The Not-So-Great Trek

 

The morning dawned ominously brilliant across the famed Hotfutsie desert. (Somehow, using the word "brilliant" in a story about Sir Peter seems out of place! - ed.) T'was the day chosen for another of Sir Peter de Gee's heralded adventures - the crossing of the Hotfutsie in search of the "Lost City of the Geshoontied". Partnering him in this venture would be his faithful (if somewhat addled) servant Mumza Dawurdi and his new ladylove, Poppy Ceede plus 8 stalwart men at arms and the accordant train of mules and bearers.

Also to be found amongst the whispering sands was Sinjin Sousé, world-renowned big game hunter searching for the rare and crafty sand leopard, plus the vile W.D. Fourty, gunrunner to the tribe with the largest stack of ivory. Yet too to be encountered were a pair of the nastiest slavers this side of Zazupitz: Shiekh Yerbouti and Shiekh Ratil 'Nrol. Toss in a few assorted native chieftains (Hausa Yomomma, Wadi Maroun, and Yurdi Spikabl) whose opinions of the aforementioned "light-skins" were less than favorable, and the makings of a battle royal were well in hand!

We begin our tale by observing the shenanigans of the vaunted hunter Sousé as he tippy-toed into the desert warily watching his every step. Talk about cautious! At that rate he'd be lucky to spot Godzilla let alone a leopard. Of course, he might have been a tad wary of that rising dust cloud off to his right.

Over a dune like a springtime scirocco oozed that evil son of a jackal, Ratil 'Nrol. His reputation as a slaver preceding him, all the natives had gone to ground and the first human he would lay eyes on would be our mighty musketeer. 'Nrol, spotting the juicy catch of native porters accompanying SousÚ began to settle into the sand in preparation for a bit of ambush and totally ignored the rustle of underbrush emanating from the ferns and fronds of the nearby oasis. Sinjin, in response, turned from his appointed mission and turned to face this threat on his flank. Thus we find the makings of our first surprise of this day.

With sporadic sniping breaking the desert peace, the oasis came alive with a roar! A disturbed group of unknown species of desert gorilla, who didn't take kindly to their sleep being so rudely interrupted, came crashing out of the cover of the oasis, with slaver-burgers on their mind.

Now caught between a rock and a sand dune, with crazed apes on one flank and a heavily armed and equally crazed opponent to his front, our resourceful slaver gathered his troops into that impenetrable formation, the Zazupitzi Square! Now this might have caused some opponents to stop and think before proceeding, but thoughtful is not a word that springs to mind when describing gorillas - especially enraged ones! And so the inevitable came to pass as the horde of apes bashed into the awaiting Shiekh and his minions.

Oh, the humanity! Within a growing dust-cloud, one could see bits of fur and jibbah flying. It was impossible to pick out who was screaming louder, the arabs or the gorillas. As the dust began settling, we could barely make out the numbers left standing - the mighty Ratil 'Nrol stood victorious (barely) amidst the remnants of his command and the apes. Losing but a couple of men, and capturing several gorillas (trade bait?), our Slaver Supremo looked to be hatching a plan - either that or he had a bad case "Mahdi's Revenge"! Perhaps he could trade some ape types for a couple of porters! Would the European sportsman go for such a deal?

Watching the blurred brouhaha from a distance; Sousé, eyes darting about like a bad Marty Feldman imitation, spotted a herd of zebra off in the distance to his left. Should he ignore the possible threat, from who- or what-ever came out on top in the sand fight? Should he strike out after the herd of zebra on top of the crest? What to do, what to do! Showing the true color of his bravery and perhaps his skill, Sousé opted to await the outcome of the man/ape set-to. Thus when presented with Shiekh 'Nrol's offer of a trade, our hunter par exellance quickly skarffed up the deal. After all, a trophy is a trophy is a trophy! Unfortunately for 'Nrol, he had lots of left over ape-mignon and decided to carry it with him for future use. Looking ahead, it would come into play but not the way our shiekh had in mind! And our big game meister, as we shall see later, turned out to be somewhat less than his reputation would have us believe!

With all this nonsense going on to his right, our brave Sir Peter took discretion to be the better part of valor and swung FAR around to the left. Sending out one of his troopers as a scout, Sir P came up short when suddenly the askaro dropped out of sight! Seems the poor sod discovered a patch of quicksand and went under quicker than you could say, "ere's to Queen Vicki!" Displaying all of his native skill, Sir Peter skirted the dangerous area and proceeded to trek along on his way to the first oasis he could find.

