The Tale O’ A Badger And The Duke O’ Dalry
by Atticus Oldman
(with some assistance from Pol Steele)
A slight far distant something carried on the change of the breeze made the badger Brock lift his sensitive nose with a long slow inhale for clues to what had disturbed him. All round wild flowers and long grasses continued their endless dance with the true master of Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat – who’s tempestuous nature had been seemingly spent (for once) into gentle breezes and subtle caresses by the ferocity of the storm of the dark hours before.
Turning slowly the old rough two toned head of Brock took in the entire world. Stretching all around wrapped in shades of tweed and midnight, auld Lady Reekie was already gathering herself and her folk to meet the new dawn. Softened and gentrified as yet even to the badgers excellent senses by the countless breakfast fires sending their scents and signals across her glimmering skyline.
All the birds of land and sea seemed to have gathered to weave a tapestry of motion and clamour above his head as they feasted and fought over the insect bounty unleashed by the wild night and rare stillness of the coming day. Rich whipped cream mountains of cloud fountained to endless heaven already tinted rose, scarlet and bronze by the still hidden sun. Their soft and spotless beauty turned to gemstone in reflections cast in to the brittle dark waters of both Forth and Sea.
And yet… Not quite spotless.
For out of the gathering light of the horizon, a speck of hard darkness could just be made out like a stain or blot in the artist’s grand design. A few moments clarified that the speck was swiftly making its way directly towards Brock and his temporary home upon the ancient extinct volcano, nature’s very own crown rising above Scotland’s capital city.
With a yawn and a shake the old badger took the night from his bones and rose. As distance diminished Brock could tell there was definitely something unnatural about this strange creature of the sky. Moving slowly in case eyes as keen as his own happened to be about, the badger retired to a safer place to remain unobserved from above and settled down to a watchful wait.
A soft yet vicious drone as from an abomination of bees slowly filled the silence that emptied to accommodate it as the gigantic hellborn shadow against the remaining night circled and then slid to a slow stop directly over his very hiding place.
With snarl and sudden claw, Brock fell back and frozen in shock could only stare upwards through a frame of tall grass and flowers as terror and the first kiss of sunlight revealed what appeared to be the very eye of God descending down upon him.
As the sun conquered cloud and night, sudden light washed the sky clean of illusion, the eye became less godlike and more like the work of man. Still nearer as every moment passed, the iris resolved into a circular casework of pipes and machinery below a pear-drop shaped vastness of canvas and stitching, bonded together by a complex arrangement of formidable chains and rigging.
The cat shaped pupil of the imagined eye became a ship’s hull of richest mahogany inlayed with bronze and brass, flanked each side by the vast powerful engines and apparent home of the bees. Now only a few yards above the badger’s head the vast sky clipper effortlessly glided over to port and came to rest.
Leaning over the side with goggles seeming to bore into the still immobile badger’s eyes, a human came in to view wrapped in the sheepskin and leather of a airship pilot’s customary uniform. What there was of his face that wasn’t already hidden by goggles, cap and whiskers was lost to a grin exceedingly wide and unmistakably nasty in nature.
Releasing a heavy dark object from his leather gloved hand that swiftly thudded to ground inches from the badger’s head the human spoke through the wicked smile. “You sir, are one very late fellow indeed, Mr Badger sir.”
After a silent moment of eternity, still with glare fixed on goggle and grin the badger’s wide open mouth snapped shut and his paw slowly moved. Finding the object to be a flask laden with spicy alcohol he sat up and sighed. Pausing to take a long slow drink, straighten his waistcoat and recover his hat before replying in a deep rough voice. “The name is Brock as you well know. And you sir, are a complete and utter bastard…. Mr Atticus Oldman sir! So, how, where and perhaps even more pressingly from whom did you steal the balloon?
With a chuckle Atticus responded to his oldest friend’s gruff question. “Tush! It is not a balloon, so please don’t hurt its feelings before your hairy fat arse is even invited onboard m’dear auld chap. It is a top of the range air frigate and pleasure cruiser and I am set on renaming it after its former owner… The Duke O’ Dalry!”