Sunday, May 27, 2007

Now, Somewhere in the Black mountain hills of Dakota..

On my journey across the Great Republic in the summer of last year, I had heard rumors of an El Dorado to be had, a-hidden in the land of the Sioux Nation, deep in the Dakota Territory. As unlikely as these tales seemed, I found several parties of good character who also agreed that they had regarded these legends as having some kernel of truth, and, with this kindling of faith, I pondered the draw of riches enough to not only to regain and maintain our family's estates, but also to act in charitable fashion for the remainder of my days. As my sojourn to the Silver mines of Sigil had not yet been planned, and my route from my current stopping place in the rivertown Prarie du Chein (at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ouisconsoin) being, as I thought, shorter and likely less ardous than that to the Bear Republic; I so persuaded myself to investigate these rumours as far as I was able. Therefore, with a weeks preperation, yet packing lightly, and with some store of ready bank-notes, I saddled my trusted steed Johnny Thunder and lit out for the Black Hills of the Dakota territory.

Finding halts at trading posts, storehouses and the like, I made my way quickly through the grasslands of Mankato and into the Dakota plains. Many days camp later I saw a rift far away in the earth, as the walls of grass fell away to sharp jutts, painted colors, and curious formations- The Badlands, as they are called. These I took care to avoid, water and game being scarce there indeed.

After some time I came to the sleepy hamlet of Wall, where I decided to restock my provisions and seek some gentler shelter to re-envigor myself and return my steed to his normal constitution. I sought out a Hotel or Highway house to meet my needs.

At mid-day the town was nearly empty due to some local crisis I yet had no ken of; but, being used to the solitude of the trail, I payed this little mind.

I found a Hotel and prepared to shelter Johnny. Above, I spied a doll avatar, like those now seen as fashionable in some quarters of Caledon and Steelhead, peeking through the upper stories of the Hotel, and looked forward to pleasant company at the dinner-hour.

Unfortunately the rooms here were much too squalid for my liking. Having been some time in Chicago and Boston, when off the trail I found I required some measure of sanitation within where I would lodge, should I be paying a premium price. Therefore, after cleaning my boots off of the gifts of the trail, I recanted of my room to the keeper, that I would seek lodging elswhere, as I am sure as any of my delicate readers would have done in my straits.

Later, with a need for rooms and a the thirst of the trail to subdue, I found a public house, and held hopes of a fine beefsteak and ale.

The travels of Caledon, Steelhead, and the finer cities of my own Republic have since persuaded me that not all, or even most, "soiled doves" are in any way hideous or haggardly; but this untrue impression was first imparted to me by my sight inside this saloon! I could aver that one was merely a bison in a pinnafore, had it not addressed me in cloying terms, bidding my company! I beat a wise and hasty retreat.

Feeling somewhat nauseous, thinking my eyesight confounded by the ardous ride west (scarce not believing the apparitions in the Saloon) I wandered the town for a Doctor of medicine, through whose tonics my senses could be restored. Finding this office up a flight nearby, I knocked upon the door.

The office was empty. Vials and preperations were strewn about. Later I learned that yellow fever had swept this town, and, the physic being called to this place and that, he was seldom at office. Perhaps it is through the want of contact with townspeople, moreover those of the lower sort, that I was fortunate enough to avoid it's contraction; for which grace I am truly thankful. I turned from the office of the Wall Druggist to seek my shelter.

With ailment fading, and health restoring, I sought out the Mayoral seat, seeking news of some nearby household that might accept a lodger.

The Mayor was a cheery and helpful sort, and asked for news from Illinois, where had in origin come out of. He guided me to his own seat as I gave what news and accounts as I could recall that might interest him. He seemed pleased, and commended to me a Norwegian homestead nearby that might give room for the few days I would spend here. Thanking him heartily, I set out to seek this house.

The home was a finely constructed house, with, I thought, ample room. It was owned by a railroad agent whose local and federal commissions, land titles and deeds permitted a great house to be raised on this forsaken prairie land. My Host greeted my kindly and offered room and board for a most agreeably small fee.

The smell of Coffee and Bacon greeted me, and that of sweet pies baking. I accepted a cool draught of Cider before retiring to a much needed nap.

At ease, I finally kicked of my shoes as the nights of sleeping on bullrushes and paddocks, with but my Hudson Blankets to keep me warm, were exchanged for a night of peaceful rest in goosedown and linen. Tommorow shall come, the gold-filled hills await me, but tonight, I take my comfort.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Village Green Perversation Society

Such a long journey! I tired as I neared Caledon, and, as I approached from the south, decided to fortify myself at the Loch Avie Public House. I had forgotten how lovely the Caledon sunrise is!

I raised a glass to the absent hostess and pondered what I would find in Victoria City; if all was intact, or if the damage of recent attack I had read of in the local notices would include the fine properties of my close friends.

