The great whistle at the front of the iron barge gave a long wail, and below, as well as behind and in front of us, wheels began to grind and shriek. Bright orange and yellow sparks leapt forth, some of which tried to jump through the gaps in the planked flooring. Orange and red pinpoints showered the sandy ground to either side of the metal lines on which the barge rolled, quickly fading to coal black specks. Between the scalding steam belching forth from the massive boiler tank at the front of the line of barges and the cascades of sparks from the grinding wheels, there wasn’t all that much to be seen through the square windows. I, for one, was not keen to lean out and catch any of the sparks or cinders in my teeth, or eyes.
Aurora, though, gestured with an extended thumb and forefinger, swiping them downward from the golden circlet across her brow, and a shimmering veil of clear, pure ice hissed into being, draping from the base of the diadem, fully enclosing her face from forehead to delicate cheek bones. Thus protected, she leapt through the rear hatch in our barge’s roof, returning some few minutes later, her cloak smoldering in several places.
“There was too much interference to make out much more than a few clusters of lights drawing closer. At the rate we’re slowing, we should be there within a few minutes.” She looked around the chamber, at each of us. “Cloaks, gloves. Hoods up.”
Gilliam shook out his cloak, on which he’d been sitting until then. “It doesn’t feel all that cold out there,” he said. “If anything, I’d say it’s gotten warmer over the course of this past day.”
“It is not the cold against which we must guard,” Aurora said.
At her tone, Grellk opened a yellow eye. His bushy brown eyebrows drew together even as he pushed his helm back, sitting up. “Those won’t last very long once we leave dockside,” he grumbled. His gaze shifted from Aurora to Silva, and he bared his pointed teeth in a grin. “I might know a merchant dockside who could provide you with the necessary equipment.”
“And just how many coins would it take to jog your memory?” Varis asked with a scowl.