Monday, October 15, 2012



Dates: 14 November 1900 and 15 March 1901
Location: Alexandrapour
Situation: Last Days At Alexandrapour
The End Of The Story
See Chapter XXI posted 19 August 2012 here:

You may recall....

After finding the lost ancient City of Alexandrapour....

Colonel Lawford also found the missing Countess Alexandra tied to sacrificial posts outside a cave. She had been taken captive within the Earth after her expedition was attacked and vanished. After cleansing preparations, she was returned to the surface to be sacrificed to the cave dweller Barmanu. Lawford foiled this despicable act.

Later Sir Richard Stirling, Colonel Lawford, Countess Alexandra and one 9th Bengal Lancer sowar descended into that same cave for a brief scout. If a secret or significance from antiquity existed, they thought it might be found underground below the ruins of the city.

A covering party guarded the cave entrance.

Two hours into the watch, the earth rumbled, shook and a cloud of dust exited the cave entrance.

All attempts failed to break through debris choking the tunnel. The four explorers were irrevocably entombed.


Lean closer dear readers and have a care.
There is barely enough light to see where you are going.

Stirling: "We can't go back Miss. The earthquake sealed us in and make no mistake, without steam-driven machinery, the lads outside don't have a chance to rescue us."

Alexandra: "Then we go forward, farther and deeper if necessary to find a way out. There is an underground city here. During my captivity though I was unable to see much, there are passageways, chambers and more."

Lawford: "If true, there must be another way out. It would be a poor general who built only one way in and out. Otherwise a cave is a grave. We go forward as you say."

Alexandra: "See gentlemen; a gateway carved from solid rock."

Alexandra: "Could this be the real Alexandrapour? Those structures hundreds of feet above us perhaps were a ruse de l'guerre.

Lawford: "I know what you mean. An enemy capturing structures above might believe them to be the city but in reality it was a neat piece of legerdemain. When threatened, inhabitants would descend below to the real city whilst a foe would be none the wiser thinking the populace had fled across country."

Stirling: "Let's press on then."

Lawford: "Careful now. Move out."

Ranjin Singh: "S'abs. No movement down the corridor ahead."

Lawford: "Advance."

Stirling: "D'ya hear something?"

Ranjin Singh: "In the shadows - movement."

Alexandra: "Barmanu!"

Stirling: "FIRE!"

Alexandra: "It is the hideous thing that intended me for a personal sacrifice."

Lawford: "It dies and will trouble you no more. We need to move quickly. Our shots surely have given us away. Head for the double doors."

Stirling: "That's torn it. Somebody is coming with a torch."

Lawford: "Walking confidently too."


Bearded Man: "Greetings explorers. My name is Professor Horatio Sutherland."

Alexandra: "Not THE Professor Sutherland from the missing 1892 Expedition?"

Sutherland: "The same. Come in, if you please. Do not fear."

Alexandra: "I am Countess Alexandra Volkanskaya of the Romanov Expedition."

Sutherland: "Yes. I know. Sadly I am aware of your travails. The "Keepers" informed me of your resolute march from the very beginning. We can discuss that later. Meanwhile, welcome to the lost ancient City of Alexandrapour. Sir Richard, I...."

Stirling: "Aye Professor. I failed to keep the whole lot away. An' Professor Grenville is dead too. May God rest his tormented soul."

Sutherland: "You should've not said that. We'll be terribly misunderstood."

Alexandra: "MISUNDERSTOOD! - DAMN YOU SIR! I'll know the reason why you played such an insidious game before I pull the trigger. From the very beginning you were false. My Uncle, my team; all my people are probably dead because of your obfuscation. You treacherous liar! Why did you not tell me your real purpose and prevent their deaths?"

Stirling: "Easy Countess. The stakes were too high. Still are. Some might have survived in the bush. The Professor will explain it all to ye in good time. I'm still on your side."

Sutherland: "I apologize Countess and we need Sir Richard to survive here. Come this way. I'll explain everything. To the right is...."

Sutherland: "A portal to an even more subterranean level. The explanation you seek lies below. This central stone is delicately balanced. As I push the triggering device here, it will descend opening the aven."

Stirling: "I'll go down the shaft first. The rest of ye follow me. At the bottom we'll pass through a short corridor and afterwards down one more ladder to our destination."

Lawford: "Alexander's Treasure Room? Look at that prodigious jewel in the center."

Sutherland: "Quite so. Wander about, if you please."

