So uh, here's a five chapter update xD
23. Iikubo Haruna
Going on deck was ridiculously refreshing. Gentle sun rays shone on the ship below, wistful clouds drifted by lazily, and the ocean breeze was calm; not too rough or too chilling. Haruna took in a deep breath of the sea and exhaled in relaxation. Ayaka had to poke her to bring her back down to reality.
"You didn't seem like a sea person from my first impression."
"I didn't think so either; it's my first time on a ship..." She didn't count the earlier slave transport ship as a first. She couldn't take in everything nor enjoy the view like this... Not when she was in chains and cramped up with the others in the brig. She stretched her arms out. Yes, this was far more enjoyable.
The ship seemed so much smaller on the outside. It had a bit of clutter due to the various supplies and crates lying around. The Dschinghis Khan had a foremast and mainmast, all bearing beige sails and rope shrouds, but compared to the ships she saw at the harbor, these weren't very tall. She looked behind her to find what appeared to be the entrance to the captain’s quarters, with stairs flanking each side. She could only assume that the ship's wheel was at the top.
"An old ship, but the captain kept her in prime condition for 50 years and she's still running well."
"Is the captain human or a demon?" Haruna turned to look at the other woman.
"The captain? You know... I never did ask her..." Ayaka stroked the sides of her face as if she had a beard. "I discussed this with the other human members, but we think she could be an unbirthed demon... That does tend to be a sensitive issue though, so we never bring it up."
Ayaka was right, unbirthed demons were a really touchy subject. When someone was an unbirthed demon, that meant they gave up their humanity in some way. As far as she knew, demons who exist by birth had a disdain for such folk because they were tainted and impure-- which was ironic considering the malicious nature of demons. They were the lowest of the low and they could never find refuge in humankind nor their own demonkind. Unbirthed demons were put on the same hierarchical level as feral monsters who saw no reason or sentient.
Now, she wondered about this captain. If this captain managed a crew where demons and humans co-existed peacefully, then she couldn't be that bad... "I take it you figured this because she doesn't age? Is that it?"
"I guess so..." Ayaka sat down on the steps, "Yuka and I were still kids when the Captain took us in. Hadn't aged a day since meeting her."
"I see..." Haruna leaned against the stair railing. "Will she be okay with a straggler like me around?"
"Well, our routine plan for survivors was to drop them back off where they wanted to be. Did you have a location in particular?"
Well, she could go back to the village from whence she came... But she was worried about everyone else. Ayumi and Duu were lost in the wreckage after that white.... creature attacked. She had to find her friends. If there were any hints to go by of their location, Ayumi mentioned Okinawa... Maybe she could ask the Captain to change course?
"I know you all seem to be headed north, but is it possible to turn around and head towards Okinawa?"
"Okinawa? Hmm..." Ayaka thought to herself. "I mean, given our position, we could probably make it in a few days if we avoid certain currents. We're pretty low on supplies though, we didn't salvage too many things off of the shipwreck we found you in. What in the world happened though? We were pretty sure more than two ships were involved, but I can't imagine the destruction being caused by them attacking each other..."
"To be honest, I'm not even sure what was happening..." Haruna had a headache just recalling her hazy memories. "I think we were attacked by pirates, then something huge and white destroyed everything else. Next thing you know, I was thrown into the water and knocked out."
"Do you recall their flag at all? The pirates?"
"No, why do you ask?"
"It could have been someone we knew. I don't know if you noticed by our insignia, but we're also pirates."
Well that was certainly a revelation.
So not only was this ship captained by an unbirthed demon with a crew of demons and humans, but they were pirates on top of that? She couldn’t believe it. Why were these pirates so nice?
"As scary as we sound, we're not as evil as people paint us to be."
It wasn't too hard to believe that, she was talking to someone who had a certain obsession with Buddha statues after all.
"Might I ask the origin story of this crew then?" Haruna sat down on the stairs with Ayaka.
"As far as I know, Captain and her first and second in command started it. I don't really know much from there. We don't really ask about things, never had a need to. We're sort of a dysfunctional bunch, if anything. Bunch of humans traveling with demons...Unheard of, right?" Ayaka smiled to herself; a sight Haruna wouldn't mind seeing more often. She couldn't help but smile along.
"How did your crew manage that peace? Who was that earlier? Kanon-san was it? She seemed... fiery." Haruna was not sure how to address the demon when she didn't know her.
"Oh, she and Natsuyaki-san butt heads a lot. The captain could always separate them though. Honestly if there are any fights, the captain will be able to solve it in a minute."
"Your captain sounds strong," Haruna leaned her head against the rail, staring at the other woman with a small smile.
"Well, because the captain is ridiculously cool!" Ayaka chuckled, "she's such a hardworking person. And she's powerful too. You'd be a fool to defy her!"
Haruna could tell that Ayaka had a lot of admiration for the captain. If she kept hyping the captain up like that, she'd be too intimidated to speak with her later!
The doors to the captain's quarters opened and Haruna felt like the gods were putting her to the test now.
Out came a narrow-faced lady with hair the color of sand. At the sight of the light brown horns, Haruna knew this was not the captain. The horns looked to be two-pronged and had rounded ends, meaning this could be a mountain dragon. At this, Haruna couldn't help but stare at awe.
The captain employed a mountain dragon onto the crew?
She had a loosely fitted yukata top and short trousers ending at her knees. Upon a closer inspection, the top was so loose that Haruna could see a trail of skin meet right at the belt. However...
A comrade... Haruna couldn't help but think as she looked at the dragon's chest. I have a comrade on this ship...
As if telepathic, the dragon looked at her, causing Haruna to pull back in intimidation.
"Who are you?" the pirate dragon asked, crossing her arms.
"I-Iikubo Haruna," she nearly stuttered. She felt like she was burning under the dragon's gaze!
"She's a survivor, Natsuyaki-san!" Ayaka placed her hands on Haruna's shoulders. "She woke up not too long ago!"
Natsuyaki-san looked at Haruna up and down before resting her eyes on a certain spot. As if a switch was flipped, she was immediately all smiles and sauntered over to the unsuspecting human. "You're going to fit in great here!" the dragon wrapped an arm around Haruna. "We're all family here! Help yourself to anything! If you have questions, just ask away!"
"O-oh..." Haruna uttered weakly.
Did she just... stare at my chest?
A true comrade...
“So where are you from? Are ya nearby?” Natsuyaki-san inquired, staring at the other woman intently. Haruna couldn’t help but feel intimidated by the other’s bright eyes. Were they gleaming white? Silver? Beige? She couldn’t tell. They were just so shiny!
It suddenly dawned on her that she was face to face with a dragon. She was looking at a fearsome mythical being that could literally tear her into pieces any minute. The thought would have overwhelmed her if it weren’t for Ayaka pulling her away from the dragon.
“Seriously, you’re overwhelming our guest!” Ayaka scolded. “And you haven’t even introduced yourself yet!”
