Thursday, 15 February 2007

The Channel

Dear Sir / Madam,

Good news! I can confirm that the passage to the Northern Continent exists and is very easily navigable. It is located in a region on the Northern coast called Purple.

I have also uncovered the source of the Mainland’s unusual “plywood” building material, and have acquired a sample for the scientists back in Caledon to examine. Perhaps they will be able to uncover the secrets that allow the Mainlanders to build their strange floating houses.

I will send further reports as I press on into the Northern Continent.

Your Servant,

Professor Alfonso Avalanche (and Mrs Fuschia Begonia-Avalanche)

We slept until very late the next day. It was nice to be on expedition again, but even nicer that Fuschia was there to share the experience this time. I should have brought her along previously, really…but I wasn’t sure she’d enjoy it.

I’m still a little concerned about Oolon. It’s unusual for him to cut short one of our trips in his Cabinet and he always seemed proud of the fact he could extend her presence in a location up to the full 2 hour time limit that seems to afflict his miraculous device. But last night he was back at the helm of the “Old Girl” and whisking her back to Mayfair within the hour. I do hope he’s alright. He keeps on insisting he’s fine and I’m sure Terry will look after him, or at least get in touch with us if there is trouble.

I tried to put Oolon out of my mind as I looked at the vast stretch of ocean ahead of us. I had intended to ask him if he could drop off the balloon so that we could fly over the channel to the North, but as I opened the crate he’d left I realised something wasn’t quite right.

What he had actually left us with was a rowing boat. Oh well, at least it was suitable for what we were trying to do.

As I was putting it together, Fuschia busied herself making a fine breakfast and getting a few more pictures with her Boxed Brownie, who seemed remarkably subdued and quiet today.

Once fed and watered we set off into the Channel.

The weather was beautiful and the sea calm. I couldn’t see any signs or even feel a breeze from the grid storms that battered the rest of the coastline and the vicious lag storms of the previous evening seemed to have cleared the air, leaving a fresh bright day.

Soon Fuschia was getting all excited and pointing up into the sky. She’d spotted a balloon. The folks on board shouted out a happy greeting and showered us with talk of blessings from the sea. However their attitude soon seemed to change once we said that we were part of a Caledonian Colony on the mainland. Immediately they changed course for our point of origin on the coastline and set off at high speed cackling about the fact that they would raid and pillage our land. So it seemed my fears were correct, the Mainland coast is beset by pirates, both on the sea and in the air. I still felt pretty secure in the knowledge that the colony was at least several days travel by balloon from our current position and they had absolutely no idea where it was.

My arms were beginning to tire when out of the haze appeared a huge shape jutting up through the water. It appeared to be some industrial structure and Fuaschia said that her pixie nose could smell several people on board including, apparently, someone we knew.

One of the platform’s “legs” had a low embarkation area and as we tied the boat up and clambered aboard, Fuschia’s nose was proved to be correct as we were met by Terry!

Apparently Oolon had dropped her off for a little explore on her own and she was as surprised to see us as we were to see her. A bit of investigation revealed the platform to be some kind of high technology mine, anchored to the sea bed. It’s purpose appeared to be the extraction of the “plywood” mainland building material, which it then sent on to the Mainland via a pipeline or vacuum transport system running along the ocean floor. I never even imagined this wood-like material was actually mined. I had assumed it was simply tree wood. Maybe it is actually some mineral related to Cavorite?

As we searched the structure we found several gentlemen dressed in grey garb and wielding mainland weapons (rather similar to the ones Mr Reymont had previously encountered). They didn’t seem to be causing any harm or shooting anyone, so I can only assume they were there to protect the platform from pirates. They obviously did not wish their “plywood supply” to fall into the wrong hands. Fuschia and Terry also discovered an interesting office that seemed to contain some kind of radio and map. The map was marked “SLRR” and the radio kept announcing numbers, speeds, arrivals and departures. It was only after listening for a little while did we work out it was a railway timetable. It appeared as if the map on the wall and the radio were showing / telling us the location of trains on the Northern Continent railway system. Incredible! Maybe the Northern Continent will prove to be more civilised than the Southern one.

Encouraged, we untied our little boat and headed onwards. We were joined on this trip by a Mr Saltair who needed a lift to the Northern Continent. He was one of the Plywood Mine’s protectors and although he seemed pleasant enough, he had a rather “colourful” use of language (so much so that Terry and Fuschia had to put their fingers in their ears for part of the trip). Pointing out that ladies were present did no good and one can only assume that the young man had spent a little too much time around sailors.

As the shoreline of the Northern Continent swam into view, Mr Saltair jumped into the water and paid me for his passage. I insisted it was no trouble but he was soon gone, swimming off into the distance. Some of these mainlanders can be very peculiar.

At last, though, we had made it…the Northern Continent! I felt renewed strength in my arms as I rowed the small boat up onto the rocky shoreline and disembarked onto the beach.

Here we were. The task I had set myself a month ago was complete. I had finally found the Channel between the continents.

No time for pausing and self-congratulation, though, for soon Fuschia and Terry were off exploring. Nearby stood a lovely home, obviously belonging to a keen sailor and nature lover, from the collection of sailing trophies and little cages of insects neatly arranged around the delightful open building.

As Terry and myself were looking at some of the wonderful telescopes and other devices that lay on the beach, we heard a familiar distant cry…Fuschia! Drawing the Webley, we both set off at a run. What had happened? More pirates? Or slavers or torturers? You never know what will be waiting for you on the Mainland. I should never have let her flutter off out of my sight…

We quickly followed the muffled cries and found her trapped under, of all things, a huge starfish! I grabbed a nearby oar and prised her free. Apparently she was exploring, saw it flopping about on the jetty and, being the kind sole that she is, attempted to help it back into the water, upon which act it flailed out at her and trapped her under one of its arms. Thankfully she was safe, if a little winded. The starfish received a swift warning kick from her for its troubles, though.

At this point Terry received an aetheric message through the special bracelet that Oolon had given her and had to go, but Fuschia and I decided to search the coast further…there was a whole new continent to explore and Fuschia was just as keen as I to explore it.

Nearby was a ship that had obviously been captured by the local mainlanders from the pirates and put to a more legitimate use. Below decks was a neatly laid out bar and stage and Fuschia was soon encouraging me to assist her in a duet of one of her favourite Faerie songs to the empty bar.

I was growing tired and as we left the bar night was falling. All that rowing was taking its toll, but Fuschia was unstoppable and her excitement was quite infectious. She dragged me on into a little stand of trees and insisted she could smell magic, and she was right. The sight before us was both eerie and beautiful and without a doubt quite magical.

The creatures didn’t move or respond to us, merely shimmered in the pale moonlight. For some reason the whole scene seemed very serene and peaceful. It felt almost as if we were on sacred ground.

And then she was off again, pulling me along by my hand, the ethereal creatures all but forgotten. Out of the trees, across an open cobbled area….and tumbling down an unseen hole into darkness….

1 comment:

Vi Paravane said...

How nice to hear that your have resumed your adventures. Do take Oolon a snifter of brandy, with my regards!