<![CDATA[NIRO RAINE - Bibber\'s Diary]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 18:12:15 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[DAY ELEVEN - The Absence of Clouds]]>Mon, 09 Nov 2015 12:54:58 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-eleven-the-absence-of-cloudsI doubt that I will ever be able to say that I have mastered the effective operation of Crank City. It is clear that this was never a vessel intended for operation by one Gnome alone, but I am just about managin’ by means of ropes, weights and pulleys.
My plan to take the airship below the clouds to gain my bearin’s was clearly approved by the gods. By the time the Sun was high enough in the sky to offer proper illumination it had almost evaporated all evidence that clouds had ever existed.
Several days of driftin’ had left me completely absent of any significant landmarks, or indeed any landmarks at all. The ocean stretched out below me, the swell of the thick waves betrayin’ the distance from any landmass that could have disturbed them. Suddenly, I realised just how stupid and indeed how lucky I had been. Had I not happened upon this floatin’ city, I would have had no hope of crossin’ this great ocean. The Cartographic Spectatulator, undoubtedly my first love in the world of air travel, would never have sustained flight this far. She probably would have floated, but at the mercy of the schizophrenic currents who would have dared guess at where we would have found ourselves?
For now, I would maintain course until there was land to draw.
I returned to an office I had found just off from the small Library. It was clad in dark wood and green leather, with gold leaf embellishment in places. Despite the fact that this room was in the centre of a buildin’, porthole windows had been set into the walls, paintin’s of luscious vegetation set back into them to mimic the view from some jungle cabin. Some luminescent pigment had cleverly been worked into the paint meanin’ that, particularly after I had offered the paintin’s a little dustin’, these artificial windows offered a very natural lookin’ light.
The crystal glass and decanter that accompanied a nailed down ink well that had still managed to spill spoke volumes of the person whose office I was invadin’. The desk also offered a large tome, pages open, the dust formin’ such a uniform film over the part spindly, part blotchy writin’ that I only noticed it by the clean patches my fingers left as I turned the pages back in search of a title.
It was a diary, a log book, and hopefully the answer to what had happened to turn this magnificent airship into the ghost city that I had found.

<![CDATA[DAY┬áTEN - The Oiling of Crank City]]>Mon, 21 Sep 2015 12:49:23 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-ten-the-oiling-of-crank-cityI awoke this mornin’ with a sense of determination. I have been becomin’ increasin’ly aware of the fact that time is passin’ me by up here in this huge airship. Not just time, indeed, but distance too. Havin’ come across a sort of miniature Library that contained not just a great selection of maps, but also mechanical plans for the city itself, I set about oilin’ and repairin’ where necessary the many cranks, cogs and pumps that have led me to title the ship ‘Crank City’. This activity left me feelin’ very hungry indeed. Thankfully durin’ my journey of craft maintenance I happened upon a very well stocked pantry, and I have made myself some not unsatisfyin’ meals like salt meat with pickled gherkin and cauliflower, though I did find myself very thirsty for the rest of that afternoon.

It would seem that the steam itself is not produced by heatin’ water by anythin’ as wasteful as fire, but by puttin’ the fluid under intense pressure which in turn seems to create enough energy to power the vapour through the systems and out to create the clouds. This lends a lot to the thrust of the vessel itself, although the height maintenance is achieved by means of a variable magnetic force that repels the city from the planets core. This of course has to adjust accordin’ to the latitude of your coordinates or you would find yourself dragged to the bottom of the ocean at an alarmin’ rate.

It occurred to me that in my distraction, I had not been payin’ any heed at all to such things as wind speed velocity or direction, and as I had not thought to attempt any form of affective navigation of Crank City, I had been driftin’ blindly for several days. Satisfied that I had averted any imminent disaster involvin’ the city rustin’ and plummetin’ to its doom, I decided to spend the evenin’ studyin’ the techniques involved in its manoeuvre and tomorrow I shall have to dip below the clouds in an attempt to regain an impression of where I am.

<![CDATA[DAY SEVEN - The Steam powered Airship.]]>Sun, 06 Sep 2015 13:00:47 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-seven-the-steam-powered-airship I had a very eerie sensation explorin’ the Airship. My initial thoughts had been that its occupants must have seen me landin’ the Cartographic Spectatulater in the middle of their garden and that they would surly come to greet me. I waded about a bit through the long grass and self-seeded meadow flowers, checkin’ over the balloon for volcano damage which seemed thankfully to be limited. Nothin’ changed. There was the rhythmic gushin’ of the steam pumps, the clickin’ and whirrin’ of cogs, even the chirrup of crickets and tweetin’ of the birds that sought to eat them, but nothin’ else moved or spoke at all.

