The dead-engines moaned as the ship sped through the near-night twilit ice field. The captain stood in the bow, shivering in his furs as the ship shuddered beneath him as if trying to tear itself apart.
The captain wasn’t superstitious, no. Still. They said – whoever they were – that unbound ghosts fled north along the auroras and circled over the ocean at the top of the world. And if that were true – of course it wasn’t – would the free dead hear – and of course they couldn’t – their breathren contained in the Coldheart’s dark engine, endlessly chasing each other in the binding pipe, across the turbine driving the Coldheart’s screws?
It troubled him as much as anything in the journey.
He looked at the guidestone, hanging from its tripod in the bow. North was so close, the fine chain was pulled horizontal, the ‘stone at the end floating eerily over the deck. The ‘stone glittered angrily in the light of the suns eternally setting on the port and starboard sides. The captain pulled his furs close.