller villages? I wonder if the other tunnels have identical maps, like some kind of waypoint system!" I was babbling, talking faster and faster, until I ran out of steam and just gaped in wonder. "There!" I pointed at the place where the river seemed to branch out. "The same cluster of three symbols that we found in the scalp! The bird symbol crowns them all! That must be where the city was! The center of the Kalumi civilization!" I turned and smiled to my companions. "Let's go!"

The Captain laughed gently and put a large hand on my shoulder. "Not tonight, I'm afraid," he said, not unkindly, "It's too dark now. It would be best to stay the night in here, and venture out when it's light."

I grudgingly relented, and we made camp there in the temple. I settled down in my sleeping bag, my head filled with thoughts and questions over what new discoveries the next days would bring.

A Warm Welcome

The journey into the jungle was quiet. The view was incredible as we slowly drifted over the rain forest. The jungle looked so primal, so strong, I felt as though the moment we landed we would surely be swallowed up. Mr. Silveira helped to guide us to a large clearing near the settlement of the Yanomami tribe that Lord Harrison had stayed with and studied. It was a short hike to the large round shabono hut where they all lived. The large oval structure was built around the perimeter of the settlement, and all of the people resided inside. It was a bustling place, with many men, women, and children working and playing in the large courtyard. Some of the men were in the forest, cutting trees and bringing in fresh meat and fish. The children hung about the women as they cooked and did chores. There were a few women among the trees as well, gardening and gathering bananas and other food.

Mr. Silveira introduced us to the village patriarch, but would not give his name as this is considered the height of indiscretion in front of the person. Having already been acquainted with Lord Harrison, he was exceedingly kind and welcoming. In fact, Lord Harrison's former assistant, a Mr. Charles Wayling, was still present and living with the tribe!

We learned that the people in the village were all the patriarch's relatives; his brothers and sisters, their spouses, his several wives, and their children. With the help of Mr. Wayling, Mr. Silveira, and Dr. Smythe we were able to converse with some of them, and get to know their lifestyle. It's absolutely fascinating to watch people who live so simply. Their roles are set, obvious, and unquestioned. There is no crisis of identity here, and no true poverty as all is shared and everyone contributes. No one is shiftless or lazy. True, they have more susceptibility to certain diseases, but their faith is strong, and their beliefs seem enough to carry them through. They also have an amazing knowledge of medicinal plants.

In the evening we sat down to an abundant meal of bananas, plantains, corn, and mangos, as well as a peccary and a deer. Everything was delicious. There were a couple of dishes that seemed questionable, but not wanting to insult our hosts I tried some of everything, and tried not to think about it too much. Everyone had a lovely time, and even Dr. Smythe seemed strangely relaxed, and even teased me about a dish that looked suspiciously like roasted grubs. After the meal, the shaman told stories of his people and their spiritual beliefs. He then inhaled the smoke from a strange plant called yakoana to commune with the spirits, or xapiripe. We then retired to the patriarch's hearth and slept on hammocks.

This morning we had some time after all the excitement had died down to talk to the patriarch about our next step in our journey to find the Kalumi. We showed him the scalp map, and he laughed and said he should have known what it was. He called over the shaman and Mr. Wayling, who examined it as well. We discussed the symbols, and the shaman revealed that the Yanomami were descended from the Kalumi, but had left the great city long ago.

"Great city?" I exclaimed, "Don't tell me they have some kind of metropolis buried in the forest!" The shaman wasn't sure what I meant, but he thought a moment and described an ancient tale of the ancestors, of people who lived inside of mountains, who built great mounds, and of giant birds they worshiped and sometimes rode. According to legend, there was a great war, and famine, and plague, and strife, and a great shifting of earth, and many people fled to the jungle where they lived in smaller communities and became the Yanomami. With the help of Mr. Wayling, the shaman said, "the story is a cautionary tale. The ancient people left the city to live simply because in the city no one had enough. Not enough to eat and drink, not enough power, not enough treasure. We sometimes war between tribes and between each other, but we no longer feel this great emptiness inside us. We have what we need. We make what we need. We are fulfilled. The great city was cursed. We have learned that living with the forest is better." It took me a moment to take all of this in. Were the Kalumi all gone? Had they died out? Had they been transformed into the Yanomami over time? If I could find this "great city," would all I find be ruins?

"There is a structure," said Mr. Wayling thoughtfully, "a short distance to the West. It's made of stone, and mostly hidden by jungle so that it looks like a small hill, but there is a doorway that is obviously carved by man. You may find some more clues there. There are some carvings on the outside that are similar to the symbols on the map. The tribesmen won't go there, they say the place is cursed."

"Would you guide us there?" I asked.