Lawford: "Piles of gold, jewels carelessly strewn about the size of huge gourds, vessels, urns, gilded spears, chests, amphora and more."

Lawford: "Look how the large jewel illuminates as the torch nears."

Sutherland: "Its properties are a fascination. It can induce a singular mesmerizing affect not dissimilar to the comfort of gazing into an evening campfire. Hence the benches and seating in this room."

Alexandra: "It must be worth several billion rubles; enough to fund the government of any large nation state for years."

Stirling: "Aye. It's value in ancient times must have been incalculable."

Sutherland: "I speculate the great Alexander accepted it as tribute from a conquered regional leader. Perhaps he ordered it hidden here for safekeeping. See the trappings about it. At one time it was probably hung on the surface."

Stirling: "For good military reasons I'm think'n."

Sutherland: "Notice it grows more powerful in the torchlight; an amplification, if you will. Do you feel a vibrating radiant warmth?"

Alexandra: "Da."

Sutherland: "Now imagine the enormously exponential amplification that could be caused by the Sun. Did the Ancients harness energy emanating from that jewel transferring it for a civilian or military purpose? Was it in Alexander's thoughts to peacefully illuminate the Lighthouse at Alexandria or did he discover a weapon of such immense power that it could incinerate his foes?"

Alexandra: "No such power exists. The heat is becoming uncomfortable. Stirling why don't you sit on it?"

Lawford: "If fitted to the newest airships, it could conceivably cast energy in a surprise attack on enemy cities winning a future war in a matter of days. Diabolical!"

Stirling: "In the wrong hands...."

Sutherland: "Precisely. Knowledge of this infernal contraption must never reach the outside world. Surely you agree."

Four Months Later - March 15, 1901

In principle they did agree, but not at the dreadful expense of a permanent life below ground nor the purposeful destruction of four expeditions from 1872. Sutherland had been a prisoner for eight years. Escape was made impossible by the earthquake months before and no secondary entrance had been found allowing escape. They were buried alive. Reentry even by the mysterious and dangerous "Keepers" was also impossible.

The question arose would the air become so foul and thin as to bring on the permanent slumber of death. Yet the city breathed. Air somehow reached it through unknown passages to the surface.

Stored supplies found in multiple chambers provided sustenance of a not too disagreeable kind. The "Keepers" had obviously planned for the long term.

Fresh water was available too from a stream filled from an unknown source. Sightless albino fish occasionally appeared there providing fresh meat.

Other necessaries were available too. Lowest levels of Alexandrapour radiated sufficient warmth from deeper in the Earth. The deepest cavern was hot enough to slowly cook food. Light though vexingly poor was provided by cases of candles, lamps and a natural phosphorescence glowing from many rock walls.

Journals and writing implements were provided by Professor Sutherland for Lawford and Alexandra. Though despair occasionally overtook both, the military man dutifully recorded what he thought relevant as did the beautiful red-haired amateur archaeologist. Sutherland naturally recorded his excavations, discoveries and theories in the fashion of a Renaissance Man. The trio hoped their labors would be found by future explorers daring to enter Terra Incognita decades or centuries in the future.

Lawford often wondered if his batman had returned to Dongolo as ordered four months before. If anyone could thread the extraordinarily dangerous landscape back to civilization, Nazim could. The odds were very poor though. He carried Lawford's important journal describing the remarkable story up to the cave in.

If he made it, future expeditions would know to be armed with the most powerful weapons. An infantry brigade, a regiment of light horse and a battery of automatic guns would be needed. A section of highly mobile and efficient screw guns would be singularly useful too. It was a comforting distraction for Lawford to plan an expedition on paper that could not be stopped except by the full force of nature. The activity separated him from insanity.

On March 15, 1901 an earthquake shook Alexandrapour. Professor Sutherland and Sir Richard Stirling were in the Treasure Room at the time.

Stones fell from above and the room filled with asphyxiating dust.

The ancient infernal contraption was shaken and began to release stored energy. It glowed with increasing intensity. Elsewhere at a higher level....

Lawford and Alexandra barely escaped debris falling in his quarters. Everything was overturned or shattered behind them.

Alexandra: "We got out just in time but what difference does it make?"

Lawford: "The corridor in this direction is collapsed. Let's go the other way. The one behind us is still open."

Ranjin Singh: "Sah'bs! This way. Up the ladder. I've found a way out. Hurry!"

Lawford: "Yes. Sunlight is coming in from above."

Ranjin Singh: "The earthquake opened the way."

