09:40 – 09:44 – In the short time since it first took off, the sky ship has climbed high into the skies above the central ruins, its steep ascent marked by twinned contrails of magical exhaust. With every passing second the tiny vessel gets nearer to the ominous cloud wreathed mass of the floating edifice, the truly epic scale of the levitating mass of stone becoming more and more apparent. Then, suddenly, all at once, the lower mantle of clouds that hug the mountainous base of the edifice above is punctured by a frenzy of heavy weapons fire, the skies around the speeding ship suddenly shot through with shimmering shock waves, the black clouds of detonating explosives and the blinding beams of hellchanter fire. Caught in the maelstrom of explosions, the vessel begins to buck and twist, shuddering and ringing with each blast. An explosion erupts close enough to the ships' port side to blast several of its portholes in, glass spraying into the battle ravaged chamber. Shrapnel spanks off the exterior of the ship, and a high pitched scream shrieks through the vessel as wind surges through the missing windows.
“My Lord,” growls the warforged at the helm, “this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”
Still reeling from the vicious battle, the party begin to move towards the helm, each one shuddering and swaying as the vessel jumps with each blast. Ears pop as pressure waves pound the ship and sound drowns out all thoughts.
A shot clips the tail vane of the ship, and it immediately begins to vibrate horribly, a deep rattling moan thrumming through every timber of its body.
“Shit!” shrieks Llewellyn, grabbing onto a mast for support as the ship begins to yaw alarmingly.
Ormid, his face a mask of determination claws towards the helm rooms door, fighting gravity as it tries to claw him back towards the rear of the ship. As he reaches the door, he reaches out with his fingertips and manages to flip it open just as another explosion erupts directly in front of the careening vessel. Darkness sweeps over the ship and everyone is deafened momentarily as the concussive wave from the blast sweeps across it. Ormid is hurled back, but sees clearly as the thick green glass windows of the helm room explode inwards, a red hot piece of shrapnel decapitating the helmsman.
At once, the ship begins to arch alarmingly as icy, smoky air screams in through the shattered windows, and all the party feel their stomachs lurch horrifically as they, along with the out of control ship, begin to plummet.
“Holy shiiiiiiiit!” Screams Llewellyn.
“Ah fuck!” Bellows Ardwaine.
“Not good, not good at all!” Wails Ormid.
“The fuck?” answers Veteran.
Shadevia says nothing, her hood torn back by the blasting air, her cadaverous features still dark and haunted as she grits her teeth against nausea and strength sapping dread.
“get me to th-the controls!” wheezes Ormid, his breath fogging in the cold, thin atmosphere.
Veteran surges forwards, scooping the artificer and rogue towards the tiny room, whilst Ardwaine and Shadevia make their own way forwards, their ears agonised by the sudden shifts in air pressure. The helm room is a charnel house; fragments of sizzling shrapnel smoke where they are embedded, fragments of warforged are spattered all across every surface. By Leorn's grace however, the master controls are mostly intact, though they do seem to have taken some damage. By even greater luck, the system is truly antiquated, at least by the current times' standards, and Ormid is bowled over to see components he himself designed back in his home time. With joy, he realises he knows how to fly this ship!
Outside the air is ravaged by random blasts, and segmented by dazzling beams of raw magical power. Stalling badly, the ship is now arcing towards oblivion in the ruins far, far below. However, Ormid, helped by Llewellyn manages to get the engines running again, and aided by the warforged (who uses the red dracani scale to cover one of the windows, hugely reducing the bite of the air and the risk of shrapnel wounds) they are able to correct the sickening fall, and to get the ship soaring, a thick tail of smoke and flame trailing behind it, towards the floating mass of the edifice.
09:45 – 09:47 – For what seems like an eternity the ship struggles higher and higher, sweeping back and forth amidst the thudding fields of explosions and burning rays. Now the edifice and its cloudy cover are the only thing filling the windows, and as they draw nearer the amount of fire being thrown at them lessens, for few of the cannons arcs of fire go this high. Suddenly, in a wash of wetness and chill darkness, the ship punches into the boiling cloud layer, and for dreadful moments the vessel is flying blind. Then, the cloud is gone, and suddenly the group realise they have another problem...
