The crowd was about to laugh when Ireu suddenly intervened and to everyone's shock—inexplicably supported the possibility of Dixie’s theory with complete seriousness.

 "I have reason to believe everything he is sharing needs investigating; especially this idea of time cycles," Ireu told them. "When I heard this, I was reminded about how I have heard something similar at one time—an ancient folk-tale from some of the local inhabitants about their own calendars regarding time cycles. I am not an expert on these matters, but their scholars are.  And Mr. Dogg’s testimonial brings up inexplicable connections to my indigenous friends mythology stories.”

 “So, they’re just myths!”  someone shouted. “So what?”

 “So what?” Ireu replied. “Right now, these myths seem to be the best explanation we have for everything going on. The Berrebos never exaggerate their claims -- even in their mythologies.   Believe me; there is more out there they know about nature than you know.  Mr. Dogg’s account adds up with some variables found in Berrebo folk-lore that could explain what is happening.  If this theory is true, then we may have bigger problems on our hands."

 The audience was stunned. It truly was some heavy-handed news, and Ireu spoke with such conviction that most did not take it well at all.

"Well, then why even try!" cried one of the members of the audience, and several arguments started to break out all at once. "We're screwed," was the most common slogan of the afternoon after that, and it took Ireu five minutes to calm everyone down and hear what he had to say.

 

In his own over-dramatic fashion, Ireu (more or less) convinced his audience that they and the rest of the LARPer community were at the ‘end game’ of their very existence here in Anakaland. “The Moluccas Brothers are not getting any weaker!" he warned them.  Many in the audience were not encouraged.

"Well at least the kid’s story explains the inexplicable physics behind all this scorched-earth," muttered one person.

 "But the kid was talking about purple portals. These ones were red."

 "So, what's the difference? They're all bad!" cried another. And the assembly started to argue amongst each other again. Soon it looked like a riot was about to take place.

 "I am glad you are finally concerned!" Ireu yelled to everyone so loud that he drowned out the commotion. "It is about time: I had Mr. Dogg do this to spark a real sense of earnestness in you; do you yet not understand?  As leaders you are all too lukewarm! Whatever they are – these portals will roll all over you if you are not ready to fight this.”

At least one good thing came out of the meeting: with the endorsement of support that Ireu had given to Dixie's stories, the community's esteem grew towards the potato-headed stranger from Cankankerville. It seemed plain to everybody by then that Dixie's business here was more exceptional than he originally had let on. And although few people outside of the LARPer leadership took the “tall tales” of his adventures seriously, Dixie's became a popular demand at various gatherings around Mizu Picchu.

 "Like the bard's tales of long ago in a medieval community!" some of them said. "Yeah; that's what we need around here; a professional storyteller!"

The only thing he continued to leave out in his stories was his exact experience with the strange ‘Buddha-looking statue’ and that Palace: in some ways, it didn't really bear remembering and (luckily, for the moment at least) he was prohibited from talking about them outside of the meeting.  Even if he hadn’t been given orders Dixie still had this feeling in the back of his mind that mentioning anything more about portals could bring about further hysteria that would do more harm than good.

 Nevertheless, people gathered around Dixie at banquets to hear about his escapades.  He had never really been this popular back home, and he found his newfound fame kind of refreshing. The fact that his adventures seemed to defy conventional normality didn’t seem to bother his listeners: nobody appeared to ask how the physics of such things as a “skydiving door” was even possible. Nobody really took him seriously.  It was just as well; there was no way in hell he could explain how these things had happened to himself.

 A few nights later, Ireu called Dixie to his office inside the walls of Huaxenoc Fortress. Ireu looked troubled.

 "Mr. Dogg, I really do need to understand more about your adventures. Unfortunately, there is still no time now: so many things are getting in the way of that."

 "I know," Dixie agreed. "That planned attack the top brass keep talking about. How is that going?"

Ireu sighed.  “You spoke about the golden tower.  Perhaps it is best I gave you some perspective on the importance of that thing…”

Excerpt from Book II: Adventures in Anakaland

Copyright 2019 Octavio Rhodes 

"Note the excerpts have been slightly edited and abridged for non spoiler content"

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