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Old Jul 3 2012, 10:58 AM   #2

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Default Re: The Case of the Dragon's Den

2. The Journal

6 : 5 : 10
We hear that everyone is fleeing to the north following the sharding volcano blowing its sharding top. The message from the Governors says that they will take as many beasts as they can but people come first. Then, meat beasts will take priority and the rest will have to take their chances left here. I am not leaving our horses behind, especially not Shaun’s Cricket, he’s our only stallion. If the horses stay; we stay.
There’s a set of caves a day-and-a-half away to the south-west of our current hidey hole. If we pack tonight and leave at dawn, we’ll have a day in hand before the next Fall’s due. I have no wish to go and crowd in some set of caves in the north. I want to travel. I had enough of being cramped on that darned spaceship. We’re going to disappear. Up the O’Connells!

9 : 5 : 10
‘Tis the luck of the Irish that we had that day in hand. The carts were aisy to get under cover but we had to take the tops off the two vardos to get them into the caves. Fall’s right on time. Lucky it’s bare rock round here. These caves are in an isolated rocky outcrop that sticks up out the flat grass land. The caves aren’t carved out. They have been formed by the cliffs of the outcrop collapsing. They are water and thread proof, but very draughty.
Tomorrow I will send Timeen and Pat off on horseback to start looking for the next caves. They will have five days: two out, two back and a day spare. We must ALWAYS have a spare day in hand. We cannot afford to lose any one, body or beast.

13 : 5 : 10
The luck’s out: darn it. Tim and Pat had no joy to the west. After the next fall we’ll try again a bit more south. I want to get us to the holding Shawn and Sorka had claimed and recorded off to our west, near the source of the Paradise River. I know that they have gone north but it feels right for us to go to Killarney.
At least there is good hunting around here, and the girls have been out gathering edible greens and berries.

18 : 5 : 10
No luck with the reconnaissance. But when we were out foraging we found a cow with a half grown bull calf. Once he’s grown we can start breeding. Not sure where they’re from but they probably wandered away from Bordeaux; that’s the nearest.

22 : 5 : 10
No luck again.

7 : 6 : 10
We only just made it to these caves. At least the long days have meant we could travel for longer each day, but we only made it here after dark, the boys forgot to tell us that wherries were using this as a roost so we found the caves were ankle deep in wherry shit. At least there SHOULD be plenty of fresh bird meat. How nice not to have to worry about the gardai or game-keepers.
We are three long days due west of our last place. If we can clear the caves out we’ll stop here for a bit. We need to mend some traces and the most of the boys need to mend their boots. We can dry some meat ready for journeying on.

15 : 6 : 10
We’ve been joined by the Moorhouses: well, seven of them, including young Lally and two of her brothers. It’s good as this will probably give me some healthy grand-children. We can now send out three pairs of scouts and cover far more territory.
They also have a pair of cows.

27 : 6 : 10
Our luck’s run out so it has. If I thought this planet had the wee folk I’d leaving out a dish of milk (if we had any: none of the cows are producing).
On our last stage here we lost a wagon: it broke a wheel. We unloaded it and by using the beast as a pack-horse, and by cramming the rest into the other wagons, we saved the load.
None of the caves round here are very big so we’re spread out. We’ve got these three and the Moorhouses have a pair about half a glass’s walk to the north.
We’re on the edge of the plain stretching across to Killarney. From here on, the ground’s not the right type for caves. Wooded hills and fertile valleys: yes. Caves: no.
We could stay here for a turn or two and plant some crops next spring. The bull will be mature enough to breed. But I think we’ll do better on the headwaters of the Jordan where there’re cliffs. Old man Moorhouse agrees, so, in a few days when our beasts are well rested and we’ve had the next fall, we’ll retrace our route back to where we found the calf and head off on different tack.
Hey ho for the roving life.
Perhaps we can salvage some of that cart.

1 : 1 : 11
Happy New Turn! I hope it will be a better one.
I only wish we had redeveloped potcheen.
We’ve been here for some months. I sent the youngsters back in teams to scrounge anything useful left at Landing (there wasn’t much). However, we now have a fair quantity of seed corn and tubers to plant. We also liberated a cart load of assorted clothing and shoes.
The boys have found Cathy Doyle.
She had been living in one of her caverns all on her own. She would hide any time she heard a sled coming but she never heard the boys. She was very undernourished until we’d fed her back up and she’s very timid and fey, but she does give us another breeding line.
Old Mick Moorhouse has died. I think it was a coronary but he was much older than me. We buried him yesterday and played a lot of the old tunes and songs. I’m now the oldest in the tribe.
Better news is that Pat and Lally want to jump the fire. With luck, by next Turn’s End I’ll be a grandfather.
I still want to move up the headwaters of the Jordan, but it’ll be a turn or two before we’re ready to move on.

