“Herd of arachnophants below,” Captain Anise announced.
Magisaur moseyed to the edge of the gondola and peered below at the Asphalt Sea. Eight-legged pachyderms trudged along the endless parking lot, their legs splayed out like a spider’s legs as they stomped, crushing anything in their path. The one at the front of the herd with the two massive tusks trumpeted up toward the blimp.
“It gladdens my heart our transportation saves us from crossing paths with them,” Magisaur said.
Jer, adventurer and food-deliverer, sidled up the railing. “Yeah, you don’t want to face those if you don’t have to. Just one is enough.” He called to the captain, “Raise us up, Anise!”
“Aye!” The woman in the blue naval uniform reached over to a red-painted spear and tossed it in her hand, feeling the weight. She looked up to the blimp floating above her, and loosed the deadly missile.
The spearhead prodded through the tough skin, and stuck for a moment until gravity pulled it back down.
The puffer-fish blimp sucked in air and inflated. Gently, the living aircraft lifted higher into the sky.
“Jer, if I may, why did you command that we increase altitude?”
“They jump, your majesty. I’ve never seen how high, and I don’t feel like finding out. Do you?”
“No. I am content to remain ignorant of that matter.” Magisaur pulled his lined purple robe tighter around his shoulders, keeping an eye on the herd below. “Is there an effective way of defending against such creatures?”
“The only thing I’ve seen keep them at bay is loud noise. All it does is frighten them for a few moments, though.”
Captain Anise called, “Rising to 1000 yards.”
“That should be enough,” Jer answered. “Ease off.”
The captain looked up to the puffer-fish. She breathed in deeply, shutting her eyes, and sang. Magisaur relaxed into the tune. Her haunting lullaby lilted, caressing the ears in the frigid air.
The great puffer-fish relaxed, expelling air until the blimp leveled off.
Magisaur glided through the gondola until he stood beside the captain. “My lady, you have a talent with song.”
The woman gave half a smile. “It’s part of the job. I control Paddington here to get us where we need to go.” She shrugged. “I needed to get out of the family business, and the fleet needed more captains. Easy enough.”
The great dinosaur nodded. “It appears you have used your talents well.”
The captain reddened. “Thanks.”
Jer stepped over to them. “Hey now! No flirting with the crew! That’s my job!”
Captain Anise rolled her eyes.
Jer kept a smile on his face. “How long until we get there?”
“If the winds stay with us, about an hour.” She glanced into the sky. “Also assuming the skies stay friendly. Look.”
Magisaur followed her finger. Dots littered the horizon behind them.
Jer went to the floor lockers that lined the railing, pulling out a spyglass. He swore. “Terrordactyls. The same ones from the bar, by my guess. They think we’re after treasure.”
Magisaur growled. “Will they catch us?”
Captain Anise spoke, “We can gain altitude. It’s what Paddington’ll do anyway when she’s threatened. If we go high enough, the ‘dactyls won’t be able to follow.”
“And suffocate us, too,” Jer answered.
“Well, sure, we’ll lose consciousness. But she’ll descend once the threat’s over. We’ll be fine.” Anise glanced up at the great fish floating above them.
Jer shook his head. “Too risky. Magisaur, how are you in a fight?”
“Alas, my battle prowess proceeds from intimidation. My abilities in actual combat have never needed to be tested.”
“You won’t frighten off terrordactyls.”
“I fear you assume correctly.”
Jer glanced around the gondola. It was only the three of them and crates of food and supplies for the Orphanage – if anyone was there. “Anise will need to keep the ‘fish under control. That leaves me, and I can’t fight off a whole flock on my own.”
Magisaur thought. “Captain Anise, can you bring Paddington to a lower altitude? Perhaps directly over the arachnophant herd?”
“Jer, how many crates can we spare?”
The adventurer shook his head. “I don’t like this.”
“You will lose profit, but you may well keep your life.”
Jer frowned, rubbing the stubble on his cheeks. “I wasn’t worried about profit. If we can find the orphans, they’ll need that food.”
“And should we never deliver the food at all, they will have none rather than less.”
The man slapped Magisaur on his massive back. “That’s why I brought you with. See? Wisdom. Better than a whip in any fight.”
Anise began her lullaby again. Paddington hissed as air escaped. The fish above them narrowed and slimmed. They descended.
Below, the lead arachnophant trumpeted, tossing its tusks in the air.
The dots behind grew. Indistinct shapes became flattened silhouettes. Magisaur soon was able to make out their flapping wings. The sun shone off their mottled green and orange scales.
Jer stood at the back of the gondola, a whip coiled around his shoulder, a stack of harpoons near his feet.
“Jer, is there anything I might contribute?”
“Nah. You already did with your plan. You can sure try intimidating, though.”
“I shall indeed.”
The rigging creaked in the wind. Other arachnophants trumpeted below. Anise released her lullaby.
The terrordactyls swooped close. So close.
“Now!” Jer ordered.
The captain, Jer, and Magisaur shoved crates over the railing. They plummeted to the ground. One broke on the surface of the Asphalt Sea. A second struck an arachnophant on the back, the third another’s head.
The herd leaped.
Eight massive legs flexed and propelled each beast skyward, shaking their terrible tusks. They targeted anything that moved in the skies.
The terrordactyls scattered. Two were impaled as they maneuvered through the air.
Jer cheered until an arachnophant struck the bottom of the gondola.
The wooden planking below them lurched. Magisaur stumbled and gripped the railing at the edge of the ship. A second monster struck from below. Tusks tore through the planking near Magisaur. Splinters showered everyone. Several crates slipped through the gash in the deck. The trumpeting hurt Magisaur’s ears.
Paddington sucked in air. The gondola tipped as they gained altitude.
A third arachnophant hit from below. Its tusks tore through the planking beside Magisaur.
He lost his balance.
He slipped through the new hole in the deck.
Below him, the Asphalt Sea beckoned, and he sped toward the earth.
Magisaur closed his eyes as he rushed toward the fatal ground.
This is a Barrelbottom Tale.
Magisaur and Jer were last seen in A Magisaur Alone.
Read part 2 here!