Dates: 14 November 1900 and 15 March 1901
Situation: Last Days At Alexandrapour
The End Of The Story
See Chapter XXI posted 19 August 2012 here:
PREVIOUSLY ON EXPEDITION TO ALEXANDRAPOUR
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.
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."
Ranjin Singh: "S'abs. No movement down the corridor ahead."
Ranjin Singh: "In the shadows - movement."
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."
Lawford: "Walking confidently too."
Alexandra: "Not THE Professor Sutherland from the missing 1892 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."
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?"
Alexandra: "It must be worth several billion rubles; enough to fund the government of any large nation state for years."
Sutherland: "Notice it grows more powerful in the torchlight; an amplification, if you will. Do you feel a vibrating radiant warmth?"
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."
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: " Let's head for the edge of the ridge and get our bearings. Quietly now."
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."
THE END OF EXPEDITION TO ALEXANDRAPOUR
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:"
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.
Spectacular and quite chilling, in a way. Excellently done, and well worth waiting for.
Are the Guides new? Will they figure in Pettygree's future campaigns?
Thank you Rob,
Chuck L. artfully painted the Guides for Earl K. Yes, they will feature in future Gen. Pettygree operations. I can hear their hooves pounding to join The Surajistan Feld Force right now. The latter has been in suspended animation since October 2011 but for not much longer now.
Has it really been that long since the last dispatch from General Pettygree? Shocking.
What manufacturer made the Guides?
Bravo! Well done, my friend!
I've said this before, Bill -- you should be directing movies! Excellent stuff.
Excellent, just excellent... well done Bill!
Who made the giant jewel? :o)
Never mind who made the jewel, where is it now and how am I going to find the money to raise an expedition to go find it?
Excellent again Bill, in both imagination and execution. Many thanks for the entertainment.
I was happy to help.
It was a wonderful story.
Superb sir, as always, and a fitting climax to a great story. =)
Also the Guides are form Old Glory.
That's great to hear! I have a bunch of the Old Glory dismounted Indian cavalry, and they do not match too well with the OG Bengal Lancers, so I'm pleased to see how well the Guides Cavalry fit them!
I am very grateful for your continued kind remarks. Thanks a million.
Steve The Wargamer:
The prodigous infernal contraption (jewel) came from the retail USA store Michaels. I dimly recall it was called a bauble to be worn around the neck. It struck me as rather avant garde to wear but was perfect for the purpose needed in ETA.
Go to the jewelry and bead department. The beads make perfect large jewels. There are some remarkable items there which can serve all kinds of needs - our hobby needs that is. Thanks to Chuck for telling me about this unique source.
I can hardly believe that it's been so long in the telling, yet seems as if it began but yesterday! Your story telling skills, combined with excellently composed miniatures, photographed against convincing backgrounds is second-to-none, Bill! I will look forward to the resumption of Colonel Pettigree's adventures, but will definitely miss further installments from Alexandrapour!
And so ends another delightful table top "story board".
As usual, wonderful images creating an almost "Pulp Magazine Cover" look.
Very well done again, sir.
I've just read this for the first time Bill, all be it a couple of years after the events & have got to say I was totally enthralled, thank you for what was one of the most enjoyable stories I've ever read.
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