Session 9

Bowled over

Shaken from seeing Tex drop Harit Peshin to his death, the investigators stop off in the border town of Gilgit to plan their next destination. After some discussion, they decide to deliver Peshin’s mysterious encoded papers to Mr. Strudwick in Srinagar. Albert talks to the chaiwala at the hostel where they are staying and is advised that the best mode of transport through the jungle is on the back of elephants.They head off to the market and while Hans helps Shen Chu tp find warmer, drier garments, the others trade their camels to rent a couple of elephants with howdahs and mahoots and set off immediately.

At an overnight stop in a bungalow, a hissing noise in the corner of the dormitory turns out to be a nest of spitting cobras. Most of the party evacuate the dormitory and Albert discovers that the custodian keeps a mongoose handy for such events. The mongoose makes short work of the snakes on the ground, but it is unable to reach the one in the rafters, so Marta lifts it up and pushes it onto the beam. She pushes a little too hard, however, and the mongoose falls off the other side of the rafter and hits the solid wooden bed with an unhealthy sound, breaking its legs. The custodian uses a forked stick to flip the snake within range of the mongoose’s jaws, and the mongoose kills it.

Even with the snakes out of the way, the investigators’ sleep is still restless. Albert finds himself at the top of the ornate staircase that he’d previously dreamed of, and overhears two snuffling voices coming up the stairs talking about ‘letting the master through’. He wakes up before he is able to see the speakers. Hans, meanwhile, finds himself on a featureless snowy plain, the only thing breaking the monotony being a dark speck in the sky. As the speck approaches, it is clearly not a bird and eventually turns out to be a pterodactyl. The prehistoric reptile flies on by.

Setting out the next morning, Lord Barnes engineers sharing a howdah with Hans where the two men talk about loneliness. Their conversation is interrupted by an eagle owl taking an interest in the rotting bear pelt that they are carrying. Hans takes the pelt to the edge of the road and leaves it for the local predators to enjoy.

The investigators arrive at Srinagar, where they bid farewell to the elephants. Lord Barnes insists that since this is a seat of the Empire they should book into a luxurious hotel; the party finds one on the main square in the centre of the city.As the evening wears on, they hear singing outside. Going out to investigate, they find a small number of carol singers and, joining in, are plied with milk and samosas.

The next day, the investigators visit the Civil Service offices across the road. Strudwick is not there as it is Christmas, but when the reception staff hear that one of their visitors is a Lord, they send a messenger to collect him. Strudwick is unhappy at being called in, but cheers up immensely when he sees the coded papers. He offers a reward and the investigators ask for transport to Peshawar and papers to travel into Tibet. Strudwick is surprised at the desire to go to Peshawar (“It’s full of natives!”) but grants their requests; the travel documents can not be issued immediately but he would wire ahead to Peshawar to request them.

The journey from Srinagar to Peshawar is uneventful, if uncomfortable, and the investigators book into a comfortable (though not as lavish as last time) hotel near the Governer’s Mansion. The next day, the party splits with Lord Barnes heading to the Governor’s Mansion, Albert leading a party to the museum and (I can’t remember who) visiting the Edwardes College.

The group visiting the museum ask to see the curator, who turns out to be an archaeologist called Suraj Dhar. Albert asks Dhar to show the party any local items and Tenzin spots a set of bowls that look very like Padmasambhava’s bowls, although they are labelled as alms bowls made of meteorite iron. They appear to be lent to the museum by Robery Moorcroft, the Governor’s Private Secretary and a keen amateur archaeologist. Dhar admits he knows little about the bowls but that Dr. Chakravarty at the College may be able to tell them more.

Session 9

Children of Fear SkyRider