The sky knows no bounds

[OOC: Whoaaaa am I nervous about this, but if I don’t post it, I may never get up to courage to try and finish it.]

The sun had already crossed the sea’s horizon and blue dusk was following by the time Maxla had gotten the slightly damp tobacco roll to light.

Now it was a little orange dot, joining the yellow port lanterns’ glow reflecting off the water that moved below the docks–the usual crowds were contributing to the festive din in the town above.

She didn’t have anything against life on the sea, the slight goblin mused as she ambled on the weathered boards, but it had a way of boxing you in–by close quarters, timbered hulls, and ever present pungent sea air–that practically itched at her to find open ground to tread when the ship made landfall.

After all, to go to sea was to put your life on hold. It cut you off from signs of progress, the daily developments that built things like this hodgepodge of tinkerer’s creations now docking up around the South Seas with the conventional tradeships. Tinkerers had none of a shipwright’s respect for form, and despite this had managed to float a colorful array of vessals—even a few flying machines!

Maxla’s pace slowed as she marveled, but one gave her pause.

A dual-wingdeck flying machine—quite unlike the gyrocopters nearby—bobbed on the water, a pair of outriggers holding it lightly above the dark sea. It’s well polished metal and glass reflected the faint lights in the twilight, but it was a faded patch of paint behind the cockpit that drew her eye, an outline that seemed strangely familiar.

She was leaning in for a better look --when the smoldering tobacco roll was suddenly snatched out of her mouth.

"—a re you trying to send us all up with the PHLOGISTON? "

Startled, she instinctively her hands flew up, and stumbled back into a fighter’s step that faced the undisguised ire in the woman’s voice and–

The roll fell from the adjacent dock post, jammed there by a goblin suddenly faltering in their incensed lecture.

Curls of brass and eyes the color of freezing to death.
The kind you never forget

“Epky?” Maxla whispered.

“Maxla?” She said softly, more to herself than anyone. Her hands had dropped to her side. Only now did Maxla see they were shaking. “You’ve been alive this whole time ?”


((makes a filler post and grabs the popcorn))

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There was only the sound of the water and the creak of the docks.

Maxla stared in astonishment, but without a doubt, it had to be Epky. And it was with a spark of joy that Maxla realized those years—chaotic and bloody as they had been—had been mercifully kind to her. Was it luck that she walked with no limp, nor seemed to favor any injury? And the years had changed little about her taste for tailored clothes, or the way she carried herself. Her lovely features, an aloof beauty that had been the sole inheritance from people who had never fulfilled their promise to return, had with time become ever more truly her own.

It was Epky that broke the silence.

“I flew back for you.”

Epky looked away, and it was some time before she spoke again.

"But… not immediately. There was enough desperation when the Barrens broke open, and that little landing strip is days away from Gadgetzan in clear skies as is.”

Emotions were becoming leaden in Maxla’s guts now, and she couldn’t bring herself to move from here. Memories of when they last met, the harsh words exchanged only a couple days before the Shattering, raced through her mind as the pilot pressed on.

“When I got back, though, I… I saw for myself. The garage, the neighborhood–even that whole port out there before the walls? It was just… dragged away.”

Epky made a sound to stifle the sharp, teary edge of her words, and continued. “And you were nowhere to be found. Almost none of the refugees knew you, and even your Water Company cronies couldn’t give me an answer. What was I supposed to think ? What was I supposed to do ? You were gone.”


“I was, but…” Maxla scrambled for words. “But you saw what it was like! Like-“

A distant voice called out Epky’s name, and they both turned to see a few merry figures on the wall cheerfully waving back towards the lantern lit town.

Epky turned back to Maxla, eyes narrowed but wistfully searching her face for something. And the last walls crumbled in Maxla’s heart. “…like there wasn’t going to be an old life to go back to, no matter what we did."

Maxla sighed. “When it was the rescues, the life and death and supplies, I just did what was asked of me. No time to react–we just did what could. But some things were broken far beyond just what I coulda done to fix them. Not when every single thing out there felt like it was screaming for help too.”

She could feel the inadequacy of the explanation, but could merely let it stand as the truth, however words failed the sincerity of it.

“I’m sorry. For what I said before… everything. “ Maxla took a deep breath. “I should have cared, about the project you were working hard on. You even asked me for help, and I botched that by trusting the wrong types. I didn’t care, it wasn’t important to me. But it was to you.” She steeled herself to continue. “And that should have been enough. I meant to tell you this back then, once my temper cooled. But by that point I was on a caravan run a day out of the city, and you–” She gestured carelessly upwards with an open hand."-- had gone too. Never did I think that…"

More voices joined the call for Epky, yet the two women stood in silence for what felt like ages.

"I’m glad you’re alive, Maxla. " She finally said, softly.

"You too, Epky. You too. "

She rolled her eyes, gave Maxla one more look, and started to walk back along the dock, when she paused.


Suddenly, the horizon seemed endless, and the stars just a little brighter in the night sky.