The dragon blinked. It took a moment, but suddenly the dragon perked up, eyes widened and mouth agape, “OH!!”
“Silly…” Ayaka shook her head.
“I’m Natsuyaki Miyabi. I’m the First Mate of the Dschinghis Khan. Basically if the Captain isn’t around, then I’m the go-to person for what to do.”
“So, where did you come from? We’ll do our best to accommodate you on your way back. Though if it’s a bit on the farther side, we’ll have to stop and resupply ourselves but either way, you’ll be home!”
“Home isn’t exactly what I’m aiming for at the moment…” If the captain was not busy, then the first mate should suffice, right? “I got separated from my friends a while back but we planned for Okinawa as our meeting point should things go wrong… I know we’re all headed north but is there any possible way for us to turn around?” Haruna clasped her hands together and pleaded.
Taken off guard, Natsuyaki-san pulled her head back and raised a confused brow. “Well, this certainly wasn’t expected.”
“I’m sorry,” Haruna looked away, she knew it was futile.
“No no, we’re just so used to taking people to their home immediately. I guess that’s not important in this case, am I right?”
“What’s in Okinawa?” came a small voice. Haruna had to look around before her eyes settled on a small figure besides Miyabi.
Cute… Haruna secretly cooed as a petite lady stepped aside. The newcomer had a rosary necklace with ridiculously huge beads which threatened to consume her entire torso. Her mellow face was adorned with an eyepatch and a fluffy dark fringe. Although tied up, her curly, wavy hair found wild ways to stand out. She had a similar garb to Natsuyaki-san’s, but with one arm nestled close to her body and laid across her obi like a sling. The robe hung casually from her shoulder, sleeve wafting aimlessly in the breeze. She noticed a hint of a mesh shirt underneath the robe. Was she a ninja?
“O-oh, I’m Iikubo Haruna, thank you for having me.” What a silly error, she almost forgot to introduce herself! She bowed profusely at the other person.
“Shimizu Saki,” the other returned the bow with a nod of the head. “I am the Captain of this ship.”
SHE IS THE CAPTAIN?! Haruna screamed internally. This is the person who can tame demons? Haruna focused on the captain’s face, listening intently.
“As you might have heard, we’re headed north to replenish supplies,” the captain spoke with a certain regal tone, though Haruna had to pay extra attention to hear her, “We could definitely turn the ship around if we had guarantee of a friendly port, but I’m pretty sure none of us are stationed there at the moment.”
“Ah, so there’s no way to turn around, is there…?”
“We’re really low on supplies, I’m afraid we’ll have to put aside your request for now,” the captain shook her head.
Haruna honestly had no idea what was waiting at Okinawa for her either. What if her friends had already gone there and went elsewhere? If she was the first one there, that was another matter altogether, but if they never show up… For the time being, she needed to stick with friendly people. If anything, she could simply return to the village of whence she came and play the waiting game.
She felt a hand on her wrist and she turned to find Ayaka with an apologetic face. With a sigh, she sat. “It’s fine, but thank you for doing all that you could. You are kind, Captain.”
Being at a lower height, Haruna noticed something peculiar about the hand resting at the Captain’s waist. It was pure black and had a certain gloss about it… Before she could stare at it further, the captain walked away with Natsuyaki-san following after her.
“I saw what you were looking at,” Ayaka said aloud.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Haruna feigned ignorance.
“It’s a false hand.”
That certainly answered a question.
“Being someone near the top of a black market of information, you get a lot of people aiming for your head. Captain’s said that any lost limb she has was a result of being caught by the wrong people. No hand, no eye… I shudder to think if any other part of her is missing.”
Haruna became nervous. If the Captain was a high profile target for anyone good or bad, she might not be so safe with them, right?
“Well, the last time Captain was caught was over 50 years ago, she’s gotten a lot stronger since then. I doubt anyone could lay a finger on her now. She’s so cool!” Ayaka gushed, eyes suddenly filled with admiration.
Haruna’s eyes wandered over to the Captain, having a conversation with the mountain dragon at the railing. The captain looked so mellow and casual about everything that she wouldn’t think of her as anything but a highly sought out informant. She looked so human too! She could sense the charisma required for maintaining a vastly diverse crew. She felt guilty for thinking that she wouldn’t be safe in the hands (or well, hand?) of the Captain.
Speaking of the devil, the captain was walking towards them!
“Do you have any combat experience whatsoever?”
Haruna blinked. “Pardon?”
“Do you know how to fight at all?”
“Unfortunately, no…” Haruna was getting scared now.
“Ah, you might need to stay below then.”
“What’s going on?” Ayaka asked.
Natsuyaki-san answered. “There’s a ship headed our way. What’s more, it looks like a prisoner cargo ship. We might have a nasty fight on our hands if they think they have enough oomph to take us too.”
“No, I know who they’re holding in there,” the Captain looked over, probably at the direction of the ship.
“…Who? It’s just one person?” Haruna was astounded. A prisoner ship with only one prisoner in it could only mean one thing: this was a highly dangerous criminal.
“I got word a while back that they’re moving a high value prisoner towards the south. I didn’t know we would inadvertently take the same route.”
“Do you know who the prisoner is?” Ayaka inquired.
“I’ve only heard something about this prisoner being a particularly sadistic red ogre who has destroyed many villages.”
“Oh yikes, ogres that are red aren’t good,” Ayaka scratched the back of her head.
“Oh yikes, someone who is sadistic isn’t good… You know what will happen if Karin comes in contact with someone like that,” Natsuyaki-san sounded exasperated. The other two groaned in unison at their realization.
Was there something Haruna didn’t understand?
“Anyway…” Ayaka stood up and pulled Haruna with her, “Let’s put you somewhere safe, shall we?”
“What would happen to Karin if she were to meet a sadist?” She had to know!
“That is an answer you really don’t want to know.”
24. Kudou Haruka
They landed with a loud thud and sand dispersed in all directions. She immediately rolled away hurriedly from the dragon’s grasp; she had to cough out sand! “Couldn’t you stick a better landing?!”
“The landing was rough, I apologize,” Suzuki-san said as she gathered sand and made a tiny mound, sticking her fingers in.
“What an insincere response!” Duu pointed an accusatory finger at the demon playing in the sand. “Are we finally at Okinawa though?”
The dragon stood up and took a good sniff of the air. “Yes. My mother is on this island. I’d imagine she is headed for our location as we speak. She should be able to sense my presence and look for me.”
“Alright, cool cool…” To be honest, she was still scared of meeting Suzuki-san’s mother. What if she was just as much of an airhead like her daughter? Heaven forbid that her mother also spoke in puns or worse, speak in something just as stupid…like palindromes or something.
“Your mother isn’t… punny like you, is she?”
“If only she shared my passion of puns,” Suzuki-san yearned wistfully, dramatically fanning herself. “I’m like a theater of puns, it’s just a play on words.”
