The Sky-Pirates of Durn, part 21 (fiction)

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The Sky-Pirates of Durn

 

21. Going North

 

Caelynn woke up in Meela’s arms. She stared at the wooden ceiling happy that she was finally out of the Emperor’s palace. She hadn’t liked it there.  Meela was currently snoring into Caelynn’s right ear. She looked so pale to Caelynn’s eyes. She fervently hoped the poisoned blade hadn’t done Meela any permanent harm. Time would tell, she guessed. Feeling hungry she decided to delicately escape out of Meela’s embrace. Just after freeing herself, Meela suddenly awoke.

“Morning.” said Meela sleepily opening her eyes.

“Morning my love.” Caelynn said kissing her.

Caelynn soon found herself back in Meela’s arms while Meela drifted off to sleep again. Once again she tried prying herself out of Meela’s arms.

“You alright?” Meela suddenly asked her opening her eyes once more.

“I’m just a bit hungry. So I was going to find some food.” Caelynn informed her.

Meela slowly got up. She yawned and rubbed her eyes then cleared the hair out of her face. She grabbed her pipe that sat beside the bed and began stuffing tobacco into it.

“Did you sleep well?” Meela asked her as Caelynn finally got out of the bed.

“I did thanks.” Caelynn replied. “Where are we?” Meela looked at her surprised.

“You’re in my cabin on the ship. I thought you knew that.” She replied. Caelynn laughed.

“No, I meant where is the ship? Are we in Durn or just floating in the air above somewhere?”

“Oh I see. We’re docked at Loro-Don. If you’re hungry give me a moment to wake and we can go find something to eat.” Meela said as she lit her pipe. “We can’t directly teleport into Durn anyway, or so I think.”

“Have you ever tried it?” Caelynn asked her.

“No, and I’m not sure I would want to try. If it turns out I can’t, I don’t know where I would end up. For all I know the Shadow World would grab hold of me and pull me in.” Meela told her as she breathed out the bluish-grey smoke. Caelynn nodded and then resumed looking for all her clothes.

“I’ve never learnt to teleport, maybe I should.”

“It’s a powerful spell and difficult to master, but I’m sure you’re more than equal to the task.” Meela said encouragingly.

“If you want to go someplace to eat, you should probably start putting some clothes on.” Caelynn suggested.

“Or I could just wander around Loro-Don naked. I’m sure I would turn a few heads.” Meela stated. Caelynn smiled.

“So what’s the plan anyway?” Caelynn asked.

“I think we both need some rest. I thought we could head north to a rather beautiful place I know and stay there for a couple of days. After that I’ll take you to Larantel so you can confront the Queen.” Meela informed her as she puffed out more smoke.

“What do you then plan to do?” asked Caelynn finally putting some clothes on.

“I’ll have to come back here and lead a fleet of airships down to Yastell.” She stated.

“So after what happened to you there, you’re still going back?” Caelynn asked concerned.

“I’m needed there. If we are going to have any chance in holding off the Empire’s forces then we’re going to need as many people as we can get. Besides, I can be of use.” Meela explained.

“I just don’t want you to get injured again. You’re still looking weak from your last visit.”

“Don’t worry I won’t let that happen again. I don’t often give others the opportunity to skewer me. It’ll be fine.” Meela consoled her. “Right, let’s get something to eat!”

Meela got up from the bed and began getting dressed. After a few short minutes they left the Crimson Vengeance and headed for the back streets of the city where Meela reckoned the best food could be found, or at least her favourite food. They drank beers and ate various bits of meat roasted on sticks or wrapped up in bread, until they were both full. The food was rather basic for Caelynn’s tastes, but she was hungry enough to eat anything presented to her. Once they were finished, Meela sent word round the streets that her crew was expected at the Crimson Vengeance as soon as possible. They headed back to the ship and slowly waited for the rest of the crew to turn up.

“We’re sailing north for a few days. We need to restock the ship and get her ready within the next couple of hours. And I expect everyone to help.” Meela said in front of her crew on the deck of the ship. Beside her stood Bronwyn.

“Okay everyone, you heard what the boss said. Look to your duties!” ordered Bronwyn.

The entire crew quickly dispersed, but within a surprisingly short time the airship was fully provisioned and ready to set out. They sailed north and only after a few hours Caelynn reckoned this was the furthest north she had ever been. Below there were endless trees which slowly gave rise to forested hilltops. Far in the distance Caelynn could see tall mountains which she knew as the Northern Border. In the ancient past it was thought they were the limits of the lands northwards, but in reality they went much further on than that, even up to the frozen wastes.

