Today Dispatches looks back a few years ago, when Captain Forsythe went missing in the Highlands, in what became a long, gripping saga affecting all citizens of Cannatown. The entries below document our hard-hitting bulletins to an eager populace awaiting news of his whereabouts. Reports printed in Dispatches were based on the pieces of his journal, found scattered throughout the alpine terrain, and eyewitness accounts of his sojourn from various mountain villagers. Read for yourself and reap the glorious ending, one ideal for holidays, especially in these dark times.
MAY - Captain Forsythe Lost in the Highlands
Oh, brave, brave Captain Forsythe. He’s gone! Gone, folks, gone and lost in the far reaches of the highlands, bounding through the sparkling forest and billowing clouds toward the crystal lake’s purest estuaries. So he wrote in his journal--that he was bound to a dream, nay, a compulsion towards a greater purpose, one that would drive him mad during his last days with the party. It was not a surprise, then, that we awoke one morning on the north summit of Bongs’s Peak, to the flaps of his tent, caught up in the winds down the ravine, accompanied by a personal note which read, “I, William Williamson Forsythe the Third, am departing for the highest of the high peaks in these great highlands, and can no longer let the speed of the group slow me down. I shall continue upward on our trajectory, past the terraced farms, all the way to the emerald-gold gates and byways perched above the waterfall that flows from the crystal lake.”
Highlands experts believe he could be “skywalking through the heavens” at this very moment, despite the worst fears. Said geobowlogist Terry Riley, “he might be skate-gliding through the diamond ridges, swinging on a string through giant balloon park, or even floating up backwards on the transparent river. Flying through twilight by griffin.”
“He’s deep in the highlands, is the point.” Riley added. “Higher than most of us will ever go in our lifetime.”
It is not clear whether Forsythe is in pursuit of the golden wax mine or the oracle at the twilight temple. Many believe him to be extremely lost and likely “following moon beams.”
JULY - CAPTAIN FORSYTHE’S JOURNAL FOUND
The long-lost journal of Captain Forsythe--who has now been missing 13 weeks--has been retrieved from a cave near Mount Wise in the Highlands. The passages within describe his revelations at the hidden oracle, his dawn journey through Viscous Valley, harrowing escape from the foggy bog of Couchl’k, and unexpected arrival in Creeper’s Cove. Head CannaRanger George Passerelli told Dispatches many of the landmarks described therein are unrecognizable even to the regaion’s most experienced cartographers and Cannthropologists, suggesting he has foraged a path through an uncharted territory. The rescue expedition, which finally halted last month, may resume if the book contains hints to Captain Forsythe’s whereabouts.
Little was recorded about his climbing team’s departure. Sharp ascent through the foothills and beyond Stem Forest brought them swiftly to the golden gates o’er the Anti-Gravity Waterfall. It was soon after that his party awoke to find his belongings missing from their camp on the north peak. “Now we know, reading his journal, that he was seeking the summit of the mountain,” said Passerelli. “It’s a place so vast and high that he feared he would never make it there with his fellow travelers, who, after each day’s trek, consistently fell asleep, feasted for hours until bloated, or became locked in place around the campfire.”
Forsythe’s sketches: (Above) The alleged Highlands village that rescued him (Below): The many Lords of Mount Wise
Not long after he’d left his peers, the Captain wrote that he was lost and wandering in circles. He survived on wild Ramen and slept under a gunnysack clothesline tent. After a short time, he was rescued by a an unidentified Highlands village tribe. Forsythe describes their first meeting as “awkward. I didn’t know if they were speaking a different language, or gibberish. It was clear that they had been smaking copious amounts of dank mountain herb.” In dire circumstances, Forsythe attempted to communicate through hand gestures. “They understood that I was desperately seeking fire. They led me to rolling flame--which I interepreted through their gestures to be a ceremonial relic of the people. I was given flowers and accepted as one of them. The smake was heavenly, truly the yield of the twilight gardens.”
Forsythe wrote that he never planned to stay, but weeks later found himself a contributing citizen to the colloquial economy; cleaning bongs on the night shift, rolling spliffs over dinner with village elders, and playing jaw harp in the local jugband. “After I’d become comfortably adopted within their circle, they brought me at dusk, out to see the gardens. Through a narrow crevasse we hiked, under more waterfalls, until we reached the legendary Twilight Gardens of New Paropamisadae. Rows of plants extended for miles in all directions. The aroma that permeated the village struck me now like a giant runaway boulder.”
“That is when I spotted the manor on the high peak, which rose above the terraced hillside like a castle in the mist. My guides explained in few words that this was where the Lords of the mountain resided. The Keepers of the Gardens.”
The Captain described the villagers as showing “cautious reverence” toward the Lords, suggesting they were shrouded in mystery. The next day, he made arrangements, traveling by horse-drawn sleigh up to the great hall. “In the distance, I heard the chatter of a lawn party. I spotted a cadre of gentlemen chiefing in the shade, and a few frolicking ladyfolk in the nearby spring.
“I was led through the doors. Inside the towering foyer a small army of squires prepared a full table of flowers, filling chalices, fencing masks and other receptacles up to the brim. These were carried with painstaking tact, through a vegetation-adorned atrium, up a marble flight of stairs and into a grand dining hall. A group of Lords entered from the balcony and began feasting, too focused on the feastables to notice me. Others poured in from outside.”
The Captain wrote that a tall lanky fellow with booming voice entered the hall and the entire crowd broke into song. He was Joseph of Aramethea, which noone present could deny. “Any mention of his name conjured the chorus…. or, three times was his name uttered, and thrice the rousing chorus was sung. And he was very wise, they said.”
