To tell you the truth, I don’t really remember much of the ride. I mean, I remember it, but it was more like a dream. First of all, the ship was spotless. I mean spotless. I guess with all these little worker botts whirring around, they can get a lot done. I’d only ever seen the airships when they came to deliver gifts. But now, to actually be on one, its…it’s…magical!
I looked over at Henry. His mouth was practically touching the floor, and his eyes looked as big as saucers.
“Pretty impressive,” he said. You could tell he was in awe…he practically fell over one of the botts that was cleaning.
“It’s incredible,” I muttered to myself. Never before could I have imagined anything like it.
“Please move along,” said the bott. I realized everyone that boarded was just standing and staring in awe as much as we were. I nudged Henry and nodded at him to make our way to the front of the ship.
“Might as well get a better look,” I said as I started to head through the crowd. It’s funny…as crazy as this ship was, I was more amazed by the people who were on it.
Walking through the crowd I saw the Don Jevarts; he was commonly know as “The Don”. He and his wife owned the local Seed Vault and were known for being very generous. Why would they leave everything, all the wealth and respect they had? Seed is Life, and on Nua, Life is everything. If you didn’t have enough Seed, you couldn’t harvest and make it through the winter. The Don had all the Seed he could want, and the biggest Vault of Seed on Nua; he controlled the market. The best thing about The Don was his charity. There were winters he would open his vault and give seed to all those in need.
He tipped his hat to me as we walked by. “Good day,” he said.
I almost stopped him, to ask why he would leave it all, when he brusquely turned around. His wife turned to look over the railing. We would be taking off soon.
“Do you mind?” he said.
I looked at him a little dumbfounded. “Excuse me?”
“Do you mind if I ask you a question?” he said very seriously.
“Umm…no, sire?” I said. I wasn’t exactly sure what his title was…just that he was rich.
“Please, call me Don. My question is why. Why were you the first, the first to raise your hand? Why would you do such a thing?” His big, bushy red beard kind of waggled when he talked.
“I’m not really sure,” I said, and that was true. “I guess…it was like a calling inside me. My hand just went up on its own.” I kinda chuckled.
“Well I’ll be if I didn’t feel my own go up too!” he said, laughing heartily. He patted me on the shoulder and said, “Well done, boy, well done.” He turned to be with his wife.
“Thank you, Don,” I called out. “My family has known your generosity several winters.”
“It’s not mine to give, son,” he replied and gave his wife a hug.
A loud, rhythmic sound filled the air, the gears around us starting to spin. It was actually kinda nice. It was mechanical, but musical at the same time. Then I felt the airship move and I thought I might soil myself. Seriously.
Henry grabbed me and I heard Mrs. Jevarts give a little shriek. And we were off…
Floating. Not floating. Flying!
Up we went…up…up…UP! My heart fell into my stomach. Just when I was pretty sure I really had soiled myself, it magically felt like we were gliding on air…the airship purring its little song as we moved to its rhythm.
It seemed we were going to be using the air to move this massive structure along to the city. I could hear a few of the people retching over the side. Luckily I had kept my fast.
After a few hours everyone seemed to settle in. Some forming groups and talking loudly, sometimes even arguing, some quiet and introspective. I myself was glad to have Henry. Henry was good company, a pleasant person to be around and generally in a good mood. He was one of the Gray Wolves, and he had a vicious growl when he was mad. You didn’t want to see Henry in a bad mood. If he could chop down a man as fast as he could chop down a tree, well, that’s enough for me. In the forest, I’d seen him wield two axes at the same time! Just mowing down smaller trees. Everyone said he had the sharpest axe in town. Sharpening… UGH…I don’t even want to think about sharpening. I’m not going to miss that at all. Besides not being very good at it, I didn’t really want to be a Timberpunk. I didn’t have the skill or the size. But I was good in the garden. The plants, I guess you could say, they always liked me. I admit, I also enjoyed it. It was peaceful, calm, made me feel close to something. My parents were both Gardeners, cultivating the land and providing Seed and food to our people.
An argument invaded my thoughts, as one of the men almost crashed into me. Henry pulled me out of the way, just in time to see a man pushed across the floor like a wet towel. He was about to take a step forward, with fist raised at the man, when three botts whirred in front of him and cut him off, forming a wall. I’m not really sure I’d call these guys our best or brightest, I chuckled to myself.
