Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Destination: Pixie


Fuschia was the one who suggested we should have a few weeks away. The militia and fund raising was winding down and the unusual invaders that had appeared on the shores had been driven off, many bits of clothing had been made, much tea drunk and many cakes eaten. We were both exhausted and in need of a break.

She suggested we go and visit some of her friends in Pixie (apparently a nice little corner of the otherworld near Faerie, where the pixies live). I’d never been there before, but she assured me it would be really nice and we could even take the balloon.

After an extensive few days of packing we pushed off from our little bay in Penan. We’d locked up the workshop and had employed a young urchin to keep and eye on the circus and feed the boilers of the steam elephants in our absence.

Waving goodbye to young Master Grut we drifted onwards from Penan, out by the nearby floating castle and over the sea, where I realised that what I had assumed was a flock of birds from a distance was actually a huge swarm of multicoloured butterflies gathering over the ocean. Fuschia giggled at my look of surprise and wiggled her nose. The butterflies swirled in the air, coming closer and closer until we were entirely surrounded. And then there was a subtle change; we were no longer in a small vortex of butterflies but in a huge twisting tunnel stretching on as far as the eye could see. This was to be our path to Pixie.

I’m not really sure how long we spent travelling. Not long after we entered the tunnel the hands on my pocket watch began to spin crazily around it’s face, randomly pointing at numbers and every so often even pointing at new numbers that weren’t even on the clock face when we’d set off.

We’d worked through a good number of wax cylinders and books when I felt a breeze. The tunnel we were travelling in was eerily quiet (aside from the soft, scratchy music of the wobbly recordings) and since we’d set off there had been no feeling of wind or motion despite the coloured / shifting walls of the tunnel. I looked down to where Fuschia had dozed off in the balloon’s basket and was about to nudge her awake when suddenly the tunnel around us scattered into a multitude of tiny wings.

The balloon lurched as it once again gained purchase on new air and our tiny escorts scattered into the forests that unfolded beneath us. We were floating in a deep purple sky, a blazing orange sun dipping below a great mountain range in the distance, and I suddenly had a strange feeling. It was almost like deja-vu…but not quite. For a moment it appeared as if the mountain ahead of me burned, as if the sun dipping behind it was actually some great gout of fire erupting from its maw. Strange music echoed in the distance and a peculiar feeling of foreboding began to creep across me…

Fuschia yawned and sprang up onto her feet beside me, peering out across the landscape of her home. Something had changed, the spell had been broken, and once again there was just a sun sinking below the horizon.

Putting the odd trick of the light aside, I pulled on the control ropes of the balloon and we began our descent into a clearing…