Perilous Artifacts: Across the Square
Lady Carew made a visible effort to set aside her distress. “Well, no time for that now. If we’re to be there in time, we must leave immediately. Come quickly.” She led the way to an alcove off the side of the parlor, with a solid metal door and a man discreetly standing guard. He opened the door to a landing platform with a gondola suspended from a high wire.
Olive’s eyes followed the path of the wire across the square to the Mast—and she hesitated, because it looked so very thin and inconsequential to be trusted with her life, left alone anyone else’s.
“Speaking of perilous artifacts,” she muttered.
“It’s quite safe, I assure you,” Pieter reassured her. “I’ve been on it with six guards before without disaster.”
Lady Carew chimed in, “Really, my dear–this is the quickest safest way for us to travel across the square.”
Taking a deep breath, Olive stepped into the gondola. Peter followed with his mother, and the guard joined them to operate the controls. A moment more, and they floated through the air five stories above the park on an eye-level with the top of the Cathedral spire. Their shadow skipped along below them, across the long lengths of hailsail, then across the tracks and railcars and trams of the rail yard, to finally cross the expanse of the Landing.
As they neared the Mast, Olive realized that she had been holding her breath. “How unsettling! I never realized this contraption was even up here,” she said.
“Most people don’t.” Pieter grinned, then he sobered as he added, “But we do warn the ship captains and the balloonists. It wouldn’t do for a craft to get hung up on it.”
“Has it ever happened?”
“Not in recent memory.”
At the Mast, the guard stepped out first onto the landing and they followed.
“They should be over the horizon by now,” Lady Carew said. “We could take the elevator up to watch them arrive—if you like. Or, we could wait for them down at the Landing.”
“Let’s go on up,” Olive said. “It isn’t every day that the Floating City comes this way.”
“The observation decks will be crowded,” Pieter warned.
“Nonsense,” Lady Carew declared. “I know just the perfect spot.”
For the next installment (available Tuesdays), read Perilous Artifacts: The Mast, where Olive, Pieter, and Lady Carew visit the Manager of the Mast, and Olive learns something new about Pieter.
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