Chapter 11: Magic
It was several hours later that they appeared in front of a large circle of stones. They all exhaled after the shock of the teleporter. Not exactly unpleasant, but still a far cry from enjoyable.
"This was the way that Dyluck and his team got into the forest," Randi noted. "They were hoping that the witch had forgotten about it."
"No such luck," Purim agreed grimly. "So where is the Water Palace?"
"North of here," Randi replied, recognizing this as the way he had come to Pandora. "Your village is just south of here. Half a day's walk."
"So what do you think is waiting for you at the Water Palace?" she asked, ignoring his directions.
"Luka," Randi replied. "As far as I know, she's been at that palace for a long time, and Elinee figured she might be able to give me some magic to use. It's worth a shot."
Now Purim was thinking. "I wonder if I could get some magic to use..."
Keith scoffed. "Anything that could give magic away wouldn't be stupid enough to give it to you, sister."
"And you think they'll give it to you?" she demanded.
Keith shook his head and shrugged. "I'll bet they'd give some to Randi, him being the Mana Knight and all. That's all I care about."
"Hmph. I'm going to the Water Palace. I'll need a wild card if I'm going to rescue Dyluck. This might be just what I'm looking for."
"You're dreaming," was Keith's opinion.
"Come if you want," Randi agreed doubtfully. "But don't get your hopes up."
It was several hours later that they caught sight of the Water Palace. Randi was inwardly relieved, because he knew that neither of his companions knew the location, and he wasn't positive that he remembered himself.
"Wow! It's beautiful!" Purim breathed in sincere awe.
"Not... bad," Keith agreed slowly.
"Something doesn't feel right," Randi muttered to himself. It didn't seem the same as when he had last come here. Like something invisible was polluting the area. He gripped the hilt of his sword and looked around expectantly.
"You see anything unusual, Keith?" he asked, trying to sound casual.
"Yeah! The palace! I know a few dwarves who would kill to get blueprints for something like this!"
"Besides that. Smell anything? Hear anything?"
"What's wrong?" the sprite demanded, no longer fooled by the calmness in Randi's voice.
"Just answer my question."
"Well... now that you mention it, I can smell something fishy..."
"What's it smell like?" Purim demanded, holding her bow nervously.
"I told you already. It smells fishy. This place must have some goldfish around or something..."
"Not last time," Randi objected.
"And I can smell a person. They probably walked through here less than an hour ago."
Luka couldn't leave the palace, so it couldn't be her, Randi decided. Some visitor?
"A man," Keith decided. "Wearing some expensive leather, I think."
Maybe Jema? Randi didn't think so. Jema wore metal armor, not leather.
"Hey, what's up, buddy?"
"Something doesn't feel right. That's all."
"Yup, there's some fish in the water," Keith confirmed. He could see the sunlight reflecting off their backs.
"Those weren't there last time."
"Check out the fish!" Keith observed, skipping over to the edge of the water. "Big suckers!"
Without warning, one of the fish leapt out of the water at him, mouth opened wide to reveal huge rows of teeth. Keith yelled in surprise, but his knife was already in his hand, slicing at the attacking fish. It fell to the ground, almost completely gutted.
"Look at the teeth on these things!" the sprite exclaimed. "Bigger than mine!"
"Surely not that bad," Purim muttered sarcastically, although she was clearly unnerved.
"This isn't right," Randi informed them. "Jema said there was a seal that kept out anything bad. These fish shouldn't be here..."
"Then kill the fish and let's get moving!" Keith said, slashing at the fish beneath the surface with his knives. He speared several dead before they backed off to deeper water to wait. He let off a stream of swear words in their direction, but wasn't foolish enough to chase through the water after them.
"You think you're smart? There's more than one way to gut a fish!" He wound up and hurled one of his razor rings at the fish, dispatching another.
"How are you going to get that back now?" Purim demanded disgustedly. "You've only got two of them!"
"I'll worry about that in a minute," he replied easily, winding up to hurl his other ring.
Randi stopped him. "There's got to be a better way to get past these fish. Purim is right. You've only got one more, and there's at least twenty fish left still."
"Well, I'm open to any suggestions!" Keith snapped irritably, although he couldn't very well argue with the numbers.
