Castle in the Clouds

“Hm, this is unusual…”

The Thantir Two had flown through vast amounts of endless void, constant darkness and very little else. Black was the standard colour of the Space Between Universes and, outside of small pockets of civilization, it normally consisted of pretty much nothing, aside from the lone asteroid field or rogue miniature star. A large, bright pink nebula in the middle of nowhere should have stuck out like a black eye, yet, somehow it had managed to remain unseen for goodness knows how long.

This nebula in particular was very alluring. Its edges glistened with sparkles and the cosmic winds around it were much calmer than normal. But it was also rather hollow and cool, with an ambient temperature of about 70 degrees, just a bit warmer than a cup of tea. Most nebulae were boiling pots of gas and baby stars, so this made little sense. Even more curiously though, there were plenty of small, pink clouds, large enough and thick enough to stand on, but also light enough to just bounce away harmlessly from the Thantir Two’s metal casing.

Well, most of the clouds were. One cloud appeared to have a very large, flaming meteor inside it, which decided to tear a small hole in the side of the ship. Luckily, there was a much larger island of clouds near the centre of this nebula where the Thantir Two could land. So that was what they did.

After a second inspection of the landing site though, something seemed off. In the distance, there was a large, pink, crystalline castle. It hadn’t appeared on initial scans, but the crew could see it clear as day once they’d landed.

“Of course I want to go and inspect the shiny castle!” Retvik exclaimed as the ship touched down. “Look at it! It is so shiny!”

“Now now, Retvik, we need to start the ship repairs first…” Galyn grumbled, shutting down the engines. The captain’s long claws tapped at various, specially designed consoles. “That will take a good five hours…”

Retvik rolled his eyes. “The ship repairs itself, does it not?”

“It does, but…”

“But what? You said we would be exploring the vast depths of the void, looking for cool things to discover. We have found something of interest, and we are just going to ignore it?” Retvik seemed rather eager. The four crew members had been stuck on board for a while, and the fiery Decay Lord was desperate to stretch his legs.

Galyn sighed, acknowledging that Retvik was at least partially right. “Fine. I will get the repair systems started, but someone has to stay here and keep an eye on things.”

Immediately, Arkay, the smallest member of the ship, raised his hand. “I’ll stay. I don’t want to go adventuring in what looks like typical Life Goddess terrain!”

“It does?” Retvik suddenly asked.

Arkay nodded. “Looks a lot like Kinisis’s old fortress. Except more clouds and pinkness and less grass and cute rivers.”

Galyn turned to Arkay, somewhat concerned about his reluctance. “Why do you not want to go?”

“To be honest? Aside from the time I was blown up, I’ve had multiple incidents involving a Life Goddess and her castle…” Arkay frowned, looking almost upset.

“What sort of incidents?” Galyn enquired.

“Well… Kinisis once invited me to stay with her for a small break, in a place that looks a lot like this. When Kenon found out, he got pissy, which caused Kinisis to banish him for a bit. He retaliated by tricking my siblings into thinking I was somehow mind-controlling Kinisis and holding her prisoner, and got them to attack me. The whole mess ended with Kinisis considering maybe I was the problem, trying to kill me and then being convinced by my siblings that, no, it’s Kenon who is the problem.”

Galyn stared at Arkay, before tutting and shaking his head. “Very well. You can stay here and keep an eye on the ship. You two are coming with me.”

Retvik smiled rather excitedly, then turned around to face Litvir, who had been sitting quietly this whole time.

“Sounds like fun, yes?”

“Yes, sure…” Litvir grumbled. “Fun…”