Mr. Wayling hesitated, looking to the patriarch and the shaman. He seemed to be deciding something. "I can. We will leave early tomorrow, with the hunters." I thanked him, then went to join the women at their chores. After all, I was enjoying their hospitality, it was only right that I help out where I could. There aren't many things an anthropologist can do in a tribal camp, but with Dr. Smythe helping me translate I was able to get by, and I think some of the women were at best appreciative, at worst amused.

Barrels Out Of Bond

Today we finally landed in Rio de Janeiro! What an exciting, bustling city! We landed at the airship port, hoping to re-supply and hire a guide. Dr. Smythe was able to ascertain fairly quickly where to go to find the right person, with his skills in Portugese. While he accomplished that task the rest of us went along with the Captain and Rose to the warehouses to find some fuel and provisions.

The markets were so different from London, so full of color, and people, and life. Miss O'Connor and I were easily distracted by the many wares available, but tried to keep up with the air crew as they moved speedily through the throngs. The past two days in the ship since our departure from the island made us all feel very closed-in, and though we were only stopping for a short while, it felt good to get walking around. The air was heavy and humid, but smelled salt-sweet, and the sky was cloudless. It was a beautiful day, and all seemed like it might finally be going as planned.

We arrived at the fuel supply company, and began negotiating with the owner. Apparently, the Pegasus' Rapture runs on a combination of diesel-oil and steam. His prices seemed higher than the Captain was looking for, so Rose interjected. "Are ye trying to make fools of us?" she asked, her eyebrow raised and her hands on her hips. "Nobody will pay those prices!"

The man just shrugged. "If you don't want to pay, you can't have the fuel." he said, in a thick Portugese accent. Rose narrowed her eyes and leaned down to the shorter man. Nonplussed, he crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Those are my prices. That's the best you'll find in Rio." Rose smiled wickedly. Suddenly, she punched him right in the face. He fell sprawled to the floor, and his men, who had been working, suddenly looked up and started over.

"Ladies," the Captain said, looking over at Miss O'Connor and myself, "you may want to stand aside." We took his advice, and along with Dr. Manton stood out of the way behind some barrels. As the first of the workers lunged at Rose, the Captain knocked him down hard. The men started to turn their attention to him, swinging at him and brandishing wrenches and tools. Rose grabbed a plank of wood and started swinging it around, hitting the men as they attacked.

At last, I couldn't bear the fighting any more. I needed that fuel if our trip was to continue. "Stop!" I shouted, emerging from our hiding place, and running up to the fray. "Stop this, right now!" To my very great surprise, the actually stopped. Mid-fight, the men, the Captain, and Rose, all stopped and looked at me. "This is ridiculous," I said. I looked at the owner. "Good sir, you cannot possibly expect anyone to pay the prices you are asking. You must take us for fools. I assure you, we are not." He stared at me, disbelieving. Rose's face was still red with anger, but the Captain looked as though he was trying not to laugh. His mockery gave me strength, and I continued. "Many expeditions from the continent are sure to come here, not just to study the natives, but to exploit the resources here. Now that Brazil is a sovereign country, your economy, and this warehouse, will be dependent on money from the outside. Unless you want every explorer, entrepreneur, and trader from here to Russia to boycott this warehouse, you will give us the fuel, and you will give us a fair price." I crossed my arms as he had done, and waited, my heart beating as though it would fly from my ribs.

He stared hard at me. "Fine," he said at last. "But I don't want to see this pair of thugs again," he grumbled, nodding his head at the Captain and Rose. He turned to leave, and when he had gone, signalling his men to help us, I let out the breath I had been holding.

The Captain finally allowed himself to chuckle. "Well," he said, laughing softly, "I never would have expected that."

I lifted my chin defiantly. "I never expected to clean up my Captain's messes." I replied curtly, and walked out.

When I arrived back at the ship, I found Dr. Smythe and our new guide, Diogo Silveira. He was young, maybe 20 or 21, shorter than myself, with thick curly black hair and black eyes, and tan skin. His face was youthful, as though he had never had any troubles or cares. I was skeptical, and asked Dr. Smythe if he was sure this young man would be suitable. "Don't let his youth and appearance fool you, Doctor," he said, "Mr. Silveira is a descendant of the native tribes, and has lived his life in the jungles until now. He knows their dangers and the secret paths better than anyone else we might find in the city." I nodded, then turned to go to my berth.

On the way there, I bumped into the Captain, quite literally. "Good-day Captain," I said, trying to get around him. "I will retire for now, I want to go over some notes."

He looked at me. "Are you upset about today? Rose is headstrong I'm afraid, I should thank you for helping us get our fuel."

"Has she always been so rash?" I asked.