"Well, for starters, stand back."
They both obeyed, not quite sure what he planning to do. They watched as he knelt near the edge of the water and stuck his sword in the water. Then he simply concentrated, ignoring the fish that were beginning to approach him. Nothing happened, although Randi was beginning to tremble slightly. The fish had almost reached him.
"Randi, watch out..." Purim began.
Suddenly the entire pond turned into a sheet of ice before their eyes. The fish didn't move, caught in the deep-freeze permanently.
Both Keith and Purim sported wide eyes as Randi slowly turned towards them with a smile. "We've got a bridge now, I think."
"Don't you remember back in Dwarf Village?" he reminded them. "This sword sucked the heat right out of the lava. I just did the same thing to the water!"
"But it has no heat!" Keith protested.
"Of course it does. It's all how you look at it." He held up the sword. It was glowing a faint shade of orange. "It doesn't have much heat, but it still has some. Take that away, and it gets colder until..." he pointed towards the lake of ice that had trapped the fish.
"You're almost as smart as Dyluck!" Purim breathed in awe.
Keith just shook his head. "Nice trick, Mana Knight."
Randi just let both comments ride. Inwardly, he felt rather embarrassed. He hadn't planned on the pond actually freezing. He had simply wanted to power up his sword to give himself an edge to fight the fish with. No matter. He would take what he could get. The Mana Sword was proving more and more powerful by the day...
They traveled across the ice quickly, stopping only to smash through the ice and retrieve Keith's metal throwing ring. Then they proceeded into the palace, weapons still drawn. Someone else was here, they knew. Someone who had brought the monster fish with them.
Randi was familiar with the layout of the palace, but it was yet another thrilling experience for the other two. For his part, Randi couldn't let himself be distracted. He remembered the feeling he had felt the first time coming in. He had felt an immense power drawing him inwards. He couldn't feel anything now. He hurried his footsteps a little.
They traveled the length of the palace without encountering anything dangerous. The entire palace was eerily silent. At the back of the palace, the stage could be seen, with the Water Seed resting upon it. It looked strangely dim for some reason. Then they saw the source of the trouble.
"Well, look what the cat dragged in..."
All three immediately leveled their weapons at the man. He was impressive at first glance. Tall, long-haired, rather handsome and dressed in a studded leather uniform. His hair was an interesting shade of platinum blue, with his glittering cape matching the color. His right hand held a curved sword with a richly jeweled hilt.
"Luka!" Randi exclaimed, seeing her plight. The man's sword was at her neck. "Who are you!" he demanded.
"I think he looks gay," Keith offered loudly. "Leather is so out, you know."
The man's face flushed at the comment but he quickly composed himself, brushing his long hair back from his face. "Watch your tongue, you freak of nature, or Luka here gets it! I'm Geshtar of the Empire! And you... are too late."
"They've broken the seal on the Water Seed!" Luka cried out, looking pale. "Don't worry about me! Attack Geshtar quickly!"
"Drop your weapons or Luka dies!" Geshtar yelled angrily.
Randi gulped and hesitated. His eyes met Luka's. He couldn't let anything happen to her. Besides, she was his only source for information. Reluctantly, he sheathed his sword, hoping that would be an acceptable compromise. He didn't think anything could ever make him drop the Mana Sword.
"Smart move, mister." Geshtar spared a moment to sneer at Luka. "I'd almost swear you thought this man was going to save this palace!" His gaze shot back to them. "Now you two, drop your weapons!"
He blinked. "Hey! Where'd that thing go-"
"Die, you mutant pig!" Keith yelled at the top of his voice, hurling his razor-edged rings one after another. The very instant Geshtar had looked over at Luka, he had taken the chance and leapt straight up and over the man. Now he was descending straight down upon him.
Geshtar released Luka and threw up his cloak. The weapons bounced off the fabric. It was clearly more than it appeared to be. Keith retained his last knife and started stabbing and slashing at a furious rate until Geshtar swung at him with his sword. It was a fast stroke and well-directed. The sprite ducked low, letting the blow whistle overhead before somersaulting backwards out of range.
