Journey… to the Mysterious Island: Darkling on Deck

August 12, 2007 at 4:19 pm (Caledon, Mysterious Island, original poetry/prose)

The cute little bluebird fluttered down from the sky, wings laden with volcanic ash, a large official-looking envelope clutched in its’ wee talons. It had flown here to Caledon Cay all the way from my home in Tanglewood, valiantly braving disorienting sim border-crossings, cleverly avoiding the airspace above no-fly and dangerously full parcels, deftly dodging barely-controlled airships and gravity-defying skyboxes. It alighted upon the apple barrel that secreted the kittygirl, Miss Kiralette, shook some of the soot from its’ wings, and twittered adorably at me, so very proud that it had completed its’ mission. I took the envelope from its’ grip, patted it lightly on its’ little feathered head, and broke the seal of the Royal Society for the Advancement of Knowledge in the Natural Sciences. I found within exactly what I had hoped for: an invitation to join the expedition to explore the dangerous volcanic island Phillip, the newest and most unwelcome, (aside from the recently-retired casino magnate, Biff Hardshaft), addition to Caledon.

“Good birdie!” I crooned at the little thing. It fluttered its’ wings happily, accidentally flicking a speck of ash into my eye. “Is there any other news from Tanglewood?” It tilted it’s wee head at me, looking at me confusedly with one black beady eye. “Has the ash reached western Caledon yet? Can the earthquakes be felt that far?” The wee bluebird tweeted sweetly, clearly not understanding, then hopped around the barrel, pecking at it once, experimentally.

One bright green eye showed in one of the holes in the barrel then, and the neko-girl attached to it whispered, her voice slightly muffled by the wood, “Who are you talking to, Darkling?”

“Delivery bird, lass. Look!” I waved the letter from the Honourable Kate Nicholas where Kiralette could see it. “I’ve been invited. No apple barrel hiding for me.”

“Good. ‘Cuz there’s no more room in here.” She sounded annoyed that I had the invitation she craved, so I stuffed it away into my small beaded bag.

I looked back at the bluebird, which was looking at me expectantly. “Would yeh like a nice fat hempseed?” I tried several different languages, including the one avian tongue I knew, but still it did not understand me. Stupid little thing. “Kira, are yeh hoongry?”

“Well I’ve got apples, but… yeah, I am. Why?” Her bright green eye blinked expectantly from the shadows inside the barrel. “I don’t want a Phillip-burger, though!”

I grinned slowly at the little bird, my eyes sparkling wickedly. It fell back half a step, finally catching some sense of my meaning, this time without words. Before it could fly away, I scooped it up in my hand, then shoved it through one of the holes in the apple barrel in a flutter of blue feathers.

“Here, kitten. Protein.”

There was a little flurry of sound from inside the barrel as Kiralette caught the birdie, then her tail snaked out through one of the lower holes, flicking excitedly. I stuffed it back inside. There was then the little sound of crunching. “Mmmmf! Thanks, Darkling!” And then she spit the beak and talons out onto the deck, which I tucked into my small beaded bag. There’s probably a spell somewhere that would call for “pokey bits from a non-sapient bird”.

“Anytime, lass. I’ll make sure yeh get what yeh need in the crossing… we can let yeh out when yeh want, but probably best to wait ’til we arrive and they’ve little choice but to bring yeh along. And when the Baron’s hopefully distracted with soomting nefarious. And unarmed. And… can we wait ’til he’s out of shouting and weapons range too?”

Then two jolly seamen sauntered up to the collection of barrels and crates, clearly intent upon hefting them up and into the ship. I drew myself up proudly, and despite the ash-tangled hair and wanton’s dress, cut quite the picture of the noblewoman. Part of being an aristocrat is knowing that, with all these lands and monies and social station, one can do whatever one pleases, provided one do so with confidence. I sniffed haughtily… then sneezed as the ash tickled my nose.

“These barrels are full of ~achoo!~ important, delicate equipment… see to it they are handled carefully and stacked properly. Over here… by the rail… no, not like that, like this— follow me, I will show you.” And I flounced up the deck. They did as they were told, good lads, though seemed a bit annoyed that I would think they didn’t know how to handle themselves. Eventually they got it right. Kiralette huddled down inside the barrel, prudently not watching, for fear they would notice her.

