THE JOURNEY BEGINS
The moment had finally arrived for thirty-year-old Leia Sutton and her fifteen-year-old twin daughters, Alice and Claire, to go on their great adventure into the depths of the Earth.
“Are you two readies for this?” Leia asked.
“Yes,” Claire and Alice said together.
“Now then, remember what your great grandmother Sarah’s diary says?” asked Leia.
The twins nodded.
“There will be rivers and lakes along the way,” Leia said. “So we won’t run out of water.”
“I wish dad had decided to come,” said Alice.
“Yeah, me too,” Claire said.
“Well, he enjoys his mountaineering,” said Leia.
“We’ll have to bring him back something,” Alice said.
“Yes,” said Claire. “We must give him proof of our journey.”
“Maybe we could bring him something back from Atlan,” Alice said.
“If we get there,” said Leia.
“Time to find out,” Alice said.
“Yes, time to find out,” said Claire.
“Once more unto the breach,” Leia said.
Leia and her daughters slipped through a hillside opening, holding self-generating lamps and carrying large backpacks, full of rations, water and art materials.
Beyond that point, it was onwards and downwards.
Leia had with her, her grandmother’s diary to point the way.
To begin with, the explorers headed down through dark passages and caverns with amazing stalagmites and stalactites. There were lakes too.
None of those tunnels and passages were very large.
At one point, the adventurers forded a gentle river, before going deeper.
After reaching a depth of up to four miles, they stopped by a lake for some food and water.
“So girls, what do you think so far?” Leia asked.
“It’s remarkable,” replied Alice.
“What about you Claire?”
“It’s beyond anything we have ever seen.”
“Only two miles to go before we reach the glow worm caverns,” Leia said.
She opened the diary and looked at a couple of black and white pencil drawings showing glow worm caverns.
“On we go then,” she said.
Leia and her daughters continued on downwards – fording another river along the way, until finally, they reached a place, which they had expected to find.
“Wow!” Alice said.
“Wow indeed,” said Claire.
“I knew we would find these caverns,” Leia said.
The cavern, which the adventurers had reached was lit up by orange glow worms. It was up to three hundred feet in height and covered an area of about ten acres. Two openings branched off – one to the right, the other directly opposite.
“Well, we won’t be needing to use our lamps from now on,” Leia said. “It says in the diary that this system of glow worm caverns is extensive. Now then, we take the opposite opening.”
The explorers went through the opening, which led straight down into another glow worm cavern with three more openings branching off.
Leia had a look in the diary.
“Passage to the right,” she said.
The adventurers went through the right-hand opening, which led down to a third glow worm cavern.
So that’s how it was – one glow worm cavern after another, going continuously deeper.
At one point, the explorers stopped by a lake.
“Let’s do some drawing,” Alice said.
“Alright then,” said Leia.
“We’d better top our bottles up,” Claire said.
“Good point,” said Leia.
They each did a black and white pencil drawing of the lake, which reflected the far side of the cavern.
When they were finished, they had some food and water. Last of all, they topped up their bottles from the lake.
“Right then, are you two ready to go on?” Leia asked.
“Yes,” the twins replied together.
“Good. We shall continue.”
So the explorers journeyed onwards and downwards, until eventually, the glow worm cavern system ended.
“Well, here we are,” Leia said.
“Wow!” said Alice.
“It’s spectacular,” Claire said.
The three of them had entered a very large, bright blue cavern with huge luminous crystals inside.
“Now then, I’ll see what the diary says next,” said Leia.
She opened the diary, which showed a drawing of the crystal cavern.
“It says that we are at a depth of ten miles and that the crystal caverns go down some way. So, on we go.”
The adventurers began to make their way down through the system of crystal caverns. Some of the caverns were larger than small towns and had crystals hundreds of feet in length.
There were no passages, just large openings leading from one cavern to the next. Each cavern was lit by the same mysterious blue luminescence.
At one point, the explorers stopped to have some food and water – the former of which was beginning to run out.
