There’d been a delay at the bank. Kidd ran so fast his coattails flapped, threading close, dingy alley walls toward skybound umbilicals of steam that rose up like smoke signals.
He turned out into a bustling street, narrowly avoiding death by spider-legged carriage; the top-hatted driver scowled.
“Look up,” his guardian said. “If you work hard, you could live there.” The city was currently overhead – always was when he said that – gliding on a colossal cloud. As it chuffed off, burnished spires – bronze, steel and glass – extended up.
He’d worked years to pay; if he missed the ship now, he’d have to start all over.
The gangplank was retracting when they saw him coming. He boarded, relieved. The boiler whistled faintly; enormous bellows sighed heavy belowdecks as massive wings flapped.
Later, up on deck, he spotted a black-sailed ship following in the distance. . . probably headed the same way, Kidd thought.