to fall into our lap like you did.
Coming across your bluewave beacon in the Churn was a stroke of
luck for us. Councilor Yingler is a shrewd man, and he saw that
stroke of luck for what it was: an opportunity to fix what you’d
broken without risking the lives of any of Pyras’s citizens. That
is, until you dragged us along with you. Now Chaz is half-dead and
we’re stuck on this rock ‘til someone floats by.”
    “I’ve been working on airships all my life. I can
get us airborne again, it’s just going to take some time to
flight-check all the systems. If I had Chaz to show me where all
his tools are and give me a rundown of the schematics, it would be
easier, but let’s be honest—Chaz ain’t exactly in a helpful mood.”
I checked over my shoulder again.
    Chaz had gotten to his feet and was wandering around
near the edge.
    “Dangit, Chaz.” I sprinted toward him and seized the
back of his coat just as he was thrusting a foot out over the
abyss. “Not that way, ol’ buddy. Over here.” I turned him around
and walked him back to the ship.
    “I guess we ought to chain him to the ground,” said
Blaylocke. “Anybody bring a dog collar?”
    I was deciding whether to laugh or punch Blaylocke
in the throat when Vilaris pointed. “Look, another floater. Just
above those clouds, there. Something’s built on it.”
    The small island was a few hundred feet higher than
we were, riding a strong headwind. It was far enough behind us that
I could just make out the shape of an ornate building beyond the
parting clouds. My eye whirred as I zoomed in for a better
    “Holy mother,” said Blaylocke. “There’s a symbol on
the dome, there.”
    Vilaris was nodding. “Holy is right. It’s a
Skytemple of Leridote.”
    I grimaced. “Temples are for law-lovers,” I said.
“Screw law-lovers.” Then I said something mean about
    “Despite how you may feel, that temple is our best
chance of getting help,” said Vilaris. “Fixing the ship could take
days. That’s time we don’t have if we want to catch up with that
    “You still want to go through with this whole
endeavor? Even if Yingler and Gilfoyle are in cahoots?”
    “Even if they are, Pyras will starve without income.
We produce our own crops and livestock, but there’s plenty more we
don’t produce that the money from our gravstone buys. If Yingler
wants us to fail, the best thing we can do is succeed.”
    “Fine. You’re right,” I said. “Just don’t expect me
to be pals with any of those Leri-dolts up there. Help me mend the
rigging lines. We’re gonna get the Clarity back in the air
so we can chase down that temple.”

    Our little floater slipped away beneath us as I took
the Clarity airborne. Wind whipped into the cabin through
the yawning wound in our hull, filling the control capsule with
cold, thin air. Vilaris and Blaylocke had strapped Chaz into his
seat with a few lengths of rope to be sure he didn’t fall or wiggle
out while no one was watching. I felt bad about it, but something
was wrong with the guy. We needed to get him to a place where he
could get help.
    It had taken us the better part of an hour to secure
the lines and get the undercarriage balanced under the balloon
again. In that time, the Skytemple had drifted past us and
disappeared into the clouds overhead. I’d had to do some heavy
convincing to get Blaylocke back on board. He was afraid the ship
wouldn’t make it more than a few feet off the floater. I was just
as afraid as he was, only I wasn’t a gutless wimp.
    The prop engines sputtered to life, and I thanked
myself in retrospect for shutting them off when I had. There hadn’t
been time to flight-check every last component, so I did a quick
visual scan of my instruments to make sure there was pressure in
the bag and clean air in the ballonets. I set the engines to slow
speed and opened both valves. We lifted off, staying level. I
didn’t want to risk nosing up too steeply like I had in

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