The Journey to…the Mysterious Island – Prologue


The dockside in Caledon Cay was abuzz with chatter and speculation as a crowd gathered for the better part of the day, pushing and shoving to get a good view of the mystery. Scientists, citizens, gawkers and fanatics all stared and whispered and wondered..and barraged the locals with questions.

All of the old salts who normally lounged about the Cay begging the odd Linden and harassing schoolgirls were drinking up the attention like warm gin and wormwood. They were agreed it was just about the biggest thing to happen in those parts in quite some time, and were saying so at great length to anyone with the price of a drink. Old Josiah Drywall contended for a bit that it wasn’t as big as the time Countess Primbroke got her skirt caught in a carriage door as it drove off, or the time Lester Bryce-Farthing swallowed a dolphin….but even he admitted it was close.

None of them could ever remember when a volcano had suddenly emerged from the sea off the Cay, let alone a giant, smoke-wreathed erupting volcano.

In fact, it wasn’t JUST a volcano, but an entire Island which had roared to the surface of the vast blue water just before dawn that day. At first, most people assumed it was a strange glitch of some kind…but it stayed there all morning, quietly belching molten stone into the tranquil water. In fact, the locals grew so used to the fire spewing freak of nature they took to calling it Phillip.

Finally, it began to catch the attention of outsiders and the crowds started to gather, struggling to peer at it through the dense black smoke, shielding their eyes against the hellish red glow with special “Phillip-gazer” visors (available for just a few hundred Linden). By the time that first morning was done, visitors could purchase undershirts emblazoned with the image of Phillip. Special Phillip Volcan-asols were available for the ladies to shield their hairstyles from the summer sun and plummeting ash and grit. Children were playing with stuffed volcanoes that roared when squeezed, and young women were purchasing 5 packs of red satin bloomers brazenly displaying a legend reading “Warning: Phillip Within“.

By mid-afternoon, as the curious were feasting on spicy Volcanowursts and thick, meaty Phillip-burgers, washing them down with pints of Lava-Lager as they debated how quickly Desmond would put rental lampposts all over this new arrival, the Royal Society for the Advancement of Knowledge in the Natural Sciences swooped into action like a giant, scholarly swooping-thing. A specially trained cartographer ventured as near to the massive monstrosity as possible, and to the cheers of the crowds returned with the first realistic map of the phenomenon. All of Caledon were impressed with the fine scientific precision of the resulting chart, which has been meticulously reproduced below:


The cartographer also reported that the Island was, against all odds, apparently inhabited as in the shelter of the volcano there were numerous smoking camp-fires and periodically strange, ululating cries would echo down the mountain of death, followed by what seemed to be the strains of distant organ music. Not only was there someone living on Phillip, but he was a morose, hyper-dramatic type.

Even more disturbing was the fact that Phillip would occasionally be wracked by what appeared to be sudden upheavals, causing great briny waves to sweep over the Cay and Mayfair to the upset of those ladies who had strayed to close to the water’s edge and the mirth of the urchins who were looting their reticules. These upheavals were growing worse as the day progressed, and if continued unabated, Miss Nicholas’ crack Royal Society scientists, using the finest of Caledonian seismodysgraphic, lavadralic and geometaphysicagorical instruments, estimated that the quake would shatter all of Caledon asunder “real soon”.

Clearly a decision had to be taken by the Royal Society on a course of immediate action. Life in Caledon as we know it could hang in the very balance.

Sadly, due to the fact that the entirety of the Royal Society’s budget that year had been spent on prim hats, “deep thinking, smart looking animation” pose balls for the Society HQ and sculptie fossils to place about so that they could appear to be busy, there simply was no budget for a major expedition.

As night finally descended, the leadership of the Society was huddled on the dock overlooking Phillip, about to issue with heavy hearts a proclamation to all Caledon, suggesting that due to unseasonably volcanic weather, everyone move to World of Warcraft, when someone cleared his throat near at hand.

The scientists looked up to see Baron BardHaven, his face shadowed but alight with the demonic glow of the Volcano beyond.

“I couldn’t help but overhear that you are a bit strapped for operating funds, vis a vis, an expedition to dear Phillip out there.” he intoned, a genial, friendly smile on his face, white teeth reflecting volcanic hellfire. “I think I could see my way clear to underwriting such important work pro bono…of course, quid pro quo, ipso facto, there would be certain…accommodations I would demand, ad nauseaum, habeas corpus, e pluribus unum.”

Their agreement was rapid and desperate, as they had little choice and had been impressed by all the latin…and so did Baron BardHaven begin to assemble a team of Caledonians to go forth and see what secrets Phillip might hold in his bowels.



  1. An altogether accurate account … save for one small detail.

    Our coffers weren’t drained on account of prim hats.

    There was this small matter of a bribe — nay, a pre-emptive gratuity — required to move Hatshepsut’s mummy from St Petersburg to safer locations last year*. I’m afraid I had to carry over some of that payment into this year.

    In any event: with BardHaven’s support, the expedition will go forward!

    * Nicholas K. Update in AEgyptology. Proc Royal Soc 2007;7.

  2. By…certain accommodations…you would demand…

    …you don’t need another satin bunny, do you?

  3. […] Baron BardHaven started it! Please honour us by clicking here for the Prologue. […]

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