“So where are we going?” Caelynn asked Meela who had taken the wheel, not something she usually did.

“To a place I like.” Meela replied coyly.

“You ever going to tell me more than that?” Caelynn inquired.

“We’ll be there soon.” Meela revealed.

Giving up on getting anything else from Meela, Caelynn looked below again. The hills grew ever more taller their bare peaks beginning to stick out above the low cloud. Then a series of hills that got lower then ending in an abrupt cliff-face over which water cascaded into a wide lake below. The long waterfall and the azure lake surrounded by vibrant green forested hills was a beautiful sight. Slowly the airship turned, going back over the hill they had just passed. She then heard the ships engines, that were powered by magic, suddenly kick in and the airship slowed.

“Secure the ship!” Meela commanded.

Ropes were flung over the sides and crew members slid down them. They fastened the ropes to trees until the airship just hung in the air above them. Then other crew members slid down the ropes. Caelynn preferred to use the rope ladder, rather than slide down a rope herself. Once they had all got down they stared in awe at the lake below them and the water falling only a few feet away.

“This is beautiful!” Caelynn said to Meela who was standing behind her with her arms wrapped around Caelynn.

“Nothing but the best for my girl.” Meela replied as she kissed Caelynn’s neck.

Caelynn looked around at the hills around them. Below, the lake was a carved out basin that was filled with water. She looked to the north and wondered what lay beyond.

“Can you see the broken lands from here?” She asked.

“No, they are bit further off in that direction.” Meela said pointing towards the north east. “They reckon that lake has some of the deepest waters in the world.”

Just as Meela said that several of the crew began jumping off the cliff diving deeply into the water, while several other crew members began preparing a campsite which included building a fire, since it was starting to get late and the air was beginning to get a chill to it.

“So are we going to stay around here for a couple of days?”

“Yes, there are several nice places to walk to around here. Also I need to make a new staff and I’m hoping to find a branch that I could use.” Meela answered.

“You use a staff? For magic?” Caelynn was surprised.

“Yes.” Meela admitted. “I use them to store power in, so if I’m in a place like a siege I can draw on the power in the staff, rather than my own. Unfortunately my last staff was broken into two in Yastell, so I need to make a new one before I head down there again.”

That night they all sat around the fire as the air grew colder. Some of the crew had been lucky and come back with some fish they had caught, so they all enjoyed a basic fish stew. Caelynn noticed Kara was still sneering at her. When it was time for sleep Caelynn was given the option to sleep in a tent or in Meela’s cabin aboard the ship. She decided to share a tent with Meela. It was less comfortable than Meela’s bed, though not by much, but they got a tent to themselves. They eventually fell to sleep in one another’s arms both feeling exhausted and covered in sweat.

In the morning they were woken by a dawn chorus of birds in the trees surrounding them. They had a quick breakfast of fresh pan fried fish, bread, and strong coffee. After they had eaten Meela and Caelynn went for a walk following a path downhill with Meela leading and looking for fallen branches that could be used for a potential staff. In the morning air among the trees Caelynn could smell all the different scents and smells of the woods around them. It reminded her of home. She felt happier among the trees and plants than in a palace of cold stone. Meela stopped when she found a fallen branch. She inspected it and then moved on.

“What sort of wood are you looking for?” Caelynn asked.

“Ideally oak, as it’s a good standard wood for staffs and wands, but elder or yew would do, even ash.” Meela replied.

Caelynn looked around. There was a good variety of trees here. She could definitely see oak and ash trees, though not so much the other two Meela had mentioned.

“So what do you think will happen in Yastell?” Meela turned around and shrugged her shoulders.

“I don’t know. It’s going to be difficult to stop the Empire’s forces, especially if they have magical support from Larantel. The thing that worries me most is they have a contingent of dwarves with them who are quite adept with gunpowder. If I was them I would tunnel under the fortresses, put as much gunpowder as I could down there and cause the fortress to collapse into the ground. I’m very worried about that.” She resumed walking.

“Maybe the Empire will want to keep the fortresses in one piece? If they succeed in conquering Yastell, they’ll need those fortifications themselves.” Caelynn suggested.

“Or they will just build new ones from all the wealth they will plunder from Yastell’s resources.” Meela countered.

“By the way your second mate still hates me.”

