Dream World

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It had been some months since I had travelled to the world that Quinquifid Oddenfen and Dot Macchi have told me about. I had been meaning to get back there but things have been so busy in my own worlds that I had to put it off. But when Rosehaven opened I ran into both of them as they were settling into offices Quin has taken there for the Devokan Trust.

They gave me a tour of the offices and we talked of the extensive lands the Trust has established in that other world (OSgrid*). My yearning to visit was renewed and I vowed to myself that I would make the trip soon.

As my recent illness began to lift, I found myself restless, wanting to do ‘something different.’ “I shall go to Lost Pages!” I said, half aloud. I was at my seaside retreat on Cape Wrath when this urge struck so I headed up to Laudanum to pack the appropriate gear that would be necessary for such a trip and to review the map and instructions for linking that Quin had given me previously.

I arrived in that world at the visitors center and before I could take stock of my whereabouts and begin to figure how to make the link to the Devokan lands, a messenger approached with greetings from Ms. Macchi and the directions to Waysmeet, a central region for the Trust project. “How did she know I was here?” I asked of the messenger, a very short and odd looking fellow, who shrugged his shoulders without changing his facial expression nor uttering a word. He stood there, waiting. At first I thought he was expecting a tip but then I remembered there is no currency in this world. So I pointed to the message and gave him a hearty thank you and followed up with a formal bow, as if I was meeting a fellow ambassador or a head of state. At this he smiled, spoke words I did not understand and returned the bow. I walked off and when I turned back for a moment I saw he was watching me, still smiling. Apparently I had done the right thing.

I followed Ms. Macchi’s instructions and in moments had linked to Waysmeet where I found her sitting in a tree village which immediately brought to mind my long ago journeys to Myst. When I last visited Lost Pages it was, indeed a strange place and just being there gave one an odd feeling, so foreign it was. But to see the tree village again – after so many years – made me feel quite calm, even “at home” as the place felt so familiar to me. It made me happy, I was smiling, forgetting my ills and ready to find out all I could about these lands, this time, this world.

When I visited last fall, I never was there when Quin or Ms. Macchi were around. It was so unusual to be so alone in a far off place, completely alone, no one around for miles. Then it was a bit odd, as I say, but as this day progressed I would experience this ‘onlyness’ again in a different manner. It was liberating and wonderful. But all this was to come, now I was with Ms. Macchi in the tree village, talking and listening.

I had so many questions, there would never be time for them all. It would not be possible to understand all I wanted to know in one day anyway and I had to take the time to explore, to see for myself. I got as much information from Ms. Macchi as I could and she gave me guidance as to where to begin my journey.

I thanked her and walked around the tree village for a few minutes. The village consists of very tall trees and wooden pathways surrounded by water in most every direction. There were further pathways above us, from tree to tree. After a while I looked back where we had been sitting, Ms. Macchi was gone. I pulled from my pack the map Quin had given me. It was a “live map.” I could see not only where I was and the other places of this world but the map also showed me whether anyone else was in these lands. There was no one. At all! That feeling of ‘onlyness’ – not to be confused with ‘loneliness’ – filled me again. It was a very pleasant feeling this time.

Although Ms. Macchi had advised I head to the lands in the east, I wanted to look at the regions immediately around Waysmeet first. I decided to head south. There was a region called Touchstone that interested me as I had heard both Quin and Ms. Macchi speak of it often. I could see on the map that there were islands in Touchstone and some structures on at least one of these islands. But I had to cross a large body of water to get there and, obviously, I did not have a ship with me. I noticed two small sailing vessels in the tree village but I did not know whether I should take one or whether I could manage to make the trip across in such a small craft. If I could not, there was no one who could come to my aid. I was the only one on the map, on an island continent covering hundreds, possibly thousands, of miles.

I would have to reach into my time travellers’ virtual bag of tricks. I knew there were two methods I could use to traverse this ocean under these circumstances. One, which I will not explain at this time, involved using the live map Quin had given me. The other, which I thought would be the most fun, is something I have kept secret from you, dear reader, through all these writings. It is time to reveal my secret, though I will likely never mention it again. You may not believe what I am about to tell you but you will just have to trust that what I say is true.

I can fly.

I won’t try to convince you nor explain how it is possible. I will just say I cannot do this in both of the worlds I inhabit, only one. I know I am not the only one in the world that can do it. On the Mainland, I have seen many people fly. They do it all the time. No biggie. (A 21st century phrase I picked up in my time travels.) I too used to fly all the time on the Mainland, in the 21st century. But in the Steamlands of the 19th century, I rarely do. I am content to walk or take the local transport – train, boat, horse, etc. Sometimes though, when exploring – and usually when alone, I will take to the skies. It is fun. Or at least it can be. There is one element in my world that can limit the amount of fun in flying. The locals call it “lag.” Though I am not an expert in explaining how this lag works, I am quite familiar with its undesirable effects. Enough sidebar, take my word on this, I can fly. Now, where were we…

…oh yes…

To get from the tree village in Waysmeet to the islands in Touchstone, I would have to fly. I already knew from my previous visit that this ability could be used in this new world. So I was up and off.

