On the appointed evening, nine people gathered in Marten Grandon's living room, and it wasn't crowded. To Jasmine's amazement, almost all the clutter was moved or organized and there were comfortable chairs and love seats for everyone.
Marten hugged Teresa Moore and introduced her to ToyLin Fogel whom he also hugged, and directed them to seats on either side of him. There were refreshments on the sideboard.
Eddy introduced Veronica and Jasmine introduced Anthony to Marten and to everyone else.
"I think everyone knows what these six young people are going to do. The first thing is to make sure they are fully prepared. The second will be to reveal exactly where the entrance to the tunnel is," Marten began.
"Eddy came up with the original list of things we would need and Anthony, my brother Franklin and I have been coordinating the preparation because everything is being stored at our house," Lester began.
Lester went over everything they had prepared including food, clothing, tools, and carbide lamps. When he was done, Marten said, "it all sounds very good. I would say you are as well prepared as you can be, except for a couple of things."
They all looked at Marten, waiting.
"When you get to ChildIsle, how are you going to pay for the thessaline. They aren't going to give it away."
"We have no idea Marten," Jasmine said. "How much does it cost?"
"The last time I knew it was about two thousand dollars a packet, which is enough for about four months. Ten packets would be enough for a little over three years, which is about all you could carry. That will cost about twenty thousand dollars."
The six of them looked simultaneously dejected and discouraged. "We'll never get twenty thousand dollars," Lester said.
While Marten was discussing the money, both ToyLin and Mrs. Moore had taken something out of their purses and were now holding them in their laps.
"ToyLin and Mrs. Moore have something for you."
They each had three envelopes. ToyLin gave hers to Yuwon, Eddy, and Veronica. Mrs. Moore give hers to Jasmine, Lester, and Franklin.
"Please open them," Marten instructed.
In each envelope there was a gold chain, a little heavier than might have been expected.
"The chains are yours for the journey, but you can't keep them. Each chain is worth approximately thirty five hundred dollars. There is no money you could bring with you that would be accepted on ChildIsle. You are to use the chains to pay for the thessaline. Put them on now and get used to them so you don't even notice them," Marten instructed them. They all put the chains on.
"There is another thing missing from your list of supplies. There are no weapons." he said. "Did you think there could be no threat that might require you to defend yourselves?" he scolded them.
"I did, actually," Lester said. "Then we got very busy with the preparation and I didn't think about it again. I suppose I didn't really want to. It was a bad mistake."
"Yes it was, but it is easily fixed," Marten said. "I know Jasmine and Eddy know how to use a gun, because I taught them. I suspect Lester was taught to hunt and shoot by his father."
"I was," Lester said.
"Now I won't be surprised if Yuwon and Veronica are not familiar with guns."
"But I am," Yuwon said. "Whenever I visited Uncle Harry and aunt ToyLin in Lechakotet, we would go out shooting."
"That's right, ToyLin, confirmed.
"What about you, Darlin'?" he said to Veronica. "Are you going to surprise me too."
"Well, I can shoot. You taught Eddy to shoot, and he taught me. I can't say I like it much, but Eddy will tell you, I'm a good shot."
"Better than me," Eddy said.
"That leaves you, Anthony."
"Jasmine and I have been shooting lots of times. I really like guns and have studied them a lot."
"Looks like you all know how to use them, now how many of you have your own guns?" Marten asked.
"I know you do, Lester, but you'll want a handgun, not a rifle, one you can carry a long ways."
"I have that, sir," Lester said.
"I know Jasmine and Eddy have guns." Marten said. "That leaves Yuwon, Veronica, and Anthony."
"I have a gun Yuwon can use," ToyLin said.
"No ToyLin, you keep your gun. I'll give Yuwon a gun."
"I don't have my own gun either," Veronica said.
"Well, you do now," Marten said.
"I actually have a couple of guns," Anthony said.
"Bring the lightest one, and leave the other one at the Moore's."
After a little break for refreshments, Marten resumed the planning.
"There's just one more thing. I'm going to tell you how to find the opening to the tunnel. Once I tell you, you will have to leave as soon as possible, preferably tomorrow. Can you do that?"
They all said they could.
"Do you know what is called the black quarry?"
Everyone knew except Yuwon.
"That's alright. The others will show you, Yuwon.
"The black quarry was never actually a quarry. It's just a place a lot of black and crumbling granite has broken off and fallen over the years, leaving that ugly cliff and rubble below. It is pretty useless, in fact."
"There is a section of that granite wall called "three fingers." It's just three long blocks of granite reaching from the bottom of the cliff to the top, about a hundred fifty feet above.
"Yes, I know it," Franklin said.
"Between the left and middle finger, half-way between the top and bottom of the cliff, is a little ledge which does not look like a ledge either from above or below because of the coloring of the rock. The ledge actually leads to an opening behind the left finger which also cannot be seen until you are on the ledge. The opening behind the rock leads to what looks like a rock slide at the bottom of which is the floor of the tunnel.
"The face of the rock leading to the ledge is angled more than it appears to be. You can slide down it safely if you are very careful to stop on the ledge. Beyond the ledge the wall is straight down seventy five feet.
"The ledge is about two feed wide. Jasmine, Eddy, and Lester have had some experience with ledges," he teased them.
"Once you reach the ledge you'll have to be extremely careful descending the rock pile. The rocks are loose and can begin sliding very easily.
"Once you reach the tunnel floor it's simply a matter of walking ninety miles. You cannot get lost. There are some turns but there are no forks or side-passages. There are sometimes streams you'll have to cross. They're not deep, but you'll probably get your feet wet.
"The ChildIsle end of the tunnel is guarded. You'll be questioned. Just answer the questions truthfully. When they know why you're there they will probably help you, but don't count on it. They have no obligation to help you. Don't hesitate to offer to pay them. They are honest and will give you fair price for the chains."