"You asked for it!" he bellowed. "She dies!" He turned back to Luka, but ducked as an arrow zipped over his head. Now Purim was attacking for all she was worth, firing arrows at Geshtar's face until he began to stagger away from Luka. Randi quickly covered the distance and imposed himself between Luka and Geshtar, his sword out again. Now Geshtar had nothing to hide behind.
"Just try something now," he threatened, holding the Mana Sword at the ready.
"Randi!" Luka said urgently. "Seal the seed like before! You two... kill him!"
All three quickly moved to obey. Purim and Keith began to rain a shower of weapons on Geshtar, forcing him to wrap his cloak around himself in protection. Even as he blocked the attacks, Geshtar moved with a grace that suggested a great deal of experience. Not a single arrow or knife made it through the strangely resilient cape.
Meanwhile, Randi had advanced up the stage that the Water Seed rested upon. Touching the Mana Sword to the seed, he felt a surge of power rush through his body. Almost immediately, the seed began to grow brighter. After a moment, the rush of power faded and he stepped back.
"You're pathetic!" Geshtar shouted angrily, beginning to force his way forwards. Keith's and Purim's weapons were forcing him to stay defensive, but they had still failed to penetrate his cloak. The two began to back off warily, staying well out of range of his sword.
Everyone froze at the sound of Luka yelling the words, even though most had no idea what they meant. Luka stood motionless, her arms outstretched, her eyes closed.
"Curse you!" Geshtar said, halting his advance. Obviously he understood better than the other three.
Both Purim and Keith were staggering, overwhelmed by dizzy spells.
Randi groaned as he felt the very air around him begin to pulse with energy. He braced himself for whatever Luka was doing. If his instincts were trustworthy, Geshtar was going to be in for some trouble. In front of Luka, a blue form was beginning to materialize and take form.
"Nooo!" Geshtar shouted in horror, beginning to back away.
The form began to solidify into the shape what could only be called a mermaid. Her skin, hair and clothing was all shimmering blue. Her expressionless face reacted to the sound of Luka's voice.
"The Empire!" Luka cried. "Destroy him!"
For an answer, the mermaid raised a hand. Almost immediately, Randi felt the room temperature begin to plummet. Without seconds, ice was falling everywhere. Then the entire world turned to white before his eyes. Randi felt the ground rocking under his feet violently, even as a scream was heard through the haze. Finally after what seemed like forever, the whiteness cleared away.
Randi glanced over to see Geshtar. He was still alive, but barely. His clothing, including his cape, was all but ripped to shreds. His face was flushed red, as though it had accumulated months’ worth of wind-burn. His sword lay in three pieces on the ground a distance away from him. Pieces of shattered ice were scattered around him, some bigger than Geshtar. Whatever had happened to him hadn't been pleasant by a long shot.
He lurched to his feet, limping slightly. "I won't forget this, Luka! And I'll deal with you three another day!" Without another word, he ran/staggered off towards the palace exit.
"He won't show his face again for some time," Luka said quietly.
"Are you okay, Luka?" Randi asked in concern.
Luka pushed up one of the sleeves on her arms, revealing a bruise that was beginning to purple where Geshtar had grabbed her. She gestured over it and it quickly faded away amidst a blue glow. "I am quite fine, thanks you to you."
She looked the three of them over carefully. "And I think I'm doing much better than you three are right now."
They looked at each other, now beginning to feel a little embarrassed. All were covered in dirt from head to toe, and smeared with good measures of blood. Purim wore only Randi's cloak for a top. Randi was covered with blood from head to toe after killing Elinee's monster cat.
It was a marked contrast to Luka's angelic appearance. Randi was still grappling with the idea that the child he saw in front of him was two hundred years old.
"We're fine," he reassured her. "But we need some help."
"I gathered so. I know everything that happens near water, but there are few streams that go near the Haunted Forest, so I feared for the worst until you came out alive. What is it that you need?"
"There's a seal around the Underground Palace that needs water magic to remove. One way or another, we need to use some water magic over in Dwarf Village. And you said that you couldn't leave the palace?"
"I see. You are quite right about myself." Luka's bright blue eyes studied them intently for a moment. Randi could only guess at what she was thinking. Finally she looked over towards the shimmering mermaid, who hadn't made a sound after vanquishing Geshtar.
