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.