Chapter 29:

Overnight in Sarama Desert


Wasting no time, the group made their way north towards their destination. It was smooth sailing, well… until 2 days after they set off.


“Stop complaining. You’re just going to make it worse for yourself.”- Leo replies, exhausted from the heat.

Flashback to the night before, the group was deciding the route they should take to Absol. They settled with the drawing method, where each member put a suggestion on their piece of paper. They would put all of the suggestions in a small bag, shuffling it. A person would then randomly pull out a piece of paper which determines the path they will take.

“Please don’t be Leo. Please don’t be Leo.”- Amber prays, hoping that Leo’s option gets avoided.

Everyone in the group has known him long enough at this point to understand that Leo will make some kind of ridiculous suggestion.

“Hey, my idea will be great! You should be glad that I’m always making fantastic choices.”- Leo defended himself.

“Can we all agree to just remove Leo’s suggestion?”- Sophia asks, completely ignoring Leo.

“Yes! Let’s do that, remove his suggestion, Claudius!”- Amber agrees.

“You guys know I can’t do that. It won’t be fair for Leo.”- Claudius said.

“HE WILL KILL US ALL!”- Sophia insisted.

Natalie can be seen in the background pulling out her cult necklace, praying to Leo’s choice to not be picked.

“EVEN YOU NATALIE?!? Come on, it’s going to be great!”- Leo gives a stupid smile.

“Here goes nothing!”- Claudius said, pulling out a piece of paper.

Everyone looks at it in nervous anticipation. Claudius clears his throat and announces “Sarama Desert”. Leo jumps up in celebration, knowing that his suggestion was picked. Amber, Sophia and Natalie collapse in despair, questioning reality.

Back to the present, they have spent the last 4 hours walking through Sarama. For some context, Sarama is a desert northwest of Alexandria, situated below The Great Mystical Forest geographically. It’s a giant desert that takes days to travel through, especially if traveled on foot. Leo wanted to go here as he expected there to be some kind of desert transportation. He just made one mistake, Leo didn’t account for the fact that the desert merchants have traveled south in an attempt to make profit after the war. Now his group has to walk through the desert on foot, in blazing heat.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure the heat will go away once night arrives.”- Leo tries to reassure his party.

“And what? We’ll freeze to death at night?”- Amber replies.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”- Leo said, trying to avoid eye contact with Amber, fearing that she would beat him up.

The group continued on with their grueling journey, practically dragging their legs across the sand. At least they have beautiful scenery to behold, making their journey ever so slightly better. A wonderful view of… sands, just sands stretching as far as the eyes can see. There are no towns or oases within view.

“We’re almost there!”- Leo eagerly said.

“Almost where?”- Sophia asks.

“Almost the fourth of the way there!”- Leo confidently replies.

“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!”- Sophia screams, chasing Leo.

The two went on a chase, running far ahead of the group.

“How long do you think it will take until they get tired?”-Natalie asks.

“I don’t know, maybe an hour. They are pretty good at running.”- Amber said.

“I think it will take two hours before they are out.”- Claudius chimes in.

“Wow, looks like both of you are wrong.”- Natalie said, pointing ahead.

Leo and Sophia had managed to get quite a distance out from their shenanigans, but it looks like the heat got to both. They collapsed on the ground with Sophia still not able to catch Leo.

“Sigh, let’s go check on those idiots.”- Amber said.

The three head over to where Sophia is, Natalie leans down to check on her.

“Are you still alive?”- Claudius asks.

“Yeah…”- Sophia answers, her face still down on the sand.

“Don’t chase after him like that next time. It’s too hot out here for you two to be running.”- Natalie pats Sophia’s back.

“Hehe.”- Sophia grins.

“Hey, poor little Leo was chased by a crazy elf. Why isn’t anyone checking on me?”- Leo said.

“The fact that you can say that means you’re still fine.”- Amber replies.

The group managed to hold out the burning sunlight, all barely holding on. The sun is finally setting, putting an end to the ridiculous heat. They decided to stop where they were at for the day, setting up a small campfire and eating the leftovers they packed.

“See, it wasn’t too bad.”- Leo said.

“Yes, yes.”- Amber replies, she is too tired to argue at this point.

“We need to seriously come up with a plan soon. Leo, are you sure we are heading the right way?”- Natalie voices her concern.

“Well… we are, it’s just that I can’t seem to find the Adventurer Guild building. They have one somewhere in this desert, we should be able to reach it soon. That way, they can provide us with transportation.”- Leo said, taking things seriously for once.

Night arrives, the temperature seems to be dropping quite considerably compared to before. Natalie has to cast Gentle Warmth, a Cleric spell that is used for stabilizing wounded living things. In this case, she wasn’t using it for the minor heal, she just needed to keep everyone warm. The group slept close together, with Leo and Claudius laying on each end. The crackling sound of the campfire fills the silent desert, lit only by mysterious floating blue orbs. Looking up at the beautiful sky filled with stars, Leo can’t help but smile.

“The view is great here isn’t it? You can’t get such a clear sky living in the city.”- Leo said.

