The air up here was thin, but just about breathable. For humans anyway, the dragons had no problem with this height. Wisps of cloud washed over her helm, as the ascended just a little higher, listening to the muffled noises coming from their target ahead.

Just a little further, she passed to Ryuu.

The airship they were tracking was just in front of them now, it’s bulk visible as a dark shadow in amongst the clouds. They pair of them glided up, hoovering above it, as it slowly moved through the misty clouds.

Tuning into Ryuu’s sharper vision, she could see the figures on the deck, including a number of them beneath an awning, trying in vain to keep the wet fog from the table they were using. And on the table, was the artefact that they were tracking. Rachel knew it was a compass, but it certainly didn’t look like any compass she had encountered, here or back home.

Ready? she asked her dragon, and felt his chest rumble, as she drew his wings in, and they fell silently out of the sky.

Their precision was impeccable, as Rachel detached from Ryuu’s back, landing on the deck a few short paces from the awning. Short sword out, she slipped in, rolling over the table, scooping up the compass before they had registered that something was happening.

Dodging round a deck hand, she had to bring up her sword to deflect the blow of a guard. Spinning him round so that his back was to the awning, a step wrong on his part sent him tumbling back into the table, over the deckhand she had just avoided, papers and objects flying everywhere as the table overturned. Beautiful confusion.

She sprinted towards the other side of the deck, where Ryuu was flying round to. From her left, came another guard, she was almost at the edge, all she needed to do was jump. She sidestepped, raising her sword to parry the blow, but this guard was good, he caught her parry, twisted her sword away, it clattered to the deck and she heard more than felt the ripping of her flesh.

Ryuu’s scream echoed round the ship, his clawed hind legs grasping onto the side of the ship, splintering the wood. His flame spurted over her head, as Rachel sank to the deck, one arm clutching the compass, as the other pressed against her stomach.

There was a crunch, as she could taste blood and bone in her mouth. She reached out, and felt Ryuu’s scales, and managed to find the strength from him to push up, clutching onto his side and she clumsily swung up and over, a hefty streak of red splashing against his dusky scales.

As soon as she was on his back, he leapt off the ship, his claws taking a chunk of it with him. Rachel sank onto his back, laying against the rough scales, gasping for air as the pain set in.

Your pain is great, Ryuu’s head swung round to sniff at the wound.

Hospital. I need a hospital.

In your world?

It’s bad, I don’t know if they could fix it here.

Can you bear the jump?

Rachel struggled, but removed her helmet one handed, putting both that and the compass into a saddle bag, I’ll have to.

She gritted her teeth as Ryuu drew in his wings, diving at a shallow angle to build up speed, a ripple in the sky ahead marking their portal. In mere seconds, they were passing through, and the pain exploded in her side again, whiting out her vision.