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   Chapter 37 No.37

Free-Wrench By Joseph R. Lallo Characters: 5475

Updated: 2018-01-19 12:02

Perhaps the most wondrous sight of all was what lay beyond the city. Past the taller peaks toward the sea, lesser mountains descended into a second sea. Not more than a few hundred feet below the lowest sections of the city was an endless field of deep lavender haze, whipped by the wind into a swirling, churning mass. It stretched as far as the eye could see, broken only by the occasional island formed by a mountaintop poking through the surface.

"What is it? That field of purple fog?"

"What do you think it is? It's the fug. That's what we were left with after the calamity happened all those years ago. That's why what remains of the population of Rim clings to the mountain peaks and plateaus, " Gunner said. "We didn't all have a nice, clean chain of islands to hide in when things started to go from bad to worse."

"How far does it go?"

"There isn't much of the continent that doesn't get at least a whiff of the stuff from time to time. It's thickest here where the mountains funnel it up. If you keep your eyes peeled while flying over the heart of the mainland you might catch sight of some stretches of land from time to time, but that's mostly at the whim of the wind and nothing you'd want to risk settling in."

"Where did it all come from?"

"If anyone ever knew that, they died along with most of the rest of us when it first showed up, " Coop said. "Alls we know for sure is that it came sudden, rolling in like a tide and catching most low-lying folk by surprise. There weren't as many airships back then. Barely any. The folks who lived were mostly the folks at sea or already in the mountains, or the on

vents and all. I gotta tell you, I don't envy you going down to talk to those folk. You think Wink can give you the creeps. Every time I see one of those fug folk I feel fit to crawl out of my skin."

"Are they that bad?"

"Heh. You'll see, I guess. Take that with you, get your bag with your payment, and let's go."

Chapter 11

The Wind Breaker drifted over the city and moored on the fugward side, facing into an almost mystical scene. Just as was the case on the seaward side, the mountains here were perilously steep, forming almost a sheer drop. The dock rose at the end of a long string of lower hilltops connected by suspension bridges. There, a tall tower with massive iron wheels held wires that led down into the fug. Their berth was as near as possible to the cable tower, just a short walk away from the small building at its base. The crew gathered at the railing beside an embossed sign that had formerly labeled the tram with what looked to be a long and official name. At some point in the past someone had helpfully slathered it with paint reading Fugtown Express.

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