XXVII - Scaly Surprises
It’s quite terrifying to see someone’s life hanging in the balance between living and dying when you can’t do anything about it. It brings on a more heightened feel of anxiety when you can change it. As though one little push, one minuscule involvement—regardless of if it being direct or not—can determine whether someone lives, or someone dies.
Trust me when I say that I’ve been in enough life or death situations to know what I’m talking about. The foundation of life is a very, very fragile thing. We should take heed and protect our lives from those that wish to jeopardise it. We have to fight tooth and nail for it, running on adrenaline and instinct in order to sometimes just barely make it out in one piece.
Why is that? That people choose to put someone’s life in danger? For money? Vengeance? Survival? For the hell of it? Possibly. My knowledge in psychology is not really advanced enough to know the answer to these questions.
As a matter of fact, the things I know myself are absolutely pathetic compared to the knowledge that is contained in the world, the infinite libraries of wisdom and intellect hidden within this planet just waiting to be discovered.
But no more of my monotone: you must be positively bored. Let’s get back to our story, eh?
Let’s see.... where was I?... Ah, yes: the smiting of the black dragon Sut, and my incapacitation from that bizarre arm cannon attack.
I awake atop a hard bed, my spine and neck feeling sore. I could only really open my eyes and see what goes about in... wherever I was. My vision, at first, was blurry and disoriented. After a few seconds, my sight clears up, and I can observe that I’m in a square room the size of a hospital room, sans the medical machinery and sadistic doctors. A desk, complete with a chair and a lit oil lantern, sits on one corner of the room. A door out of here resides on my left, the bed I’m in placed in the back right corner, a circular window on my right. Ellipsis is hanging above my head by two mismatched coat hangers, the blade reflecting and shimmering in the luminance of the lantern.
Am I on the airship?
It’s hard to feel either my legs, wings, or arms: they are far too numb to function correctly. But I get in a sitting position. I rub my eyes, yawn, and crack any joints I can. I gradually regain the feeling in my limbs as I get up and walk towards the door.
For some odd and unknown reason that lacks an explanation, I don’t open the door all on my own.
I suddenly get the feeling that my body is connected to marionette strings, the puppeteer controlling me from locations unknown. “What the-?” I try and resist this sensation of being dragged forth through the hallways, but no go: I look like a robotic zombie as I traipse through the phlorescent bulb-lit halls, the way my arms are raised and my legs commit a fast, albeit abrupt walking motion. “AH! Buddha! Allah! John Cena! Saaave meee!”
...What? I was a nervous sleepy wreck, I didn’t have time to go into theistic details.
I go up two levels of stairs and make my way to the deck of the airship, where... currently everyone is laughing at me. Mat, looking especially giggly as well, has a weird look in his eyes, which are glowing a faint blue. No one else seems to be doing anything, in terms of magic, and Mat’s eye sockets never glowed before.
“Mat?! Stop it this instant!” My wings start fanning out now, and I hover against my will into the ceiling, my head rubbing against it roughly. “I’m serious!” I leer maliciously at him, and that seems to do the trick.
“Oh, alright! Spoilsport.” Mat’s eyes stop glowing, and I regain control of my own body.
Sadly, I’m not prepared to break my fall, so I crash into Mat’s foliage of hair. This dramatically disturbs the bats in his leafy afro, and they burst out, swirling around us in panic. I pathetically climb out of the Ent’s hair and plop unceremoniously onto the deck of the ship. “Oof! Now, what th’ hell was that all about, Mat?”
“Well, you know those figs I fed you all?” Mat begins, a mischievous smile on his wooden face.
“Wait... where is tree going with this?” asked Mercutio, suspicion creeping in his voice.
“I had spiked those things with a little bit of... mind control magic.” I blinked at his confession. Mind control is almost impossible in reality: rumours about being able to possess a man have been flung hither and thither in society, but they’ve all been debunked. But in terms of magical fantasy, in a place such as Equestria, the capability of controlling one’s mind sounds feasible. However, I would need more proof.
