I'm better at painting, sure, I just want to try and mess with drawings. See if I can do a thing with the old computer.
The carriage has two levels in three sections - the lowest section like the keel of a boat, the upper sections divided around the cable. They are reached by a wrought iron stair, spiraling up out of the lower deck. The compartments are littered with furnishings, cane chairs in the main, some bolted yet to the floor, some gathering dust and piled in ersatz fortifications. The bare wooden floors are scuffed and warped, the varnish fading. Altogether the sense you have is of shabby opulence, fading luster overlying a basic functionality, still somehow intact.
It is not long before the bodies are found. In one of the upper tiers, furthest from the entrance - there are three of them, you come up the stairs, following the commotion of the other voyagers. The bodies are arranged like passengers - sitting side by side, backs to the smudged and cracked windows. One is nearly a skeleton, one still steams from his slashed and bleeding throat, the last is in between not rotting but destroyed. They are all men. Each is dressed in a strange patchwork uniform. The mummy in a threadbare coverall fastened with four hexagonal buttons - he is shoeless and has no other adornments. The decaying body is dressed somewhat more elaborately - a collection of kilts & capes & mantles. The deadman is swallowed up, nested under the layers of his garments - greasy and patched and absurdly multicolored. The most recently killed man is wearing a tricorner hat from which dangle a curtain of beads. A plain mask is sewn to the cap & his blood covered clothes consist of a coat, blouse pants and a pair of tall boots - all draped in ropes of beads, glass and shiny, colored gaily.
The other passengers mutter over the bodies. A physician, it turns out, among you, gathers his threads, but is not soon enough to save the man. Hesitating a moment one of the grizzled mercenaries introduces himself.
I'm Milo. They tell me I have to come here because I wasn't gentle enough pacifying sedition up in Silverheaven. I guess they think I'll serve them better here." Milo is fair of face & pale eyed, slender at the waist, thick around the chest, formidable.
"If we're introducing ourselves then I must distinguish myself. I'm no cutthroat nor a scalptaker like Milo here - who must have been waiting so long to give his little speech. But understand. I don't care who any of you are, none of us do. Though I suppose we must follow the lonely impulse. I've been spared ever enduring loneliness myself. Call me Bonaventure if you must, Copperring. One too many of the sons of Copperring, sent abroad to find his fortune."
There are others, besides you, a handful. Mutters and dismay, only Milo and Bonaventure seem to have any loquacity, the others are silent as they are fearful.
Now - you are curious, of course. The windows of the upper tiers - they face inward and out - and you can see the mechanism of the carriage, where it grips the cable and moves upon it. And just now it has begun to move. There are hands, bronze fists the size of hogsheads, they grip the cable - dozens of the hands, and they tug along, pulling up the rope, raising the carriage up into the sky. There is the lurch of movement and then a steady, thrumming motion. The car is up, into the mist, the jetty and the River Music recede, the earth plunges, down and away, scraps of green in a sea of mist. As the view of the outer window fades to the pearlescent white of the mist, you stare, transfixed and the motion of the bronze fists. A man sits beside you, old, wrinkled and spotty - he looks Kliali but his skin is a very deep walnut tone and his manner is far more reserved than any Kliali you've met. "I chose exile, if you like, I prefer to say I chose to learn what isn't known. How do the hands move? What power lets them move? I would like to know. So I came here." The man, he carries a little wand, he toys with it idly as he speaks to no one in particular or to you. The wand is polished iron, shaped exactly, brilliantly made, to resemble a natural twig - you know this as a badge of the Tree of Iron. The Imperial bureaucracy. "My name is Marcus."
The car rises, your ears pop. Pop again. There are gasps, people call one another to the windows - "Look!" They cry, "See!" In the mists, or out of them rise sepulchral buildings, vast pillars of black iron seamed with welds that have the look of language - these drift by below the car, just barely. "Look!" They gasp. "See!" And now the mist unfurls around a piazza with a wide fountain, spraying columns synchronized to the clack of the carriage. All around are tiled streets, tiny beneath you, copper-clad domes, vaulted colonnades and groves of wild-growing trees. "Look!" You say. "See!" You tell them -pointing- there is a nested series of falls, the River Music, far below, decked in bridges, garlands of bridges upon the baffling tiers of the plunging falls. skeletal buildings, like the bones of great palaces rise up from the seat of the city's mists.
Up the carriage goes, on and on. There is gloomy conversation, Milo is the first to test the crates, the luggage. He is first as well to notice a change in the course. You are second - he looks, you glance back. The carriage turns, in the sky, slows, just slightly, just narrowly. It begins descending, just slightly - barely. The bronze hands grip more lightly, the carriage dangles loosely, there is a sudden, terrible, breathtaking drop, and a stop and a slower, easier descent, and then there is a slow cessation of the clattering sound of the carriage, and then the doors creak open on their own, sliding and you have come to Awese.