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A note from Faenon

Party for this chapter (POV character always first):

Ryn, Nuthea, Sagar, Elrann

Ryn was brought out of sleep by the sound of screaming, explosions and crunching timber.

At first he thought he was having another nightmare because the last two times he had been unconscious he had had nightmares of his mother and father being killed and his hometown burning. Just as these images invaded his waking mind, they invaded his sleep.

But as he blinked awake and peered at the wooden nightstand next to the bed he lay in, then over at the stirring form of Sagar in the adjacent bed, Ryn realised that the sounds were real.

His chest constricted, sending a shockwave of distress through his body.

“Sagar! Get up!” he cried. “Someone’s attacking this inn!”

“Mmmmbbbrrr...wha?” said Sagar.

Another explosion sounded, like someone had set light to a barrel of oil outside, and more screaming followed, high-pitched and hysterical.

Sagar’s eye opened wide and he scrambled around, then fell out of bed in a tangle of sheets, banging his head on the floor. “Ow!”

In a heartbeat he was up again, pulling on his shirt and jacket. “What in seven hells is happening?”

“I don’t know!” said Ryn, shoving himself back into his woolspun tunic. “It must be the Empire!”

“The Empire!? That’s ridiculous! We’re safe from the Empire here! Imfis pays her levies, and we’re too far away to be of any interest to them!”

Another explosion outside. The room shook slightly and dust dislodged from the ceiling, some tickling Ryn’s nose. More screams. Shouts.

Through the door Nuthea burst in, Elrann behind. Both their faces were pale white.

“The ship,” said Nuthea and Sagar at the same time.

Sagar finished strapping on his sword-belt and bolted out the door. Nuthea and Elrann followed him without another word. Ryn went after them.

He hurtled down the stairs of the inn, taking them three at a time, past the desk at the front of the house where the innkeeper knelt on the floor cowering with his head in his hands, and back out onto the cobbled streets of Ast.

He looked up into the sky and nearly collapsed and gave in to horror and despair there and then.

Not just one broad black Imperial airship with a pointed prow and cannons protruding from each side, but a whole fleet of them.

He counted at least five, and those were just the ones he could see from his current position through the thatched and tiled rooftops of Ast.

They rained down cannonballs on the city, bright flashes erupting from their hulls, emitting thunderous echoes a moment after each and sending up clouds of debris into the air.

But...they were raining down something else, as well. From the front of one of the ships Ryn saw a jet of flame spurt out, like the breath of a dragon, spraying down onto the buildings of Ast and setting them alight.

He stood mesmerised by the violence.

“Ryn, come on!” Nuthea called to him from somewhere ahead.

His legs were heavy. For a moment he thought he wouldn’t be able to move them, but then his body came back to him and he darted forwards, pulse pounding between his ears.

As they ran they had to weave in and out of the people who stumbled out of their houses, looking up and wailing in terror, or dashed this way and that trying to find shelter, or just knelt frozen in panic, like the innkeeper had been.

“Stay with me!” yelled Sagar over his shoulder and trailing ponytail. “I know the way back to the airfield!”

They ran round corners, down alleys, through streets, jumping over sacks, sidestepping out of the way of the panicked citizens, ducking their heads down instinctively whenever another cannonblast sounded and splinters and dust were thrown into the air. Ryn had never run so fast in his life.

It’s happening again, he thought as he ran. Wasn’t it enough that he had lived through one Morekemian attack already? Why was he having to live through another one? Would he live through another one?

Eventually they made it back to the airfield at the edge of the city, its perimeter marked by the little stone cottage that the airship marshall they had met the day before, Roldo, lived in.

All of the moored airships that Ryn could see were on fire.

“Where is she? Where is she?” cried Sagar, charging further into the field of flaming ships, apparently calling for his own vessel.

“Sagar!” someone called out to him in a choked voice. Roldo, a little way away, crawling on his hands and knees. He coughed like he had swallowed some of the smoke. A big gash on the side of his face bled heavily down onto his black leather coat, soaking it even darker in blotches. “Get out of here! Run, you fools! Run for your lives! They went for your ship first!