“Our food supplies will be out before long,” Alice said.
“And our water bottles are half full,” said Claire.
“Well, we’ll be reaching the mushroom caverns before long,” Leia said.
“We might as well do some more drawing while were here,” said Claire.
“Good thinking,” Alice said.
So everyone did a drawing of the cavern.
After that, they continued onwards, until the crystal cavern ended.
Beyond that, there was a huge bright green cavern with a lake inside. Huge was the right word to describe it. It was over three miles across in all directions and up to two thousand feet high in the centre. The lake was no less than three miles across and five more openings branched off around the cavern.
“Wow!” Claire said.
“This sure is a big place,” said Alice.
“Well, we won’t run out of water here,” Leia said.
She looked in the diary, which showed a drawing of the lake.
“We take the passage opposite. The mushroom caverns are just beyond that.”
“How deep are we now?” Claire asked.
“Fifteen miles,” replied Leia.
The explorers walked round to the far side of the lake, where they ate the last of their food, had some water and did some more drawing. After that, they topped their bottles up from the lake and headed off into the passage.
The passage went on horizontally for a short distance, before sloping down at an angle of roughly fifteen degrees for two miles.
At the bottom end, there was a slightly larger cavern – pale brown in colour. Within the cavern, there was a forest of mushrooms sloping right down from the top end to the bottom end, where there was a large opening. The mushrooms ranged from very small to the size of small trees.
“Well, here it is,” said Leia. “The first mushroom cavern.”
“We can take on more food at last,” Alice said.
“We’ll have to pick the smaller ones,” said Claire.
“Let’s taste them first,” Alice said.
She picked one of the smaller mushrooms and took a bite.
“It’s very tasty.”
Claire did the same.
“It’s certainly the best mushroom I’ve ever had.”
“Just what your grandmother wrote,” said Leia, who also picked and tasted a mushroom.
She looked in the diary, which showed a drawing of the mushroom cavern.
“It says here that this system of caverns runs down some way.”
“Well, we certainly won’t be running short of food,” Claire said.
“The thing is, will we run out of water?” asked Alice.
“We should be alright,” Leia replied. “Our descent so far hasn’t been slow.”
“Let’s get going then,” said Claire.
“Yes, lets,” Alice said.
The three of them headed down through the mushroom forest to the opening, which led to a second mushroom cavern. The cavern floor sloped down to the left and there were two more openings – one opposite, the other at the bottom end of the cavern.
The explorers headed for the opening at bottom end, which led into a third mushroom cavern.
So that’s how things continued – one mushroom cavern after another with no intervening tunnels.
The adventurers stopped off to have some food and water and to do some drawing too.
Eventually, the mushroom cavern system ended.
What lay beyond the final mushroom cavern, totally astonished the adventurers.
They had entered, an immeasurable pale bluish-purple cavern. Immeasurable was the right word. The walls were out of sight and the ceiling lost high above somewhere.
Within the cavern, there was a mighty, calm ocean.
CIVILIZATION BY THE SEA
The adventure so far had been most astonishing.
On entering a small hillside opening, Leia and her daughters had descended a very long way into the bowels of the Earth.
So far, they had passed through caverns and passages of darkness, glow worm caverns, crystal caverns and mushroom caverns.
However, they were not the first ones to achieve as much, no. Leia’s great grandmother had made the journey previously and the adventurers were using her diary to guide them.
At that moment, they were standing on a crescent-shaped beach with a headland at either end.
Before them, there lay stretched out, the mighty underground ocean.
“Well, we’ve certainly come a very long way,” Claire said.
Alice scooped up some sand and examined it.
“This is no different to the sand on the Earth’s surface beaches,” she said.
“I wonder how deep we are,” Claire said.
Leia looked inside the diary, which showed a drawing of the ocean.
“Twenty miles,” she said.
“That sure is deep,” said Alice.
“This is the very spot where your great grandmother encountered the being from the village on the other side of the right-hand headland.”
