I started awake and for the life of me could not remember where I was or how I got there. This wasn’t my home in Boston and I wasn’t propped against a tree near a river in the jungles of Elizagaea either. I was lying on my back on something soft. Feeling down, I found it was a pile of straw or hay. Complete blackness surrounded me and looking up I could see neither stars nor moon. I tried to sit up and immediately felt pain shooting through my side. If that wasn’t an indication of where I was, it was at least a reminder of recent events. The air felt cool, but I was drenched in sweat—most probably a result of fever.
Getting to my feet, I found that I was under a roof of some kind far above my head, but that I could see stars off to my left. With great effort I walked in that direction, but had taken no more than five steps when someone grabbed me and jerked me back.
“No Henry Goode!” said a female voice.
“Kanana,” she confirmed.
“What is it? What’s the matter? Where are we?”
Though I don’t know whether she understood any of my questions, she guided my hand down to the ground and along a smooth stone floor beneath my feet. Just a few inches in front of me it ended. I was standing on the edge of some great precipice and had been about to step off. Pulling me along by my shirt, she led me back to where I had started and guided me back down to the bed of straw.
My eyes were starting to adjust to the darkness but I could only make out her outline. Kanana could evidently see just fine, for she pushed something into my hand. I could feel that it was some kind of fruit and when I took a bite I recognized it as a plum. While I ate, she left me where I was, and though I wanted her to stay with me, by the time I finished eating the plum I had drifted back to sleep.
This time, if I did return to that vile dream, I had no memory of it when I awoke. I opened my eyes to see bright daylight streaming into the room where I lay. It was a stone room, or that is to say, it was most of a stone room. There was a ceiling and a floor and three walls, all constructed of massive stone blocks fitted together with brilliant precision. Each of the three walls had windows. Two of them looked out over the unbroken jungle below, revealing that this room along with whatever other parts of the complex existed, were built on a granite mountainside poking above the lush green country. The third window revealed an enormous rock jutting into the sky. On the fourth side of the room, not only was the entire wall missing, a good portion of the mountain had fallen away in a landslide, leaving only a narrow winding path down to the ground hundreds of feet below. I felt far too shaky in my current state to make the descent and wondered that I had ever been able to make it up here.
My jungle girl was nowhere to be seen but it was obvious that she made this her home, at least sometimes. The mat where I had slept was on one side of the room, covered in a mattress I now recognized as savannah grasses. On the other side was a similar bed, along with several pieces of ancient luggage. Opening them up I found clothing that might have come from America or Europe but that was some ten or fifteen years out of style, not that I kept up with such things. There were a few very nice pieces of gold jewelry and a small personal journal.
I couldn’t read the book. It was in a foreign language that I was able to identify as Russian only by the peculiar additions to the alphabet. From the inside cover I determined that this was the journal of one Aleksandra Christyakova-Romanov. I scanned the pages and found the names Robert James Haldane and Aleksandra Haldane. From this scant evidence I pieced together a picture of a Russian woman who married an Englishman. Perhaps he had visited Russia on business or in some diplomatic capacity, had met the young woman and married her. I knew of course that Romanov was the family name of the Russian monarchy, but surely there were others as well with that surname.