And thus, in the fullness of time Conan became a king in his own right... and then he came to Vegas for a party!

Unfortunately, Conan will not be at my next noder gathering. My Home Owners Association forbids granting asylum to either Kings of Aquilonia or freelancing Cimerians, but he's always here in spirit. Everyone else is welcome though, so make your plans now!

Incriminating details removed post gathering

Herein follows the account of Sir Clarence Horsebottom, reknowned adventurer of Victorian England and well respected member of high society, despite a ghoulish fascination with the barbarian tribes of the colonies and a penchant for excessive inebriation.

It being the proper time of year for adventure and ribald tales of heroism, I decided to invite a number of my associates to join me in an ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It would be a leisurely three day affair with plenty of time for gossip and drink. The invitation was distributed at my club and I was pleased at the responses. I made the proper preparations for porters, larder and entertainment and left the details in the hands of my valet.

Friday afternoon:

My guests began arriving in Cairo by rail and sea. Lady Pennywise was first, and she accompanied me in overseeing the last of our logistical preparations. We were shortly joined by Reginald Burkans, an American chap, but a good enough sort and handy with the cards. Two more times I was called to the port to receive guests, Matthias Grunder, A colonial from the Indies and Beauregard Flatten an ex-communicated welsh miner and artist. Later in the evening the swarthy party of Scotts I had invited came sauntering into the hotel as if the sky itself had called them to Africa for our entertainment. Duke Ellington and his compatriots Seamus Maxwell and Ryan McComb, all three highlanders of great repute for their gastronomic and inebriant escapades.

While I was unawares we were joined by Master Bobby Froden a traveling student and while a man of new money, I was assured that he would be a good chap. We were also then joined by Lord Perrywinkle and his consort Lady Frompton. It was then that I received a cable from my good friend The Earl of Glandugen, Perceval McCorden who was escorting an old school chap of mine, Master Johann Drugen and the heiress of adventure Mrs. Lacey Golden another American of great repute for her bold humour. They had become delayed by unseasonable weather in the Mediterranean and would be tardy in rendezvous. McCorden suggested that we press on and they would redouble their efforts to join us before we boarded a boat in Bur Sudan.

Friday Evening:

We had a leisurely trip down the Nile and stopped for a dinner at an Inn in Aswan before pressing on for the coast. Everyone agreed that the meal was fabulous and the chatter of the Queen’s English filled the dinner room of the quaint old building. We decided to press on for Bur Sudan that evening in the hopes that we could be prepared to gather our forces with all due prudence. We serendipitously met up with an adventuring member of society who joined our party that evening and proved to have some former knowledge of the area. Maxamillian Powers was well known to many of us by reputation only. A man who favored the back countries of the barbarian colonies on the fringe of the empire, he proved to be a well mannered companion, but prone to excessive drink.

It was during this hurried trip through the Eastern Sudanese Mountains that our first disaster was narrowly avoided. Lord Perrywinkle and Lady Frompton along with their porters became disorientated and separated from the main group as clouds covered the illuminating moon. We feared they would be lost to the elements and savage natives that frequent that area. We were fortunate that they joined us later in the night, regaling us with a tale of their pack animals running of into a deep ravine being pursued by naught but sounds of the night and the eerie warnings of their native guides. It was some time before they could gather the spooked animals and make their way back towards the main path. Late in the night we entered Bur Sudan and made camp near the docks to await our ship and friends.

Saturday Morning:

We arose early and broke fast in a small but well provisioned tavern. Several of us, believing we may not see a civilized meal for some time, eat with such abandon as to make a normal man ill. Around the noon bell, our ship docked from the north and our friends were aboard. We made our hellos and spent some time gossiping about society members not present before setting out for our next port of Muqdisho, were we would again set out by land.