“I remember she wrote about the ocean water being fresh,” Claire said.
“Well, we certainly won’t run short of food and water,” said Alice. “Now let’s head for this village.”
“Yes, let’s continue,” Leia said.
The explorers made their way to the right-hand headland, which was fairly low and easily climbed it to the top.
On the other side of the headland, there was an area of small trees, lining another crescent-shaped beach, about a mile long with a headland at the other end.
Furthermore, the beach wasn’t deserted, no. Three people were there.
“That is the very beach, from which your great grandmother went out to sea,” Leia said. “She built the raft out of mushroom stalks from the cavern, which we just came from.
“We’ll have to tell those people that we’re related to her,” said Claire.
“The thing is, were any of those people around when our great grandmother came here?” Alice asked.
“Good question,” replied Claire.
“Well, it says in the diary that those people live up to two hundred years old,” said Leia. “So it’s possible.”
“What are we waiting for?” Claire asked.
“Yes, let’s introduce ourselves,” replied Alice.
The adventurers descended to the beach and approached the beings.
The beings had elongated heads, like the ancient Egyptians. One was a man, one a woman and the third was a boy. The boy stood between three and four feet tall and the adults over six feet. As for clothing, they wore no more than cloths around their waists.
“Hello there,” Alice said.
“What do you outsiders want?” the boy asked.
“Have you come to harm us?” asked the man.
“Why no,” Claire replied.
“We’ve been told that another outsider came here a long while ago,” said the woman.
“What was her name?” Alice asked.
“Sarah Sutton,” replied the boy.
“I knew it,” said Leia.
“Knew what?” the woman asked.
“Sarah was my grandmother.”
“You’re related to Sarah?” asked the man.
“Yes. My name is Leia Sutton.”
“Who are the other two?” the boy asked.
“My daughters, Claire and Alice.”
“So what in the world are you three doing all the way down here below the Earth’s surface?” asked the woman.
“We’re following in my grandmother’s footsteps,” Leia replied.
“You three had better come to our village,” said the man.
The seaside dwellers led the adventures into the trees, which looked most bizarre with twisted trunks and branches and large thorny leaves.
Many thousands of small mushrooms lay scattered among the trees, as well as clumps of tall thick grass and bushes bearing unknown kinds of fruit, shaped like oversized raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.
There were other lifeforms there too, including snakes, turtles and spider monkeys.
“We do not yet know your names,” Alice said to the cave dwellers.
“My name is Jason,” said the man. “And my wife and child are called Medea and Hylas.”
In no time at all, the explorers were led into a clearing. Within the clearing, there was a ring of twelve dome-shaped tents – each about four metres both in height and diameter with grass-woven covers.
The tents surrounded an area where over a dozen people were dancing joyfully, playing African-style drums and chanting.
More people were sitting on stools outside the tents, either talking or watching the entertainment.
Children were there too.
When Leia and her daughters entered the clearing, the entertainment stopped.
The inhabitants in the clearing stared curiously at them as they were led towards a tent with three people sitting on stools outside.
The right and left-hand ones were women and the one in the centre was a man. Both the right-hand woman and the man looked older than the left-hand woman with wrinkled hands and faces. All three of them were wearing pieces of cloth twisted up around their heads – rather like shells.
“Who are they?” Claire asked.
“The central one is our Chief, Paris” replied Jason.
“And the other two?” Alice asked.
“The one on the right is the Chief’s wife, Helen,” replied Medea. “And the one on the left, his daughter, Cassandra.”
When the explorers reached the tent, the Chief eyed them up and down.
“You three are outsiders,” he said curiously.
“Yes, we’re outsiders Chief Paris,” said Leia.
“Don’t be afraid of us Chief,” Claire said. “We haven’t come to harm you.”
The Chief turned to Jason and his family.
“Where did you encounter them?” he asked.
“On the beach Chief,” replied Jason.
“What were they doing on the beach? Helen asked.
“Following in the footsteps of the one known as Sarah Sutton Chief,” replied Jason.
