05: The Approach
Maverick took Kate’s hand, and her skin was soft and warm. She blushed a bit, and he could feel her uneasiness. What’s wrong? Did I do something wrong?
Kate projected, “Oh no, it’s nothing, just you are cute.”
“Let’s go.” He moved forward into the cabin at the bow of the Chimera. Into the lion’s head, so to speak. Inside, the wooden head was transparent as glass. A seat with levers sat in the center, and just behind another seat raised just a bit. Small globes of liquids showed the various angles of the ship. Several metallic tubes with brass funnels connected to multiple sections in the bridge; each of the tubes had a name attached, bow, main hold, etc. “This is where I pilot the ship.” He pointed to the first chair.”The Chimera is designed so that non-mages can pilot her. The ship is powered by what is called a either drive. A powerful air elemental trapped inside pushes wind outside to various exit nozzles. These levers control the flow.”
Kate let her amazement escape, “Wow.” she plumped down onto the second seat. “Copilot?”
Maverick nodded, “Yes, sometimes needed when an extra hand is steering this beast.” He remembers when he actually looped the Chimera.
Kate snickered. “You made this ship fly upside down!”
Maverick put his hand on the back of his head, feeling a bit awkward, “Yeah. Shaitar told me never to do that again. Anything not bolted down crashed into the ceiling, pots pans, the liquid held in the head. On the plus side, most of the invaders fell to their doom.”
The door to the cabin opened, and Opal stepped in. “Shaitar says we are ready to go. Are you ready?”
Maverick tipped his tricon hat forward. “Yes, ready to go.” He climbed into the first seat. “Ever since I did that stunt, we have added belts and ropes to various points on the ship for the just in case scenario.”
Kate looked around the room; hanging on a hook was another brown tricon. “Wait!” launching off her seat. She grabbed the hat off the hook, placing the brown hat on her head, “Pirate!” She moved back to her seat with a grin.
Opal left, shutting the door behind her.
“Were not pirates,” Maverick pulled a lever backward and pressed afoot to peddle. A blast of air released underneath the ship. Dirt, dust, and small rocks blasted away under the guys of air. “Understanding how the ship handles under load is important.” He pointed to a small liquid-filled globe. The level tilted sideways a bit as the Chimera lift off the ground. He shifted another lever, and the globe’s water level straitened. “See.”
“So if I do this, we go forward.” Kate looked down at one of her levers and pushed forwards. The ship moved forward into the fog-filled skies.
“Ahh, yes.” He raced to correct the pitch of the ship. “Careful. Too much without the proper lift on one side will pitch us forward and down.”
“Way too complicated.” Kate grimmised. “Well, we don’t want to smash into a high tree or a random mountain peak. Time for me to do what I can.”
Kate took a glance around and closed her eyes for a moment. He felt some anxiety coming from Kate.
Maverick heard another voice. “Kate, where are you at? It’s damn near noon. Girl, get back here now. We are expecting the group here soon. Probably lost in the fog. I will send Torac to fetch you and then them if you don’t make it here soon. Understand.”
Kate reached up to her necklace and touched a white stone. “Uncle, I am on my way, be there shortly.”
Maverick looked a bit puzzled, “What was that about.”
“My uncle wants me back. It’s a big day from what I have gathered thus far. My uncle has been hiding a big secret under my nose for years. He does that keeps secrets, a lot of them.” Pausing for a moment to catch her breath, “Let me guide you through the fog.”
How many secrets can a farmer’s daughter have? Maverick thought.
Kate inhaled and started singing, her voice was golden, and the tones flowed through the air. Maverick focused on the piloting of the ship. When she stopped her song, the world outside the Chimera changed.
The white mist began to roll and form into a tunnel, a couple of hundred feet wide on each Chimera side. The fog had been pushed to form a semi solid-looking tunnel. The cloudy long tube created a visible path that turned around the hidden mountain peaks. “Follow the tunnel through the clouds.” Kate sat back in her chair and adjusted her pirate hat.
After a few minutes of moving up and down around and through the twisted tunnel, the ship broke open into the large open area of no fog. On a cliff sat a small castle, with one large tower in the center. Fields of wheat, corn, and other vegetables laced the ridge’s side on small terraces spaced out for maximum sunlight. Short cobblestone paths raised from the terraces to the castle above.
The Chimera closed on the castle, raising the altitude to match the highest center tower. “There’s the dragon of lightning.” A massive form, glistening in the sunlight. His blue and silver scales glistened in the morning light. The dragon circled the tower, then landed in one of the courtyards, taking up the entire space. He raised his head and shot a bolt of lightning into the sky above; the sound of thunder rolled across the valley below.
Kate giggled a moment, “Torac is showing off today. He likes to make himself look big and intimidating. Like a small fuzzy cat puffing himself up to make him appear bigger than what he is.”
Maverick glanced around a bit, “That’s a dragon, that is a huge dragon. Such a dragon is feared across the lands surrounding this valley, and you are saying he’s like a house cat.” He turned back to piloting. “How do you know the great Torac?”
Kate enjoyed interacting with somebody who did not know her, and he was still a mystery to her. She was going to give him information piece by piece. “Oh, I did mention I had a guardian, right?”
Maverick wondered now who she is. He heard her giggling voice in his head as Kate projected to him, “Your piecing this together nicely.”
“You are the one we are to pick up?!” He spoke unsurely. He is slowly turning his head back to the raven-haired infernal behind him.
Kate projected, “I think so; my uncle said that today I would be leaving with new masters to teach me about the world and take me to a place where I can learn my duty. I have no idea how I am to be a savior of anything. Sorry, I want you to come with me. If you don’t, then I will go with you.”
He felt Kate winch, and he heard the other man’s voice again, “KATE, where are you. They are almost here. You must be here before they arrive! I am sending Torac to go fetch you!”
Kate reached up and touched the small white stone on her necklace, “I am almost there.”
Silence, then Maverick heard a long sigh, “You are on the ship, aren’t you.”
Kate was silent for a moment, like a little child. “Yes, I can see the tower. Oh, I want you to meet someone. He is gorgeous, handsome and he can fly! Oh, and he has the best set of lips I have ever had. Uncle, he’s a pirate!”
More silence. “Uncle? Uncle?”
Maverick started to understand that he had jumped into a boiling pot of water once again and now was jumping out of the pot and into the fire below. “Your uncle owns the tower, doesn’t he.”
Kate felt worried for a moment, “We will be okay. He might know more about this link and how to break it, though I find you relaxing.”
The Chimera slowly descended toward the castle.
Maverick once again heard the communication between Kate and her uncle, “I am not angry, just I should have known that as soon as a stranger set foot in the valley, you would find them. Land the ship in the main courtyard. We have to talk, I wanted to have this talk with you earlier, but now you will be surprised, my little flower.”
Maverick toted, “I see where he wants to go. So I take it, uncle, is your father type figure?”
Kate nodded, “Yes, he has raised me along with Torac and a few bogglings.”
Torac head followed as the air-ship landed in the central courtyard right outside the High Tower entrance.