To Drakenstead — Part 6
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
“Wow… That’s a lot of bugs…”
“Mhm… They’re cute. And everywhere,” said Enne, telepathically.
Unlike me, no one else that lived in the dungeon seemed to have a particular aversion to insects. In fact, Enne in particular happened to love them. She’d told me on many occasions that she liked the way they wriggled about. And each time, I nodded along as to not discourage her from pursuing her interests, but in truth, I disagreed with every last fibre of my being.
I was fairly certain that the crew aboard the airship was more likely to share my opinion than my daughter’s, especially given the experience they were currently going through. Upon approaching, I realized that their craft had suffered much more damage than I’d initially thought. It was barely flying. One of the two blimp-like parts had a giant hole in it, and the other was the only one really keeping the whole thing afloat. Unfortunately, its frame wasn’t designed to be positioned half on its side, so a lot of the more delicate parts had started to break down and bend out of shape after being subjected to unexpected stress. I’m guessing that’s probably why stuff’s on fire. And that the huge flock of oversized ladybugs chewing on the hull isn’t really helping either.
Long story short, it was somehow staying afloat despite having been half dismantled in midair. Hmm… It’s looking pretty bad, but I think it should be able to keep flying if I get rid of all the monsters and somehow fix all the parts that are busted.
“Lefi, would you mind getting rid of some of the bugs while I do something real quick?”
“I do not mind. But what is it that you are planning?”
“Nothing special. Just a quick chat with the captain.”
I kicked myself through the air in search of the bridge. It’s probably somewhere near the front, right? Hmm… Oh, there it is!
After swerving around the front, I was able to locate a spacious cabin surrounded on nearly all sides by large glass panes. It was filled with all sorts of gauges and meters that I’d never seen before, as well as a series of speaking tubes that seemed to go here, there, and everywhere. All of these devices were gathered around a single helm that very much resembled that of a traditional ship.
Even that room was subject to attack. Monsters were swarming it and keeping all members of the crew busy. The guy at the helm was twisting and turning it from left to right over and over in a desperate attempt to keep the airship from crashing while also barking out a near continuous stream of orders to all sorts of different people. Captain found.
Though a single slash was all that I needed to deal with each bug, it still took me a whole minute to clear everything off the cabin. Once that was done, and the crew was in (slightly) less danger, I entered from a broken window.
“W-what!? A demon!?”
Several crew members swung their swords at me, but I repelled them with Enne.
“If you don’t want to die, then let me help!” I shouted at the top of my lungs to ensure that I would be heard over the noise, then transitioned into a slightly less loud voice as I directed a question at the captain. “Can you still fly if we repair the giant ass hole in your balloon?”
“You’re here to help!? Nonsense!” The captain scoffed. “You really think I’d trust something a demon says? What the hell are you really after!?”
“Look man, I don’t mind us shouting at each other until you figure out that I’m actually just here to help, but I’m pretty sure you don’t have the time for that. Either you let some suspicious ass demon lend a hand, or you all crash and burn. Take your pick.”
The sky sailors in the middle of attacking me froze up at the ultimatum. They backed off, just a bit, and looked to their captain for advice. He too was a bit confused, at least for a moment.
“J-just, who ar—”
“Does that really fucking matter right now? Goddammit. Hurry up and answer the fucking question. Can this thing fly if we close up the giant ass hole in its side!?”
Apparently, it took yelling at him to fix his rattled mind and put it back in the right place. His expression changed several times in a row, as if he were running a series of quick mental calculations, and then spoke in a much more confident tone.
“Yes. It can. The mages can keep us afloat if we manage to patch it up.”
“Do you still have all the shit you need to get it repaired?”
“We do, but there’s only one set of parts left. The monsters destroyed both our spares.”
Alright, perfect. Now I don’t have to resort to Operation Buy a Blue Tarp From the Catalog and Slap it Over the Hole. Don’t judge. Blue tarps are super useful. There’s a reason you see them all over every construction site. Anyway, point is, now I know what to do next.
“Alright, get some of your guys ready to do the repairs. I’ll do something about the monsters.”
“…” The captain adjusted his hat with a frown as he stared me down. “Can we really trust you?”
“Either you do, or you die!”
I didn’t bother waiting for a response. I jumped straight out the window I came through, spread my wings, and got straight to fulfilling my end of the promise. The first place I headed for was the ship’s underside, as I recalled it being one of the most heavily damaged, insect-flooded areas. Surprisingly, however, the number of bugs I had to squash while making my way over decreased drastically as I got closer and closer. Huh…? Where the hell did they all go? I swear there were as many insects on the ship’s belly as there were busted Tolmekian planes in the valley of the wind…
Another few dozen red-spotted beetles suddenly dropped to the ground while I contemplated the circumstances behind their mysterious disappearance, and in doing so, unraveled the mystery. Each ladybird had its head squashed in the exact same way, a telltale sign of Lefi’s work. She would almost always kill anything relatively soft and squishy in that exact same manner. Uhh… wow. That’s a high ass kill rate. It’s only been like five minutes since we each started doing our own thing, but there’s barely anything left here… Knowing her, she probably hasn’t even broken a sweat either.
I located and flew towards the dragon girl, who was apparently too busy casting to notice me. I took the opportunity to get right behind her and speak right into her ears to ensure that she could hear me over all the background noise.
“Hey, Lefi I’m ba—”
“Hyaah!?” She squeaked like a mouse, practically jumping out of her skin in the process.
“…Hyaah?” I repeated.
“D-do not suddenly whisper into my ear! It causes it to tickle!” she protested.
She seemed a bit embarrassed to have reacted the way she did. Her face was flushed, and she even placed a hand on the ear I’d stimulated for extra effect.
“Hmm… I see. So your ears are one of your weak points.”
This is like the nth one I’ve discovered. She’s got a whole bunch. Her tail, horns, and wings are all pretty sensitive too. I’m pretty sure her wings are the worst off but I’mma find a time to compare just to make sure.
“T-there are few who would not react similarly should an individual suddenly breathe into their ears!”
“…Hyaah.” I imitated, in a deadpan tone, both the squeal and the startled movement accompanying it.
“Do not tease me when you are no better, you imbecile!” she huffed.
“Hyaah!?” This time, I even threw in her tone.
“C-curse you! I will not forgive you for this. You shall be tickled until you no longer draw breath!”
She dug her fingers into my sides and started wiggling them back and forth.
“Okay okay, my bad,” I said between laughs. “I won’t do it anymore.”
The dragon wasn’t satisfied with just that. She countered my attempt to escape by holding me down, and then followed up the attack by breathing into my ears. We likely would’ve continued to be distracted if Enne hadn’t sent us a telepathic sigh of exasperation.
“We’re supposed to help. With squishing bugs.”
Oh yeah… Both Lefi and I calmed down and cleared our throats shortly after being admonished.
“R-right. Some of the guys aboard the ship are supposed to stop by and repair stuff once we get rid of all the bugs, so let’s hop to it. You get the ones near the blimp. I’ll head over there,” I said, as I pointed to a large cluster of bugs.
“V-very well. I shall continue to exterminate any that I discover.”
In order to avoid any more judgement from Enne, who was giving us the telepathic equivalent of a silent glare, we split up and began attending to our respective duties.