“What?!” said Sagar, and kept on running.

They ran past more of the burning vessels, billowing black smoke pluming from them into the sky, some of them broken into pieces, some of them with men on fire jumping off their decks to break their legs on the ground, others lying suffocating on the floor, others just standing and watching the destruction in horror, until they reached Wanderlust.

Sagar stopped dead in his tracks and Ryn, Nuthea and Elrann pulled up beside him.

Wanderlust was not on fire.

Instead, there were soldiers in black armour moving around on board it. Corpses lay strewn on the deck. Some wore black armour, but the majority of them were unarmoured, wearing simple sailors’ clothing. Puddles of blood decorated the spaces between them.

And there in the middle of them, stood in the middle the main deck, was a hulking, unhelmeted man in black armour, with flame-red hair.

General Vorr.

Ryn did a double take. It was definitely him. He was standing right on the main deck of the ship, beneath the centre of its blimp, barking orders at the Imperial soldiers, who seemed to be looking for something.

The spark in his heart lit the fuse of Ryn’s rage, and he leapt forwards, lungs filling with heat.

“Ryn, no! Don’t! It’s not safe!” came Nuthea’s voice from behind him, but it was far away now, and growing dimmer by the moment.

The palms of Ryn’s hands grew hotter as he cleared the distance to the ship and clambered up the handholds on its starboard side.

When he was over the rail Ryn shouted “You!” and pointed at the Imperial officer.

Vorr’s head snapped round and his forehead crinkled for a moment before his eyes glinted with the light of recognition.

“The boy from Cleasor!” the Imperial General said disbelievingly. “How did you manage to survive the crash? How did you even get here?”

“You murdered my parents!” Ryn shouted, fists shaking, heat building. “You destroyed my hometown!”

“Did I?” chuckled Vorr. He looked up and to the side. “Oh yes, I suppose I must have…” he said, and rubbed his chin, as if this was considering the most insignificant fact in the world.

“KILL YOU!” Ryn shouted.

He flung his hands palm out at Vorr and let out a primal roar of hatred.

A jet of flame materialised in the air around his hands and shot out towards Vorr.

The flames hit the officer square on, right in the chest. They spread out on his armour and then enveloped him, encasing him in an aura of orange and red as Ryn continued to pour the fire forwards.

He willed his hatred, he willed revenge, he willed death into those flames.

Then Ryn finished exhaling and the flames from his hands disappeared.

His arms quivered where he held them up. The exertion of the fireblast had drained him deeply.

It took a moment, but then the smoke around Vorr cleared, leaving...

...the Imperial officer, still standing, just as he had been before, a malevolent, sharp-toothed grin twisting up his round, red-headed features.

Ryn’s legs nearly gave way.

“N...no…” he stammered.

“You pitiful little peasant,” said Vorr with a leer, in his deep, well-spoken voice. “Didn’t you think that I would have touched the Fire Ruby for myself? We have a whole batallion that can project fire now. We don’t need you any more. We’re going to conquer the world! This invasion of Imfis is just the beginning! Haha!”

With that outburst of jubilation, he flung out one of his massive hands in Ryn’s direction, like he was swatting a fly, to launch a fireball through the air.

Ryn felt the force of the fireball crash into his face and knock him backwards onto the ground. The back of his head hit the deck and stars danced in his vision for a moment.

He put his hands to his face, but he was not burned, and he did not feel any pain or heat there.

He pushed himself back onto his feet.

Vorr loomed over him. “Ah, yes. Of course. You have touched the Ruby too, so you are also impervious to the kiss of fire. It came from your village. Not to worry. I have other ways of ending your worthless little life.”

Ryn watched in horror as Vorr reached behind himself, clasped a round steel hilt from between his shoulders, and slowly drew from a scabbard on his back an enormous, wide, long, black sword. It seemed to take an age just to slide out of its sheath with a long sliding scraaaaape of metal, then flashed in the light from the burning ships as Vorr drew it back, ready to kill.

