Lord Graystone Triumphant
"A Jungle Lord Story"
By John Pirillo
The Jungle called to him. It urged him to fall down to his hands and feet and scamper like a gorilla, snarling and barking, howling at the huge moon that hovered like a death hawk in the black, velvet skies.
Were one a stranger to the Fairie, one might mistake this human for a beast, the way he scampered about on his knuckles and toes, but he was far from it.
Lord Graystone was neither an ignorant savage, nor a stumbling idiot loose from a psychiatric ward; he was a nobleman of high birth, who sought to live in harmony with the world he lived in.
He had seen enough of the modern world to despise it in many ways. His grey blue eyes shone with an inner light that was brighter than the fog lights of London at night. His intelligence shone through his eyes like a beacon in the night and yet, beneath that strict layer of reasoning was a simpler, plainer man. A man who believed that nature was being raped by the greed of man.
He saw it when he went to the huge coal dumps, the toxic dumps; saw the thousands of birds and sea life that lay floating and dead from exposure to the toxic wastes.
Yes, Tesla, who was a good friend, had made some mistakes on unleashing this new economy. And he was striving to turn it all around to a more green future, where man lived in harmony with nature, but until that day, more and more wild life died needlessly and more innocent children were born with diseases they never had and conflicted with abysmal disorders of the body and spirit they never should have encountered.
So one night a year he allowed his more primitive side to dominate and this was that night.
He clawed at the leafy Jungle ground and found a nest of roly polys. He ate them, making sure he only ate the older, slower ones, leaving the rest to renew their colony.
Then he flung himself into a vine strewn tree and grappled with the vines until he reached a bee’s nest. He scooped a hand into the hive, careful not to break it entirely, and cupped a palm in the sticky, white mess there. He brought it out and sucked and chewed its semi-moist, hardened surface into his throat, savoring the sweet flavor of it.
Next, he swung on vines until he neared a colony of black geese sleeping near a pond. He dropped lightly, so as not to scare them all, then swiftly snatched one of the oldest ones, broke its neck before it could squawk, and then leaped back into the trees. He swung for what seemed like hours, but was in actuality only a few moments, and then he landed on a platform that was about a hundred feet off the Jungle floor. He sat there with his feet over the edge, admiring the dark panorama before him. Slowly, and with great relish he began eating the goose.
He spit the feathers out, and the sharper bones, but pretty much ate everything else. He did not waste. Even the feathers and bones he spit out, he caught and deposited beside him to later be used for arrows and other delicate tools he hand made for his use in the Jungle.
Finished, he lay down on the platform and eyed the silvery moon lighting the canopy overhead. It was a full moon. Dragons would be in flight. Centaurs would be calling to their mates to dance and choose partners. The Great Apes he had helped to flee her from certain destruction in Africa, were calling to each other in their deep, grunting voices, singing in their simple ways their poetry of existence.
Man missed so much because he didn’t listen. But he heard it all. The Jungle was an orchestration of nature that filled in every vibration, nook and cranny of existence with joy and exuberation. He felt it in every bone and muscle of his body, vibrating with a lush frequency that made his heart quiver with joy.
And so he fell asleep on his platform, even though he had a very civil bed inside his home above the Jungle floor. Even though it had pillows, quilts, and blankets. Sheets and pillowcases.Silverware and cooking utensils. This night he slept like the savage beast he had once been before he had been reintroduced to the world of man again.
His dreams were not dark and restless, but deep and rich with fulfillment. When he awoke he would start his new day, working on more ways to preserve the greatness of this new land, to protect it from the greed and avarice of man.
For man had slowly been entering these lands. Not the Elves, nor the gnomes and hobbits and trolls one would expect of Faire, but pirates and explorers, both of whom opened the way for others to enter, by twos, then dozens.
Magic was the key to entering and magic was available to anyone with the right coin in their hand. There were scoundrels who gave the name beast an altogether new meaning, as they came into Fairie and began plundering its natural resources and attempting to conquer its peoples.