Gingerly I opted to explore myself, wonderin’ if they were hidin’ from me. Perhaps they had not encountered an outsider in a long while; certainly an outsider Gnome may look very strange to them. Apart from the buildin’s themselves, everythin’ was on a small scale here. I had to stoop to get through the doorways, all chairs and benches stood just that little bit passed a comfortable height to rest down onto. Apart from the slightly less than average size of the people, the other aspect that became more and more apparent was the evidence of neglect. For a vessel so heavily dependent on its motorin’ system, some of the mechanisms had been allowed to start to dry and rust, makin’ for a creakin’, crunchin’ chorus most uncomfortable for the ear of an engineer. Ivy had found its way inside some of the buildin’s, havin’ burrowed right through the cement with a little aid from the ant population no doubt, who seemed to have a system every bit as sophisticated as this marvellous machine, transportin’ bits of this and that through this floatin’ ghost city.

One large room I came upon, with a stone floor covered in columns of long dark wooden tables and benches, had a huge mural along the entirety of one wall. It was some sort of battle scene, but quite unlike anythin’ I had come across in the past. It was set in a distinctly diverse landscape, barren desert that immediately turned to lush vegetation within the space of a few footfalls. The fight seemed to be between the little people who created this, based on the airships they were usin’ to prevent their winged attackers from gainin’ the upper hand (both literally and figuratively speakin’). As for the winged bein’s, they were humanoid in shape, vaguely blueish in skin tone but with large white feather wings. They flung flamin’ spears as they flew, or nursed dyin’ fellows on the ground. Clearly, they had lost to the airships of the little people.

The discarded bowls and cups that now held nothin’ but dust for the famished demonstrated that this had apparently been considered appropriate art to be considered over dinner. Considerin’ the graphic nature of some parts, I would be inclined to disagree.

<![CDATA[DAY SIX - The City in the Clouds]]>Sun, 06 Sep 2015 12:20:33 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-six-the-city-in-the-cloudsAs I approached the city my astonishment and excitement only grew with the increasin’ altitude. I knew it were impossible for a city to be built upon a cloud, and my relief was only overtaken by intrigue as I got close enough to see that what I was beholdin’ was not actually a cloud in the conventional sense at all, but huge billows of steam that the city itself were exudin’. I climbed still further, until I could see that there were gigantic bellows pumpin’ and expandin’ at different speeds and times from various points across the city, creatin’ a tremendous orchestral song of hissin’ and shushin’ and puffin’. I had found some sort of steam-powered airship, and it was magnificent.
Once I was high enough, I sought a safe spot on which to land. The strange creation was such a thin’ of beauty, the tall towers buildin’ to peaks in copper and brass, generatin’ quite a heat simply from the reflected sunlight. Eventually I spotted what I can only describe as a courtyard garden. It was in the centre of a buildin’ that from the outside had appeared to be a square castle, with turrets at each corner, but when I was high enough to see over its walls I saw what I will loosely term as the lawn, for it was so overgrown that if it weren't for its location it more resembled a meadow than anythin’ else. The borders too contained plants that would traditionally be used as shrubs, but now stood as trees with their many, spindly branches seizin’ the opportunity to reach for the sun.
I sat the Cartographic Spectatulater down in the centre of the lawn/meadow. I had to assess the scorch damage before I took her any further, and more to the point I had to explore this fascinatin’ vessel that I had accidentally encountered, and certainly quiz its inhabitants in order to fully understand its construction and operation.

<![CDATA[DAY FIVE - The Faer Isles]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 19:33:22 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-five-the-faer-isles The sense of enchantment had not left me come mornin'. A suffocatin' sneeze awoke me, and I found myself, along with all that surrounded me coated in a deep dustin' of snow that continued to fall in large, fragile flakes.

There was no trace of the faery folk whose celebrations I had disturbed last night, before bein' permitted to sit voyeur to their activities. But I did not this time feel the bereavement of their abandonment as I had before, merely a drunken sense of shared indulgence.

Such was the delirium of my semiconscious state, that it took an unnatural length of time (involvin' gettin' up, stretchin', tryin' to get my bearin's from this clearin') for me to realise that it was not nearly cold enough for snow. This beautiful, calm, mid-winter scene was a deception. The dust that floated gracefully from the sky was ash, and hinted at an altogether much less desirable natural occurrence.