1 : 1 : 12
Another turn gone.
We think Bridey has had a stroke. She fell over about three sevendays ago and her mouth’s all twisted. Cathy’s been looking after her.
Lally and Pat have had a son: a cheerful wee gurrier. They‘ve called him Porrig after me!
The boys brought back a couple of flame throwers from Cambridge-on-Jordan and some agenothree, not much. We have to take great care, but we can at least defend our crops to some extent. They also found a basic plough.

15 : 6 : 12
Jaird Moorhouse has been killed by threadfall. He and Timeen were out with the flamethrowers. The tank protected his back somewhat but his face and chest just went. We gave him mercy.
We buried him down near the river and played him to rest with the old music. Young Porrig plays a mean fiddle and gave us Danny Boy real nice.
With the amount of crop we lose each fall, it’s just as well we can get in two crops a turn, thanks to this climate.

9 : 12
I’ve lost track of the days.
We’ve scouted our route up the river. Now the harvest is in we start on our way. It will take more than one run so the young Moorhouses are moving first.
It will take around eight days travelling but there is a shelter at around five days. It’s only a deep overhang where the river has undercut a cliff on the outside of a bend. At this time of year the river level’s down so we can get to it. It’s not much but at least Fall can be sat out there.
A couple of the lads will bring the wagons back for the rest of us.

1 : 1 : 13
Well; we’re calling it Turn’s End. We’ve lost track rather. We had to guess the shortest day and we’re starting anew from today. We’re probably out of step with the rest of Pern but, isolated as we are what does it matter?
We’ve been here for a few months now. The main cave is really big with a stream running through one side of it so, so long as we take care not to foul it, we have water available even if Fall’s on. There are a number of side caves so each family unit can have its own place.
We’re using outlying caves for our stock.
There’s a lake in front of us with mountains surrounding much of it. About a quarter of the way round it sunwards the hills fall back leaving a largish flat area. we are using it for grazing as much as we can and we will be able to use part of it for our crops.
The place may not be registered with the Governors but I’ve called it “Gaillimh” as it’s very like my memories of that part of the old home.
Bridey’s getting worse. She’s had another stroke and can no longer walk.
The boys have been busy: every fertile female is pregnant.
Cricket has also done his share. We’ve had five new foals, four fillies and a colt.
The boys named our bull “Mick” in memory of old man Moorhouse. He too has been active and we got six calves, five of them female.

15 : 6 : 18 (by our reckoning)
Yesterday I lost Bridey. It was quiet and dignified. I hope I go as well when it’s my time. I held her hand and she gave me a smile (the first she’s managed for years) and went to sleep. We buried her today and played all her favourite songs.
I’m feeling my years. I must be in my sixties, probably my eighties if you count in the years I spent asleep on the space ship. The boys are running the ‘estate’ and exploring further and further afield. They’ve found an outcropping of coal. Cathy has turned her hand to pottery.
I spend most of my time pretending to be a school master for my grandchildren: thirteen of them alive so far. We lost two others through birth defects. The trouble is we’re all related to some degree. I’m insisting that the boys take care which lass they impregnate and that we keep track of each child’s parents to try to cut down on that problem in the future. So I’ve started on a family tree as I’m about the only one who remembers back to my grandparents which is where us O’Connells and the Moorhouses meet up.

25 : 10 : 36
Porrig, my father-in-law, is going blind. There’s a white growth across the centre of both eyes. He says it was a called ‘cataract’. Since he can no longer write, he’ll be dictating to me and I might actually write down what he tells me to. On the other hand I may well just do my own thing. I’ll also have to keep the family tree up to date. It’s becoming more necessary. Porrig says we could really do with a breeding outcross.
So far we’re flourishing. There’s now around fifty of us but we’re still losing about one baby in ten. Timeen is getting very stiff and his joints ache. Pat is still fine and fit.
Our herds are doing well. We’ve twenty-five mares and three stallions, also thirty one cows and two bulls (we had more bulls but we ate them).
We’ve taken to planting part of our crops under the trees. We just grub out any undergrowth and plough it as best we can. This does give some shelter from thread.
We’re out of agenothree again. When the boys next go foraging that’ll have to be a priority (again).
We’ve lost the last of the wagons. There’s no way we can make new wheels. Well, we tried solid ones made by slicing across a large trunk but it soon fell to bits since we’ve no way of fitting metal tyres. Porrig, bless the man, got us making what he called a travoy (not sure of the spelling) and it works quite well.
Pat and William made a raft for the fishing (a proper boat is a bit beyond us) and it works really well. Young Porrig is our master fisherman.
I’m probably going to have to take over the teaching from Porrig. Although he can tell them things and set them figurings and writings, he can’t check if they’re right, or if they’ve even done them at all.

18 : 7 : 43
I’m a grandmother! Young Porrig and Mair had twin boys early this morning. Neither have any apparent defects and both are doing well. I had to stitch Mair, as she tore a bit. The twins make it five in their generation so far. Old Porrig has warned us that we can expect to lose at least one in five of this generation.

