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“Quiet down! Silence now, please.” M. Driscoll exclaimed over the voices of the ladies and gentlemen occupying his sitting room. Once he had secured their attention, he continued his speech, with the flourish he was known for expressing when being the center of attention. “Now I’d like to introduce you to my new companion, Monsieur Ives. I assume he will have your utmost attention as what he says will shock, frighten, and disturb you.” A grave, unassuming man of about nine and twenty years rose from his seat near the window and approached the group. He paced the floor a few times, twisting his dark mustache and knitting his brows together as if trying to decide where to start. “When I was a boy, I had always wanted to be a doctor.” he began, in a thick, domineering voice seemed not to fit his frame. “I enjoyed learning medicine and techniques at a boys school which I attended near Aix Les Bains. During the holidays, my instructor would take the class up into the mountains, to the spas and springs. There he would teach us all sorts of fascinating scientific things, not worth repeating in this story. It was on one of these trips that I met a man by the name of M. Ezra. He was an odd sort of man and spoke of adventures he had gone on. Far lands and distances, filled with unimaginable sights and other gibberish. He had received an injury to the head on one of these trips, thus I did not credit much of his narrative. Yet his tales sparked a curiosity in me, a desire to see more than mountains and streams. I knew that with the strict rules of the school, I would not be allowed off grounds without written permission from my guardian, which was impossible as my closest relatives wish to have no interaction with me, hence my having been sent away.” He paused to clear his throat and scan the room to insure that the party was still listening. “I had a passion for learning, and though my tutors were skilled at their practice, I wanted more. I wanted new experiences and fresh air. Therefore, I did the only thing I could think of, I packed a suitcase and stole away into the night. I took with me 19 pistols, the only money I had to my name, and boarded a ship going anywhere. We left out of the Port of Rouen and my journey began. I knew very little about the sea, and the crew spoke only Dutch, a language I knew none of. It was a difficult trip, the first days at sea were smooth, then a series of storms blew through, cutting the water and rocking the vessel. Lightning crackled and thunderclaps were nearly palpable. I was frightened at the experience, it was much more aggressive than what I had expected, my only frame of reference being books and stories. The crew shuffled about the decks, tossing ropes and pulling the sails about. They worked like a fine machine, quite impressive.” He paused again, this time to light his pipe. M. Driscoll nodded for him to continue. “As you can imagine, I was constantly in the way. I’m sure that the crew and Captain Pascal were rather frustrated with my lack of knowledge. Though I will never know on account of not speaking Dutch, you see. We floated along for about thirty four days before catching sight of land. Bless the day when the blue water was broken by a mass of green and brown. The boat was rather out of repair, leaking in places, mildewing, and cluttered. The living quarters were not comfortable, or up to my previous standards to say the least. By the time we had reached land I would have chosen a dirt hut over another week at sea. By the next morning, the small mass had become a brobdingnagian land, covered in lush green trees and gleaming sands. We boarded smaller boats and paddled towards the blessed place. If I had not been as caught up in my emotions, I might have noted the strange behavior exhibited by the Dutch men I had tried to become acquainted with. In future explorations I will make a point to befriend the men in whose hands my life is held. Upon our arrival to the island I was knocked unconscious by one of the burly looking men, and when I awoke the ship was nowhere to be seen.” He was broken off by a snort from one of the women in company. “Exactly, never trust men. That’s my motto.” she said with bitter force. M. Driscoll frowned at her interruption. “Monsieur Ives, forgive her input. Please go on.” he continued. “I had quite a headache that day, both from the large knot I had obtained from my Dutch friends and from a lack of nourishment. They were not very generous with food portions, and I had been on the shore for several hours. I was disoriented and dehydrated, yet my spirits were never dampened. I had been taught well and knew, in theory, how to fend for myself out in the wild. I built a small fire, one that emitted minimal smoke so that I didn’t attract unnecessary attention to myself in the chance that I was not alone. I drank water from a nearby waterfall and tried to stomach fruit I found growing near it, though this made me rather sick for the remainder of the evening. After discovering a bunch of green bananas, I was able to nourish myself and set about the task of dissecting my situation. I knew that I could survive for a short while on the fruit and water I had found, and I was sure that there were animals running around in the jungle at my back, if I could gather the courage to trample the undergrowth. I had a feeling that the Dutch men would not come back to get me, and it did not seem to be a place often inhabited by kind humans who spoke French and were willing to accept me as a friend. Luckily I had brought with me my only reminder of my parents, a compass from my father, engraved with his initials, G.L Ives, and the year 1622. I had frequently been checking the device, and noted that we had been going south for some while. My guess was that I was somewhere in South Africa, though where, I could not be certain. I decided to climb the waterfall and look over the place I was to call home for my near future. The climb was much more rigorous than I could have expected, having been on a boat for a month, I was out of condition. I slipped a few times on the mossy rocks, and received many wounds to my legs and hands. My feet were blistered from the ill fitting shoes I had been