I hadn’t been left alone for more than half an hour, when I heard the approach of someone or something. I say something because the primary sound that I heard coming toward me was a low guttural growling. It became louder, and as it did, I could tell that it wasn’t the simple sound set of an animal, but a language unlike anything I had ever heard before. Minutes later the foliage at the edge of the clearing parted, and out sprang what I could only assume were the Tumukua.
It was a party of about twenty men, but the Tumukua were very different from the Tokayana, the Chikuyana, and the other inhabitants of Elizagaea. They were shorter, stockier, and heavier, with thick brow ridges and lantern jaws. Rather than the copper skin of the other natives, theirs was a deep umber color. It took me a moment, but at last I recognized them from the Boston Society of Natural History. Fossils of just such people had been found in Europe near the Neader Valley. They were cavemen!
While one of the new arrivals began untying me, another spoke to me. I didn’t understand the low growls and grunts any better than I had understood the language that the natives had used in Abbeyport on the coast. My hands were retied in front of me, and then were attached to a rope used as a leash, and I was led on into the thick forest.
We hadn’t gone far before it started raining. It continued raining the rest of the day. As darkness fell, I realized my new captors were not of a mind to stop and make camp. I wasn’t sure if this was just their custom or whether they just decided not to bother stopping in the rain. Either way, I couldn’t keep up. My body had reached the limit of its endurance. One moment I was walking as the world turned sideways. The next, I was on the ground in the mud and everything went black. For just a moment, I saw Trudy’s face, looking down at me and laughing. Then I passed into consciousness just long enough to realize that I was being carried over one of my new companion’s shoulders, like a sack of wheat.
Suddenly I was on my back on the stony ground. My face was turned to the sky and a torrent of water was still falling. I opened my mouth and drank. Raising my hands to protect my eyes and keep the rain from going up my nose, I found them still tied. I just stayed where I was and continued to drink. The water was so good I drank too much. When rough hands jerked me to my feet, I vomited up a good deal of what I had swallowed. This was met by coarse laughter from the Tumukua.
Looking around, I saw that I hadn’t been lying on the bare ground at all, but a platform of fitted stones. My eyes followed these stones as they formed a bridge, which connected to a road, and which then led through a great gate and into a vast city. The sheets of rain made it difficult to get a complete view, but what I could see filled me with wonder. It was like looking on the splendors of Rome or Athens as they had been two thousand years ago. But the architecture wasn’t quite the same. Still, I realized where I had seen similar stonework before. The style exactly matched the ancient construction of Kanana’s fortress, jutting up near the border between the savannah and the jungle somewhere to the east.
“I suppose I’ll never see you again,” I said to myself.
The only answer I received was a jerk on my leash, as I was guided the rest of the way across the bridge.
“I hope you’re safe, Kanana.”
“Kanana!” hissed one of the Tumukua. The others repeated her name in hushed tones, looking around as if they expected her to appear out of the torrential mists. “Kanana. Kanana.” After a moment, they continued on into the city. It could have been my imagination, but it didn’t seem as if they tugged quite as hard.