“She’s jealous of you is all. I told her if it was going to be a problem then she should crew another ship, but she stayed.” Meela explained. “It’s her problem, not yours.”

They walked on. Meela found an oak branch that seemed to suit her needs. They continued on for a time with Meela walking with the branch in her right hand, as though it was already her staff. At a particular point Meela suddenly turned round and resumed walking uphill back towards the camp. Caelynn followed behind her. By the time they got back to the camp, it was midday and some of the crew were beginning to prepare lunch.

“This branch feels right.” Meela commented after they got back.

Meela sat down by the fire and began stripping the bark off the branch with a sharp knife. She also removed all the wooden knots until it was just one smooth length of wood the right length for her.

“So what do you have to do now with it?” Caelynn asked her.

“I have to make the wood smooth, then I have to burn on magic symbols, and then coat the wood with varnish. I also have to attune to the wood. Once I’ve done that it will be ready to store my magical power.” Meela informed her.

“Are you going to do that all here?”

“No, I can do some of it here, but I can do the finishing touches back at Loro-Don. All I needed to do here was find a suitable branch really.”

After lunch they looked out over the lake again. Meela had done as much with the staff as she currently wanted. She turned to Caelynn.

“While we’re here, there is one other thing I want us to do.” She declared.

“What?” Caelynn asked intrigued.

“That black wand you found. I want you to throw it into the lake.” Meela stated.

“But why? It could be of use.” Caelynn argued.

“We don’t need it, and I fear it could do some damage to you the longer you possess it. Please throw it into the water.” Meela implored her.

“The world has a habit of dredging up unwanted things. Nothing in this world stays lost and forgotten for long.” Caelynn informed her.

“I know. But at least it will be beyond our abilities to recover, and so we won’t be tempted to use it. That lakes waters are so deep that it will be a long time before that wand is ever seen again, if ever.” Meela replied. Caelynn sighed.

“Okay I’ll go and get it!”

Caelynn walked up the rope ladder and, once aboard, went into Meela’s cabin and opened up her extra dimensional storage. Once she found what she was looking for, she headed back to Meela. She showed Meela the black wand. An enchantment was put on it so a spell would be unable to summon it back out of the waters. Then Caelynn threw it over the side into the lake. It sank without a trace. Meela hugged her.

“I’m so proud of you! You let that go easier than I was expecting.” Meela told her while kissing her cheek.

“It’s what you wanted, and you mean the world to me.” Caelynn responded looking into the water.

They spent the afternoon swimming. The water was cold and clear, but felt quite refreshing. That night they all sat around the campfire telling stories and passing a bottle of rum around. Meela and Caelynn spent the night in the tent again. Like the night before, they made love until they were both exhausted and fell asleep again in one another’s arms.

The next day it was overcast and raining. They still went for a walk but did their best not to get too wet. Meela also worked on her staff a bit more during the odd moment she had to herself aboard the ship. That night they both slept in Meela’s cabin, partially due to the rain, but also because they were planning to leave early the next morning. While Meela was still below, Caelynn opened up her portable dimension again. She fished out the piece of material she was looking for, and then unwrapped it. There lay the black wand. She wrapped it up and hid it away again. When Meela had asked her to throw it into the lake, she had substituted a long stick she had found and put an illusion over it making it look like the black wand to Meela. She hated deceiving Meela, but she felt the wand was too important to throw away.

They spent what would be their last night together for some time making love again. Caelynn was going back to Larantel and Meela was heading to Yastell shortly afterwards. Neither knew when they would see each other again, so they decided to make the best of it while they still had the chance.

Next morning they all quickly packed up and untied the ropes holding the airship in place. The Crimson Vengeance began to float off. The crew unfurled the sails while Meela steered the airship to the south-east – in the direction of Larantel. Caelynn joined her on deck. She was both excited to be heading back home, and sad that she would be leaving Meela, for now.

They had been travelling for a few hours when something caught Meela’s attention. She brought out her spyglass and looked.

“What is it?” asked Caelynn.

“There’s another airship approaching us.” Meela revealed while still looking through the spyglass. “I think it’s an ork pirate ship and it has the wind advantage.”

“Orks?” Caelynn asked in surprise. She had never seen an ork, but had heard of them.

“If we’re lucky they’ll just want a fight.” Meela stated.

“And if we’re unlucky?”

“They’ll want to drink with us afterwards.”

 

 

Next episode: The Queen’s Court

 

 

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©2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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