Excerpt From an Explorer’s Lost Journal

Sunday, 23rd August, In the Year of Our Lord 2015 – About 650 rods SE of Clearmont, WY:

Last night was a night like no other. Many a day and night had passed where we languished in the unquenchable heat with no respite. Sweating in confined bunks with even animals close at hand; these are not excursions for the faint of heart. We were lodged in a lean-to in the high desert. This late in the summer almost no green is left in the grass from the relentless sun. The landscape itself seems a tinderbox ready to ignite at the slightest provocation. Then the wind came and the night enveloped us all.

We expected a change in the weather: a cold wind was coming and as the sun set, a significant drop in temperature seemed on the way. In spite of our preparations to the lean-to and increased bedding in the berths we could not have anticipated the cold snap that engulfed us. Water froze. The hardy desert plants wilted. Old Jenkins might have died in his sleep but for poor, young William rubbing him with thick blankets all night to keep his humors circulating.

When the sun finally rose, I roused myself from under my precious goose-down quilt, cracked the ice off my knuckles and nose, then proceeded to light the fire in order that I might boil water for warming gruel to revive my companions. It was a success, if not a resounding one, and we emerged from the lean-to facing the day; it was not likely to be an easy one.

Curses! My precious, right sabaton was missing. I had no lockbox available so I hid my pair well overnight, or so I had thought. It seems a buccaneer named Curley had a penchant for stealing them and made off with one – and only one – as if to underscore the intentionality and ensuing inconvenience of the theft. Thankfully, brave Sir Thomas was familiar with the cur Curley’s habits and recovered the sabaton without further complication. Disaster was averted, but only thus far. Yet we still had a most difficult task awaiting us.

The time had finally come for us to confront our adversaries. We respected them; the vicugna pacos. A proud and formidable race. I didn’t matter that they were not, in fact, men and were indeed reared for wool production. Only a fool would discount them because they were herbivorous and nominally congenial.

Once preparations were made, we moved out and encircled them! With broadswords in hand from the greatest smithy in the land – the legendary man named Larper – we herded our adversaries into a sufficiently small pen in order to engage in hand-to-hoof combat; we meant to immunize them!

It was an arduous encounter. Captain Dayton took two mighty blows to the legs, but remained steadfast. Subduing violent beasts she carried on; an inspiration to us all. I escaped the encounter unscathed. With meerkat-like reflexes I dodged both the kicks and the spittle that flew with much abandon. I focused on subduing the most violent of adversaries first, provided I outweighed them by six stone, of course. Discretion is the better part of valor, after all.

One of the most bloodthirsty of the thirty-inch tall herbivores nearly sent me to my grave. But with a transcendent blend of force and finesse I subdued that 640 oz warrior; by the end I wound up with his blood on my hands, I admit. Yet he survived and so did I. We both lived to fight another day and came away with a tremendous respect for each other.

This is not an easy life. But the esoteric rewards are simultaneously difficult to express and surpass. We shall continue on this path, for this is what we are called to do. Who can say where it will lead?

Lt. Lanzerote Rocinante

Pacos Provincial Administration

H.M.S. Charles

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