“You expect us to believe a pile of crap like that?” contradicted Osiris, skepticism peppered in his tone. Mat’s eye sockets flared blue again. Osiris suddenly got onto his back paws, crossed his claws over on another in front of him, and started doing the Gangnam Style. That’s obscene: he doesn’t know that dance. Hell, I don’t even think he can dance: he sure as hell had four left paws when we were distracting Sut. “What the f-? Damn it, you big hunk of wood, what are you doing?!” wails the griffin as his claws are placed on his hips and his paws sweep back and forth, sliding gradually to the left. “Alright, alright, you win! Now knock it off!”
“Certainly.” Mat’s eyes stopped glowing their azure colour, and Osiris wobbled precariously on one paw before plopping onto his stomach with an unpleasant thump. “Do you believe me now?” Everyone else nods quickly, their actions giving them the appearance of disturbed bobbleheads.
“...How long was I unconscious?” I finally query.
“Not by much,” answers Fancypants. “Only an hour or two.”
I look outside. The smoke and ash that painted the atmosphere black was replaced by the pristine cleanliness of blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Grass and monolithic mountains were in the place of the molten stone and mammoth volcanoes of the Wastelands. “Well, where are we on th’ map?”
“We are currently... south of Fillydelphia,” Fleur responds as she ganders long and analytically out to the horizon. “We should be there in about an hour or so.”
“Whoa...” Kaileena comments, astonishment momentarily grasping her. “How do you know that?”
“The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, darling,” she says, pointing at the sun, which was halfway through its mickle sojourn across the sky. “See that city out there?” We lean out and peer towards where Fleur points her dainty snow-white hoof. We can barely see a tremendous grey mass of houses and buildings that we can just barely get a glimpse off due to the distance. “That’s Fillydelphia. Me and Fancypants travel there every now and again.” She then glances at Fancypants, a smile of reminiscence of their moments in the aforementioned city being stitched upon their lips. “Remember, Fancy?”
“It’s a magnificent city, it is,” concurs the male unicorn, nodding earnestly as he returns the glance to his... wife? Marefriend? I’m not sure, I’ll have to ask.
Once I do pop the question, the both of them say in unison, “Why, we’re just best friends, of course.”
Fleur’s head tilts in wonder as she looks at me with a befuddled expression. “Wait, you honestly believed me and Fancy were engaged?"
“Yep,” I admit. “Hell, I once thought a while ago that th’ two o’ ya were siblings.”
That earns me a laugh from both the aristocratic ponies. “Oh, such an imaginative concept!” snortles Fancypants, flicking off a tear of mirth from his eye. Fleur titters into her hoof, nodding in agreement with her unicorn companion.
A spark of paranoia flickers in me, striking the oil of grief and setting it off in a blaze of self-concern. Slightly affected by the laughter of the two, I get up and stretch, my body still sore from the fight. “Listen, I’m gonna explore th’ ship a wee bit. Anyone wanna come with?” Only Kaileena appears to raise her hand; everyone else politely declines the offer, loafing about on the floor as they discuss what their plans were once they get to Fillydelphia.
Kaileena gets up and walks with me as I amble over to one of the entrances. “So, what is there ta this ship that ya guys found?” I question as we descend the few flights of stairs.
“We found some rather interesting stuff,” she answers once we pass through the hallways of the sleeping quarters. “These sleeping quarters, kitchens, mess hall, greenhouse, huge gems to keep the ship powered, cockpit, armoury–”
“Wait,” I interject, thrown off by what she had said earlier. Something was a wee bit off about that list of things. “What was that last one?”
“No, before that.”
“Wait, cockpit?” Kaileena snickers momentarily. “It’s a funny word, huh?”
“Yes, it– I mean, no, that’s not it!” I sigh, frustration gradually getting the better of me. “Ya said something about gems? How they keep th’ ship airborne?”
“Oh!” The look of one who had just received a splendid epiphany strikes her face as she then grabs my hand and pulls me through the halls. “Let me show you where it is!” she exclaims, euphoria in her voice as we start plummeting down the stairs. Heat starts barraging my face when I look down at my hand. She isn’t holding it in a way to show direction and lead me on; she’s holding it in an intimate manner, palms compressed together tightly as her slender fingers curled along the back of my hand, clutching tightly to it. Just the thought of what the Bast could be thinking in that pretty little head of hers makes my cheeks flare a hotter temperature.
...I just called her pretty, didn’t I?
