Chapter Twenty-Eight – Party Like It’s 1499
The view itself, even though they had seen it before, was something not of this world. Or perhaps it was exactly the opposite, and that’s what made it seem so pure and uplifting. When gazing off a mountain to take in the hundreds of kilometres of even taller mountains and an ocean of trees, there’s something that awakens in everybody. It’s the thought of what the Earth might look like if there was hardly a touch from humanity’s hands. But where they stood at that moment, there were ruined walls of stone atop the plateau. They had allowed a day of rest, and then they returned to Machu Picchu.
Rend, Ron, Dylan, and Xeno were all contained in the Demon World, and they had become Lucy’s problem instead. Asta fell upon her own blade as well, which finally ceased the influx of threats falling upon the group. There wasn’t even a drop left of the Elixir of Strength.
There was still a bitter feeling mixed within the sweet. None of them had wanted to kill the woman behind it all, and something about her tale bothered Eldrian even more. But he knew he couldn’t allow it to bring him down, especially during a time meant for celebration. Now all five stood at the entrance of the hidden Inca civilization they had met before most of what occurred.
“This place is beautiful,” whispered Renatta. “There is really a secret city here?”
Eldrian nodded. “The inside is even more stunning. Hopefully they’ll let us inside now that everything’s been cleaned up. They’d rather not be found out, but we did help them before. As long as they aren’t upset we couldn’t return the Elixir.”
Daveon was up front performing the same arcane ritual he had when they first found the entrance. Just like before, he stepped back and they waited.
“You have returned,” whispered a voice within all of their minds.
“We have,” answered Eldrian. “And we did it. Somehow, we managed to find the person behind everything, and the ones still living are being kept by Lucy herself. It was a woman named Asta Ahlgren… It’s complicated, but she’s gone now. And so is the rest of the Elixir. At least it can’t hurt anybody else now.”
“Losing another relic. That is most unfortunate. I am, however, glad to hear of your success, Eldrian. We wished not to allow further entry into our land, but if you assure us the culprit is dealt with, you have done us yet another great deed. Come inside, and we will rest easy, together.”
As before, despite the thinness of the wall, a gateway opened on their side to stretch a passage way into somewhere else entirely. Instead of leading to the other side of the ruin, it brought them into an expansive garden with houses around them, and a towering temple up ahead. It was gorgeous, but it was also not the view that caught Eldrian’s attention. He smiled when he saw Huanca and Urco waiting for them, still garbed as they normally were. The two hairless men bowed.
“Come,” said Urco as he gestured a hand forwards, and his companion did the same.
“Yes,” said Huanca. “We will celebrate proper, but first, make yourself at home within the courtyard here. The two of us will gather food and drinks, and then you can tell us all about what happened.”
“Do not forget the donuts!” shouted Renatta with a laugh.
It didn’t take long for the entire area to reform itself from a calm paradise to a jovial festival. Finely knit blankets were spread out all around the field, and on each were various foods. There was a bonfire in the center, and the Inca people were dancing. It was something to behold for the group after all of the gloom and chaos they had suffered through for several days straight.
Amidst the festivities were the five accompanied by Huanca and Urco. Daveon and Renatta danced to the side, while the remainder sat and munched on local cuisine such a duck meat, quinoa, pineapples, and more.
“She distributed the Elixir to regular men with a vendetta against you, in hopes that they would take you out?” asked Huanca.
Eldrian nodded. “Basically. Rend was part of that. It seemed like she just maintained as many connections as she could that might have helped her remove wizards entirely.”
“An impossible goal anyway. There will always be wizards.”
“Yeah. Some people’s hatred just runs too deep for things like that to matter, I guess.”
“Allow me to formally apologize for any hostilities from us towards you and your friends. You are a great wizard, Eldrian, and you are all brave and noble to have gone out of your way to investigate something so dangerous.”
“I just wanted to help. And I admit that I can’t help myself when something so exciting comes up. I won’t ever be called an archmage if I don’t push myself. If the opposite is true, I wouldn’t wanna be one. I like having fun with magic.”
Huanca chuckled. “So young. All of you. While we don’t necessarily agree with using magic so liberally, I appreciate your persistence. Just be careful, Eldrian. We do not live in a world where it is safe to be overly careless. But where are my manners? You saved lives.”
“It could be possible that he is in the right after all,” joked Urco.
“Perhaps. We have not changed in countless years. But as I said, the world is not ready for anything but.” The elder’s eyes turned to the two dancing beside them. “So, who is the young lady? I do believe she was not here the first time you all arrived in Peru.”
Ceasing her hot steps, the young lady lowered herself into a swift cross-legged sit. Wiping her forehead, she lifted up her glass of water and took a long gulp.
“I am Renatta. A pleasure to meet you,” she said.
“How polite. And how did you become involved in all of this?”
“I tried to assassinate them!”
“Uh. She was being controlled,” Eldrian butted in. “She’s better now.”
“You know,” Deena started, “A group of wizards of this size working together is incredibly rare. At least, outside of a hidden city like this one. I’ve never heard of something like this, even from my brothers. This is a dangerous responsibility.”
“What do you mean?” Eldrian asked.
“Don’t ask like you don’t know. Wizards stay mostly on their own to avoid attention. Not only are there four of them in one place whenever we’re together, but we’ve fought monsters and more out in the open. Do you see what I mean now? We might be able to celebrate today, but they’re going to start investigating Grand Praire. There’s no way nothing at all was heard.”