"Oh, yes, always. I've been on the receiving end more than once, I can tell you." He smiled. "Thank you, again. You seem to have many surprises." He walked down the corridor. I went on to my berth. I wondered how long the Captain and Rose had been working together, and if they had always been working.

None of these matters are important. Tomorrow we fly to our final destination in the jungle, where we will strike out and find my lost tribe.

Flies And Spiders

This morning, I awoke before my comrades, shivering and uneasy, unable to shake the strange dreams about the temple. I had to go see it again. I found a lantern and quietly made my way to the tunnel. Once inside a ways, I lit the lantern, and journeyed back to the huge chamber.

I decided to start with the altar, inspecting it more closely. The crystals provided plenty of light, but to look at the detail I held up the lantern. My thoughts about the wings were correct; instead of a feather or cross-hatch pattern, several long lines spanned the wing, along the top and across the span. As I looked at the strange, large head, I saw the detail in the bone protruding from the back, a long ridge that curved down slightly. The eyes were large and lid-less. The beak was long and pointed, like that of a pelican. The sculpture was huge, with a wing-span two or three times the length of a man! A person could easily ride astride its back. From the back of the creature protruded a long, lizard-like tail. The solar disk, as Dr. Manton had described it, was simple in design, about two feet in diameter, and consisting of only a spiral shape that reached from the edge of the disk in a tight curve to the center. The altar didn't have any other decoration, and it didn't seem as though any jewels had ever been set anywhere. It was in perfect condition, and when I brushed off some of the dust, I could faintly see a deep blue hue.

I moved from the altar to the wall and began walking the perimeter. I soon began to discern notches, of a size that one could place candles or a lamp in them. About half-way around the room, directly across from the entrance, I found a strange carving indeed. Rather than the familiar motifs of the giant bird or the spiral, it looked like some sort of large insect. I touched it, and suddenly felt and heard a great rumbling. What I had taken to be sconces along the wall for light opened, and swarms of flies and spiders emerged, quickly filling the room! I ran out, up the tunnel, and into the cavern where my sleeping companions still lay.

"Get up!" I shouted, "RUN!"

Startled, they began to awaken and stir. I started shaking them, and gathering up our belongings. "Quickly! grab everything, we have to run!" They looked about confused. Then some of the insects emerged from the tunnel, and they jumped out of their blankets and coats and bolted for the door.

"To the beach!" shouted the Captain. We ran through the jungle, not once looking back, until we tumbled out onto the sand. "Start the ship!" he roared, and the engineers began their work. The insects poured out of the jungle, heading straight for us. We ran as fast as we could to the vessel, but some of the flies caught up before we could reach it. They were huge, with great stingers on their back ends. Dr. Smythe began swinging his bag at the few who had started to hover around our heads, and the Captain was taking shots at them with his pistol. We ran on, eventually finding the cover of the ship. We all worked to batten down all of the openings, but several got in. I grabbed an umbrella and started beating at them, while Dr. Manton hid behind some crates. Miss O'Connor found a pipe of some sort and valiantly fought them off beside me, while the Captain and Dr. Smythe took the front lines. Finally, we felt the lurch of the ship as she started to lift into the air. We squashed the last of them, and swept the corpses out of one of the cargo hatches as the ship rose quickly into the air. Eventually it seemed we were higher than the large flies could go, and we headed off on our original bearing, to the coast of Brazil.

Everyone gathered in the hold, resting and panting, exhausted. I thanked the Captain and Dr. Smythe. I hadn't expected the Doctor to be so brave against such an onslaught as we had faced on the island. We all looked at Dr. Manton disapprovingly. He shrugged us off, then sullenly made his way to his bunk. Miss O'Connor and Tom looked at each other as though they were sure they might have died, and were relieved to be safe again, together. I smiled at them, thinking warmly that the tall, awkward, quiet lad was a good match for my shy but vivacious assistant.

I stood up. "Well," I said, "I'm very glad to be away from there and on our way again."

Dr. Smythe smiled at me. "Even with all we might have discovered of the people there?"

"Even so," I replied, "For nothing is so interesting a discovery that I would risk those awful insects."

"What about the natives," he asked, "would you have stayed, even with them?"

"Natives can be reasoned with." I said, and went to my own bunk.

Queer Lodgings

Another day has passed, and still we wait on the island. Fearing for our safety, we covered the engines of the airship and other sensitive pieces still exposed to the elements, and made our way to the cave that I had discovered with my colleagues previously. We had all decided that, since the natives were unlikely aware of our knowledge of that location, if they again attacked the beach they would be unlikely to find us if we hid there. We brought only what was absolutely necessary; some food and water, a few of our most valuable items (including this journal!) and some blankets and medical supplies.