But wait! The flying was quite a different experience here. Even different from my last visit. I noticed it right off. I felt so light in weight as if I was riding on a cloud. I had never felt like this back in my world. It distracted me from heading off to my destination. I just flew around the tree village, round and round, swooping up, then down. I then realized what the difference was – no lag!. It was amazing! (I later told Ms. Macchi, it was like the flying I have known in my dreams. She smiled.)

Once I had gotten used to this light, smooth, exhilarating, nearly sensual feeling, I finally headed south into Touchstone.

I landed on one of the islands where I had noticed the structures on the map. I landed near one building and walked inside. It was the headquarters building of the Devokan Trust. It took a moment but I suddenly realized I had been here before! I was in this building and another nearby on my visit last fall. This was Lost Pages! The name had been changed to Touchstone.

At the site of the headquarters building there were machines that I believe belong to Quin. I do not know the nature or purpose of this equipment and I did not stop to examine them as my attention was drawn to a hole cut into the floor inside the building. There was a ladder leading down into the hole. I wasted not a moment and climbed down.

I found myself at the start of an underground tunnel. The tunnel looked to be made of copper or this world’s equivalent but I then came to a section that was made of glass and steel or some such alloy and I could see I was underwater. Back into a copper section, a right angle turn and then another glass and steel section. As I looked thru the glass I could see a small underwater building made, I believe, of glass and copper on a stone foundation. There were two other copper, glass and steel tunnels running in and out of the building. I wondered if my tunnel would lead to that building. I paused to make the first of many notes, recording what I had seen so far. Then I proceeded through the tunnel. After several more turns I came to the end. I looked up and saw a hole or hatch in the ceiling and climbed up and out. I was now on another island, looking back across the water at the headquarters building.

I looked around Touchstone some more, landing on an island in the southeast where a structure caught my eye. It was a memorial, to whom I do not know. There was a marking on one end of the tomb but it meant nothing to me. On the ground was a page from a book. The page had a round symbol in the middle, an incomplete circle. There were two inscriptions, both facing the circle. One said: “In my end is my beginning.” the other, “In my beginning is my end.” I saw a copy of this same page on the ground outside Quin’s office at Rosehaven. I must ask him about this.

I went to other regions named Ki and Tao Li. In these regions someone was following me. I could not see them but they were there on the map, following my every move. Stopping when I did, moving just a bit behind me. To spot or maybe evade them, I flew up to the clouds, expecting to hit a limit as I would here in the Steamlands…but I did not. I’m, not sure how high I could go there but I stopped at well over 500 meters and then descended. In Tao Li I saw an odd looking structure. The center of it opened on my touch. I walked up and stepped into the opening – and was whisked through space…landing four regions away, back in Touchstone on a small island across the water from the Devokan Trust headquarters. Behind me lay the tree village in Waysmeet where I had started. As curious as I was to continue, this seemed like a good place to end my explorations and return home. I will come back another day. I think there will be many days.

———————————

*OSgrid is a virtual world. Google for more info. I use the Imprudence viewer to link there. (It is like using SL’s Viewer 1.)

Mr. Whitfield’s note: If you journey to the Devokan Trust lands on OSgrid I suggest you consult the live map (Map, World Map, Grid Map) when you arrive. Use the search feature within the map to find any of the regions I have named above. Then begin your explorations. Good luck!

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Weather Report

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Easter Sunday morning.

I am sitting in my Ebonshire cottage, doing my budget and staring out the window. I recently decided to reorganize my landholdings. In the last two days I have sold two parcels in Port Laudanum. One of them used to host my guesthouse and the other was the Steampunk Explorer office. SE is closing most of its offices and the guesthouse was sitting idle. I was planning to put a gallery on that spot but my plans have changed. Coincidentally, the new owner will use the spot for a gallery!

It is a beautiful morning in the north of Winterfell and people are taking advantage of it. In the last few minutes two people sailed down the river in a lovely old boat, then the Winterfell Ferry passed by carrying two others, and another person passed my house as she walked along the riverbank. It is a nice day to be outside, so what am I doing in here?

Well, the land transactions caused me to update my books and I don’t have much energy for sailing or exploring as I have been under the weather of late.

