Chapter 565: In Which Our Hero, Having Made His Way To China, Persuades A Warlord Into Wrestling An Octopus

…and it was a BIG octopus


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The Doclopedia #1,318

Welcome To The Village: Bleak Valley

With a name like Bleak Valley, you can pretty much predict that this village of 300 people isn’t going to be mistaken for Las Vegas. While the village itself is pleasant looking and sits in a small verdant valley measuring 2.5 miles long by 1 mile wide, that valley is the only greenery for many miles around. Everywhere else is deep narrow canyons and broad expanses of desert. The only contact with the outside world is via the giant Clockwork Elephants that arrive just outside of town each month in the middle of the night. Even then, nobody really sees them, since the whole valley is gassed into a deep 8 hour sleep. Supplies are dropped and the elephants are gone in about 3 hours. And attempt to track them is doomed, since they move quickly and cover their tracks well.

Bleak Valley was established as a place to keep “dangerous, but potentially useful radicals”. So far it has worked very well, with not a single escape. It’s hard to tell who the radicals are, since everyone in town is a bit odd in some way. Another point of interest is that everyone in town shares the last names of either “Miller”, “Smith” or Brown”. There are no children or teenagers living in Bleak Valley. The oldest resident is 73 and the youngest is 22. There are slightly more men than women. There are several dogs and cats in town, but nobody actually owns them.

Notable Residents include…

Albert Miller, age 55: The Mayor and owner of the General Store. Married to Barbara Miller. Nice guy, but tends to obsess over his rock collection.

Henry Smith, age 27: One of the newer residents. Has tried to escape 6 times. Claims to be a master of clockwork engineering.

Olivia Miller, age 31: Tall, quiet and impassive most of the time, Olivia always seems to be studying those around her. Has a strange tattoo on her left wrist.

Walter Brown, age 45: Walter is a big fellow who has a farm on the northwest side of town. He mostly raises poultry and root vegetables. He claims to have been a soldier in his youth.

Elsa Smith, age 59: A large rotund woman with a winning smile and a gentle voice, Elsa runs the Valley Cafe and knows everyone in town. She also swears that she gets mental messages from a “Doctor Ophidius”.