At the beginning of this part, our band of adventurers breaks up into two groups, each following a separate line of investigation from the clues they’ve gathered so far. Time, they feel, is growing short.
Victoria Woodhull and Cecil Watson set sail for Australia on Cornelius Vanderbilt III’s yacht. “Neily” is another old friend of Victoria’s. Hazel Claflin and Zeke Ford head farther south into Africa, along with Dr. Ali Kafour of the Cairo Museum, an Egyptologist who aided them during their adventures in Egypt.
We follow the latter party first.
Hazel, Zeke, and Dr. Kafour sail to Mombasa and go to Nairobi. Zeke is still in a stunned and badly shaken state after his experiences at the end of Part 3.
In Nairobi, they locate the guide who led Roger Carlyle’s sister to the site where he and his Expedition were killed, and to bring their bodies back for burial. The guide, Sam Mariga, agrees to lead them to the place where the bodies were found.
They’re also going to a semi-mythical place known as the Mountain of the Black Wind which is said to be an “unclean place… of darkness” where a powerful witch lives.
Before they set out, Dr. Kafour talks to the doctor who examined the bodies–what was left of them. There wasn’t enough for proper, individual identification but, as the doctor concludes, who else could it have been?
Hazel flirts with a drunken former soldier in a bar who claims he met Jack Brady in Shanghai some years after the Carlyle Expedition was supposedly slaughtered, and who believes that the natives executed for the crime were innocent.
Are members of the Expedition still alive? If they are, what really happened to them? Hazel and her friends have heard several different versions of their fate during the story so far, but now it’s time to find the truth.
One last thing before the group heads out into the open country. They are taken to see a very, very old man with mystical powers who tells them: “Only those of great heart would dare approach the Mountain of the Black Wind.” He offers them gifts to help protect them on their journey:
- Dr. Kafour receives a fly whisk “enchanted to drive away evil spirits.”
- Zeke gets a song.
- Hazel gets a pet chameleon that she shouldn’t let out of its cage until the time is right.
- Sam receives a shield “to make friends, not war.”
Then they are sent off, quickly.
After a series of minor adventures, the party makes their way up the Mountain of the Black Wind. As they are about to interrupt a crucial and even more horrific ceremony of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue already in progress, Zeke offers another piece of familiar advice:
Hazel: “I don’t even want to know what’s making that sound.”
Zeke: “That’s okay, Hazel. If it looks bad, just… don’t look.”
At last, we find out what really, really happened to the Carlyle Expedition, in particular the ultimate, gruesome fate of Hypatia Masters, and what the mysterious M’Weru was up to when she brought the Expedition to Kenya.
As we get deeper into the story, my description has gotten more vague and I’ve skipped over a lot of plot points to avoid any big spoilers, but I don’t think I’m giving too much away by confirming that M’Weru is indeed the witch.
Those gifts the old man gave them turn out to be extremely useful. I especially like the chameleon.
Our heroes have foiled an important part of the cultists’ long-laid plans, but their work isn’t done yet. They still have a long way to go.
I mentioned them earlier, but the commercials from the various DART sponsors that come after every cliffhanger are hilarious. In this part, there are ads for Galena House Paints, which “contain twice as much lead as other paints,” an Electric Nerve Pencil massage device for the busy modern woman, and that old favorite, Bile Beans for your dyspepsia. I love these almost as much as the props and I sing along with the Bub-L-Pep jingle (“The L is for Lithium! Yum! Yum!”).
Part 5 is next.