19 : 7 : 43
We saw a dragon today: a bronze I’m sure. He was quite high just flying along. We could only just make out the rider. Until today I don’t think the young ones really believed Father’s tales of what happened before we started our wanderings.

27 : 6 : 56
We’ve had no Falls for thirty days. We hope this is the end of them.

8 : 3 : 57
The dragon and his rider came back today. Their names are Xareth and Tranz. Xareth is one of Faranth and Carenath’s fifth hatching. Tranz admits it was him we saw fourteen turns ago. He says that they are bored with having no thread to fight and doing dull drills is stupid since there won’t be any more thread for another two hundred turns or so. He wants to stay and explore.

16 : 3 : 57
Tranz says that our calendar is way out; that in the north they’ve changed so that they celebrate Turn’s End on THEIR shortest, which is our longest. This makes today 24 : 9 : 57. At least we have the right turn. He insists that we use the northern calendar.
Actually, he insists a lot. He’s insisted that he has the large cavern as it’s the only one big enough for Xareth. We’ve had to move out to the animals’ caves which we’re cleaning out. At least with no more thread falling and the summer coming on our herds can live out. I’m not sure what we’ll do next winter.
Tranz and Xareth go off exploring most days. I suspect they are raiding all the abandoned holdings, and possibly the north too; they bring back all sorts of things including an smallish stone cutter. Yesterday he came back with a great big knife slung down his back. I think it’s called a sword. I’ve never seen one but it looks like the description I read in a book back on earth.
Old Porrig insists that I start hiding this journal (and the family tree).

7 : 6 : 57 (OUR reckoning: sod HIS!)
I don’t know how to write this.
We had a battle.
The dragon man is dead and his sharding dragon has disappeared.
They were evil. I just hope the rest of the dragon men aren’t as bad.
I’d better get this down in some sort of order.
They’d go off raiding and bringing stuff back. All sorts of things: old instruments from landing (I’m sure some of them were from the Met Tower), sacks of black diamonds, handfuls of gold nuggets, that sword he took to wearing all the time: all manner of things. He’d pile everything in the very back of the big cave, beyond where the waterfall comes down at the side.
He expected everyone to do exactly as he said, even Old Porrig. He had any female he fancied; two of the girls are pregnant. Old Porrig had a shouting match about it and he pulled out his sword and slashed Old Porrig across the stomach. We had to bury him at night and we daren’t sing the old songs for him.
He forbade us to even go into the large cave unless he ordered us in and, with Xareth guarding it we daren’t.
After that he had Xareth kill and eat our one remaining stallion. He made us watch. It wasn’t pleasant, and he threatened that if we disobeyed him Xareth would eat US. The way he looked and sounded, we believed him, to our sorrow.
He forced the boys to build a wall across the cave, to hide his ‘horde’, with a hidden door. Pat insisted that I should write down how to get in.
Above the water fall there’s a side cavern we’ve never got into because of the fall. When the boys built the wall, they also build a flight of steps up to this cavern with the waterfall hidden behind it. At the top they did something to the flow of water so that it now flows down over the door. They had to use the stonecutter to make a large basin for the new fall to land in and a new channel to take it back under the stairs.
When they had finished he started killing the boys “so that they couldn’t tell anyone”. First it was Timeen. Then he ordered Pat in, but seven of the other boys rushed in with Pat. It took all of them to get him down and deal with him. It was my brave Young Porrig who actually slit his throat.
Until then Zareth just lay there and watched, blocking the large entrance. When Tranz was lying there with his throat cut and bleeding out like a slaughtered calf, Zareth pounced; slashed my son with his claws and took off disappearing after a couple of wing beats. “Going between” the dragon man called it.
We had to bury three: Timeen, Brian (Lally’s second son) and my eldest, Porrig. We had to amputate Pat’s right leg, but al least I’ve still got HIM.
Pat says that I MUST write down how to get in the horde.
The stones of the door are laid dry with no mortar so they’ll come out easy once the water is changed back.
To change the water back, pull out the top tread of the steps. Pat says that it is made to move. Then lift out the top riser. This releases the water back to its original route now hidden behind the steps.

9 : 6 : 57
We going to leave: it’s our only chance.
The weather’s fine this time of year and there’re no more Falls so we can head off without needing to go from cave to cave.
Pat and two of the other fighters will have to ride on the travoys like our stores and the littles.
We’re hoping that some folks will have come back to their holdings now things are getting better again. If they haven’t, then we’ll just have to get to the coast and see if there’re any boats left that we can use or mend. The boys reckon that, if necessary, they’ll build us a couple of big rafts and sail us north.
"Truth is stranger than fiction: fiction has to make sense." Leo Rosten.

"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
C. S. Lewis

"I find television very educational. Whenever somebody switches it on I go in the other room and read a book." (attributed to Groucho Marx)

The Pedants are revolting! (against bad grammar)
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