The sun scorched the wooden hull of the Albatross, making the decking
uncomfortably hot. The arid land of the Burren passed too slowly
beneath the ship. This region contains several prosperous settlements
and cities, but this story doesn’t take place in them. Unfortunate
really, I’m sure the heat would be much more pleasant from a cool bar
stool with a flagon of ale. At least Sigmund seemed to be enjoying
himself, being a native of hotter climes.
Our destination was a reasonably sized fortification, many miles west
of the city of Anvala. We were to deliver a shipment of ammunition
and weapon parts to replenish their supplies. The many pirates,
bandits and undesirables living in the desert had been wearing away
at their defences for months. We could see trails and signs of
carnage and destruction in the sand beneath.
Sigmund the sloth chittered nervously. He had been saying all morning that he
didn’t like the look of this and we should have taken a different
job. “It’s alright,” I replied, “the fort is secure and we
won’t be there long. We’ll be on our way before you know it.”
Sigmund squeaked sullenly, unconvinced.
The ship glided over a series of cliffs and ravines, marking the edge
of the forts line of sight. It didn’t have a name as far as we knew.
The head armourer in Anvala just called it “Fort 2”. Sigmund had
found this rather off-putting, but at least our hold was full.
A gust of wind pushed us past the last rocky outcrop and the fort
came into view. It was a squat structure, sitting atop a lonely crag
in the middle of an open plane. It had a commanding view and it’s
supreme field of fire was evidenced by the carcases littering the
Taking the wheel, I gently guided the Albatross onto the flat roof of
Fort 2. A hatch opened and several uniformed men climbed up from
Sigmund sniffed the air, emitted a panicked squeak and swung himself
below deck. Before I could ask him what was wrong, one of the men
shouted up “ey up, you got the bullets?”
I replied, shutting down the engine. “I’ll lower them down.”
goin will yer? S’not safe up ere.” replied the leader, a short,
stocky man wearing commanders stripes.
Grasping the ropes of the cargo lift, I lowered the ammunition
trolley down to the roof and helped the assembled soldiers roll it
inside. There was a loud clunk as the roof hatch slammed shut.
keep the place sealed up” said the Commander, as if sensing my
We stowed the ammunition in the armoury and started heading back up.
The Commander turned to me.
he said, “Wud yer like to see the rest o the place?”
would love to!” I replied, my curiosity getting the better of me.
He grinned, revealing a few missing teeth “roight this way.”
As he led the way deeper into the facility, I began to get worried. I
hadn’t seen any bunk rooms or mess halls, just long winding corridors
with locked doors on either side.
fort wer built on an ol’ prison” the leader explained as we entered
a more open area with barred cells on either side and a gantry
Suddenly rough looking men in various desert clothing appeared on the
gantry and pointed various firearms down at me. I stood frozen in
yer gonna test it for us!” said the coarse voice of the “Commander”
Too be continued.