Chen-Chen Astraea wrote in her diary:

19th Vaskaras
Look at you!

A clean blank page. A fresh new diary with a lovely leather cover and not a word written in you.

Only now you aren’t because I have written that. How funny!

I love your newness and freshness. I almost hate to write in you, because my writing is so scrawly and spidery, especially when I am tired. And you are the third diary I have tried to keep. And it never works because I get lazy or forgetful.

Where will you be in a year, dear diary? Will you be full of wonderful adventures and dazzling prose? Or will you be mostly empty with a few scrawled pages at the front, starting with this one?

I really mean to keep you this time, Diary, because you are so beautiful, and because Blonde Mummie bought you for me, and because I promised her I should write in you all the time we are apart.

There! A tear just missed you. The first of a hundred little accidents I hope you won’t have!

I am on the aero writing this. I have a tiny little bedroom, too small for anything but my very small bed, and a little shelf for you and my Wonderbox. Blonde Mummie bought me the Lady Carleon Detective Adventure. I am going to start playing as soon as I finish writing in you! The Stewardess who is in charge of me will make me turn out the light soon, so I shall play Wonderbox under the covers just like at home.

Then I shall fall asleep. And then, when I awake, we shall be over Quirinelle and practically ready to land.

And soon I shall see Clearwater. I wonder what sort of a place it is. 170 Platina Drive, Clearwater, Quirinelle. I’ve never lived in a house with a number on a street before. I wonder what it will be like. I wonder what Aunt Dorothea will be like. I wonder what it will be like going to a school in Quirinelle.

It is a big adventure, but sort of scary.

Just think, dear Diary – even if I am very bad and hardly write in you at all, all the answers to my questions will be written on the next few pages. I’m bound to last that long, aren’t I?

20th Vaskaras
Just a quickly-quickly scribble now, dear Diary. I promise I am not going downhill, but we shall be landing very soon.

I had that dream again. You know the one, I suppose. I mean, I have written about it in one of the other diaries, and I suppose you are all one Diary really aren’t you? I mean in the Aethyr or something.

Anyway, it was that dream where I am in a strange world where I don’t feel at home – because although in the dream I was born in that world, I am still me, and the world is just as strange as it would be to me. Or nearly as strange anyway.

And I dreamed that people were dressed in funny sloppy clothes instead of trying to look neat and proper; and they had television, but on it were really nasty, bad things that would never be allowed in a real world. I suppose I was thinking about television because I really want to see the television in Quirinelle. But ugh this dream makes me have a nasty feeling when I even think about television. I suppose it will wear off.

But here we are, coming down over Quirinelle. It looks terribly pretty – the fields spread out like a giant toy farm. I can see a road with cars, but I can’t make out the details. I do want to see one of those sleek Quirrie cars with fins. I suppose I shall see lots soon.

Goodbye for now, Diary. The stewardess is here to make sure I have all my things in order.

23rd Vaskaras
Well, here I am in my delightful little bedroom – but I’d better say how I got here!

The aero landed at Chelveton Aeroport. It was a fine sunny day and lots of people were waiting just the other side of a little fence. No one is allowed on the runway until the aero lands you see, and then they fuss for a while before letting them come. Aeroports are very fussy places.

So we all came down this long ladder out of the Aero and I was looking about for Aunt Dorothea. I couldn’t see her. Then someone tapped me from behind and it was a very tall brunette in a black uniform with a peaked cap, who said “Mistress Astraea?” and I said “Yes.” and she said “Come with me please” so I did.

I thought it must be Aunt Dorothea’s chauffeuse. We walked through the aeroport. It was the third aeroport I have seen. The others are Goldhaven and Trintitiana. Goldhaven bristles with East-Novari efficiency and South-Trent charm. Trintitiana is very strait-laced and seemly – at least the aeroport is. I must say I was a bit disappointed with my first impression of Quirinelle.

You see back home everyone talks about “Quirridips” which means mad, feckless Quirinelle people, and I was rather expecting to see lots of outlandish crazy people and Teddy-girls and such. It wasn’t a bit like that. In terms of decorum, it was more like Trintitiana with brighter colours. In terms of aesthetics it was quite exotic and raher a mixture. Those wide flared skirts gave it and almost Arcadian look (not that I have been to Arcadia) and the slim pencil skirts had an East-Novari sort of austerity and severity about them. No Teddy-girls at all. No rock-and-roll blaring from the airport speakers. In fact they played rather soupy renditions of the latest Trentish songs, that sounded rather less “hot” than the Trentish versions. Sigh. My Wild Quirrie Adventure was looking less wild by the mome.

The person in the black uniform led me to an equally black taxi, where my aunt awaited me. My second disappointment. Not a chauffeuse at all. That is just the uniform the taxi-drivers wear in Chelverton.

I have never met Aunt Dorothea before. She is a tall, thin brunette of the most extraordinarily nervous type. She really did not know how to talk to a young blonde. I can see some potential here. I have an idea I can get away with all sorts of things.

I was my usual charming self and she pointed out the sights of Chelverton as we passed them. The Quirrinelle Capital is very impressive, I must say. I hope I shall get a chance to see it again.

Once we were clear of Chelverton it was miles and miles of open country, little hedged fields and charming tiny villages, until we came to the town of Clearwater, which is a pleasant country town, though not especially impressive.

Some of the houses I have to say are extremely fine. Sai Sushuri Row is quite stunning – veritable mansions one after another where the High Raihira of the town live – and the High Magdala. Imagine that! Tradespeople in the same Row with the aristocracy. They call them all “raihiralan”, which is the cheatingest word because there is nothing Raihira about the Magdala even if they have got pots of money.

Apparently they don’t see that in Quirinelle, which is the only Quirridip thing I have seen so far, and it isn’t a dreadfully entertaining one in my humble opinner.

Well, after this, Platina Drive was a bit of a disappointment. It is a funny little road tucked away in the back of the town somewhere. High, dark-looking buildings with railings at the front. The houses have no space between them at all – they are joined together like one long house, even though they all have separate front doors.

I wondered what such a place could be possibly like inside. And you shall have to wonder a little longer, dear Diary, for I have to run for the mome.

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