Ryn was faintly aware of Imperial soldiers standing in a circle around them, blocking his escape. He did not know if he had the energy left to run.

“Let me send you to the same place that your Mummy and Daddy went this way, then,” said Vorr. He paused, sucked in his lower lip for a moment. “Although...you don’t happen to know where the captain of this ship went, do you? Or that Manolian hussy we locked you up with?”

Ryn remained rooted in place by despair. He had nothing left to say.

Mother. Father. Hometown.

“No?” said Vorr. “Oh well. I’ll find them soon enough--if they’re alive to be found, that is.”

The world slowed.

Vorr’s blade sliced through the air towards Ryn.

He was about to die.

Images flashed across his mind.

Mother. Father. Hometown. I failed you all. What a stupid way to die.

Something slammed into Ryn’s side and he was pushed off his feet and sent skidding along the deck, past some of the soldiers and out of the way of Vorr’s swordswing.

He landed with his back against the ship’s rail, and looked up to see what had happened.

Stood atop the opposite rail was Sagar, two swords drawn in a stance of open provocation of the Imperials, his jaw set in defiant fury.

What happened? What did he do to me?

Run, you idiot!” Sagar shouted at him. “Run, Ryn, run!

“It’s the skycaptain!” Vorr bellowed. “Get him! Remember, we want him alive!”

The soldiers rushed at Sagar.

He brought both his swords down through the air. A gust of wind flew out from where they moved, rushing across the deck, knocking the soldiers over, making Vorr stumble and pressing Ryn back against the rail again.

What?

“Ryn!” someone called. “This way!”

Ryn looked over the rail. Nuthea, Elrann. They had run round to the other side of the ship and were beckoning for him to come with them.

His legs remembered how to move again and he ran to the place in line with the handholds on the port siderail and scrambled over. He flew down them, but slipped and lost his grip a few metres from the ground, dropping and landing on his side with a roll as the breath was knocked out of him.

“Quick as you can, please, Ryn!” called Nuthea as with a wave of her hand and a crack she sent a lightning bolt back at the soldier coming down the handholds after Ryn. He screamed out and fell to the ground, from a much further height than Ryn had.

Ryn did not need any more instructions. He made it up again and dashed for Nuthea and Elrann. They sprinted full pelt away from Wanderlust, through the burning ships. Sagar joined them, running too. Shouts and cries followed them, but these were soon lost in the noise and chaos of the burning, beseiged city. They made it out of the airfield, into the residential area that bordered it.

“Follow me!” Sagar took the lead.

Ryn kept pace with the others, his lungs prickling agony. His fire-hurling had sapped most of his energy, but it had not completely exhausted him this time, and he still had enough left to run for his life. But it hurt like hell all the same.

Gradually the brick houses changed to steel warehouses, to wooden shacks, to a slum of tents, most of them now abandoned, to grassy fields. Their pace slowed a little once they had made it out of the city and they looked round to check that they weren’t being pursued, but still Sagar did not let them stop.

Ryn ran on, though his legs were starting to seize up and he thought he could taste blood at the back of his throat.

Run, Ryn, run away, live to fight another day. Live to train another way. Live to find Vorr again and make him pay.

Finally when they were under the trees of a little wood at the foot of a hill and had gone some distance into it, Sagar let up, and allowed them to stop.

Ryn collapsed to the grass, and lay on his back, panting deeply, looking up at the canopy above him, though he barely took it in.

The others hit the ground too, and breathed like they’d just come up for air from having almost drowned.

They all lay there for Ryn did not know how long, breathing and looking up at the trees.

At some point Sagar passed round a flask from somewhere about his person. It stang Ryn’s throat, and he guessed it was rum, but he didn’t care.

After a long time, their breathing slowed. One by one they got to their feet with difficulty. Elrann. Sagar. Nuthea. And Ryn.

In the distance, they could still hear the faint sounds of explosions and people crying out in distress.

