I understood now why Draco Island was hard to find. Unlike Hopewell which was tethered to mountain peaks that jutted up through the clouds to keep it from moving, Draco Island was tethered to what could only be described as dragons. I could see one massively large, bigger than the Sky Kraken dragon and three smaller dragons. The sun glinted off the chains that tethered them to the island. The island floated on its own personal cloud it seemed, bits of it trailed behind it, but the cloud that supported the island never seemed to get smaller. I’d never seen a sky island from this angle. It actually looked like an upside down mountain, the peak pointed downwards, surrounded by cloud at the base, and then above the cloud rose a city and castle that would easily rival several sky islands put together.
The cloud cover was slowly returning. I could only hope that the Deceit was up there. My world was up there. Of course my Captain deserved a good forking for cutting the cable to our cage. Had he really abandoned us? Had something else happened on the ship that they were forced to cut us loose?
“Eryana,” said a new familiar voice behind me. I glanced over my shoulder at Mocsk who had just exited the statue building. His spear tip was dripping black blood. He pointed to the island. “It is Eryana.”
“My brother in law and husband died looking for it,” I said quietly as I returned to look at it once more.
“Yeah.” I was trapped down here on the surface and I had no way to get back up to the clouds. I was alone, surrounded by people who I understood, but couldn’t understand me. I felt pretty damn low. Not even having my fork back could comfort me. Should I resign to just being a surface dweller? I had chosen the life of pirate because I need to sail the clouds looking for my husband, but now I knew he was dead. I turned to look at Mocsk who was gazing at me, as if he was afraid I’d fade away and he wanted to remember every line of my face. I suppose one person was happy out of this. Mocsk found someone who looked exactly like his Bella.
I walked through the weird village, casually. I wanted to be alone, wanted time to think. I noticed areas where parks had been turned into crops, people were tending them, weeding, hoeing. An orchard had been planted. The medicine woman was among the orchard, biting into an apple as she lounged in a chair and watched the other villagers working. So she was more than a medicine woman, she was obviously their leader. Mocsk following along behind me, I dunno if he sensed my mood or just didn’t want to let me out of his sight, but he didn’t walk with me. Towards the back of the weird village and its doubling back trains, its many shops and market stalls. I felt the air get cooler. I would say that the surface was in early fall, but even the sun seemed muted in this place.
There was a large building, looking haphazardly put together. Pipes stuck up and looped back in. The windows were all blackened, unlike before when I had wanted to remove my coat, I pulled it tighter around me. There was a red X, faded now painted on the door. Mocsk moved between me and the door.
“No,” he said very sternly. I was surprised. He hadn’t wanted me to go into the statue building, had warned me not to go, and had resigned to go with me as if I needed protecting. A change had come over him. He was blatantly blocking my path.
“Get out of my way,” I tried to brush past him, but that was like trying to brush past a mountain. My hand slithered into my pocket and gripped my fork. He jabbed his spear into the ground and took me by the upper arms.
“That is forbidden,” he said in the same stern voice. It seemed so unlike his normal smiling jovial ‘yeahs.’ I don’t know why I did it, but I suddenly had my fork out, and I suppose he hadn’t expected me to strike him, but I buried the fork as deep as it would go into his side. He gave a grunt, winced, and let me go to clutch his side. I ripped the fork out. His shirt began to blossom with the dark stain of blood. I stepped past him and entered the door.
There was oddly a light burning in the darkened building. I hadn’t been able to see it because the windows had been painted black. The house seemed more like maze rather than a house. Every so many feet there was a candle burning on the wall. They were far enough apart that you had to pass through an area of darkness to reach the next well of golden light. I stopped in the pool of candle glow to wipe the blood from my fork. Perhaps it was the lighting, but the blood looked black, like the pink eel’s. I wiped the blood on my shirt and pocketed my fork.
“Hello?” I called into the semi-darkness. The house just seemed to be corridor after corridor. Finally I reached a large room. In the middle looked like machinery of some kind. It looked rather a lot like the engine of the Deceit as I examined it more. There were parts missing and what seemed like extra parts. I saw penciled drawings taped to the walls of what looked like diagrams. The engine in the middle of the room, larger than the Deceit’s, seemed to be the culmination of these drawings. So was this the house of the inventor of the steam engine that powered the clouds ships? If so, why was Mocsk so adamant that I shouldn’t enter? Maybe he was afraid I would leave? Even if the engine did work, I’d not be able to fly it without clouds.
Out of curiosity I examined what appeared to be the controls for it. A set of levers, not that much different than the engine controls for the Deceit. I pulled one, and slowly I heard old gears begin to grind, and the coughing chug as the engine sputtered, out of what looked like a pipe puffed a tiny cloud and died. I wasn’t too familiar with the way the Deceit’s engine worked, but I was certain that it required water and fire. It just surprised me that the parts were seized up.
“I called it ze Rainmaker,” said a voice behind me. I turned to see someone I’d never met before. He was an older man, graying hair at the temples. He was dressed in blue breeches that came to the ankle, a white loose sleeved shirt worn over another tighter form fitting shirt. A brown apron covered in grease was worn around his neck. “It was to revolutionize air travel.” He spoke with an accent I’d never heard before.
“I didn’t mean to intrude,” I replied, trying to sound as apologetic as I could. I doubted he understood me just like everyone else in this weird village.
“You didn’t intrude,” he replied and a stiff breeze could’ve knocked me over.
“You understand me?”
“Of course I understand you,” he stated. I suddenly breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m Honesty,” I said approaching confidently and happily, offering my hand to him. He lightly took it.
“I’m Dr. Erich Schwertfeger, frauline, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” he introduced himself and kissed the back of my hand. I felt very uncomfortable.
“What does it do?” I asked pretending innocence. He led me towards the machine.
“It makes ze clouds,” he answered, “Or rather it was supposed to. Sadly to say it was a failure.”