Alexandra: "Can we escape James?"

Lawford: "It's our only chance. If the aperture closes, we are done for. Up we go."

Lawford: "That's the ticket Ranjin Singh. Up and over."

Lawford: " Let's head for the edge of the ridge and get our bearings. Quietly now."

Ranjin Singh: "Speaking of tickets Sir. Look."

Ranjin Singh: "There is our ride home."

Alexandra: "Who are they James?

Lawford: "Colonel Coote's Guides Cavalry, God Bless 'em."

Colonel Coote: "Yes, that's Lieutenant Colonel Lawford up on the ridge. Let's get him and his companions down from there shall we?"

Alexandra: "Oh James. What are we going to tell them?"

Lawford: "Good question dear. - A very - good - question."



1.Thank you very very much for looking in on the story since May 2011. I have sincerely appreciated your generous remarks, interest, advice and joy. ETA has been an exhilarating, satisfying, learning and fun experience for me. As a serialized fictional novel illustrated with our favorite things, historical miniatures, I believe it is the first of its kind. You can do it too. Now if only Hollywood would contact me, eh? Steady Bill! A book deal then? Oh my!

2. Where do we go from here? Time will tell. Thank you again. This has been tons of fun.

3. Chuck L. loaned his extensive and singularly marvelous Tomb structures to wonderfully accentuate the story above. His story about it follows.

"Awhile back I was inspired by a terrain layout I came across to build a modular tomb/dungeon layout. As it happened I already had some one foot square MDF tiles already cut. I also had a box of "Project Bricks". Project Bricks are sold in various craft stores and are meant to be used for children's school projects. They are prepainted hard Styrofoam bricks. Ive seen them come in cream, red and black colors. I used the cream colored ones. Each box has 200+ bricks and I used about five boxes to make this layout."

"For my tiles I wanted them to be modular so I could arrange them any way I wanted. I made them with four doors on each tile with each door in the same location. I did a dry layout with the bricks until they were laid out the way I wanted. I then glued them together with a hot glue gun. I then painted all the walls with a mix of beige paint and white glue. Once the walls were painted and dry I glued them down to the tiles. Then I put down a layer of the same white glue and paint mixture on the floor and sprinkled some playground sand on top. I also made a bunch of doors to add even more variety to the layouts."

"For decoration I bought some Egyptian "TOOBS". These are a line of plastic toys done in various themes. They are a great source of cheap additions to pulp/fantasy games. In addition to the Egyptian Toob, I purchased one with dinosaur skulls and one dedicated to the Crocodile Hunter to use in some future games. I also bought some plastic beads to use as urns and whatnot to add to the decorations. I also made some treasure piles out of putty and gold glitter."

"I kept the tiles fairly generic on purpose so I could use them for other genres. I have plans to use them for fantasy games and Weird War Two games. I have an idea for adding some walls with hieroglyphics that I can add to the layout and remove as needed."
I've got a total of ten tiles made at the moment. I'm thinking of making a few more and possibly making some corridor sections."

"Here is a link to a post I put up on the Lead adventure forum:"

And another:

Chuck L.

4. In a couple of weeks there will be a last look at our characters and prodigious thank yous to friends who contributed so generously of their time and collections to make ETA so visually appealing. I could not have done it without them. For now let me rise from my chair applauding and bravoing Chuck L., John B., Jim P., Todd B., Randy F., Earl K. and painters John P. plus Neil of Reinforcements By Post.

5. Your comments are welcome below -- dear readers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chapter XXI Alexandra and The Cave


Dates: 12-14 November and 31 December 1900
Location: Alexandrapour and Dongolo
Situation: Last Days At Alexandrapour
See Chapter XX posted 4 August 2012 here:


Three days ago whilst searching for members of the vanished Romanov Expedition, we heard terrifying screams from a woman. Abandoning the just discovered ruins of Alexandrapour, we raced in the direction of the frightened voice. Only moments passed when we observed a hideous creature of an unknown species apparently intent upon retrieving an abandoned red-haired beauty tied to sacrificial posts.

There was no time to lose. We charged in her direction snap firing our carbines. This caused the animal to reluctantly withdraw into a nearby cave allowing us to save the woman. The lady whom we rescued was none other than the Romanov Countess Alexandra Elaina Volkanskaya. This is her story.

Lawford: "Within the relative safety of reconfigured and now fortified Camp Alexandrapour...."

Lawford: "The Countess began her story under the dining fly."

