“I am happy to see you all are well and able. Won’t you sit down and join me for a meal our cooks have prepared for you.” Extending his hand he motioned for us to sit at the table. “Thank you for joining me, I trust everything is in order.” Colin formally yet warmly addressed us.
“Yes everything is well,” I responded on behalf of us all, adding “My sincerest gratitude for your kindness and hospitality.”
“Of course, I am sure all of us have a number of questions for each other,” Colin replied with a half grin. “But first, would you care for a glass of wine unique to this Monastery?” He motioned the attendants to bring the offering anticipating our acceptance and indulgence. Finely chased chalices containing a honey coloured liquid were distributed to everyone.
”Here’s to us,” Herb raised his glass in a toast.
“To us!” We raised our glasses in good cheer and the ringing of crystal resonated in the air like a finely bowed string orchestrating the next moment.
“I think that I can speak for all of us when I say that we are touched by your hospitality.“ Jitters broke the mood with a more serious utterance, having directed his conversation to Colin. “When do you think we can be on our way back home? I don’t mean to sound ungrateful; we’ll arrange payment for your generosity and hospitality. I trust, I hope, that you won’t take advantage of our helpless situation.”
Colin looked at Jitters and replied, “We would freely extend our services to you to help you on your journey, but at this moment I cannot say for sure when the next expedition is leaving the valley.”
“Is there a phone, computer, satellite dish, some way of getting a message out of here?” Jitters asked getting more aggressive with his tone. “I am sure all of us have family and friends that would like to hear from us.” Jitters looked at us trying to drum up support for his argument.
“I am sure there are many people that are worried and anxious to hear from you, unfortunately at this time we have little contact with the outside world.” Colin responded calmly with little regard for Jitters’ anxiousness.
“Well that’s just dandy!“ Jitters tone was decidedly sarcastic. ”We’re trapped in the land that time forgot.”
“Come my good fellow; things could be much worse.” Herb broke the tension in the room. “We all have someone to contact but given the circumstances, if a phone is our biggest worry then we are doing okay. I’d say we’re pretty damn lucky to be alive.” Herb raised his glass taking in a long breath, as the corner of his lips turn from concern to a genuine smile of jubilation. “God it’s good to be alive.”
Everyone raised their glasses in a toast to this statement, even Jitters, who, reluctant at first, lifted his goblet in acknowledgement. Consciously we make sure all our goblets touch which emitted another beautiful ring of sound into the air. Colin, too, raised his glass with a nod, distant yet a part of our celebration.