The Spider Cliff Mysteries

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Grey cells and mental locks

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Grey cells and mental locks

Posted by Radek, 8:29am, 14 Sep, 2011

... Not to be confused with mental blocks, Radek thought ruefully to himself. He tended to suffer from those rather painfully and irregularly - but just as often found himself gripped by a sort of feverish inspiration; and this was one of those times. He had woken up after a long dream, one that seemed both far off and near all at once. It had been pleasant, so why had it come to an end..? Also, why had he been sleeping on a park bench? In a garden? Curiouser and-

"Alice?" Blinking groggily and rising to his feet, Radek cast his gaze about for a certain Adventurer/Proprieter/Shoppe Owner and (temporary) Barrister par excellence. "... Right. The sun is out, so i was... Gardening? Something like that, it seems. Those rutabagas look pretty ghastly. Geeze, hope that wasn't my sloppy work, eheheh." Slapping the palm of his hand against the back of his neck, the gunman continued to prattle on to no-one in particular. Perhaps he was simply talking to break up the tyrannical silence which loomed over the garden; for as his ears adjusted to the waking world, no sound could be heard, save for his voice as he spoke and his boots against the grass.

The garden was large, and despite the presence of turnips, beetroot, and flax mostly ornamental; someone had been dabbling with tulips, though even the darkest was still a pale purple as opposed to a true ink-like black. An old stone arch loomed above him, wrapped tightly in the embrace of looming kudzu. Some distance away, a simply paved road that was home to more weeds than cobblestones led to a large house of the kind that he had rarely had the occasion to visit, perhaps the estate of some rural character who quite detested the city, but couldn't let go of the comforts of extravagant property... Radek chuckled at the thought, and looked over his shoulder - trying to shake a feeling that something was watching him.

Beyond the garden and past the house, heath grass faded quickly into forest in all directions. There was no clear way in or out.

Radek resisted the urge to call for Alice again - she'd find him, he had no doubts. And get him out of this jam, hopefully..? "Don't tell me m'eyes are going, now?" Fidgeting with the brim of his hat - a straw hat that he didn't recall having worn earlier - Radek tried to remember if the letter on the bench he had previously been resting on had been there mere moments ago.

'Dear Sir,

The party shall not began for sometime; things have been delayed due to circumstances far beyond our control. All guests will receive a letter of some sort identifying and apologizing for this breach in festivities. We ask with humbled demeanor that you wait and mingle with the other guests until the dinner ceremony has began.'

He turned the letter over several times, looking for any other text - none remained, save for a wax seal - previously broken. Radek frowned for some time, then curled his lips into a grin. "Well, if they want us to mingle, there's no harm in doin' some reconnaissance. And i'm more likely to find Belladora if i keep moving-"

Confidence half-bolstered, the gunman left the soundless garden- and as he walked down the long abandoned road, it returned to a silence complete and profound.

And The Frog Was No More~

Posted by Alice belladora, 9:41am, 25 Sep, 2011

Ah, yes, it had all seemed like such a good idea at the time, she thought from inside the musical instrument. Yes. Yes it had. She didn't know why she was thinking this, and those thoughts were soon overtaken by intrigue upon her realization that she was sticking out of a large red drum.

Right, she said to herself, wincing at the rather sharp pain spreading down her left shoulder, how had she gotten herself into this situation?

Ah, but of course. Her memory was already flooding back, like, like, a... like something big and flood-like.
She had awoken, yes. That's what she'd done. Inside that building, and quite suddenly too.
Not surprising, though, that she had done so, considering the absolute din that had evidently been going off for quite some time before her arrival. She had quite liked the trumpet player's obvious enthusiasm for his art, though she couldn't quite decipher the strange squeaking noises the piccolo player's piccolo was making as any kind of tune that she had ever heard before.

They had been doing a sort of dance, too, around the gilded parrot-tree, much to the appreciation of all concerned. This had been several minutes ago, of course, before young Alice had in her stupor carelessly stumbled down the fourteen steps leading up to the building, and ended up in a rather undignified position inside the aforementioned drum which belonged, upon inspection, to a chap with a large mustache, which, seconds before, he had been thumping away at with great abandon.

"The drum, not the mustache, of course!" Alice said with a merry laugh. She did not know why she said this.

Anyway. Naturally, the mustache'd chap had seemed quite ready to deliver a good ear-bashing to Alice, his face an interesting shade of magenta, but fortunately a distraction had arrived in the shape of a bright orange gourd, which had rolled to a halt in front of the assembled party.
There had been a great silence, and a leaf had blown down from the parrot-tree, landing with a certain poetry atop the Pianist's feathered cap.

