Eventually they made their way to Queenstown, the Town of Queens, so named because it had once, briefly, became its own territory, ruled simultaneously and disastrously by five queens. A story for another time. Unfortunately our adventurer was beset by illness at this stage and had to battle internal demons rather than the ones she thought she’d face from without. She had become a stooping, coughing, drooling beast, much like the creature Gollum she’d heard tales of. Nevertheless, she ploughed on resolutely and that night found herself caught in a wave of giddiness and glee (no doubt the fault of the imps and faeries and their mischief rather than her own) which allowed her to spend the night dancing, laughing, singing, and stealing topiary.
The next day they rose after the sun had made its way quite high into the sky and was itching for them to wake. When they had finally dressed and breakfasted, they made their way up the nearest mountain in a series of strange floating pods which were slowly paraded up the side of the mountain on a long wire. There was seemingly no end to the magic in this incredible land. Having reached the top they were provided with armour of the finest quality and given small-wheeled steeds which had the basic functions of stop and… stop.
Then they were abruptly pushed down a hill. This strange activity was called ‘luging’ and it brought them all much joy. It had apparently been invented by dwarves attempting to find faster ways to descend the mountains after a hard day’s mining. The adventurer enjoyed the luging but it was not the thrill she was searching for. She wanted to soar through the air. She wanted to see the world from a great height. Clearly she was also itching to spend a lot of gold because not one of these experiences was cheap.
A few of the most daring travellers had therefore agreed to spend the following day jumping from a huge metal beast similar to the one that had taken them onto the glacier, although this one had wings that were completely stationary.
‘That’s not flying, that’s falling with style,’ echoed a distant childhood memory, but the adventurer dismissed it. This was the closest she was going to get. Unfortunately the gods were out to thwart them and the next day was shrouded in cloud and rain and was gloomy in a way which quickly matched the adventurers’ mood.
As a compromise they were enticed into a similar escapade which involved jumping from a suspended platform rather than a flying beast, and with a rope tied to one’s ankles which hopefully had the strength to pull one back to safety without snapping. This was a leap of faith which had to be undertaken by the purest of heart and the most honest of intention otherwise the secret passageway to the lost elf city of Atlantis would never open. None of that was true, but it was what our adventurer told herself to justify her reckless and frankly idiotic decision to plummet over a hundred metres to her potential death. She was the last of their small breakaway group to brave the jump. Heart thundering in her ears, blood rushing through her temples, hands trembling and senses on fire, as if her body anticipated the end of its days and was trying to fit decades of life into a fleeting minute.
Her dive was clumsy and her screams earsplitting but all of that was forgotten as she hurtled headfirst towards the ground. Her mind was somehow the busiest and clearest it had ever been, a particularly impressive achievement seeing as both states where somehow achieved simultaneously. Her brain was racing through frantic attempts to save herself while at the same time all focusing on the one fact that she was falling and could feel nothing attached to her in that moment that would save her. What seemed like both an eternity and a nothingness later she was suddenly halted in her descent and hurtled back up towards the sky. After her initial fear, her world was just soaring, scenery, laughter, and a relief so intense that she felt more alive than ever before.
The intrepid explorers sensed that their adventure was gradually drawing to a close.
They would be sad to part ways, but they felt satisfied with their adventure. On their last days together they briefly traded their six-wheeled steed for smaller two-wheeled ones which they pedalled onwards through winding trails and tunnels black as pitch. And on their final day they discovered a collection of ancient spherical boulders, half buried in the sand of the beach, which distinctly resembled a nest of fossilised eggs, cracked and exhausted after years of wear and weather.
The true story, however, as told by a people who had been on the island long before our explorers, told of a huge sailing canoe which had capsized and unceremoniously deposited its spoils of eel baskets and root vegetables on the shore of the beach.
Thankfully, the adventurers’ journey ended far more successfully and the motley crew were returned safely to civilisation. Our favourite adventurer had found her way back to the town of Christchurch where she was able to rest and recuperate with a friendly face from home before embarking on the next stage of her quest.
As our adventurer lay in bed on her last night in New Zealand, she thought of the future…
Far over the misty mountains cold
Back to Australia, her haunt of old.
She must away, ere break of day,
For those adventures the future holds.
She went to sleep with that song in her ears, and her dreams were full of excitement and suspense. Although, after such a epic adventure, it was long after the break of day when she eventually woke up…
If you haven’t read it yet, find Part One here.