The Architect's Essence, The Diary of Sunrise

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Unknown Date 2479 A.R.T

The weeks following our attempted game of hide-and-seek had mostly been spent excavating more chunks of quartz crystal from the strata of rock just above the lava flow. Most of us had done this out of sheer boredom but Magpie had been most enthusiastic about our mining activities and he had become completely besotted by the crystals themselves, making a pile of the glittering rock near the Coomobra skull. Above it he had written PROPERTY OF MAGPIE, an arrow scratched beneath it to indicate his treasure. I had been happy to see Cloud taking part too. It had seemed that his grief was lessening and he had finally interred the body of his butterfly beneath a pile of carefully placed stones higher up on the mountainside. It had been quite a moving ceremony and many of us had offered obituaries for the departe d butterfly, the most poetic of which had been that composed by Script who had written a short poem in memory of the butterfly;

You fluttered, you flapped,

You flew through the sky.

Look out, a volcano!

Oh dear, goodbye.

Cloud had topped the butterfly’s grave off with a large flat slab of rock upon which he’d engraved a child-like picture depicting a butterfly fluttering through a cloud strewn sky beneath a large round sun.

I had grown restless of our excavation and, hoping for a change of scenery I had asked Horizon if he would kindly escort me back down the mountainside. The notion that it was time for us to care had fermented in my mind and I had come to the conclusion that if we were to right the wrongs of the orderlies of Hush Prairie Asylum and become orderlies ourselves then we would needed to find persons or creatures that required our care. Unfortunately, the only potential patients that the mountainside had to offer us had been Cloud’s already deceased butterfly and a rather shattered skull belonging to a creature from an extinct race. At the time I had felt certain that both were far beyond help and so I had planned to journey back into the quagmire that surrounded us on the off chance that some creature in the surrounding lands was in need of our service.

Horizon had been only too happy to oblige my request and so one dry but crisp morning we had left Magpie’s mine and once again we had set off down the perilous stairway. Without Butter and Omen to hamper us our descent had seemed quick and easy and we had reached the lava flow without incident. Though the view of the Creation Tree still remained to the south, the horizon to the north-east seemed to have altered and had inexplicably gained a vast canopy of autumn foliage which I did not recall having noticed upon our previous descent. Horizon had also pointed out the presence of the forest and had scratched out, How did we miss that? in the cooled lava between us. He had procured his compass and had held it out toward the forest, turning it so that the words ‘New Horizons’ faced it. Exactly what he was hoping to achieve from this was unclear to me.

I had shaken my head in reply and had asked Horizon how long he thought it would take for us to walk to the distant trees. It had seemed to me that the forest was the ideal place to find creatures in peril and I was eager to reconnoiter it. Horizon had gauged that it was a full day’s trek away and, as he did not believe we would make the journey there and back before nightfall he had suggested that we explore a little closer to home first. When I had enquired as to the difference between a trek and a walk Horizon had informed me that a trek was an arduous walk which would likely involve mud, bumpy terrain, calluses and the use of something called a trekking pole. Horizon had also used the words tramp, yomp, haul, trudge and footslog to describe our potential journey, none of which had sounded even remotely appealing.

When we had reached the base of the mountain, we had found that the mud had dried considerably and was much firmer underfoot. We had skirted the base of the mountain, this time heading east. The air had been very clear that day and I recall that even at the base of the mountain we were still able to hear the rhythmic clatter of Magpie’s excavations high above us. The land to the east had been just and bleak and putrid smelling as the land to the west but it did offer us a hillock which I believe had been high enough to hold its head above water during the flood. As we had made our way through the valley between the hillock and the mountain, I had noticed a flash of fleeting movement on its slope as if we had disturbed a creature which had been at rest there and I had urged Horizon to help me to mount it.

In later years the hillock would become affectionately known as Little Bedlam and would become a favorite picnic spot of Horizon who, (though he does not consume any of it,) enjoys carrying a packed lunch with him during his travels. He is particularly fond of sausage rolls, finger sandwiches and relishes in a good ploughman’s lunch.

I had found Little Bedlam to be easily surmountable and I had discovered a few wildflowers and ferns growing amongst its rocky crevasses. Upon reaching its peak we did not immediately find the fleeing creature as I had hoped but instead, we had found some burrows into which I realized it must have retreated. Horizon had advised patience and we had sat atop Little Bedlam for some time waiting for the creature to reemerge. The rock of Little Bedlam was sedimentary and was much softer than the hard, igneous rock of its larger fire-spewing sibling. Whilst we had sat, I had examined the rock and had discovered that with very little effort it could be broken away in large flat sheets which were perfect for writing on. Look, I had written, showing Horizon my primitive invention. Now we can walk and talk.