"Let us not be disgruntled by the arrival of this scruffy woman", spoke the gourd. "Let us rejoice in her appearance here, in our garden, where the golden queen did send us to practice under the watchful gaze of the glorious parrot-tree!"

The gourd did stop in its utterance then, and let its words sink slowly into the minds of the band, like a dead frog slowly sinks towards the bottom of the pond. Indeed, as this piece of descriptive writing was delivered, the fourth wall was abruptly broken by nothing other than, yes, a frog, free falling through the neverending sky, and landing squarely in the middle of Alice's forehead.
The band's attention was diverted towards this happening, and under their silent gaze did the hapless amphibian slowly roll from the place of its landing onto the grass, where it would lie forever.

It was at this point that Alice awoke a second time, into the world of the so-called real, where she was being rudely prodded at by a grubby old merchant with a beard so matted with grime and bits of dried food that it was almost solid. Ah, business as usual.

"Whatcha think yer doin' lyin int' middle of't rooooaaaad?" Enquired he.

"Whurrathewha?" Replied Alice politely.

"Yer caaan't do that, yer blockin' me way, doncha' see? I gots to get this ere' delivery tuthha' palace, (it was here he gestured somewhat wildly in the direction of a battered old cart sitting solemnly several paces behind him) an' after that I've gorra nuther' delivery an' all, before wednesday It's gotta arrive, otherwise that's another groat out of me own pocket!"


"Come on, up up up! Off the road, else you'll be for it an' all!"

Just as Alice was about to protest, and claim intense fatigue as well as probable brain damage, owing to her recent exciting journey into another dimension, a second cart, this one horse-drawn, trundled to a standstill behind the first cart.
This cart seemed to belong to a much smarter personage than the bearded merchant, whose name, had anybody cared to ask, was Earnest Grubber.
This new person's name certainly wasn't even in the same realm as Earnest Grubber, a name which would immediately bring to mind fields filled with ripe cabbages.

This new person was almost certainly called something like Oscar Withering-Smythe, or perhaps Henry Wuthering-Fitzgerald-Rabbitfoot of Dinglebury. Or even, possibly, a combination of the two.
He sat proudly upon his cart, its shine unmistakably owing to a good waxing with a wax so expensive that to even speak its name made one's coin-purse seem strangely light. He surveyed the scene, a thin wisp of pipe smoke spiraling into the dusky sky from the depths of his soft grey traveling cloak.

Alice stood, her form silhouetted against the ever-darkening horizon, upon which could be seen distant trees and cottages.
The first merchant began hopping about with impatience. "Here we go again," he said angrily, stamping his foot. "Another bloody dramatic piece of imagery unfolding before me. All i want is ta' get this delivry' done and gerra a nice pinta' ale at Madame Rosalind's. That's all. Not much to ask. I'm seventy three years old, an' i don't have the time or the energy ta ang' abaaaht waitin' for the blasted author to get on with the damn story!"

No one paid him much attention, and soon Alice was standing in the back of the second man's gleaming cart, amongst many mysterious boxes and barrels, going, as always, wherever the wind, or in this case a chap with a silly name, took her.
She would find adventure soon, no doubt, she thought, as the plains unfolded before her in the fading light. Each blade of grass danced in the evening breeze, together creating a symphony of rustling glory, and in the distance, very faintly, on the whispering wind, could be heard the sound of Earnest Grubber swearing loudly. Yes, this was the life, Alice thought, reclining against a sackful of vegetables. This was the life.

This message was last edited on 25 Sep 2011.

Of the Ancient Almerian Mourning Chant for Amphibians (Now Passed)

Posted by Radek, 9:19pm, 25 Sep, 2011

Travelers who travel lonesomely are prone to creating songs or poems to pass the time; for those of you who have not had the pleasure of walking long roads without the familiar voice of friends, or even well-respected enemies, it can be assured that it is infinitely preferable to the striking silence that seems to haunt even the most serene road. So was the situation with Radek, who after traveling for some time, had began to hum a half-remembered folk song to himself - only the crickets had been singing beforehand, and their song was pleasant enough... But as the sun began to sink into the sky, it drew ones eyes to the wild areas beyond the road, where any manner of thing could lurk - even the dreaded Virulent Snark.

