Hangreach lay before them. A thick yellow smog hovering just above the cliff-borne city as a grim reminder of the city's Glint factories. The young Princess, who'd only read about Hangreach in books, and had heard about the magnificence of Balst's second-highest city, was mortified.

She'd dyed her hair. It was now short and brown, causing her to look ordinary. She still wasn't used to having short hair and the loss of weight on her head almost set her off balance. She hadn't cut her hair in sixteen years and now suddenly it was gone. It was like a piece of her was missing.

"It's nothing like I've read about," she said quietly.

"Never seen Hangreach before?" The Captain asked, a tony of surprise filling his voice as he eased The Novice into her docking spot.

"Not personally. We never stopped here. Haven and Cold Harbor were the usual destinations."

"You're not missin' much."

"What're you talking about Cap'n?" Pike interjected from his spot at the Navigator's station. He was still wearing the scarf he'd gotten from his and Penelope's trip to the market. The blue fabric stood out against the red of his hair. It was a strange combination. "Hangreach is an excellent city. Despite the factories."

"And Canal Street?" Nate asked.

"Well …alright, except for those two bits; it's a perfectly fine city."

"And the fact that ya gotta climb all over the place to get anywhere doesn't bother ya?"

"Says the man flying us around in a metal tin," Bartrich commented grumpily through the speaking tube.

"Yeah, yeah. You just hate it because you're afraid of heights," Nate replied.

"I am not afraid! I just…" There was a long pause as Nate eased the ship down and the locks clamped around them. "Don't like them."


Olive ignored their bickering and stared out at the city.

It was nothing like she'd imagined. There was no majestic beauty to it. It was a disgusting city, clinging to the cliffs desperately, as if the slightest gust of wind was bound to come by and send everything flinging off the edge. It was perched precariously between the two sides of the opposing cliffs that nearly split Balst in half. The massive Granburrow Canyon traveled halfway across Balst before coming to a crawling end just before reaching the Golden Desert to the north.

On the eastern side of the Canyon, was the three main districts: the Docking District, the Housing District, and finally, the Merchant District. Each was a level down along the cliffs and it took a series of ladders, lifts, and bridges to get there. Then at the base of the canyon, a shockingly high up portion of the canyon's bottom, was Canal Street. A place of ill repute that she didn't know much about. Then on the western side of the Canyon were the Glint factories; scaling the cliff walls on jutting outcrops of rock with plumes of thick smog being pumped out of the smokestacks of each building.

It was disgusting and filthy and she could easily see why she'd never been brought here. The Captain slipped out of the chair and stretched. He looked over at Pike and said, "You wanna get the Glint?"

"Bart would get a better deal," the First Mate answered.

"I'm not getting out of the damn ship in this high-ass city," Bart remarked through the tube.

"That settles that," Nate said. He pulled out the coin purse and tossed it to Pike. "Go get 'em."

"Want me to get as much as I can? Or should I save some?"

Nate walked to the stairs and said over his shoulder, "Don't bother savin'. Looks like Glint prices are just gonna go up as the war goes on."

"You got it." Pike stood and then he paused for a moment, glancing at Olive. "Hey Cap'n?"

"What?" Nate said, stopping and looking back.

"You mind if I bring uh …Her Royal Highness with me?"

"Me?" Olive blinked in surprise.

"Well, yeah," Pike said, as Nate stared at him. "Figured you might wanna see what Hangreach is like."

She was about to protest. The words, I can see it perfectly from here, were already on the tip of her tongue. But then she realized that this might be her once chance to get off the ship. Judging by the way the First Mate was looking at her, he knew it too.

"Of course, as future Queen it's extremely important for me to understand each of our cities." She remembered her father telling her something close to the same thing years before. She hadn't paid him much mind to it, and even now her statement didn't mean much to her. All she knew was that she wanted to get off the damn ship. Perhaps, she'd be able to find someone who would be willing to get her back to Pender. She didn't exactly trust the Sovoyen Captain. No matter how highly his crew seemed to think of him.

Nate clenched his teeth and glanced between his First Mate and the Princess. She wasn't sure how to look, and settled for something between fierce determination and silent pleading. It wasn't an easy look to pull off but when the Captain looked over at Pike and his First Mate gave him the slightest of nods.

"She's part of the crew now anyway. I guess," Nate said with a reluctant sigh. "I guess it would make sense fer her to, ya know, see the city or whatever."