“I don’t want to admit it, but yeah, the sky is beautiful.”- Amber answers, she is lying between Leo and Natalie.

“Here’s a thing my dad taught me.”- Amber said, pointing up at the sky.

“You see those stars over there? Those are called the Guiding Constellation. It will always lead you north. Travelers and Adventurers always use them for direction, hence that name.”- Amber said.

“So that’s what they call the North Star in this world.”- Leo thought to himself.

“You see that star over there?”- Leo points up to the left.

“Yeah, what is it?”- Amber asks.

“I have no idea, I just wanted to sound smart.”- Leo nonchalantly replies.

Amber punches Leo on his side, leaving him hugging it in pain.

“That’s what you get for ruining the atmosphere.”- Natalie said.

“Zzzzzzzz”- Claudius snores.

“Looks like Claudius and Sophia have already gone to sleep. We should head to bed soon and get ready for tomorrow.”- Natalie said.

“Has coming with me been fun for you guys?”- Leo suddenly asks.

There were no replies coming from Natalie and Amber. The desert is filled only with the sound of the campfire, along with the snoring sound from Claudius.

“Ahahah. Just joking, I don’t…”- Leo tries to say before being interrupted.

“Of course it’s been fun you idiot. I’m glad you have been here for me since the beginning. Adventuring wouldn’t be fun without you.”- Amber said, turning away from Leo.

“Yeah, I agree. Even though you are annoying in some moments, it’s great to see you try. I don’t regret taking up your offer.”- Natalie smiles, looking up at the sky.

“GUYS…So you do care about me!”- Leo said, tearing up with puppy eyes.

“Oh buzz off. Go to sleep.”- Amber said, hiding her smile.

Leo looks up at the star-filled night sky once again, content. He slowly drifts off to the night, heading into his slumber.

“It’s you again.”- Dark Elf Sophia said.

“Yeah, it seems like we are too connected at this point for you to go away.”- Sophia said.

“Don’t get cocky, I will always be here watching. Waiting for the chance to take over again.”- Dark Elf Sophia said.

“And I won’t let you. I refuse to accept your existence, you are just here to bring tragedy and pain.”- Sophia replies with an angry look on her face.

“HA. Same here, seeing your annoying face also ticks me off. I’m the rightful owner of this body. You had your spotlight, it’s about time you retire.”- Dark Elf Sophia smirks.

The two turn their backs against each other, they are both floating in some kind of empty space.

“Sigh… Just tell me one thing, why have you been appearing in my dreams these past few days?”- Sophia asks.

“How am I supposed to know the answer to that? Maybe the body is just acknowledging the fact that I'm also it’s owner.”- Dark Elf Sophia gave a serious reply.

“Only if you didn’t interrupt Amber, I wouldn’t have to deal with seeing you every night like that.”- Sophia sighs.

“I am you, whether or not you like it.”- Dark Elf Sophia said.

“I refuse to accept you. It’s wrong to even think that a corrupted version of me even exists.”- Sophia said in frustration.

“Looks like my time is up… I’ll see you soon. Maybe if you want to give your body up now, I won’t hesitate to take over.”- Dark Elf Sophia laughs, slowly fading away.

“Sigh, let’s hope that won’t ever happen.”- Sophia looks down at the empty space below her.

Her consciousness also slowly fades away, coming back into focus as Sophia wakes up. She opens her eyes, the sky is still dark. It seems like she has woken up too early. Claudius, who was lying to her left, has somehow moved even further away. Sophia didn't seem to mind as she felt a soft sensation with her right arm. As she looked over, she pulled her arm back in a panic as she had been unintentionally putting her arm on Natalie’s boobs while she was sleeping. Sophia suspiciously checks her surroundings, making sure no one sees her as she said while grinning like an evil maniac:

“I’ve got a few more hours. I’m sure she won’t mind if I touch her boobs.”

Before she could reach out again, Sophia heard some sounds in the distance. She leaned her head up to check, seeing some kind of transparent figures in the distance. Sophia thought that her eyes were playing tricks, so she sat up to confirm. There were indeed some transparent figures, becoming bigger as they’re coming closer.

“Oh crap! What should I do? Should I wake someone up or should I fight whatever that is?”- Sophia’s thoughts confuse her.

“What is it, Sophia? You need to go to the bathroom?”- Natalie asks, woken up by Sophia’s movements.

“What are those things?!?”- Sophia asks in a panic, pointing at the figures.

“Huh?”- Natalie asks, still not completely woken up yet.

After she rubs her eyes and yawns, Natalie takes a closer look.

“OH NO!!! THAT’S THE PHANTOM ARMY!!!”- Natalie screams in a panic.

“PHANTOM ARMY?!?”- A panicked Amber jolts up.

She has faced them on a few occasions during her time in the hero’s party. Amber knows that they are quite formidable opponents who her current party wouldn’t be able to face.

“QUANTUM COOLER?!? Oh wait, this world doesn't have them.”- Claudius wakes up from the loud screams.