"I defer to your judgement, Undine," Luka said, bowing her head.
The mermaid looked them over in the same manner that Luka had.
"Undine?" Purim blurted out, looking rather un-noble in the process.
"Undine is," Luka informed them, "the water elemental of Mana."
"I guess it makes sense for her to be mermaid," Keith agreed, trying to look unimpressed. For once, he didn't succeed very well.
/ These are dark times, / the mermaid finally replied. The voice was eerie, sounding like a thousand water drops, blended into a hundred pitches and tones, blended into one voice. / The consequences of this cannot possibly be worse than those of failure. /
Once again, Randi felt the air begin to pulse with energy. But it was different than before.
"Whoa..." Keith could feel his entire body begin to tingle with energy.
"H-hey!" Purim was experiencing the same.
Randi looked at them curiously, feeling nothing. What was happening?
A blue light began to bathe the two individuals who clearly did not understand what was happening. They both looked like human and sprite versions of Undine. Finally the blue glow began to fade away, and they returned to their normal selves.
"What'd you do?" Keith demanded, looking himself over.
It was Luka who replied. "Undine has given you the magic of water."
"Are you serious?" Purim asked incredulously.
Keith thought for a moment. "If that's true, then... Hah!" He threw his hands up in the air. A small blast of white erupted, making him yelp in terror.
"H-hey... I did magic! You weren't kidding, lady! That was magic, wasn't it? Ha! This is so cool!" He fired a few more blasts up into the air to reassure himself.
Purim looked thoughtful as she looked at her scratched arms, then looked at Luka's recently healed arm. She pointed a finger at a particularly large scratch. A blue glow surrounded the injury for an instant, then the scratch vanished. Her face grew into a huge smile as she began to point her finger at other injuries. One by one, they began to vanish. "Instant beauty make-over! This is incredible!"
Randi edged over to Luka. "Are you... sure this is the only way? I mean..." he gestured helplessly towards the other two.
Luka managed a weak smile. "The novelty will wear off in time."
Randi looked up at Undine. "What about me?"
Undine looked back. / Your Mana Sword has the potential to be more powerful than any magic. /
Luka laughed at him. "Randi, I'm surprised at you. You've already got the Mana Sword. Are you really that eager for more of such magic?"
Randi's face froze over. "Forget I even asked! This sword is enough trouble!"
"You understand better than them," she agreed. "They'll be feeling this tonight, I assure you. Keep them in line, okay?"
"Alright, Randi!" Keith exclaimed happily. "We've got an Underground Palace to crash!"
"Thanatos, here I come," Purim said grimly.
Luka's face grew serious. "Don't be a fool, girl."
"Who are you calling a girl?" Purim retorted.
"You're a girl. I'm over two hundred years old," Luka replied evenly. "You're no match for Thanatos, even with magic. I won't even pretend to understand who he is. But I've seen what he's done to Pandora. He has more magic than you could ever hope to display."
"I don't care. He has Dyluck, and I'm going to stop him somehow!"
"You will die pointlessly."
"And what would you suggest?" she demanded.
/ An alliance, / Undine spoke briefly.
Luka expanded the idea. "You three have more common interests than you might realize. Why not help Randi first? Then he can help you stop Thanatos."
"Wait a minute here!" Randi protested.
"We don't need her help!" Keith agreed.
"You need all the help you can get," Luka disagreed. "All of you. And Randi, listen to what I say. Your enemies will know who you are now. Do you even know who your enemy is?"
"I... think I just made one," Randi offered, thinking of Geshtar.
"Geshtar is from the Empire," Luka agreed. "A little over twenty years ago, the Empire gained a new Emperor. This Emperor seems to have an ambitious streak in him. He has been massing his power at home, across the ocean. But he has finally begun to expand outwards. The incident in Pandora is somehow connected to this expansion, I believe. As for Geshtar himself, he is one of the Emperor's men. Indeed, he holds the position as the Emperor's head general."
"So my enemy is the Empire," Randi guessed, not liking the sound of that.
"Your enemy is those who lead the Empire," Luka corrected. "But the Empire has many faces. I'm sure you will see them all in time."
"Geshtar is one of those faces?" Randi inquired.
