Once Axra calmed down, the four continued on their way. Axra took point. She was ashamed of herself. She’d thought that she would be happy to see Twila, but she’d broken down. Seeing her mother like that had left her emotionally drained and she’d lost control in front of Twila. It was pretty embarrassing when she thought about it. She was so lost in thought that she didn’t notice Twila approaching her from behind until she was right beside her.
“You should stay back,” Axra said. “It’ll be harder to protect you when your at the front.”
“No need to worry,” Twila said. “I can take care of myself. More importantly, are you okay?”
“I’m sorry about earlier,” Axra said. “I… I was just… venting. It’s nothing for you to worry about.”
“Are you sure?” Twila asked. “You can tell me, if you need to. I know it helps to talk to a friend.”
Axra smiled. “Thank you, but it’s really not a big deal.”
“Well, if you ever want to talk about it I’ll be glad to listen,” Twila said. The group moved in silence for a while.
“Hey,” Axra said. “Why do mages have familiars?”
“What brought this on?” Twila inquired.
“Well, losing them really messes you up, right? So why take the risk?”
“It is true that losing your familiar can result in serious problems,” Twila admitted. “At the very least your looking at a serious mental strain. However, you can’t go very far as a mage without one.”
“What, are they a status thing or something?” Axra asked.
“It’s not that,” Twila said. “It’s hard to explain, but, basically, our familiars become a part of us. Because we have them, we can channel power that would be impossible otherwise. In exchange, we grant them longer life than they might have otherwise but that’s not all we give them. Fang, for instance, won’t live longer since a miniature dragon and half elf have roughly the same life span, but he can understand things that would have been beyond his abilities.”
While Twila was talking they came across a door. It was surprisingly intact with no signs of wear. It had ornate carvings running from the top to the bottom and writing in a strange language.
“It’s enchanted,” Twila noted. “The language is probably ancient djinni, but I’ve never seen it before, whatever it is.”
“You can’t read it?” Axra asked.
“No,” Twila said. “My aunt Reira might be able to, but that doesn’t help us.”
Axra walked up and tried to open it. The door didn’t budge.
“It must be protecting something good,” Axra said. “You can open it, right?”
“I can,” Twila said. “I’ll just need a little time to prepare.”
“Wh… what if it isn’t guarding anything?” Lilly asked. “Wh… what if it’s keeping something in?”
“That is also a possibility,” Twila admitted.
“So… are we going to, you know, move on?” Lilly asked.
“I would say no,” Twila said. “Even if there is a possibility of something dangerous being kept here, I’d like to find out for sure.”
“I agree,” Axra stated. “Let’s check it out. Besides, what are the chances the djinn would leave something dangerous sealed in their escape tunnels anyway?”
“If you two don’t want to stick around, we’ll understand,” Twila said.
“N… no, we’ll stay around,” Lilly said. “Definitely.”
“Then I’ll begin the spell,” Twila said.