Nathaniel proceeded island-hopping through the 'Elysian Fields', a group of idyllic isles separated by streams and surrounded with water, keeping to the woods to evade the ever present menace of the griffins. An eerie mist descended in the evening, so they camped out beside a lake. The crew were silent, absorbed in their thoughts... soul-searching... provoked by the ethereal atmosphere. Nathaniel wrote to Belinda that he felt homesick and saddened by their prolonged separation, and he pondered on the magnitude of his discoveries
and wondered who would ever believe him.
When morning came the mist had cleared and they saw arising from the middle of the lake a ruined tower. It appeared to have been a simple cylindrical edifice, although it may have been more elaborate when complete but the scale was totally overwhelming and it dwarfed the dragons perched on top. It was truly a wondrous sight!
Between the trees, symmetrical pathways extended from the edges of the lake, and a walled path decorated with frescoes, which they followed due north led to a canal, culminating in a circular harbour. From the centre, seven docks or bays spanned out. This design is symbolic of the Tree of Life on Toltec maps, with seven chambers reached through a vortex by those wishing to tread the path of the gods, in the Afterlife.
The canal continued to the coast for two miles, where it had been cut straight through high cliffs for the last half-mile to reach the sea, a Herculean task, creating sheer sides over two hundred feet high!
This monumental engineering feat is reminiscent of the concentric walls and canals around the Citadel
of Poseidon, 'which he turned as with a lathe, out of the centre of the island', with the entrance canal representing the shaft of the 'celtic cross' of Atlantis, and it's construction could only have been executed by a 'super-human' race. At the end of the canal, the crew climbed a flight of stairs to the cliff-top, where there was a stone altar raised upon steps (the symbol of ascent) and Nathaniel assumed it must be a look-out post because of the spectacular view. He also found tablets inscribed with intricate hierograms which he copied into his journal back at camp, because the sea air would soon cause them to disintegrate.
Arriving back, the ships doctor, Charles Clifton informed him that the eggs they collected had hatched, and the 'draglings,' as they called them gave Nathaniel a great opportunity to observe the habits of these creatures. He made copious notes and paintings but felt aggrieved that his work did not capture the incandescent and sparkling colours of 'his dragons.' Later, disaster struck the camp when earth tremors caused a fire. Most of Nathaniel's samples, artwork and manuscripts were destroyed and to make matters worse, the draglings flew away!
It was almost time to depart and supplies were running low and so was morale, but Nathaniel insisted on one final outing, in a vital attempt to replenish his collection. It was then they encountered a less favourable beast, camouflaged as tree roots! A seaman named Tully stepped on it unaware and it entrapped him like a snare.
The men, frozen with fear watched as this ghastly monster with fangs and claws extruding from every orifice impaled their colleague and injected some toxin into his bloodstream. Seaman Yates shot the merciless demon, but it was too late. Nathaniel described it as the vilest of creatures, so prodigiously foreign that he named it the 'gorgon', too hideous to gaze upon, horrible even in hell... but he still retrieved it's corpse to do technical anatomic drawings.
Concerned for his shipmates, who were becoming increasingly apprehensive, the Captain was anxious to set sail, so after burying unlucky Tully, they took to the sea once again. Whilst sailing, they caught sight of a vessel, not unlike a Viking dragon-ship, it's sail had a pattern resembling the frescoes and hieroglyphs, but it disappeared before they could reach it... like a ghost ship! Nathaniel was curious to meet the seafaring natives of these uncharted islands, who could exist in harmony with the complexities of this natural world.
There was certainly no shortage of subjects to inspire life-drawings and keep the artist occupied. On route he saw a profusion of interesting water rats, some were eight inches tall and looked like mini warthogs, complete with tusks, others could fly with membranous 'wings' and Nathaniel filled several sketch books.
But in due course their worst fears were realized when they were ambushed by the dreaded ‘kraken.’ A giant squid lashed the Argonaut with it's terrifying tentacles and the ship shuddered and creaked in it's vice-like grip. Nathaniel was afraid he would never see Belinda again. However they were saved by quick-thinking Mr. Heron who hacked off a tentacle and they cooked it for supper that night. All were agreed it tasted delicious!
At this point Lord Nathaniel Parker's story comes to a premature end, as the last few pages of his journal are missing, but the explorers were finally shipwrecked on the banks of the China seas and many of the crew died, including Captain Ralph. Nathaniel survived but with no evidence of his quest, except for one journal.
In 1825 he presented his findings to the Royal Society but to his great dismay was laughed at and abused by the members. He was humiliated, ostracised and labelled a raving mad-man, and held up as an example to all others with unorthodox theories. Nathaniel could not accept this and tried again to submit his research, he claimed to have met the inhabitants of these islands, but by this time nobody was listening.
He retired to Saltmarshe Manor and became a recluse but continued to write of the unprecedented discovery of the Dragon Islands in books. It became something of an obsession to him and after the death of his beloved Belinda, who had stood by him, Nathaniel chartered another ship, appropriately named, the HMS Odyssey and set sail in 1840. Neither he nor the ship were ever heard of again. He obviously found the company of 'his dragons' more palatable than that of his contemptuous peers back in England!
If these creatures were hitherto unknown as myths and no preconceptions were held, they would not be considered any more bizarre than the saurians unearthed by palaeontologists. In fact Nathaniel's depiction of dragons is very plausible (almost identical in every culture) and not dissimilar to pteranodons.
In the jungle swamplands of the Congo, a flying reptile called kongamato, which fits the description of a pterodactyl has been observed in recent times by fearful natives, and in 1890, two ranchers shot at an enormous beast on the Mexican border, with leathery bat-like wings, devoid of feathers. It's head was eight feet long with a row of sharp teeth along it's jaws. North American Indians take these 'Thunderbirds' for granted.
This creature was seen by Eddie Adkins, a pilot and four of his friends in 1966, gliding above the Ohio river. It had an abnormally long neck and it's head swayed from side to side, and like Nathaniel's dragons, it did not flap it's wings. Eddie and his astounded friends agreed it was ''something prehistoric.'' Maybe these creatures venture from their caves, into the World outside periodically. Apparently modern pot-hollers often hear weird noises, like monstrous breathing or roaring deep underground!
Dragons are an important feature in oriental culture and Chinese mythology describes 'flying red dragons, a thousand feet long, flashing fire and lightening from the eyes, tongue and mane,' and the dynastic, imperial emperors had them tamed to perform aerobatic tricks and dances, spiralling through the sky. Ley-lines were called 'dragon lines,' lung mei and to block the flow of this energy was believed to invoke the wrath of the dragons, who guarded them. This is the origin of geomancywhich was designed to enhance the yin/yang balance of this subtle force, known as Ch'i or Prana. The blue Heavenly Dragon is the guardian of the celestial mansion of the gods.
Nathaniel's only journal, a fragment of his original work, was left to Belinda's nephew, Patrick Sedgewick and passed through several generations, who thought it to be a magnificent joke until it emerged one hundred and fifty years later and the nephew of Paul O'Brian, an ancestor, published it. The irony of Lord Nathaniel Parker's tale is that because of his rejection, the salvaged journal is now available for us all to see but had he presented these findings in the present era, they would be met with the same derision today, as they were then. From such attitudes, valuable contributions to science have been trivialised, ridiculed and suppressed.