The Road to Baachsburg — Part 1
“Alright everyone, say hi. These nice people are going to be the ones ferrying us over to the demon realm.”
“Hi guys! Thank you so much!” said Illuna.
“Thank you!” said Shii.
“Thanks,” said Enne.
Though unable to speak, the wraith girls also demonstrated their gratitude by bowing all at once.
“You’re very welcome. You’re a little more… unique than I was expecting, but definitely quite the charming collection of young ladies.”
At the colonel’s signal, the Elren men all straightened their backs and saluted in sync.
“Wow! This is my first time ever seeing an army! Soldiers are so cool!”
Not all the men were able to maintain their composure in the face of Illuna’s raw innocence. Some had their faces twitch, while others gave up and simply smiled. Yup. Can’t blame ’em. I 100% know exactly where they’re coming from. The kids are way too adorable for anyone to keep a straight face.
We were in Alfyro, the Allysian city that I so often visited. Actually I guess in isn’t exactly the right term. To be more precise, we were standing in a large field just outside the city’s walls. The Elrens had come all the way to the kingdom, just to pick us up. It was certainly a courtesy to be appreciated.
“Alright, Colonel. We’ll be in your hands for the next few days. As I’m sure you can see, there are kinda a bunch of kids. We’ll try to keep it down, but sorry in advance if things start to get a bit too rowdy.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” he said. “I do just want to ask you one thing though. Are the floating, transparent kids wraiths?”
“Wow, you know your stuff. Almost can’t believe you figured it out at a glance.”
“How do I put this… they’re awfully adorable and easygoing, for wraiths. Honestly, I’ve got no idea what the blue one is. Don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like her before.”
“Yeah, they’re all pretty cute, my pride and joy really. They all know better than to do any harm, so don’t worry about all the stuff you normally hear about wraiths wanting to kill everything. They pretty much behave exactly how they look.”
“…This conversation is really driving your demon lord status home.”
He flashed a bit of a wry smile before turning to the older group.
“Good evening, Madams. I am Genoss, a colonel in service to the Elren Union. We owe Yuki our lives, and though I’m not sure if it will function as the most refined method of repayment, we wish to provide you with the best on-board service we can possibly offer, throughout the duration of this trip. Please, by all means, let me know if there is anything that you require.”
“Your concern is well appreciated,” said Lefi, on our behalf. “We shall entrust ourselves to your care. But know that this exchange is not one way. It is as you have discussed, with Yuki. Seek us if there lurks any danger on the horizon. We shall ensure this trip’s safety.”
With a few brief greetings exchanged, the colonel showed us onto the ship.
“Wow! So this is what it looks like on the inside? I’m super excited!” said Illuna.
“Wow! It’s like a castle!” said Shii.
“Mhm. It’s exciting,” agreed Enne.
The girls looked around the ship with their spirits soaring. Not a single one of them was without a sense of wonder.
The wraith girls were a bit fidgety because they wanted to fly around the space, but I’d asked them to sit still for the time being, just because I didn’t want to cause any trouble or inconvenience for the soldiers. Might be better to make them possess their dolls too.
As far as I was concerned, the kids’ excitement was entirely warranted. It was my third time on the ship, and I was still feeling pretty worked up. For the dungeon’s resident children, the whole experience may as well have been like visiting an amusement park.
“Hey Colonel, is it just me, or does this thing look a lot less military-like than the last one I was on?”
“This model is more of a cruise ship than it is a piece of military technology,” explained the colonel. “King Phynar was more interested in the use of an airship as a means of transport than a military implement, and wished for one of these. Its top speed is significantly lower than the military model, but it has a higher capacity and is more comfortable.”
The other ship’s interior had been more or less barebones. This one was clearly well furnished. Most of the pipes were hidden away behind various walls, the hallways were significantly wider, and the floor covered with a nice looking carpet. They had even installed lights everywhere, as if to make it more comfortable for passengers. The bright environment was much less stressful and much more relaxing than the darker one that the other ship had featured.
“Wow, not to parrot Illuna, but this is really exciting,” said Nell, as she looked around.
“It almost doesn’t look like it’s possible for somethin’ this big to get up in the air and start flyin’. Humans sure do know how to make some real nifty things,” said Lyuu.
“Indeed. They are a race with dextrous fingers above all,” said Lefi.
“I wonder… What principle does this vessel operate on? I assume that the movement is based primarily on magic, but I doubt that alone is enough to suffice given the mass and subsequent volume of the aircraft. That ovular piece must be helping it stay afloat…”
Like the kids, the adults were also excitedly talking amongst themselves. One of us had gone all the way off the deep end. Yeah, uh… I’m just going to pray she doesn’t try to pry any classified information out of them.
As could be inferred by her presence, Nell had managed to secure the time off she needed to come along with us. There was only one caveat. She was going to need to see Phynar at some point for a quick conversation. The man in question had camped out in the empire for quite some time, but he had recently returned to the demon realm, a good indication that things in Rogarde had started to calm down.
“We were thinking of departing shortly, but would you like a tour of the ship as we go about the process?” asked the colonel.
“That sounds like a great idea. I’m sure the kids would love it,” I said.
“Right this way then,” he said with a light chuckle.
The first place he brought us to was the ship’s bridge. Several soldiers were already standing by inside the room. They immediately gathered and saluted as the captain walked in, relaxing only when he gave the order. He grinned as he watched us look around the room in wonder before raising his voice and issuing a series of commands.
“Get ready for liftoff! Fire up the engines!”
His men went about a series of practiced motions, shortly after which the vessel groaned to life.
One momentary sense of weightlessness later, we found ourselves watching the environment slowly shrink as we rose into the air. Huh, it’s a lot quieter than the other one was. Maybe it’s because they did some soundproofing or something when they did all the furnishing.
A number of amazed “wows” echoed through the room as the girls looked outside the window.
“Is this what you guys see all the time?” said Nell, as she asked the two fliers in the room.
“Indeed it is, indeed it is,” said Lefi, with a laugh.
“I-I know this is comin’ real late but I can’t believe we’re really flyin’. We ain’t gonna suddenly fall out of the sky, are we?”
The warwolf’s anxiety prompted the captain to let loose a hearty laugh.
“Yuki bailed us out of the only crash we’ve ever experienced. With him here, I wouldn’t be worried, even in the case of another attack,” he said with an entertained smile. “Now, why don’t I show you to your rooms?”
Seems like this trip is gonna be fun. Thanks cap’n. A big part of that’s on you.