HBA Stories

Whilst over in Minecraft… Kahruvel Lives!

Salazar may be lost to SL, but his journeys through the many universes can be traced if you know where to look. For example, I have recently found a shard of the once mighty Kahruvel forest in, of all places, Minecraft on my tablet!



But that’s just a forest, you might say and quietly wonder if old Burro boy is losing his marbles. Well, that rather assumes I had any to lose in the first place, you cheeky sods! Look, I would know the energy signature of the forest anywhere, in any reality, in any format. The forest is what made me, what changed me, and I’m an a part of it now and I would recognise even the smallest leaf from its deepest depths. That and I found this:


And this:


And this:


Is Sal still around? Has he moved on to another shard? How did he know Os & I are searching for him? Or would find this shard? All these questions and more might be answered one day… but I ain’t promising nothing. You hear me? Nothing!

A Much Changed Forest…

I took the long journey back to the forest yesterday but even the strangeness of my dream could not have prepared me for what I found there. The gridquakes I had heard about, often third or fourth hand from people who knew that despite my distance from the world Cowell & Kahruvel still meant a great deal to me, had wreaked havok through the ancient woodland and nearby village. It broke my heart to see so many familiar old landmarks gone, washed away into the void or desecrated by hateful thugs possessed by desires I would never, ever understand. Still, even though the tower had finally crumbled into the sea and the aqueduct had collapsed over the cliff, the forest itself still felt warm and inviting and I had a warm glow of nostalgia as I walked beneath her boughs. Even passing the spot where I had found the backpack that had transformed me so long ago made me smile a little.

But that smile faded as I came across the ancient landing stones near the border with Noyo. In my last visit Salazar’s archaeological dig had uncovered a circle of stone posts around a central dais and I had detected a weak, blue light rising up the stones and dissipating into the atmosphere. Although the stone circle had always been called a landing point, in truth I had no idea what it was for and the blue light inside it was just as mysterious, but now I found the site in an awful state of disrepair! All but one of the stones had gone, whether by the efforts of looters or the vagaries of grid stability I could not tell, but the rhythms of the blue energy had obviously thrown into discord and instead of a bubble of energy gently rising up the stones, now great arcs ballooned off into the air and crackled all around me.

“Impressive, huh?” came a voice behind me. I spun around with my heart in my mouth only to find my old friend, and follow half-gazelle, Shigeko Tachikawa stood looking at the light show.

“Shig! Wow! So, you see it too, huh?” I said.

“Yeah, I see it. No one else seems to, I’ve been watching and no one stops, just me, and now you. Oh, and hi by the way,” with that she hit me hard on the arm.

“Ow!” I said, “What was that for?”

“How long have you been away? How long?” she replied, emotion strong in her voice.

“Ahh, yeah, that,” I said sheepishly. “Look, I’m sorry, I’ve been busy…” I trailed off and offered her the kind of big toothy grin that often got me out of trouble, and occasionally got me in more.

“Yeah,” she said with semi-mock hurt, “Well just don’t do it again, ok?”

“I’ll try,” I said but knew I couldn’t ever keep such a promise. The lure of other worlds was always going to be too strong to ignore. I turned away from my lie and looked back into the light, a large arc just passing us by and running over some metal equipment Salazar had left out nearby.

“What is it?” she asked.

“I’m not sure but my guess only Sal, or his gran, will know what to do about it. How about we take a wander down to the lighthouse and leave him a note?”

Shig beamed a smile at me and said “Race?”

I laughed, “Yeah, why not but you go easy on an old guy, huh?”

She laughed back, “Never!” and pushed me to the floor. I landed with a thud in the dust of the trail and she shot off like a rocket over the hill. I jumped to my feet and shouted after her “You cheat!” Ha! Who was I kidding, there was no way I’d ever beat her. I set off at a trot down the path but as I passed the pile of Sal’s equipment I turned back for one last look at the energy bleeding and arcing from the old stone. What the hell did it all mean? I must speak to Sal.

A Curious Dream in Kahruvel

I dreamt of the shaman last night, not something I have done in over two years.
Backpacking Burro - Kahruvel

In the dream I awoke on the floor of the old wooden lookout clinging to the side of the hills over the sea of Mohr and found the shaman sat staring at me, just as he had done so long ago. As always with dreams the details are hazy and hard to recall exactly, but I must have asked him what he wanted because he pointed out to sea and said “Look at the clouds.” Over the waters rain-heavy clouds hung like wet washing on a line. “Look at the clouds,” he said again, “the pressure is building.” I must have asked what pressure but he merely repeated himself before standing and pointing at the sun which suddenly began rising over the far off storm. “The light is rising,” he said, “The light is rising.”

