Axra waited outside the temple while Velvet explained what happened to the dark elf authorities. Bonnie had taken their prisoner somewhere secluded, where no one would hear his screams.
Lilly and Lysara arrived together. Fang was perched on Lilly’s shoulder.
“A… Axra are you… okay?” Lilly asked.
“Fine,” Axra answered. “It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.” She felt a cloth brush against her cheek s Lilly started cleaning her cut. She considered protesting since it was just a minor scratch, but if cleaning it made Lilly feel better, there certainly wasn’t any harm in it so she allowed it.
“I… I’m sorry,” Lilly said. “I… should have been here. It… it’s all my fault.”
“Don’t blame yourself for everything,” Axra said. “It’s not like they managed to hurt us.”
“Where’s Bon anyway?” Lysara asked.
“She…” Axra began. “She’s busy doing an errand for me. She should be back soon. So just hang with us for a bit.”
“Is that so?” Lysara asked. “Okay, I’ll wait.”
“Where’s Twila?” Axra asked.
“We… we sent a message for her,” Lilly said. “I don’t know when she’ll get it. She… still hasn’t found where the staff is.”
“We sent word to Reginald too,” Lysara added. “But we aren’t sure where he is. He said something about a night on the town and took off.”
“Do… do you really want to see her… that badly?” Lilly asked.
“Well, I suppose it’s for the best to let Twila finish her research,” Axra said. “I can always see her when she’s done.”
Axra stood outside talking with Lilly and Lysara for a while. Lysara would periodically look around as though to confirm that Bonnie hadn’t shown up yet. Axra kept the subject away from what Bonnie was doing. Lysara, after all, wouldn’t understand the necessity.
Finally, Bonnie returned. Her hands freshly washed but flecks of blood still dotting her boots.
“Bon!” Lysara cried. She ran over and hugged her. “I was worried about you. Axra said you were okay, but I still needed to see you.”
Bonnie hugged her back. “I’m fine. I just had some work to finish up.”
She saluted Axra. “Princess, I managed to get him to talk. He indicated that he had an informant in the city. I also managed to gather that the league is targeting you. Apparently, the kings have been disrupting their activities. I also managed to get the location of their current base, but I couldn’t get anymore.”
Axra nodded. “Good work. Send a message with the base location to Zero Papa. I’m sure you can find a mage besides Twila to do the sending spell. We’ll just have to watch out for them when we go to retrieve the staff.”
“Princess,” Bonnie said. “I can not recommend continuing our journey. It would be best if we return to Nervius where you’re more easily defended.”
“No,” Axra said. “This journey is important. We’ll keep going.”
“Axra… maybe… if it’s okay with you… maybe the journey could… wait… just a little,” Lilly suggested.
“I will not have that impertinent woman tailing you any longer than I have to,” Axra said. “I don’t care if she’s part Goddess or whatever. I will definitely protect you from her.”
“B… but your safety,” Lilly began.
“If they’re going to chase after me they’ll do it whether I’m on the move or hiding in a castle,” Axra said. “Honestly, I’d rather face them out in the open and be done with it. Assuming they can even survive what my dads are going to do to them.”
“I have to advise against this,” Bonnie said. “As the Princess your safety has to be our priority.”
“I can handle myself,” Axra said. “I’ve made up my mind. As soon as Twila finds out where we’re going we’ll continue on our way and I don’t want to hear any more complaints from any of you, okay?”
Axra was finally released from the clerics’ care and went to Elaine’s house with the others. The group waited for nearly two days before Twila returned.
She came inside, leaning heavily on her staff. Axra ran forward so that Twila could lean on her.
“I found it,” Twila muttered. “I searched for so long, but I found it.”
“I knew you would,” Axra said. “You can tell us all about it after you sleep.”
“Tell you now,” Twila muttered. “Sleep later.”
“All right,” Axra said. “Tell me.” Lilly, Bonnie, Lysara and Reginald all gathered closer so that they could hear.
“The elemental staff…” Twila muttered. “Also called Einklangümlich, it was hidden in a labyrinth within the Deflum mountain. We just have to find it. I can…” She collapsed into Axra’s arms, her breathing calming down.
“Is she okay?” Lilly asked.
“Just exhausted, I think,” Axra said. “So, where’s Deflum Mountain?”
Lysara raised her hand. “I know this one. It’s this huge mountain, possibly the biggest one aside from mount Olympus, and it’s right at the edge of the wastes near the ocean.”
“So, we have to go back through the wastes,” Axra stated. “Where all of this started.”
“We can pick up more supplies in Nervius,” Bonnie said. “We’ll probably need some more once we get that far.”
“No,” Axra said. “You just want to put me in a position where my dads can keep me from going further. We’ll go around the core of Nervius through Grimswald and get supplies there.”
Bonnie visibly winced when Axra mentioned Grimswald. “As you wish,” she whispered.
“Then it’s settled,” Axra said. “We’ll leave the underground when Twila wakes up, stop to pick up Velvet’s dogs and be on our way.”