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Every time I think back to Shiva staring into my soul—then telling me she sees darkness—I falter a bit towards the green-glow of the poisonous, bioluminescent moss growing along the floor of this tunnel-shaped cave.

I imagine these creepy, poisonous vines are precisely why the sylphs like to live here; if you can't fly, how would you ever disturb them?

Needing to pull my Float together, I instead try to focus on Shiva's excitingly chilly smile; but that just sends me shooting towards the ceiling, where still more moss hangs from stalactites, not to mention the eerie glow worms that light up at every sudden boom of Ifrit's voice: 

"Maybe we could ask Trancy to come out of the cave for Rydia!"

"Don't be ridiculous," Shiva tells him. "She's flying just fine."

Ifrit moves about by shooting through a tunnel, clinging to the wall the way a spider might do, then hurdling his body again. Rob sputters behind Ifrit's blazing trails, screaming, "Ayayayayayay!"

Earlier, I tried casting Float on Ifrit; but I couldn't get the spell to work again. So he's just risking crashing the whole cave down.

Shiva floats around me, holding my hands, letting the memory of her fingers sink into me.

"Are you fine?" she whispers at me, and I nod in spastic embarrassment.

A circle of small, vaguely anthropomorphic lights flutter towards us, like will'o'wisps drifting across a bog; except the ground isn't water—just poisonous moss, any and everywhere.

The wind shifts around the lights, vibrating the glow worms to life. 

I realize this is the first time I've felt wind since Leviathan swallowed me...

...Since Trancy disappeared in a burst of wind...!

"Sylphs," I stammer, pointing towards the light as they zip past us, into the darkness of the world we left behind. "Were those sylphs?"

"Much younger ones, yes," Shiva says.

I remember Trancy was about my size—that is, back when I was still child-sized, before this growth spurt happened—yet the wispy sylphs who just flew by us couldn't have been more than a hand's length.

"They move in schools, like fish," Shiva continues, "at least when they're little. After three or four years of that life, they cocoon deep in this cave, then grow exponentially, until they re-emerge into the world at about the height of a tall human child."

"That's amazing," I say, and start to float upward again.

Rob stops prancing in Ifrit's afterglow, and instead flies over to me and Shiva, asking, "Didyouseethesylphs, didyouseethesylphs," moving every bit as quickly as they do.

"We saw them," Shiva snaps, shooing Rob away with one hand while keeping me buoyed with the other.

"Make sure not to bump into their cocoons!" Ifrit roars, and the whole ceiling lights up a bright blue tapestry of wriggling, wormy lights. "We're close to their chrysalis grounds!"


First draft: July 18

Second draft: August 18

Word count: 474

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