“You’ve gotta be kidding me?” Axel cried.
The group of them had found the site that their way gate led to. They’d come in, ready to deal with any resistance and found… another broken way gate.
“Careful bastards, I’ll give them that.” Isaac muttered.
“Cowards are only good at running!” Lennard declared.
“Where did this one take them?” Lexine asked.
“I’ll be able to tell you soon,” Moira said.
“They can’t run forever,” Lulu muttered. “We’ll catch up.”
“They may only be delaying us,” Shin observed. “I mean… so they can run away on foot or prepare something.”
“Come to think of it,” Reira stated “Twila’s mind did have something about a ‘sacred flame.'”
“Sacred flame?” Isaac asked. “Where have I heard…”
“The forbidden summoning spells!” Moira cried.
“That’s right!” Isaac snapped his fingers. “And in a cauldron deep and dark, the sacred flame shall burn bright. After it consumes a thousand souls…” He paused, looking like he was trying to remember more.
“The sacred flame shall burst,” Moira whispered. “And from Tartarus it shall bring, that which will grant its bearer’s boon. The great Typhon shall emerge.”
“Why does magic stuff always gotta be so flowery?” Lennard asked.
“That doesn’t matter,” Lexine said. “Moira, you said…”
“Typhon,” Reira finished.
“The deadliest Titan,” Florence muttered. “Could any of us stand up to him for even a moment?”
“We have to find their base before they can finish the spell!” Moira declared. “Come, I know where to go next.”
“Sorry for holding everything up, Guys,” Axra said. “I should have been more careful during that fight.”
They were sitting around a campfire, with tents in a circle around it. They hadn’t gone too far from the battlefield, wanting only to get away from the sight and scent of the violence that had occurred there but not wanting to strain Axra.
“Don’t worry about it,” Bonnie said.
“Yeah, it’s not your fault,” Lysara stated. “In fact, both Lilly and Twila agree that you were really cool during that match.”
“I never said that,” Twila stated.
“I… I didn’t either,” Lilly said. “N… no that you didn’t look cool. I… I just didn’t say it like that.”
“Not in those exact words,” Lysara said. “but you definitely both had that sentiment when you talked about the fight.”
“The important thing is that we’ll be able to leave in the morning,” Bonnie said. “I’ve taken the liberty of planning the fastest route to Grimswald. I also had Velvet go into town to replenish our supplies in advance so that we can pick up what little needs replenishing at that point quickly and be on our way.”
“It was a hassle,” Velvet muttered.
“You’ve really got everything organised,” Twila said. “It’s an admirable trait.”
“Not at all,” Bonnie said. “I just did what needed done.”
“What do you think we’ll find at the Deflum Mountain?” Lysara asked. “Besides the staff?”
“Monsters and traps,” Bonnie said. “Possibly some other treasures.”
“I bet it’s full of really cool stuff that no one’s seen in a long time!” Lysara declared. “I can’t wait to describe it in song!” She started playing an upbeat tune on her lyre.
“Axra,” Twila said. “When Reginald was holding me in that cell he… he had some things to say about you. I think that we should talk, in private.”
“Sure thing,” Axra agreed.
“Lilly,” Twila said. “You should come along too.”
“M… me?” Lilly asked. “B… but I…”
“Please,” Twila said, looking directly into Lilly’s eyes. “It’s important.”
Lilly looked over at Axra. Then back to Twila. Then back at Bonnie. Finally, she nodded. “O… okay.”
Twila smiled. “Great. Bonnie, look after Fang for me for a little while, okay?”
“Not a problem,” Bonnie stated. Fang flew over to her.
“No fair,” Lysara said. “I want to watch the cute little dragon. Hey, Bon, let me hold him too okay?”
Twila smiled and led Axra and Lilly away from the others.
She didn’t lead them too far from the encampment, just far enough away that their voices wouldn’t carry to the others. Then, she turned to the two of them. “Axra,” Twila turned to her. “Do you know why Reginald was so certain that you’d come for me?”
Axra quickly looked away from her. “It’s because I’m a hero, of course!”
Twila sighed, heavily. “We need to be honest with each other.” She put a hand on Axra’s shoulder and pulled her closer, turning Axra to face her. “He said that you were in love with me.”
Axra froze, she felt like her entire face must be red, although in truth a blushing dark elf was barely noticeable.
“I see,” Twila said. “So it was true. And Lilly, you’re in love with Axra, are you not?”
Lilly’s face actually did turn a bright crimson. “I… I… I… Th…. I… I…”
Twila released Axra and put her hands on Lilly’s shoulders. “You don’t have to say it in words. Just nod or shake your head, okay?”
Lilly looked down and nodded.
“Huh?” Axra asked. “Since when?”
“That isn’t important,” Twila said. “What is important is that we be honest with each other and settle this.” She looked from Axra to Lilly. “And since I called you both over here it seems only fair that I tell you my own feelings in full.”
“What do you suppose they’re doing?” Bonnie inquired.
Lysara was beside her, rubbing Fang’s scaly belly. “It has to be that,” Lysara said. “Right?”
Velvet nodded. “Yeah. Definitely.”
“Okay, I’m confused,” Bonnie said. “What in Tartarus are you two talking about?”
“Lilly loves Twila,” Lysara said. “But Axra also loves Twila. So she took them over there to fight for her hand!”
“Lilly loves Axra,” Bonnie stated. “Where re you getting the idea that she loves Twila?”
“In any case,” Velvet interrupted. “That’s what they’re talking about, almost certainly.”
“Poor Lilly,” Bonnie muttered. “She’s going to get left behind.”
“You think?” Velvet asked.
“And what do you think is going to happen?” Bonnie countered.
“Axra’ll accept Lilly’s love and the two of them’ll be together,” Velvet answered.
“No way!” Lysara declared. “Axra’s indecisiveness will catch up to her and Lilly and Twila will live happily ever after!”
“Won’t happen,” Bonnie stated. “Twila and Axra are both aristocratic ladies. A servant like Lilly will be left behind.”
“But Axra and Lilly have history,” Velvet said. “A lot of it.”
“But Twila and Lilly have the most chemistry,” Lysara stated. “They’ll definitely get together.”
The three of them argued , speculating about how events might unfold.
“What are you three doing?” Axra asked.
“Talking,” Bonnie answered.
“Not about anything in particular,” Lysara added.
“Is that so?” Axra asked. She turned to Bonnie. “Bonnie, I need you to patrol the area real quick. I thought I heard something while I was over there. You can leave Fang with Lysara.”
“Understood,” Bonnie said. As she walked away she noticed Twila lurking in the shadows near Axra. “So, I was right,” she muttered.
Axra watched Bonnie fade into the distance. “We’re clear.”
“I’ll make this fast,” Twila said.
“You’re sure it’ll soundproof it?” Axra asked.
“I am,” Twila stated. “I use it all the time… when I don’t have to worry about something attacking. There, it’s done.” Twila and Axra shuffled into the tent. Lilly stood at the entrance. She looked nervously over at Velvet and Lysara.
Axra reappeared at the entrance. “You nervous?”
Lilly looked down and nodded. “I… I haven’t ever done any… anything like this.”
“Neither have I,” Axra said. “And I’m pretty sure Twila hasn’t either.” She held out her hand. “Let’s learn together.”
Lilly took Axra’s hand and the two went into the tent, sealing it behind them.
“You can do that?” Lysara asked.
“I suppose so,” Velvet stated.
“If I’d known that I wouldn’t have given up on Twila when I got together with Bon,” Lysara muttered.
“Somehow I don’t think Bonnie would have gone for it,” Velvet stated.