Thursday, March 06, 2008

Coming and Going

Well, I'm back, after another long and unexplained absence. At least I can make it a long and explained absence, if nothing else.

However a Wayfinder's abilities work - whatever it is that enables them to find any place, no matter how elusive - I think I must have the opposite. I've been lost in a single building for over a month. I spent Christmas in the Galleria (and there will be a whole post on that later), then wandered around for a few more weeks until I found the door. I could hardly believe it; I was starting to think I wouldn't get out until Spring.

I wonder, now, if the Galleria was just keeping me until I had given it enough paintings. Artists and architects are its life; I can't imagine it would be eager to let them go, especially the traveling ones, who may never find their way back.

When I left, I found Plack sitting right by the door and eating grass. He looked extremely bored. Once he saw me, he let me know that he had, in fact, BEEN extremely bored, and what had taken me so long? I explained that I had gotten lost; he snorted, as if that was only to be expected, and walked away without another word.

We left Jijangola completely unnoticed. Everyone was inside, lost in their own creations, and wouldn't have been interested if they had seen us. It was starting to snow as we left. So much for reaching the Train before the first snowfall... Oh well. The Jijangolans have never gotten around to building a Train station (the foundations of one are gradually being engulfed by the outskirts of the Galleria, but the builder seems to have lost interest before laying any track. Someone else is busy covering the gap-toothed bricks with red and white tiles).

After leaving Jijangola, we wandered through the Trackless forests of the Railway Regions for another month or two, looking for a Train station. We managed to miss every single one of the little foothill towns; the few small villages (and one slug farm, of course) that we passed through were too small to afford a station. Some of them were little more than a collection of cabins. However little room they had, though, they were always just as welcoming as everyone else in the Railway Regions. A blanket on the floor of someone's root cellar is much more comfortable than sleeping outside in January. Plack and I both grew our Winter coats a few weeks after leaving Jijangola, so we were rarely too cold, but it's been a bit too wet in the Regions this year to sleep outside. I can't even imagine what it would have been like if we'd come in through the Great Shwamp instead of the foothills.

We arrived yesterday, tired and muddy from months of travel, in Milldacken. The whole city rumbles day and night - even now, when the river's mostly frozen - but it's still relaxing, if only because it has a Train station. No more trudging through the snow for me. It also has a post office (few postbirds visit Jijangola, as the people there are mostly uninterested in the outside world), so I can finally write again.

Unfortunately, reaching the Train does not put an end to trudging through the snow for Plack. The Train hasn't arrived yet, but there's no need for him to carry my luggage when I'll be able to just cram it safely into the baggage rack in my compartment. I doubt turnstile trolls will be a problem on the railroad.

We said goodbye this morning. Plack said that it had been an interesting trip, if nothing else, and that I was less annoying than he'd expected. (I think that's a good thing.) He even let me draw a sketch of him after I'd taken the luggage off.

The last I saw of him, he was leaving with a large samoval (why do I keep saying that? They're all large), whose luggage consisted mostly of a gigantic baritone balinga in a leather case. Plack did not look happy.

Well, he never does, really, but I'll miss him anyway.

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