Chapter 18:

Chapter 18


Back on the road again. After a much-needed rest, it was time to continue their adventure. The decision was made to head North, towards the Crystal Cove. The cove was located on a small island roughly 150 miles off of the coast. The sea it rested in was an infamous one. A vital body of water for many civilizations. While its water was undrinkable, the creatures swimming beneath the surface were beyond valuable. Plenty of nutrient rich, and overall delicious, fish lived inside that ocean. Crystal Cove itself was too an important cultural landmark. The mineral deposits created the ideal conditions for a treasure trove of gems. Alchemists, sorcerers, druids, all practitioners of the arcana would use these gems in their work.

The soil beneath their feet was sandy. Clay and silt withered away from fertile loam slowly with each passing step, a gradient from plains to beach. Few stones laid across the dirt to form a loose path. Little grasses sprouted between the cracks, whipped by the gentle wind. A breeze came in from the south, the perfect sailing winds for the upcoming leg of their journey.

Isaac led the way, a map in his hands. He carried most of the party's supplies, the backpack bounced up and down with each step. His armored helm clanked against his leg, bound to his waist by a piece of rope. Altogether, between the steps, the supplies, and the armor, Isaac unintentionally made a rhythmic beat. A beat that Vera began to hum to. Her angelic voice broke through the ambiance of nature. Over time she became more confident, and with each surge of confidence her volume grew. Louder she hummed, until she was practically singing.

"Gotta travel the world, with my friends! Gonna fetch all these items, for this quest! That way we can cure this awful sickness!" She improvised, barely staying within beat.

"What are you singing?" Isaac asked.

"I don't know. Just kinda making it up as I go."

"Well can you tone it down just a bit?" Vera rolled her eyes and continued.

"Gotta do it quick, and sort of stealthily. Cause if we don't, Grimwald's gonna kill us."

"Okay, that's enough. Getting a little dark now."

"I don't personally know him, but he seems kinda scary."


"Kinda seems like he wants to gut us like fishes!"


"Alright, alright! I'll stop!" There was a slight pause, then Vera resumed her humming. The group continued to walk for another hour or so. They were tired, exhausted, ready to collapse. That is until they noticed all the signs. The ground was completely sandy, their feet sinking ever so slightly. The smell of sea water perfumed the air. The cries of gulls in the distance. The crashing of waves. And finally, the best sign of all, the three laid their eyes upon the great big... "OCEAN!" Vera screamed. Suddenly, fatigue left her. She sprinted down the beach. She took off her robes and any other clothes underneath, stripping down to just her underwear. Casting the clothes off to the side, she jumped into the sea.

"W-What are you doing!?" Isaac shouted, averting his eyes. Elizabeth noticed that his face was slightly red. He looked almost, embarrassed?

"Come on in! The water is great!" She splashed around, laughing and swimming around.

"We have a job to do!"

"We can spare some time to relax!"

"We've BEEN relaxing, Vera!"

"Nah, that was sleep! Sleep doesn't count!"

"Ugh..." He turned to Elizabeth. "You go ahead. My armor will rust if I jump in."

"Then take it off?" Elizabeth looked at him puzzled after not thinking of the most obvious solution.

"I'll keep it on. Just in case someone attacks us... or... something..." Isaac kept his head down and his arms crossed, but Elizabeth could tell his face was getting redder.

"Oh, okay. I guess I'll go in then." Elizabeth slowly walked towards the coast.

"Yeah! Elizabeth! Get your booty over here!" Vera cheered. Elizabeth took off her shoes and set them, along with her bag, by Vera's clothes. She hiked up her dress slightly and made her way into the water. She wriggled her toes in the damp sand, burying them a little bit. The tide suddenly rolled in, covering her ankles. It was so warm. Everything else around Ethros had a brisk chill. Even during the summer, it didn't get too hot. But the ocean was so warm. The little particles of sand, salt, and debris tickled her legs as the water and waves extended and retreated. She looked down with absolute wonder. It was definitely her first time at the beach. Vera was right. This was great! This was relaxing. Elizabeth couldn't remember the last time she felt this way. She felt at peace. Her worries and her troubles washed away like the sand in the waves. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, really absorbing all that tranquil atmosphere. "Hey, Elizabeth! You brought a change of clothes with you, right?"

"Yeah? Why?" A magical force quickly took hold of Elizabeth's hands. She lost her balance as she was yanked forward. She screamed as she splashed into the water. After a second, she erupted from the water, taking in a big gulp of air. Elizabeth brushed her wet hair off her face as Vera laughed.

"Sorry! Sorry! I couldn't help myself!" Vera snickered as a glow of magic dissipated from her fingertips. Elizabeth scowled. Isaac stifled a laugh. "Don't think I forgot about you, big guy!"

"Huh?" Isaac's eyes widened and couldn't react fast enough to avoid the glowing magical tethers that too pulled him into the ocean. He emerged from the water, spitting out a little stream.


"Look! Now the whole gang is having a good time!"

"I'm gonna drown you! Then we'll see how good of a time we're having!" Isaac chased Vera around in the sea. Elizabeth just stood there, waist deep in the water, and watched them. Her, laughing and screaming the whole time she swam. Him, angerly wading through the water and tripping over every unseen change in sandy elevation. Elizabeth smiled. She remembered something Vera brought up earlier that day.

I guess it really doesn't matter if we win or lose. She thought. Because either way, I'll die, and I'll be glad I die with them, together. My friends.