One time in the middle of the warm summer, Billobi received a letter from his dear friend Tristan "Hum" Beadle. At this point, Tristan had been across the sea for a good couple of years, travelling the waters and visiting ports with names to long to remember. This particular letter started with the words: "I left the nest of one odd bird, just to land in the next!"
Apparently, during one extremely dull trip with the Acorn Afloat, Tristan tried to lighten things up by making small talk to the other passengers.
"Many got up and left before I even got to the second half of 'good day'. Naturally, I avoided anyone with an eye-patch - that's something I've learned the hard way... Then, when I was about to give up, one young woman actually answered my greeting."
"She was gorgeous" - Tristan had drawn a line under the word to emphasize it, and even replaced the letter O with a small heart - "although a bit nervous. But, who wouldn't, old friend - just look at me!"
"Then, after I barely had introduced me, her head began to twitch! She lowered her voice - both in tone and loudness - looked me straight in the eyes, and asked me if was heeding the call of the triangular tops, where the road on the tall and narrow wall meets the ever descending staircase to the entrance?"
"I was stunned, to say the least", Tristan wrote. "I didn't know what to answer, so I just shook my head. But she wasn't waiting for my answer, no. For a second, I could've sworn her eyes disappeared! Her nails had even sunken into the wooden table!"
"'The door opens', she continued, and now I was terrified, dear friend. 'Bottomless pits guards every arch, every arch leads to a bottomless pit. Sacrifice a limb in the boiling cauldron, to avoid the hungry eyes in the darkness. Pass through the last arch, and plan your steps. The mirror awaits you, and beyond that - a horned man on a plateau in a black and blue void.'"
"After those words, her twitching ceased and she regained her normal tone of voice. She looked at me with a cute smile, and said: 'Soo, sailor, what's your story? Buy me a drink, will ya?'"
Tristan concluded his letter: "I rarely can resist a fair smile of a fair lady, but this one I just had to decline! And from that day on, I too am one of those silent, sulky-looking travellers on the Acorn Afloat..."
The 2016 Cartographic Review!
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