The first Wednesday of every other month was Field Trip Day at the Santa Barbara zoo. As such, every single school in the city sent hordes of children over to look at the animals.
Usually Capt. Tropy didn’t mind being one of the resident zoo beavers. It was an easy gig, swimming around getting two meals a day and a comfortable home in return for being ogled at by children. Today, though, it was Princess Lulu’s sixteenth birthday, and Balloon Land was having the biggest and greatest party in the history of ever.
And here he was, missing it. There were so many children around that if he left for even half an hour it would be noticed.
“Hey, check this guy out,” Capt. Lumen called, staring up at the people on the above-ground walkway. “Doesn’t he look like someone from North Spire?”
Tropy swam over, spotting a human with pink hair. “Kinda,” he said. “Humans here are dying their hair all sorts of colors lately.”
“Indeed,” the human said, looking straight at him. “I am from North Spire.”
The beavers stared at him.
“I am Eryk Solbourn, D-Rank [Adventurer] from-“
“Whoa whoa whoa,” Tropy said, cutting him off. “You can understand us?”
“Of course,” Eryk said. “You are speaking Common, the same as everyone else.”
“Nnnno?” Lumen said, glancing at Tropy. “Not like everyone else. You think everyone is speaking the same language?”
Tropy pointed to a woman explaining to her children in Japanese that snow cones weren’t going to be in their immediate future. “You can understand her?”
Eryk looked at the woman for a moment before looking back. “Shouldn’t I be able to?”
Tropy and Lumen exchanged a glance. People from North Spire weren’t all that bright.
“Wait, how are you here?” Tropy asked. “Mystix hasn’t figured out dimension-hopping yet.”
“I died and was reborn into this fascinating world,” Eryk said proudly. “Twice.”
“With your memories and looks and HUD?” Lumen asked.
“Nah, kid, that’s called ‘hopping’, not being reborn,” Tropy explained. “If you were reborn you’d’ve lost everything.”
Eryk frowned. People from North Spire really weren’t that bright.
“Who brought you here?” Lumen asked. “Was it General Orno? He loves pulling crap like this.”
“No, it was The Goddess,” Eryk said. “I died saving children from a runaway carriage, and she was going to send me to a world with kaiju and moving cities, but something went wrong and I ended up here instead.”
“Oh, Mortal Rim, a great place,” Tropy said, nodding.
“Very fun,” Lumen agreed.
“You’ve been there?” Eryk asked.
“Of course, it’s second only to Balloon Land.”
“Nothing can top Balloon Land.”
“With its great parties…”
“...Parties we’re missing…”
“You must die quite regularly if you’ve been to so many worlds,” Eryk said.
The two beavers shared yet another glance, snickering. People from North Spire…
“How else do you get there?” the not-bright human asked.
“We have a dimension-hopper,” Tropy said. He smiled. “All military beavers do...”
Lumen finished the famous phrase: “...And all beavers are military.”
“I did not know this.”
“Not surprising, kid,” Lumen said.
“Hey, if you’re stuck here against your will, we could send you back to Mystix,” Tropy offered. “It wouldn’t be that hard…”
Eryk’s face lit up. “You can do that? The Goddess said it was impossible!”
“With her way of doing things it is,” Trophy said. “With ours it’s easy.”
“Yes! I have enjoyed my time here, but I believe going home would be for the best.”
“Okiedoki,” Lumen said, diving into their dam. A moment later he came out with a dimension-hopper and set the dial.
Eryk jumped over the barrier and swam over to them, still beaming.
“Where in Mystix do you want to go?” Tropy asked.
“When I died I was in Bellatrix, helping my friends clear a dungeon.”
“Dungeon… Bellatrix… Mystix… Here ya go, all set up,” Lumen said, handing him the hopper. “Just press the big red button. When you get there, find a beaver and tell them to return this to Captain Lumen of the 23rd Log Division.”
“I will! Thank you!”
With that, Eryk pushed the big red button and vanished.
Eryk landed in a cave. He could tell he was in a dungeon, deep beneath the surface of the planet. He was standing on something scaled, something large, something alive.
He was standing on a Maw Dragon.
The Goddess looked up. “You again? Sweetie, how many times are you gonna die this month?”
Eryk blinked several times. “I… wasn’t planning on dying.”
“No one is, honey, no one is.” She paused. “Well, some are, but they’re usually in the minority.”
Eryk sighed. “May I go ba-”
“No! Nope! No way! I already gave you two chances, and look what happened. You somehow found yourself back in Mystix, and died all over again. I’m gonna have a chat with those beavers…”
He hesitated as she continued grumbling to herself. “Soooo where will I go?”
“I’m doing it by the books this time,” she said, opening a portal. “You’re going to be reborn, properly reborn. I’m sending you to Balloon Land, where hardly anyone dies of anything other than old age and diabetes. You don’t deserve to go there, but I don’t care. If I see you again within the next decade, well, bless your heart it won’t end pretty. Understood?”
“Good. Now get through that damn portal.”
Eryk moved to the portal.
Thus ended the life of Eryk Soulborne, D-rank [Adventurer] of Mystix. April Fools.