...The edifice is really close now...too close.....too....damn.......close!
“Lidithima's tears!” shrieks Ormid, pulling hard on several levers set into the floor, “Where are we going to land?”
Leaping up from below the control panel, the soot and oil smeared vyrleen peers out of the windows, squinting against the biting winds screaming through them.
“Gods, I can't see!” he wails, his eyes refusing to stay open in the drying gale.
“What?” Screams Ormid, “For the love of the Gods boy, look harder or we are dead!”
Llewellyn leaps back under the panel and begins to fiddle with crystals and wires, whilst the silent archer moves to stand by the artificer, her eerie features displaying no emotion.
Desperately the vyrleen tries to think of something, anything, that might help. Then he spots it; a sub-system built into the control matrix that is familiar to him – a variation on certain warding traps that activate bright lights when motion or other stimuli are detected.
It's the head lights!
Fumbling with cold numbed fingers, and dizzy from adrenaline and lack of oxygen, the rogue redirects the flow of energy through the system, and at once brilliant beams of clear light briefly stabs ahead, throwing the rocky face of the edifice into bright illumination. Shadevia squints against the light, but spots something. She taps on Ormid's shoulder and points to a platform that hangs out from within a concealed area – a place where the ship may be landed. Then the lights burn out in a shower of sparks and crystalline shards.
“Oh Gods,” mumbles Ormid, “this is not going to be easy.”
He pulls on the levers and stabs several glowing crystals on the console, the engines giving a plaintive roar in response. By this point the Wisdom is beyond the firing arcs of all the cannons, and it surges forwards, the mountainous wall of stone careering towards them with mind-shredding speed.
“AAAAGH! We're gonna' feckin' crash!” bellows Ardwaine, sliding away from the front windows to be profoundly sick by one of the masts.
“We'll be f-f-f-f-...”
So fast as to be almost impossible the platform zooms past the ship, flashing past in a blur.
Impact is a second away. In that horrible frozen moment Ormid can see the veins of crystal running through the blue-grey stone of edifice and the pockmarked fields of fossils frozen within its surface. His sense sharpen to a degree he can hardly imagine; colours become intense and luminous, smells overwhelming and his flesh crawls with sensation.
09:48 – The ship suddenly snaps round to its port side. Gravity shifts to the starboard and everyone is thrown in that direction. The fatal sounds of vanes snapping and beams loosing cohesion explosively cracks through the air as the billowing air punches them, instigating the sudden change in direction.
Ormid fights to understand what just happens. Then he spots the warforged.
The Veteran has saved the group, having pulled harder than Ormid ever could on several levers at once, engaging air breaks beyond the point of tolerance and throwing the ship over into a sharply descending arc. Now the Wisdom is screaming at a 45° angle towards the wide platform below, churning clouds the only thing beyond it.
Snapping out of his fear induced daze Ormid leaps up and drags on the controls, assisted by the vyrleen, whilst Ardwaine looses more of her last meal noisily. The ship is still travelling at a terrific speed and the platform seems to jump towards them, a terrifyingly small target to land on.
Dimly, the group notice that a reinforced door leads from the platform and into the belly of the edifice. Small figures – mages and warforged – are swarming out, and their faces flash forlornly moments before the full 15 tonne bulk of the Wisdom, screaming at terrific speed, grinds them into a red smear against the stone of the platform.
The world turns black and silver. Noise. Impact. Fear.
And then the dim realisation that the ship has stopped, most of it hanging over the edge of the platform, a straining length of high tensile steel cable the only thing stopping it grinding over and into oblivion...
...And outside, the sounds of more troops approaching, dimly heard above the roaring bellow of failing artifice and the grinding crunch of the ships slow slide towards its final flight...