I climbed a tree for better perspective and my suspicions were confirmed within an instant as the tell-tale tower of black smoke stretched skyward, betrayin' the direction of the wind in an instant as the dark billows filled the heavens to the West.

I could feel my heart shovin' the blood through my veins as I rushed to catch first sight of the Cartographic Spectatulator. It's bright and multi-toned patchwork envelope now blackened with scorch startin' to take on the side closest to the crater. Sweat coated me. The closer I came to her rescue, the more my body begged me to turn around and find that gentle, cool ocean I had seen the day before. The heat was unbearable, I could not think and movement was takin' part strictly under auto pilot, but gratefully she took to the sky and away from the disaster that was set to show us why so many cultures worship these angry mountains.

I had just turned my attention to the inside of the envelope, checkin' to ensure that none of the scorchin' had come through to the inside of the cloth when the C.S. must have drifted into the surge of convection current that rushed forth from this tunnel to the heart of the world. We shot heavenwards at such a pace and turbulence that I fell to the bottom of the basket and could do nothing to remove myself from it until we had reached a new level of stillness to which I had to acclimatise.

The air here was thin. I felt giddy with the effort of liftin' myself to my feet. I looked first over the baskets edge, searchin' for a sight of the group of Islands I needed to re-sketch for my records, but all that lay below were clouds and an impossible amount of dense smoke.

I cursed, frustrated by the loss, but the irritation soon passed as I glanced upon the miracle I had discovered. 'How could that be possible?' I thought. I could not fathom how far the gushin' vapour stream had taken us, but here, way above the highest altitude I had ever travelled, I could see the unmistakable silhouette of a city in the clouds.

<![CDATA[DAY FOUR - The Faer Isles - Part Two]]>Thu, 06 Aug 2015 14:14:12 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-four-the-faer-isles-part-2A depression took me. Such a sense of loss and bereavement that I could not explain. Why would I be mournin' a thing that not only I had never had, but didn't so much as know what it was. I stepped forward into the clearin', the impression of it's shape still holding a ghostly form on my retinas. In the darkness I took myself to where I estimated the centre to be and sat down to at least feel the earth in the space that once held such wonder. 

The soil was coated in a mixture of soft, spongy moss and thin needles of grass that pushed sporadically through it. It was comfortin', like strokin' a purrin' cat. Then she appeared. A soft glow at first, then explodin' into full dazzlin' glory. I covered my eyes, they watered at the assault. I tried to look at her between my fingers, and eventually used a technique of this coupled with a tight squint. Still my eyes watered at the sight of her. 

"It's my birthday." She said. Still a blur to my senses. She shone such a brilliant white!

"Happy birthday." I replied. Well, that is the thin' to say, right? Gradually I started to be able to gain some focus on the light before me. She was young lookin', maybe 11 or so. She sat cross-legged in front of me with an expression that I would best describe as a mix of petulance and excited anticipation. 

"You have gate-crashed my party." I looked around now, the light she exuded showin' the circle of white capped mushrooms that surrounded us. Little fireflies began to appear around the edge, hoverin' like carrion crows awaitin' the final loss of fight in their lunch. "Have you brought me a present?"

I hadn't a thin' on me aside from the map I had drawn for the Library. I unrolled it and presented it to her as officially as I could. 

"What is it?" She asked, unimpressed.

"It is a map, me lady. I drawin' of this group of Islands from up above." 

She studied the parchment for a second before her look of puzzlement gave way, to my relief, to a look of delight. She took it from me with a giggle. "Of course it is! There's the volcano!" 

The fireflies began to approach us, burstin' like popcorn from their tiny forms into full sized Faery folk and passin' my map between them. Before too long the music, along with the rest of the festivities returned. They danced around the toadstools, duckin' and weavin' between each other in a dance too seamless to be spontaneous, but too random to be choreographed. I wanted to join, but didn't know how. Too scared to move in case I startled them away again, I sat as a statue until the drone and the repetitive rhythm soothed me to sleep.]]>
<![CDATA[DAY FOUR - The Faer Isles - Part One]]>Fri, 24 Jul 2015 20:13:19 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-four-the-faer-isles-part-oneHigh above the shoreline I sketched away, shading as acurately as I could the details of inlets and outcrops right down to the latest detail: the Giants tooth beacon that rose above the waves, alertin' any wary sailor of the dangers ahead.