"I'm surprised the Captain allowed me to come along," Olive said as she followed Pike across the bridge from the Docking District to the second level of Hangreach. They'd left The Novice behind with hardly much of a goodbye at all. She hadn't even seen Penelope or Bartrich and then they were off the ship and she was greeted with the horrendous stench of oil, leather, and the acrid stink of the factories that filled Hangreach.

"It's only because he knows you'd never lose me here." He gave her a grin and said, "I grew up here."

"Really? Born in Valen and then brought here, I presume?"

He shrugged, stepping to the side as two beefy men carrying a large crate lumbered towards the docks. "Dunno."

"Surely your parents must've told you?"

"Well, I guess they would've but I never knew them either."

A gust of wind brought with it the foul stench from the factories and she wrinkled her nose. Coughing slightly she managed to say, "Oh. You're an orphan?"

"Yep. Born somewhere mysterious and raised in Hangreach."

They moved out of the Docking District. Reaching a long ladder, Olive peered down it distastefully and then looked up at Pike.

"You don't expect me to climb down, do you? Isn't there a lift we could take?"

"How're you gonna get any life experience if you always take the shortcuts?" He replied cheerfully; her misery lost on him. "Think of it this way, we're building character!" At that he grabbed the top of the ladder and swung himself onto it without any worry. His scarf was caught in the breeze and it billowed behind him like a miniature cape. Olive looked down at him and he smiled up at her.

"C'mon Olive," not able to call her by her royal title whilst they were out and about, "it's easy. You just gotta take the first step." He then added, in a low voice so no one overheard, "What kind of a Queen would you be if you can't even climb down a ladder?"

"Queen's don't have to climb ladders," she pouted.

"Well, think of how embarrassed you'd be if your subjects found out you couldn't climb one."

"I can climb one!"

"Prove it."

She wrinkled her nose again and let out a sigh, crossing her arms and glancing away from him.

He saw she was still no closer to stepping onto the ladder and said, "Fine. You can wait up here while I go get the Glint. Guess you'll never see Hangreach. Hope you like the Docking District." With that, he began moving down the ladder.

"How do you know I won't just run off?" She asked him before he got much father.

A gust of wind ruffled his hair and clothing but he clung to the ladder with a certain nonchalance and looked up at her. "Why would you?"

It was such a strange question. She was temporarily baffled. "Well, because I want to get home."

"You think they'll help you?"

"Well," she glanced behind her and saw that not a single person appeared to be paying even the slightest bit of attention to her. She was merely another citizen of Balst. The actualization of the thought surprised her. She felt invisible for a moment. Then she spotted a nearby man, ran up and grabbed a hold of his arm.

"Sir! Excuse me, sir!"

"Eh?" The man appeared startled but once he looked at her, his face transformed into an ugly scowl. "Whatdaya want?"

"Don't I look like the Princess?" The line sounded absurd even as she said it, but she had to know.

The man let out a loud laugh and shook his head. "Good one, kid."

"No, sir, look." She took a step back and saw Pike watching from a few feet away. His arms were crossed but he had a curious look about him. "Please, can't you see? I am the Princess."

At that the man looked angrier than before. "That ain't no thing to joke about. Get lost, girl."

"But…" The man had already shrugged her aside and was moving on. She was left standing there, feeling shockingly empty.

"Olive," Pike said softly, stepping up next to her. It was as if he knew how hurt she was by the understanding that no one recognized her anymore.

"Didn't he see my eyes?"

"Don't take it personal. People here …they don't scrutinize things too closely. They don't really care about much else but themselves. Know what I mean?"

She swallowed, trying to get rid of the sudden tightness of her throat. Then she stared at the Valen and said, "Well, we have Glint to pick up, don't we?"

He noticed the young girl's sudden determination. Like a blazing fire it entered her eyes, easily read in how she stood there; chin raised, shoulders back, looking exceptionally regal despite her short brown hair.

Pike glanced back at the ladder. "Thought Queens didn't climb ladders?"

"I'm not Queen yet. And I will climb it."

He grinned and swept his arm towards it. "After you, m'lady."

She grabbed the ladder and swung her body over the side. Clutching the metal railing she found it disturbingly slick beneath her hands, though it might've just been the sweat from her palms. She glanced down and saw a sickening fifty foot drop waiting beneath her feet. She froze. Heights had never bothered her before; at least when she was on airships she didn't have to stare down at the dizzying drop between her and the ground.

"Olive," Pike said from above her. She tore her eyes away from the next level and stared up at him. "Take a deep breath."

She hadn't realized that she was breathing heavily. She cleared her throat and took a deep inhale.

