“I’ll cast on Velvet first,” Twila explained. “He can take point. Then I’ll cast on Bonnie and Lysara, Axra and I will go next. We’ll make our way right to the landmass that Bonnie saw and set up camp.”
“Sounds like a pain,” Velvet muttered. “Why can’t we camp here?”
“Because we’re in a cramped tunnel without a lot of room to move around and with nothing to feed the horses,” Bonnie said. “Since that landmass is surrounded by water, it should be better.”
“Take a break if you have to,” Axra said, turning to Twila. “We don’t all have to get there at close to the same time.”
“Thank you,” Twila said. “But it’s best we not tarry. That creature that Bonnie fought could easily return.”
“Not if she hurt it as badly as she says she did,” Axra stated. “Wish I could’ve seen that battle.”
“Well, another like it at any rate,” Twila said. She squeezed Axra’s hand. “Don’t worry, I can handle it.”
“Wh…what about Fang… and the dogs… and horses?” Lilly asked. “Wh… what about me?”
“I’m going to leave you with a paired crystal,” Twila explained. “Once we reach the land on the other side I’ll break mine and it’ll open a portal for you all to travel through. Until then you’re the best person to take care of them.”
“You do have a way with animals,” Lysara said.
“I… I suppose,” Lilly agreed.
“We’ll see you soon,” Axra said. She kissed Lilly’s cheek.
With that, Twila began the operation. There were a couple minutes between each transformation, but finally all five of them were ready to go. They swam down into the depths, leaving Lilly alone.
Lilly sat with the dogs, petting their heads. Trying not to think about what would happen if they left her here, alone in the cold cavern. Twila had the supplies, they’d start starving pretty fast.
No, Twila and Axra would never leave her to that fate, not by choice. But what if something went wrong? Scenarios started playing through her head of her friends injured or worse, without her there to help them.
She wouldn’t even know anything was amiss until a couple hours had passed. Would have no way of going down to help them. She’d try to wander back to the surface but with her sightless eyes she’d never be able to find her way out of the Labyrinth.
Fang rested on her shoulders, she could hear a tiny yawn escape him. He would know if Twila was in danger, right? They did have the mage/familiar bond. The thought relaxed her.
“I’m being silly,” she said it to no one. She listened to the little dragon for any sign of alarm. Relieved when he seemed peaceful. Then he suddenly flew into the air.
“Wh… what’s wrong?” Lilly asked, standing.
Fang let out a series of grunts. They didn’t sound worried, rather they were pretty eager.
Lilly heard a sudden crackling sound in the air. Fang flew towards it. The portal!
“Come on everyone,” she said in her most soothing voice. “The others are waiting for us. There’s no need to be scared.”
The dogs rushed through first, barking as they went. Lilly led the horses through personally.
“Told you we wouldn’t be long,” she heard Twila say.
“I… I trusted you,” Lilly said. “I… I was a little worried about what you might find, though.”
“We found a pretty nice camping spot,” Axra declared. “I wish you could see it, Lilly. It’s got actual flowers and grasses. This could be an island floating in the actual ocean.”
Lilly felt the ground, it was really earthy and she could feel the grass. She could also smell something cooking.
“If not for the lack of sky overhead,” Bonnie agreed. “And the low winds.”
“And the cavern wall on three sides of it,” Lysara added.
“Lilly, here,” Axra said. “For you.”
Lilly felt something in her hand. A flower? “Th… thank you,” she said. She sniffed it. “A tiger lily?”
“Bingo,” Axra said. “I knew you’d get it.”
“We should be cautious,” Twila said. “There’s a magic to this place. Perhaps… perhaps it has some key to the temple below.”
“I get what you mean,” Bonnie said. “If there was an entrance here from the labyrinth that we missed then this could have some kind of mechanism that leads to the inside.”
“Hence eliminating any need for the transformation spell,” Twila said. “We should look around after we eat.”
“We’ll look around in the morning,” Axra said. “Or after we’ve slept anyway. Could very well be morning out there.”
The group ate and rested for the night, with a guard rotation just to be safe. After waking, Twila renewed the darkvision spell, the group washed themselves, with Velvet going off on his own, and ate before exploring.
Twila left Fang behind to keep watch over the camp. Velvet lay in his wagon.
“Get out of that thing,” Axra ordered. We’ll leave the animals here.” Velvet reluctantly obeyed.
They had been traveling for a couple hours when Bonnie stopped them.
“There’s a woman ahead,” she reported. “Possibly another Selkie transformed.”
She appeared to be in her mid-twenties with long red hair. She was turned away from them, dipping her feet in the water.
“We can’t just assume she’s an enemy,” Twila said. “Let’s try talking to her first.”
“I agree,” Axra stated. “Well met!” she called. The woman pulled her feet out of the water and turned to them. “Can you tell us anything about this area?” Axra asked.
The woman looked them over, smiling when she saw Velvet and she whistled.
Velvet saw Bonnie’s trident near his face.
“Relax,” he said. “I’m fine.”
“Really?” Bonnie asked. “That’s good, I thought for a moment…” she rolled to the ground to avoid a pair of bladed chakram that very nearly took her head off. “Lysara, wha…” She was cut ff again, evading Axra’s sword swings.
“Wh… what’s happening?” Lilly asked.
“We might be…” a near miss from a lightning spell sent him sprawling. “We’re definitely in trouble. Run!” He grabbed Lilly and ran, Bonnie following after them.