And that was it. I awoke from my dream and found my fur sodden with sweat and my heart racing. I’m sure it is nothing, I mean the shaman, the Eldars and even the damn elemental in my old backpack have been silent for so long now I’d truly begun to believe the past was done with me. Maybe it is. Still, I think I’ll pay a visit to the old forest tonight and see how it is faring.

Steal Head: The Story In Full.

The great thing about multi-participant roleplay is the sheer scope & inventiveness of posts and photos that people post to their blogs. Unfortunately it can mean that it’s hard to follow the ebb and flow of the tale and sometime you can miss whole chunks. To try and address this I maintained a record of everyone’s posts and listed them in a chronological order that made sense to the tale. If you’ve never read “Steal Head” before, or are returning to re-read it, I hope this guide helps you find your way through what proved to be an amazing four months of my life 🙂


The tale begins…

All across Steelhead, people start having nightmares… ((An OOC call to join in the nightmares!))

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the first time…

A vandal paints graffiti around town

A message is revealed and the Sentinel is on the case!

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the second time…

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the third time & Capt Creighton delivers a photograph…

Steal Head Arrives in Town!

Lunar calls for an expedition to the site of the photograph.

Dr Beck writes to the Town Council for the fourth time & Capt Creighton delivers a photograph from the expedition…

More from around Steelhead on the spate of vicious murders! ((An OOC call to join in the murderous fun!))

Dr Beck falls to the creature and a rescue is undertaken.

The end of Steelhead’s nightmare, yet Ya Yiwama claims one final victim…

In the murky waters of Steelhead’s Shanghai port, the legacy of evil battles on…


Steal Head: The End.

All “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.

The kindness of neighbours…

When I moved to the wilderness of St Helens I knew that food would be a problem. Of course I could go to town to buy provisions but that would defeat the object of coming out here. I toyed with asking Beck to bring what I needed on his visits, but in truth I don’t want him to visit. He’s nice enough and means well, but he is… a complication. No, I needed to be as self-sufficient as possible as possible, but even so I still needed to get food from somewhere until the land thawed out enough to plant, let alone grow, my food. So thank the gods for Mara Razor and her mill!

Situated across the mighty Spirit river from my own land, I first saw Mara’s mill in operation when I had toured the region looking for somewhere to live…
Steelhead St Helens Tour

Mara had brought in farm animals and begun to grow her own food in order to to feed the ever hungry mouths of her charges, the Scamps and urchins that had made my life in the city so difficult. Without her bravery, I have no doubt that many of these wee tormentors may have fallen to the monster Creaky Gloom!

I had Beck approach Mara with a proposal – for a modest, regular payment she would provide me with enough food to see me through winter. To my delight she agreed and ever since she has left a packed basket on her pier and all I have to do is row across and pick it up. It was just this I was doing when I noticed something rather nice – she has found a replacement for poor Horace, her donkey so cruelly killed by Gloom.
Steelhead St Helens

It fair made my day and as I paddled back to my campsite I found myself looking forward to the day ahead cutting and shaping logs for my planned cabin…
Steelhead St Helens

HBA Island – The Road To Its Ruin

As some of you will know, HBA Island is no more. A volcano erupted in the middle of the jungle of my old home and burnt the lot down ending what was, by then, a two year labour of love for me.

HBA Island: The End

I won’t go into the history of how I came to have a small plot of land as unhappy tales of griefers and the like are sooooo 2007, but suffice to say that in the first few months my wee 4ksqm plot was a real life saver. Even after I had moved back away and begun exploring the grid the island had a very special place in my heart and I’m only too glad that a) so many of my friends came to visit, and b) so many people I now count as friends called my home their home.

But all things must end, or at the very least change, and my jungle is no different. I was never there, I had stopped adding to the art gallery, the tale of the shipwrecked sailor had been abandoned and the humper bunker next to me had grown to be a small thorn in my side. So before I ended up falling out with neighbours I’d known for some time, and before I grew to see my jungle not as a place of peace, but as a creative mill stone, I knew I had to get rid of it.

I *did* think about selling it, but since I bought it in 2007 for 6L$ a sqm land prices had crashed, the measly 1L$ per sqm I would have received (even if I could have found a buyer) just wasn’t worth the effort. I simply informed the owner (the ever excellent Deoko Cassidy) that I wasn’t going to renew after the current rent ran out and he should take back the land. I then had a week or so to plan its demise… bwahahahahahaha!

Actually, my first idea was for a meteorite strike (this grew out of an idea I had in 2007 to have meteorite strike the jungle and slowly convert it to an alien landscape) but at the same time Miss Ordinal Malaprop was having a similar idea to get rid of her land in Caledon and two such strikes seemed… uninventive. Besides, somehow it didn’t feel right – as I said, the idea was an old one and with an very different purpose in mind, to wit the continuation of the Island as a story telling medium, and this was not what I wanted.

