53: Final Preparations
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Bassi decided that she and I would attempt to gain an audience with the Wind Court, and so while everyone got to work on their tasks, we left the ship. The fae were still cleaning up after their siege, and so many were out and about hauling away gurg bodies to be burnt, or beginning whatever arcane rituals they had that would fix the broken walls and buildings.

We made our way quickly through the lower levels of the elegant, almost vertical city until we reached an area that hadn't been touched by the battle below. Bassi led me onwards, through the much quieter streets until we came to a palace that was even more gorgeous and opulent than the rest of the city.

Outside the closed silver filigree gates stood three guards in robed armour, pikes resting rigid in the crook of their shoulders. The only indication that they'd even seen us was the way the blue fabric of their robes shifted slightly.

“We're from the ship,” Bassi announced harshly. “We need to see the council.”

I winced at the tone of her words, but held my silence.

Nobody moved. The guards continued to ignore us. Bassi grew… impatient.

A breeze picked up, then shifted, and Bassi cupped her hands around her mouth. A swift whistling could be heard as suddenly the wind began to funnel in between her fingers and her cheeks as she bellowed, “I am Basilisk of the Slate Snakes, wind fae by birth and Captain of the airship that saved your city. I am here to speak to the court!”

Her words thundered up amongst the artfully carved wood and stone of the palace, where they lingered and echoed. Still nothing moved.

It took almost a minute of that before the silver gates glided open to reveal an elderly wind fae with an exceptionally long beard and a harsh, critical glare.

“The court is grateful for your timely intervention, but alas they are very busy,” he stated in a reedy, almost whiny voice. “What do you want?”

“We'd like to speak to the court and hear what they can tell us of the peril that threatens the world,” Bassi said formally. I could tell she was restraining an impulse to punch this man right in the nose.

“You visited the Monarch,” he said, looking us up and down derisively, as if he was questioning our worthiness to visit such a lofty being. “What knowledge could our humble court give you that the Monarch didn't see fit to bestow?”

We stared at him for almost a full ten seconds before Bassi glanced in my direction with fire in her eyes. “You know what, he's right. Let's go. The court can summon me when they want to talk.”

Just like that, my girlfriend turned on her heel and marched away, with me staring helplessly at her back. Shit. I guess we would be finding our own way to the City of Destruction.

With a defeated shrug, I rushed to catch up as Bassi stomped back the way we'd come.

 

We had so much unfinished business in the city of the wind fae, and yet over the next few days, we resolved none of it. Bassi kept to the ship while we caught up on a maintenance schedule that was a dozen or so decades behind. Honestly, it was a wonder we'd made it here at all given the state of things.

For example, replacement of the stiffened and rotting ropes of the dynamic counterweight system that kept the ship level as weight moved around on board. It was little things like that where we needed to fix what time had ruined, even if the ship was otherwise factory fresh.

The cannons were coming along well too, with the craftsmen of the fae having come together to show their appreciation for our efforts, even if the court itself wouldn't. Armour was being added over important areas too, until our ship no longer resembled the simple freighter it began life as. Now, it was a battle-hardened warship.

Two days after we attempted to speak to the court, while we were fitting the first cannon into place, we saw the first of the lights in the sky.

They rampaged out of the west from the direction of Anamoor in a hail of blood red comets. All across the city, people stopped and stared in grim fascination until they were lost in the eastern haze. That was when we really took the warnings from Singer to heart and our efforts redoubled.

Eight days after we arrived, the ship was fit enough to fly. The court still hadn't seen fit to grant us an audience.

“We have everything but the ore for the courier ritual,” Joan noted that morning as we huddled around the table in the ready-room near the bridge.

“New guns are all in place,” Jitters said, with a nod from Kory, her second in command of engineering.

Beth, who'd taken up the mantle of quartermaster, cleared her throat. “We have supplies. Food and drink won't be an issue. Replacement parts will be tough to find, but the fae craftsmen gave us some materials and a small crafting setup. I'm sure Jitters can fix everything.”

“Yup!” The disabled woman agreed cheerfully. “So long as we have the materials, I can whip up any old part we need. Except for the crystals, of course. Oh, and big structural parts, cause them’s all made in a big factory. It'll be scavenging for those.”

“So…” Bassi said in frustration, fingernail tapping out an uneven temp on the lightweight wooden table. “All we're waiting on is any information the court might give us.”

Leon, our man in charge of the fighters on board, gave a laugh. “Yeah, but what's the chance they even know anything worth listening to?”

“Fucking zero,” Bassi hissed, slapping her palm down on the table. “Alright. Mist, let all the fae know that if they want to come along for some reason, they need to be onboard by midday. We're leaving.”

That seemed to indicate that the meeting was over, so I got up and made for the exit. Bassi might’ve expressed doubt about any fae coming along when she gave the order, but I knew for a fact that some of the younger fae had been asking about it.

I found a group of them leaving the ship down the freight ramp and waved them over. “Hello folks! I have some news. Our ship will be leaving by midday. Anyone who wants to join up as crew can do so, just make sure you're here by the time we leave, yeah?”

There were a few nods, but one young man raised his hand, “You are going to continue your quest to find the source of the shattering?”

“Yes. We're sailing to the City of Destruction,” I agreed. “I have to warn you that it will be dangerous. It might end up being a one-way trip.”

“I will come!” A different fae said, her young face determined and earnest.

“Good, we can use the extra hands,” I smiled. “You all know the terms. I'm going to go and do some last minute prep. If you're staying, Goodbye. If you're joining the crew, welcome!”

“Errant winds, so little warning!” One fae frowned. “What has caused such an extreme acceleration of your plans?”

“We realised we were just wasting time if we stayed,” I said with a nonchalant shrug. “So yeah, make your choice quickly, people.”

With that, I left and headed for the bridge.

A few of our people were checking over their stations, but it was relatively quiet as they did their work. I stood at the very front of the bridge and looked out at the view. The wind court’s city was beautiful, but it seemed so small and frail against the cloud sea beyond the edge of the island.

So much of the planet was lost now, and the oceans that once filled vast portions of the globe were now vapour in the wind. I wonder, though, what happened to all of that land? Had the god of destruction really seared it from existence —and thus violating conservation of mass— or was it somewhere down there in the clouds?

As I stood there contemplating the clouds, I noticed someone walking down the road one level above the docks. The old fae from the gates of the court, along with several guards—all of them with grim expressions. Oh dear.

Turning, I walked over to the internal ship’s comm and pressed the transmit button. “Bassi, you there?”

It took a moment, but she responded, “Hello, love. What do you need?”

“That old twit from earlier is on his way down to the docks with a posse of guards.”

I heard a heavy sigh come through, then she chuckled. “I guess it's time to leave. Get things ready on the bridge, will you? I'll make sure all our people, including the newcomers, are on board.”

I shared her chuckle. “Aye, aye, cap’n.”

 

Getting my writing zoomies back, but Kaia is still my priority so this one will update intermittently. Thanks for your patience!

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