The skies reach on through flowing, eternal
night, a wilderness unmatched, speckled with bright
oasis, the birth clouds of growing stars, the oceans
of spectral wonder beyond the sight of rainbows.
Ship's great hull hums in vacuum's stillness,
a comforting drone unnoticed to all save me: opening
doors, flowing power, drive twisting ethereal matter.
I survey this jewel-box realm from the great portal,
lulled by the sounds almost to slumber.
There, far below the bow, a comet lost
in this abandoned waste, a titan's snowball, an elaborate
tail this far from warmth.
A violet flare as tiny pebble burns against
our shields, rather than punch through ceramic, steel-hard
hull like hot needle through wax.
A mixed cargo of platinum, rare knowledge
and exotic art, plus a dozen passengers from their homes
around three scattered stars. Some actors, a physician,
two scholars, a gaggle of traders and a tourist.
The tourists, now he's an alien, though
whether "he" or "she" is not so clear. He wants to see
the human worlds, and has a taste for playing cards,
and having four brains he rarely loses!
Of crew there are three officers, excepting
"Bear" is partial human, 8' tall and
built like Hercules, his ancestors "warped" for heavy
worlds. Good with ships, and not at all bad with pirates,
folding, spindling and mutilating them that is.
BD Salron, cook and entertainer extraordinaire.
Though elaborate meals come in packages, the passengers
love sitting in the big kitchen, listening to Roger's
tales and savouring his food, his spices come from 500
From Atholl, a "thinkers" world, Spectre
is a quiet fellow, but with knowledge and our craft's
mindnumbing mode of flight, he always knows the right
thing to call.
Then there's Leah, now apart from accountant
and canny merchant, she's me lady, and having your sweetheart
on your own ship is no mean accomplishment, and is rather
nice for both of us!
A week of travel from our last port,
a 3 day carnival, there showed us how the locals dance,
living inside a gigantic, burned out volcano,
the spectacle of ships entering that yawning chasm,
dark lit by terraced houses, is only exceeded by the
triumph of flying out of that abyssal maw, and into
The destination now in sight, a bluish
star, the frozen sea world of Merlin circles giant Aster,
a mighty ball of gas with dazzling ring of gemstone
By rarest quirk of Fate, the rings are
made of pale amethyst, the Sun sintering in dazzling
flashes in a billion glittering wonders.
The heavy ship, yet so lithe and sheering
grace, she turns and rolls as we pass through this wonder,
leting passengers and crew saw what some of the first
solar voyagers beheld in utmost rapture.
And in my arms, Leah, and we look upon
one of Creations rarest treasures, but I'm holding one
far more precious...
A world of dazzling, liquid shimmer,
Merlin, a realm of sun-wreathed ice.
Giant Aster's amethyst rings tinge its tiny neighbour
with purple touches.
The ship's great sails fill with stellar wind, travellers
stare through crystal portal, as into thin clouds they
Ice against the oval window spatters, and so view
the landless surface of a world of ice. No rock, no
stone, just continents of hardened water.
And ice is not white, in blue and greens and even
red, for miles the "land" is covered in rippled
splendour. Always faint purple glitters here and there.
Great blocks, big as countries, towering spikes bleak
and high. Infinite shadows against ultra brilliance.
Hunter Port, a great cavern made from a lifted glacier
sheet half a mile thick! Entering the vast maw of city
cave, the bitter wind it ceases, like passing through
a pane of glass. But still the cold shivers hardened spines.
At the helm, Silverblade guides the graceful vessel
onto dry harbour cradle. A gentle thud rocks the elven
Man-O-War, the comfort of ground beneath the feet.
Bear, in a sleeveless robe, seems right at home,
hurling anchor ropes. Spying a face not unknown, he
spins arm thick cable...and clouts the stevedore with
"Away ye thieving bas', afore I hurl ye in
the waste by yer arse!" Chuckling, he bounces an
ice crystal off the fleeing miscreant's head.
Expensive cargoes changing hands: platinum it's
weight in spell-wrapped chest. Only Bear can lift alone,
or would dare, for others would be vapourised into air!
The passengers disembark, wrapped in furs until
they're quite round. Everyone makes their way to the
"Glacier's Pass", the finest tavern in this
shrouded, under-ice town. Light flickers through that
colossal roof, glimmers floating over roofs and homes.
Through heavy drapes, into the inn, roaring heat
and welcome din. Folk hail the sailor crew, or seek
quick bargains with merchants, that too. Reeking of
fish oil that feeds the fires, kelp and sea berry wine
pass to thirsty throats left and right.
Pouring powder in is hand, BD Salron petrifies several
folk: Chinda spice, hot enough to melt any ice! He puts
a pinch in his bowl of fish stew, folk crowd around,
while he eats with great, lip smacking gusto. Grown
men dribble in their beards, and one entrepreneur throws
a whale tooth on the table, and places his own bowl
Salron, seeming uncaring, pockets the ivory, and
not looking, sprinkles spice in the hunter's food. Schlurps
and then heated panting, the contented hunter settles
back. Soon a huge pile of rare scrimshander teeth grows
before Salron, and round him, burping, groaning, smiling
Arenzat, a giant of a man, almost large as Bear,
straight for Leah heads, the leader of the fur traders
sits in front of her! The two quote a price after some
talk, each holds their position, and as custom dictates,
riddling begins: the one who loses must match the other's
proposal. As usual, this goes on for ages, Arenzat wasn't
chosen just for brawn: he's the best riddle master for
a hundred miles around!
But Leah's no slouch either, quite the reverse!
Besides which, she's unnerved him by having some of
Salron's spice, and Arenzat's gurgling stomach can be
heard over the crowd...After half an hour, the fur trader
cracks and strains, as with relish Leah shows a roll
soaked with wine and Chinda Spice, he gives in to her
"Well," she says to her friendly adversary,
"I was looking forward to a bath, and the water's
getting cold, so on your hunger I played right bold!"
With a smile she pats his stomach and goes upstairs,
leaving Arenzat taken quite aback, and his fellows laughing
hard, tears tripping at their cheeks.
Captain Ohlsen, a tall, grim man of gaunt demeanour,
master of the harbour and local men at arms, entered
in his usual way, chill even in this frozen place. Before
Silverblade his smiling lady can join upstairs, port
fees he happy pays, but wishing glacier below his feet
would open up and swallow greedy bloody Ohlsen!
Going from man to man, brother Fredericks asks for
tithes, a priest of this world's water god, the sailors
eager pay some coin, good grace of ocean lords they
always wish, then....
Men startle, falling back! Woman hurls tankard at
thing that now appears! Green hazed vision fills the
room, a man nine feet tall, wrapped in yeti furs!
"Arenzat!...Help!" The spectre cries,
and tumbles forward. Folks scatter from his fall. But
the sorcerous image, disappears...