As I have mentioned on many occasions, all my good ideas occur in the shower, and as I stood under the lovely hot water one morn I felt the idea pop into my mind – a volcano! Burn the bloody island to the ground!

I had a week left and began planning that very night – Sally the crab would return (following the poll I ran) and cause the cataclysm. The volcano would grow a little each night, finally eruting and burning the whole place down for the last 2 or 3 nights until BOOM! HBA Island was no more. So with a volcano from Brenda Schoonhoven and a sculptie stream which I edited to run with lava, from the very clever Vlad Bjorenson I set about the dread deed! Below I present a pictoral record of the end of my Island and the group which I’d set up to use it – one thing I will say is that manually deleting nearly a thousand Linden trees and plants is more time consuming than you might at first imagine 0.o

First the Art Gallery and building area had to go…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Then I fell back to earth…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Where I deleted the old TP point and welcome area with the freebies and seats and stuff…
HBA Island: The End

Before clearing some trees for the volcano. I buried it deep so it was just a circle of rock – as I pulledit up, more and more trees had to go until, by the time the full 60m one was in place, I had to go inside and delete hundreds of trees and plants!
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Then I added fire and the sculptie stream
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

And stood back with Sally to admire our work…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

After the photos were taken for the story “HBA Island: The End”, all that was left to do was clear the island of all prims and delete the HBA Island group (5 members – me, Ryne [also me] and Janey, Pinkie & Annika)…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: the End

HBA Island: the End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Sigh… the end of a 2 year chapter of my life 🙂

Backpacking Burro: A Mystery Reader!

This being a WordPress blog I can see a list of posts and pages read each day – it’s a great way of seeing what people like and don’t like and I have to say I’m becoming morbidly addicted to my stats page, eager to see if my readers are still, well, reading. Ahhh, vanity thy name is Burro…

Anyhoo, it appears today that some rather lovely person is busy reading all my old Backpacking Burro posts and I can’t tell you how happy I am! Thank you! So often the story posts get no comments and it starts to feel like I’m writing them for me alone.

I feel the need to point out to my mystery reader a few things:

1) Typos are my curse…

2) I’m not a writer so the prose probably won’t be that polished I fear.

3) You’ll notice three ‘gear changes’ in the tale and these deserve some explanation…

I started the BB tale way back in summer 2007 as a way to quickly explain why I was half-gazelle before moving on to reprinting my in-world travel guides and posting more. You see in-world I had been writing and distributing free travel guides under my group, Backpacking Burros, for some months and I decided I wanted them on my blog (they were also becoming more and more filled with a backstory about the backpack taking me places for some unknown reason and this warranted a blog, I thought). So the initial posts of the BB tale are all about my transformation and some backstory about looking for items (good idea for a traveller, thought I) before the first gear change sees them settle down into a more sedate tour guide style as I wandered through Cowell and Kahruvel. But time passed and the story stalled and when I came to awaken it the in-world travel guides had stopped. I decided to spice up the tale with the second gear change and add some Celtic monsters into the mix – hence the Formorian attack on the tower. But then the story stalled again. Until, that is, Darien Mason fired me up for writing again and I decided, with a third gear change, to end the BB tale and move into The Lost Journal & Lost & Found. This third change was the strangest as I actually broke the fourth wall and had the avatar HBA look at the real HBA and break the connection with him – I loved writing this, although I’m not sure I did it justice if I’m honest.

But fear not! The BB tale is still there! The backpack and the elemental are still with me, just dormant until… well, that dear reader is a secret you’ll have to keep reading my blog to uncover 😉

So once again, thank you for looking over my old ramblings – it makes it all worth it, you know 🙂

It went Bump in the Nightie

lady-heady-face-2“It went Bump in the Nightie” – Extract of a SL novel by Lady Heady Antfarm.
(Soon to be found at Grignano Books)

“Damn it Philipina! I told you this was no job for an ex-kneecap model and budgie-sexer! This house is haunted damn it! Haunted by ghosts, spectres and at least two hideous ghoulies if what we’ve been told is right and it may just be or not who knows!” Dr Erasmus Wilkinson was angrier than he’d ever been, and the sight of his faithful assistant shivering and scared in her translucent night gown just made him even more furious. Furious and curious, for he was a scientist after all, lest he, and we, forget it, of course. Naturally. Furious that she had awoken him from his slumber, and curious as to what was making the air temperature drop so much he fancied he could easily hang a couple of hats in front of his beautiful Lady-Man Friday.

“I’m so sorry Razzy,” she said between heaving sobs. Heaving sobs that, he calculated, would leave both his hats on the floor – back to the hat stand drawing board he mentally noted. “I really am,” the silly girl continued, “but I know I saw them! I really did!”