Resting in the public house, I nursed a fine Single Malt as I warmed myself for the rest of the morning ride. A local militia man, a Mr. Churchill came in and chatted, but refused a drink, hard at hunt for the now notorius Mr. Hotspur. Soon after he left I made my way out too.

I bade the charming glens and rises of Loch Avie adieu as I turned North, to Victoria City.

As I travelled the roads of Victoria City, I noted little damage, save for some rubble and blast marks. I saw no casualties, no guard and marvelled that the streets were so empty, even at this early hour. I wondered if an evacuation had been ordered, but saw no notice of one; nor did I detect any sounds of a current battle from afar.

I turned North to the Stronghold of Bardhaven, expecting it to be invested or otherwise watched, as he is under some suspicion in these incidents; but his manse was whole and unguarded. I looked in vain for Miss Kelley, who, being often unruly, is oft found running about at this hour, but saw no sign. The smell of maple syrup came across the breeze, as Caledon awoke to the massive breakfasts common in these isles. One more stop...

Davaar was whole and safe from harm. I thought it too early yet to call upon Sir Edward or Miss Christine, to console for his wounds, or congratulate for the happy news of their engagement (which I had learned of through the notices in the public house), leaving this for later.

In all, Caledon seems intact, and with the Kaisarain escaped, there seemed hope for peace; but can Caledon forgive such an attack on it's own soil? I think it unlikely. I have decided to return to my ancestral home here, Abeldown, to be ready to be serve where I might. My luggage will follow after, but I'm off to Kittywickshire to get the old Manor in order.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Dashing (for Caledon)

Shock and surprise! I devoured any and all news of this Caledon incident, reading in the week-old papers of the ball abduction of the Kaiserienne, the threats of the Neualtenburg government, and of Bardhaven's request for terms. So many friends and associates in danger! I immediately decided to journey to Caledon and lend what aid where I could. I was joyful when I found several ships of passage in the port, and went about arranging my journey.

Unfortunately, I found no direct passage to Caledon, but elected for a circuitous route, hiring a sloop to Montevideo, with promise of a schooner to Dakkar, steamer to Casablanca, fast yacht to Cornwall, from where I would ride or travel by coach.

All the while the thought of danger to my many Friends in Caledon weighed on my mind, spurning me to travel faster. From each post I sent letters, knowing I may beat them to their destinations, but wishing to explain my concern, and intent to arrive, if I should not appear safely.

The Port of Stanley

The bayside of Montevideo

Pseudo-Incognito in Dakkar

Steaming up the African coast.

Sunset in Casablanca.

The Swift Yacht to Britain.

Landfall in Cornwall.

Throught the Emerald Valley, Caledon bound.

The distance grows smaller by moment, soon I shall be in Caledon :)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Perilous Peaks of Patagonia

Several days have passed as I drifted north-easterly. I have spent this time experimenting with the baloon's mechanisms and have become somewhat adept at its control. The weather has been quite co-operative, just some small squalls that I was able to avoid by varying altitude. Finally schoals appeared beneath, and some minor islands announcing the approach to Tierra del Fuego and the southernmost reaches of the southern continent. As I sped along, the mountains and steep hills of Patagonia loomed on either side.

It was reassuring to see the green fields and increasing trees below me as I wended between peaks, carried by the drift and deflection of winds from these tall hills. I could only trust to providence in some cases, coming within an alarming closeness to some rocky ridges as I passed.

The green vales below were deceptive, as I knew they only held unsustaining scrub, so I resisted all temptation to land, holding out for signs of habitation, and hopes of a speedy rescue. This was a gamble, I felt; but one worthwhile, as tired as I was of my journeys alone.

After several hours a welcome view greeted my eyes- that of the Atlantic, and the eastern side of the Horn. It was a glorious sight as I perceived the end of these threatening peaks.

I spied a fort below, and hoped not to be seen, for I did not know if this would be a National or a pirate stronghold, but the drift held other ideas and brought me closer toward it.

Luckily the fortification seemed deserted and my flight continued uninterrupted. This was the fort near Mt. Innocence, I later found, abandoned by Spanish and later Argentine troops. Onward I went, northeasterly, out to the Atlantic now.

A day's drift later I passed some tall deserted mountain isles, then my heart jumped and I let out a "Hurrah!" for my bearings had proved true, and ahead laid before me my destination, the Falkland Islands.

The Falklands looked so welcoming- the British were here, having defeated the Argentine nation in an invasion here nigh on 20-some years ago.. 1833 I believe, and had evicted the Costa del Malvinas residents to complete their conquest (some might say it was a re-occupation, the discovery and ownership has long been disputed.)

The Falkland offered the port city of Stanley (ne Puerto Margeurita) and many of the comforts of British rule, so I looked forward to a good Beef Wellington, Yorkshire Pudding, and Oxtail Soup at the inn, being somewhat sick of salted fish. Later,I would seek out a ticket and relax during the long passage back to Steelhead.

