To Drakenstead — Part 7
“I can’t believe it…! You really did get rid of all those monsters for us!” A man that looked to be some sort of engineer climbed out of one of the ship’s hatches soon after Lefi and I removed all of the ladybugs. He seemed to be weighed down rather significantly by all the parts and pieces of equipment he had strapped to his back. “And here I thought all demons were out to get us. Thanks, man. We owe you one!”
“Oh, hey! No problem!” I returned his greeting with an equally loud shout. Naturally, it wasn’t like we wanted to scream at each other. Shouting was the only option if we wanted to hear each other over the screeching wind. “I think we’re just about done out here! Did any get inside!?”
Asking was just a formality. My enemy detection skill had already informed me that the ship’s interior had been compromised.
“Yeah! Some of the guys are holding them off right now, but I’m not sure they’ll last! Can you head over and give ‘em a hand!?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there in a second!”
I wanted to ask Lefi to help out, but I suspected that she was far too clumsy to work within a delicate piece of machinery. Chances were, she was going to mess up, accidentally break something important, and critically damage the vessel. Bringing Enne along was also likely to result in the airship reaching an untimely end. I wasn’t going to be able to swing her around because she was both too long and sharp for the narrow corridors. Yeah, I’d rather not be the cause of the crash, so they’ll just have to stay put.
“I’m heading inside. Can you two stay out here to make sure no other bugs approach?”
“I do not mind,” said Lefi, as she took Enne from me. “I have not attempted to wield your blade in some time, Enne. It bears quite the pleasant heft.”
“Mmrrrphh…” Enne pouted, telepathically. “I’m not heavy.”
“No, you certainly are not. I apologize,” said Lefi, with a light chuckle.
Not gonna lie Enne, I think you’re pretty heavy too… Their conversation taught me an important lesson. Contrary to my expectations, Enne was rather concerned about her weight. I guess she is a girl, after all. I better be a bit more careful about what I say.
While contemplating the intricacies of the female heart, I entered the hatch that the mechanic had used and began navigating my way through the airship’s interior.
The not-blimp’s insides were lined with all sorts of different pipes. Valves and meters whose purpose I didn’t fully grasp were literally everywhere. My initial impression was actually that it wasn’t really otherworldly at all, but the history nerd in me soon recalled that human designs had the tendency to be convergent. Many of the ancient civilizations in my old world had ended up creating similar structures even in spite of a complete lack of contact. I guess all this really means is that the trend transcends worlds.
Walking around the ship all but confirmed the suspicion that it was an instrument of war. It was far too unfurnished for it to be viable for commercial use; passenger crafts wouldn’t have their pipes exposed.
“Looks like I found them.”
Following my enemy detection skill eventually led me to the ten-odd monsters that had boarded the aircraft. The oversized ladybugs were causing more than their fair share of trouble. Their advance was accompanied by wanton destruction. They had broken a plethora of different instruments and devices as they swarmed their way throughout the narrow corridors.
Though the crew members were doing their best to resist, they weren’t exactly making any progress. In fact, the bugs were thinning them out and slowly winning a battle of attrition without really taking any significant damage. This really begs the question of how they ended up getting into this situation in the first place. Did they bomb the bugs’ hive or something? …Or could it be that there really is some sort of evil sorcerer controlling them? Note to self: Ask the captain once everything’s dead.
“The third unit’s done for! We can’t hold on any longer, we’ve taken too many losses!”
“Shit! Have the wounded that can still move grab those that can’t and retreat! Everyone else, you’re staying with me! We can’t let them get any further, even if it costs us our lives!”
I slipped past their formation, and after equipping a pair of brass knuckles, began punching the ladybugs in the face. The fist-based weapons were ones I’d crafted a while back, and analyzing them yielded the following results:
Description: A pair of brass knuckles crafted by a Demon Lord named Yuki. These deadly fist-loaded weapons aid their wielder in seizing victory through the application of pure, unadulterated force.
The fist weapons were made of ever reliable adamantite. That was the only reason that the long, thin blade extending from the final finger slot was durable enough to see use in actual combat. It likely would have broken the moment I tried slashing anything with it if it was made of a more brittle material. And you know what the best part is? Enne doesn’t actually sulk when I use knives and whatnot since they’re too small to compete with her. And that’s the part that really matters.
Unlike Nell, I wasn’t all that well versed in the martial arts, so I couldn’t actually combine slashing attacks with traditional punches all that well. If anything, the knife was more of a decorative piece. So you might be wondering: Yuki, what the fuck? Why would you bother putting a knife on the damned thing if you’re not going to use it? Well, kiddo, the answer to that is that the knife makes it more badass. Duh.
