JTTTLBTMI Crossover Part 3
Lady Darkling’s song rose above the deep rumble and roar of the mountain, the eerie music and the bubbling of the lava below us, a gentle soothing tone, ethereal and unworldly. The hot air felt a little cooler, the sparks and embers that floated through the air pirouetted around her and a strange peacefulness fell across the cavern.
“She’s singing the mountain a lullaby,” Fuschia laughed. “Putting the mountain and the burny rocks to sleep for us to get across the bridge. She's not daft, her.”
It looked like it was working; the lava boiled away slowly beneath us but sent forth no more burning balls of molten rock. The song grew louder and louder as Lady Darkling drifted across the bridge, carried by her music and that of the mountain and we all followed, carefully watching our step. I was halfway over when I suddenly realised we were all singing along, joining Lady Darkling’s song, keeping the mountain slumbering.
As the last of the penguin sherpas crossed the bridge, the mountain must have decided to turn over in its sleep as a huge gout of flame leapt up from the pit, spraying the bridge we had just crossed only moments before. We feverishly hurried onwards; there was no telling how long the mountain would stay rested.
More caverns, more tunnels, more twists and turns and finally a decision, a fork in the path. Without hesitating, Lady Darkling carried on down the left hand path and was followed by Baron Bardhaven, Miss Kelley and Mr Abel. Lady Eva, however, stopped just short of entering the cavern and cocked her head to one side. “Listen…”She said. So we did.
The strange melody had become part of the background noise, along with the rumbles and groans of the caverns, but it was much louder here – and much louder from the right-hand path. Lady Eva, Lady Gabrielle and Lady Amber were already drifting in that direction, their bodies swaying in time to the beat of the music and before I knew it, I was too. I shook my head, trying to clear it of the music, but here it really was becoming loud. We followed the Duchesses and Baronesses onwards with Oolon fractiously muttering about “hypnotic sub-harmonics in the lower frequencies”.
Almost without warning the passage we were following opened up into a huge chamber filled with native men and women in various states of undress, cavorting around bamboo poles and swigging from half coconuts with little umbrellas in them.
“Rudey people!” Fuschia exclaimed happily and Terry laughed, covering Oolon’s eyes as he began blushing furiously.
“Good Lord!” Lady Eva cried “It’s a Gentleman’s Club!”
I had to agree that’s exactly what it looked like.
The music here was pounding and deafening. The walls of the “club” were exquisitely carved organ pipes, formed by the looks of it from the living rock of the mountain itself. Opposite the entrance, on a raised dais of steps, a figure cloaked in shadow maniacally played the gargantuan organ.
Lady Gabrielle shouted out a warning and I turned to see a large group making their way through the dancers towards us. They didn’t look like a welcoming committee.
We didn’t stand a chance in the yawning maw of the cave opening; we had to make things more difficult for them.
“Into the crowd!” I shouted and set off at an angle into the throng of people, grabbing Fuschia’s hand and pulling her with me. Terry did the same with a befuddled looking Oolon, whisking him off into a group on the opposite side of the entrance. The last glimpse I caught of the Duchesses and the Baroness before the crowd closed in was of them standing back to back, each adopting a fighting poise and silhouetted by a fire ball leaping up from one of the open lava pits in the room. Somehow I got the feeling they could look after themselves.
I pushed on deeper into the crowd, trying to make my way to the dais and avoiding any of our unfriendly greeters. Our luck, however, didn’t hold for long. Thankfully, I’d spent some time when I was younger earning money at my Uncle’s circus by wrestling all comers and when the tribesman lunged for me from out of the crowd, I let go of Fuschia, grabbed his sleeve and collar and suplexed him up over my head and down onto a nearby table. Coconuts, rum, umbrellas and table splinters flew in all directions. With spilled drinks, the crowd around us was turning nasty; Fuschia had drawn her swiss army spork from her sock and was waving it menacingly at anyone who came near her. Things were about to get out of hand very quickly when suddenly four black and white shapes dropped onto the ground in front of us. Four penguins, each wearing a different coloured headband and each brandishing a different weapon (of far eastern origin I would guess), posed dramatically and then leapt into what had turned into an angry mob, buying us breathing space and time to escape. Mr Abel certainly trained his little assistants well.
We jostled our way quickly through the mass of people. At last, we reached the dais and began pushing our way up the steps when suddenly the music stopped, the room fell silent and all eyes turned to the raised platform.
The mysterious organist stood, leaving his glittering marble keyboard, and strode into a shaft of light, illuminating his features and at last revealing his identitiy to us all…