Letters from Armorica- Exploring (3 Juillet 34AF)

First Letter

Dear Journal,

I have completed two more sky-chairs and am now out of materials; and so I have spent the last several days exploring my island, which Marc tells me my fellow villagers have taken to calling L’Isle du Grand-Blaireaux, or, alternatively, L’Isle d’Armand. We shall see which one wins out.

My first goal in exploring my island was simply to see what is beyond the tract that is visible from the deck of Le Blaireau. And the answer is, the island is all much of a muchness until it rises into rocky hills at its northern edge. The river flows from a spring in these hills, through the widest part of the island, until it falls off of the edge and down to the lake far below. In between it winds a bit, and there are some pools and a small waterfall or two. The water is good to drink, as I well know by now, and there are fish in the ponds.

For the rest, the island is wooded, and neither particularly flat nor particularly hilly. There are many flattish spots in which one could build a house or barn or shop (if the trees were taken down, and many rocky outcroppings, some of them appearing to contain grottos like those of our hot springs. Though, alas, I am seeing no signs of hot springs themselves, which is a great pity. I should like to explore these grottos, but that will have to wait until I have help. The openings are small; and also, I do not want to die alone, in the dark, with a broken leg or worse—or to fall in a hole, right through the base of the island, and down into the lake below.

I did find one grotto with a larger entry that appears to be the entrance to Old Man Blaireau’s lair. That one I was not tempted to look inside though the going would be easier. I have seen signs of small animals here and there, though nothing that remotely compares with my late friend in size; and it is quite possible that something new has taken up residence. I should not like to find out. And then, of course, there is the stench.

I should like to go fly under the island. From my brief visit there some weeks ago, before all of the unpleasantness with the Provençese recruiters, I remember seeing what seemed to be hollows and the mouths of rocky caves, some of them quite large. But the light is dim at best directly under the island, and we had no lantern with us; and what seems to be a deep pit of blackness can easily be a shallow pocket in the stone. I have a lantern or two here in the sloop, or I could form a hand-light; but of course I am supposed to be remaining out of sight. My days here would be quite wasted if another sloop saw me nosing around under the island, brightly lit.

All in all, my island looks like it could support a small population indefinitely, or a larger one at need for a shorter time; there is room aplenty, and one could plant a few small fields and keep a small herd of goats (ugh). But I am at a loss as to how one would do that without it being immediately visible to a direct overflight.

You see, Dear Journal, that I am still consumed with worry about the Provençese. Whether or not they are still looking for me, whether or not they are still looking for their lost sloop (and I must assume that they are) I fear that war will be coming to Bois-de-Bois. Le Maréchal cannot overlook defiance by those he considers his subjects. We must either give in, or oppose him; and if we are to oppose him, we shall need a base, a hidden base where our families can be safe. I had thought that we might build such a base here on my island…but how to hide it from the air if we cannot build underground, I cannot say.

At night I have dreams of exploring vast networks of caverns deep in the rock of island, small tunnels and vast echoing spaces. Sometimes they are as dark as pitch, and sometimes they warm and lit with many lanterns, and my friends are coming and going. And then I wake, and I ask myself…if the island’s base is so riddled with holes, how is it that the river gets from one end to the other without draining through and out the bottom? And then, in the grey of morning, I am filled with despair.

I suppose there may yet be an answer; I have learned to respect the resource and contrivance of my friends here.

Tonight I am feeling low, lonely, and discouraged. If only Amelie could be here with me, I should know how to go on. But she is not.

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photo credit: “Besenbinder” Welkeschkummer – Höhle, Tour bei Echternach – 20180506 – 125938 via photopin (license)