Chapter Thirty-Four – Learn to Adapt
Few can explain the intense feeling during a moment of indecisiveness in a simple and short description, especially when the light of attention is shining directly towards you. Your body feels hot, and your stomach uneasy. There feels as if a real weight is pushing down on your shoulders—one made of the impatience of others, whether it truly exists or is a figment of your own imagination.
“I-I just don’t know,” stuttered Arlandria. “I need more time.”
Eldrian patted her on the back. “Don’t worry. I’m here to help you.”
The two of them, along with Kevin, stared up at the menu board above the cash registers. Burgers, wraps, drinks, meals, sides, and more, filled the list of selections, and besides a few others sitting at tables, the place was basically empty.
“What’s a hamburger?” she asked.
“You don’t have hamburgers?” Kevin replied.
“No. It looks good, I guess, but why are there so many different kinds? Sorry… I’m making things difficult.”
Chapter Thirty-Three – Madness Unleashed
Poppet was frozen with fear. Around her neck, the unnaturally tight grip of finger bones squeezed as the tips began to pierce through her flesh. The smell—it was terrible. Rotting skin and ancient bones wafted a scent to burn her nostrils given her terrifyingly close proximity, and this was further scarring with the creature’s jet black eye-sockets somehow still staring directly into her eyes. His jaw pulled open, and despite the lack of a tongue, or flesh whatsoever, a course voice came as freely as a man still living.
“You’re tiny… like a baby,” he grumbled.
Her eyes stayed staring. This had never happened before, but there was something about him that struck her silent. All she could do was mumble in response. There, balanced on her toes, she remained grappled by a nightmare.
“It feels like it’s about midnight,” he continued. “The perfect time for a snack. And I don’t know about you, but,” he said as he lifted Poppet closer to his face. “I. Eat. Babies.”
“What are you doing?” shouted Renatta’s voice from afar.
Chapter Thirty-Two – Heaven and Hell
“No way,” Deena mumbled. “This is highly improbable.”
“That’s my speciality,” Eldrian replied.
Standing before the two of them, as well as Kevin, was a gorgeous figure almost divine in appearance. Her skin was pristine, she had a gaze like vibrant emeralds, and her hair was golden and lengthy. Unlike before, she was now garbed in traditional North American attire instead of torn fantastical garments—a lime coloured shirt beneath a thin white coat, and a pair of blue jeans. Through her hair was a ribbon to match her eyes as well. To a normal individual, she would look to simply be a lovely young lady, if it wasn’t for her long and pointed ears.
She smiled. It was a warm, subtle smile, and such an expression was commonly on her face. Perhaps it didn’t represent a concurrent joy, but instead an offering of friendliness to those around her.
Once again, they were in Deena’s living room.
“You actually ran into an elf?” Deena asked.
Chapter Thirty-One – Trials and Tribulations
Kevin and Eldrian sunk lethargically into the living room sofa with eyes on the television screen. In Eldrian’s hands was a controller, and on the screen, a sword-wielding man in tights. They had recently finished eating dinner—pizza, the most healthy meal—and were relaxing with a game for the time being.
“So, about this game,” Eldrian started. “Is he an elf? I always thought he looked like an elf.”
“They’re their own species. I guess they’re basically humans, but with pointy ears. Or maybe they’re elves, but not typical elves. You know what’s weird? That I look at the screen now, and realize I have my own magic sword and shield, just like him.”
Eldrian snorted. “I don’t have a magic sword yet. You don’t get one until that Temple.”
“Does that mean I’m even stronger than him?” Kevin asked, looking to the wizard with a face filled with much more excited than perhaps it should have been.
Chapter Thirty – The Dark Mage Rises
Two wizards, vastly different in both style and technique—Kevin had never seen one wizard battle another before. He could barely keep up. Without magic eyes, he figured, he would be unable to tell illusions apart from reality, and it was simply difficult to comprehend it all. His heart pumped nonetheless. Nothing he had seen was this exciting, and he could only imagine how the actual combatants felt.
Kevin tried to follow. Eldrian had blinked, but so had Ouray. At least, that’s what he guessed had happened. Neither were in the same place anymore. He saw a frozen spear come from Eldrian. It nearly met its target, but the martial artist was too quick. This continued for a few moments. His poor friend could barely land a spell, but at the very least, he had not been crushed into the ground again—as close as a few strikes had been. Were they taking this too seriously? Kevin thought to himself. He realised that he had no idea what a wizard battle taken seriously looked like. Was it crazier than this?
“I’ve never fought or even met with a wizard with a body as strong as yours,” said Eldrian, catching his breath.
“Neither have I.”
Chapter Twenty-Nine – A Whole New World
“Come, little one. Proceed farther. Do not be afraid, for I am only here to help you.”
The voice was of a woman’s, and it was calm, like words spoken from one’s own mother. It emitted a sense of warmth and safety despite it being so alien. However, it was unclear where it came from other than deeper into the woods. It was as if the gaps between the trees whispered—luring.
“Who are you?” asked the little girl. “I’m cold. It’s dark, and I’m scared.”
“Continue forwards and meet with me, and I will keep you warm and safe. I will return you to your home.”
The child stepped cautiously between the density of the forest, rubbing her hands up and down her goosebump-covered arms. A chilling breeze caused a shiver to travel down her spine. She was lost, and this stranger’s voice did sound trustworthy to her. There were few other options in her mind.
It wasn’t long before she broke into a clearing. Up ahead, the speaker stood still. It was a beautiful woman with long black hair and crystal blue eyes. Her skin was fair. It reminded the child of her mother, and she made her way over with arms ready for an embrace.
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?”