“I knew I was in trouble,” Axra said. “But I stood firm. I ran at one of the golems and my sword grazed its flesh, turning it to dust. Right, Lilly?”
“Oh… yes. Th… that is what happened… basically,” Lilly agreed.
“I didn’t know your sword could turn enemies into dust,” Twila stated. “How do you activate it?”
Axra shrugged. “Beats me. I’ve only managed to do it during that fight and when I fought those three dragons. Turned one to dust before you got there.”
“Huh..” Twila muttered.
“Is… is something wrong?” Lilly asked.
“Possibly,” Twila answered. “Tell me, did you feel exhausted after the fight? I mean, more than you would normally.”
“Not really,” Axra said.
“Huh…” Twila muttered.
“Just what are you mumbling about?” Axra asked.
“It’s strange,” Twila said. “All magic has a price. There’s only so much that I or another mage can do before we exhaust ourselves. It’s very much a physical toll. Clerical magic works by the practitioner dedicating time and worship to the Gods to curry favour with them. Hence being gifted with part of their power. Enchanted weapons are odd. They’re either charged with magic by their makers or they take power from their wielder. The greater the weapon’s power, the more exhausting it is to use. And a power that can disintegrate ones enemies…”
“So, that means it has a charge,” Axra said.
“G… Gail did say that Axra’s sword was the work of Hephaestus,” Lilly added.
“That’s the problem,” Twila said. “Charged weapons have powers that are used by a specific trigger from their wielder, but it sounds like you’ve used yours on accident. So…” She shook her head. “Never mind. I’ll figure it out when I see its power in action.”
They continued their march, slowly and steadily making their way up the steps. Lysara grabbed Lilly’s arm and pulled her back a little.
“Oh… I… Did you… need something?” Lilly asked.
“I don’t know what to do,” Lysara whispered, urgently. “I mean, Bon’s beautiful and kind and anything a girl could want. But I don’t know what to do about Twila. I can’t just leave her. I mean, I do love her dearly too. So… you’ve got to help me.”
“M… me?” Lilly asked.
Lysara nodded. “Yes, you. I don’t know what to do. You’re Bon’s closest friend from what I can tell and your feelings for Twila are pretty obvious. So, I know you’ll give me the best advice for both their sakes.”
“M… my… fee… for Twila?” Lilly asked. “I… I’m not sure exactly what you mean… but… but I do know that… well, when it comes to these things… you have to, you know, follow your heart.”
“What kind of vague rubbish is that?” Lysara demanded. “Whatever, I’ll figure it out on my own.”
“Oh… I’m sorry,” Lilly muttered. But Lysara was already walking away from her.
“Why can’t I just have them both?” She cried. Both Twila and Axra turned.
“Is something wrong?” Twila asked.
“Oh… Lysara was just… thinking about what to have…. for dinner,” Lilly answered. “S… ure. I can make a stew and… and just grill some meat with vegetables. It… it’s okay if you have a bit of both.”
“All that fuss over how to cook?” Axra said. “Either way it’s the same basic thing. Who even cares?”
“Well, it does taste different,” Twila said. “Although it’s really nothing to get that upset over.”
The group continued their march. Twila cast her spell over gap after gap. Sometimes having to do two at once when they were close enough together.
Axra watched as her footing grew more and more laboured. “Are you gonna be okay? You don’t look so good,” she observed.
“I…” Twila took a deep breath. “I’m fine. I just…” she tripped and fell forward. Axra caught her before she could hit the ground.
“Is… is she okay?” Lilly asked.
Axra knelt down and touched her forehead to Twila’s. “She’s burning up,” Axra answered. “I don’t think she’s going to wake up anytime soon.”
“I… I have some herbs,” Lilly said. “They might help… if I, you know… mix them up properly.”
“Do it,” Axra ordered.
“Excuse me,” Derry said, pushing her way up from the crowd of dark elves. “Is everything all right?”
“Oh… just a minor… thing…” Lilly said.
“No problem at all,” Lysara interrupted. “But you’ve all been marching so hard we decided to take a short break. Rest those weary legs muscles.” She put a hand on Derry’s shoulder. “So you go tell your friends to have a seat and kick back for a little while. Maybe have something quick to eat and we’ll be on our way shortly. Kay?”
“Oh, I see,” Derry said. “I guess the trek has been pretty tough. Okay, I’ll go spread the word.” She moved back into the crowd, the closest dark elves were already sitting down, carefully to avoid the edge.
Lysara breathed a sigh of relief.
“Good thinking,” Axra commended her. “We don’t need a panic right now.”
“Just leave it to me to keep up morale,” Lysara declared. She knelt down to take a better look at Twila. “Will she be okay?”
“After some rest,” Axra said. “I know she’ll be just fine after some rest.”
“Bu… but we can’t wait too long,” Lilly observed. “Th… they’ll notice and then… then they’ll be upset.”
“Can’t be helped,” Axra said. “We’re pretty close to another gap. We certainly can’t get them over it without Twila. Until she’s had some rest.. We’re stuck.”