It was supposed to have a bunch of caves at the end, that monsters would sometimes try to live in only to be frustrated by the lack of food and water. You had to go all the way out of the canyon back to the hills to find *anything*, and even then too much of the hills were bare bark to be really fertile. Flying monsters had it a little better, since there were parts of the verticals with plants and animals in them near enough as the Ulgrane flies.
I didn’t expect to find an airship tethered there, floating off the side of the branch.
It was a little yacht without much magic – the wood was enchanted to levitate, basically, and there was an emergency teleport device. And it had sails! It looked like a sailboat, in fact, except that some of the sails were on the sides and bottom, so that the wind could push it from all sides without flipping it over.
When I got closer, I spotted the captain relaxing in a hammock on the deck. He was a Rassimel named Jepa who was obsessed with the wind, and spent his life savings on a little yacht to sail around the safer areas near his city, powered by the wind. This was his favorite place to go, since he could look down over the edge of the branch and pretend that he was in a real airship that could fly around between branches without getting ambushed by monsters and stuff, without getting ambushed by monsters and stuff, since there really wasn’t anything here that monsters and stuff would be attracted to except for the view.
He wasn’t having a very good dream – he was being attacked by Ulgrane and they’d already stripped him naked and tied him up to one of his masts, and were getting ready to do something really awful to him.
I took a running jump and landed on his deck, which set off some sort of alarm because he woke up in a hurry and grabbed for his staff, and tangled himself up in his hammock. He cast Crawly Sparks at me, and Air Like Tar, and Awful Winds, and probably should have reversed those last two. I helpfully freed him from his hammock by burning it away with my wings, and bit his staff in two (that part wasn’t especially helpful), and stood on his chest and told him to stop blubbering.
We spent a couple days together, playing diamond chess and learning about some of the geography and politics of the branch I found myself on – that’s where I learned about why it was called ‘Starfall Lake’ and ‘Serpent Gorge’ – and I told him some of the stories of my old exploits, and some of the stories of my more recent ones, and he figured out that I was probably going to eat him, but I’d told him about how I could read minds, so I just had to give him a knowing look whenever he started to think about how to escape and he’d get all terrified and stop planning.
I also made him teach me how to fly his ship. It was easy since that was his favorite subject, and he actually felt less bad about dying if he’d have someone else to carry on using it after he was gone. Rassimel are weird!