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Thanks to Trancy's friend, Nancy, I'm gifted with another Float spell, so Ifrit, Shiva, Rob, and I make it out of the Cave of Sylphs relatively intact. They stretch their arms when we step out of the cavernous maw, but I still feel trapped beneath the earth, caught inside the shell of the Dark World, the unbearable heat of the distant Lava Sea sticking to me like an atmospheric froth.

"We have to head to the Dwarf Castle," I tell them. "We have to go right away if we've any prayer of stopping Golbez from getting the Dark Crystal."

"ThisGolbezdudescareyou?" Rob asks.

I nod hesitantly. I hate admitting fear, especially with all the times I've had to exude courage before. But if I downplay the severity of this situation, they might not take it with the seriousness it demands; at least, Ifrit and Rob might not.

Shiva can see the fear in my eyes, regardless or not I try to hide it from her, so I could've shrugged and told them, "Golbez is no probs," and she would've called me out.

"I have an idea!" Ifrit shouts.

After all of us finishing jumping out of our skins over his outburst, Shiva retorts, "What is it?"

Ifrit clears his throat, which sounds like an old, drunk man garbling on food, but I've grown used to hardly recognizing Ifrit's burps-and-hiccups, so it's fine. "Why don't we ask Bahamut to take us? It will be much faster than walking!"

Rob gapes at me. "Rydia, you can summon Bahamut?"

I lift my hands, "N-no-nono—"

"Bahamut's Lagoon is near here," Shiva explains. "Sometimes he descends from the Moon to sleep there."

"From the Moon?" I repeat, flabbergasted. 

"It will take us days to walk to the Dwarf Castle," Ifrit booms. "But it will take us less than a day to reach the lagoon."

"Unless Bahamut isn't there," Shiva says. "Then we'll have wasted a day of extra—"

"Let'sgosee!" Rob squeals. "IwanttomeetBahamut!"

"That's the spirit!" Ifrit replies, guffawing.

Shiva and I exchange glances. After I shrug, she says, "If you think we can afford the extra day...," but I'm more of the mind risky men require risky business; and Golbez is a risky man. So we ought risk Bahamut not being there, and check to see if he is.


Author's Note

I'm so excited Rydia's Last Cure made it to the Wattys Longlist 2018! Thank you so much to the readers who helped pep me up to writing this fanfiction project. 

I'm excited to continue into this third branch of the story, where Rydia will meet Bahamut, one of the most ancient Eidolon in her world, at Bahamut's Lagoon, off the shoulder of the Lava Sea. 

First draft: September 18

Word count: 454

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