"And Thanatos?" Purim guessed.
Luka nodded. "Your enemy is all around you, Randi. You would be wise to take advantage when interests overlap."
Randi glanced at Purim steadily, weighing his options.
She didn't blink. "You help me take down Thanatos, and I'll help you get through the Underground Palace. Word of honor."
"Help him through the Underground Palace first," Luka suggested.
"If Thanatos wanted your fiancee alive, he won't kill him anytime soon. But the Mana Sword's power will increase if you can seal the Earth Seed in the Underground Palace. You need all the help you can get."
She sucked in a deep breath. "Fine. I'll help him first, then he helps me."
"Deal," Randi agreed slowly. It sounded as though he would have to deal with Thanatos eventually anyway. Having Purim along might be helpful, especially now that she had been given magic.
"Hey!" Keith protested.
"You're not included in this deal," Randi reassured him.
"We wouldn't want you along anyway," Purim agreed.
"Blow it out your ear, Princess. I do whatever I want to do. You'd just get in the way. Why don't you just wait for Randi in Pandora? We'd hate for you to bruise your noble little ass, eh?"
"Shut up, both of you," Randi ordered. "We'll all go. Peacefully! You don't like it, stay behind!"
"What if we both don't like it?" Purim challenged.
"Then you're both out of luck as well. Either of you dislike this enough to cut out now?"
He got no reply. "Didn't think so. Let's not waste time then. Thanks, Luka, Undine."
"We all must do our part to assist the Mana Knight along," Luka replied. She gave a lopsided smile. "Especially when we believe in him more than he does himself."
The walk back to Pandora was a slow one. Keith and Purim were still thrilled over their new magical powers that they couldn't resist trying again and again.
"Check this out!" Keith laughed, pointing his palm towards an overgrown patch of grass. Blue energy flew from his hand, smothering the plants. After several seconds, the grass had been frozen solid. Keith kicked the plants and they shattered. "Neat stuff."
"Hmph. What a waste," Purim sniffed. "It would be more efficient to carry the energy to the target..."
Taking an arrow, she nocked it on her bow. Drawing it back, she took aim at a small tree. Just before releasing the projectile, blue energy flowed for her one hand into the arrow, making it begin to glow blue. Then she fired.
The arrow hit the tree and there was an explosion of water, mist and ice. When they looked again, a sizeable piece of the trunk had been cracked out.
"Why bother with the arrow?" Keith scoffed. "Just make your own!" He pointed both hands towards a clump of bushes. The same blue energy began to mist into the air. As it faded away, long icicles began to form in the air, each one as long as Randi's arm and razor sharp at the end. A gesture from Keith sent them hurtling towards the bushes, completely gutting the growth in seconds. "Just let something get my way!"
"You're wasting your strength on show. It what happens that counts," Purim insisted.
"If it looks good, then it scares the spit out of them too," Keith countered.
"Why don't you guys just do it your own way?" Randi suggested, rather miffed at the excuses they found to argue. "If your way is better, I'm sure we'll all know before long."
Neither said anything, refusing to look at each other. Keith began to idly fire little icicles of magic at butterflies, occasionally hitting them. Purim began to gesture over her body, no doubt trying to heal every single scratch she had gotten since birth. Inwardly, Randi felt rather irritated. Neither of them was even a real helper for him. He was the one with the Mana Sword, wasn't? So why was their magic so convenient? His sword couldn't do anything like that, yet it was supposed to be far more powerful. How much more did he still have to learn about his sword?
"Check this out!" Keith invited.
"Who cares?" Purim muttered, more interested in using her own magic. It hadn't taken her long to figure out that she could heal scratches and wounds with her magic. But now she figured out how to do something else: remove a small scar on the palm of her hand. It had been there for twelve years! And now it was gone! She could hardly believe her luck.
"You're gonna love this!" Keith persisted.
"Do you plan on giving beauty make-overs to all the monsters too?" Randi asked Purim sourly.
"I'm just making sure that when I rescue Dyluck, that I'm looking my best. You wouldn't understand. You're just jealous because you don't have magic like this."
"Here goes..." Keith sang out. Neither person paid attention.
Suddenly the entire area was covered in a torrent of water, soaking them within seconds.
