Flaxday Thirdweek, Fieldfire, 147/32

Yesterday was a very strange day.

We've picked up two new passengers. One is a daemonist, of all things. The other... well, I don't know what the other one is. I wonder if I should have allowed them on board, but they seem pretty quiet so far. Still, they paid passage for a year. A year. What was I thinking?

Oh yes. I was thinking that I'm now the proud owner of the finest damn cutlass in Vardia.

We finally made it to the cheerily named Cloud Cradle Heights after our extended layover by Lake Elden, only to find that I'd missed my contact by a day and he'd buggered off elsewhere without leaving word. So that was my infallible money-making scheme shot to shit. I won't bore you with the details, Log. Suffice to say it was brilliant and we'll leave it at that.

So while we're kicking around aimlessly in the dock wondering what to do next, this milky-looking fellow named Grayther Crake comes up to me. I make him as a down-on-his-luck aristocrat: he's shabby and smells like he hasn't bathed for a while, but he's still got the accent and a poncey way of putting things. He says he wants to get out of Cloud Cradle Heights, right now. That's no surprise - Cloud Cradle Heights isn't as pretty as it sounds, and he wouldn't be the first man on the run I've helped out, for the right price. The surprise is, he says he wants to book passage on the Ketty Jay for a year.

I ask him why. He says he wants to keep on the move. Do we keep on the move? I tell him we've been kicked out of half the ports in Vardia so we don't have much choice. I ask him what he's running from. He says part of the deal is that I don't ask.

Fine with me. Allsoul knows we've got enough secrets on this craft, and we don't ask questions about the past. So I ask him what he's paying with.

'This,' he says, and he holds out a cutlass. 'It's the only thing I have left.'

Now this is one lovely cutlass. I've never been much of a swordsman, and I don't know blades, but this is a work of art. Still, it's probably not worth a year of this bloke's company, so I kind of curl my lip.

'That?' I say.

Then he tells me that this isn't just an ordinary cutlass. He puts it in my hand and tells me to pick the best swordfighter from my crew. Nobody's any good with swords, so I pick Pinn because he's the one I'd most like to stab right now. Crake gives him an iron bar - no swords handy - and tells him to try and hit me.

Pinn obligingly does so. The cutlass sort of leaps into the parry, carrying my hand with it. Pinn tries again - I parry again. It's not even me that's doing it, it's the blade. I swear it's possessed. After a couple more times, I sort of accidentally-on-purpose jab Pinn in the arm with it. It's a beautiful thrust, just goes in far enough to hurt like hell but not enough to cause any damage. Don't want to give him an excuse not to fly - if he wasn't such a damn fine pilot, he'd be totally useless.

Of course Pinn wails like he's being murdered and Malvery drags him off to the infirmary to put some antiseptic on the cut. I make some practice swipes with the cutlass. By now I've worked out that Crake is either a daemonist or he stole this from someone who was. Turns out it's the first one.

'That sword in return for our passage,' he says. 'One year. We go where you go. We won't be any trouble.'

I'm so full of visions of swashbuckling my way into the boudoirs of various ladies that I almost miss the plural. 'Our passage?'

Well, I couldn't really say no. I really wanted that cutlass. I thought I might sell it, but I'd only waste the money. I reckon I'll keep hold of this. It's nice to have something that's not broken, dirty, patched-together or similar. Just one fine thing.

Harkins and Keddle were uneasy about having a daemonist on board. Harkins doesn't like strangers and Keddle is just a moaning so-and-so. I think he's secretly an Awakener or something - there's just a shiftiness about him that gets my back up. Thing is, the luck I have with navigators, I'm not about to go looking for a new one. Keddle might be mediocre at his job, but at least he's stuck with us so far.

Hand is cramping now. I'll tell you about Bess later. That's its (her?) name. Bess.

I really think I'm gonna live to regret letting those two on board.