No mind had been paid the entire time we sojourned to our destination. I just realise that we have stopped going down the stairs, and are standing in front of a set of double doors. I look down and still see Kaileena holding my hand still. “Kai?” I start, a little anxious from her behaviour.
“Hmm?” she hums rather dreamily.
“You can, uh... let go o’ me hand now.”
She snaps out of whatever reverie she had plunged into. “O-oh, right. Sorry.” She relinquishes her grip on my hand, yet the look on her face showed some reticence as she does so.
“‘S alright, love.” I only understand what I just said about two seconds later when I look to the girl at my side. Kai’s eyes go wider than dinner plates in her head as she stares at me in shock, her cheeks burning the colour of fire.
Awkward silence cloaks us, neither of us daring to speak even a syllable. Palpable as the tension between us is, I finally take the opportunity to cut through it. “So, um–”
“I’ll get the door,” she says, not hesitating in swinging the doors ajar and entering first.
Yeah, yeah, Brain, like you were any help.
I could feel my eyes growing in size at the incredulity of the room’s contents once I step in. Like the TARDIS, or a Pokèball, every room on this ship must be bigger on the inside, for this one was as large as a common room. Two rotund gems, one red and one blue, each about three meters in circumference, rotate upon a set of pedestal-like holders, magic leylines of energy swirling and surging out from the stones to their holders. The duo of magical boulders illuminate much of the entire room, a myriad of flame and ice dancing along the walls and ceiling.
All sense of discomfort had been eviscerated since I came in. “Wow... those are huge,” I comment in astonishment. I examine the environment some more: some crates are piled up in two opposite corners of the room, with three metallic crates being in one corner, and eight wooden in the other. Multicoloured feathers litter the ground in front of one, as does a thick crimson liquid that looks eerily like blood. In front of the metal boxes are a few loitering eggshells, empty of the hatchlings that they shielded from the contamination of the outside world.
Normally, I’d pass both piles of crates off as chickens being born, raised, then slaughtered. Only... one problem: the shells aren’t normal. At all. Some are spotted, some stripped, others plain different hues. Also... they’re about the size of dustbin lids.
Yes, I’m being serious. No, I’m not pulling your leg.
“Whoa...” I drone, the toxin of curiosity rushing through my bloodstream. “Wicked....” I approach the metal crates with egg shells sprinkled around them, and put my hands out to open up all three of them. Searing hot is the crate’s metal as it burns my right hand in a brief instant of contact, leaving the other unharmed. “Ow!” I yelp loudly, flailing my right fleshy hand in the vain hopes of cooling it off.
“Damien, you’d better be careful,” Kaileena warns me as I summon Ellipsis from the sleeping quarters. It takes longer than calling it from the Abyss, since it is only my second time doing it (the first time was back in Stalliongrad with Khajiit and his entourage, remember?), but the large dark scythe appears successfully in my hand with a blinding glint of light. Cocking back my arm, I swing, and jam the blade in between the metallic container and its lid before prying it open as simply as I would with a crowbar.
Intense warmth rises forth from the inside of the metal crate. Me and Kaileena peer close enough inside and see that the bottom of the crate is filled with magma. That’s right, magma. Like from a bloody volcano. The molten puddle of fire pools inside the crate, swirling and bubbling. How such hot rock hasn’t melted a hole in the ship is an enigma that I’m in no mood to solve; besides, I’m still deciphering the answer to that egg one already.
I repeat the same with the second crate. Same result as the first one: all magma, but with some egg shells sprinkled inside.
“Third time’s th’ charm,” I mutter as I wiggle off the lid to the third crate. There’s magma like the other two, yet there is more. Much more. Eggs the size of pillows were nestled inside the molten slag, each shell being multicoloured and designed in a peculiar fashion.
“Whoa.” Kaileena’s eyes widened at the chance encountering of these eggs, despite the heat that ought to be irritating her. “What do you think these kind of eggs are?”
“No idea,” I comment. “If I had ta guess... these look like dragon eggs.”
“Looks like it. Size, colour, intense heat ta keep ‘em warm.”
“Should we get the others?”
One by one, the mammoth eggs commence cracking and splitting ever-so-slowly, minuscule chips of eggshells dropping piece by piece into their incubating magma. “I, uh, don’t think we have th’ time ta get th’ others, Kai.”
~End of Chapter XXVII~