“Thank goodness she’s not a pun lord like you.” She’ll pretend to ignore the theater pun. Maybe Suzuki-san won’t notice.
“Though, she did tell me she had a palindrome phase once…”
“Dammit!” Duu kicked the sand angrily.
“Did you know that Dammit, I’m mad backwards is Dammit, I’m mad?”
“Oh gods no, don’t YOU start with the palindromes too! I swear if you do both at the same time…”
Suzuki-san looked at her expectantly.
“I swear to the gods, if you do it…!” Duu tensed up.
Suzuki-san tilted her head, still staring.
“Don’t you dare do it!”
“…Avid diva,” Suzuki-san said, pointing at Duu.
“DAMMIT!” Duu threw herself backwards onto the sand. “I’m done. I have lost all will to go on. I’m stuck with a dragon who just puns and puns and puns and puns…”
“I understand how rough it is to deal with me, but don’t be too salty!” Suzuki-san laughed as she pulled Duu back up her feet by the scruff of her collar. “After all, we’re finally at our destination, yes?”
She had to admit, she was happy that they were finally here. Now, she just had to figure out where her friends were. What would a cat demon do in Okinawa? Wait, did this mean… She would finally be free from the demon?
“Oh gods above, I don’t have to stick with this demon anymore!” Duu began running forward. She got to where she needed to go. She didn’t need Suzuki-san’s help anymore. She was free. She was as free as a bird! She was free as—
Duu smacked into something and landed backwards. “Owwww…” She sat back up, rubbing at her forehead. She opened her eyes looking at the sight in front of her. A blue wall? She looked up slowly. This blue wall was turning into a blue bumpy column. She blinked.
It was a gigantic blue claw attached to a crab so big her eyes couldn’t see the top. All of a sudden she felt very puny. She was an ant compared to this thing!
“Wow.” Suzuki-san came up to the crab claw, inspecting it. “When she said she was hunting exotic game, I didn’t expect them to be this strange.” She knocked on the claw with the back of her gauntlet.
“I-it echoed…” That meant the meat was gone? Were they about to go face to face with something that…ATE the crab!?
“Mother probably ate it. She does like eating anything and everything.” Duu gave Airi an exasperated look. “What’s got you so crabby?”
“What kind of person is your mother?!”
“One with a taste for battle. If there’s no war, then there’s the hunt. She definitely enjoys training into infinity.” Suzuki-san chuckled, “Honestly, thanks to that she raised my sister and I to be the people that we are.”
“She raised a demon vegetarian and a punning lunatic from what I’m hearing,” Duu sighed. “And now I’m getting to meet… a foodie who likes to beat up her food?”
“A fabulous bunch, aren’t we? The humans gave us strange nicknames too… They call my sister the Cerulean Typhoon which is kinda funny because our official color is cyan, y’know?”
The Cerulean Typhoon..
“THE Cerulean Typhoon?! The one who caused a one month storm?! The one who sank 10 warships during the war?! The one who leveled a mountain with one punch?! The Cerulean Typhoon who turned in enough bounties to get into the shogun’s top 100 warriors?!”
“The Cerulean Typhoon is a storm dragon?”
“The Cerulean Typhoon is a vegetarian?”
“Yup, that’s my sister.”
“Whoa…” Duu laid back down. “Whoa…” she spread her hands flat on the ground. “Whoa…” She turned to the side, bringing her knees up into her body.
“You’re looking a little cerulean yourself. Feeling blue?”
“All this time… I’ve been traveling with a legend’s sister…”
“The humans gave me the nickname White Shock which is a pretty silly name to be honest. Who am I shocking? What is it about me that is so shock? It’s not like I’m the center of shock!! in any way, haha! Humans are interesting.”
“All this time… I’ve been traveling with a legend who has successfully shut down most slave operations and bandit encampments…”
“Mother’s nickname is the Gray Flash. My question is how is she gray if she flashes by? Do humans see color when we flash by? Such strange nicknames…”
“All this time…I’m about to meet a legend who turned the country on its head and revolutionized the way war is conducted…”
Seriously… She was being taught by the White Shock this entire time? She was even telling her about her bandit liberation quests earlier! It never occurred to her that she was THAT demon of legend! Just out of sheer curiosity, now she wanted to stick with that pun lord just to meet her mother!! Just exactly what kind of person is the Gray Flash?
“Oh!” a thought suddenly occurred. She sat back up and looked at the dragon, “what happened to your sister, the Typhoon? There was someone who attacked my village masquerading as her.”
“That’s honestly what I came here to find out,” Suzuki-san answered seriously, without a pun. “She’s been missing for five years now. It’s no surprise impersonators are popping up in her absence.”
Duu thought about the spider demon that had attacked her village. She should have known a person like the Typhoon wouldn’t be in alignment with bandits.
“Ah, her presence is getting closer. Shall we proceed with a walk?” the demon extended a hand towards Duu and she took it.
Duu was thinking a lot now. She was about to meet the Gray Flash. Honestly, nothing could prepare her for such a moment? What should she say? What should she do? She was sure she was going to just gawk and drool at her presence! The Gray Flash took out that gigantic blue crab they found!
Both Duu and Suzuki-san hunched down instinctively as a loud rumble resounded through the air. Following the sound, a significantly stronger than usual breeze picked up and blew dust at them.
“Wow, doesn’t my mother’s strength blow you away?”
“It must have been a breeze for her—DAMMIT now I’m starting to pun naturally, too! You’re horrible, Suzuki-san….”
A loud wail sounded in the air. Not even covering her ears could block out that shriek. She looked over to Suzuki-san who doubled over in pain. Having better hearing must have done a huge number on a dragon. Duu kept looking for the source of sound, but only saw palm trees all around her.
All of a sudden, it became really dark and she looked up. Something ridiculously huge was coming their way and her knees suddenly went weak. She was paralyzed. It was getting closer and she couldn’t move a muscle!
Duu collided with something soft, yet hard?! Her face was crushed by something soft while she felt her throat hit something hard like iron! She tried to cough at the impact, but whatever was suffocating her prevented her from doing so.
What was going on!? Her world was black, and her body was numb and what the hell did she collide with?! Was it that thing from the sky? Or was it something else entirely?!
Suddenly, she felt gravity shift and she fell backwards, out of the darkness and thrust back into blinding light. Sand was everywhere again and she struggled with finding decent air to breathe in. She felt a looming shadow tower over her and she struggled to open her eyes, afraid of the sand particles flying everywhere.
Were those the shadows of two mountains?
“AHHHHH!!!” Duu backed up right into a tree, mouth gaping.
In front of her was a supremely intimidating demon. All she wore were two sleeves with strong edges near the shoulders along with the most negligent and tiniest breast armor she’d ever seen. It was barely enough to cover the demon’s enormous assets and it revealed so much of their toned torso that Duu suddenly felt so ashamed of her own body. Instead of an obi, the demon wore a really thick rope that was tied into a huge butterfly knot in the back. The knot was so huge that it looked like wings! Following that were thigh armors and shorts. The newcomer wore greaves similar to Suzuki-san’s… and that’s when Duu realized that this person was holding a doubled over Suzuki-san with one arm.
