The fifth chambre had a small ledge, leading into a deep pool of water.
“So, we just have to go in and swim to the exit, right?” Lysara asked.
“There’s gotta b more to it than that,” Axra said. “Some kind of sea monster has to be lurking in the water.”
“But I don’t see anything in there,” Twila stated.
“M… maybe it’s attached to the door again,” Lilly said. “O… or invisible.”
“The people who built this sure have a thing for invisible or otherwise hidden enemies,” Axra noted.
Twila nodded. “They probably wanted to make sure that no one could get to the staff without being prepared, and to prevent anyone who wasn’t committed from making it too far.”
“Perhaps I should go in first and you can see what attacks me,” Bonnie suggested.
“No way!” Lysara cried. “You aren’t going in with your arm like that! I’ll go.”
“Even with my arm like this I have more experience drawing out ambushes,” Bonnie said. “I’m the best choice for this.”
“Neither of you are going,” Twila stated. “The enemy is in the water. That much is clear. If I send a jolt of lightning into it, then it should be forced to reveal itself.”
“Good thinking,” Axra said. “That’s my Twila.”
“Stand back,” Twila commanded. She stepped forward, chanting. “Lightning Lance!” She snapped her fingers and lightning flew from her fingertips into the water. The reaction was instantaneous. The water gushed upwards before slamming down, nearly hitting Twila before receding back into the pool.
“Was it supposed to do that?” Lysara asked.
“It shouldn’t have,” Twila muttered. “Unless, perhaps…”
“What is it?” Axra asked. “You’ve got that tone to your voice.”
“Can you stick your arm in and out of it really quickly?” Twila asked. “And I do mean quickly.”
“Sure,” Axra said. She moved carefully next to the pool quickly dipped her arm in and pulled it out. For a brief moment she felt like something was trying to pull her arm down.
Twila walked over to her and brushed her fingers across Axra’s arm. “Just what I thought,” Twila said. “You’re completely dry. Did you feel anything while you were in there?”
“I felt like something was trying to pull me in,” Axra answered. “Just for an instant.”
“Our enemy is a Mirage,” Twila said. “A nasty type of magical creature that bonds with some substance and controls it. This entire pool of water has been taken as part of its body. If we try to swim in it, whether I magic us up some gills or not, we’ll be crushed instantly.”
“So, how do we beat it?” Axra asked.
“That’s the problem,” Twila said. “Magic won’t affect the Mirage. We could kill it with your blades if we could find it, but its core is probably near the bottom, protected.”
The five stood, thinking.
“You say that magic won’t affect the mirage itself,” Bonnie stated. “Does that include the substances it controls?”
“No,” Twila said. “I could damage the water around it, but it wouldn’t do us much good unless I could…”
“Boil the water away,” Bonnie interrupted. “Leaving its core exposed.”
“It would have to be done quickly,” Twila stated. “Right now the Mirage is largely ignoring us, but if we do something that threatens it, it will come after us.”
“Can you turn most of the water into steam quickly enough that it won’t know what hit it?” Axra asked.
“It is possible,” Twila said. “But it will take a very high level fire spell. I might be able to cast one, but it’s going to leave me weakened for a while and the Mirage will start drawing in the steam as fast as it can. You’ll only have a few minutes to be able to reach it.”
“Leave that to us,” Bonnie said. “Princess, you can guard Twila while Lysara and I deal with the Mirage.”
“Agreed,” Axra said. “Finish it quickly, all right?”
“That’s not the only problem,” Twila said. “It’s going to be absurdly hot in here when it’s done and not just directly where the spell hits. We may suffer some burns just by being in this chambre.”
“There’s not much choice,” Bonnie said. “We’ll just have to deal with the Mirage and hope that the heat dissipates quickly.”
“Unless you have another option,” Axra said.
“I don’t,” Twila said. “Just be prepared for it.”
Twila closed her eyes and steadied herself, chanting quickly. It took nearly a minute to finish the incantation. When she was about done she held her hand out, ready to snap her fingers and finished shouting: “Flames of Armageddon!”
A pillar of pure white flames erupted, focused on the pool of water. Steam flooded the room as most of the water evaporated instantly. Bonnie shielded her face from the super-heated cloud and looked for the Mirage. She quickly located its now humanoid form. It was roughly the size of Velvet for the moment but steadily getting larger. She grabbed her trident, ignoring the pain it caused her hand and lunged for the thing.
It backed away from her, still too small to act effectively. Lysara moved in from the other side. Her chakrams slicing into it. The mass quivered, stilling long enough for Bonnie’s trident to jab into it. When she pulled her trident out, a scarab beetle roughly the size of a rat was speared on it.
“That’s… that’s it,” Twila gasped. “Ho… hold on… I… I think I can cool it down… a bit faster.”
“Don’t push yourself,” Axra said. “It’s clearing pretty fast on its own.”
“The Princess is right,” Bonnie said, she let her trident fall to the ground and wiped her brow with her good arm. “We can’t afford for you to waste your power when we’ve still got the sixth element to worry about, whatever it is.”