I’m done with cleaning up the shuttle, so I’m sitting down to meditate.
Inhale… Exhale… Breathe in… Breathe out…
By the time I open my eyes again, Rowan is back.
“Grandma agreed,” Rowan reports, “she allowed the four of us to travel to Statinal.”
“Four of us? Who’ll join us? I guess Nell is one of them.”
“It’s Nell and Nescha. They both need to procure something. They would go themselves, but with the season for the pilgrimage arriving soon, they can’t leave the village for too long. So the idea is travelling with your shuttle.”
“I see, how far is Statinal away from here?”
“Let me think… It’s about 4 times the distance to Aevita’s temple to Bullmar. And another 5 time to Statinal.”
The temple is about 10 kilometres away, so that makes a total distance of 90 kilometres. In the shuttle, we can easily travel that distance within half an hour. I’m not sure how well the others deal with that speed. Well, since the cockpit only has space for two people, only one of them needs to be able to deal with the fast moving surroundings.
Wait… he said we arrive in Bullmar first.
“So our destination is not the next town?”
“No, Statinal is further away, but it’s larger. We won’t find the supplies that Nescha and Nell need in Bullmar. We need to drop by grandma’s place before we leave. She’s preparing some letters.”
“Yes, letters attesting you are already spoken for. After all, you having a flying home does attract a lot of attention.”
“It’s been only a few days, but you’ve all been treating me like one of your own, I’ve totally forgotten about that.”
“You are not just like one of our own. You are part of our village!”
“Right… I just remembered, I still need to give the compound over to Eir.”
“I’ll lead the way.”
🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒 🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒 🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒
The next day, I have Mittens move the shuttle away from the house. We close both the inner and outer docking doors of our house and fill the space between the doors with wood and wool. After that we go to Granny’s house; she’s already waiting for us along with Nescha and Nell.
“Show this to the mayor of Statinal,” she hands two letters to Rowan, “the second one is addressed to the crown. The mayor will make sure it gets to its destination. Also, here’s the money, you’ll need. There’s some extra, in case you find something worth investing into. Don’t waste it! Now, have a safe trip.”
We enter the shuttle. Rowan sits on the copilot seat. Nesha and Nell sit in the back.
“So in what direction do we go?” I ask.
“That way, so westward,” Rowan answers. Both Nell and Nesha nod in agreement.
I accelerate the shuttle to 30 kilometres per hour. Theoretically, the shuttle can fly at several thousands of kilometres per hour, but that would be too fast to for manual navigation.
“If you start to feel queazy, I’ll slow down.”
“I’m fine,” Nell answers.
“So am I,” Nescha adds.
“We’re going quite fast, aren’t we?” Nell asks.
“It depends on what you compare it to,” I answer, “I think it’s rather slow. At this speed, we should arrive at Bullmar in about one hour and half.”
“That means we don’t have to stay over in Bullmar,” Nesha says, “that’s good.”
“Is there a problem with Bullmar?” I ask.
“Well, Dewick doesn’t get along with Bullmar,” Nell answers with a grim face, “we told you how this district became a crown dependency. Bullmar claims that means Dewick is under their rule, thus the taxes were to go through them. On the surface, that even makes sense. During the first tax collection, they tried to scam us and pocket half of our payment for themselves. We noticed and protested. Upon investigation, it was found we weren’t the only ones they tried that on. It turned out the prior lord’s officials were quite a corrupt bunch. Although they were caught and punished, many villages don’t trust Bullmar with their taxes. So those villages now pay their taxes directly to the crown. Since Bullmar is not able to take their cut from us, so they tend to invent reasons to get money from us. But that’s just the surface.”
“Yes,” Nescha answers, “they didn’t like me setting up shop in Dewick. They began spreading rumours about me and Dewick: I were a fraud, I had slept my way up the ladder to be welcomed in Dewick. It worked out quite nice for me, initially I had less work from people explicitly looking for my crafts. Of course, over time the rumours backfired on them. They even got blacklisted in the blacksmith’s guild. Now metal tools net you quite a sum there. There are also heavy tariffs on metal tools leaving the town.”
“Tools? Are they that important? Can’t you just use your blessings?”
“Blessings only help you so much. Tools are still important.”
“Metal tools… doesn’t that mean they could apply tariffs to my flying home?”
“No, since it belongs to you, you’re a quasi-noble. So you should be exempt from that. But if I were you, I’d want to get it recognized by the crown first before I test it out. I guess that’s in Granny’s letter to the crown.”
🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒 🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒 🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒
An hour later we pass by a town. Since we’re travelling faster than other travellers, I fly a wide detour.
“Since we’ve passed Bullmar, we need to go south now,” Nell directs me.
“Understood. We can take the beeline one the way back, that should be faster.”
“I see, but we’re not so much in a hurry. I guess we need to stay in the capital for at least a few days. Nesha and I will be staying at some friend’s place, so we only need to…”
“Aster and I can just sleep in the shuttle,” Rowan chimes in.
“I forgot, it is a home after all.”
We all start laughing.
🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒 🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒 🙐 🙑 🙓 🙒
After another hour, the other town get into viewing distance. But… that’s not just a town, that’s more like a city!
“Statinal is a lot bigger than I expected.”
“Well it is the capital city, after all,” Nescha answers.
“Didn’t you say it was a town‽”
“It is a town. It’s just bigger. And it happens to house the royal castle.”
“Anyway, you should land it around here, we should be walking the remaining distance.”
I land the shuttle next to a forest and the four of us walk to the city. Entering the city is not like I expected, there are no entry checks. Nell and Nescha accompany us to the city hall before they leave for their own business. We promise to meet in 3 days in front of the city hall.
It’s still early, so there’s not much business. We’re being shown to the mayor’s office immediately.
“Hello, I’m Ford. What can I do for you?” the man greets us. Upon taking a closer look at us, the gasps for a second before regaining his composure. What’s so different about us?
“I’m Rowan from Dewick Village,” Rowan introduces himself, “this is my fiancé Aster. I bring two letters from the Elder of Dewick for you.”
Rowan hands the mayor the letters. He hurriedly breaks the green seals on the letters and opens them, and starts reading them.