They looked at each other without saying anything, holding silent counsel, their eyes shifting one to another. Elrann’s bottom lip was wobbling slightly. Sagar’s face was red and his one exposed eye had a manic, bloodshot look. Nuthea was still white as a sheet and looked completely shocked.

Cannonball-shocked, Ryn supposed. She had stayed so calm when the airship they had been imprisoned on had been attacked. But she had thought that her people were coming to rescue her then. And this time, it wasn’t just an airship that had been attacked, but a whole city. And she had lost her means of transportation back to her homeland.

“Come with me,” said Sagar, breaking the silence at last. “There’s a clearing further up this hill, not far from here, with good views of the city. Not many people know about it.”

He turned and left. Ryn looked at the women for a moment, and then they followed Sagar.

Now that they were safe, or at least they hoped they were safe, they were able to take the walk up the wooded hill much more slowly. Ryn’s breath still came in ragged gasps, and his legs ached something awful, not to mention his lungs, his chest and his head.

In time, the thin, gangly trees parted and, sure enough, revealed a sloped clearing. Sagar had led them well. How does he know this place? A short trek up, and they were able to sit and look down on the leafy wood they had just hiked through, and beyond it the slums, industrial quarter, airfield and burning city of Ast, wreathed in black smoke, with no less than twelve black airships hovering over her. People moved about it or streamed away from it like ants fleeing a flaming anthill. Beyond that, the grey soil faded into a sandy crescent, and beyond that the blue of the Leviathan’s Channel could still be glimpsed glittering in the morning sunshine, a beautiful backdrop to a scene of horror and destruction.

“What do we do now?” said Ryn to all the others, but looking at Sagar, him being the former owner of their most recent means of travel.

Sagar didn’t respond. He sat still as a statue on the grass, staring at something. Ryn followed his gaze.

Through the smoke coming from the airfield, unmistakable from its size and brown timber, Wanderlust had begun to ascend to join the Imperial airships.

Sagar’s ship. His former ship.

Soldiers in black plate armour were moving around on the deck.

Sagar’s cheek had begun to twitch.

“I’ll…” said Sagar. “I’ll...KILL THEM!”

He jumped up from where they lay on the grass and made as if to dash back down the hill towards the rising ship, but Nuthea grabbed one of his arms and held him back. Ryn followed suit and grabbed the other. Together they wrestled him to the grass and held him down.

“Don’t be foolish,” chided Nuthea. “They’ve taken off; you can’t get back on board now, even with your gift. Anyway, there’s a whole legion of them on there. You might dispatch one or two more but they would soon overwhelm you. Don’t throw your life away.”

Sagar buried his face in the grass and went quiet again. Ryn shared an anxious glance with Nuthea.

The sky pirate’s shoulders began to convulse. They tremored gently at first, then shook with violence. A gasp escaped his lips.

“My ship…” he breathed where they held him. “My home… My crew… My family… They’ve taken all of it… They’ve taken everything…”

Now you know how I feel, thought Ryn, but he held himself back from saying it. Mother. Father. Hometown.

Sagar went still again. Ryn and Nuthea released their grip and knelt next to him.

For a long moment there was only the sound of the wind tickling their ears, the brightness of the warm afternoon sunshine, and the mess of smoke and shapes in the city below them.

Then Sagar said “What do we do now?” into the grass, echoing Ryn’s question. Ryn noticed that he said ‘we’, not ‘I’.

“What we do now, said Nuthea, is that we carry on traveling to Manolia. I need to return to my homeland as soon as possible in order to tell my people what the Empire is seeking.”

Sagar raised his face. His exposed eye was red and his cheeks puffy; his mouth set in a canine-bearing snarl. “No. What we do now is put together a new crew, go and get revenge on those murderous bastards and win back my ship.”

