Author’s note:  I had a terrible headache all day yesterday, so I failed to get any writing done whatsoever.  This is what I’ve got for today, and I’d like to put up another post tomorrow as well, which should catch us up to the regular schedule(if my own mental math is correct).  As always, this is a rough rough unedited version, straight from brain to page.  Thanks for reading!

 

He threw a man into the room, a small man who cursed and stayed on his knees as he held a broken left arm close at his side.

“Who is he?” Mellira and Janus eyed the man curiously, while Fahn blanched at the visibly broken arm and looked away.

“A messenger,” Ibben spat, “and you’re not going to like what he has to say.  Tell him, snake.”

“The blonde man had a letter which I am to deliver to you, oh captain of captains.  He bade me wish you well as I bring it to your hand.  Here it is.”  He fumbled one-handed at his coat, pulling out a wrinkled letter that bore the seal of the Drake.

Janus took it and began reading, and his face turned grim and dark.  When he was done he threw the paper upon the table.  Mellira grabbed it and read.

“Ibben,” the captain said.

“I started at the marketplace, since that was the last place we knew you’d gone.  It was dark by that point, and I was trailed by somebody.  I found where you’d got hit.  Blood doesn’t soak up well in sand, unless you cover it well.  The body was still there too.  Well, turns out I recognized him.  He was an enforcer and hired thug, before you finished him off.  That led me to ask some more questions, and gave me a trail.”  He paused to drink and gave Janus an indecipherable look.  “I’m sorry, man.  You had no way to know.  We all trusted him.”

“I don’t understand,” Mellira said.  “We’ve all known Slyne for years and years.  He’s saved my life more than once.  Why would he take the Sky Drake and run?”

The captain was silent, so Ibben continued.  The little shopkeeper put a consoling hand on Janus’ shoulder.

“Money? Greed? All I know is that he took an opportunity, and made off with an airship.  Most of the crew is still here, by the way.  Turns out that he got them off the ship with a king’s ransom in booze and tobacco.  Guess he still had some sort of conscience.  Murdering an entire airship crew might have been too much even for him.  Len got his throat slit, though.  Poor bastard was on watch when they came over the railings.  And you know that Ben is still on the Drake.  He might have written the letter, but I know the kid, and I don’t think he had anything to do with Slyne’s plan.”

He didn’t.  I’ve always trusted Ben.  No reason to stop now.  Although I thought I could trust Ruther Slyne, too.”  Janus sighed and scrubbed a hand through his hair.

“So we’re stuck here in Marrakesh with our crew but no airship?  An airman has to fly, Janus.  We have to get the Drake back!”  The loss of the airship had hit Mellira hard.  The usually stoic and fierce redhead looked on the verge of tears.

“We’ll get him back, Mell.  I can promise you that.  The Drake will be back in our hands and I’ll send Ruther Slyne down to Hell at the same time!”  The table jumped at the impact of Janus’ fist.  He smiled at Mellira, and she gave him a grin in return.

“What’s the plan, captain?” Ibben asked.  Janus began to speak, just as everyone in the room became aware that the messenger was still there.  Ibben took two steps and slammed a fist into the man’s temple, knocking him out.

“We’ve got a crew,” Janus began.  “I think we can trust whoever Slyne left behind.  We need an airship.  Ford is still in the city, and he owes me a favor.  The Twilight isn’t quite as fast as the Drake, but we might be able to keep up with Slyne.”  Where would Slyne have flown, do we know?”

“I can ask, see if anyone’s spotted an airship leaving.  It’s not that easy to hide, and a lot of people are up before dawn,” said Ibben.

“The closest air-port is in Spain, and he’ll need to refuel, I think.  The Drake was low on supplies, so we won’t want to fly far without picking up essentials.  That might be our best bet,” Mellira added.

“Great.  Then here’s what we’ll be doing…” The conspirators gathered around Janus as he began to explain, and slowly a plan came together for the reclamation of the Sky Drake.

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