The dwarf circled Inés, looking her over. “And what can you be doing against it?” He asked. “The armour’s well made, certainly, but I don’t think the stick’s going to do much good. Not against that monster’s rough scales.”
“You’d be surprised by how much damage I can do with this thing,” Inés said. “besides, it doesn’t hurt you to tell me, now does it?”
“Very well,” Francis muttered. “If you must know, the beast was a serpent, easily seven metres long with long, sharp teeth. It came up right in front of my ship and nearly capsized us. We were lucky to escape alive!”
“I don’t suppose you’d take my comrade and I out to meet it?” Inés asked.
“Just the two of you?” Francis asked. “The beastie would slaughter you!”
“I killed a giant not long ago by myself,” Inés stated. “You think I’d lose to a sea serpent?”
“Aye,”Francis said. “I want no part in your fool’s errand.”
“Francis,” Ethan said. “these are Athena’s priestesses. Show them some respect.”
“All the more reason to not get them killed,” Francis said.
“Fine,” Inés shrugged. “We’ll find someone else to take us. Serena, let’s go.”
Serena hurriedly followed Inés out of the Inn.
“Is this a good idea?” Serena asked.
“No worries,” Inés sated. “Fighting in the water is a speciality of mine.”
“But if Sylvie comes looking for us, she’s going to be really mad,” Serena said.
“I know,” Inés said. “That’s why we’re going to pick her up before going.”
The two found Sylvie on their road to the temple district.
“Oh, you two,” Sylvie greeted. “I trust you found us suitable accommodations?”
“Of course,” Inés nodded. “We also found out that a horrible sea serpent is terrorising the lake. As warrior priestesses, I feel that it’s our duty to deal with it.”
Sylvie crossed her arms. “Knowing you, you just want to bash its head. But you are completely correct. It is our solemn duty to protect people who need it. First thing in the morning, we’ll go after this monster.”
“Let’s go now!” Inés declared.
“No!” Sylvie argued. “It’s late and we’re all tired. We’ll stand a better chance in the morning when we’re rested.”
“It won’t hurt to wait, right?” Serena asked, putting a hand on Inés’ shoulder.
“Fine,” Inés sighed.
The trio returned to the Inn for the night. Serena slept fitfully, with Inés squirming in her sleep beside her.
When she woke up in the morning, Inés was already dressed and ready. Serena got dressed in a hurry and the two went to Sylvie’s room to pick her up. Together, they made their way to the lake.
It was a humid morning and the lake was shrouded with a thin mist when they arrived. The only person in sight was an elderly gnome, fishing from the shore.
“Pardon me, Miss,” Sylvie said. “But might you know where we can charter a boat?”
“Won’t be easy,” she said. “The captains are scared of the serpent.” She looked forlornly at her rod. “Fish seem to be too. Why do three young ladies need to go out to the lake anyway?”
“We’re going to deal with the serpent!” Inés declared.
“Just the three of you?” The old woman asked. “That could be an interesting sight. So, what are you called, then?”
“Pardon my rudeness,” Sylvie said. “I should have introduced myself. I’m Sylvie. My comrades are Serena and Inés . We’re priestesses of Athena.”
The old woman rose and dusted herself off. “Far be it from me to question holy women.” She pointed. “That’s my ship. I’ll take you out on the lake.”
“It will be quite dangerous,” Sylvie warned. “Are you sure?”
She shrugged. “I’m not far from the grave anyway. Going out helping your like wouldn’t be so bad. Besides, old Priscilla doesn’t rescind her offers.”
The three boarded her small ship and set sail. “Keep an eye out,” Priscilla said. “We should see signs of it before it shows up.”
“There!” Serena cried, pointing to a long shadow. Inés dove into the lake.
She saw it quite clearly underwater. It’s scales were mostly a dark blue with yellow spots. The serpent opened its mouth and lunged for her. She easily swam out of its path and readied her staff for its next strike. It reared back, preparing to strike and stopped.
The serpent bowed its head low in front of her. “Milady, forgive,” it hissed. “Didn’t recognise.”
Inés lowered her staff. “you aren’t going to fight me?” she asked.
“Never!” the serpent declared.
“Ooookay,” Inés muttered. “Why are you causing trouble for the boats?”
“Trapped,” the serpent answered. “No large prey here.”
“How are you trapped?” Inés asked.
“Follow,” the serpent entreated. It swam back the way it had come. Inés followed, barely managing to keep up.
“That idiot!” Sylvie declared. She examined the water. “I can’t see a damn thing down there.”
“She’s dead by now,” Priscilla muttered. “Hasn’t come up for air.”
“She has gills,” Serena explained. “I’m sure she’s fine. It would’ve come up to attack us otherwise, I hope.”
The serpent led Inés to an underwater tunnel. the entrance was largely blocked by rocks. Inés could see that it was long.
“Collapsed,” serpent lamented. “Trapped here now.”
“Where’s it lead?” Inés asked.
“Home,”the serpent answered. “Ocean.”
“So, if I unblock it you’ll leave this lake in peace?” Inés asked.
“Yes!” the serpent declared, floating energetically up and down. “Please, help.”
“Fine,” Inés said. “Stand… float back there.”
The serpent obediently slithered into position. Inés put a hand on the tunnel wall and chanted. The water inside the tunnel churned violently and burst out, pushing the rocks blocking the path out into the lake.
After a minute the tunnel was cleared and the spell had worn off.
“Many thanks, Milady,” the serpent said, slithering down the tunnel at great speed.
Inés waved goodbye and surfaced, hurriedly making her way back to the ship.
“Inés!” Serena declared, hugging her tightly.
Inés stroked her hair. “It’s all right. I’m fine.”
“The serpent?” Sylvie asked.
“No longer a threat to this lake,” Inés answered. “Very weird story. I’ll tell both of you later.”