After two and a half days locked in their cabins - luxurious cabins, but even a golden cage was still a cage - it was relieving to finally get fresh air again. It had been an unpleasant surprise when the captain had announced they weren't even allowed to watch the takeoff. Furthermore, not leave the preinstructed corridors or make any drawings of the ship, interview the crew, or a number of other, seemingly absurd instructions, that had made Orjugran call them a delusional band of oversuspicious scoundrels, just less polite. Captain Korslamin had laughed about the garren outbreak of disapproval, but only shortly; explained that she expected everyone to follow the rules, and that she would personally put a spell on any deviant.
Now, the maneuvers that might have told the passengers how the legendary dustship flew seemed complete, and the crew was friendly; so was the weather, which was unexpectedly sunny for a spring day in the Pillar Street.
Orjugran, who was happily lolling about in the sun, Vasmir, with an excited Mokri on his shoulder, and Benové met on the middle deck, where other passengers were stretching their legs as well. Vasmir blinked into an almost cloudless sky; the days before and during departure it had rained in varying strength.
"It gets drier towards Lozir", Benové yawned, "in case you're wondering why the rain stopped." The mapper was knowledgeable about climates and could tell them much about their travel destinations besides that. She stretched and, a little more awake, leaned on the railing betweeen Vasmir and Orjugran. Mokri had went to play with some other solano and a ball.
Below them stretched the sea, dotted with single rock spires. Many spots were so shallow the ground could be seen - reefs, shipwrecks as well, countless fish. Vasmir regretted to have missed the seafolk settlements off the coast. But the trip with the dustship was worth some sacrifices. The movement was completely smooth, and the Gral-én'tach was so big it seemed like a village. The crew had leisure while things were calm, and played with each other, the solano, or the many flying animals living aboard. On the afterdeck, the message master was teaching some of the half-meter-tall hallromm butterflies and his apprentice, a handful of yaafs chased each other around the masts. Vasmir followed the hallromms with his eyes to the first of the three floatrocks above the ship. He spotted a stately bush on it, covered in pink blossoms, which was buzzing with the coming and leaving butterflies. Benové sighed blood-curlingly and conversation-demanding. Vasmir noticed she had for the first time taken off her many bags. She looked slim and, most of all, bored.
"No maps? Papers, compasses, measuring tools?", Vasmir bantered. Benové looked to the sailors. Four out of five wore wizard's belts, and she had seen over twenty collectors. After Korslamin's urgent instructions, she didn't want to imagine the reaction if she turned up with drawing tools. She groaned inside. Maps of the Pillar Street were really lucrative, and the air view was fantastic.
"I suspect I couldn't take it as well as you when they threw me overboard, just because my solan dug a hole through two decks", she said loftily. Vasmir looked, made uncertain, for Mokri, who was peacefully playing with her companions. No signs that the pound-o'-rodent would bring doom upon the world's largest dustship. Orjugran giggled.
"Well", Vasmir answered with dignity, "if one will create destruction worthy of mention in history, one should at least survive it to tell the bards the story correctly."
Benové inclined her head to show she yielded, Orjugran applauded lightly.
"The Gral-én'tach will not fall from the skies from a simple digging fit of a solan." The sailor nimbly set down on the railing and took the half step down to the deck. The railing didn't reach the hip of the many raganaj sailors. Her solan, an wiry creature, spryly scurried over her middle wing to the ropes and hurried to the playground. "They tell each other how things are done aboard. Don't worry", she turned to Vasmir, grinning.
The sailor's name was Map'heela, she was amiable and very proud of the ship. It was her pleasure to indulge them with stories about passengers and journeys, the weather was pleasant, the sea colourful in the shallow waters and mysterious in the deep. When Benové had Map'heela about to take her to the navigator to gain permission to map, the sea arched below them. Moments later a smooth island rose, quickly gliding forwards, followed by an enormous tailfin that slapped the water thunderously.
"Do they pass Gdera in the north or south? Do they rest in the Ryaq? How many are there? How old do they become? Is it true they eat ships?"
"That you can check yourself", Map'heela laughed, then jumped over the railing to follow other sailors into the rigging. The shadow of the floatrocks quickly crossed the deck while the ship was lowered, until they were only a few dozen meters from the surface, and could see the young horr under their parents. Some fountains they blew up almost reached the ship, and it seemed to Vasmir like the horr also came up higher out of the water now. The Gral-én'tach was enormous, but the horr dwarfed it. Orjugran hung far over the railing, tail twitching excitedly.
"Can we go too?", she inquired breathlessly and punched Vasmir with the elbow. She pointed towards one of the smaller rocks, which had so far been floating below the ship. Now they were low over the water, and two carried raganaj and other passengers. Vasmir liked flying with Orjugran, but it was part of the game to play hard to get.
"I dunno; with all those fountains and your twitchy tail, we might drop into this grinding apparatus of fish."
"Oh, I'll warn you, and I'll hold perfectly still", Orjugran assured him eagerly. Devotedly, and suppressing a grin, he held open his arms. Orjugran stepped on his foot, stressing to hold her trembling tail still, and held on to Vasmir's arm. Vasmir swung over the railing and let them fall. At least his worries about the fountains were real, but Orjugran kept her word and warned him about every single one. The floatrock was just large enough they could stand on it comfortably, but Vasmir had to use his wings to keep them from falling, while Orjugran was pointing in every direction. The procession of horr endlessly swam past them. After three hours, they had crossed its width and rose up again, and Vasmir and Orjugran returned aboard. Benové and a crewmember sat in comfortable, slightly oversized low seats; she just laid finishing strokes on a map.
"Navigator Pakrahna bought my powerline maps", she said contently, stamped the paper and handed it over with both hands.
"We appreciate quality", said the navigator and returned Benové's politeness. Orjugran loosed her flood of impressions on Benové, enriched with gestures and sound effects. Finally, she sat down exhaustedly. A moment she was still, then started rummaging around in her pockets. Finally, she pulled a paper out that had been folded many times, on which she put two marks with Benové's pen. Mokri, who sat on Orjugran's chair's back, squeaked inquiringly.
"Go on a dustship - check. See the horr - check", Orjugran said more than satisfied and put away the paper. "Now, a hiller in Lozir, and I'll call this journey a success."
I hope my use of prepositions isn't awful. I'll be happy for corrections. This is one of my first attempts to provide prose for Genius Loci and was written in German first. From names to my personal expressions this was hard to translate; I think it went okay, but I'd love to hear opinions.