Seemingly speaking to them, my words were intended for Kiralette. “I must change out of this dirty little dress. I’ll check up on yeh later!” And I clutched my small beaded purse, then flounced below deck to my stateroom.

Later, after trying several other choices, I had finally selected a wicked-sharp outfit that seemed perfect for adventuring: it was shadowy and black, consisting of a pair of well-fitted trousers (skirts and bustles are SO hard to run or swim in), belted with a stout leather belt (actually a good whip with a buckle), a billowy, floor-length coat (which might double as a blanket or sail or parachute), a light shirt with a matching silk jabon (strong silk scarves can come in handy in a variety of situations), and a pair of steel-toed, delicately-spiked black leather boots (my eebil shite-kickers, I call ’em). Strapping my Ordinal Stiletto to the belt, I felt like I could out-stab any cutthroat, out-smart any beast or primitive, out-cackle any evil mastermind. I was ready.

I strode confidently out onto the deck like I owned it, the ash-strewn air whipping through my indigo tresses… and saw the Baron. Wearing the same outfit. Drat! Well, we do shop at the same place.

Zealotous Darkling

I turned to go back to go change again before anyone had noticed the faux pas. But before I did, I spared a moment to study the Baron. His eyes were covered as usual, this time by a pair of red-tinted goggles. The confidence in his stance was unmistakable, but also typical of the man. Probably he would look confident hip-deep in screaming, slavering demons, or even saccharine wide-eyed Tinies. As he watched the supplies being loaded and stowed, the volcano flared again, casting the scene in a flickering flash of reddish light. He smiled then at Phillip, a wicked, secret little smile, and I could see his eyes behind the red glass, dancing over the sight of the flames. Ah… there it is. Avarice and mischief. There was something there he wanted, or else he would have remained behind, in safety, and sent a more expendable party. Hopefully what he wanted there was more than simply flinging a few of the expedition members (surely not me) into the lava.

Phillip growled and rumbled again, and even aboard the ship, we felt the great rocking, the water churning. Lord Zealot, Baron BardHaven, then turned his eyes to his manor in Caledon Mayfair, the House of Three Graces, where surely his wife Lady Kirawill was even now, perhaps humming a morbid little tune to herself as she nested, converting the dungeon into a volcano shelter. His brows knitted, almost imperceptively, in concern. So. He was certainly up to something, may well even have caused this great calamity, but he did not have complete control over it. He still worried over the safety of his beloved wife and home.

I took the stairs back down to my stateroom slowly, carefully, musing at how I was both reassured and worried at what I had read in those moments of watching Lord Zealot. It made me anxious to learn that Phillip was not merely his plaything, as I had rather hoped. So there was real danger there, and I felt a fleeting stab of guilt at helping Kiralette to get closer to it.

It was, however, quite good news that there was something within Phillip that the Baron wanted. Anything Zealot wanted would be a lot of wicked fun to a playful fae and shameless witch like me. Could it be treasure? Some strange weapon, a mountain of Linden$, a rare limited edition outfit? A harem of volcanic demi-god/desses, a sexgen bed programmed with every position ever attempted since the dawn of humanity? Compromising photographes or kinetoscope sequences depicting Phillip Linden or Desmond Shang in embarrassingly improbable situations? Or even…

I gasped. Surely not that. Surely no animator would be so foolish as to build such a thing…

Surely not a gesture capable of bringing every single resident on the entire grid to their knees?

The Baron would like that very much, wouldn’t he? Well, so would this former Baroness. I smiled, slow and wicked, much as I had smiled at the wee birdie. Whatever it was… I was sure I could hide it in my small beaded bag.

I returned to my stateroom, shut the door, and lay down on the bed, ignoring its’ whispers, visions of great reward dancing through my head. I remembered the twinned outfits then, realizing I should change into something less Zealot-ish, and reached deep inside my purse. I had just the thing… somewhere… next to my sword.

To be continued! here and within the tales of my Fellow Journeyers. Return soon for the next thrilling chapter, or get speared by hungry natives!



  1. Journey to … the Mysterious Island! Sea Voyage to Phillip « in the Darkling Grove, listening with the trees said,

    […] 12th, 2007 at 4:21 pm (Mysterious Island) (don’t miss the new Darkling post, buried beneath this […]

  2. HeadBurro Antfarm said,

    Ooooo – I’m really enjoying this. Can’t wait to read your take on the Huge Hopping Beast of Doom!

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