I am not sure what brought the illness on but it may go back to last Sunday night. I was spending the evening at my Cape Wrath house and was already ailing when I decided fresh air was what I needed. I walked out onto the balcony to look at the moon. It was a beautiful night in Wrath or so I thought until a flash caught my eye and caused me to look to the southwest. There were dark clouds over Inish and a a storm was raging. The lightning show was a sight to see and I could hear the thunder rolling in the distance. There were heavy rains and wind and it looked to be coming my way. I watched the storm for nearly an hour but the system seemed stuck over Inish though its winds were felt in Wrath, as evidenced by the flags on my property which were flapping in the strong gale. I should have gone inside or put on a heavier coat but I could not take my eyes off the storm.

So here I sit, a week later, still coughing and sneezing and feeling poorly. I have the fire going and will heat up some soup, while others are sailing and strolling and enjoying the sights of Winterfell on a lovely Easter Sunday morn.

Ambassador Greymyst

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Once upon a time there was a place called Austral. Once upon a short time later there was not. At the start of it’s brief existence we opened a Steampunk Explorer office in the main town. I believe it was the first building of any kind to open there. The area was quiet for a time. Then things began to pick up quickly.

As in many places in this world people would move in and then move out before you got to meet them. Or you would meet them once and never see them again as they had quickly moved on. For example, in my first full year in Winterfell, every parcel in the Port Laudanum neighborhood, save my own and two others, changed hands at least once. Some had gone through several owners.

One morning I popped in to our Austral office and found there was a new building across the street. It was the home of one Addison Greymyst. I finally met Mr. Greymyst one day. He was quite affable and I thought, “This man will be a good neighbor, I hope he stays for awhile.”

It seemed each time I visited our office there and would look around the neighborhood to see what was new, Mr. Greymyst had made some addition or improvement to his property. He even expanded by purchasing adjoining property.

One day he had a new building on the corner of his property on Danko Road. (Well, yes it was named after me. I didn’t do much to earn the honor, I was just the first one there.) The new building was small but quite attractive and unique. The door was open so I walked in to a beautiful study or library style of room which was well appointed with comfortable seating. It was dedicated to Mr. Tesla and his family would have been proud to see such a place. It looked as if Mr. Greymyst was trying to create the atmosphere of a private club devoted to the study and discussion of ideas and concepts in science and invention though the club would not be private but open to all comers. I could see Mr. Greymyst was a man who wanted to make a contribution to the community he lived in and the broader Steampunk community as well.

I was also often impressed with Mr. Greymyst’s grounds. His selection and placement of flowers, plants, trees, fountains and other items made it such a pleasure to walk down the street past his property. It was also a pleasure to walk onto his land as well, for he invited the public to pause from the hustle and bustle and sit in his garden or at the little cafe-style tables he placed at the opposite side of his land along the inner harbor.

There came a day when Mr. Greymyst, like the others, packed up his household and moved on. I wondered where he had gone until the day Hurricane Adolphe hit New Toulouse. I was walking through the streets of the city observing how we were holding up against the storm when I stopped for something to lift the spirit and warm the belly. There, sitting at a table – with the bar owner if I remember it straight – was Mr. Greymyst! We shook hands warmly and chatted. I found he had moved to a spot up north in Algiers parish.

I would bump into Mr. G, as I called him for short, from time to time (including one memorable afternoon at Le Vieux Canal Jazz Club that was chronicled earlier on these pages). We would tell our stories and share a laugh and often I would speak to him of Winterfell. He became a reader of my articles here and learned of Winterfell from that as well.

We would also often exchange correspondence. Brief notes, catching up on news of the steamlands and of our own exploits, the notes from Addison, always featuring his great sense of humor. One day he wrote me that he had ventured up to Winterfell and found it to be just as beautiful and enchanted as I had bragged. He added that he would soon be visiting again. I was quite pleased that my friend was so quickly fond of my homeland.

There would be times that we would be out of touch for awhile and one of those times ended when he sent along a note by messenger. He had purchased land in Winterfell – in Laudanum yet! He was up on the hill on the southern border with a most splendid view of Cape Wrath. He invited me up for a visit and said, “Don’t wait for our schedules to come together. Go up and take in the view when you can.” I did. It was a very clear day and with my field glasses I could just make out my retreat on the west coast of Wrath.

I was glad to have Addison join the Winterfell community. He purchased a second spot in the southern towns as well. Between Winterfell and New Toulouse we would bump into each other more frequently and thus send notes more often so those times of being out of touched faded away.

Last week, on the day of the unveiling of the new Winterfell community center, Rosehaven, I was wandering around looking at this tremendous work of architecture as Uni placed the gardens and Miss Serra welcomed early visitors and gave directions and impromptu tours. Just then Addison arrived. I was just saying hello to him, when the Seneschelf said, “Ambassador Whitfield, I would like you to meet Mr. Greymyst, the newly named New Toulouse Ambassador to Winterfell!” My mouth popped wide open. Ad piped up, “I’m afraid you will have to have an official meeting with me, Mr. Ambassador.” We both burst into laughter, shook hands, slapped each other on the back. I congratulated him and said, “The first meeting must take place at my Emerald Inn where the pints will be on me. Then you will have to meet me back at Le Vieux where you shall pick up the tab. Remember the last time we were there?” More laughter. Lady Twilight raised an eyebrow, “I take it you two are old drinking buddies?” “Oh yes,” we replied in unison. “Diplomacy and alcohol, how unusual,” Miss Serra said with a laugh. We both joined in the laughter.

