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The March of Proudfoot: Part I
16 October 2000
What follows is directly reproduced from what I unearthed in a friend's back garden. The first part is reproduced here. I am still digging for the continued parts, but no luck yet.
First light, Day 53.
It had been another sleepless night. As I look around at my three companions, I can tell that the unease that had been sown two days ago is showing signs of taking root. It will take all my courage and resolve to prevent it from blossoming into full panic and mutiny. As yet, my leadership has not been challenged and the men remain loyal, but if I do not take action, it may only be a matter of time...
I have been keeping morale high throughout the morning with a constant barrage of dirty jokes (How does a pantsless witch land her broom?) and amusing verse (There was a young maiden from Dover...). This, for all of us, came as a welcome balm against the awkward silence that has dogged the past few days and nights. Even the dogs seem happier, and run noses wagging and tails high ahead of us. All my good work at keeping my fellow voyagers focussed and happy was, however, about to become totally irrelevant. As we mounted the crest of a large and steep hill, we saw that the Warning we had received, that which we had wished was just the raving of a starved and deranged traveller, is most certainly true, and more foreboding than we could have possibly imagined.
We now have our tents pitched on a small outcrop below the crest of the hill. Raines is tending to the dogs, while Leftmoore and Kerwinn distract themselves by playing mah-jong. We feel safe, and as yet unobserved, but I now wonder how our Benefactors would consider another such delay in our trip. Especially so, since the discovery of the fate of our opposite party two days ago, news of which will have by now, if not sooner, reached the ears of those responsible for the project. Though, they will likely not yet know of the Warning we had received from them, and even I do not know yet exactly how we were going to act on it...
My party will sleep well tonight - I have allowed three drams of Jameson each in order to avoid the insomnia that has cursed us the past three nights.
Morning, Day 54
It will never cease to be true, no matter what the season, place or circumstance, that sunrise is the most beautiful time of day. It is only poorly mimicked by its sordid and cheap younger cousin.
Raines was the first to wake, no doubt due to his continued abstinence to the liquid warmth the rest of us allowed ourselves before retiring. Before the other two rose, I consulted him about our strategy. While we are both wary that the obstacle before us continues well into the distance to the North and South, thus blocking our direct passage West, we agreed that it would be foolish not to heed the stark evidence we had of the consequences of a purely westward path.
With Leftmoore and Kerwinn up and ready, we chose to travel North for the morning to see if there is any likely way around the seemingly infinite terror blocking our path. I complete this entry as the men finish packing up camp.
What a morning of pure tedium! Even faced with a constant foreign and mysterious sight to my left, I feel I can no longer progress along this path of ennui. Constant lateral walking across a steep hill face has surely made my right leg some inches shorter than my left! Kerwinn had the ingenious suggestion of tying a piece of wood from the sledge to each of our left boots so to make our continued voyage one with strides of even length. We have stopped briefly so that he may create said invention. I must notify the patent office, using one of our pigeons. With luck, there may be some reward for us when we return, after all....
I now write with great and fearful trepidation, for never before has our future been so uncertain. But let me begin where I left off.
While Kerwinn's suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm as a simple relief to our pedal discomfort, we did not foresee either the reduction of grip caused by the smoothing of the wooden soles, or the feeling of total dizziness and unbalance caused by having extended one leg and not the other. We had a brief respite from our wobbly progress to reject Kerwinn's Boot Levellers (as he had coined them), and to discuss how to progress. Just at that moment, we heard a scream that sounded closer and clearly far less lewd than the constant drone of muffled moans and incantations coming from further down the valley. We immediately set off down the hill.
With hindsight it was not purely motives of chivalry that caused my small troop and I to start off in track of the unknown distressed damsel. I fear we could no longer restrain our curiosity at venturing further down the valley to see first hand what sort of creatures had created such an awesome and extensive metropolis. As one, and with a great feeling of apprehension mixed with excitement, we ran down the hill with our dogs running amok and yelping around us.
What happened next happened so fast that I am still in a state of bewilderment. The source of the scream we were sure he heard has not yet been ascertained (although I feel it still holds the key to this mystery). We have been captured, separated and left alone to sleep. I finish this now, and will tear these first pages out and send them home with our hardiest pigeon, which I managed to secrete in a trouser pocket before we were caught. Do not fear for me, as I have a certainty that, while we are not at the moment free, our lives (as yet) are not in danger...
Here the entries cease. Clearly, there are signs that more records exist of Proudfoot's mission. Buts so many questions have been raised but not answered. Will they ever return home? What is this mysterious and wonderful society they have fallen across? Will Raines, Leftmoore and Kerwinn revolt against their leader? Will they ever complete their mission, whatever that may be? One thing is certain, and that is that far greater trials and adventures lie ahead for our four valiant pseudo-Victorian heroes...