chapter eleven | the last two | waterfall

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"Do you sense the keys? Because this time we don't have guidance from the Queen," stated Sienna.

"Err..." I closed my eyes and concentrated. I felt a weird but faint vibration in my head towards the North. An image made its way into my head. It was a picture of a village on a rocky mountain, settled on its flat top. Then it vanished.

My eyes opened and I pointed in front of us. "The last two keys are all the way north."

"What does the place look like?" asked Akuma.

"It's a village on a rocky hill. It's settled on its flat top," I answered.

"I know that place," said Akuma. Following her words, she clapped her hands. A purple circle emerged from the ground, along with other neon purple circles spiraling upwards into the sky and disappearing. "This is a teleportation spell! I learned it in a spellbook from the library. Just step in and you'll be teleported there."

I didn't know Akuma had so much free time. But, despite my doubts, I stepped into the circles. I looked down to see my body vanishing into the purple light, and closed my eyes.

~

Cracking open one eye, I realised that in front of me was the village I saw in my mind. The wooden houses were torn down to shreds, pieces of wood laying here and there along with some glass shards from shattered windows.

"Oof!" I heard Lyra being teleported behind me, followed by the rest.

"What is this place? It looks completely destroyed. Something really bad must have happened here," commented Kaito.

"This place used to be called Foraeldre village. It was... destroyed by someone. I don't know who. Now they have a place called Foraeldre cemetery, and I don't want to know why." Akuma walked forward, turning her head side to side as she observed the debris. I did the same until I stumbled across something.

"What's this?" I muttered. At the end of the village was a small hole. Crouching down, I peered into it. From what I could see, there were a few houses shaped like pagodas placed on a small hill inside. I turned back. "Guys, I found something!"

"What is it?" asked Lana as the rest of them walked over.

"I'm not sure- WHA-!" Before I could reply, my body tilted towards the hole, making me lose balance and tumbling inside. Shrieking in fear of landing on the hard ground, I waved my limbs around wildly as I fell into the cavern. Shouts of worry could be heard. All of a sudden, I felt my body dropping onto the ground as I hit a soft surface.

Looking back, I saw a group of mushrooms underneath the hole. They must have cushioned my fall. I glanced upwards and saw my other guild members' panicked expressions.

"ARE YOU OKAY?!" yelled Sienna.

I rubbed my back in discomfort. "Yes! I'm fine, mushrooms are at the bottom!"

Hearing this, the ten of them jumped downwards one by one. Once all of them were down there, we took a look around. "Hey, that's you," Akuma snickered as she pointed at a waterfall surrounded by two pagodas that led to a rather wide lake. Surrounding the cavern's walls and the lake were smaller houses. This time they were all intact.

"Hello?" Reaper said. No answer. The sound echoed around the place. No one was in the cavern... Except for a small figure who sat at the edge of the pier. Noticing us, her calm demeanour immediately vanished and her facial features scrunched up in agitation. She seemed anxious.

"Hey. You." Hikari referred to the raven-haired girl. "What are you doing here?"

The girl stumbled up and drew out a sharp dagger from its scabbard. "...I'm supposed to fight you..." she muttered, just audible enough for us to hear.

Akuma, Lyra and I hesitantly approached her. "Don't worry, you don't have to. We just want the key, and then we'll be gone," I chose my words carefully.

"I-I can't let you do that! If not, Father will kill me..." The girl held her dagger out towards with her right hand, her left hand grabbing a blue jewel on her necklace. Lyra, Akuma and I put our hands up just below our heads as soon as she did that.

"Your father?" I slowly asked.

"He saved me from the scary creatures of the forest. H-He's my dad..." She looked down.

Lyra, Akuma and I exchanged looks of shock. Queen Malika didn't tell us about this.

In a split second, I felt her charge towards me, blade in hand. Turning my head to the sudden sensation, I dodged in time, her dagger cutting through a few strands of my hair.

She was fast. I wasn't sure if we could keep up with her.

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