When on Guild business, there is only one acceptable way of doing things:
1. Turn up in a blaze of glory
2. Discover the fiercest or most impressively-named feature of the local area
3. Conquer it
In the already fantastically-named Cape Tribulation, the most intimidating landmass happens to be Mount Sorrow. We spy it on a map and realise it must be claimed for the Guild. There is no sorrow in glory!
The local maps suggest leaving 6-7 hours to climb to the top. This is because local maps are designed for the weak. A Guildsman does things twice as fast, at least.
We decide to conquer the mountain in half the time and set off a mere 90 minutes after the advised latest departure time.
At the start, things are pleasant. My calves tighten quite quickly after their Adventurethon punishment, but it is no great hardship. It is novel, to be traipsing through a rain forest, sure at any moment to break clear of the moist foliage and out on the mountainside.
Still we ascend. There is no sign of beautiful mountainside yet. It is mainly cobwebs and mud.
After 45 minutes or so, we encounter a German couple on their descent.
“Leeches!” they cry, “Have you had any leeches?”
We have encountered only one, so we bid their hysteria farewell and continue on our path to glory. Leeches are no barrier to the excellence of this mission. After all, this next section involves scrabbling up a steep face of mud, be clinging to a rope!
Within the hour, the world is a different place. Or rather, the world is exactly the same as it has been from the start…only now with added leeches.
The sky is a distant memory, as is a time when there weren’t at least a dozen squirming creatures boring into our flesh at any given moment. Resistance is futile; stopping to remove one leech in a trail of blood and slime results in three more taking hold.
This is bloody warfare and these parasitic entrepreneurs are getting fat on the profits.
Eventually, however, we reach the top and stop for stale bread rolls and bad sausages, which we cooked the night before. The view is decent, but marred by the constant need to detach leeches from every part of our anatomy and clothing.
Things have taken a turn for the foul. After barely any reveling in our mighty victory, we decide to descend and be rid of these creatures once and for all.
Blinded by leech rage, we take wrong turns on the way down and further suffer the wrath of Mount Sorrow in the form of and stinging plants, the effects of which will be felt for days.
Four hours after we set off, we arrive back at the start and plunge ourselves into the sea to be free of these parasites. We are pleased to have conquered Mount Sorrow, but displeased by the actual conquering process.
The Guild’s work is rarely clean.