"And when the sun goes down, let dreams come easy, for we shall not sow to sleep-
But when gentle night peers beyond red clouds.... Something, something deep. It wasn't even supposed to rhyme, was it?" Radek didn't particularly expect a reply. After all, how often is it that a traveler on a lone road receives a reply? And when it is late, and quite anything could be about, how often is one wanted?

"Not at all. You failed, m'boy."

The grizzled - or perhaps merely tired - young man in the handstitched straw hat leapt into the air and fell to the ground with equal flourish, his coat buoying his fall but doing quite little to protect his pride - for the deep voice which had startled him so belonged, of all things, to a ghostly apparition... Of a very tiny frog.

"You - you look fairly deceased." Radek winced at the banality of this comment, but nothing else had come to him. "Er, forget that. I mean to say - ah, a ghost. Or spirit. Seems they follow me around. Not me in particular, I mean. Isn't there a legend about thi-"

"For the old ones and all their children, please don't try to rhyme again. You disturb my mirth-filled swampy afterlife!... But you see, i cannot pass onto it until someone goes through the glories of my long and triumphant existence." The spirit croaked with a mixture of indignation and pride; Radek had to admit, it did look to be an accomplished old frog.

Hesitating, the gunman ran a hand through coppery hair with gloves that had been mended so many times it looked as if they might possess unintentional geometric patterns. He bit his lip and ground his teeth - for although it was a strange bequest, it also seemed quite crass to just leave the spirit of the frog alone to pester someone else. "Right. So, o' wartridden friend of the wooded glen; tell my your life story, and I shall memorize it and make sure to memorialize it in fiction, where many will read of your amazing adventures."

And to Radek's surprise, amazing they were - for not only was the old frog the first of it's kind to climb a particularly challenging slope, it had also discovered many forgotten lands and written several fine plays (both comedic and dramatic). By the end, Radek even held back slight tears - but managed to hide by looking into the sun at a suitably picturesque moment. And when he returned his gaze - the frog spirit was gone.


"Guess I'll keep walking, then."

Feeling suddenly very alone, Radek continued along the road even as the warm glow of the sun began to leave his back - the wind was cool and mild and the air was crisp, but the temporary brightness in the air only served to say that night would soon fall; a night less final than that beckoning a certain frog, but one with no shelter or food, nonetheless. Ah; for simplistic pleasures like carrot and coriander soup, or the bowls of paella that he would serve at the house of his family-

Radek must have looked terribly embarrassing as he fell to the ground in surprise for the second time that evening; the crack of wheels over unaccommodating terrain had sounded like a gunshot, or perhaps some wild beast... Though not as terrifying as the cries of one Ernest Grubber, if local legend was to be believed. Brushing the dirt - which had significantly accumulate around his clothes, both from many days of travel and his embarrassing fall, Radek put on his best smile and snapped into a quick bow.

"Radek Skinner, sir. Professional gunman, wandering righter of wrongs... Trouble magnet, poet of little skill, and master of fighting in reverse." The self-deprecation in his voice was purely coincidental, of course. The rather classy merchant(?) watched Radek introduce himself impassively, the cloud of smoke surrounding him and his rye-spackled horse lingering with the scent of crushed cloves. His eyes betrayed nothing as they appraised the man in front of him.

"... Honestly, i don't know this place, or where I'm going. So I'd appreciate a ride until the next settlement, at least. i'm a good shot, and i try to listen. So if it's no trouble..." After some time, the cloud of grey smoke and grey fabric that hid the countenance of someone who might have been Oscar Wuthering-Smythefoot (of the Smythe/Rabbitford line, don'tchaknow) sighed and gestured towards the back of a cart that looked like a tiny store or museum, all it's own.

Smiling sheepishly, but with the honesty of one who is truly thankful, Radek climbed into the back of the cart and pulled his hat brim down, resting against a large crate that bore no markings and seemed precariously light. The second thing he noticed was a sack of vegetables that immediately made him remember his previous hunger - and he wondered if he still happened to have that Tulaytulah steel pan in his overly cramped pack.

The first thing he noticed, although it took him several surreptitious stares to believe it...

Well, it was enough to see her, wasn't it? If this had happened to be the very last of their ramblings and tomorrow the frog and all it's amphibian kin were to return and claim the earth - it wouldn't be such a bad ending to their adventures. Pushing the brim of his hat up as the night air began to fill with the first of the evening fireflies, Radek smiled softly at the person across from him. "Hallo there, Alice. It's been a long while, hasn't it?"


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