I didn't seem to have travelled for long before I noticed an anomaly amongst the standard currents, a break in the waves where I was expectin' only brine. I took the Cartographic Spectatulater lower to get a better impression of the mass I had found. It was a group of Islands almost perfectly formin' a flower shape, the type that young'uns draw with a circle in the middle and individual round petals surroundin' it. The sand of the beaches was black, makin' for a very dramatic sight against the white of the sea foam. I had to explore.

I took the C.S. down at the edge of a crater on the central island where the vegetation was less dense. I decided to leave her inflated this time, knowin' the value of a quick escape.

I wanted to reach one of the beaches so that I could take a sample of the black sand I had seen there. I felt pretty confident armed with my map, so fresh I had to blow the carbon dust from it, and headed out into the forest. I soon realised that the straight path that I thought I was treading could not be so. I was becomin' suspicious when the time came and went by which I had anticipated reachin' the coast, and by the time the light began to fail I knew I was truly lost. I was just settlin' myself down to rest until the mornin' when I began to catch a merry sound on the breeze. It was music...it was faint, but it was there. Some kind of reeded instrument, accompanied by a variety of percussion sounds. I had to investigate further.

Followin' the tune through the thicket, I began to notice a glow ahead of me. It was too pure to be fire, too white, as if a fallen star were nestled in the grass refusin' to give up it's godly status. It cast an ethereal light on the treeline across the clearin' that filled me with a sense of welcome and excitement. I pushed aside the last branches to see at last the festivities that were drawin' me in, but no sooner had I done so than the music stopped and the light disappeared, leaving in its wake such a void that I felt its pull on me like a changing spring tide. In the darkness, in the nothingness I sat, I waited, and I wondered what I had done wrong. ]]>
<![CDATA[DAY THREE - Giants]]>Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:12:36 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-three-giantsI am an idiot. An idiot of such proportion that it is surprisin' that I have the intelligence to be as embarrassed as I am admittin' my stupidity, let alone recordin' it on these here pages.
So caught up was I in the determination to press on beyond the known boundaries of the Marr valleys, that I paid no heed to the direction that I was being blown.
The new day brought with it the realisation that I was deep into Giant country. I awoke to a low grumble that I imagined, in my half dream state, to be my stomach. When my stomach went on to produce a large yawn, I became suddenly much more aware of my surroundin's. I opened my eyes to find the noise I had assumed was the creaking of a tree bow, was the stretchin' limbs of the biggest Giant I have ever seen. He was also, of course, the first Giant I had ever seen, but he was only made more impressive for the fact.
Tucked back underneath the granite slab, I pondered my options. The little that I had read about Giants suggested that they were often bad tempered characters that liked to eat most creatures that are smaller than them (and that is most creatures), and that they liked to throw things quite a lot. My window of opportunity for moving on was fairly small, given that the Cartographic Spectatulator would take a full 15 minutes to inflate and be ready to fly, and that it could only be flown in the mornin' or evenin' as the day time thermals make it near impossible to control. Somehow, I needed to create enough of a distraction to get the C.S. up, in the air, and out of the reach of hurled chunks of granite. 
I didn't have much more of a chance to ponder the matter before a flyin' sheep briskly went from being nowhere in sight, to blocking out the risin' sun in the sky, to skiddin' to a halt almost, but not quite, in time to stop itself from smackin' me in the face with its tick ridden, recently shaven, hind quarters.
"Brought you breakfast," boomed a voice founded in the resonance of a huge chest.
Another groan vibrated the earth beneath me.
"Come on, you have to eat!"
It was at this moment that the sheep's arse was dragged away from me, exposing a furrow browed, stooping monster, who flicked the outcrop I had sheltered under aside in one easy movement.
"What's this?" he asked, proddin' at me with a pinky tip twice the size of my head.
I looked at each of the Giants in turn, the first Giant, the biggest, reminded me a little of a big Gnome, though his face was quite distorted with one side bulgin', the other more naturally contoured. The sheep hurlin' Giant's features also seemed misshapen, but more in the manner of havin' an overly heavy forehead that seemed to be tryin' to spill down his face like molten wax. 
He hooked his little (for want of a better word) finger around behind me and scooped me out from under the rock like a limpet from its shell.
I was stunned. I didn't even try to wriggle from his grasp. I just dangled by my foot as he lifted me into the air at such a speed it gave me a head rush. I listened as my capturer pleaded with the first giant to eat me. As he described me as small and tender, words that I had never heard applied to a slightly dumpy, ex-mining Gnome like myself. I didn't even wriggle as he dangled me into his reluctant friends open mouth, but when the stench of decay hit me like a smellin' salt/stimulant I came to my senses, suddenly the most alert I have ever been as the adrenalin finally kicked in. 
The rotten tooth stood before me, no natural colour left to associate it with its neighbours. The gum surroundin' it was black and red and green with puss. I'm sure it would have reminded me of a bad joke was my life not at risk.
"I'm a dentist" I screamed as loud as I could manage. I said it again, after a pause, and was relieved to find myself once again lifted into the fresh air.
"You're a what?" the sheep hurler asked.
"A dentist. I can cure your tooth ache." Both of the beasts stared at me bemused. I explained to them that the tooth was rotten, it had to come out, and that the wound would have to be washed out with salt water to clear the infection. 
After an amount of persuasion, I managed to convince them to carry me and the C.S. as far as the Western Shore where I would perform the operation near an abundance of salt water to aid in the healin'. It was a pleasant day's travel. They allowed me to have a bit of their mutton which will make for a nice stew. 
Once on the beach, I drew a diagram in the sand of how the surgery would work. We would tie one end of the string around the tooth, the other to one of the large granite rocks that they were so fond of hurlin'. I would take the rock up in the C.S. and throw it over the side as soon as I could see the sea was of a significant depth and current to pull the rancid thing loose. Then all that was left to be done was for my first Giant to rinse the wound clean in the salt water three times a day for the followin' week, and for me it is an evenin' flight again, this time over the open ocean.