“Ben!” one of the men yelled. “Calm down.”
The man they called Ben put his huge stone fists down.
“All right…all right,” he said. You could tell he was still fuming mad.
I didn’t know Ben, but I could tell he was a Stonemelder. A hulking giant made of stone. If he got ahold of your head, he’d crack it like a walnut. I’m not sure what they were arguing about, or what the botts would have done if it kept going, but they quickly dispersed as soon as it seemed the threat was over. The Stonemelders kept to themselves mostly. They had built most of our cities, forming the hard rock like clay.
Such a mix of people on this AirShip. I guess adventurers come in all shapes and sizes.
And then I saw her.
Pennywise, well, everyone called her Penny. I think she was a summer older than me, but she was always in the advanced classes. I would see her out sometimes just looking at a plant and journaling or drawing its picture. She was never without that journal. In fact, she had it out now. Scribbling like mad, she backed into me, almost stepping on my tail.
“Sorry…so sorry…excuse me,” she said quickly. “Have you ever seen…oh my look at that thing over there!” She moved past me toward one of the massive gears. I followed her.
“This…this…this is so incredible. What do you think it does?” she said as she started to sketch it, making the paper almost come to life.
“I honestly have no idea,” I said, not really even sure if she was talking to me.
“Well, I think it’s hooked up to that thing over there. See?” she pointed at another gear across from us that seemed to be moving a little faster. “When this turns, that turns, but it’s sped up and it’s smaller. I think the two are connected. In fact I’m sure of it.” she said a little more seriously, her big owl eyes staring into mine.
“I’m Pennywise,” she said. “But everyone calls me Penny, or just P for short.”
“I know,” I said, and looked down at my feet. “I’ve seen you drawing those plants.”
“Oh, yes, I do like to draw. One day I’ll be a scholar, like my mother”
“Your mom’s a scholar?!” I asked.
“Yes, she was the one who talked this morning before we left. So, how much longer do you think we have before we get to the city? By my calculations, I think we are well over half way there.”
I guess I hadn’t really thought about that, but I think she was probably pretty close in her estimation. We had been traveling for quite a while now. Penny, on the other hand, was one of our brightest.
“Do you want to go up to the bow and get a better look?” I asked. “We can probably see the City by now.”
“That’s a very good idea, a very good idea indeed!” she said delighted. I don’t know what it was about her, but everything she said sounded magical.
“Henry, do you want to go with us?” I said, secretly hoping he would say no.
“You guys go ahead. I’m going to close my eyes and rest for a while,” he said as he gave me a little wink.
Trying to keep up with Penny was like trying to keep up with a butterfly. She flitted from this gear to that, going on and on about the complexity and the technology and the…
Then over the bow I saw it…the Maker’s City.
It was breathtaking. Centered in the crater of an old volcano, the city perched over the massive lake of water below it. I’m not sure how to describe it. It was bone white, with spires coming out of its center. It was still a long way off, but it was definitely closer than I had ever been.
The Island was coming into view better as well, it was a fine clear day for our journey. Penny had stopped talking and stood scribing what she saw. Wordlessly her eyes went from the Island to the paper.
“We must preserve this, so others may see,” she finally said. She was right, I hadn’t gotten out my journal at all yet.
“I can’t draw as well as you can,” I said, a little ashamed at my first attempt to put down what I saw.
“It’s ok. Let me see,” she said. I felt like I could share anything with her, so I showed her my sketch.
“That’s not so bad. A little shading here and there for depth, and I think you’ll have it”.
“Can you show me?” I said, wondering how she got so good. Then she took my little drawing, and, I swear, only added a few lines, and it was like she brought it to life.
“There you go,” she said, as if it was nothing. Her feathers ruffled a little in the wind. She went back to her own paper. I could see her drawing the spires of the city. “We should be docking shortly,” I said. “Are you excited?”
“Oh yes! We are the first to ever get this close to the Makers’ City. My mother said we will come back with more knowledge than we have had since the Great Raids.”
I felt the ship begin to slow.
I could see the botts prepping the dock for our landing.