Saturday Afternoon:

On landfall at Moqdisho we split up to aquire local porters and pack animals and almost immediately became separated in the twisting streets of the old city. Lord Perrywinkle and Lady Frompton, fearing a repeat of their earlier escapade and claiming a need to travel back to the Empire, set back for Bur Sudan with our blessing and a promise to visit again, under more civilized circumstances.

It was some time before we again regrouped and set off for the interior. We stopped for tea and exploration in an area of grand and painted rocks. Several of the more brave among us clambered like infant monkeys among the colorful and rugged formations, posing for the cheers of the others atop seemingly grandiose cliffs and making grand fools of ourselves.

It was then that the second disaster befell us and nearly cost us Lady Pennywise. She had become separated, either by design or by accident. The nature of her separation is difficult to determine as she would not speak of the incident save to say that she was glad we eventually found her and that she was feared we had set out for the foothills of Kilimanjaro without her. Indeed we nearly had if not for the prudent observation of Mrs. Golden. The rumour persists among our porters that she was spirited away by one of their primitive gods for being foolish enough to walk about unattended. I believe that is simply their way of swelling their numbers, and hence their fee, by way of inflating the superstitious inclinations of women. Regardless, Lady Pennywise was recovered whole, if not apologetic and frazzled, and we set out for the foothills of the great African Mount.

Saturday Evening:

We made camp in the shadow of the mountain and sent our porters out to hunt. They returned with an enormous amount of local game, apparently believing us “Ghost Skins” to be gluttons who required a large larder of meat to continue in comfort. Not wanting to disappoint their silly notions we consumed everything, including a prodigious amount of spirits acquired by Matthias Grunder while in Muqdisho. We made a ribald spectacle of ourselves and must have frightened the porters with our spectacle of gastronomy and inebriation. What they must have thought of us I do not know, but they were clearly disturbed as they vanished into the night, abandoning our luggage and equipment.

Sunday Morning:

Despairing that she would never see home and likely believing that she may befall the same fate that she had earlier yet without rescue, Lady Pennywise set out with Beauregard Flatten before the sun rose. As the camp rose late in the evening we made a small breakfast from the remains of our stores. We reviewed the state of our equipment and McCorden and his crew decided it best to return as swiftly as possible to Bur Sudan and civilization. I was sad to see them go, as their motivation was our last hope to continue the adventure set before us.

With their departure went all hope of gaining the summit. A few of us made small talk around the camp for some hours, before collecting the necessities from the disarray of our abandoned equipment and making our way back to Muqdishu by ourselves. Once in Muqdishu we dispersed, with a promise that one day we would return, and this time, we would capture the mount. I was optimistic that we would again make the attempt and pleased that despite the setbacks a grand adventure was had by all.

  • Sir Clarence Horsebottom's photos
  • From the collection Duke Ellington
  • The tinplate photographs of Reginald Burkans
  • The ribald pictures taken by Johann Drugen

Dear Sir Clarence,

I write to thank you for your most generous hospitality of this weekend past.

As you well know from your service to the Crown with my late husband Major Golden (he did write so fondly of you after the campaign at Hafir and the conquests of Bengal and the Gold Coast), I have been left with an inheritance of a sizeable sum. This inheritance has one stipulation, however, and it is that I never settle here at my family holdfast at Breaking Wind for more than a fortnight. I am compelled to seek excitement and adventure across the world, thus my title "heiress of adventure".

When your invitation first reached my yurt lo these many weeks ago I first thought "how did that resourceful gentleman find me here in Mongolia?" My second thought was "What an excellent choice of venue!"

It was surely God's hand that placed Master Johann Drugen nearly in my lap, for he was slowly being led through the grounds by a group of angry young Mongols utilizing a length of rope tied in a decidedly uncomfortable manner. I rushed in to intervene on his behalf, as I could tell he was bewildered by the young savages' native language. I explained to the horde that our Johann did not knowingly defile the ancestral resting place of their dead, but had in fact, been led through the grounds by the sighting of a lovely and rare Mongolian Firemoth Butterfly. They agreed to relinquish Johann as long as I kept him in my yurt and punished him soundly with a stiff spanking.