Today's flight:
Wind Direction: E
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Mapping Area: South West Coast]]>
<![CDATA[DAY TWO - The Launch]]>Sun, 12 Jul 2015 09:04:41 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-two-the-launchIt is safe to say that the launch didn't go as expected. The weather changed dramatically overnight with the storms comin' up from the South. I had very little sleep, partly the noise and static in the atmosphere and partly the excitement no doubt.
At first light the winds were still too turbulent to risk takin' the Cartographic Spectatulater up, makin' my hopes for a quiet early mornin' exit impossible. By lunch time the heavens were settlin' into much more pleasant conditions, with the East Wind offering excited but not unmanageable gusts. It was to be an evenin' flight after all. 
It took a bit of work to get her up. The rainwater what had pooled in the crevices of her crumpled envelope was weighin' her down, but once inflated to her full, ovoid glory I couldn't wait to get her flyin' again.

Today's flight:
Wind Direction: E
Wind speed: 10 mph
Mapping area: Downy Marr

Havin' already mapped the areas immediately surroundin' Downy Marr, I really was able for the first time just to sit back and enjoy the ride. There is some beautiful countryside out to the East. The initial steep valleys give way to gentler pastures, many of which are being well farmed. I wanted to push this part of the journey out as far as possible, determined to enter new territory before I set down.
It was nearin' dark by the time I found a suitable spot. I now find myself more exposed than I would ideally like, in an area of moorland with little vegetation aside from gorse, fern, and the occassional thistle. There were, however, stacks of stone nestled into the hillside near the landin' site, so I have dragged the deflated Cartographic Spectatulater over here for shelter. Despite the circumstances, I anticipate a good nights sleep as an almost bewitched level of tiredness has caught up with me. The exploration of the area will have to wait until the morning.

<![CDATA[DAY ONE - Hello Diary]]>Sat, 11 Jul 2015 08:29:21 GMThttp://niroraine.weebly.com/bibbers-diary/day-one-hello-diaryI haven't kept a diary before, but havin' just finished readin' the final accounts of Jeremy Stragner, the naturalist who travelled with Carlos T. Cribwell, I understand that these accounts may be of some historical importance one day. Or at least they may help keep my mental faculties in better order than the rest of Cribwell's crew.
I intend to leave at first light to explore the lay of the land now that the landslides have settled. I have with me many sheets of paper on which to draw, as best I can, new maps for the Library. I know that I will need to be resourceful, as I do not have much space in the Cartographic Spectatulater. I will certainly need to find food and clean water at each stage during my travels, but for now I have a cooler full of pasties and light ale to keep my strength up.
There are many fings what I am lookin' forward to seein' and learnin' about; wild sprites, tangle hoppers and nubble flick birds to name a few. I could do without meeting another dragon for a while at least, and the idea of encountering ear weevils makes skin crawl in areas that I didn't even know existed until they tense with the phantom itch inspired by the notion. Horrible. No, we must hope that on this expedition we hear no weevils, see no weevils, and therefore will have no need to speak of weevils again.
The winds this evening are dominantly blowing from the S.E., so the journey may well be commencing N.W. Only the morrow will tell.  ]]>