I touched down gently in a town lea, my baloon drawing surprisingly little attention.

I lept from the craft, relieved at the feel at grass and rich soil under my feet once again.

With a sigh of thankfullness, I surveyed the town. Next- a cup of joe and a copy of the Caledon Times. My one-week sojourn had lasted nearly four. I wonder if anything of import has happened in Caledon in the last month?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Crappy Feet

The next morn I awoke, and after a bite, gathered my pack to face the day, here in this barren wasteland. As I emerged from the snowcave, I was encouraged by the bright sunshiny day. Immediately on the horizon I saw a trail of smoke and from that moment knew I was not alone here. I bundled toward the direction of the fire, and came to a high ledge overlooking a plain of snow- but what greeted my eyes was a surprise I shall never forget.

I had the sense to be cautious at first, and peered expecting to see a hunting or fishing encampment at the plain below. And what I saw was an encampment of sorts, but an unusual one. At the base of the plain stood an oilskin tent, with a large hot-air-balloon, the type I have only seen illustrations of, but, being familiar with the experiments of the Montgolfiers from my studies, I found the actual sight of one quite intruiging.

Standing in the doorway of the pavillion was a shadowy figure, who seemed to be dressed in a military costume of perhaps Italian fashion. At first he seemed to be absentmindingly conversing with the assembled flock of penguins, then the sound of a pennywhistle came wafting on the breeze. A minuet played rather precisely, if not ornamented to my taste. At this point I was about to get up and descend to introduce myself when the most extraordinary thing happened.

The Penguins, at first mingling about, seemed called and controlled by this tune, forming into regular lines. I saw the shadowy figure produce a fish or two and throw it to the throng, they eagerly accepted these, then assembled back into regular order at the prompt of the whisted tune. Thay had the organization and speed of a green militia, but they seemed quite obedient.

I heard the Shadowy figure shout intructions, with what seemed to be a brogue or lilt to his tongue, although the distinct words I clould not discern. I watched in fascination as the birds seemed to understand these words, turning this way and that on instruction.

Then the birds began to move in rythym to the tune! Amazingly, they were dancing, cavorting in time to the melodious pipe. How charming, I thought- but largely impratical- where these to be a dancing troupe for a circus? Surely bears would be more interesting and more easily obtained.

I kneeled, still concealed watching this for a time, when I noticed, looking closely, that the penguins each were carying burdens, small grey haversacks of a sort snugly fit to their backs. Surely the penguin, though plentiful here, is not the best beast for transporting goods here, I thought to myself.

Then the figure changed the tune, and at once the birds began to pair off, struggling to imitate a couples dance, such as the new Austrian Waltz. The shadowy figure culled one though, and whistling more to it, moved it away from the flock.

This solo bird stood a moment alone in the field. After the repeat of three shrill notes the came a loud flash and a delayed rapport.


A steaming crater laid where the mesmerised bird once stood! I froze in shock, then pondered the meaning. It was coming clear to me, this heinous plot- the birds, packs stuffed with Mr Nobel's curse, had been trained to detonate on command! Of all the dispicible acts! But why the dance? it is then I pondered how the dancers looked like so many frockcoated gentles, in the garment Prince Edward has made fashionable, the Tuxedo jacket. Here was the plot laid bare then..The jacketed bird would infiltrate a ball, and wreak havoc on the guests there. An insidous plot indeed! I determined at that point to not only foil this plan but make good my escape, under the cover of darkness.

As daylight ended I kept a close watch on the camp. Eventually the packs were removed and piled by the balloon, and the shadowy figure retired to his tent. Waiting, chilled as the hours passed, I recalled everything I could about the operation of a ballon, and cleaned my firearms, should they be a last resort. At the right time, I slunk down to the water's edge, eased along the coast and noiselessly dropped each pack, opened, into the deep water. Then I warily climbed in the baloon, the snores coming from the pavillion covering the rustle of my footfalls.

I ignited the flame with a parafinned match, and having cut the guide ropes slowly ascended. The darkness grew below me, but I heard the shouts of the shadowy figure and the anxious yelps of the unwitting penguins below me as I rose.

Higher and Higher, I finally drew breath as the the scene completly disappeared below me. I found a hamper with blankets and food stores on board, and thanked my good fortune.

I surveyed the scene- I was warm enough, had food, and the winds blew easterly, as I gained altitude I decided that this time I had tricked fate, but wondered at the poor fate of those penguins, having been trained to dance, left happily roving the Antarctic wastes- whatever shall become of these oddities of nature?

(Note: This is, of course, a spurious fictional narrative, cooked up by Mr. Abel and produced in the Falling Anvil and Steelhead Saloon for the entertainment of his fellows, and the inflation of his own ego. Any participants have not given prior consent to their images being used and in no way reflect on their character by the actions depicted. Keep those comments coming in :) )