“How do they know Sarah?” Paris asked.
“They’re related to her Chief,” replied Medea.
The Chief faced the adventurers again.
“In what way are the three of you related to Sarah?” he asked.
“Well Chief, I’m her granddaughter,” replied Leia. “And my daughters, Alice and Claire are her great granddaughters.”
“My wife and I, as well as all the other surviving elders here knew Sarah,” Paris said. “She was no older than you Leia.”
“She spent some time with us,” said Helen. “Before she headed out to sea – never to return.”
“I knew it,” Alice said.
“She went on some kind of floating object,” said Paris. “Now what was it called?”
“A raft – I think,” Helen replied.
“Ah yes, a raft.”
“Built it the surviving elders here did,” said Helen. “They used thick mushroom stems tied together with grass. The former they got from a large cavern full of mushrooms not far from here.”
“We’ve just come from that place Chief,” Claire said.
“Yes, Chief and we’re going to continue in my grandmother’s footsteps,” said Leia.
“Out to sea?” Cassandra asked.
“Out to sea,” replied Alice.
“You must stay with us a little while,” Paris said. “Some of my people will build the raft.”
“Thank you Chief,” said Leia.
So it was.
Leia and her daughters spent some time with the cave dwellers, all of whom had the names of people from ancient Greek legend – names like Argos, or Perseus, or Atalanta.
They danced, played drums, went to the beach, walked miles further along the coast, ate fruit, drank sea water, did some drawing and engaged in deep conversations with the villagers about the Earth’s surface.
The fruit was exceedingly tasty. Not only did it resemble berries, but the textures and tastes were the same too. More fruit bushes grew further along the coast among trees in other areas.
Meanwhile, at the Chiefs orders, some of the villagers built a raft for the adventurers. They cut down mushroom stems in the cavern with stone axes and tied them together with grass.
When the raft was finished, Leia inspected it.
“It’s perfect,” she said. “What do you think girls?”
“I agree,” said Alice.
“Me too,” Claire said.
“Your great grandmother’s one was just like it,” said Leia.
The raft was square with a diameter of three metres. It was surrounded on all sides by two-foot-high fences – each consisting of three stems placed vertically on top of one another and a post in each corner. Everything was well secured tightly in place with grass and last of all, it had a steering pole.
“So this is it,” Claire said.
“Yes,” said Leia. “It’s time for us to be off.”
“Have you all enjoyed your stay?” the Chief asked.
“We sure have Chief,” replied Alice.
“I’m glad to hear it.”
“We’ll give you provisions for the journey,” said Helen.
“Thank you,” Leia said.
At the Chiefs orders, a few people loaded twelve large grass baskets, brimming with fruit onto the raft. Fortunately, the fences were high enough to prevent the provisions, which were light in weight, from falling into the sea.
“Right then, time to get going,” Leia said.
So it was time for the adventurers to leave the sea shore. They exchanged farewells with the villagers, all of whom had come to the beach to see them off. They then climbed onto the raft with their rucksacks and left the shore.
For some distance the explorers had journeyed on the raft. The shore was out of sight and all they could see was still water in all directions.
“Well, we’ve come quite some way,” said Leia, who was using the pole to steer the raft forwards at about two miles per hour.
“How far out to sea would you say we’ve come?” Alice asked.
“About sixty miles or more.”
“At least we have plenty of food,” Claire said.
“I’m surprised we haven’t seen any life yet,” said Alice. “No serpents, no Plesiosaurs.”
“Our great grandmother saw them,” Claire said.
“Well, if we don’t see any, then it will most probably be because they don’t want to come to the ocean surface right now,” said Leia.
The moment she said that, it happened.
Up out of the water, there appeared the head and neck of a Plesiosaur. Another appeared, followed by a third, a fourth, a fifth and finally a sixth.
Neither of the adventurers showed the slightest sign of fear.
“Wow!” said Claire.
“Amazing,” Alice said.
“I’ve always wanted to see something like this,” said Leia, who stopped steering for a moment.