“Y-You’re the G-Gray Flash!” Duu stammered nervously.
The Gray Flash’s eyes were a deep blue. Her features were spread out upon her canvas of a face. Suzuki-san also had that aspect about her, but her mother had it to a stronger degree. She had long, beachy dark hair which fell in several wet tresses.
“What of it?”
That low, charismatic voice sent shivers down Duu’s spine. She felt so much overwhelming power emanating from this demon! It was nothing compared to Suzuki-san’s!
Duu suddenly took in the scene before her. The sand had finally settled to reveal a huge, strange bird twitching right behind the mother and comatose daughter. It was brown and had a black face. The beak was incredibly long and rounded out towards the end. Duu was sure it would take four of her just to line the beak by itself!
Did the Gray Flash take that bird down all by herself?! Did the shriek come out of the bird’s dying maw?
Suzuki-san began to stir. Her mother set her on her feet and it was then Duu noticed the distinctive difference between their horns. Suzuki-san’s thick horns were just pointing backwards, but the Flash’s horns had three additional pointed throngs to them, thinning out the further back they went. That was definitely a sign of age difference between dragons.
“Mommy~!” Suzuki-san spread her arms out, “I came through Amami to see you, Momm—“
Her Mother squeezed her cheeks with a single well-maintained clawed hand before she could finish that sentence.
“Are you still doing that to me?”
“Language is such a precious thing, Mother. It’d be a sin not to fool around with it~!”
It was the first time Duu saw Suzuki-san so…formal. She was not as flippant as she usually was around her mother. So even someone like Suzuki-san had someone to answer to, Duu thought. That in itself was frightening beyond imagination.
“And who is this little one?” Vividly intense eyes settled on Duu, making her gulp in reaction.
“Lil’ Kudou!” Suzuki-san smiled widely. “She was shipwrecked a while back, but she reckoned that she needed to be here.”
Oh jeez, Duu forgot her manners! She must be the epitome of disrespect!
“I-I’m Kudou Haruka, it is a great honor to meet you!” Duu practically got on her knees to bow. She felt so tiny in the presence of two great dragons!
“A-ah! It is such an honor to meet Goto-dono!” Duu felt extremely overwhelmed that she thought she might catch on fire from the sheer awesome the elder dragon emitted.
“Did our collision knock a few nails from your head or something?”
Collision? All she remembered was something metal at her throat and soft at her face—DID SHE FREAKING COLLIDE WITH GOTO-DONO’S BREASTS?!
“I APOLOGIZE!!” Duu got on the ground to bow again. This person’s aura was scary as hell!
“What are you doing here?” Goto-dono turned to her daughter, treating Duu as part of the scenery. “Did you transform on your way here? Was that your dragon storm earlier?”
“No I did not, dear mother. That signature was someone of our lineage though…It was on the wild side, so perhaps Riho’s?”
“I’m being visited by Sayashi, too?” Goto-dono raised a brow. “Why is everyone interested in seeing me as of late? Next thing you know, her terribly affectionate baby sister will be on her tail as well.”
Riho? Duu knew a Riho, but that Riho was a cat, definitely not a dragon… And she could have sworn she saw her die from impalement...
Suzuki-san stared for a moment, “Did Neesan see you?”
“About five years ago, yes,” Goto-dono turned to inspect the bird. “This is a black faced spoonbill. I heard about their feathers having a constant regenerative effect…”
“I took down a grand blue earlier, I needed a new accent for my bracers. It added a stronger defense than the rockfish scales I previously had. I’m thinking of making a new armor design with a stronger defense and an added regen ability. How was that camouflage armor doing for you by the way?”
“I couldn’t find it, but Mother—“
“Oh, then it’s doing its job then. Perhaps I really should be investing in a defensive armor for long term missions…”
“Mother, what became of Neesan?”
“She stopped by for tea.”
“…is that all?”
“I guess we wrestled down a pleisoth together. I used its scales for the breast armor I’m currently wearing.”
“But did she tell you where she was going?”
Suddenly, Duu had an inkling of where Suzuki-san got her unorthodox personality from… It was like seeing double.
The Gray Flash is a very very enthusiastic monster hunter…
Suzuki-san wasn’t kidding when she said storm dragons were a curious bunch….
“I’m not even sure what happened to be honest,” Goto-dono sighed before…. Lifting off? The Gray Flash was now walking in midair. Duu’s mouth dropped.
“Mother, you’re flying without a cloud?!” Even Suzuki-san was astonished!
“It’s a technique I developed during my stay here. Now I don’t need to use my cloud, Abe, to fly.”
The Gray Flash was seriously someone out of this world…
“You really should write a scroll about gravity, it’d be impossible to put down.”
25. Ishida Ayumi
She woke up with a start, breathing heavily. She had that nightmare again. Every single damn time, it would always be her being too late to reach for Riho’s outstretched hand. Every single damn time, she had to watch her fall off the ship. She thought she would be tense waking up, but she felt oddly relaxed.
That’s right… Michishige-san massaged me right to sleep… She looked around her room. Next to her bed was Riho, watching nervously with her lips drawn tight.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” Ayumi grabbed her pillow and threw it at the halfie, though given the water’s viscosity, it happened in slow motion. Riho raised a hand to change the pillow’s trajectory and it bounced away towards the ceiling.
“I didn’t mean for this to look wrong, I swear I wasn’t here to watch you sleep,” the demon admitted sheepishly. “I came to apologize for my behavior, but I’m seeing first hand how serious this is.”
The pillow came back and lightly bopped Riho on the back of her head. Her cat ears immediately flattened. She snatched the pillow and forced it onto on her lap. The ferocity of her action caused many bubbles to appear. Ayumi couldn’t help but giggle at the sight.
“What I said was very hurtful. I’m still really bad at talking to humans. I’m just… really ignorant to everything you humans do.”
Ayumi shook her head. “No no, it was my fault for exploding on you in the first place. It just made me so mad to see you treat something like that as if it was just a tiny cut…”
“I should have better regard for my life. I didn’t tell you this at the time, but that was pretty scary for me, too.” Riho fiddled with the lightning earring at her side. “I’m so sorry to have caused you trouble, and now you’re having nightmares on my account…”
“Do you know how helpless I felt watching you fall?” Ayumi grabbed Riho’s hand, squeezing it tight. “I lost my parents a while back, but I held their hands the entire time. You were almost unreachable. I felt like I could have saved you, but…” Ayumi felt tears dotting her eyes and she tried to blink them away.
“You’re holding my hands now,” Riho lifted their hands, “I’m here. I’m not going away.”
