Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Land for Old

I saw the note from Mr. Maklin Deckard that Deckard and Quinn had reorganized their inventory, so I flew to Caledon Prime in the Steamray.

En route, I saw a fine mansion that I had not before noticed, immediately to the west of Dame Ordinal's former establishment, with a fine view of Steam Sky City. This turned out to be Centre Court, the private home of Miss Victorian Magic, still adorned with red, white, and blue bunting to celebrate the founding of a fictional nation. (Such commemorations are common in the Steamlands; whether this is a shared delusion or a shared joke is unclear to me, as I am not a native Caledonian.) Miss Magic's lands continued to the north, encompassing additional fine views toward Westmoreland, an enclosed gazebo providing shelter from the weather while still affording the opportunity to see a magnificent Caledonian sunset. This land appears to be the site of a ruined church, doubtless an artifact of the earliest days of Caledon.

I was distracted once again in my quest to reach Deckard & Quinn by a sight on the other side of the grassy quadrangle that is the Vannevar Bush Memorial Reading Garden. Near the Caledon Athletic Club and FizzWorks, adjacent to the Welcome Centre, stands a frightening sight, and I am afraid my poor daguerreotype does not do it justice. Owned by a Mr. Grundz Ditko and dubbed Cultus Mechanicus, the store is a paean to the mechanical man.

Indeed, inscribed on a plate on the outside of the store is a poem that reads, in part:

Toll the Great Bell Thrice!
Sing Praise to the
God of All Machines

At last I reached my original destination. I went about my business, then returned to the airship, sitting in a state of readiness on the great lawn of Mr. Drinkwater's library annex. (My apologies for scorching the grass.)

The Steamray has an excellent radar system, and it signalled the presence of a heretofore unknown coastal region (though my records indicate that it was the site of Pangur Ban). I consulted my portable Difference Engine, which had updated the navigational maps before I departed. This, it seemed, was the Coastal Duchy of Caledon Llyr. The Engine went on to report that it is owned by one M. Tao Mistwalker, a shapeshifter by nature, who describes the area as: "A wild and magical land on the western border of Caledon, an explorer's last stop before sailing off into the sunset and the open sea. Llyr offers the occasional traveler a welcome respite from the hectic pace of the more 'civilized' lands to the East."

I landed and explored the area, which is still quite primitive. As I entered the stone circle depicted above, I was assailed by small rockets, most of which exploded in mid-air, raining down upon me small bits of shrapnel. Although this did not seem to be the most economical way of killing me, it seemed it could be effective, so I beat a hasty retreat back to the safety of my ship. It then occurred to me that the display was probably another celebration of the fictional "United States of America," rather than a trap for unsuspecting visitors. Nonetheless, I had overstayed my welcome, and fired my engines to return to the "civilized" East.


Darien Mason said...

FICTIONAL? Madam, you have been to Steelhead, have you not? Steelhead was founded in the Oregon Territory, which has rather recently become a full-fledged State of the not-so-fictional United States Of America!

Kathy Jameson said...

If you could see me now, Dr. Mason, you would see a skeptical expression. Of course I've been to Steelhead, and of course I know they say they are a part of this so-called United States of America, but I always assumed that was a joke the Steelheaders played on foreigners. Honestly, who would believe that the capital of the nation is three thousand miles away? Why, it would take simply days and days to reach it even by the fastest airship! One can never be sure of finding the appropriate wrinkle in the timestream when such a thing is needed.