wearing for many months. My grey stockings were torn and as the day grew warmer, I elected to remove them as well as my shirt, though I kept these things close in case I might need them for an animal trap or as a flag. I reached the top and looked across the land, which I made the executive decision to call Ivesville. The sight was breathtaking. Trees towered over rocks and sand, frothy ocean water rolled across the ground, washing away the footsteps of the wretched men who had left me to die alone. I saw a glimpse of life, birds fluttered above the trees, calling out to each other. The waterfall was on the side of a massive mountain, stretching up as high as I could see into the clouds and many miles to the left and right of me. It seemed as though it was a wall cutting straight through the trees. This was a curious sight, though my first priority was to locate another meal, then I could investigate further. I stumbled around the plateau from which the waterfall flowed and feasted, if you could call it that, on berries and more green bananas. Having spent a month on the ship, then days on Ivesville, I was more than ready to have a bit of iron in my diet. I began to descend the waterfall, hoping to capture fowl or perhaps a wild pig. When I was about halfway down the climb, a cave caught my eye. The sun was glaring and the dark rocks were highly reflective, the shade was welcome. I navigated the mildly treacherous path and rolled into the cave. My skin pricked at the sudden cool air that rushed out from the inside of the cave, and I caught the scent of something strange, a foreign smell that resembled old paper and bay leaves. The cave was dimly lit, and fairly narrow. The rocks were jagged and my head bumped against the stalactites. I was worried that I would become lodged in place and live the remainder of my days in the darkness, but after hours of crawling on hands and knees, the light grew brighter and the wind stiffer. Eventually I emerged into a forest, thick and humid. It was nearing twilight, thus I was not able to do much observing upon my first discovery of the place. I rested in the roots of a towering vine and resolved to explore when I awoke. When the sun rose and dawn came bright and new I crawled out of my cocoon of the night and refreshed my toilet in a stream near the cave. As I was laying my shirt out to dry I heard the calls of strange birds, they sang like opera performers, with music sweet and loud. I was entranced and wondered what species they could belong to, as I had never known such large, colored birds existed. As I walked around the stream I witnessed flashes of light coming from the water. Upon further investigation I deduced that the fish themselves were glowing bright yellow and magenta, they looked like flat, round disks with protruding eyes and rippled across the bottom of the stream like kites. It was a beautiful sight, the water flashing colors as I watched. The entire streambed was covered in bright, glittering rocks, small and round. I found a vibrant orange one and put it in my pocket. Then a butterfly alighted on a nearby exotic looking flower bloom. It was as broad as a dinner plate, and made a sound similar to that of crickets. The bird like insect flew more swiftly than any butterfly I had seen in France. Suddenly I was startled by an ear piercing click like sound. I whirled around and hid myself behind a cluster of vines, awaiting the creature who could have uttered such a sound.” He studied the group who was now completely enthralled by his tale. “As I crouched behind the vines, I felt a tapping on my shoulders, I slowly turned around,” M. Ives paused again as a gentleman sharply in took his breath and leaned forward in his chair. “I was expecting a dinosaur, or a monstrous face with glaring eyes and a haughty smirk. But surprisingly it was only a branch with hair like tentacles protruding from its leaves. I followed the vine with my eyes and realized that it was attached to a towering, massive tree. The trees roots acted as feet and it was completely moveable. The tree itself was walking around like its animal counterparts. The sight was odd indeed. I breathed a sigh of relief at this discovery, but I was calm only for a moment, then the vine wound itself around my throat and picked me up. Hovering feet off the ground, I was suspended for several minutes, as though the tree was deciding if I was worthy of its eating. Then it pulled me towards a hole in its trunk, a mouth I was to find out. When I deduced that the tree was carnivorous and planned on eating me for a snack, I began to panic and flail about, hoping to either startle the creature or at least get out of its death grip. The vines snapped as I ripped them off and struggled. It was the most frightening fight of my life and I had nothing more on my mind than escaping the nightmare. I realized that to die by becoming tree food was a very pathetic death indeed, this motivated me even more. Luckily, in that moment, I remembered the small dagger I kept in my shoe’s sole. I struggled to reach out and free it from its pocket and the tree realized my intentions. Its grasp tightened and it pulled me closer and closer into that grinding mouth of teeth and bark. I got a good look at the thing for a second as I freed the dagger, it’s leaves were as wide as carriage wheels, and its trunk was as broad as a Clydesdale is long. I was equally impressed as I was horrified. I slashed through the rope like vines and tried to run, but I was only caught by a second tree. It seemed that they travelled in packs and worked as a team to take down prey. I made a mental note to start recording all of the interesting observations I had made, if I ever got out of the struggle with the blood thirsty trees. The trees were at least a hundred feet tall and had mouths the size of a fainting couch. They seemed to walk swiftly on three large roots, taking the place of legs. I finally cut through all of the vines that encircled my waist and arms and out ran them, taking care to jump into the stream instead of hiding amongst bushes, in case they took a liking to human as well. I had the feeling that I was the first of my kind they had seen, especially since the area was cut off by the mountains. It was difficult