"Good. Now, it's not as difficult as you think."

"What if I fall?" She asked, her voice remarkably quiet.

He looked perplexed but he said, "I won't let that happen."

She nodded and began to move down, despite the trembling of her limbs, and her shaky breaths. Her hands clung to the cool metal bars and her feet found purchase with every step down she took. Pike followed her not long after and he seemed to move with a gracefulness that she couldn't hope to match. She didn't look down so when her feet hit the ground, she received a jolt of surprise.

The Housing District in Hangreach was shockingly well maintained. Were it not for the constant smell and the thick coating of leftover ash from the first at the factories, it might've been hard to believe that they were actually in the filthy city and not somewhere else. Olive looked around, catching glimpses of small Glint powered generators outside some of the homes, some people peered at them suspiciously and even a few shied away from Pike as they walked.

"They avoid you," Olive commented before it occurred to her how insensitive that might sound.

"Yeah, Hangreach was hit hard when the Sovoyens launched their extermination campaign." He shrugged, ducked under a low board stretching across the alley and waited for her. "Not too fond of people like me here."

"That's horrible. Even after my Father passed his Open Boarders policy things haven't changed." She stepped out of the way as two women sped by her. "How can people treat each other like that?"

Pike's brow furrowed and then he said, "Just because someone passes a law doesn't mean everyone follows it."

"It's just like the Fog," she added quietly.

He nodded. They'd made it to a set of rickety metal stairs-pounded deep into the rock face for travel between the Housing and the Merchant Districts. It looked wide enough for only two or three people at a time and the whole sculpture shivered when someone stepped onto it. There was a railing on one side, heavily rusted from years of rain and coated in a slick slime form leftover Glint smog, and the rough rock on the other side.

"Stick close to the rock, I'll take the middle, okay?"

She gulped but gave him a nod. She'd climbed down the ladder, stairs like this would be nothing.

"How far do we have to go?" She asked as they began heading down the sitars. The metal creaked and squealed at their weight and Olive flinched when the stairs trembled. Pike seemed perfectly at ease, squeezing himself against the railing if anyone pushed passed him, even though the metal poles dug into the cliff side spewed crumbling bits of rock with every step they took.

"How are you okay with this?" She finally asked. Someone shoved her aside as they rushed beside her. She stumbled and was almost sent sprawling down the stairs but Pike, with a shocking amount of strength, grabbed her around her middle and pulled her close to him. She felt his vest of throwing knives dig into her back. She didn't push away from him though and once she'd stopped trembling, then he let her go. She found her footing and pushed a few short piece of hair away from her face, painfully reminded of how short it was.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Fine. I'd rather we get off these… These… godsdamned stairs," she said quietly.

Pike laughed and said, "I don't think I've ever heard you curse."

"I… oh," she realized that she had and blinked in surprise. "Forgive me, that wasn't very lady like."

"Well, you're more of a pirate than a lady now anyway," he told her as they moved off the stairs onto the rocky ground below.

The Merchant District was bustling. Shoppers squeezed passed each other, shouting obscene comments and making open transactions of goods for gold right in the middle of the street. The people of Hangreach were a rugged bunch. They had a particular look about them, perhaps it was their eyes or the way that everyone had a thin muscled look about them from having to climb all over the city. Their clothes were ragged, patched and replaced with spare bits of fabric. Quite a few people were missing limbs though. Never any legs, but Olive noticed that a good part of the population seemed to be missing an arm or at least a few fingers. Pike noticed her gazing at one woman who's arm was missing from beneath her elbow.

"It's from the factories," he explained. "Mainly that's from when they were kids."

"Children work in the factories?" She gaped at him.

"Of course. They've got little hands to fix the things that adults can't."

"But… that should be illegal."

He shrugged. "No law against it. And they don't usually lose kids."

"But it happens, right? Kids die in those factories. Don't they?"

Pike stopped suddenly, not giving her an answer. He was staring at a man in the middle of the street. The man was watching him curiously. He was likely deep in his fifties, his hair more gray than it was brown, and he walked stiffly, as if he'd suffered some injury when he was younger. But he walked over to them nonetheless and smiled.

"Hey Doc!" Pike said cheerfully, a soft tone entering his voice.

The man grabbed him in a fierce hug and laughed. "Gods be good, how are you?"

"I'm good, just uh… getting Glint for the ship."

"Still sailing with Nate then?"

"Still sailing."

"How's he doing?"

"He's…" Pike hesitated. "Well, he's been better."

"I reckon Royal's death hit him pretty hard."