The three of them stared in admiration as the dinosaurs passed the raft, before going underwater again.
“I hope we see more of them,” Claire said.
“Yeah, me too,” said Leia, who continued steering.
“I wonder how much further it is to the island,” Alice said.
“Hundreds of miles,” said Leia. “It says in the diary that the island is roughly five hundred miles off shore. Fortunately, we have more than enough food to get us there.”
“The seas nice and calm too,” Claire said.
“Yes,” said Alice. “No wind, no rain, no waves to battle against.”
“Which makes it easy to steer the raft,” Leia said.
On and on the journey went, for mile after mile.
Along the way, the adventurers saw more Plesiosaurs and serpents too.
At one point, an island came into view over the horizon. The island had beaches, sheer cliffs, valleys, headlands and steep-sided tree-clad hills rising over three thousand feet.
“Well, there it is,” Leia said. “The island, which your great grandmother discovered.”
The adventurers went closer and closer to the island, until they reached a beach at the bottom end of a windy valley.
They then got out and used all their strength to push the raft up onto the beach.
“Your great grandmother saw many non-carnivorous dinosaurs here,” said Leia.
“Yes,” Alice said.
“Well, at least they won’t eat us,” said Claire.”
At that moment, a pair of Allosaurs appeared out of the trees at the foot of the valley. The dinosaurs headed down to the sea and began to drink away.
“Let’s go inland,” said Claire.
“We’d better take our drawing equipment,” Alice said.
“Good thinking,” said Leia.
So the explorers slung their backpacks on and began to make their way up through the valley.
Along the way, they saw snakes, parrots, spider monkeys, sloths, turtles and a number of other creatures.
There were mushrooms everywhere and thousands of bizarre plants – resembling gherkins. The gherkin-like plants ranged from the size of small cucumbers, to enormous marrows.
Leia opened the diary, which showed a drawing of one of the plants.
“Now then, it says here that those plants are edible.”
She picked one of the smaller ones and took a bite.
“Delicious. It tastes like garlic.”
Claire and Alice picked one each and tasted them.
“Wonderful,” Alice said.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever tasted,” said Claire.
“It says here that the dinosaurs eat them,” Leia said.
At that moment, a Velociraptor appeared. The dinosaur pulled up one of the smaller plants and devoured it in one go.
“Wow!” said Alice.
“A real live Raptor,” Claire said.
“I can just imagine riding on the back of one of those across the wild west,” said Leia.
“Yeah, me too,” Alice said.
The Raptor stared at the Leia and her daughters curiously, then ran off.
“Let’s continue,” Leia said.
The three of them headed right up to the top end of the valley, where there was a rise.
On the other side of the rise, there was a lake – about two kilometres long and about a mile wide, surrounded by hills, valleys and rises.
There were several toy-sized Allosaurs by the lake.
“Wow!” said Alice.
“We must get down there,” Leia said.
“Yes,” said Claire.
“We can do some drawing,” Alice said.
The adventurers began to make their way down to the lake.
On the descent, they came across something remarkable.
“Wow!” Claire asked.
“It’s a nest of dinosaur eggs,” said Alice.
The adventurers had discovered a nest of twelve, eight-inch-long eggs.
“I wonder what species they belong to,” Claire said.
“By the size of them, I would say a Raptor,” said Leia.
“We should take one home,” Alice said.
“Yes, we could hatch it under an incubator,” said Claire.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Leia said.
“Not a good idea?” asked Claire.
“Why not?” Alice asked.
“Because the animal may not survive on the surface once it’s hatched. Our environment is different. Imagine it having to cope with the weather and the sound of our farm machinery. No, the egg will remain here in its natural environment.
“You’re right,” said Claire.
“It clearly says in the diary that your great grandmother didn’t take one for the very same reason.”
“I just thought that a real live dinosaur would prove our sceptical father wrong,” Alice said.
“I see what you mean,” said Leia. “But it’s best not to.”