to access other than through the caves, as I had used. The water was crystal clear, and only a little cool. Ah yes, I’m sure a few of you are curious about the weather there. It was a bit humid, and very hot. I was off somewhere around South Africa, so the weather is fairly easy to predict. It rained a bit each night, light showers as the sun set, but nothing too serious as to affect my exploration. It was just enough to dampen my firewood and cool the leftover embers. After I had crossed the stream, to get away from the trees I now call Piney Woods, I stepped onto the softest grass my feet had come in contact with. Oh yes, I had lost my shoes in the scuffle so I was now barefooted. As I scanned the ground I saw several holes in various places across the grassy hills. They resembled mole’s homes, though I highly doubted that tame, cute creatures like that would live here. They were slowly opening and closing and were about three feet across. This seemed suspicious, so I stepped near one and peered in. inside were hundreds of needle thin teeth rotating around the edge of the mouth. Putrid smelling liquid churned within, and gurgling noises were being emitted from some of them.” The group screwed their faces into disgusted expressions and urged M. Ives to continue. “That is correct, the ground was carnivorous as well as the trees and vines not to mention the Venus Flytraps. Now to the interesting part, as I was walking around, I discovered horse like animals, but their legs were attached to the ground and they did not move, nor did they make a sound, or breathe. So in essence, the plants were animals and the animals were plants. It was completely different from any textbook predictions of species I had read about at school. These creatures seemed to be foreign from anything found in the neighboring countries of France or even the remote islands Columbus discovered. As I strived to avoid the mouths on the ground I watched as short flowers crawled across the ground and drank up water through their petals. I looked up to see a bird overhead with red feathers and yellow blooms across its wingtips. Its shadow trailed along the ground beneath. Later on in the day I attempted a fire again, to cook a fish like creature that I had picked off of a stationary bush, one of the few that would not try to eat me. I had a pair of spectacles which I wore mainly for show. They made me seem more intellectual and wise. Luckily they were in my pocket when I was abandoned and thus I had a way to start fire. I held it carefully above kindling and patiently awaited the smoke. Within an hour it had alighted and I was able to roast the fish fruit. It was boneless and plain, but a nice change from the berries of the past several days. Ignorantly enough, I had not thought to record my time in Ivesville, I was unsure of how long I had been there, or would be there. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that was about day six. After the shock of the strange animals and plants of the area had worn off, I set about forging an escape plan. I knew that with my standing on the totem pole and lack of survival skills, it would not be long before I was starving, or prey. The best way to get off the land and back to France would be to catch a passing ship and hope I could communicate with them or at least be taken to familiar territory. The only problem with the solution was that I had gotten turned around when running from the hungry trees and was unsure both of where I was in relation to the cave, and how I would get back without being preyed upon. It was quite the predicament I had worked myself into, just in wanting a little excitement to add the stories I could tell my children. I decided to set off the next morning and hope to back track my steps and follow the stream. It would lead to the waterfall which was right near the cave. My reasoning seeming sound, and my stomach getting thinner by the day, I prepared my outfit and set off at sunrise. The first part of my trip back went well, I was able to locate the stream and swim back across it safely. Then the wind began to pick up and I got chilly. So I laid my clothes out on a rock to dry as I searched for more food. This was not a smart idea and I realized it after I had put some distance between me and my clothes. As I crouched to pick berries, a silent tree came up behind me and tangled its vines in my hair. I was lifted off the ground and thrashed about rather wildly. I narrowly managed to escape and run back to the stream to continue my quest. I redressed and started towards the waterfall again, the sun was hot overhead and sweat pooled on my forehead. Finally I had reached the end, constantly checking over my shoulder to keep alert to dangers. I located the cave and weaved my way through it as the wind brushed past my face, cooling my overheated skin. I left the cave and climbed back down the waterfall while mentally planning my trip from shore to boat. I thought about building a small raft to take me to civilization, but that would require much expertise and supplies, two things I was in want of. Also, I remembered how rough the seas had been when we were in the large boat, how much more violent they would be in a boat. I reached the ground and crossed the shore to lookout across the sea. In the bright, clear afternoon I could see for miles and noted a ship on the horizon. I built a large fire and burned leaves and other smoke producing paraphernalia that I found to attract their attention. Thankfully the ship saw me and sent a small fleet of rowboats to investigate. They spoke a little French and I found out that I had been dropped off along a common trade route and thus was not in much danger of being lost forever, as ships pass through weekly. They allowed me to board the ship on her way back to her native country and I breathed a sigh of relief at my luck. Within a month I was back here with my friends and acquaintances. I considered telling my story, but the things I have spoken of are strange and mythical. I knew no one would believe me and I had no desire to be called crazy. I have spoken of this only once, to this present group. So consider yourselves lucky to lend an ear to my tale.”
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