The men and women coming into the lands of Fairie were not from his world, but another that lay in parallel with it. He and Tesla had figured that out with a new device that he and Einstein, with the help of DaVinci had come up with. The Italian had come up with the idea of a device that could so fine tuned that it would be able to detect the slightest alteration of magic, such that they could pinpoint which world it was coming from.
That was when he and the other Baker Adventurers, led by Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger, had discovered that not only was there one other parallel world, but there were more than their current technology could measure.
So as he lay there beneath the stars, his mind filtered through the events of the past day and its portent for the future.
He felt a slight movement beneath the home and tensed, his nostrils flaring. He scented something, but it wasn’t clear. It should have been familiar to him, but it was different somehow.
He relaxed, but his right hand fell across his hip and the long blade he kept in its sheath of hardened wood and vine there.
Tesla powered carriages rolled silently past, their bright head beams illuminating the cobbled roads as they swept past.
One of them slowed and did a u turn, causing two figures to be caught in its blades of light for a moment.
Tesla and Lord Graystone.
The driver must have been somewhat startled by what he saw, if he noticed, because Lord Graystone stood naked in the alleyway, except for a lion cloth about his lower waist.
Maybe a pedestrian saw them as well, but if so, being British, they would have pretended it hadn’t really happened. No one in their proper frame of mind would stand almost naked in the freezing London winter.
Graystone didn’t find it distracting at all. Either the weather or the pedestrians and street traffic. He was engaged in a vigorous conversation with his friend, Nicolas Tesla, the inventor of much of modern England’s electrical devices.What seemed like ages ago he had stood at the gateway to this world with Tesla, who in his normal good natured way was joking about the problems of finding a good vine to swing on these days.
He had humored his long time friend with a smile, but inwardly he grimaced. They weren’t vines, but trailers that hung from the giant, old trees that grew so densely in the forests of Fairie.
His friend had never seen the magic that was woven into the strands to keep them strong and flexible; else they would’ve become brittle and snapped, plunging him to his death many times over.
Tesla scratched his red bead a moment in thought, and then as he gazed at the portal that was whirling beside them he spoke. “I know this is your annual retreat, Graystone, but keep your eyes and ears open anyway.”
He had been angry at the time. The last thing he wanted was another mission. He needed to get away from the heavy trappings of civilization, not add more onto his burden.
He waited for the inevitable explanation. If he had learned nothing else during his years of survival in the jungle, it was patience. He, who was not patience, did not survive.
Finally, Tesla had handed him a small object. “Make sure you keep this on you at all times.”
“What is it?” He had asked.
He had given Tesla a quizzical look.
Tesla grinned. “I know. I know. You never get lost. But trust me on this one. Okay?”
He sighed and pocketed it in his small waist bag he kept at his left hip. Some food, some medicinal supplies and now this, he thought as he eyed the small object, and then shoved it deeper into the other objects, shutting the bag up again.
“There’s more.” Tesla went on, his smile vanishing and a look of utter sincerity and solemnness riding to the surface.
“As you know we had that incident with the Hollow Man not that long ago?”
Graystone nodded. “That would be hard to forget.”
“Indeed.” Tesla agreed, then shook himself out of whatever cavern of thoughts he had momentarily got lost in.
He scratched at his red beard again. “I suspect...”
“You?” Graystone asked.
“Well, actually Holmes.” Tesla replied, shaking off Graystone’s look. “No matter. My point is that we think he’s returned.”
Graystone put his right palm over his waist knife. “I’ll be ready for him when I return.”
Tesla shook his head. “Not here. There.”
Graystone’s eyes narrowed for a moment. A sight that would put the fear of death into any creature seeing it. Finally, he relaxed enough to ask the next question.
Tesla gauged Graystone’s mood for a moment, as if suspecting his next words might cause more than he desired. With somewhat of a hesitation his voice he said simply, “Hyde.”
Up and down Baker Street pedestrians and occupants of Tesla cars were startled by a horrible scream that sounded like a bull ape ripping its opponent apart.
But in the alley Tesla stood there, stock still. He knew what had been coming, but he had forgotten how intense it could be.
Lord Graystone finally lowered his hands from his mouth and looked at his longtime friend. “I’m sorry, Nic.”