Lawford: "Captain Tumarkin and myself with Nazim standing by were about to learn a story so extraordinary as to defy belief - except here - in mysterious and dangerous Terra Incognita. Alexandra's composure seemed nearly restored, her wounds were healing well and that countenance of confidence and indefatigable resolution which I knew so well appeared unshaken. Remarkable actually. The time had arrived to relate what she could."

Alexandra: "I cannot explain what happened to our people except to say we were overwhelmed several hours before sunrise. Everyone but camp guards were asleep when four men burst into my tent. Before I could do a thing, they forcibly applied a rough and odorous cloth to my face. Vapors caused me to quickly lose consciousness."

"Oblivion however, did not occur before I heard shouts from my countrymen, gunshots, thuds, orders bellowed by my Uncle Colonel Villanovich and the sensation of being hurriedly carried away on someones shoulder. Silence then overcame me almost immediately. This is all I know about the shocking fate of my expedition. Apparently I was and am the sole survivor."

Alexandra: "Of my captivity I can only say I was taken underground, carefully bathed, fed and dressed in a short white garment. The number of days that transpired I could not count. No one spoke with me until a person in apparent authority came into my dark chamber to return me to the surface and sunlight above. There I was bound unto sacrificial posts as guards waived hideous weapons in the air."

Alexandra: "The silence of my captors finally broke when the leader, a woman, spoke to me in broken Gallian."

Leader: "Permittez-moi de vous présenter... myself. I am Urvashi, Priestess and guardian of Alexandrapour. Your people dared to come here to discover our secrets, wealth and defile our gods. Terra Incognita stopped three previous expeditions. Yours, the fourth, will now be the latest to enter eternity."

Tumarkin: "She speaks of Ryder's 1879 Expedition, Sutherland's in 1892, Grenville's a fortnight ago and now the Romanovs.

Alexandra: "Da."

Alexandra: "As she continued speaking a guard returned to the cave opening from which we had exited. Remaining there, he lit a torch. Then the men began chanting."

Guards: "Bar-manu...Bar-manu...BARMANU...BARMANU!"

Urvashi: "They summon the god Barmanu for you. Though engorged on your people, his slumber ends soon. He will come for you, the last of you thieves and defilers."

Guards: "Bar-manu...Bar-manu...BARMANU...BARMANU!"

Alexandra: "I closed my eyes and started praying."

Alexandra: "When I reopened them, everyone was gone. The only sounds I heard were from fleeing birds and loudly droning insects."

Alexandra: Struggling and pulling against my bindings had no effect except to tear the flesh on my wrists."

Alexandra: "Utterly alone I resumed praying to God - sincerely asking for the forgiveness of all my sins."

Alexandra: "Later the sound of rocks being pushed about came from the cave. This was followed by a sickening odor wafting its way to me. Then suddenly a hideous and hairy upright creature appeared. Barmanu. Terrified I resumed pulling at the ropes around my wrists with all my strength and resolve. It was useless to resist. All I had left was to scream. Aaaaa---HHHHH---hh---HHHHHHH!"

Lawford: "It was fortunate you screamed and kept at it. We had been searching for survivors within the ruins of Alexandrapour. We did not know it was you at the time. Regardless we rushed to assist and found it was you!"

Alexandra: "Though behind me I did not hear you. Even that first carbine shot went unnoticed. All my senses were concentrated on the brutish thing coming for me."

Alexandra: "Then you and your men, thank God, were around me firing without stop into the cave where the thing vanished. You saved me. I am greatly indebted."

Tumarkin: "I was elated Countess to find and rescue you from death."

Lawford: "We noted the beast was tall, bipedal, had prehensile thumbs and though brutish in appearance, it resembled a grotesquely robust and hairy man."

Nazim: "Our lancers know its name as Barmanu. They say others of it's kind inhabit remote and mostly uninhabited mountainous regions near our homeland. Apparently we have met one here. One who is worshiped as a pagan god."

Alexandra: "Hello, who is this?"

Lawford: "We were astounded to observe two men whom I soon came to know as Sir Richard Stirling and Mogambo. They were being directed to our dining fly."

Alexandra: "Sir Richard. I thought you were dead."

Stirling: "Not likely Countess. Mogambo and I left camp to hunt fresh meat for your Uncle's men. We were gone for days, lost our way a bit to avoid some large carnivores and only now have returned. I am surprised to find only you and this new group of explorers occupying the camp. What happened?"

Lawford: "After introductions I invited Stirling under the dining fly to explain the whole story. All he could say was...."

