Concluding the adventure that began here.

CHAPTER XXX: Castle in the Air.

Devil-King-KunKun retired behind his Pyrosaurus, leaving us facing the horrible monster, with a small army of lightning-bolt minions blocking the exit behind us.

The Pyrosaurus rumbled. It snorted, causing twin balls of fire to billow up from its nostrils. It began to lumber toward us, and my nose filled with the stench of brimstone.

“Stop!” Miss Kun barked with percussive force. She began walking toward the monster, which rumbled ominously.

“Miss Kun!” Weyland exclaimed. “For heaven’s sake—don’t sacrifice yourself!”

“I haven’t had much to do with heaven,” she replied, “but this is a reptile. I can do reptiles.” In the same commanding voice as before, she called out, “Bad dragon!”

The rumbling growl turned into a low interrogative whine, and the beast’s glowing eyes widened.

“Elsie!” Kun shouted from behind the beast. “Stop that! Pyrosaurus, incinerate them all!”

The Pyrosaurus grunted and took one step forward.

“Stay!” Miss Kun commanded it.

The Pyrosaurus snorted and stopped.

“Good boy!” called Miss Kun, continuing to approach. “Sit!”

The Pyrosaurus lowered its hindquarters and watched expectantly.

“Oh, for the love of Mike!” cried Kun. “This is the last time I muck about with biology! From now on it’s strictly rays!”

“Good dragon,” Miss Kun said in an encouraging tone. “Down!”

The beast obediently lay on the floor with its head between its enormous front feet.

“Good boy! Who’s a pwecious widdle fwaming monster-wonster? Stay! Good boy!”

And then, to the astonishment of everyone else, Miss Kun simply climbed up the creature’s right front leg, hoisted herself up on its shoulders, and sat behind its head.

“Up!” she commanded.

The monster rose obediently, with Miss Kun riding on its neck.

“Turn,” she said, leaning a little to the right, and the beast turned itself around in the tunnel.

I heard Kun’s angry voice from behind the thing: “Is this how you respect your father, young lady? I should never have given you riding lessons!”

“You see that man in the purple robe?” Miss Kun said to the beast. “He’s a big meany! Go get him!”

The Pyrosaurus began to stomp forward into the tunnel.

“We’re going to have a serious talk, young lady,” the voice of Kun declared, “just as soon as I’m through running for my life.”

“Hyaaah!” cried Miss Kun, and her enormous mount took off into the tunnel at a canter.

“Follow her lead,” Weyland told us. “Apparently she knows what she’s doing.”

He ran after the Pyrosaurus, Kitty bounding along at his side, and Tluxapeketl and I followed close behind.

The Pyrosaurus came to an intersection in the tunnel, and Miss Kun expertly turned it into the left-hand passage. Again we followed, until we came to the same great open space where we had first encountered the Pyrosaurus. By the time I got there, Kun was already hurriedly unscrewing a hose from a large valve.

“Whatever you’re doing, stop it now, Daddy,” Miss Kun demanded.

“I’ve finished,” said Kun, standing in an open doorway. “And now I must bid you farewell. I’ll send you my forwarding address.”

“Daddy!” Miss Kun shouted. “Daddy, you wouldn’t!”

There was a loud crack, and a din of stone scraping stone, and the whole section of wall that included Kun’s doorway began slowly rising. I looked up: the ceiling was rising, too, and cracks of daylight were appearing around the edges.

“What’s happening?” Weyland called up to Miss Kun.

“He’s filled the castle walls with goesuppium gas!” she said, coming down from her mount, which obediently lay on the floor for her convenience. “It’s our last-ditch emergency protocol!”

She had not finished speaking when Weyland suddenly ran toward the rising wall. With a vigorous leap, he managed to cling to the large valve from which Kun had detached the hose.

“What are you doing?” Miss Kun shouted as the wall rose more and more rapidly. “Come back here! If you kill yourself, I’ll make you wish you were dead!”

Weyland was rising quickly now. The whole castle above us was gaining velocity as it went up and up. Soon the whole structure was in the air above us, with Weyland as a tiny ant-like figure clinging to the bottom of it.

“What’s he doing?” I asked.

“I don’t know. But I don’t want him to die. Why do I care whether he dies? What has he done to me? He’s going to pay for this!”

Then suddenly the castle, which had been rising like a balloon, took off like a rocket and shot across the sky until it disappeared over the horizon.

“Look!” cried Tluxapeketl, pointing into the sky.

A tiny figure was up above us, falling toward the earth. No—not falling: as he came closer, we could see that Weyland was gently floating down, as if he were attached to an invisible parachute.

As we watched the puzzling descent, Kun’s army of minions came out of the tunnel and filled the broad space that was now under the open sky.

Instantly Miss Kun took control. “My loyal friends!” she said in her most commanding tone. “Since my father has been unexpectedly called away, you are my minions now. Await your orders.”

There was some murmuring of assent, but most of the minions wee occupied, like us, in watching Weyland’s inexplicably gentle descent.

At last he touched down, bending his knees just a little to cushion the landing, only a few yards from where we were standing. Miss Kun immediately ran and embraced him, and Kitty rubbed against him with a loud rumbling purr.

“What did you do?” Miss Kun asked.

“Remembering our experience with your air yacht,” Weyland explained, “I simply opened the valve all the way and allowed all the goesuppium to escape at once. I calculate that the castle’s trajectory should bring it down in the Atlantic about sixty nautical miles east-northeast of Madeira.”

“But how did you keep from falling?”

“Oh, that was very simple. Before I opened the valve all the way, I was able to introduce enough goesuppium gas into my underwear to assure a gentle descent.”

“What is ‘underwear’?” asked Tluxapeketl.

“I have no idea,” replied Miss Kun.

“So,” I asked, “does this mean Kun is dead?”

“Almost certainly not,” Weyland answered. “It is not in the nature of archfiends to die. They suffer temporary defeats, but then regroup in a few years when there is demand for a sequel.”

“And we’ll be ready for him,” Miss Kun declared. “We have a fire-breathing dragon, a tiger, and an army of lightning-bolt minions, all at the service of the forces of good.”

“So you think you can manage to stay on the side of good?” Weyland asked her.

“I’ve thought about that,” Miss Kun replied, holding him tighter, “and I’ve decided that I can just about manage to be good in public, as long as I can be very, very wicked in private.”

Weyland smiled. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Are you sure, Mr. Weyland? You may think you knew suffering and terror as my enemy, but that is nothing compared to being my boyfriend.”

“I think you know me well enough to call me ‘Norbert,’” he said.

“I think you know me well enough to call me ‘Mistress,’” she said.

“Oh, look!” Tluxapeketl said as the minions began to cheer and whistle. “Pink men know how to kiss!”

“Well, of course we do,” I responded.

“But how would I know? You never did it to me.”

She was looking at me expectantly, and I could hardly help giving her what she expected, taking her in my arms and kissing her for a very long time. Her response was very enthusiastic.

When at last she was finished responding, she said, “That was a very good first try.”

“Tluxapeketl,” I asked, and I was dreading the answer, “now that this is all over, will you be going back to your Amazonian forest?”

“Oh, no!” she replied. “I will stay with you and be your wife and save the world from evil archfiends.”

“You will? My darling, how marvelous! And you won’t miss the forest?”

“Not at all. Jaguars, waterfalls, strangler figs, crocodiles—it’s always the same thing in the jungle. But civilization is a new adventure every day!”

the end.

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