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WINGS OF THE FLIGHTLESS
(A Lost Isle Teaser—short story)
(Lost Isle is available for pre-order here)
I frequented bars and historical sites along the coast line. Went through Port Awadar, then south of the city within the smaller coastal towns, from Evastaur to Nowuldan. Traveling all the way down to Sasu Ilma, though I never took the ferry to Highmore.
Sailors spoke of their travels quickly enough, especially when I bought a round to loosen their tongues. Yet in all those tales, all those high-sea adventures, or doldrums as the case may be, I struggled to find a single man who could give credence to the story that the birds of The Flightless, that doomed menagerie vessel lost at sea, had ever escaped the storm to settle on the mythical Giant’s Whip Isles.
The first indication I had of the possibility of the Giant’s Whip truly existing came from a long retired sailor who had repurposed a fishmonger’s stall into an ale slanthouse. He had a rippling scar along his arm where a fire had caught within his prime years. A tattoo covered the scarring, but not well, the artist a hack and the ink long faded over the years after the man had ceased bothering to touch it up.
He had a garrulous nature, talking over his patrons and teasing his bar girl who laughed to cover her discomfort. The canvas-edged rooftop snapped in the wind above my head and my stool rocked against the stony ground. But the ale was decent and the mugs at least had the look of cleanliness, which was more than could be said for some such places.
On the other side of the repurposed stall stood a plethora of young dockworkers obviously taking a short break from their duties to mill about the slanthouse just out of the summer sun. Flies buzzed near the street gutter and a few mutts hovered behind me where the ale stall just about butted up against a fish-on-a-stick vendor.
“They come and run,” said the retired sailor. A man who’d professed himself to be Steppan Fares, once a rigging climber with a sharp weather eye and a cruel left hook. He’d rattled that intro off in a practiced manner, with a wink and a rippling of his arm as he flipped a mug and pushed up the spigot with one hand. “Ya hears all the news that way. Don’t have ta see the sails ta know which ship has put in or which captain is lookin’ to flesh out their crew. Ya see ‘em all. Stop by for a quick drain ta quench the thirst that salty air gives and ta uncork the news that’s been bursting for release.”
“Do you prefer it then, seeing the brunt of the crews ever passing rather than taking the risk of the high seas yourself?” Continue reading