Everyone looked at her, and Callindra realized that she had been speaking as though she was in charge. She pretended not to notice their scrutiny and puffed on her borrowed pipe. Wiping away a tear that was threatening to spill from her eye, she adjusted herself on the cushions, settling Brightfang’s sheath more comfortably and shifting her injured leg.
“Well Lass. Ya gotta point there.” Malachi said. “I been captain a this ship for fifty years an it’s hard ta think about givin him up.” He patted the floor fondly, “But I suppose all things come ta pass.”
“Give up your ship?” She asked, confused. “What do you mean give up your ship?”
“When I was designin this beauty a century ago I…” He trailed off, looking at the expressions on their faces. “Well it’s a long story an ya probably don’t want ta hear it now. Suffice it ta say I needed a power source and Jorda gave me one. Asked me ta keep it until tha ones she tasked would come for it.”
“She gave you a power source?” Tryst asked, raising a golden eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“Ahhh.. maybe it’s better ta show ya.” Malachi said, standing and moving toward the door.
“I’ll be fine.” Callindra said, waving off her brother’s moves to help her. “I’ve got to learn to move when I’m all messed up or else I’ll be easy prey any time I’ve been hurt.” She struggled to her feet, wincing in pain and looked up to see approval in Malachi’s eyes. He didn’t say a word, instead striding out of the cabin toward the ladder leading to the hold.
They followed him in silence other than the occasional grunt of discomfort as their injuries were strained by a difficult step. Callindra did her best on the ladder, although the pain of bending her knee sent tears trickling down her face she made it to the bottom without assistance.
It was hot and loud below decks. The scents of burning coal and hot metal, both old and stale assaulted her nose. Callindra sneezed so hard that the blast of air knocked Cronos off his feet as he stepped off the ladder. He looked at her in surprise, shaking his head.
“Sorry, I guess something in the air is tickling my nose.” She said, wincing.
Malachi gave her an inscrutable look, his mouth frowning slightly around the stem of his pipe. “We ain’t burned coal since Jorda entrusted us with her gift, but the smell does still linger. Some folk I knew once were sensitive to it like that.”
“Did the Goddess give you a piece of the clay mold that made the original human?” Tryst breathed, “Why would she do such a thing?”
“Betimes the best place to hide sommat important be in plain sight.” The Dwarf rumbled, “Sides which I ain’t in one place for more’n a day or so. Nobbut would ever suspect it to be used in such a way.”
A whirring, clattering sound dominated all the other sounds as they approached the center of the ship. In front of them, a complicated latticework of steel cables and wooden beams moved in steady rhythm. This was the contraption that allowed the ship to fly. At its heart was what appeared to be the lower torso of a human working a treadle at a furious rate.
“What in the name of the Absent Gods is that?” Vilhylm said, staring at the strange sight.
“This be the heart a the Grungie and a marvel of engineering.” Malachi said with a wide grin. “But afore I had the legs he ran on coal and steam and quite frankly did no function as well as he could have. Of course it ain’t just the wings, there’s a fair bit of wind magic at play as well.”
“Are they always so… big?” Callindra asked, “The other bits aren’t really to scale. Gods and demons, I don’t even know if we could carry them. We certainly couldn’t hide the bedamned things.” She paused, as if digesting what he had just said. “Did you just say wind magic?”
“Indeed I did. That was a gift from another, slightly less friendly Immortal.” Malachi said, his eyes turning flat. “But that ain’t a story I share.”
“Was his name Glarian? No, can’t be… you said Immortal.” She sighed, and a mischievous breeze untied the ribbon holding her hair in place, allowing it to fan out around her head. The flowering vines growing through it smelled sweet. “My Master is no God, he’s just an old man. A talented and powerful one, but an old man nonetheless. If he was a God he wouldn’t need rescuing.”
Malachi was looking at her with a strange expression on his face that was hard to read. “I’m sure he ain’t the one I knew. His bargains have more’n one sharp edge. There ain’t a safe way to hold them.”
“If we take this artifact will your ship still be able to fly?” Cronos asked, looking up from where he was inspecting the apparatus. “It looks like it will, and handily at that. You hardly need the support of these. They just make it more convenient.”
“Not entirely true.” The Dwarf said, a bit defensively. “But also I was charged with handing over the artifact to the hero’s the Goddess had in mind when she put it in my care.”
Wordlessly, Tryst brought the small hand seemingly made of clay from his belt pouch and held it in his hand. It spun around one full turn before stopping pointing directly at the legs powering the airship. The thumb and all fingers but the index curled in as it ceased moving.
“I think that’s likely all the proof you need.” Tryst said quietly.
After looking between them all for a few tense moments, Malachi sighed. “You’re all so young. I expected… well… when we land outside Denoria in two days’ time I’ll surrender the legs to you like I was charged to.”
Callindra blinked in surprise. Now that the tension of the moment had passed, she processed what he had said. “Two days to Denoria? That can’t be, Denoria is at least two week’s travel away!”
Malachi chuckled, obviously happy to tout his ships’ prowess. “This here lassie will cover the distance in less than two days but I don’t want to land her in the city so you’ll have to walk the last half day.”