“Do you have a suggestion?”
“The safest thing to do would be to split apart now that the problem is solved.”
“Think realistically, Eldrian. Staying together where we do would only result in the inevitable attention of more spellbreakers. You two barely handled one, and she was strangely different. The only other option would be to keep moving. Like you probably did before. Am I wrong?”
“I did move from place to place a lot more before I met back up with Kevin.”
A long pause fell over them. They had only known each other for a short time, but somehow, it felt like they had been friends for much longer than that. None of them truly wanted to go their separate ways. That’s why, after a moment, it was actually Deena herself who spoke up.
“Or, the leader of that group just has to be more responsible. Someone brave and passionate to be in charge—keep them together—and perhaps move elsewhere in the process. At least out of the city.”
“Are you talking about me?” asked Eldrian.
“No. I was just making a suggestion. You can assume it to be yourself if that makes you feel better.”
“Of course she was talking about you!” shouted Kevin. “That sounds great. A party, led by the archmage Eldrian. We could even get our own place. I’ve been wanting to move out really badly. Plus, Daveon just goes out to sleep in the woods, so it doesn’t really matter where we go.”
“It’s true,” shrugged the druid.
“A fresh start,” Kevin added. “Since we aren’t fighting any kind of threat right now, we can just be regular friends. Hang out. Right? And if something comes up, we’re all united together to deal with it. A spellbreaker can’t deal with all of us at once. I think.”
Urco cleared his throat. “As long as you don’t come here to hide. We’d rather not be found.”
“Don’t worry,” said Eldrian. “We have Deena’s house to hide in.”
The witch gave the expression of a corpse.
“I’m right in the middle of a semester, but I’ll figure it out,” spoke Kevin.
“This sounds like the perfect opportunity for this,” said Urco as he reached for something in his basket.
He removed a pristine glass bottle filled with a golden liquid. The cork popped off, as if by magic, because it was, and he began to fill a series of tall glasses halfway to the top. They floated over to each of them.
“This wine is something I have been saving for a special occasion,” he added. “Let us make a toast!”
Edrian stood, pinching the neck of the glass between his fingers as he held the glass within his cupped palm. Each of his friends rose up as well and joined him.
“To the next chapter of our lives,” he said. “And to those who fell on the way. This one is for you as well, Asta Ahlgren. May you rest in peace.”
“But she tried to kill us,” whispered Deena.
“To Asta!” Kevin joined.
“To Asta,” repeated Daveon.
Deena shrugged, and in the end, all of them clinked their glasses together and took a drink.
Suddenly, Kevin announced, “Wait a minute. Oh no! We have no money to move out!”
“Crap!” yelled Eldrian. “I forgot people need money!”
Huanco let out a deep, warm laughter. “Perhaps I have found exactly what I can do to reward you all for what you have done for us. We have little need for currency here in our city. I will return momentarily.”
Off he went towards the main temple. The rest conversed. They joked, laughed, and tried their best to loosen the knots in their muscles from combined stress and literal injury. Eventually he did return, and in one hand he held a staff, and in the other, a bag.
Firstly, he opened the bag.
It revealed a stack of shimmering golden ingots. Their eyes widened at the majesty.
“Ancient gold,” Huanca said. “Of my people. We have it now only has a reminder, as we have all the jewellery we need, and rarely trade outside of our own city. Take it. Please.”
“Don’t mind if I do!” Eldrian uttered excitedly. “Thank you so much. This is perfect.”
“And one more thing. Take this, Eldrian. The Staff of Lightning. It is from my own personal collection, but I have little need to use it any more. It empowers magic related to electricity, and even makes those types of spells quicker to cast.”
He held forward the dark wood staff trimmed with silver and gold. Jagged motifs decorated the shaft, and it topped with something similar to a bolt of lightning. Eldrian took it with an expression of absolute joy on his face.
“Just in case you face even scarier threats on your journey,” Huanca stated.
“And Lucy let me keep this,” Kevin spoke as he held up his left hand.
Around one of his fingers was a silver band—Asta’s magic shield. Now he had both a shield and sword at his command.
“Looks like we’re more than ready to tackle the future,” said Daveon.
The wizard gripped the staff like a walking stick and brought his gaze between each of his companions. He had met wizards in his past, but this was something else entirely. Never did he think he’d be able to reveal himself to Kevin, nor that he’d meet wizard’s he’d stay with. It was almost like the world he dreamed about.
“What do you think?” Kevin asked. “Seems a little scary, but exciting too. I can’t wait to learn even more about all this magic stuff. And my life won’t feel so boring anymore.”
Eldrian smirked. “Sounds pretty wizard to me.”
That day truly ended the tale of the Elixir of Strength’s chaos by the hands of Asta Ahlgren. That may have sounded like the bulk of their adventure, but that wouldn’t be remotely close, for that conflict was only the very beginning of a much longer, grander journey—one with gigantic demons, powerful wizards, and the looming threat of governmental forces wishing to stop them. There are no limitations to the fantastical extent of situations the group may face, just as there are no limitations to imagination itself. Some conflicts take long periods of time such as the that just concluded, while some are short and sweet, but if a wizard is involved, they’ll always be magical—and unnecessarily flashy.
Stay tuned for Chapter Twenty-Nine – A Whole New World!