"Yeah well… he found solace in other things."

"He always did look for an easy escape route." The man paused awkwardly. "I would've come to the funeral but…"

"You weren't here, it's okay. When did you get back?"

"Three months ago."

"And? How was it?" Pike's eagerness filled his voice.

"Beyond beautiful, the country is just… magnificent. Were it not for the Sovoyens that lurk the whole countryside, I would've never have come back."

"Oh! Doctor Bourchard, this is Olive." Then he turned to her and said, "The Doc took care of Nate and me, and Royal, when we were kids. And he's spent the last four years in Valen."

"Please to meet you, Doctor Bourchard." She shook his hand and he raised his eyebrows at her accent. "What were you doing in Valen?"

"I was helping the people there. Trying to, anyway. Those that are still stricken with that Gods-be-damned disease those Sovoyens engineered." The man's rage was evident and it swelled through him. His eyes flicked to Pike and he muttered, "The one you almost died from."

Then he stared at Olive and frowned. "Wait, you're on the ship. As in crew?"

"She is, indeed!" Pike replied with one of his usual grins.

"That's not like Nathaniel at all. Him and kids never seemed to work out well. Except for you and Royal, of course. Why the sudden change of heart?"

"Uh…" Pike hesitated, his eyes flicked to Olive and then back to the Doctor. "It just sort of happened, I guess."

"Uh huh." The man's eyes narrowed and Pike squirmed beneath his gaze. "Sounds an awful lot like you boys have gotten yourself in trouble."

"Well not," he glanced at Olive but she remained silent. Her head was swimming with the sights of Hangreach and the suffering of the people were what she was focused on. Escape was far from her mind. "Not exactly anyway."

"Hm." The Doctor shook his head and sighed. "You keep yourself outta trouble, Pike. Understand me? Might be time you and Nate got outta Balst for a while anyway. Go somewhere where these damned Sovoyens ain't gonna find you. Get away from this war."

Pike nodded with a grim look crossing his usually cheerful face. "I've been thinking the same thing but, you know Nate."

Bouchard shook his head. "keep an eye on him then. He's got that temper that's always getting him into trouble."

"You know I always look out for him."

"Good. Good." The man sighed and stared at Pike as if there was a mountain of information he wanted to tell him but he couldn't find the words. "Well, it was good to see you. Keep your head out of trouble, alright?"

"You got it, Doc," Pike replied happily. But Olive saw a strange sadness creeping into his smile and she was pleased when the goodbye was gone. She bid the doctor a good day and he nodded at her, staring at her with his dark searching eyes, making her slightly uncomfortable. It felt as if he were reading her thoughts and she hurried after Pike before the man could say anything else to her.

They traveled through the rest of the District in relative silence and soon were headed down another set of small bridges connecting to piers of rock, with ladders and stairs thrown in the mix to slow their descent towards Canal Street. She knew nothing of the place. As a matter of fact she hand't even heard of it before the Captain mentioned it back on the ship. What she saw was a disgusting horror that nearly made her reel.

There was no water in Canal Street. The alleged canal that ran through hand reach was a thick stew of sewage and waste, from both the factories and the people living in the foul city. The people living at the bottom of it were no better off than the Canal. They were filthy; covered in soot, and dirt, and a manner of other disgusting substances Olive would rather not know the names of. Some could hardly walk and she noticed the orange eyes of more than a few people. Children scampered across the canal on heavily worn wooden posts and no one seemed to care.

Pike nudged Olive and said, "Stick close, got it?"

"This is Canal Street?" Was all she could think to say.

Pike looked grim and nodded. "This is it."

"I thought there was supposed to be water here. That's what the books say, it's what I've been taught since I was little. Canal Street is supposed to be this… beautiful oasis not," she shrank away as a burly man covered in rags, dragging his right leg as he hobbled along, brushed passed her. "This."

"Well, I can see why they wouldn't want you to see this," he said. "It's been like this since I was little. Maybe it wasn't always like this. But it's been this way since I was a kid."

"How long did you live here?"

"Years. Let's see… I was, what? Seventeen. We left when I was seventeen."

"You lived here that whole time?"

"Yep. Never even left the city. I used to climb up to the top of the factories. When they weren't looking, obviously. And, some nights, I could almost see the lights from Haven."

"That's so far away though."

"Lights of Haven are really bright. You know, my master always used to say that Haven was brighter than the stars."

"Your master?"

Pike seemed surprised that she asked about it. He furrowed his brow and glanced away. "Let's get the Glint, huh?"