As the rain had finally stopped, the cave was no longer damp and uncomfortable, and in the daylight should not require a fire. We had no intention of drawing attention to ourselves with a great smoke column. We did, however, light a gas lamp, so that we could better examine the drawings on the walls. Now that we had a moment to look at them more carefully, I was able to try to discover the possible connection between the inhabitants of the island and the Kalumi people.

The drawings were quite primitive, and while some of the symbols were similar to the Kalumi artifacts in my possession, there were many that were completely unrelated. Dr. Smythe and I were studying the bird figure when I sighed, "it's impossible to tell if these people are directly related to the Kalumi, or even if the present natives were the ones who drew these figures. Perhaps their ancestors had some trade with them." Dr. Smythe nodded.

"It seems," he said, "that the inhabitants of this island had at least some contact. These symbols do match."

"Miss Brabant," called Miss O'Connor, "what about these drawings here?" I looked up, and Dr. Smythe and I went to the part of the wall where she was standing. "Don't these look like boats of some kind? They remind me of the plates in the museum depicting the canoes used by the natives in Virginia."

"Indeed they do, Miss O'Connor," I replied. "Dr. Manton, what do you think?"

Dr. Manton peered over my shoulder and squinted at the wall "It's possible," he said, "these symbols here look like the symbols for 'travel' used on the hides of the nomadic peoples of the Great Plains."

I sighed again, and straightened up. "There's no way to be sure," I said. "There has been no previous study of this tribe. This island wasn't even on the chart!" I put my hands in my coat pockets, and then gave a start. I pulled out the strange object I had found on the beach. Showing it to my colleagues I said, "Let's see if we can find some of the symbols on this. Perhaps we can find some sort of correlation." The four of us started to look around.

After a few hours, I ran my hand along some carvings, and noticed something strange. One of the impressions in the stone matched the object from the beach! Acting on instinct, I placed the object in the impression, turning it about until it fit. Suddenly, that section of the wall began to give way! I called the others over, and Dr. Smythe helped me to push against the wall. It didn't budge. I placed my hand on the stone again, turning the supposed key slightly, and it gave the rest of the way. A dark corridor had opened up in the cave wall. "Captain," I said, "I think we'll be doing some more exploration here." He got up and looked into the corridor with us.

"Alright," he said, "in that case, Roger, you and Tom stay here and keep watch. Rose, you and I will go along with Miss Brabant and the others. Light another lamp, and bring your pistol just in case."

Soon the six of us were slowly making our way down the corridor, led by the Captain and his first mate. It was pitch black and dry. The air smelled stale, as though it hadn't had fresh air in a century or more. Suddenly, we saw light up ahead. It slowly grew stronger and stronger, and we thought we might be reaching the outside of the cavern, but with the closeness of the air it seemed impossible. Soon we reached an opening in the tunnel, but instead of arriving outside, we found a huge chamber. At the top was a giant crystal formation that seemed to be giving off the light we had seen as we approached. In the center was what appeared to be some kind of altar. It was stone, and shaped a little like the bird symbol we had seen before, but there was more detail. The head of the bird had a long beak, almost like a heron, but with another long bone-like protrusion on the back of the skull. The wings were large and almost seemed webbed, like that of a bat. on the back of the bird, directly under the light of the crystals, was a spiral shape.

I looked up, and around at the walls. "Did you notice," I asked everyone, "that the walls are slanted and come to a point. Almost like-"

"A pyramid," the Captain finished. I nodded.

"But we didn't see any pyramids on the surface of the island," said Dr. Smythe.

"Jungle probably covered it," replied the Captain.

"That means," said Miss O'Connor, "this was built an incredibly long time ago."

"Yes," I said, "so long ago that the shape of the pyramid is no longer detectable from the outside. Did you notice our elevation didn't change much as we came through the corridor? The cave we were in before was probably once the main entrance."

"The altar is strange," mused Dr. Manton. "It is reminiscent of some of the altars of Chaak in the Mayan world. This spiral is like the solar disk found on the belly of the figure. But I'm not familiar with this type of bird. It isn't a Quetzal, like the Mayans worshipped."

"I've never seen it before either," remarked Dr. Smythe. "But it must be getting late. We should go back to the cave and eat something, then try to sleep. Surely the engines will be dry in the morning." I nodded, but I didn't turn to leave right away. The walls didn't seem to have any carvings or paintings on them, but it had a strange feeling to it that I couldn't explain. I looked at the altar, and the crystals above it, for what seemed like an eternity before I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see Dr. Smythe. "Come on," he said softly, "We should go." I suddenly remembered his gallantry on the beach the day before as I looked in his eyes. They were brown. I turned and left with the others.