“Enemy! We can’t beat them, we need to run right now!”- Natalie said, looking at Claudius.

The four got up in a hurry, quickly gathering their stuff. Amber tries to wake Leo up to no avail.

“5 more minutes mom.”- Leo said.

“NOT AGAIN, I SAID I’M NOT YOUR MOM!!!”- Amber shouts in frustration.

“I got this.”- Sophia rushes over and wastes no time to strangle Leo.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”- Natalie asks.

As weird as that was, Leo actually woke up from being choked out in a panic.

“See! Told ya I got this.”- Sophia put her thumbs up, satisfied that she got her revenge.

“What is going on?”- Leo asks in confusion.

“The phantom army, we need to run now!”- Amber said.

“THAT STILL DOESN’T EXPLAIN WHY SHE WAS CHOKING ME!!!”- Leo screams, still confused.

With no time to waste, Leo also picked up the nearby items and threw them into his bag. The five start running through the desert. The movements seemed to have alerted the phantom, they started speeding up in an attempt to chase.

“It’s so hard to run in this sand. We need to do something about it”- Leo said.

“There’s nothing we can do about the sand. We’re in the middle of a desert!”- Natalie said.

“Hmmm.”- Leo thought out loud.

“Ok I got a plan.”- He said with some hesitancy.

“What’s the plan?”- Natalie asks.

“We’ll make glass to stand on. So Amber, find some kind of flame spell you can cast in a big area.”- Leo said.

Amber nods her head as the group stops running. Sophia and Claudius both stay on guard, looking to check the distance between the Phantom Army and the group. With Leo and Natalie safely positioned behind her, Amber casts Flamethrower. Her staff glows red and flames form from it, pouring down into the sand in front of her. Amber waves her staff, trying to keep a uniform pattern for the sand to be heated up.

“It needs to be even hotter.”- Leo demands.

Amber takes deep breaths as she concentrates her mana, increasing the intensity of the spell. Soon, just like Leo wanted, the sand in front of them seems to be melting into some form of liquid.

“Ok, on three.”- Leo turns over to Natalie.

“3, 2, 1, BARRIER!”- Leo and Natalie cast the spell in unison.

A small barrier forms below the liquid sand, lifting it up. Additional barriers appear on the side, keeping the liquid from pouring out.

“It works! Amber, can you cast some form of spell that will cool the liquid down?”- Leo asks.

“Non flame magic isn’t my strong suit, but I can cast some water spells.”- Amber replies.

“That will work, just pour water onto the liquid sand until it cools completely.”- Leo requests.

Amber immediately casts Waterfall, the strongest water spell she knows. Water appears out of thin air, rushing down heavily inside the barrier. Loud sizzling sounds can be heard as steam forms. Eventually, as the steam dissipates, the liquid sand has completed its process, turning into a piece of glass. It’s surface is rough and uneven, but it will work just fine. Claudius rushes over and extends his arms upwards, catching the glass once the barrier dissipates.

“WOOHOO! Don’t underestimate the power of an Otaku!”- Leo cheers in excitement.

“Power of what?”- Sophia asks.

“Just ignore him, he’s being weird again.”- Natalie said.

Leo quickly puts the blankets they were using onto the glass. He then cast Overgrowth, roots starting to appear from a seed that he carried with him. Leo would then throw the seed atop the blankets, letting it wrap all around the glass, holding the blanket onto it.

“Ok, Sophia. We’ll rely on you for the next part.”- Leo said.

“WOAHHHH, THIS IS GREAT!!!”- Claudius screams.

Every member is now sitting together on the glass thing, surfing sand. Sophia has to constantly cast Ionus, forming walls under the sand and pushing the ground up. This way, they can keep their momentum and surf the sand using the constantly lifting ground below it. As weird as it was, the plan actually seemed to work. The apparitions seem to be decreasing in size as the group is increasing their distance away.

“Great plan Leo! With this speed, we can make it out of the desert in no time!”- Claudius said.

“Compliment me more.”- Leo said, giving a super ugly smile.

“Just wondering, how do we steer this thing? There seems to be a big drop soon”- Natalie asks.

Leo freezes, not giving a reply. He starts to sweat profusely, looking right ahead.

“Leo?”- Natalie asks again.

“Hehe...We don’t.”- Leo answers.

“WHAT?!?”- Sophia and Amber yell at the same time.

“Then how are we GONN…”- Natalie tries to ask before they fall down into the hole.

The five scream as they freefall into the hole, trying to hold onto the glass thing. Right before they crash onto the bottom, their fall was softened by someone casting Great Typhoon. They all looked up in confusion, all wondering what just happened. The wind slowly weakens, carefully lowering them down until they touch the bottom.

“WHAT ARE YOU ALL DOING??? YOU GUYS ALMOST KILLED YOURSELF!!!”- The mage in front of them scolds.

Leo’s Party all looked in awe, as they had unintentionally made it to the location Leo wanted to go to, the Adventurer Guild branch in Sarama Desert. The pit they just fell into is one of the many entrances into this underground city.