It seems Johann is as adventurous and industrious as you and I sir, for he had hidden his aeroplane in a thick thatch of bush on just the other side of our yurt encampment. His man Carradine, prone to gastric discomfort at great heights, was vomitously waiting there for us to board the aeroplane and head for Africa. It was most thrilling the way Master Johann handled his rudder - pardon me for being unladylike but I actually needed to loosen my corset from the excitement of it all - and it was a good thing that I did, for soon we were hurling towards terra firma at an alarming speed! It seems that an errant bird of some sort had collided with our aerocraft! Master Johan unbelted himself from his pilot seat and grabbed hold of my corset string and pulled me from my seat! He jumped with me in his strong arms and pulled his rip cord. Carradine jumped as well but tragically, his parachute was not operational. We watched as the doomed aeroplane and manservant fell to the ground and burst into a great ball of fire. We alit perfectly and brushed ourselves off and mopped our brows over a cup of fine tea.

As Master Johann had lost his transport (and a perfectly good valet) in our fateful crash landing, we knew we had to find the quickest way possible to Cairo. We had no alternative but to utilize the nearest angry horde (a different angry horde than we left behind at the unfortunate butterfly incident) to take us by pack train to India where we might pick up a train through Turkey or some such.

We had just decamped for the night at Xining; Johann and I were dining al fresco and watching a lovely sunset when we spied a flicker of light at the horizon. The light became more and more intense as it neared us and I was getting nervous - I fanned myself with my ladylike hanky while Johann rolled up his sleeves and gave his suspenders a manly snap to ready himself for whatever danger might approach. Soon, our fears were laid to rest as the glow in the distance became a glorious dirigible - still reflecting the sun as it neared. Johann immediately replaced his cufflinks and jacket, for he recognized the Zeppelin as "El Bronco" owned by one Earl of Glandugen, Perceval McCorden.

Sure enough, great flying machine alit and out a small hatch came the dashing McCorden. I had heard some of his exploits in the colonies concerning the conquest of mountains, armies, and maidens, and was admittedly a bit apprehentious at entrusting my own reputation and safety to him. My fears were put to rest as I found that he possessed an adventurer's heart very much like my own. We were soon as close as brother and sister. After a hearty meal (where I was entertained to a near faint by the gentlemens' recount of capers long past) we away'd to the comfort of the dirigible "El Bronco" where we had a Cognac and the men enjoyed a cigar before taking off for Africa.

Bad luck struck us from our reverie in the port city of Karachi, the Zepplin was struck by an human arm that the locals had just removed from an adulteress and thrown from the top of a minaret. The locals were in a frenzy and we would surely have been lost, if my escorts had not been exceedingly quick-thinking. McCorden, a master fighter in an Asian style I have never seen before but find immensely intriguing, fought off one hundred men - all dressed alike! My heart raced as he punched, kicked and ducked their blows and all in slow motion! It was thrilling, but Johann had me by the elbow and urged me to make haste as we hurried for the ship docks.

There we met a gentleman sea captain who happened to remember both you and my late husband from your sea transport at the first campaign of Nigers and gladly took us on as passengers on a detour bound for Egypt. He had rigged an ingenious system for keeping his crew happy and healthy on long sea journeys involving what he called "profit sharing" and the careful ration of oranges. The sailors delighted me with their sea shanties and jig dancing until Johann and McCorden urged me to retire and let the men have some time to smoke and enjoy the "Passaround Reading Oll Night" locker (the PRON locker as they called it).

Well, we met up with you and the rest of the party and the rest is history. I am back in the bosom of the motherland, resting at Breaking Winds for a fortnight before 10 April, at which time I shall be bound for New York on the maiden voyage of a great new ocean liner - oh how I look forward to an adventure at sea! Thank you and the good Lady Horsebottom for everything you did to make this weekend one of the most enchanting in memory.

Mrs. Lacey Golden

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