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…
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!