The Floating Islands – IV

The pirates stood hidden, silently praying that the monster grew weary searching for them, when the Captain noticed that something near his cheeks radiated heat. Lowering his sight on the piece of furniture behind which he was crouching, he understood that what was giving him that feel was a saber stored there. The hilt and the scabbard were embellished with engravings he could not distinguish well due to the low light.

They heard the monster’s heavy claws; it was coming back toward them. Maghbel crouched more down, her face contracted in an expression of terror. Mayweather grabbed the weapon; the hilt was hot, but not enough to burn his skin.

Roaring, the alligator crashed against the armory wall. A rain of iron bars, tiles and debris fell upon the room. Someone swore, but his voice was covered by Maghbel’s cries and the predator’s din.

The Captain jumped out of his cover and unsheathed his new saber, running through the cloud of dust rising above the room. The blade vibrated lowly, but he had neither the time nor the calm to think about it.

The monster had seen him and raised one of his enormous claws to crush him. The Captain jumped forward and barely was not smashed by the mighty limb of the creature.

He thrusted his blade on its side. A purple glow flashed in front of his eyes, burning the gray hair and the scaled skin of the monster, which howled with pain and flung itself on one side to avoid a second attack, breaking another portion of the wall into pieces. Mayweather heard cracking spreading about the entire room.

He tried to shout above the monster’s gurgles and his fellows’ surprised cries. «The sabers! Take the sabers and give me a hand! »

The alligator attacked again and thrusted his maw inside the room, running over the furniture. The Captain barely managed to save his life and turned just in time to see another flash of light clashing against the creature. It staggered and cried again: one of the pirates had left a deep cut on its front leg.

The monster should have had enough, but certainly he was not going to run away. It raised on its back legs, reaching the ceiling, and smashed itself down the floor to crush its enemies.

The entire room collapsed in the moment the giant landed. They felt the pavement caving in under their feet and plunged in a whirl of stones, steel and lime down to the inferior floor, followed by the monster and a big portion of the fortress.

To the pirates the landing was not painful, luckily. The Captain and his fellows ended up in a pool deep a few more than six feet. The saber slipped out of his hand and began to hiss at contact with water.

He floundered out. The collapse had defeated the monster, which was now standing still, breathing slowly, keeping its eyes shut and its body laid weakly down the pavement. Big stones and pieces of furniture had fallen over it.

Mayweather turned to his men. «Are you fine, guys? »

He understood they were saved by Maghbel, who had directed their fall. Her limbs were longer than before, knotty and curved like those of a normal tree, and coiled around them as snakes, protecting them with green foliage that was not there before. She seemed to have become bigger, the Captain had just the time to notice it. The creature’s arms let them go and returned to the previous size, while the leaves came off and softly landed on the liquid surface. Maghbel was now at her usual size.

The four men could not believe their own eyes. She giggled nervously as she was used to do.

«Barely, but yes» she answered. «You all should wait a moment, though»

«What’s the matter? »«That required a lot of energy. Let me recover some of it»

The others reached the Captain outside the pool. At another analysis, the liquid in it seemed more than simple water: it was thicker and gave out a faint luminescence which took the place of the lamps, now broken because of the fall. This light reverberated all about the great room where they were, for the strange liquid was stored inside other pools and capsules. Some of them had been shattered by the collapse and now poured their content onto the floor.

Maghbel closed her eyes and relaxed, her legs slightly bended and her arms gently abandoned beside her hips. In that moment, the Captain saw that her bark was more wrinkled and the ivy and growth covering her body were dried and pale.

«You’ll have a lot to explain» said the Captain.

Suddenly, they heard a shrill squeal behind them, beyond the giant, unconscious monster. They walked past it to get to the source of the sound, made anxious by their curiosity and fearful by the unknown.

A small animal, similar to a lizard, was making its first, trembling paces. Its soft skin had stripes of white and black which coiled confusedly around it. Its tiny claws weakly clutched the pavement and slid on the luminescent liquid. On its back two frail wings were folded.

The little dragon went towards what resembled a computer leaning against a wall and began to tinker with ports and inputs totally different from the ones on the Legacy. Mayweather saw the dragon’s skin and flesh itself moving and twitching.

The little one squealed again and the computer turned on, followed by some lamps set up on the wall, revealing them an ancient laboratory. The monitor high above the Captain’s head showed a series of unreadable characters, belonging to a culture he did not know.

Part I

Part II

Part III

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