Meanwhile in another corner of the sand our gunrunning Euro, W.D. Fourty, was cautiously trudging forward only to find the long-lost Shiekh Yerbouti popping out of a wadi to try a bit of porter swiping of his own. Poor Yerbouti was unaware of the specific nature of this caravan and was hoist on his own petard as it were when not only was he confronted by a goodly crew of askaris, but half the porters ran up to the supply mules and grabbed weapons of mini-mass destruction as well. Thankfully for Yerbouti most of these gunners couldn't hit the broadside of a mosque let alone knee-shaking arabs! After a few desultory rounds of gunfire, not to mention the approach of two menacing bands of natives, Yerbouti decided to beat sandals back in the direction he had come and was unheard of for a long while. (He did return after a respectable time having cleaned his robe and fortified his spirit!)

Fourty, having survived the encounter with minimal damage (only a few of his askari were wounded), headed off to rest at a nearby water hole. This was good fortune for him, but not quite as good for his erstwhile companion, Suez Kanalli. Before anyone could stop him, Kanalli grabbed a fruit from a nearby tree and gobbled it down. Unfortunately, this particular mana was filled with enough toxins to down a bull elephant let alone an underweight man-servant! The clock began ticking for poor Suez - only 5 hours left before he became sand-king salad.

On the far, far end of the Hotfutsie, Chief Wadi Maroun had hunkered down within the ruined walls of the sacred lost city with intentions of fending off any and all invading white men. They dare not despoil these holy ruins! Here he would sit and play endless games of Wari while awaiting the approach of the infidel.

Passing by on his search for Sir Peter, whom he had met at a previous visit to the hacienda of the good Dr. Goliath Dedpebble, Chief Hausa Yomomma cast a furtive glance towards the entrenched spearmen of Maroun. "Best not to let him know your true mission as it might bring you under suspicion and cause the guardians to lash out in your direction!" he mused. Passing along a few pleasantries, the wandering Yomomma wasted no time in entering the trackless desert before him. This would begin a time of endless searching for Chief Hausa as it took until the very end of the adventure before he got close enough to Sir Peter to ensure the dapper Frenchman was aware of his good intentions! When the time came, however, the good Chief Yomomma did his best and probably was the only thing between Sir Peter and final disaster!

Our final actor in this tiny drama, the slithery Chief Yurdi Spikabl, entered the fray by crawling along the crest of a major sand dune where he was able to spy upon the all three Euro-dudes from a hidden vantage point. In fact, if it hadn't been for his stirrings, most of the desert wild life might have slept through the entire adventure and never given Sinjin the first thing to shoot at! At least our adventurers would have been spared the wrath of the herd of zebra, cape buffalo, and the mighty desert leopard.

Yurdi, spying the action between WD and Yerbouti decided to investigate further, as there was something familiar about the leading arab. Closing the distance, Spikabl was at last to make out the chiseled features of a face all too fresh in his mind. It was none other than the same smarmy slaver that had left him for triffid fodder during a foray into the valley that time forgot! (See adventure 3) Gods of the desert be praised! Yurdi felt vengeance welling up within his pounding chest - leave me to whither will he? Reaching the end of the crestline, Spikabl looked over the edge to find ---- nothing! Yerbouti had already bolted from the scene and all that was left was a bit of damp sand. But our steaming chief could feel it in his bones, the arab would be back. And so he waited, leaving WD Fourty to pass by within spear shot but unmolested.

Soon, Chief Hausa came up searching (surreptitiously) for Sir Peter. Having a short palaver, Yomomma was able to deduce that Sir P would be crossing the dunes back in the direction he had just come. And so off Yo-guy and his happy wanderers went, back to their seemingly endless search for the galavanting Gaul.

About now, Sir Peter spied what looked like some ruins off in the distance and began to hustle his tiny group in that direction. He was also a bit unnerved by a rising cloud of dust approaching from his left. Being the stout-hearted explorer of reknown, Petey picked up the pace another notch!

Back in the area of our game-slayer Sousé and his night-shirted nemesis, The unsuspecting Ratil began to notice a strange aroma beginning to come from his sacks of gorilla chow. Then to make matters worse, his men began turning a jaunty shade of green and dropping like the flies surrounding the sacks! Before he could even begin a prayer, half of 'Nrol's warband had turned up their toes and expired from an evil case of bad monkey-mignon. Woe to him that nibbles on the meat of the motley oasis gorilla! This would be the last we would see or hear from this once-mighty shiekh as he gathered up the remnants of his command and quietly slunk back in the direction of Zazupitz!

Sinjin Sousé on the other hand decided to hike up his shorts and chase after the now departing herd of zebra. Taking a few pot shots from long range, he actually managed to bag one but he was soon distracted by the glint of sunlight off the eye of a lone creature atop a nearby dune - the object of his quest, the fable desert cat. A solitary leopard stood surveying the desert before him ignoring the wandering bands of two-legged critters that made the desert seem like a crowded anthill. Unfortunately for the leopard, (and for Sousé), one of our native leaders had lost a few of his favorite wives to just such a cat and now, spying the leopard on the dune-crest, he (Yurdi) decided it was time for some vengeance.