"Beeeee-yu-tiful!" Keith crowed in delight.
Randi looked up. A small rain cloud presented itself, floating in the middle of an otherwise clear sky. Had Keith actually managed to make that appear?
"You idiot!" Purim shouted furiously. "If you had half a brain, you'd have made that cloud off to the side!"
"What're you whining about?" Keith said defensively. "I'd like to see you make something like this, Princess!"
"I'd like to see you get rid of it," Randi muttered, shivering despite himself. Not only was it real rain, it was cold rain. Despite the inconvenience, he couldn't help but be a little impressed.
Keith gestured again, and the cloud faded away, leaving the sun to shine on them and dry them off. "Hah! This magic is great!"
"Whatever, you little freak-". Purim's face turned white as she looked at Keith again, without the rain to block her gaze. "Wha-"
Randi saw it too. "Keith, what did you do?"
"I made it rain, buddy!" Keith was oblivious to his appearance.
"Y-you're fading out!" Purim stammered.
He was. Keith's form was semi-transparent now. One could see right through him, clothing and all, as though he were a ghost.
"Look at yourself!" Randi insisted.
Keith did so and did a double-take. "Whoa! I didn't do nothing! W-what's goin' on!" He patted his shoulders, trying to decide if he was still present or not. "How do I make myself come back!"
"Maybe you should take a break from using magic," Randi suggested. He could still remember Luka's promise that they would feel the use of their magic soon...
"Oh shit!" Keith groaned, the realization dawning on him. "It's this frickin' magic that's doing it!"
"What?!" Purim was beginning to look hysterical as she patted herself all over, evidently expecting herself to begin disappearing like Keith. She seemed alright, even though Randi knew she had probably been using magic even more that Keith.
"I'm jealous of your magic, am I?" Randi asked pointedly, unable to keep a slightly gloating tone out of his voice. "You think you'd get something like that for free? You're both idiots for thinking that. Purim, you look fine. Keith, how do you feel?"
Keith composed himself a little, having realized that he didn't feel any less solid to himself. "Well... I guess I feel okay. But man, is this ever weird!"
"Good. Take a break from using magic. Maybe you'll return to normal with a little time."
The other two nodded silently. Randi nodded grimly. They had obviously learned a lesson from this.
It was too late to reach Pandora the same day, so Randi suggested/ordered them to sleep while he kept watch. To Keith's immense relief, Randi was able to see the sprite slowly returning to normal. He would probably be just fine by the next morning. Purim was still a little frightened over the prospect of disappearing, but she was tiring now, and had stopped whimpering about it.
They found a decent clearing that would provide little enough cover for any monsters. Purim picked a flat spot and lay down with a sigh, patting her shoulders one last time. She still seemed nervous about the incident this afternoon.
Keith's spirits had risen however, with the knowledge that the fading he had experienced was only temporary. "I guess I just have to make sure I don't overdo it," he decided with exceptional wisdom. Randi had a hunch that Keith's opinion of ‘overdo it' was somewhat different than his own.
"I'll bet that if I use some magic, I'll just fade away a little," the sprite guessed. To find out for certain, he loosed a spell at a big tree. A shower of icicles arced through the air and wedged themselves into the trunk. Randi looked back at Keith. Sure enough, the sprite's visage seemed a little fainter.
"So I'll just turn in for the night and I'll be as good as new tomorrow!"
"Good night," Randi agreed, realizing that perhaps Keith had learned very little at all. Walking up to the same tree, he sent his sword through the base of the tree. As with everything else, he barely even felt the blade pass through the tree. A quiet breeze pushed at the tree, sending it crashing over in a flurry of dust and leaves.
"What the hell are you doing?" Keith demanded from up in a nearby tree where he had elected to spend the night.
"I need a seat," Randi replied airily.
"Show-off," the sprite muttered disgustedly.
Randi just chuckled to himself as he took a seat. A glance over at Purim showed that she hadn't even stirred when the tree had fallen. She would sleep well, he guessed.
Keith awoke early the next morning. To his satisfaction, he was perfectly visible now. All things considered, it was an interesting side-effect of using magic. Perhaps it had a useful purpose? What if he faded so far that he was invisible, yet still there? Think of the fun that could be had!
