Formerly of Greenerly, Western Continent
?? day of Calandrian 1682
My darling Janaquey,
I am writing this in the hope that, one day, by some means, this letter will reach you.
It is now six months since my flyer crashed here in X’Thak X’Tanak. Six months in which I have toiled and schemed in order to make repairs.
Today that all came to an end ...
When I first landed in the outskirts of this strange city I took it to be Providence that had saved me. I know now, that it was simply Fate, cruel and capricious, that was toying with my heart.
During the experiment my flyer had been caught up in a violent storm, far too quickly for me to land and shelter; carrying me along in the swirling lightning pierced clouds for days. Dark days followed obsidian nights, with no chance to land and no way of guiding my course. In fact, no way of knowing my course. Each day my supplies of lifting gas were depleted and each day I grew more fearful for my life.
Finally, after what seemed to have been a week, the storm broke. Glorious sunshine reigned. And yet, still I was in peril. Beneath my flyer I saw nothing but impenetrable jungle. Slowly I continued my descent, as my lifting gas was used, each fathom bringing me closer to a tumbling death.
Until, to my astonishment and relief, a great clearing opened up below me. A few leagues ahead I could see an archaic city and my salvation. Having no time to consider other options (in truth, what other options were there?) I steered my, almost depleted, flyer towards the open ground.
I only just made it. I could not fully control my craft in its storm damaged state and the last few fathoms were far too fast. I crashed into the, mercifully soft, greensward, and stumbled out of the wreck to stand gasping on solid earth.
I gave thanks to All-Seeing Kaynon, and prayed that, somehow, I would find my way back to you my gentle Janaquey.
As I slowly recovered from my ordeal I looked around and could see riders heading towards me from the city. At least that was my first impression; as they drew closer I began to doubt my senses. Each ‘horseman’ was actually a giant insect, which I later dubbed centaurgryphs. The only way to describe them is the body and tail of a giant scorpion with the chitin armoured chest and arms of a man, the shoulders topped by the head of a preying mantis.
The leader of the centaurgryphs lowered a glass tipped spear to point at my chest. His language was a strange mix of clicks and hisses, but the meaning was clear to me. I held out my empty hands and lowered my eyes in submission. My hands were bound and I was lead on foot to their city.
The next days were a mix of discomfort and frustration as I was questioned in a language that, at the time, meant nothing to me. However, I slowly managed to make it clear that I am a natural philosopher. My tool pouch was produced and I was able, with some alacrity, to make some small improvements to various simple machines that were being used to pump water or control the city's vent system.
As a reward, my flyer was brought to me and I was allowed to attempt repairs.
These past months, my darling Janaquey, have been the hardest of my life. Alone in the strangest of lands. The only food a sickly sweet honeydew extracted from purple aphids the size of chickens. The one thing that enabled me to survive was the thought that, each day, my flyer grew more complete and that I was getting closer to being reunited with you.
Over the months I salvaged and I modified, until my flyer was just about fit for the air. I constructed an apparatus for the production of lifting gas, cannibalising as much metal as I could to react with the acidum salis.
When my work was complete, the king of the centaurgryphs bid that my flyer be taken to the Royal Plaza, where I replenished the lifting gas, loaded a supply of water and honeydew, and then mounted the gondola. I bid my farewells to the strange insect people whom, in many ways, I had come to respect. My flyer lifted off and I watched the adobe buildings surrounding the plaza shrink as I rose into the crisp azure sky.
Then disaster struck! Some phantom spark ignited the envelope and the flyer fell crashing to the earth accompanied by my screams.
By some miracle I survived. But I cannot bring myself to celebrate. My flyer is a tangled mess of scrap, impossible to salvage. The centaurgryphs, while intelligent to a degree, do not smelt metal, and so I am now condemned to remain here.
My wife Janaquey, I know not how I will survive this cruel exile! As a natural philosopher I know that I should be studying this strange new civilisation. But I cannot. All I can do is grieve and pray that, one day, this message will come to you, so that you, my one true love, can learn of my fate.
Janaquey! I love you!