Thus it was that before our mighty hunter Sinjin could even unsheath his rifle, the leopard was nailed by a fusillade from the tribal musketeers of Chief Spikabl. All Sousé could do was watch in futility as the wondrous cat was chased out of his sight by shots from the natives. So near and yet sooooo far! Guess some other trophy will have to suffice. Turning back in the direction that the zebras had gone, Sinjin began dreaming of home. We'll meet him again in his final setto of this adventure.

By now, our poor knobbled slaver Yerbouti had licked his wounds, changed his nappies, and downed several large draughts of pombé. With his spirits thus lifted, he once again dove into the breach and came back to the environs with fresh hopes of success. Guess again, bunky! Dear old Yurdi Spikabl had left all his spearmen and a few muskets in the area just waiting for Yerbouti to return. As soon as they spotted him approaching, they formed up for an ambush and pounced when "Da Shiekh" came in range. Needless to say what followed wasn't pretty! The smoke cleared to find all but his shiekhness and a couple of henchmen still on their feet, surrounded, fighting for their lives. Just by chance a small hole opened up in the mass of dark spearmen and that was all it took for the once proud Shiekh Yerbouti to hightail it back to the nice quiet confines of Dungue City on the Isle of Zazupitz. Whether or not he will ever again ply his trade in this part of Africa is unknown.

Turning once again to our stalwart hero, Sir Peter was by now motivating for all he was worth towards the Lost City. The fact that he had a tribe of natives double-timing it in his direction certainly helped Petey make up his mind about which direction he should travel! (Of course, the tribe in question was friendly to him but Sir P never bothered to consider that option!)

Now, having made do with Shiekh Yerbouti, Chief Yurdi Spikabl also decided that there was something about Sir Peter's party that was worth chasing after. The honey-haired love of Sir Peter, the demure Poppy Ceede, had caught Yurdi's eye. She would look pretty good amongst his plethora of wives! So now Sir P had more natives on his tail.

Would that it would end there, but nooooo! Now, finally, after spending most of the day killing time and bugs, our guardian of the sacred past, Chief Wadi Maroun, saw Sir Peter coming towards him like a herd of hungry buffalo! Coming to the obvious conclusion that Sir Peter was up to no good, Maroun opened up on the approaching group with all he had. Sir Peter, needing little more in the way of persuasion, dropped whatever pretense of Gallic Pride he had and decided that the nickel tour of the Lost City would have to suffice! From this point on, it was "Katie bar the door" and "Every man, woman, and child for themselves"! It's amazing just how much one can view of the sights at a dead run! Committing all he saw to memory, Sir Peter's feet never hit the ground as he sped through the city's streets.

Before we see just what happened to Sir Peter and his party, we will return briefly to the case of Sinjin Sousé. Somewhat battered and more than a little bewildered Sinjin was chasing after the elusive zebra herd when, as luck would have it, he stumbled into a grazing herd of cape buffalo! As could be expected, the buff took affront at this and began charging fore and back through the ill-fated expedition. When all was said and done, Sousé and his safari had been decimated by this action with but one buff added to his bag. At this point, Sinjin decided that maybe joining dear old mum in running the family distillery might be a tad safer and he left the field with his meager catch (2 slightly ratty looking gorillas, one sway-backed zebra, and one mangy, cape buff).

And now to the conclusion of our tale.

Sir Peter, three bands of natives chasing his derriere, was high-tailing it for all he was worth. All pretense of exploration was tossed to the winds and survival was the only thing left on his mind! Chief Wadi Maroun was picking off one or two bearers or askari each time he fired. Chief Yurdi Spikabl had taken to the high ground with his muskets and was shooting as often as he could with similar results, and his spearmen were at the dead run chasing after the magnetic Poppy. And finally, Chief Hausa Yomomma had caught up with Sir Peter - or at least came close enough to assist our speedy hero in his surviving the gauntlet!

Yomomma was able to interject his tribesmen between the remains of Sir Peter's expedition and the gunnery of the attacking natives. By this means alone did old Petey manage to extract himself from death's clutches. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said of the fragile Poppy; and at last view, she was being led off by a group of Yurdi's minions towards the kraal of that now-smiling chieftain. In fact, the only survivors of this latest escapade were Sir Peter and the loyal Mumza Dawurdi plus a handful of bearers and askari (the fleetest of foot)!

As we look over the desert as the sun sets, all begins to return to normal except for a small gathering at a lonely oasis. The single-minded W.D. Fourty has finally met up with Chief Yurdi and we see muskets and ivory changing hands! This bodes ill for the future in this once quiet land.

Submitted by your faithful scribe: Phineas Phlogue (alias Jim S )

 

Back to the Adventure Page