A Date Atop a Floating Isle — Part 1
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
The Wicked Forest happened to be home to the very bizarre phenomenon known as a floating island. I had no idea how it actually managed to stay airborne, let alone above the clouds, but it did. It even seemed to move in a regular orbit, and would sometimes vanish for weeks at a time.
I’d attempted to explore it once by myself in the past only to get completely and totally wrecked. Though the island spent all its time in the northern and eastern regions of the Wicked Forest, the monsters that inhabited it were as strong as the ones in the west; it seemed to have its own isolated ecosystem. Not bringing Rir was a mistake, but it’s not like I had any other choice. He kinda can’t fly.
Much to my dismay, every moment I spent on the island was spent running for dear life. The monsters literally started chasing me around the moment I landed. That said, I still wanted to go back. The scenery was great, and there was no way anyone with a spirit as adventurous as mine wouldn’t have wanted to explore a literal floating island.
Thanks to a bit of prior research, I was well aware that the target of my interest happened to be at the point in its orbit where it was closest to our home, which meant it was time for round two. And this time, I’mma have all the backup in the world.
“This is probably a good time for me to tell you what we’re doing, huh? I said to Lefi, who was flying by my side. “The plan is for us to head up to the floating island and see the sights.”
“So that is the date spot you have selected?” She looked up and smiled. “A fine choice indeed. There is plenty of scenery to enjoy.”
“Right?” I gave myself an internal pat on the back. “I was considering a whole bunch of other things too, like heading back into the city or something, seeing as how we’ve got ourselves a door that more or less leads straight to it now, but I figured you wouldn’t be all that interested in shopping.”
“An incorrect assumption. I am interested in purchasing ingredients.”
“Bullshit. You can barely cook.”
How about we leave lines like that for people who actually make their own meals?
“I do not need to. I need only use my senses to provide Leila with the best ingredients I am capable of identifying.”
A part of me wanted to complain and tell her that there had to be a much better use of her super sharp senses, but I couldn’t deny that they were handy. She’s always the first to notice when something fully ripens, as well as when something goes bad.
“Anyway, I realized you’d probably prefer exploring, so yeah, here we are,” I said. “We might end up seeing some pretty strong monsters, but with you around, I’m willing to bet they’ll probably start running before we even get close.”
“Your choice was made in good taste. I find exploring an island much more entertaining than visiting a town,” she agreed. “You are correct in the expectation that the monsters residing upon it will be formidable, but there is no need to worry. I shall keep you safe should they be foolish enough to challenge us.”
“Ermagawd Lefi, you’re so manly! I love you so much!!!!” I squealed.
“…I am beginning to suspect that it would be best for me to leave you to fend for yourself.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. It was just a joke. I apologize if it offended you in any which way shape or form.”
She was taken aback by my willingness to shift gears, and spent a moment with a brow cocked before finally heaving a sigh.
“I fail to understand how it is you get so carried away with your absurdities.”
“I’m just really happy and excited right now. We’re on a date, and we’ve even got a super Leila-made lunch in tow.”
I pulled out the package containing our meal and raised it up high in a display of elation.
“Your explanation alone suffices. You did not need to retrieve it to show it to me. I was present when she handed it to you.” She smiled wryly. “Calm yourself, Yuki, and focus on the journey. You are not a child.” She turned her eyes to our destination. “It would be best to pick up the pace. There is still some distance yet, and we will not reach it by lunch time if we refrain from accelerating.”
“Good point. I’mma hit the gas.”
I zoomed off without even waiting for her to respond.
“Wait, Yuki, that does not mean that you need to be in such a rush…” Her words, which were spoken in a gentle, motherly tone, were left behind in the wind as she picked up the pace and chased after me.
It took us about an hour to reach our destination, which lay on the other side of the mountain range that spanned throughout the Wicked Forest’s northern subregion. We were so close that I could see its shadow from the occasional break in the clouds.
“I think I see it!” I shouted excitedly.
“That you do,” agreed Lefi.
We pulled up, and upon rising through the clouds, laid our eyes on a magnificent plot of land, detached from any other, a plot of land surrounded by a sea of clouds, a lone isle amidst the great blue sky.
Even just a single glance was enough to get my heart pumping with passion and excitement. I balled my hands into fists, and shouted in amazement.
“Wow… Laputa is real! It was real all along!”
I just had to say it, okay? Don’t judge me.
“Laputa… Laputa… was that not the name of the castle in the sky from the tale you once told us?”
“I’m surprised you still remember it.”
“It was an interesting tale. I will not be forgetting it so soon.”
I had more or less baptized all the dungeon’s residents into becoming true blue Studio Ghibli cultists. It all stemmed from the kids asking me to tell them bedtime stories. I quickly ran out of fairy tales and had to resort to all sorts of random other stuff. I started by parrotting Ghibli, which proved extremely effective. They adored the stories, and I was able to get a lot of mileage out of them given their length. I told them a small section of a story each night, cut myself off, and then proclaimed that they would have to wait until next time in order to find out more. Man, Ghibli is awesome. Their stories can even touch the hearts of people that live in other worlds. Goddamn. Like, even Lefi still remembers Laputa. And if that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is. And yes, if you were wondering, I am in fact also using Disney material. That’s not all either. I’m even throwing in some anime stuff here and there.
“I started getting attacked the moment I got here last time,” I said, as I slowly approached. “Though I doubt anything is actually going to be trying to go after us with you here.”
“Naturally. I am quite fearsome, after all.”
“I know, right? You’re like insect repellent incarnate.”
“Insect repellent!?” She made the sort of face an electric mouse would upon being totally caught off guard.
“I gotta say, I really love it when you make that face.”
“I do not find myself pleased by that compliment, given the circumstances under which it was said,” she grumbled.
“Yeah, I know,” I chuckled heartily. “Anyway, what do you say we get to landing?”
“Stop that immediately, Yuki! Do not simply dismiss my displeasure with laughter!”