“Saw what, you silly girl?” he snapped, angry his hat stand concept would never see light of day. He’d even begun to work out the air-cooling system, dammit!

“The ghoulies! Both of them!” she squawked.

“Good God! The ghoulies? Both of them? Are you sure?” he asked, all thoughts of his hat stand gone from his head, bar a lingering thought about wobble stabilisation using a rubber band network… Hmmm, that might work, you know…

“Yes!” she interrupted, “both of them – big and hairy and they were coming at me – coming and coming and coming and I couldn’t stop them!”

“Good Lord! What did you do?” he gasped and he began to sketch out a system of using three silly girls back-to-back for display purposes in a gentleman’s hatters.

“I jumped out of the shower, threw my nightie on and ran down the hall to you, Razzy.” She underlined this description with a mock run that would have sent any number of hats flying to the four winds and caused a reaction within the good professor that instantly afforded him a rack on which to hang several umbrellas.

“Oh Razzy!” she sighed breathlessly looking down. A trouser button narrowly missed her nose.

“Damn the ghosts! Damn science and damn the bloody hat stand! Come here, Philipina!” he ordered masterfully. He gabbed her nightie and with one powerful yank, tore it off. She stood naked and heaving in fronts of him as he released his umbrella rack and pointed it at her with intent. “Now. Tell me what those ghoulies did to you again and let’s see if I can’t better them…”

(For more by the same author, click here)

A Rumble in the Jungle: Lava Her Alone!

It was a tough climb but at least this time there no ever-writhing tentacles or ceaseless snip snappy snappers to contend with, just loose stones and the fact that the tips of her legs were getting warmer and warmer as she got higher and higher.
HBA Island: The End

As she climbed, the jungle stretched out below her, sprawling as far as her eye-stalks could see(1).

HBA Island: The End

Eventually the top was within reach and as she hauled herself up she found that the mountain top was not a top at all, but a rim. She looked over and was amazed to see that the mountain was hollow and at the bottom was a swirling mass of hot, red gloopy stuff she had never seen before.

HBA Island: The End

She shuffled in for a better look but a wave of heat rising from below caused her to scuttle backwards. At her feet a small loose stone was flicked up into the air. It arced over the rim and began to fall down into the bubbling lake below…

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Sally watched in mute horror as the lake began to burn and smoke. Great bubbles of burning gloop formed and popped below her.

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The gloop began to fill up the inside of the mountain, began to rise up, racing towards where Sally trembled…

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The explosion rattled her shell and the shockwave blasted her into the sky. As she flew over the jungle, the mountain erupted and sent wave after wave of burning red gloop falling onto the trees, causing them to burst into flames. As she fell into the sea, the whole jungle for miles around was one huge inferno and Sally watched on, clinging to a small piece of drfitwood, as her home, the only place she had ever known, was consumed by fire.

HBA Island: The End

Sally began to drift out to sea, leaving the burning jungle and exploding mountain far behind. The ocean was wide and deep and empty and Sally was hungry and cold and ever so alone…

HBA Island: The End

The End.

(1) If only! I’d never have afforded that! It was surrounded by a Romanesque humper-bunker, some shops and various small houses in the tiki style. I used to dream of an endless jungle 🙂

A Rumble in the Jungle: All Alone with the Stone

The beach was empty. Sally, exhausted from the titanic fight back up from the depths, flopped on to the warm sand and looked around. Empty. The whole place was empty. She chirruped for her friends Colin and that daft squirrel McGrue but heard nothing in reply. How odd, she thought, maybe they’re in the jungle. She slowly got back to her aching legs and set off into the humid undergrowth, occasionally calling out as she went.

After half an hour of searching she was beginning to get very worried. The bat that lived above the standing stones was gone. The noisy seagull that swooped down and stole her shrimp was gone. Even the ants and the spiders that infested this part of the jungle were gone! This was spooky and she didn’t like it one bit. She was just about to turn back and hightail it to the beach again, when she noticed something poking out of the ground; a ring of stone she had never seen before. Sally approached it slowly and tapped it with her claw.

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island - The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The ground beneath her began to shake and tremble. She looked about in surprise and fear as slowly, noisily the stone ring began to push its way upwards, out of the ground and into the jungle’s canopy.

Rock squealed over rock, earth split and parted, trees cracked and fell as the mound rose upwards and upwards. It widened as it went and Sally had to jog backwards to avoid being caught by the churning soil and stone at the base.

And then it stopped. As the last tree fell, a silent and eerie hush fell across the jungle. Sally looked up at the foreboding cone of rock, to the top where tendrils of steam curled lazily into the sky, and wondered what it could be. There was nothing for it: she would have to climb up and see what this new mountain in the jungle was.

HBA Island: The End

Was it warmer all of a sudden, Sally thought to herself as she gingerly stretched out her claw to begin the ascent…

To be continued…