Stirling: "Forgive me Countess but you will remember I strongly advised abandonment of your expedition with an immediate return to Dongolo. I pray you all will take my advice after everything that has happened - this time."

Lawford: "Sir Richard, the decision has already been made. Tomorrow we return to the cave entrance, descend into its depths and discover what secrets may be there. My orders require me to ascertain the importance of Alexandrapour. If we can do that in one day or a few days, we will depart afterwards. Until then, we remain. Alexandra is descending with me. Will you accompany us?"

Stirling: "Aye. Naturally."

Alexandra: "Certainement. I seek another rendezvous with Urvashi."


31 December 1900 {Forty-nine days later}

Left to right: Bureaucrat Mr. Wyatt, Agent Colonel Boyle, Chargé d’affaires, Brigadier (ret.) Graham Day and Mr. Jitters {the butler}.

Day: "Mr. Jitters informs me Colonel Lawford's batman, Nazim, has arrived this hour from Terra Incognita. He desires to speak with me. Join me will you?"

Soldier: "I reported your request to the Chargé d’affaires. You may go in now."

Nazim: "Husoors. Thank you. The Colonel Lawford ordered me to report to the highest ranking government representative to say the lost ancient City of Alexandrapour was discovered...."

Wyatt: "Amazing. Never thought it could be done."

Boyle: "He remained behind then to explore?"

Nazim: "Yes Colonel Sahib. I bring Colonel Lawford's journal which he ordered me to present to you. All our experiences are in it."

Mr. Wyatt: "Place his papers on the desk."

Nazim: "These are the first. More...."

Day: "Trooper. We will read the journal later. Oblige us will you with the story in your words?"

Nazim: "Very good Barra Sahib. I will begin at the end when the Colonel ordered me to leave Camp Alexandrapour. It was November 14th."

Lawford: "Nazim, my good man. The path we have trod together must now temporarily diverge. Today I shall descend into the cave. Perhaps we will discover the significance of Alexandrapour there. However, I want you to take my journal back to Dongolo handing it to the highest ranking politico in residence - tonight under cover of darkness."

Nazim: "Why S'hab!"

Lawford: "Four previous expeditions have been wiped out. Due to their size, they were all easily discernable by Terra Incognita people and animals bent on their destruction. When our expedition starts it's return march, we will be in similar jeopardy. Frankly I think it improbable we will successfully return to Dongolo."

"However, one man, you, using your considerable skills can escape this wretched place undetected. You may be the only one to return to civilization so the world can learn about this strange land. It must learn of it."

Nazim: "Many hours remained before my departure. I walked about the outer works and observed a curious phenomenon. "

Nazim: "A fog blew in from the northeast."

Nazim: "It covered the land - lightly at first and then...."

Nazim: "More densely."

Nazim: "The camp was enveloped for about three hours when wind...."

Nazim: "Suddenly cleared it away. Within the next hour...."

Nazim: "Our detachment arrived at the cave."

Nazim: "Sir Richard Stirling, Colonel Lawford and Alexandra planned to descend into it."

Nazim: "Whilst Captain Tumarkin, several dismounted lancers and soldiers guarded the debarkation point. The cave was quiet. Yet a section of lancers continuously kept their carbines aimed at the opening."

Nazim: "Sir Richard entered first followed by Colonel Lawford and Countess Alexandra; weapons at the ready."

Nazim: "One sowar accompanied them into the darkness too."

Nazim: "The guard then settled down for just less than two hours to await their return when a great rumbling shook the earth."

Nazim: "A dust cloud immediately burst from the cave."

Nazim: "Upon investigation we found the cave passageway hopelessly blocked. The earthquake collapsed the walls inside. Though we called out, not one human sound escaped to our ears. Hours of toil ensued to open a way in to no effect."

"I left that night, alone, for Dongolo as ordered."

Nazim: "Colonel Lawford, Sir Richard Stirling, Countess Alexandra and one sowar were hopelessly entombed and probably killed."


1) Fog effects were created by a fog machine rented from a theatrical rental business in Milwaukee. Amazing stuff.

2) The cave entrance was made by Chuck L. from tree bark chips sold by craft stores.

3) Tentage and the Consulate building came from Miniature Building Authority.

4) Vegetation came from large pet supply store aquarium departments and from Michael's craft stores.

5) Pulp Figure's "Wierd Menance" PWM 10 is the singular source for the sacrificial posts and more. See:

6) Is this the end? Comments welcome below.