Suddenly, a Raptor came and sat down on the nest.
“This is why we shouldn’t interfere,” said Leia. “Mother Nature provided this place for these animals to live.”
“We understand,” Claire and Alice said together.
“Now then, let’s get down to the lake.”
So the three of them continued to descend the other side of the rise. They saw many more Raptors during the descent and came across several nests.
When the explorers reached the lake, they sat down on a rock and did a drawing each of three Allosaurs sitting on their hind legs by the lake, staring out across the water.
After that, they slowly began to walk round the lake. Along the way, they saw more Allosaurs, countless Raptors and a pair of Tyrannosaurs emerging from the trees. Even further on, they saw a Spinosaurus, ten Dimetrodons and several Deinonychus.
Then finally, they reached the point the point where they had started. The three Allosaurs, which had been sitting in a row by the lake were gone.
“Well, I enjoyed that. What did you think girls?” Leia asked.
“It was amazing,” replied Claire.
“I loved it too,” Alice replied.
“I’m pleased to hear it,” said Leia. “Now we shall return to the raft.”
Leia and her daughters returned to the beach, which was deserted by then. However, the footprints of the Allosaurs remained in the sand.
“I’d better take a look in the diary before we leave,” said Leia.
She opened the diary.
“Now it says here, that your great grandmother steered her raft round to the far side of the island, where a smaller island lies just off shore.”
The diary showed a drawing of a small rocky island.
“We should have some food and water before we leave,” Alice said.
“I agree,” said Claire.
“Very well,” Leia said.
The three of them had two pieces of fruit each and some water from their flasks.
“Right then, let’s get the raft into the sea,” said Leia. “On the count of three. One – two – three.”
With all their strength, the adventurers slowly pushed the raft into the sea and scrambled quickly onboard.
“Away we go,” said Leia.
Leia steered the raft about a hundred metres away from the beach, then turned left and began to head along the coast. At one point, there came into view, a small rocky island just off shore.
“There it is,” Leia said. “Beyond that island, is five hundred miles of water to the other side of the cavern.”
Leia and the twins watched the island disappear over the horizon.
Now, it was open sea.
After travelling up to five hundred miles across open sea, Leia and her daughters finally reached the other side of the cavern.
They pushed the raft up onto a beach, on which there was another raft with the same shape and size. Within the raft, there were six empty grass baskets, like those, which Leia and the twins had been given.
Directly ahead, there was a phosphorescent pink tunnel leading out of the cavern, into the unknown.
“At last,” said Leia. “We’ve reached the other side of the cavern.”
“A thousand miles we’ve come,” Claire said. “A thousand miles.”
“Our great grandmother must have used the other raft to cross the sea,” Alice said to Claire.
“All we have to do now, is head through the tunnel,” said Leia. “Atlan is in a cavern at the other end.”
“What are we waiting for then?” Alice asked.
“Wait a minute,” said Claire.
“What is it?” Alice asked.
“We should take the rest of our fruit back home for dad.”
“That, is a very good idea,” Leia said. “Maybe then he won’t be so sceptical.”
“There’s only one way to find out,” said Claire.
She grabbed the last few pieces of fruit and stuffed them in her backpack.
“Now then,” Leia said. “We shall go on.”
Leia and her daughters entered the passage, which was no more than three kilometres long. At the other end, there emanated a pale blue luminescence.
When the adventurers reached the end of the passage, they entered a cavern from which the luminescence was emanating.
The first thing, which they saw on entering the cavern, were evergreen trees of unknown kind, countless flowers of many colours, areas of grass and mushrooms of varying sizes.
There were plenty of lifeforms too, including rabbits, squirrels, wolves and spider monkeys.
“Wonderful,” said Claire.
“Wonderful indeed,” Alice said.
“Atlan is just through the trees,” said Leia.
The adventurers made their way through the trees for no more than three miles, before reaching a colossal open area – over five miles across in all directions.
Within the clearing, there was a large settlement of gold, consisting of domed buildings, towers, Egyptian and Inca-style pyramids and a number of other structures.