“You aren’t stopping me with your weakass armour!”
Naturally, the first thing to do upon equipping a fist-based weapon was to punch one’s enemies, so I ran straight up to one of the bugs using its shell to repel the sky sailors’ blades and slugged it right in the face. Like Echo of Destruction, the mace that I’d used to conquer the dungeon near Poezahr, Crusher’s Claws happened to feature a magical circuit capable of creating an explosion on hit—which I’d activated. The result? Bug guts. Everywhere. Eugh… Gross.
I didn’t exactly like getting their remains all over me, but I ended up following through and blowing up bug after bug regardless. The combination of the overtuned weapon and my inhuman strength stat made eliminating them completely and utterly trivial. Heh. Might as well start calling me the King of Fists. There’s nothing these hands of mine can’t destroy!
One of the bugs in a nearby room popped out of the doorway and ambushed me in an attempt to take me down, but to no avail. I saw it coming from a mile away and impaled its face in midair with a backwards sweep of the hand.
Wait a second… the knife’s not coming out! The stupid bug is stuck to my hand! I even grabbed the insect and pulled, but to no avail. Goddammit! Why did I make this thing all jagged and swordbreaker like!? Ughh… So much regret.
“Time out! I need a moment!”
Unfortunately, the insects that had joined me in the ring didn’t have any respect for the rules. They continued attacking head on even though I really needed a moment to work through my technical difficulties.
“Hey! Woah! Stop that! Stop getting carried away just because I’m trying to get your friend’s face off my hand!”
I shouted at—and punched—any of the ladybugs that got too close while trying to remove the one stuck to my weapon, but I eventually ended up dismissing the idea and accepting the status quo as the way that things were simply going to be. Fuck it. It’s not like this is stopping me from punching them.
Following through on the thought led to quite a bit of ship damage. The monster that was quite literally attached to my arm crushed all sorts of different tubes and valves as I swung it at and through its peers. My bad… but I at least tried to avoid damaging anything that looked too important, so it’s not like this is the worst way things could’ve turned out. Right?
“Who the hell is that!? Which unit is he from!?” shouted one of the crew members.
“None, I think!” responded a slightly more important looking one. “The captain sent an order saying not to attack the demon on board, since he’s here to help.”
“What!? A demon!? Are you sure?”
“Think so. I even double checked, and he said that he meant exactly what I heard…”
I’d retracted my wings in order to make it easier for me to move around in the airship’s narrow corridors, so it was difficult if not impossible for the crew members to determine that I wasn’t human at a glance.
My arrival had actually confused them so much that they ended up freezing up. Some had even lowered their weapons. Oh well, works for me. Means I don’t have to worry about friendly fire, which isn’t exactly something I would’ve casually let them off with. Even if it was accidental.
“Alright, that’s everything in sight.” I closed my eyes to focus for a moment. “And my enemy detection skill isn’t picking up anything either. I guess I’m done.”
I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief. The whole process had taken far longer than I’d expected. Clearing out all the stragglers had, much to my dismay, involved checking every single one of the massive ship’s corners, nooks, and crannies.
“I… errr… Thanks. We owe you one.”
The captain entered the final insect infested room shortly after I wrapped up. He took off his hat, pressed it to his chest, and began to awkwardly but dutifully bow, but I stopped him with a wave of the hand.
“Don’t worry about it. I only showed up ‘cause my daughter was asking me to help.”
“Yeah, don’t worry about it.”
We had somehow done enough, through our combined efforts, to stop the airship from falling out of the sky. Nothing was on fire anymore, and it seemed all was stable. But that said, the incident wasn’t over just yet. The crew was still running around and working on damage control.
“So how the hell did you guys end up in that kinda situation anyway?” I crossed my arms. “Because that was an assload of monsters.”
The oddest part about the whole scenario was that they kept attacking even in Lefi’s presence. They seemed to prioritize taking down the ship over their fear of her overwhelming presence. And that isn’t the type of thing that happens without a reason…
“We weren’t doing anything particularly out of the ordinary, just flying our usual route,” replied the captain while scrunching up his brow. “It was probably an attack orchestrated by another country.”
“There are countries capable of ordering monsters around?”
“Just one. As far as we know, it’s this place to the south of here, the Rogarde Empire. Sending waves of monsters at their enemies seems to be one of their favorite tactics.” The captain sighed. “We don’t have any evidence that it’s really them, or have any real clues as to how they do it, but it’s probably either some kind of skill, spell, or tech…”
It doesn’t seem like he’s randomly pointing fingers, so he’s probably got some sort of intel clueing him in. Hmm…
“Is there any particular reason they might be targeting this ship?” I asked. “Oh, and no pressure. You don’t need to tell me jack shit if it’s confidential.”
