Ash and I wound our way to the lowest deck where the Sommelier guarded the Bloodwine casks and the source tree itself. As we came closer we heard laughter and screams. We discerned movement behind the glassteel wall that was stained with dark red.
I can only compare the revelry of the writhing silhouettes to the descriptions of the Bacchae. All propriety and decorum were abandoned as they wrestled each other over unstopped casks, construct or no, these Dolls were in full vampiric Frenzy. I found a small section of glass not splattered with translucent spirits. And peered inside. All I can tell you is I am glad I was no longer in the mind of a child!
It the far corner of the madness there was a still blue shape. The Sommelier. Even now he stood with calm and dignity as his life's work was ravaged before his eyestalks. In one of his claws he held a sapling by the trunk. The roots were carefully wrapped in canvas and rope. The fabric was stained that unavoidable crimson. He turned slightly to look straight at me, and bowed. He clenched his other claw on a nearby lever. He shouted three last words. "FOR THE FOUNDER!"
I recoiled in fright as a face of half-exposed clockwork drenched in red and wild, shredded hair slammed her face against my view through the glass and hissed, baring her fangs at me.
There was another lurch in the ship that was already dead in the air and starting to list. And suddenly, they were gone.
The glassteel wall immediately frosted over.
"He opened the airlock," Ash said. "He jettisoned the Dolls and the entire stock, as well as himself." Ash stood straight and gave a Wulfenbach salute.
"Martyred like a true Bloodwing," I said bitterly.
"And indeed, so shall you BOTH be!"
Marcus stood in the entrance to the hallway, blocking passage back to the rest of the ship. He had aged as well, and torn away the bishoen uniform. His chest was bare. His brown hair trailed down past his shoulders. An orb of flame began to curl around his fist, that illuminated the rage carved into his face. I looked back at the airlock to the winery. We were easily a mile higher than when Ash had his fortunate landing. Now our only escape was a straight drop - without wings - to our doom!