Mr. Greymyst, my friend, this is my public congratulations to you. Good luck with your new duties. I look forward to working with you. (I will see you at The Emerald on Tuesday.)

The Long View

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“No hurry, Mister Whitfield.”

It was such a simple statement that it could have seemed empty, politeness for the sake of politeness, a mere knee-jerk response like, “Have a nice day” when the alleged well-wisher could not give a hoot about how your day progresses.

But it was none of that. It was said in the most sincere manner. It had meaning.

It is nice to hear someone say ‘no hurry’ in this world as there is much hurry here. Just as there is in that other world from which many of us have come here to escape.

“I like your ‘long view’ of things,” I responded. “It is my way in the other world and when I have applied it in this world, things usually work out. When I have got caught up in the hurry of this world…not so much.”

The are two kinds of hurry, at least two. There is the “hurry up and enjoy yourself” kind in which a person must try to cram as many activities into a short space of time as they possibly can to ensure they have been the most productive, had the most fun, “made the most of it.” This is often applauded though it can lead to exhaustion, nervousness and other ailments. It can also cause the observer to wonder if the activities involved, the tasks accomplished were truly enjoyed and whether they were done well or merely done.

Then there is the kind of hurry in which one sets deadlines as to when important aspects of life – such as marrying, having children, “settling down” – should be accomplished. If one doesn’t do one of these things by such and such an age then they have failed or are not happy that they are “running behind.” This thinking goes that you must accomplish your list of items by a certain time in order to be able to “start” your life.

Another example of this type of hurry is speeding through the early days of a new undertaking – a new job, a new project, even a romance – to get to a certain point at which “everything will be set” so that the undertaking can then move forward at a more reasonable pace. We must get these parts out of the way quickly, so we can get to the good part. It is like speeding through the first several chapters of a book so one can then get to some point at which it is appropriate to proceed in a normal fashion, rather than like a maniac. I have at times, even recently, fallen into this trap myself.

Why do we think there is such a rush all the time? Do we ever stop to ask if we have actually benefited from rushing through our lives to get to some magic moment when we don’t have to? Does it truly get us there more quickly and, if so, does it get us there in better shape than had we devoted a more appropriate amount of time to each task? Or do we cram so much into the short space or run through the early part so quickly that we don’t have time to ask the question?

I have observed the problem of hurry in others and I have seen it first hand in myself. I believe the answer to whether it is the best way to go is no. Yet I can’t answer the question of why we do it as we do.

All I can say is, that on that day when I heard the sincere statement, “No hurry, Mister Whitfield,” I knew that it was true. I appreciated the fact that most of the time I pace myself well. But not always. We all need a reminder from time to time.

Maybe this is yours.

Circa 1955

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I am writing from Glengarry in Caledon, sitting at the bar in the Timetraveller’s Rest, a new pub that has just opened. Time travellers who are familiar with the 1950s will be at home with the retro décor here which includes a sign designating it a bomb shelter in the event of an atomic holocaust. Fancy that, taking refuge in a pub as the world ends. You could certainly do worse.

What an odd time the 1950s must be. I have heard some call it the “good old days,” a simpler time. I suppose it was if you were white and male and did not question authority. Although I was born in that decade I do not recall it. From my vantage point it seems a nice time to visit but I wouldn’t want to live then.

But the pub is quite nice with a rather sexy waitress in attire one would not normally see in the steamlands, at least not in public. I try to charm her a bit with conversation but she does not seem much for talk. While the building befits the Steampunk style, the interior is decorated with the classic ’50s furniture – red leather couch and comfy chairs, the requisite icons of Route 66, Budweiser and the like in the decorations. It is cozy and friendly. This will surely be a watering hole I will visit again when travelling through these parts.

I have stopped for a brew and a time out from my travels and activities of these past five days. I have been so busy trying to catch up with my duties and projects after several weeks visiting that other world from which I hail. It is so good to be back. There has been so much happening in these past few days I can barely keep up. But it has all been fun. Catching up with my friends, hearing their news, tending to my homes and offices, pursuing a diplomatic matter for the Seneschelf and even finding time for a little exploring.

As I sip my beer, I take out my notebook and go through my recent scribbling. So many stories to tell, so much going on, where to begin? I shall just jump in and let the pen go where it goes…

Check these pages again soon.