“Joseph of Aramethea announced the host of festivities, the Purchasing Traverse. Through the doors entered a caped magnate. He showcased the flowers of the evening, pointing to the canisters of wax, tables of infused delicacies and other smakeries. Then he introduced the master high Lordships, ‘my Lord Purchase and Lord Traverse. It is no coincidence’ he told us, ‘that the entire breadth of nouns and verbs in the English language can be replaced by those two words, purchase and traverse.’”
“The Lordships entered with pomp as the quartet in the corner struck up a rendition of Against Your Lordship, and the room was in an uproar. Their appearance alone inspired a sudden round of “chipping” which appeared to be a form of fisticuffs wherein each participant declares a duel, then attempts to slap the backside of his opponents’ heads whilst protecting his own. The entire crowd stood to begin chipping in violent lunges and it was difficult to determine the winner of the battle. This led into a round of skulleries--the lobbing of berries at the an opponent’s head only after the obligatorily shouting of “Skullery!” using the barrels of berries located ‘round the perimeter as if designated for that sole purpose.”
The pages thereafter, presumably describing the Lords and their role as Keepers of the Gardens, were torn out, leaving only shreds. Forsythe’s last legible message was: “Major skullery wound, 3 weeks rehabilitation. I have been taken on as a squireling...”
*MORE NEWS BULLETINS TO FOLLOW*
SEPT - EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: RECENT LETTER PRESUMED FROM FORSYTHE
This letter was received by Bonnie Forsythe from her common law husband Captain Forsythe, missing now for nearly half-year in the Highlands.
I am alive, huzzah! I apologize for such a long durache. I am on the path to become a Lord of the Mountain, and all I dreamed has become manifest! The folklore they used to teach us in the rhymes at school is true. It is real and beyond your imagination. I am here, with the Lords, I really am!
What have you heard? Have they found my journal by now? Did you know I was saved by a local family of dear villagers? They took me in when I had nothing, not one crumbert to smake in this harsh world. After a while they introduced me to the Lords -- yes, the Lords, the keepers of the gardens -- and here I have been, ever since, learning the arts of Lordship.
Every day has been an adventure! Today for instance we ventured to a roadside hut on the edge of a precipice on the outskirts of the village. It was a bakery, and we baked bowls loaded with the finest of smakeries. Then off for a coffee in the village -- just a tinert-- and on the way, to mourn at the Graveyard of Broken Glass and Memorial of a Million Pieces. Then after a rousing feast, we met at the battleground, much like a medieval jousting ring, where a casual Lordship Battle of Tongues had erupted. Essentially, two battling Lords spoke to each other in thick, olde Lordship accents, and argued over each other, never appearing to say anything that made sense. These battles are a challenge of wisdom, to see who can say the most while simultaneously saying nothing at all. A battle of anti-wit, thrilling!
It is during one of these battles that creation of new words is considered lordly--for example the common “betwittlement” and, in its late satages, “balmaligence” are both words borne of an olde battles of yore, as was taught to me in one the first classes of my squireship:
“Take ye care, young squireling, lest you become betwittled; betwittlement is the road to balmaligence.”
- Old lordship proverb
These are not just any lords -- but Majestus and Hilestious. Purchase and Traverse. Or respectfully, My Lord Master High Lordship Sirene of the Shire Purchase and My Lord Master High Lordship Sirene of the Shire Traverse.
And their cadre of highest-profile posse, an eschelon of infamy: The Purchasing Traverse; The Lord of High Esteem; Starwatcher, Lord of the South; and Joseph of Aramathea, the Lord of the North, who is also known among his people as Apostle Longcalf. They are all above the Compass.
With such status, we have gone twice now to the Castle in the Highlands -- yes, that one -- which I will detail at a future time. But what I can say is this: in the lumbering halls echoed murmurs in the silence. In the night, you could almost hear an old, smaked-out jessel of a man, whining in that wind as it circled through the hidden passageways. “That is St. Nickeljoint,” they tell me. How utterly fantastic Bonnie. Oh, dear Bonnie, I wish you were here to see it all, but think you would have probably fallen asleep by now. We will meet again soon.
Yours in the Highlands, Billicus
DEC - THE CAPTAIN RETURNS! USHERED BY A FAMILIAR FACE.
CANNATOWN - Ladies and Gentlemen, a greater spectacle we could not have predicted, and just in time for the holidays! Captain William Forsythe, the long-lost hiker, missing since earlier this year when he ascended into the Highlands in late April, has now returned to CannaTown, and with none other than St. Nickeljoint!
A jubilant crowd greeted Nickeljoint at 4:20AM this morning, gas cans in hand as he coasted into town in this old Econoline van and pulled into an open spot at the bus terminal. Bystanders were shocked to see the hero disembark in a cloud of smoke, close behind Rupert the Red-nosed Reindeer. Emergency medical staff were called to the area, but the good Captain explained that he was already quite medicated and was happy just to return to his hometown, and to see his common-law wife, Bonnie.
“Fellow Cadets,” he announced to bystanders. “I do miss the Highlands, even now. But I have become one of the Lords, and moonlighted with the Curators of Highness. I have tended the twilight gardens, smaked at the alpine smakeries, frequented the high castle of the silver springs, flown a griffin to the oracle and seen the Graveyard of Broken Glass, met St. Stephoffolous, Satchelkins, and now, Nickeljoint. It has been the most splendorous of times!”
“I will henceforth be known as Billicus of the Valley,” he declared. “There is no more Captain Forsythe. Only Lord Billicus.”