“It’s an admirable idea,” said Nuthea, “but you’ve got to look at the bigger picture. I know it’s difficult for you to comprehend this right now, I fully understand,”--Ryn did not think that she fully understood Sagar’s emotional state, or that her tone conveyed that she did--“but my mission is more important than you avenging your fallen comrades and getting your ship back. Where do you think you’ll be able to find a whole new crew all of a sudden? What will you pay them with? Doing all that would waste valuable time, time that we don’t have. The future of Imfis, the future even of the whole of Mid, could be at stake.”

“The whole of Mid?” said Elrann. “Why would that be?”

Ryn, Nuthea and Sagar all stared at her.

“What are you still even doing with us, woman?” said Sagar. “You don’t need to be here. You can go your own way now.”

The purple-haired engineer bit her lip and looked at the ground. “I… I was making my living working in Roldo’s airfield. I had other contacts, and contracts, in Ast, but I don’t think that they’re going to be available any more…” She looked up. Her face looked younger. “What’s happening? Why did the Morekemians attack the city? And what’s this about the whole of Mid being in danger?”

All eyes fell on Nuthea.

“Talk,” said Sagar.

“I just need you to escort me to Manolia as quickly as possible--”

Talk,” said Sagar.

Ryn felt a little defensive of her at that, but he wanted to hear more from Nuthea too. A faint idea of what was going on was forming in his mind, but she would confirm it…

Nuthea sighed. “Fine. You skypirates really are a most impatient bunch. If you must know--”

“We must,” said Sagar.

“If you must know, I have reason to believe that the Emperor of Morekemia has become aware of the existence of the twelve Primeval Jewels, and has begun searching for them in order to gain the power to extend his Empire and to conquer the whole of Mid. I would not be surprised if this attack on Ast is the beginning of an invasion of Imfis. Now that he knows about them, he will stop at nothing until he finds all of them. I must return to Manolia to warn my people, as they hold the Lightning Crystal, and are the stewards of much lore about the Jewels. I imagine that the Emperor will turn his attention to them soon, if not next.”

“Huh?” said Elrann, confusion twisting up her features. “What’s this? Twelve Jewels?”

“Yes. Twelve Jewels that bestow powers of elemental projection on people who touch them. Ryn here has is Ruby-touched, like I explained to you in the inn we stayed last night. I am Diamond-touched, which is why I can project lightning. I apologise for not revealing this to you earlier. I only wanted to reveal it if I absolutely had to… Although, it seems I am not the only one who has been concealing their powers of elemental projection…” She gave Sagar a pointed look.

Something itched at Ryn’s memory. Now that they were away from Ast and safe, for the time being at least, recent events were catching up to him. “Hang on!” he said when he remembered. “That’s right! Where did that gust of wind that saved me from Vorr’s sword come from?” He turned to Sagar. “How did you do that?”

The captain folded his arms and looked away into the distance, towards his former airship, which had joined the Imperial fleet and was now moving east.

“I assume,” Nuthea said to Sagar, “that you are Crystal-touched. You have powers of air projection. And I don’t just mean the hot air that comes out of your mouth…” she added more quietly. Ryn’s eyebrows raised. A rare joke for Nuthea.

“So what if I am…” mumbled Sagar, refusing to meet anyone’s gaze.

“But how did you come to be?” asked Nuthea. “Ryn here’s town were secretly harbouring the Fire Ruby, unbeknown to him. I have touched the Lightning Diamond because I am Manolian royalty.” She held her head a little higher. “But you...how did you come into contact with the Wind Crystal of Imfis?”

Sagar’s head whipped round. “That’s my business!” he snapped, spraying spittle. “You stay out of my affairs, princess! What does it mean to you?”

Nuthea held out her hand, and some sparks fizzed at her fingertips. Ryn couldn’t tell if she was being angry or just passionate.

“Don’t you see?” she said. “It means everything! Ryn and I ended up on the same Imperial skyship, both as Jewel-touched and then we met you! And it turns out you’re Jewel-touched too! The One must have brought us together as part of His purpose! Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if our engineer here had elemental projection powers too…”

Elrann stuck her tongue in her cheek and frowned deeply.

Sagar shook his head. “You’re not a follower of that ridiculous religion, are you?”

