Chapter 7: Going West
Location: On the open sky
Timeline: first day of travel
From her kittlings net, she had seen Sahka coming. She never meet that men, strange looking with his Eastern hat, and his britannic coat. His walk looked at the same time cumbersome and feathery, certainly because he had the long and pitchy footstep of a seaman, and the Eastern stability, the hips always at the same height. Quickly, he climb on the net, a smile on his face.
"Hey young girl!" he claim with a strong accent, but he quickly continue with a confidential voice. "You're the new lookout right? I hear that you bet there is no one with a better eyesight than your's, I'm here to challenge you about that! I have pretty good eyes, and I want to see if someone can really be better than me!"
Miyra focused her eyes on him, a defiant smile on her face. "Oh, really? Very well. What are the rules of such a challenge?"
"The rules are only these. One after the others, we said a word, something that we can actually see, and the other should find them. It's really important to not lie. The things should be observable, in every definition you can give to that word, on our actual place. Of course, no tool can be use, and if you said you can see the thing, you should prove it by pointing on the right direction, and if so, you should also describe what you see. Last but not the least, you can't use your hand to protect your sight from the sun. If you don't respect the rules, you lose. Understood?"
"Crystal clear." Miyra smiled sweetly. "Alright, you go first. Give me something to look for."
Sahka smiled, and just take a look around, then quickly said: "Alright, at first, some easy things. Can you see a lighthouse?"
"Red and blue stripes. Glass top." She shrugged. "Lots of sky-rocks floating around it. A wooden sky-ship dock chained up to it."
He smile, but quickly answer. "Alright, easy one at first. It's your turn now."
"Alright..." She scanned the horizon. "How many grey clouds can you see?" She was testing the water, not too sure where this was going, but playing along - for now.
She see a sudden wince on Sahka lips. May be it was a hard question for him? But the answer was fast and really accurate.
"Seven or six, it depend if you count as two that cloud." He point one into the sky, one with a small in front. "who look like if it were connected, but it's certainly not. The others are, two on six o'clock, one on twelve on upper sky, one at Half past twelve, same hight, and the last à one past twelve, but under the alt of our ship."
He look intensively ontoo the Mirya eyes. Always the mysterious wince on his face. What he had in mind, she didn't know, until he ask the question. He didn't let Mirya confirmed, certainly he knew he had right, but, that wasn't really polite.
"Your question wasn't very easy, color of cloud change quickly and generally means nothing except their size. So, now, one hard question for one hard question. How many updraft can you see?"
"Hardly fair!" She pointed out. "I am no sky reader... I wouldn't know what an updraft was if it came right up to me. If you tell me what to look for, then I can count how many there are."
He smiled, for him it was a test, a way to guess what she knows about sky reading. At first sight not so much, but Sahka liked how she answered.
"You're right, so let me explain. You can "see" an updraft under some sort of cloud, like this one." He pointed a cumulus. "I don't really know why that happens, but it's always the case, especially strong when it's warm. You can also see updraft when the wind climb a mountain, or a high cliff, you can see the direction of the wind with water's, tree's or grass's movements. They're the two most visible updraft. Now, some of them can't be seen easily, unless birds fly in them. Most of people believe that birds fly where they want and with a total freedom, that's totally false. They have to follow wind and draft, and deal with them, learn to handle them So most of the time, each bird uses a different kind of draft to go near where they want to go. I don't know how birds see updraft, but they always find them, even the kind we can't guess or see. So if you see bird climbing height and quickly in the sky, without too many efforts, you can be sure there his an updraft. So, now, how many updraft can you see?"
She nodded slowly as he explained this, and narrowed her eyes. "The two you have pointed out, then one at twelve o'clock, three at five o'clock..." She turned in a slow circle. "And another at 6 o'clock."
"Short to the good answer, it's just one cloud too much. See this clood, the one at twelve o'clock, he is too slim to be the kind of cloud who make an updraft. But I admit that's hard to see. You're pretty good! I count this as a good answer, it's your turn, ask me to find something, a hard one!"
"Alright." She considered. "There is a section of farmland that we're about to cross. There's another ahead. Can you see it?" It was only a small dot, but she could see it well enough; yellow to golden, but would soon turn brown and be harvested.
Farmland, with big city and industrial area, his less knew landscape. At first, he thought that would be easy, at last, a farm land is a large conglomerate of farm, and a farm isn't really small. But... he didn't see anyone. In fact, he see too much grassland that could may be a farm. But he guess that the girl certainly choose something hard to find. He turn his view to the horizon, but didn't notice anything. Suddenly, with a smile, he spoke.
"I guess... I lose the game! Alright, where is this farmland, I see the big one we have crossed, but not the next. Now, we have to check you don't make a mistake."
The farmland was beginning to become more detailed; it was still small, but she could see it was rectangular. "It's surrounded by three buildings - oh, four." She pointed it out to him. "Coming closer now." With a nod of triumph, she swung herself around the ropes and climbed to the very top. "It was nice meeting you!"
Sahka smiled, yes he lose, but now he knew that he can trust the young girl. He had always said that he had a good eyesight, and really, he had. But that day, he found his masters. He skook the hand of the girl.
"Yes, it was nice. I'm the skyreader in charge here. So, we have to work together, it's good to know tat you're really good at your job. If you wan't, i can teach you one day some of my knowledge. So, may be later, if you wan't to sail away onto the world, you would be able to work as a good sky reader to."
He began to come down from the kittlings' net. "But today, I have to pay you a drink, or something else like that. You didn't said what you want if you win, if I can give you what you want, I will. So, see you next time small girl."