That did it. This idiot was going to make her cry. She pulled the demon into a crushing hug and she did her damned best not to cry. Riho was extremely tense and she could have sworn she felt the cat get the shivers. She knew the other girl hated being touched, but she really needed this right now. A sniffle escaped from her and she knew she was close to letting loose.
Riho slowly raised her arm and gently rested it on her back. Although It was a half-hug, Ayumi recognized the effort and accepted the demon’s apology in her mind.
“ARE WE READY, KIDS?”
Ayumi and Riho immediately let go of each other, but not without consequence. Ayumi banged her head off of the bedpost, while Riho fell backwards in the most awkward, underwater slow motion anyone had ever seen.
Princess Eri came in excitedly and she looked back and forth between the two. “Did I interrupt something?”
“N-no… We were just surprised.” Ayumi rubbed the back of her head.
Just then, bunny ears appeared behind the princess. Michishige-san sneakily wrapped her arms around the princess’s waist, eliciting a laugh from the latter. Sometimes Ayumi did wonder what the two talked about when she wasn’t around. They seemed suspiciously close for people who had high tension earlier…
“Were you two up to no good?” Michishige-san asked, a certain glint in her eye shone.
Ayumi looked over to Riho, who was still in the process of falling backwards, struggling to stay up. She almost looked like a mess of bubbles and wild slow motion flailing.
“Is that really something you should be asking me when we have this dork over here?”
“Hey! I’m your senior!” Riho managed to finally calm down and allowed herself to drift to the ground.
“Right, Sayashi-san,” Ayumi said sarcastically. She wasn’t sure when it had happened but she was constantly thinking of the halfie by her given name rather than her formal name nowadays.
Finally, after what had seemed like hours, Riho finally landed on her back, with her butt still attached to the chair. She crossed her arms with an indifferent look as if she had never fallen. Ayumi couldn’t help but smile at the sight.
“Are we ready to depart? I have a manta ray carriage waiting for all of you.”
Ayumi and Riho looked at each other before both asking, “What is a manta ray?”
“Oh, it’s the one that looks like a flattened mochi!” Michishige-san raised a hand high in the air, “they’re so cute! They make these faces at you,” and with that, she made a sort of puffed up, flat lipped face. Ayumi had no idea what the bunny was talking about.
“How about you all gather your things and we’ll step out?”
Ayumi suddenly became saddened. The bag she had earlier was lost in the shipwreck. It had all of her clothes and mementos in it… And on top of that, she lost personal items belonging to her friends. They were going to be so pissed that they were gone…
“I… don’t have things anymore.” She didn’t even have her trusty naginata anymore. That was also an heirloom she inherited from her parents. Everything she had was gone except for the clothes she wore. There was no way the princess of sea dragons would lend them any supplies, right?
“Oh, what supplies do you need? I might be able to spare some things?” The princess tilted her head curiously.
“A bag filled with clothes, honestly. And a water jug if possible? Maybeaweaponforme?” Ayumi said the last part really quiet and fast. She was hoping the princess would get the hint.
“A few clothes and a jug, I could spare. Unfortunately, everyone here has made and/or earned their weapon here as a rite of being a sea dragon warrior, so I’m afraid I can’t help you there.”
Drat, she was really hoping for something. She did notice how most of the guards had their own customized spears. They must have really went out and made their weapons. The sea dragon military were pretty hardcore…
She would have to deal without a weapon for now. She was generally okay without it, but she was definitely no hand-to-hand combat expert like Riho was. She preferred sharp strikes, Riho preferred raw power.
“Are you sure I can’t borrow a broom or something…?” Ayumi had to keep trying. There must be something to use as a weapon.
“What’s a broom?”
That’s right, they were underwater. There is no use for sweeping when there was just water everywhere. Ayumi wanted to hit her head on a pillar.
“Well I suppose I could part with… that…” the princess thought to herself, thinking long and hard.
“Hime-sama… You’re not possibly thinking of…” Michishige-san looked at the other incredulously.
The princess shook her head, “No, it’s too big.”
“What’s too big?” Ayumi’s interest was piqued.
“I have a toothpick.”
Ayumi’s face dropped. “A toothpick?”
“A toothpick,” the princess answered back. “For when I’m in my true form.”
“How big is this toothpick?” Riho piped up from below, still too lazy to stand up.
“Half your size,” the princess looked over at Riho.
“Oh then that’s not bad, it’s like a sword,” Ayumi grew happy.
“Half your true size.”
“Oh, then that’s too bad, it’s like a boat,” Ayumi grew sad.
“Are you sure you didn’t keep any debris from shipwrecks that happen above your palace? Oars? Pieces of wood?” Riho asked.
“If you want that chair, you could have it.”
Honestly at this point, Ayumi simply gave up. She would have to find something on the surface. “It’s fine then. Let’s just go.”
“Are you sure? There might be scraps of my dinner leftover from last night; you might be able to salvage something from it.” The princess swooshed over, leaving a trail of bubbles in her wake. Ayumi got nervous suddenly from the royal sea dragon being so upfront that she had to look down.
“I’m sure. I’m honored to have aid from the sea dragons at all, let alone from their princess.”
“Ohhhh you flatter me!” Princess Eri lifted a finger and poked Ayumi’s nose. “I like it when human heartbeats go all fast like yours. It’s like this purr in the water. It’s so sensational.” The princess seemed to have released her hold on gravity and began to twirl her body around until she was facing Ayumi upside down. “I almost want to keep you, it’d be great having a human in the palace. You could tell me about this ‘broom’ thing you mentioned earlier.”
“Eririn,” Michishige-san placed a hand on the princess’s ankle, “Ayumi needs to find her friends and she can’t do that when she’s over here, can she?”
The princess flapped her arms cutely, “But Chayuuuuu~!”
“We have important business.”
“Fine,” Princess Eri sulked. She retreated into herself and kicked in the opposite direction, thus launching herself towards the door in sea flight. “You two heard it all, right? Go gather aid and find Aru, I’m sure he’ll get them to Okinawa the fastest.”
“Hime-sama!” the two guards saluted before quivering their lips in separate directions of the hall. Ayumi was rather confused at what happened. Riho stood up and squinted at the sight.
“Was that… echoing? Did they just communicate to everyone else via echo communication?”
“Something we learned from dolphins. It’s quite useful,” Princess Eri chuckled as she slithered through the water like a graceful wave. It was a sight made all the more ethereal with her long clothes trailing behind like ribbon. “Are you all coming?”
It was then Ayumi realized that they were all just staring at the princess. There was a certain hypnotic aspect about her, despite her airheadedness. “Y-yes!” she ended up saying first as she scrambled to catch up, causing a thrash of bubbles as she did so. Riho followed after, though not without correcting the fallen chair’s position to upright. Michishige-san meekly followed behind.