Horizon had been most impressed by my ingenuity and he had soon pried his own sheet of stone from Little Bedlam. Wait until we show the others, he’d written. They’ll all want one!

It was around this time that my mystery creature had made its appearance. It had been about the size of my fist when I grip a moderately large stone, (again I must apologize for my poor comparisons of size, weight and length.) The creature was timid and had long, alert ears and powerful hindlegs. It had moved with cautious little hops toward us, sniffing at the bare rock. I had carefully scratched a question onto my slate, fearful that any sudden movement would send the creature scurrying back into its burrow. More of the creatures had emerged from the burrows, following their scout into the sunlight until I counted twelve separate individuals. What are they? I’d written, turning my slate toward Horizon.

They’re bunny rabbits I think, Horizon had replied with a shrug. They’re little bouncy critters that like to dig holes.

The bunnies had looked quite thin and they had steadily advanced upon us, a hungry gleam in their eyes. I feel quite foolish looking back now but I will admit that at the time I had felt quite threatened by the approaching gang of bunnies. I now have a large hutch of bunnies which I keep amongst the beehives and choom-choom coups at the edge of Oats’ Western garden. I have four bunnies in total, all of them Phoenixhelm lops. When trying to name them I kept true to our tradition and risked my life by showing them the ink blot. I find that bunnies are not very vocal however and I’m not sure they really comprehended what I was asking of them. Their only reaction to the blot test was to twitch their nose, chew on a sprout, scratch behind their ears and to dig in Oats’ lawn (which he was most disapproving of.) Therefore, I named them Twitch, Sprout, Scratch and Burrow. I find them peaceful and lovable creatures which have a positive, calming effect both on myself and on the patients, who help me tend them. That day atop Little Bedlam however was my first encounter with a bunny and I had been uncertain of their disposition and diet and I recall that I’d asked Horizon if they were likely to attempt making a meal of us.

Horizon had jiggled as he’d silently chuckled at my question and had wiped an imaginary tear of mirth from his goggles. Have no fear, he’d assured me. They’re quite harmless unless you are a dandelion or a cabbage.

So, they eat plants? I had looked around at the sparse vegetation of the surrounding land and had again taken in the thinness of the bunnies.

Horizon had nodded, picking up on my thoughts. I think most of their food is gone, he’d written, flipping over his sheet of slate. Ruined by the eruption and the flood I expect. I do not think they’ll survive the coming winter without food.

Concern had swelled inside me and I’d realized that I’d had found what I’d been seeking. The bunnies needed help and I had vowed then that I we would be the ones to provide it. I looked toward the canopy of autumn leaves we’d spotted in the east and I knew what we had to do.

We’re going to get these bunny creatures some food, I’d written. We need to get to that forest.

Horizon had nodded and had rubbed his hands together with apparent glee. I was hoping you were going to say that, he’d replied.

Before leaving Little Bedlam and the hungry bunnies behind, myself and Horizon had collected many more sheets of slate to carry back to the mountain for our brethren. The presents had been gratefully received by all and the first words written on them had been words of thanks. Unfortunately, Butter’s slate had only lasted a few moments as, in her excitement, her feet had become quite tangled and it had smashed beneath her as she’d tumbled to the ground. Luckily Skull had offered to share his own slate with her if she promised to try and stay upright. He had also informed her that she was not allowed to hold it.

I had been pleasantly surprised by the performance of my new slate board. Writing upon its easily impressible surface had been much quicker and easier on the wrist than having to scratch my words into the hard rock of the mountainside and I had used it to inform the others of the plight of the Little Bedlam bunnies and subsequently of my planned mission to obtain food for them from the mysterious eastern forest. I had asked for volunteers to join us on our expedition and to my dismay the first two individuals who had stepped forwards had been Omen and Butter. Skull had followed in Butter’s faltering footsteps and he was followed by Bubbles, Pulida, Blancmange, Taboo and Cloud. Along with myself and Horizon that made a party of ten. We had decided to meet at the top of the Day Trip steps at sunrise the following morning to commence our journey, a journey which, unbeknownst to us, would lead us much further afield than we could possibly have imagined.

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