The Tower Between Sea and Sky

Razo Corbeau sat on the edge of the world, smoking a roll of tobacco, and felt a peace he’d not known for years. His bare feet dangled off the roof of the bell tower, fifty feet above the Undersky–the Vast Sea. The wind was strong and it tickled his toes. He curled them, then spread them, feeling the sea air cooling the in-between places, then he crossed his ankles and relaxed.

There was nothing to see out there. Nothing and everything. An endless blue sky, mirrored by an endless blue sea. Naval vessels sailed both, cutting through clouds above and waves below. Skyship or seaship, it didn’t matter; Razo longed to be aboard a ship, any ship, sea or sky. He dreamed of it every night. He could almost taste the salty air on his tongue as he woke, but it was never real. He wasn’t a captain anymore. Reality reminded him of that. But his dreams … his dreams still believed.

He placed his palm on the brick facade of the bell tower, steadying himself as he leaned forward and looked straight down at the sea, its waves crashing against the rocky cliffside in steady beats. He took a long drag of his smoke until it was all but spent, then blew it out, long and slow and smooth. He dropped the butt between his toes and watched it fall until it disappeared from view, a fading spark, like himself. Fading into the blue…

“You don’t have to do this.”

Smoke still seeped from Razo’s lips and he realized he was sighing. He turned his head to see who was behind him, and saw that it was a woman–a liprit woman, going by the light skin tone and the golden-brown hair striped with black. She made slow, delicate movements, tiptoeing forward the way liprits do. Her eyes were a vibrant green, wide and alert. Razo detected a note of panic in them, but it was never easy to tell with non-terrans.

“I don’t have to do what?” asked Razo. A squall blew through the bell tower, cold and sweet. Razo felt it washing over him, his loose clothes flapping and his locks of hair swishing to and fro, and the feeling relaxed him. The woman, however, looked the opposite of relaxed–the gust of wind caused her to tense and widen her stance as though afraid the wind would carry her straight out of the tower. She was skinny, sure, but not that skinny.

“You don’t have to be up here,” she said through clenched teeth as the wind died down.

“You’re not fond of heights, eh?” said Razo. The woman’s jaw muscles worked absently for a few moments, but she said nothing, so Razo continued. “You get used to it. The wind, I mean. But the view from up here is worth the chill, no?” Razo gestured widely to the blue beyond and took a theatrical breath of air. “Ahh,” he said as he exhaled. “Wonderful. The air is fresher up here, I think. Is that a strange belief? Can air become fresher at higher altitudes? Thinner, perhaps, yes, but fresher? Well, how do you quantify freshness, anyhow?”

Still, the woman said nothing. She blinked rapidly, then straightened, taking a few more steps forward, toward Razo.

“I’m sorry,” said Razo. “I babble, sometimes. I feel like it calms me, you know? Just speaking, like this. Word after word. Even if I am already calm, I still do it, you know, if I feel there is someone nearby who is not calm.” He eyed the liprit woman, smiling, as she stepped up behind and beside him.

“I don’t need to be calmed,” she said, her voice sweet as honey, but there was a note of panic there, too, hidden away in the words. She placed both hands flat against the stone railing, the one Razo was currently sitting on. She feigned relaxation, but every muscle in her body remained tight.

“Of course,” said Razo, his tone even. “Are you here to kill me?”

The woman blinked. “What?”

“Kill me. Give me a little push or something. No one would find me way down there, broken and impaled on the rocks. An easy assassination, I think.”

“I’m no assassin.”

“I see.”

“Do you meet many assassins?”

Razo laughed. “Not so much lately, I’m afraid. But I keep thinking I might get lucky some day.”

 


 

 

Day 235’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Assassin,” “Sky Trek,” and, “The Tower.”

Been a while since the last Sky Trek story. I want to do a full short story or novel in this universe eventually! 

– H.

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