Ayumi looked upon the sight before her. As they traversed the open air hall, her eyes spied on the school of rainbow fish swimming beside them. On their other side, more exotic fish she had never seen were also flying by. She was going to miss this. Nothing on land could be this astounding… yet. She wondered what else would come on her journey with a half dragon, half cat dork and a bunny priestess. Surely, it would lead to more things like this because she’d definitely sign up for the next amazing wonder.
The princess led them through the coral garden into a clearing where this huge creature awaited. Ayumi had never seen anything like it. Michishige-san wasn’t kidding when she said it was kind of like a flattened mochi. The manta ray was so wide and flat that she wondered how it could even swim at all. It was like someone took a bird, took away the body, took away the head, took away the legs, so that it was left with just wings and it was just so bizarre. Upon closer inspection, the deep blue manta ray had a white underbelly and… a face? It was almost smiling! Attached above it was a carriage of sorts.
“His name is Aru, he is squishy, and he is mine,” the princess cooed as she connected heads with the majestic animal.
“S-so big…” Riho’s ears flattened. It’s been a while since Ayumi had seen Riho like this. The last time was when she was surrounded by the kids at the orphanage.
Soon… we’ll reunite everyone… Ayumi thought hopefully.
Soldiers came and Ayumi noticed that they were carrying a bright orange parcel similar to the bag she had before they were sunk. That bag must be the one that the princess was giving to them. Her thoughts were confirmed as the soldier handed the bag toward her and she took it upon herself and wrapped it diagonally onto her being.
“Thank you again, Hime-sama,” Ayumi bowed completely. Riho followed suit in the bow.
Before Michishige-san could bow, the princess pulled her into a hug, “We’ll still keep in touch, right?”
“Of course!” the bunny priestess smiled into the hug. Ayumi just wondered how close they got while she wasn’t looking…
They pulled away briefly before Michishige-san gripped the princess firmly and kissed her right on the lips.
Immediately, all the guards pointed their spears at them.
However, the princess raised a hand.
Ayumi raised a brow before covering Riho’s eyes at how long the display went on for…
The princess pulled away first, connecting foreheads with the bunny. “You’ll write to me?”
“I do know your address now,” Michishige-san smirked. “We’ll definitely keep in touch.”
They certainly got really close...
26. Tanaka Reina
“You know, Reina just realized you never did explain why you decided to travel,” Reina commented, slowing her run to a casual crawl. She was in her true form once more, after all, it covered way more ground than her tinier self.
Marin responded with a small noise in her throat.
“Pfft! Rude!” Reina bucked once, nearly throwing the weasel off of her fur.
“…To be frank, I was lost myself...”
“Like, on the way to something? Or do you mean it in a metaphorical way?” A priestess once taught her that ‘metaphor’ word. She felt proud for being able to use it in a sentence.
“Yeah… I had nowhere to go, no place to be… and you looked like fun, so I thought I’d come with you.”
“Holy shit, you said more than six words,” the cat’s eyes widened, ears perked up.
“Talking is a lot of effort…” Marin sighed. “I don’t say. I do.”
“Reina hears ya!” the elder demon chuckled. “I had a moment like that once. I lost someone close to me and I was lost for the longest time…” Her memories rewound back to the time of Reina the thief, before she got her hellcat nickname.
“How do you feel about humans?”
Marin thought for a moment before responding, “Nothing. I don’t associate with them… nor them with me.”
“See, Reina was… sort of an ass about them. Then, this one human stubbornly stuck with me like you. She showed Reina that humans aren’t so bad as we make them out to be.”
“She died. Protecting me.” Reina went out of third person for saying that. Serious times called for serious talk.
“Oh… I’m sorry…”
It was almost a distant memory now. She could barely remember her face. However, she remembered the distinct flames that surrounded them. She remembered the human saying that Reina should go save the day and that she’d stay behind and escort people to safety.
Although Reina had saved the day, the human did not survive the fire.
“It’s fine. It’s been more than 50 years. I’ve learned a lot about things I never knew with her.”
“…Were you in love?”
“Maybe at one point,” Reina shrugged, “That’s a chapter that passed a long time ago. I’ve got my soulmate and my kids now and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for them.”
“…I see…How are they like?”
Reina needed to think about a word for them all.
“They’re all idiots to be honest.”
“But they’re my idiots and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Reina loved her family. Every time she stressed out even a little, her mind would always drift back to them and she would be at ease.
“How about you?”
“Not sure. Don’t care. I exist.”
Ouch. Whatever happened to Marin must have been bad if she didn’t care for her family.
“I did want to travel, though. So thanks.”
“Pft, you’re welcome.” Reina paused to shake off herself. All that fast travel made her fur feel dirty. Marin nearly fell off.
“Where d’ya think we are now? Are we headed in the right direction?” Now that she thought about it, they haven’t stopped for directions in a while… They haven’t seen a coastline yet either, that meant they were still in the middle of the country.
“Look at the sun.”
Reina looked up. It was high in the sky. That meant it was high noon.
“Reina swears, EVERYTIME we finally remember to look at the sun, it’s always afternoon!”
27. Suzuki Airi
What a bummer, it seemed that she had a long way to go before she, too, could just casually float without the help of her cloud, Papi. All storm dragons in their disguises needed the aid of a cloud in order to fly. They weren’t birds with wings after all.
“I’m honestly feeling so enlightened by what I’m seeing right now, you lift me up.” She tilted her head in a smile whilst standing on her cloud. “Does Abe not feel lonely?”
“I often use her for helping me transport material nowadays. It took me hours just to empty out that Grand Blue and transport everything back to my base.”
“Oh, you have a base?” Kudou’s eyes twinkled. The human looked incredibly excited for some reason.
“Yes, this is it.”
They were currently sitting in a hut with trophies adorning the walls inside and out. The roof was made of a huge shell of something, Airi wasn’t sure what it could be. It was wide and red and had nets extending outwards, keeping out unwanted visitors and of course, displaying dead creatures. Though, her mother was chewing on something that looked quite leathery and Airi had to double take again. Perhaps those displays of dead creatures were, instead, dried snacks waiting to be eaten.
“O-oh…” Kudou looked down, seemingly disappointed.
“I don’t need anything extraneous, I just needed a roof over my head, and a place to store my loot.”
“Mother, you’re still creating new armors and weapons, right? By chance do you have a workshop nearby?”
“Ah, yes, I suppose I do have one,” the elder dragon stood up and began to walk. Airi and Kudou followed after.
Although slightly intimidating at times, Airi did enjoy being around her mother’s company. She remembered being a child who would always climb onto her mother’s lap as she worked on a project. Her curiosity was definitely something her mother gave her. Although she didn’t share the same passion of war and military performance, she extended the same love towards language.
They came upon a cavern further inland and Airi could hear Kudou’s heart quicken. “Excited, are we?” She couldn’t help but voice it aloud. The human shook her head vigorously, attempting to play it off. This kid was simply too adorable.
“It does get hotter, so feel free to strip if it becomes unbearable. Since no one really comes around these parts, I just work in the nude at times.”