Outside the settlement, there were scattered trees, crystals, flowers, grass, mushrooms, a nearby lake and small buildings of gold, shaped like Egyptian pyramids – each no more than thirty feet in height.
There was plenty of life there, including rabbits, wolves, squirrels, butterflies and dragonflies. Birds were flying everywhere.
Then there were the people themselves. They all had long, flaming red hair and were dressed in technicoloured clothes, including dresses, robes and turbans.
The adults stood between six and seven feet tall and the children between two and four feet.
Many of them were walking back and forth along golden paths, resting and swimming in the lake, which was inhabited by fish and amphibians.
Others were going in and out of the pyramidal structures through sliding doors and working on allotments.
The children were playing around all over the place.
As for the cavern, it was about ten miles wide, eleven miles long and up to a mile high. Two enormous passages branched off out of sight near the far end.
Leia opened the diary to a page, showing a drawing of the settlement.
“There it is,” she said. “Atlan.”
“I’ve never seen anything so astonishing,” said Claire.
“Me neither,” Leia said.
“It’s far greater than I imagined,” said Alice.
“Isn’t this the very spot where the one known as Odin appeared to our great grandmother?” Clair asked.
“Indeed it is,” replied Leia. “It says in the diary that he showed her around the settlement.
“Do you suppose we’ll meet him too?” Alice asked.
Suddenly, a man resembling Luke Skywalker from The Last Jedi, appeared before the adventurers.
“Does this answer your question?” the man asked in the same voice as Luke’s.
There was a moments silence.
“It sure does,” replied Alice.
“You look exactly like my grandmother described you,” said Leia.
She opened the diary to a page showing Odin.
“The three of you have successfully followed in the footsteps of Sarah Sutton,” Odin said. “Your grandmother would be proud of you all Leia, as am I.”
“Will you show us around the settlement?” asked Claire.
“Indeed I will,” Odin replied.
So Odin began to lead the adventurers along the golden paths towards Atlan.
“My grandmother wrote in her diary that all the dwellers here live on the outskirts,” said Leia.
“That is so,” Odin said. “The population is over thirty thousand. Such a population living this wonderful lifestyle, would be too large to fit inside Atlan itself. Imagine trying to cram thousands of these houses and allotments into it.”
“It also says in the diary, that the people here are descended from a civilization, which once inhabited the continent of Atlantis,” said Leia.
“That is so too,” Odin said. “I told your grandmother that the ancestors of these people fled underground before the flood, which sent Atlantis beneath the waves of the Atlantic.”
The conversation continued all the way to Atlan itself, which turned out to be far greater than Leia and the twins had expected.
“Well, this is just as your great grandmother described it,” said Leia.
“It’s marvellous,” Claire said.
“No settlement above ground can compare to this,” said Alice.
On entering Atlan, the adventurers found themselves at one end of a very wide walkway of gold with a row of golden fountains running through the centre.
The walkway was lined on either side with pyramids, domed buildings, towers and side streets, all of which were made of gold.
There were many people about, either walking, or going in and out of the buildings through pyramidal openings. Some kind of gold lighting emanated from within each building.
There were thousands of pigeons and doves and areas of fine vegetation.
“This is so wonderful,” said Leia.
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Odin said.
“If only Dad could see this,” said Alice.
“Will you be showing us everything?” asked Claire.
“Indeed I will.”
So Odin guided Leia and the twins around Atlan, which turned out to be a most remarkable place.
Spectacular, multicoloured parades wound their way through the many streets. The people taking part, were wearing wonderful clothing and animal costumes.
Bands playing instruments of gold instead of brass and silver, marched formally.
In every square, there were people dancing merrily, playing instruments, like drums and singing beautifully in a language unknown to the adventurers.
At one point, the adventurers ate some golden apples, while being led through a grove of trees bearing golden apples.
Furthermore, Odin showed them inside the buildings.
