Avana glides through the late-afternoon sun, her flight-basket slung below her, headed to Towie's shop, a few streets inland from the dock where the Kwandoyo
has made port. She spots the familiar multicolored banner, and steadies the large basket as she maneuvers to a neat landing at the shop's entrance. Once inside, she quietly sets her basket down behind the counter, and browses the shop's displays while her wing-aunt finishes haggling with her customer.
"Avana! I wasn't expecting you until morning; you must have hit a good wind coming in." Towie greets her with a kovwi, and then sets her basket on the counter. "Did you bring anything interesting?"
Avana lollops to the counter and rummages around inside the basket, taking things out of it as she speaks. "Yes... let's see... dried flowers from Teekara - some whole ones, plus I got a few bags of petals that might make some nice specialty paper... jewelry, of course, I have some nice pendants this time... colored ink, most of that's back on the ship though, I didn't want to fly with it and the other things... some new glow paint, from Xalt... maps, especially of Galinomai... and I have some electric toys from Lant again, since that last batch sold so well, but those are on the ship, too. I can bring them by tomorrow morning. Will the usual commission be okay?"
Towie examines the items on the counter. "I'm going to have to start setting aside another shelf downstairs for you, soon, aren't I?" she grins. "You've got a good eye. Yes, the usual commission will be fine. We can dicker over prices for the paint and the flowers tomorrow, though; there's something I think you'd like to see, tonight. They've been working on a new kind of ship design, and they've been testing it in the evenings. What do you say?"
"A new ship? I didn't see any new ships at the port."
"It's not at the port," Towie grins mischievously. "Let me get Yivin to watch the shop, and I'll show you." Without waiting for an answer, she lollops out the back door to get her wingson. Avana harumpfs in mock-annoyance, then chuckles, and spends the few moments while Towie is gone tucking her goods back into the flight basket and stowing it under the counter. "...and if anyone asks for me, just tell them I'll be back shortly after nightfall," Towie instructs her son as they re-enter the shop. "Shall I bring you back something from Lanyi's?"
"Nightfall, got it," the adolescent Zaee agrees, setting a thick stack of papers and a pen on the counter. "And... a prinka cone, from Lanyi, with ivril and green sauce." He writes this last bit on a scrap of paper and hands it to Towie. "And if you're going by Beya's at all, I could use some more ink."
"All right, I'll see what I can do. Ready, Avana?"
Avana nods, and Towie leads the way, not toward the beach, but inland, toward the setting sun. After a short flight, they turn slightly north toward an empty field with a building that looks like a large, hastily-constructed stone barn at one end. They approach the barn, and join the half-dozen or so other Zaee on its roof.
"You're pulling my tail again, aren't you, aunt Towie? Nobody would test a ship here - even if they wanted to test how it handles perturbation, there's not enough room. What's really going on?"
"Just you wait," Towie is grinning so widely that it's obvious that she's up to something
. "It looks like we're just in time; they'll be starting any minute now. Hear that?"
Avana perks her ears, and hears the sound of running water, along with a strange hissing, from inside the building. She looks questioningly at her aunt, who gestures at her to be patient, and after a few minutes of hissing, she hears the metal doors of the barn being opened, and sees what looks like a giant half-full cloth sack rising into the air on that side of the building.
Avana's journal wrote:Duskmonth 5, 37