Thursday, 25 January 2007


Dear Sir / Madam

I am hand delivering this report as I unexpectedly find myself in Caledon. Please do not fret that I have given up on my mission of exploration or on the Colony, it is just that things took a slightly unexpected turn on the last leg of my journey and it seemed that by hand was the most expedient form of delivery before I return to the mainland.

Hopefully my report and that of Miss Begonia will explain everything.

Your Faithful Servant,

Professor Alfonso Avalanche

It may be a terrible thing to admit, but sitting here with a nice hot cup of tea inside Mr Sputnik’s Cabinet, I realise quite how much I missed the comforts of Caledon and the Colony. The simple pleasure of being able to reach out and fill a cup from a teapot, sit in front of a warm fire or hear a cheery “Good Morning” from a neighbour all seems so far away from being buffeted by the grid winds and sea spray. Not that I dislike the adventuring life; I just find that I enjoy life’s little comforts just as much. Oolon is recharging the “Old Girl”, has set the controls and should have me back to where I left in no time, so it’s probably best I complete this report and deliver it before I set off again. Fuschia says she wants to write about what happened at the end, so in the interests of an exciting read, I’ll let her take over when the appropriate cliffhanger arrives. She seems to be much more accomplished on the writing front than myself. All the notes and amendments that you see scattered throughout the margins of my reports are the corrections she kindly makes before they are forwarded back to Caledon.

Travelling on from the village of the “Gorean Protocols” I came upon a huge tree reaching up into the clouds. Curious to see it’s base, I dropped my altitude and found a port area, complete with tall masted ships, wooden piers and jetties. The area was littered with statues, big and small and was dominated by the huge tree, a tall castle and, strangest of all, a giant running water tap. Again the area appeared empty of people. Bringing the balloon into land I noticed the fuel level on the burner was starting to get a little low.

Pushing against the grid winds was burning the oil faster than I had anticipated. Thankfully, I’d made arrangements with Mr Sputnik before I left for just such eventualities. He had given me a small device on a chain to wear around my neck. He said it was a key to his Cabinet (but it did not look like any key I was familiar with), and could also be used to contact him, should I run into trouble or require re-supplying. All I had to do was tap out a message using a pre-arranged code and he would arrive in the “Old Girl” and assist however he could. I hadn’t tried it before, and thought this may be as good a time as any to give it a go. After sending the message I waited. Would it work? Oolon kept talking about it operating through the Cabinet’s empathic capabilities, but that explanation sounded like mumbo jumbo rather than real science. Then again, Oolon talks a lot of mumbo jumbo about his Cabinet, most of which has subsequently proved to be true.

As I waited for him to arrive and wandered between the statues, a voice called out a greeting. It was a very pleasant and polite young man called Robsub Tuck. He asked me how I was finding the “Sim” which is apparently the unit of measure they use to divide up the mainland. 1 Sim equals 65,536 square metres, very similar to the standard “Region” measurement we use in our own cartography. Apparently it was suffering a lot of “lag” – where the grid winds blow so hard it is very difficult to move and makes your eyes water so much your vision becomes hazy and it proves difficult to see. I have to admit I had suffered some of this even in Caledon but had attributed it to a late night at the Anvil.

I told him I had not had much trouble with it since arriving. He seemed pleased about this and made a reference to the mysterious mainland gods the “El El”, not the first time I have heard mention of these curious deities. He was more than happy to show me around and invited me into his “small home” as he called it. He lived within the walls of the huge castle and had a special travel disc that lifted visitors up into his study.

It turned out that Mr Tuck was an artist and had just opened a gallery. I complimented him on his hospitality and suddenly felt a strange tugging sensation, as if I was being pulled from a great distance. A pounding noise filled my ears and suddenly the room around me vanished in a cascading blue vortex and then… I was elsewhere.

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