First of all, there was the museum, which displayed artefacts from Atlantis, including golden tablets and scrolls with unknown languages written on them; Greek-style pottery and Egyptian style sarcophagi.
Secondly, there was a school for children aged from four to eleven years. There were no classrooms in the school. Instead, there were dozens of circular tables – each of which was surrounded by ten children and an adult, all of whom were sitting on stools. The children were studying moving holographic images.
The third building was a school for children aged from eleven to sixteen. There were no classrooms there either. The pupils were sitting on stools around circular tables in groups of ten. Each group was accompanied by an adult. Instead of looking at holographic images, the pupils were studying golden tablets, which Odin explained to the adventurers, had Atlantean history written on them.
Odin also explained that both schools could only be attended by one group of children at a time – seeing as the population had thousands of children.
Building number four was a library, containing tens of thousands of gold tablets, all placed on shelves running around the wall.
People were seated on high stools around circular tables in groups of twelve, studying tablets. More people were removing tablets from shelves and vice versa. To reach the higher shelves, they used levitating platforms.
Odin explained to the adventurers firstly, that all the history of Atlantis was contained in the library and secondly, that only people older than sixteen were allowed to enter the library.
Building number five was a fun centre for young children. The children were doing a whole range of exciting things, including drawing, painting and sculpting. Adults were overseeing things.
After that, the adventurers were taken to six pollution-free manufacturing facilities.
The first facility was used to produce clothes and footwear; the second one for the production of household furnishings, including chairs and tables; the third one for the production of simple tools, like spades, shovels and forks; the fourth one for the production of art materials, including paper not made from trees; the fifth one for golden cutlery and the sixth for bakery products.
When the tour of the manufacturing facilities was over, the adventurers were taken to a large play area for children, which included slides, rope swings, see saws, roundabouts and climbing frames.
After that, they were taken to a gymnasium, an arts and crafts centre and a swimming pool with diving boards and slides.
By then, Leia and the twins were getting hungry and thirsty.
So Odin took them to a huge eating place, where people were sitting on stools at tables, feasting off vegetable and fruit dishes and drinking different kinds of fruit juice.
While there, everyone, including Odin, had large roasts, fruit salads and fruit juice.
When they were finished, the tour continued.
The adventurers were taken next to a large art gallery, displaying paintings in golden frames and sculptures made from wood, stone, gold and crystal.
Then there was the planetarium, the theatre, the circus, the birthing facility and the music hall, where a real live orchestra was playing unknown classical music.
Next it was a temple of knowledge. Within the temple, there were hundreds of adults sitting cross legged on cushions. They all had their eyes closed and were facing a huge crystal in the centre of the chamber.
Odin explained to the adventurers that people aged eighteen and over went to the temple, in order to gain higher knowledge through meditation.
Then there was the High Council building. Yes, Atlan had a Council. It consisted of six men and six women, all wearing golden robes. They were seated in golden armchairs around a large round golden table, deep in discussion. Surrounding them, was a wide ring of twelve golden fountains.
Odin explained to the adventurers that the Council discussed in their meetings, the interests of the community and how to take action.
Finally, there was a building, in which there were hundreds of cubicles lined in rows, separated by walkways. People were stepping into the cubicles and vanishing and vice versa.
Odin explained to the adventurers that the cubicles were used when one wanted to go to and from different places – other worlds and dimensions, that kind of thing.
“Well, the tour ends here,” Odin said.
“Does that mean that we have to return to the Earth’s surface?” asked Claire.
“Yes,” Odin replied. “You must use one of those cubicles to get home. That one will do.”
He led the adventurers over to an unoccupied cubicle.
“Well, this is it girls,” said Leia.
“Yes,” the twins said together.
“Thanks for everything Odin,” Leia said.
“I’ll always remember my time here,” Claire said.
“Me too,” said Alice. “It’s been wonderful.”
“Well girls, it’s time for us to leave,” Leia said.
With that, Leia and the twins exchanged farewells with Odin and left Atlan.
Claire went first, then Alice and finally Leia.