“I do have a guess or two I can tell you,” he said. “They’re probably after the ship itself. This thing is crammed full of brand new, leading-edge tech. If they take it down, they can investigate its crash site and maybe even salvage enough of it to figure out how it works without having to invent something similar from the ground up.”
I see, I see… So it’s not the cargo, but the ship itself. Man, this world is rough. It seems like everyone and their mother is at war. Though, now that I think about it, I guess my old world was kinda like that too, in the past.
“So what brought you here?” asked the captain.
“Oh, you know, just some homecoming stuff. Nothing too special,” I explained. “We were originally planning on staying as far away from other people as possible so we wouldn’t bother or be bothered by anyone, but we figured we should probably help when we noticed that your ship was literally on fire. It probably would’ve weighed on my conscience if we just left you for dead.”
Though I’d made myself out to be a good samaritan, I was fully aware that I probably would’ve just ignored their dilemma if not for Enne. Getting involved with random people you know nothing about isn’t exactly always the best choice, after all.
“That’s… fortunate. If not for you, this ship and everyone aboard it would be in the middle of a giant flaming hole right about now.” The captain frowned. “Our country isn’t one that’s really ever viewed demons in a good light, but trust me when I say we’ll never forget what you did for us today.”
“No worries man. Just think of this whole thing as a stroke of luck.” I laughed it off. “Next time, though, you guys might want to figure out a way to get rid of the monsters before they get too close.”
“Agreed. Having a piece of military tech fly around without any defenses was a worse idea than I thought. We’ll either have to get the dragon knights to escort us or install something on the ship itself…” He stroked his beard as he began mulling over the possibilities in his head.
“Hahaha, alright, sounds good. Anyway, I really enjoyed running around the ship and whatnot, but it’s probably time for me to buzz off and let you guys get back to work.”
“You’re leaving already? I was hoping to show you a bit more hospitality first.”
“I appreciate the thought, and it’s true that we’re not exactly in the biggest rush ever, but we’ve still got places to be,” I said. “How about I take you guys up on that whole hospitality idea when you start branching into making stuff for the general public? And preferably on something that isn’t on fire during the boarding process.”
“Sure,” he chuckled. “In that case, I’d at least like you to have this.”
He handed me a beautifully ornamented medal with its center made of what looked to be pure silver. Seems pretty valuable.
“You can use it as a piece of ID next time you visit us.”
“But isn’t this the type of thing you get for military service or whatever? You sure it’s okay for you to just hand it to some random dude?”
“It certainly is a rather valuable item, but what you did today is normally worthy of a reward from the country itself. I regret not being able to offer anything better.”
“It’s good enough for me. I’d rather be kept out of anything to do with governments and whatnot. I’ll definitely put it to good use if I ever end up coming here for vacation,” I said.
“Please do. Let’s share a drink the next time we see each other.”
“Yeah. See ya dude.”
“Goodbye. And again, thank you.”
I gave the captain, who was bowing deeply, one last glance before placing the medal in my inventory and jumping out of the ship.
“Was there a princess?” asked Enne, telepathically, as I returned.
“Unfortunately not. The ship was full of nothing but big buff dudes.”
“Too bad. What about an evil sorcerer?”
“Hmmm… maybe. The captain mentioned that it’s possible that the monsters were under some evil sorcerer’s control.”
“Then I’ll get rid of him. As the daughter of the Demon Lord of Justice.”
“Sounds like a plan. All baddies have gotta go down some day,” I said.
Lefi glided over and began speaking in a whisper.
“It may be time to inform the children that the average demon lord is little if not evil.”
“Trust me, I’ve tried,” I whispered back. “But they keep saying that it’s not possible for demon lords to be evil because I’m not. I’m happy they trust me so much, but I’m starting to get a bit worried too…”
“It is true. You are no prime evil. Your wickedness is more akin to that of an insignificant scoundrel’s.”
She started raising her voice, and I did too.
“So what does that make you? I’d just like to point out that you’re the one who chose to marry this ‘insignificant scoundrel.’”
“…I suppose I must rescind the statement. You are not an insignificant scoundrel, but one renowned throughout the lands.”
“Heh. You’re right! I’m Yuki, the greatest rogue to have ever been born, the Demon Lord of Malice whose destiny is to destroy this very world!”
“As your mate, I too shall seek to see this era to its end, for I am Leficios, the most devilish vixen that time shall ever know! All shall do well to prostrate themselves before us!”
“Hm? But that’s wrong. You two aren’t evil.”
Enne’s confused objection led the both of us to break into a fit of violent laughter.