“All Manolian royalty are. And its not ridiculous.”

“Yes it is,” said Sagar. “There ain’t no ‘One’, princess, or any god that’s real. We haven’t been brought together for any kind of ‘purpose’. We were brought together by random chance. Dumb luck. There’s plenty of people with elemental projection out there, if you look hard enough.”

“No, there aren’t,” said Nuthea. “Believe me, I’ve looked. This is the work of the One.”

“Oh don’t give me that b--”

“Wait,” Ryn interrupted. He had remembered something else. “When Nuthea and I fell out of the Imperial airship we were imprisoned on...a sudden gust of wind pushed us on to your ship. That was you, wasn’t it?”

“Maybe,” said Sagar defensively.

“Of course it was him,” said Nuthea, eyes flashing. “How else could it have happened? Why did you do it?” she challenged the captain.

“You didn’t look like Imperial soldiers,” said Sagar, “and I wanted to find out who you were. And how partial to skypirates you were.” He grinned lasciviously. “What of it?”

“You saved us, without realising it, at the prompting of The One.”

“It was just dumb luck! It wasn’t no ‘One’, lady!” said Sagar, dropping the ‘princess’.

“Ah, well that’s a double negative,” said Nuthea. “If it wasn’t ‘no One’ it must have been Some One. The One.”

“Rrrr.” Sagar put a hand over his face.

“Er, ’scuse me,” said Elrann. She had put up a hand.

“What?” said Nuthea and Sagar at the same time.

“Who is this ‘One’ you’re talking about? I’ve always worshiped Yntrik, the god of metal and gunpowder. I’ve never heard about a ‘One’. And where did these ‘Jewels’ you’re talking about come from? I don’t think you mentioned that last night.”

Nuthea slipped easily back into lecture mode. “The One is the One True God. He is not the god of any thing in particular, but of everything. He made the whole world--the whole of Mid. He doesn’t live in human walls or temples, but beyond the world. One day it is prophesied he will enter it, at its greatest hour of need. At the beginning of time, when he made Mid, he made the twelve Primeval Jewels, as a gift for us, to bless the world with. But humans sought to use them for their own power, to dominate others, so The One scattered them to the twelve corners of the nations. The legend, closely guarded by my people and by the followers of the One, says that if someone were to gather all twelve of them together, they would have unfathomable power bestowed upon them. That is why we must warn my people that the Emperor has learned of the Jewels, and is seeking them.”

At last she finished. Ryn had heard most of this before. He looked at Elrann.

Her mouth hung slightly open. “And you really believe that, do you?” she said.

“Of course she doesn’t!” said Sagar. “It’s just a fairytale Manolians tell their whelps to get them to go to sleep! The Jewels are just part of the world. They’re just there, and that’s all there’s to it. In fact, there’s probably not more than three, anyway. We’ve only got proof of three: Fire, Lightning and Wind. There probably even aren’t any more, and there’s definitely no ‘One’. Or any ‘real’ god.”

Ryn pondered this in the silence Sagar’s words left, as Nuthea bowed her head, evidently disappointed in the captain’s atheism. He had always been dutiful in paying tribute to Imkala, the frog-god of his hometown, which was built near some marshes, but the Empire destroying his hometown had blown Imkala out of the water. He hadn’t even thought of him once since that day. He had seen no reason to.

Now Nuthea and Sagar were presenting with him two new, very different options: So Nuthea believed in this “One” god, a god who made the whole of Mid, and didn’t just belong to one part of it, a god of all the other gods. And Sagar didn’t seem to believe in any god at all. Who was right? If he had to choose at this moment, he preferred Nuthea’s example, and her ideas. On the other hand, Sagar had saved him--twice, if he was responsible for the gust that pushed them onto Wanderlust--and his beliefs seemed a lot more...realistic. Although, Nuthea had saved his life at least once, too… But there couldn’t really be a god of gods, could there?

“If there’s a One,” Ryn spoke up into the silence, “why doesn’t he just come down here right now and stop the Emperor from getting all these Jewels himself?