“Wait, so the exhibitionistic tendencies run in the family?” Kudou raised a brow.
“We’re not the type to keep secrets. We like to bare it all to the world,” Airi placed a hand at her collar matter-of-factly. “It’s so refreshing to get things off your chest, you know?”
“Don’t tell me the Cerulean Typhoon is like that too…” Kudou’s face drooped.
“Oh, my sister is the complete opposite. She’s usually covered at all times.”
“Strange really, considering my grandchildren also enjoy running around naked, there was one time where Riho more or less flashed the entire village because Nacchi forgot to put up the child gates,” Mother commented with a hand massaging her crown. Airi remembered that moment too. She was in tea ceremony when she noticed that cat-eared toddler casually waddling by.
“Ah now I miss Riho, I adore playing with her cat ears, they’re so soft and so fluffy~!”
“Wait, is she not a dragon?” Kudou inquired. She looked incredibly pensive all of a sudden.
“No, she’s half. She’s part dragon, part feline, but her feline traits are more prominent.”
“It’s a shame that her prefered dyes are red in nature. Our official clan color is cyan so it would have been nice to see the tradition continue,” Mother added.
Somehow, whatever her mother said had triggered something in Kudou. Her eyes grew wide and she went as pale as snow.
“You’re so pale, it ails me to see you,” Airi looked on with concern.
“So this Riho person… She’s got cat ears and she wears red, right?”
“Correct, that is my niece.”
“Have you met my grandchild before, perhaps?” Mother asked, and now Airi thought that might sense. Riho was near by so it wouldn’t surprise her if Kudou had seen her.
“I… have…” Kudou had to steady herself by leaning against the cavern wall. Poor human seemed to be overwhelmed by everything. She hadn’t seen Riho in years, but if she was anything like her toddler self, surely Kudou would be overwhelmed by her intriguing family.
“Hnn…” Mother paused in stride. Airi looked at her in question. Suddenly, something wicked permeated the air. Immediately, Airi grabbed Kudou and turned to run. She saw her mother fly by like an arrow before she boarded Papi and willed her to fly as fast as she could.
As soon as they reached the entrance, they both split up and a roaring fire surged out between them. She knew as soon as they went into a cavern that they were headed straight for a lava vein (Perfect for a fiery workshop, Airi thought), but lava wasn’t supposed to spurt forth fire like that.
There were things inside that she had noticed at the last second. Whatever it was, they were trying to hide their aura.
“I wonder who’s trying to ambush me now?” Mother sighed boredly, giving off a shrug. Goodness, being a clan leader must be exhausting. She remembered all the failed assassination attempts on her mother since she was a child. Nowadays, the attacks were sporadic considering her mother had reached unparalleled amounts of strength but people still did their best.
Out of the fire came four figures.
One was a well-endowed woman dressed similarly to her Mother, only her colors were purple and violet, and her hair was a mix of auburn and bright sun blonde in her fringe. A tanned hand held onto a bright, glowing katana which emitted smoke. Shows who sent out that smoking greeting, earlier...Airi thought.
Following that woman was someone dressed in all golden armors, however; the aesthetic was oddly familiar and it was then Airi realized…
“I didn’t think anyone would attempt to steal my hard work.” Mother’s hair began to float little by little. She knew her mother was definitely getting annoyed now.
No words were exchanged between the four women. The one in mostly green stepped forward. She was not as armored as the other three, but her hair carried every dye of the rainbow. She pointed her spear at the three.
“Our client thanks you for the creation of these armors. We’ll be lending them back to you shortly.”
Not so colorful personality though...Airi frowned. The malicious aura was starting to overpower her senses though. These people were certainly bad news and Airi had a brief doubt that this scuffle might not be so one-sided after all, even with her Mother’s power.
“I never consented to this, who do you think you are, stealing from Goto Maki herself?” Mother raised a hand and a wind funnel began forming around her arm.
The last woman smirked, showing very prominent front teeth. She readied her two blades and a very evil miasma leaked out of every crevice of her crimson armor.
“We are simply the Anniversary.”
Kudou ended up sending out a lightning strike first, though the woman in green batted it away.
“You’re more like a bunch of melons if you ask me!” Kudou called out, throwing more lightning blasts at their way. Oh, this wasn’t good. She was nowhere at the level to be fighting against these melons. Oh… Airi caught herself midthought. Now that Kudou had said it, she just had to call them melons now.
“I like that, melons...” Airi said aloud. “Perhaps calling you all the Melon Kinenbi would be cuter, anniversary and all.”
The other four were taken off guard and that was when her mother took the cue to blast them away with her gusts. The purple and yellow lady were blown out of sight while the red and green ones held their ground.
“Get my stuff back,” Mother called out to Airi in a low growl and with that, she flew upwards in pursuit of the other two.
The remaining two looked stunned at the sight of her mother.
“She has the power of flight?” the multi-colored haired woman said, astonished. “Our client will be interested in taking that…”
“Ootani, that isn’t our mission now,” the red one swung her swords. “We have what we came for, we must go before the Flash catches us…”
“OH NO YOU DON’T!” Kudou screamed out before launching a kick at the red one’s face. Unfortunately, the red woman caught Kudou’s foot and flung her aside.
“You’re annoying…” She made a move to swing at the human and that’s when Airi rushed in and caught the other woman by the throat.
“Unfortunately for you, miss Melon, I can’t elope with the idea of your escape.” Airi drew in the energy of the air around them and she felt her grinning eyes light up with glee. She felt an oncoming blast and she tilted her head back, allowing the fire blast to pass by.
Airi punched the red lady in the face and was ready to let loose a fury of more when she heard Kudou struggle against the one called Ootani. Sensing that the lady at her grasp was a human, she simply slammed her against a palm tree and left her to save Kudou.
The poor kid was being absolutely punished by a barrage of clear energy blasts. Airi threw some energy blasts of her own at Ootani which caught her attention. She sensed the red human stirring from the earlier impact and she knew she didn’t have much time before she was back on her feet. She needed to round them up quickly and make sure Kudou was out of harm’s way. “Stay back, Kudou, this is not your fight. You can’t match up to their energy yet!” Airi called back. Just as she did that, she felt a punch to her face and she staggered back. Ootani must have closed the distance!
The red woman also recovered and charged at them full speed. A human shouldn’t be that fast... Airi was taken off guard. Whatever armor she took, it was definitely imbued with heightened speed. Now both enemies were attacking Airi at the same time at a ferocious pace. Airi blocked the hits of the spear and dual swords with her gauntlets. It was like a symphony of clangs and bangs with metal upon metal.
Seeing an opportunity, she caved into Ootani’s spear thrust and redirected it to hit her comrade. However, the comrade blocked the hit and swept the spear downwards, tripping her between them. This was bad. She was on the ground and flanked by the enemy. As they moved in, she grabbed their ankles and swung as hard as she could, tripping them as well. She moved to get up, but the spear and swords stopped her advance. Suddenly, they were groundborne and fighting while lying down.