"Mornin', Randi," he called out, idly stepping off the twenty-foot high tree limb and touching down lightly on the ground. "Anything come?"
Randi shrugged. "Just a couple of those rabbits." He pointed towards the nearby river. "I threw them in there."
"Why didn't you save them? They make great eating, you know!"
"Normal people don't eat monsters, okay?"
"Well, I'm not a normal person. I'm a sprite, and I'll eat whatever the hell I feel like. Save the next one, okay? Now how about sleeping beauty, here..."
"We'll have to do something about that..."
Randi grabbed the sprite's arm. "You can wait patiently for awhile. If she doesn't get rested up, she'll slow us down anyway, right?"
"Well... okay. She has ten more minutes."
"I'll decide when she had to wake up, got it?"
Keith sighed, but didn't argue. "Uh... right. Gotcha."
An hour later, Keith at his wit's end. "I think she can wake up now! She's pampered, Randi! She thinks that because she never had anything to do at the castle, it's the same out here! She's got to learn sometime, right?"
"Shut up," Randi ordered. He had done almost nothing all night, so another hour was nothing for him. But Keith wasn't burdened with a patient attitude. Since ten minutes ago, he had grown more insistent that she be woken up.
"And she'll insist on eating breakfast too, I'm sure! By the way, you should've saved those rabbits. And she won't even walk anywhere until she's eaten breakfast! Back in Dwarf Village, we eat breakfast on the run! She's just a pampered little baby. Why can't you see that?"
"Shut up," Randi repeated.
"Admit it! You're soft on her because you like her! You've got a fricken' crush on her or something!"
Randi eyed Keith steadily. "When we first met, she tried to have me thrown in jail. I still think she's a complete psycho for doing what she is. If you think that's attracting me, you've got another thing coming!"
Keith refused to be diverted. "I still think she should wake up now. Hey, I got an idea..."
"It's harmless. Hah!" Keith pointed his palms up in the air and concentrated for a moment.
Too late, a massive cloud appeared from nowhere and began to drench them all.
"Get rid of it, NOW!!!" Randi shouted.
Moments later, Keith obeyed, but there was a satisfied smirk on his face. "Hey, Sleeping Beauty! Or should we call you ‘Ocean Girl'?" Keith stared in disbelief at Purim's still-sleeping form. "Whoa."
"Wow," was all Randi could say at first. A moment later, he elaborated on the obvious. "She must be really tired."
He walked over and shook her. "Hey, Purim. We gotta get moving now."
No answer, save her quiet breathing.
He sighed. "Well... I don't like to do this, but..." He looked over at Keith. "Make another rainstorm over her. And make it cold!"
Keith grinned evilly. "She'll be shivering for a week! Stand back. You won't want to get hit with this one!"
Resignedly, Randi stepped back. This wasn't going put her in a good mood, but it was necessary. With a flash of blue, another rain cloud exploded over Purim. She shuddered a little, but otherwise, didn't even stir.
"Impossible!" Keith breathed, halting the rain.
Randi was beginning to have an inkling of what was wrong. "I think she used too much magic yesterday. She's completely worn out."
"But I didn't get tired!" Keith protested, although he lacked conviction. "Of course, I'm a sprite, and she's somewhat human..."
Randi groaned. "There's no telling how long it'll take for her to wake up."
"Then we've got no choice," Keith said resignedly.
"I guess not," Randi agreed.
"We'll just have to leave her here..." Keith said regretfully.
"What?!" Randi scowled. "That's not what I meant!" He bent down next to her and with a grunt, lifted her up. "I'll just have to carry her."
"You can't carry her forever! And what happens if monsters come?"
"Then I'll put her down. And you're here, right? You can warn me if you hear or smell anything coming. And you're wrong about the first thing too. With this sword, I don't get tired. I don't think carrying her will make much difference. When she eventually wakes up, she's going to be stiff, but that'll be her problem."
Keith shrugged. "This one is your idea. And you'll have a hand free if you just sling her over your shoulder."
Randi nodded as the wisdom of that. He was going to get an earful when she woke up, but he was certain that she'd never overdose on magic again.
Resignedly, the two set off towards Pandora.