Once upon a time a long time ago an extraordinary expedition set out into the Territory. The members of this expedition were each accomplished in different ways, and the pattern of their combined talents and understandings gave rise to many unusual abilities that could be used by the group as a whole. Though little was known of their initial intent, everyone hoped they'd accomplish their goal and awaited their eventual return with great anticipation.
Time passed, years rolled by, but the expedition never came back. It soon became known as the Lost Expedition. By sifting stories that made the rounds and considering the various traces we've found of the path they took through the Territory a few simple facts are believed to be true. There were eleven members of the Lost Expedition, and when they met to do what they did they sat in a circle of twelve special seats, one of which was always empty. A number of these twelve-sided circles have been found now and then in the Territory. They often were left at the top of a hole, so it's widely believed that part of their work involved climbing on through to the empty side. And because their circle was shaped and attuned in sympathy with the Empty Circle, it's been assumed that their work was connected with the Empty Circle as well.
Some of us boaters from time to time join up for an expedition ourselves in hopes that we'll find out what happened to them. We've found lots of traces and artifacts, we've often been able to follow the path they made as they moved through the Territory. I remember the first time very well. We'd stopped for the night at the Happy Ghost House and all the Ghosts there had stories galore about the Lost Expedition. Although we had heard a few rumours before, this was the first time we'd come across anyone who actually met them. The Happy Ghosts were especially fond of the members of the Lost Expedition. They remembered their habits and the clothes that they wore, they brought out some things they had left behind and told us the sad and shaggy tale of how they began to forget themselves. Tears and belly laughs flowed and ebbed, and when it was time to go to bed they sang us to sleep with a lullaby of how the Lost Expedition would eventually be found again. They urged us to take a part in that task and assured us that we could find the path they had travelled together as they all forgot and disappeared.
They were right about that. The following day when we went back outside to continue on through the Territory we found a Territory Taxicab parked out in front of the Happy Ghost House. The Taxi Driver was waiting for us and offered to help us find some signs of the path of the Lost Expedition. He wasn't much help the way it turned out, but after he dumped us in an empty way in the reeds of a swamp in the lee of a bay, we found a few signs of them anyway so maybe he helped a bit more than we thought. As we searched we pulled tarot cards and dowsed with a crystal to show us the way that they had gone. After a while we ended up at the Hungry Ghost Hotel and all the Ghosts there had stories to tell and forgotten things that the Lost Expedition had left behind as well.
After a seemingly endless session messing around with the Hungry Ghosts we managed to disengage ourselves and continue along on the path. As we followed along on the way of their wandering, it soon became clear that the Lost Expedition had a specific place that they wanted to go to before they forgot where it was. The path became strong and intense in a way that seemed to display some of the individual personalities of the Lost Expedition. We found and entered the High Priestess Garden, we found a key amidst the debris on a beach at the edge of a vast open sea. The key turned out to fit a locker in the nearby harbour terminal. Inside the locker were some personal things that had been left inside there by a member of the Lost Expedition. Some wires, some string, a bit of boat tackle, a shell, a spring and a tarot deck, a candle, a silver neck chain with a snake hanging down and a roll of undeveloped film. Also a letter. This is what it said:
Dearest Sharon: I must rush to complete this note to you to ensure there will be contact made; at the same time I want to savour these precious memories of times spent together, to hold onto our moments forever. I don't know what awaits, something is pressing in upon me with no uncertain strength. How long ago was it we set out? I have lost all track of time. Images of past experiences keep recurring, recollections of gaiety and laughter, times of great sadness, striving to determine the correct path of pursuit! We move in a more dangerous territory now, it's presenting itself more vividly at each step. All we know is that we have to keep moving, remain aware of our surroundings. I wish that I was more surefooted. What will become of us? Will I ever see you again? Will we ever know the pleasures of simple sharing together? Will I ever be able to come back home? I don't know how long it will take you to find this note, but for some reason I'm sure you'll eventually pass this way and chance upon it. I look forward to seeing you at this journey's end, we must get to the Hostel before nightfall comes. We've all left something in this locker, some valued tokens of our passage so far. Our friendship is my most valued possession, I both carry it with me and leave it to outlast me.
Love forever, Nancy