“The One works in mysterious ways,” said Nuthea straight away, as though she was repeating a memorised phrase. “He prefers to work through his followers than to intervene directly. But it is prophesied that one day he will come down to Mid himself to save it in its greatest hour of need.”

“Bullshit,” said Sagar, this time without being interrupted.

Nuthea held her jaw shut and sighed at length through her nose. “You are being very rude, Captain Sagar. If you wish to part ways at this point because of our different beliefs, I will not oppose you.”

Sagar’s face suddenly switched from a look of smirkish derision to open-mouthed protest. “Now hold on, princess, I didn’t say that! I was just saying your god was a load of nonsense, that’s all! I didn’t say anything about parting ways.” His eyes ranged over the rapidly burning ruins of Ast and the airships, now growing smaller, making their way futher east and inland. “My wings are clipped without my ship...and my crew……. But if I still succeed in escorting you back to Manolia, will your ‘people’ or whatever still reward me?”

“I am sure.”

“With enough gold to buy a new airship, or have one built?”

“With enough gold to have several airships built, I imagine.”

“And with beautiful women?”

“There are many beautiful women in Manolia.”

“Then I’m taking you to Manolia.”

Nuthea’s eyelids fluttered, but she allowed him this choice of phrasing without correction.

“Ryn?” Nuthea turned to him.

“I want to find that Imperial Officer again and kill him.” Ryn said it as a bare fact, simply voicing his thoughts aloud.

“Well,” said Nuthea nodding at the airships, “they are heading east, and Manolia is in that direction anyway. If the Emperor of Morekemia knows what I think he does, I imagine he will be despatching his best officers to Manolia very soon, if he hasn’t already. Vorr may be among them. I need to beat them back to my homeland, however possible. We may need to...comandeer another vehicle somehow. Although we will get a head start on Vorr when he soon discovers that the ship he has stolen is damaged, and has to stop to repair it.”

As if prompted by Nuthea’s words, at that momen Wanderlust began to descend, breaking away from the fleet of black Imperial airships. It was still moving east, and moving to land far away, out of sight, but it was clearly landing.

“I will come with you until I find him, or find a way to find him again, said Ryn, his eyes boring hatred into the shrinking shape of Wanderlust. He also wanted to stay at Nuthea’s side, but he didn’t say that part out loud. Mother. Father. Hometown. Find Vorr. Kill Vorr. Stay with Nuthea?

“Er,” said Elrann. Ryn had forgotten she was there. “Do you mind if I tag along for a while too? I was lodging in Ast but I’m not from Imfis originally, you see, so I’m at a bit of loose end… I’ve never been in a country when it’s been invaded before, and I’m not really sure what to do…” She smiled, closing her eyes.

“Of course, my good lady,” said Nuthea. “If we ever succeed in commandeering another airship or some other kind of steam-vehicle, the services of an engineer will be most valuable. Boys?”

“No problem with me,” said Ryn.

“Whatever,” said Sagar, and spat.

“Then let us set out,” said Nuthea.

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About the author

Faenon

Bio: Hi, I’m Faenon, from Oxford, UK.

I’ve been writing for a long time and I’ve even been lucky enough to complete a paid creative writing course and get some short stories published (PM me if you are interested in reading them as it involves telling you my real name).

I’ve written four novels so far but haven’t been able to get any of them house-published--though I came close to getting an agent with one.

So although I’m going to keep trying, I’m also getting fed up with the traditional publishing industry.

That’s where the internet comes in!

I’m going to be posting my novels online one by one, anonymously, in the order I wrote them. And then I'll start posting my latest project as I write it.

If you enjoy my novels, please support me on patreon to get chapters ahead of time and access to early drafts, and then I can devote more time to writing!

(I have a wife, a kid, and a non-writing job.)

One more note. I've studied Theology and Philosophy to postgraduate level, and you may see these things turning up in my stories sometimes. You have been warned.

To support my writing and get access to early chapters go to https://www.patreon.com/faenon

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