The latest tale concerning Fist La’brau
As smoothly as a maiden’s whisper drifts through the depths of night, so did the rejuvenated galley over the boreal skies of Sechdomayhn with her sparkling stars suspended above the black encrusted realm. Originally designed as a valiant seafaring vessel, it had been converted in Ayon into a air-going ship with broad sprawling sails for catching efficacious winds and for providing precision steering without capsizing a mile above the branded lands. Those sails were tinted with the fiery early morning radiance when the sun finally rose whilst three weary passengers soared across the ever-stretching solidified lava below. Great peaks arose high like poisoned daggers all about them tipped with scintillating frost and layers of silver mist drifted about in wide swirling sheets. In the distance, one of the realm’s massive volcanoes stood amidst the land of thrusting pinnacles penetrating the gaseous lamella and ascended above the aerial paths oft travelled by the hawk riders of the realm’s several floating cities. The volcanic mount was conical, gray-black, and there dark smoke continually belched from Sechdomayhn’s gaping maw. The ship sailed somberly upon a course to pass the mount to the south as it made its westward journey.
Little streams of water ran down the side of the volcanic mountain whose summit was blurred by a plumage of mist that took on a fiery glow in the morning light, then formed pools near its base where the shard-like pillars of stone stuck out of the ground creating the immense features the inhabitants of Sechdomayhn referred to as the Stilettos.
Standing at the ship’s helm was the slender fellow with the gray cloak fluttering in the gentle breeze. Some of Lyrum’s black hair hung outside the hood and waved across his narrow youthful face pierced with dark eyes about a slender nose as was the norm from many men from Siernod’s kingdom of Tagabarr. His chin tapered toward a goatee that jutted downward to a sharp point.
Perched upon the bow was the woman from the city of Ayon, the romantic guide, youthful herself with brown hair cascading from a crown of feathers onto her tanned shoulders when it was not teased by the occasional gusts. Talindreah wore a loose fitting shirt flapping in the cool breeze and snug doeskin breeches tucked into her dark leather boots. The cool air seemed not to bother her much as she stared into the distance.
Lyrum watched her, wondering what thoughts must be going through her mind. A woman like her who had a specific calling in her society now was cast aside, with her special way with birds of the free skies not meaning anyhing any longer. He found her a pleasant woman, not like the tavern wenches that Fist would be more likely to pick up when they returned to Siernod. She was more sophisticated and stronger willed but Lyrum was constantly on edge wondering what sort of dangers she would be exposed too travelling along with such I’ll fated men. Nevertheless, he knew she would be hard to pry away from Fist any time soon.
And speaking of Fist, Lyrum looked at the height of the rising sun, wondering why he had not yet awoken and joined them on the deck but his question was quickly answered when the burly man lumbered onto the scene.
“Good morning!” came a booming voice from below deck shattering the morning’s serenity like glass.
A mop of wavy copper hair emerged and beneath it was the ruddy man with emerald eyes and bristly beard. Not as dapper as his youthful counterpart, his thick mustache with tapering ends slightly a-curl barely gave way to a half grin from the gap-toothed man known as Fist La’burau. Once a burly brawler and sword fighter, now a recovering drunken beggar just beginning to look more like his former self, he burst aboard then stumbled once and righted himself at the main deck’s side rail.
“A little too much rum last night?” Lyrum quipped without changing his expression.
“Naw. Just overslept a bit, mate.”
“With your oversleeping, we may never find a way back to Siernod,” Lyrum said.
Talindreah glanced at Fist shaking her head but could not completely hide the smile that ever so slightly crept upon her rosy lips.
Fist reached into his cloak and produced a half smoked cigar and placed it between his teeth. He found a nearby fire pot, stooped, and lit it, then emitted a few large puffs of smoke not unlike the volcano just a few miles to the north. Fist sighed with delight and grinned a bit before speaking to Talinderah.
“Morning to you, pretty lady,” Fist said with a gravely tone.
Fist stepped onto the bow and planted himself near Talindreah as Lyrum maneuvered the ship over one of the pools by the steering wheel that was rigged to operate the steering sails rather than the conventional aqua-rudder, and he also directed the course by controlling the speed of the spinning rings on the mysterious machine below the main deck.
“We found water, Fist,” Lyrum interjected pointing toward the mirror like surfaces shining with moisture that trickled casually down into numerous shallow pools around its base.
“Good,” Fist said. “We need some water badly. The rack is low on rum and there is little food left to speak of. The ship was not stocked for any sort of voyage before we left.”
“Had you not assumed this ship was ready for flight and so abruptly cut it free, we would not be in this predicament,” Talindreah said with a teasing grin.
“Had I not cut the ropes we’d still be fighting our way around Ayon, my lady,” Fist said. “Besides, we don’t have to worry about that fat guild boss or this ship’s mad captain.”
“Fist, would you join me below deck for a moment?” Lyrum called from the stern.
Fist met Lyrum below where the wiry youth adjusted the weird machine.
“I see you and the lady are becoming a pair,” Lyrum said.
“You jealous of my way with the ladies?” Fist said.
“Not really. I’m afraid of what could happen to her if she hangs around us. We aren’t the most fortunate pair these days.”
Fist nodded and spoke with a more cerebral tone. “I hear you. And women who associate with me are not too fortunate either.”
“You should watch how I do this in case I am not around some time and you need to work it,” Lyrum said as he adjusted some small brass dials on the machine. “It was quite ironic that Rumain charged us with trying to steal his device which we knew nothing about and here we own the thing now.”
“Obviously he was full of paranoia,” Fist said as he looked up at the spinning rings noticing how they seemed to slow a bit as Lyrum turned certain dials. “But now he’s a dead paranoid.”
The rings were mesmerizing as he stared at them. The circular spinners, an outer of black and an inner hoop of copper, contained a dark flame that was not fire as they knew it. It was blacker than night, presented no heat, and gave off lavender wisps that evaporated quickly. It wreaked of the powers of Shadow and reminded Fist of the flames he once saw in the catacombs of Hironhirjn that burned in an evil forge.
“I don’t know how you figured all this out, boy. All those brass levers and dials seem so complex.”
Lyrum nodded. “It took some playing with.”
They stood in front of the machine on the black base that was embedded with a mesh of coppery wires and had an angular pedestal of the same onyx looking material where all the dials and small levers were mounted while watching the rings at the top spin down slightly.
“That might do it,” Lyrum said. “We’d best get back above deck and prepare for anchorage, old man.”
To read the complete story and see what happens after Fist and Lyrum set foot on land once again, visit – Theatre in the Ruins on Amazon.
If you need to read previous stories in the saga of Fist La’brau first visit my books page for chronology and ordering information.
– by J.Wade Harrell,