; air mage
; Shop of Barris the Tinker
Barris put the large gear down on another table and carefully lifted a strange object from a crate at his feet. “This...beauty, was what I wanted to show you.”
What he was holding was what looked like an intricate statue; a little more than three feet long, almost two feet tall, and another two wide. Five curved metal supports, three over the top and two at the sides, started from a point and stretched the length to meet at another point. The center support did not curve as far as the others and each rib had spikes along the outside edge that pointed back in the same direction. Struts placed at angles formed triangles as they connected the ribs together. This skeleton gave it the look of two cigars stuck together, but the double tails at the back and fins along the side made the outline almost like a fish. Inside the skeleton were eight metallic spheres, the four at the center being larger. Connected below the skeleton was a structure that only measured about half the length of the top portion, with large blades positioned at various points.
Pushing herself off the table she had just sat on, Portia walked over to look at the glistening curiosity. “It is pretty. But, what is it?”
“It’s an airship.” Barris beamed proudly at the look on her face.
“Are you kidding me?” Portia was at a loss for a moment. “The only machines capable of flight are the Armada! Or...objects held up by magic, but they take a lot of power and cannot stay in the air long. How do you plan to fly this!?”
“Steam’ll drive it an’ help get her off the ground, but it’s gonna stay up mostly with gas. I can see yer lookin’ doubtful, but hear me out.” He beckoned the woman over to show her the finer details. “See ‘ere?”
There was another support, thicker and uncurved, that she had not noticed before since it went beneath the main frame. It made the structure rather like a bow, the straight spine would keep the ribs curved, and the ribs pulling outward would allow the spine to support engine and passenger gondola. The spheres inside were made of special metal sheets a mage friend helped to create; still strong, but thin and light. Inside those were organic skins able to inflate. The four large spheres held mostly gas to lift and the smaller ones would be ballast, filled with regular air from outside. Situated on top the gondola, and centered under the “rig” as he called the skeleton, was the engine. Powered by steam, it would drive the propellers, heat air to aid in lift, and drive the pumps for the gas bladders inside the rig.
Portia shook her head. “Wait now, I thought it’s been going round that steam wouldn’t be efficient to drive a big machine.”
“Well, yeah,” Barris admitted. “But the problem was nobody’s been gettin’ enough power for all the steam lost. Then ya’ve gotta have fire Pokemon or a lot of fuel to burn for heat and water to replace what's lost, which adds weight. I figgered a way to keep from losin’ most of the steam...distillin’.”
“Distilling?” Portia repeated. Then she caught on. “Oh, instead of releasing the steam, you cool it down back to water. So, you can use it again. Heh, smart idea.” A thought suddenly struck her. “Is that what you have covered out there!?”
The older man sighed. “Yes and no. That’s only a frame. It’s gonna take time to get everythin’ together and get her built. I’ve been working with a friend trying to find a better way to gather gas for the main air tanks, but it ain’t goin’ so well. That’ll be the hardest part.”
Portia put her hands on her hips. “I’m hurt; talking in front of me about gathering gas for your rig. Don’t you know any air mages?”
“You’re kiddin’?” Barris started laughing. “How did I forget that? Guess you’ll be comin’ this way agin to help fill the tanks then.”
“If you ask nicely, maybe I’ll send some new assistants to you too.” She looked around and grinned. “Your shop is getting a little backed up here, Barris. Seems you need some help to catch up.”
By the time Portia and Sonora were leaving, the sun had already dropped down. Deciding to stay at a local inn, the pair made their way back through the city avoiding the historic district. The inns there were very nice, but usually crowded by the tourists. Instead, they went to a place called the Dozy Ducklett near the river. It would be quieter there since most who worked around the docks were fishermen living in and around the town. Before they went in, Sonora gave a low whistle in the direction of the river causing Portia to turn her attention. Moored on the water was a familiar vessel. Portia paused a moment considering this.
“Hm, the Bellowing Eons
Sonora looked down at the small woman. <Are we going to find Vyraz?>
She thought for a moment before yawning. “In the morning maybe.”
Sonora shook her head as she ducked the doorway. They went in to find a room and get some rest. The next day would provide plenty to do as always.