Unable to take it much longer, Airi willed Papi to come and push her away from the two. The cloud scooped her up and threw her back on the ground, though the landing was rough as she staggered backwards trying to regain her footing. She fired instantaneous lightning spells at the two, but for some odd reason their weapons kept deflecting the blasts with ease. For two human enemies, they were on par with her power.
The red lady appeared suddenly before her and she didn’t have enough time to defend. She landed some sword hits on her and roundhouse kicked her in the face.
“I see you like being racy,” Airi called out, “Time to raise some hell!” and with a clap, thunder raced towards her opponents. When the first lightning struck the red woman, the static jumped onto the green woman and both spasmed briefly before falling upon their knees.
“Playing with lightning and metal is like flirting with bees,” Airi panted, “it always creates a buzzing attraction.” She looked over at Kudou, who seemed to have collapsed and was panting heavily. “Though you were stung pretty bad, I see.”
Yeah, Kudou was no where near their level. If these humans were on par with her, Kudou would never stand a chance. She went forward to aid her but was thrown aside by a huge force of lightning.
“I… was struck by lightning?” Impossible. She could always predict lightning. She was a storm dragon for crying out loud! Ootani was already back in fighting position, spear at the ready.
That spear… Airi glared. It must be some form of channeler… It had to be a high class weapon. Then it dawned on her. Was that spear made by her Mother? Furthermore, did she make that spear from one of her scales? Before she could think further, Ootani began to spin the spear rapidly, generating way too many lightning strikes for Airi to keep up with and she was sent flying.
Papi managed to catch her before she collided with Kudou, but Airi wasn’t sure how much longer she could battle for. Papi propelled her at full speed before she launched like a spring, using a jolt of electricity to speed her up with the force of a cannonball. When she missed, Papi managed to catch up and allowed Airi to bounce back with stronger force.
Soon, she was committing insanely fast strikes, using Papi to increase her speed tenfold. She ricocheted back and forth like a bullet in a bowl. The other two didn’t stand a chance. They were trapped. With a final bounce, Airi spiraled her advance and slammed into the both of them at once, sending them flying at the wall of the cavern.
“That was decided fast...I didn’t have time to blink,” Airi struggled to close her dry eyelids. High speeds did that to a dragon’s face. She walked over and confiscated the weapons of the comatose enemy. She then removed their armors, taking them back for her mother. “And now the con descends from condescending.“
She stood up and attempted to sense where her Mother was, but to no avail.
When she looked back down, she saw the two vanish. She looked up to find the two being carried by two.. tengu? She squinted to find that it had been the other two, but somehow they had sprouted wings?
“They took two of the tengu masks I’ve created…” Mother hissed beside her, looking slightly worse for wear herself.
“Well, at least I got some of your stuff back!” Airi held out the weapons and the stolen armor.
Mother looked at the items that Airi had returned. “At least they didn’t take the spear made with my scale.”
“So, it was made with your scale. I reckon it weighs out the rest in importance, huh?” Airi nudged her mother.
“These swords aren’t mine, though,” Mother bent over and inspected them, giving both a swing and a twirl. They felt like ordinary blades when Airi had touched them. The hilts were made of sharkskin like anything else, though upon closer inspection she realized that both blades had been imbued with the element of earth.
“An honest effort. The blacksmith who did these blades put a lot of care into them.” The elder dragon looked closer towards the scabbards of the blades, and Airi tilted her head to look at them too. There was something written on each blade in small engravings. One said “Brushwood Blade” and the other had said “Swordstone.”
“Simplistic names. Perhaps the intent had far more meaning, but no matter, I suppose I could sell these later.”
It was a shame. Airi did not know as much about craftsmanship as her mother did but she knew enough to know that these swords had a lot of care poured into it.
They heard a sniffle and they turned to look at Kudou, sitting on the ground with her head hung low.
Before she could ask, Kudou uttered something.
“Useless…” She hit the ground with a fist. “I’m so useless…”
Was the human… crying? What was the matter? The enemy was gone. Although they made it with some items, their lives were intact and that was the important fact. Airi walked over and sat with the child.
“I wasn’t any help at all, I’m sorry…”
“You didn’t need to do anything. We had it under control.” Her mother said bluntly, but it seemed to agitate the human more.
“I wanted to help! Suzuki-san put her life in danger on account of protecting me, and I can’t accept that!” Kudou drew her knees closer, burying her face further within herself. “I’m not strong… I’m so useless…”
Kudou looked up at the elder dragon.
“Drain your tears and train. I saw a bit of Airi in your magic. Clearly you’ve been working closely with her to improve.”
Mother had a point. Kudou had already learned from her pretty quickly. At her rate, she just might be able to hold her own in a high level match. Kudou remained quiet however. Instead, she stood up, wiping her tears.
“I need to think. I’ll come back to the base before sun down.”
And with that, the human left.
“Will she be okay? She doesn’t get lost, does she?”
“Nah, she’s not my sister-in-law,” Airi chuckled, “She actually has a very level head on her shoulders. I honestly wouldn’t mind taking her under my wing for a bit.”
Mother stared at her.
Airi raised a brow. “Mother?”
“The you of before would rather be engrossed in your scrolls, dissecting words to create new puns. Have you grown softer over the years? Was this Kanna’s doing?”
Airi waved her hand dismissively, “Oh, Kanna and I broke up a loooooong time ago. I’m seeing someone else now.”
“I’m with Maimi now.” Gods, she loved that woman to death now. Now, she found herself missing that spacey lady.
Mother squinted at her for for a moment.
“Maimi… The general?”
“Generally,” Airi replied, tongue-in-cheek. As much of a space case her girlfriend was, she had several accomplishments as a storm dragon general.
“So you went from a seamstress to military, wise choice,” Mother crossed her arms and nodded sagely. Of course she would approve of soldiers. She had been pushing them on her from the beginning. Honestly, Maimi being a soldier wasn’t what seduced Airi, but no matter.
“So what else did the Melons take? I can’t imagine their plans coming to fruition with half the loot.”
“They took two tengu masks I’ve designed for flight, chest armor designed for fire protection, and gauntlets meant for absorbing magic. You managed to retrieve the greaves of speed and the armor I’ve imbued with my own lightning. Though…” she looked off into the distance of where they flew off. “I have far more valuable armor in the workshop made up of metals and exotic steels, yet they decide to take the ones carved from bone and wood.”
“So they grabbed the least armor-like of armors, says the one wearing lacking armor.”
“Your belly is exposed like mine.”
“But I’m protecting my chest, you look like you’re promoting yours.”
“Give that chest a rest.”
“Undo the calamity that are your mammaries.”
“Can you not?”
“Don’t have a rack attack, Mother.”
Waaaaaaaa xD Sorry for the lateness, someone insisted I wait and update with five chapters at once~