Despite their best efforts, the Assassins' Guild could not beat Ali Alhaven and his mysterious staff throwing an entire river at them, as most people would not be able to...
Our narrator Vinny, Hise, and his maid, are all safe, mostly thanks to Ali, but what's become of the treasures the fight was for...?
Once Ali's gusher of a gap in the Lintia cavern calmed to a placid trickle, the river water filling the lost battleground rose to the hole in the ceiling. We swam across it, struggling to drag Hise along. The near-dead giant left behind an expanding trail of red. Ali was nearly sweating with worry despite being nearly submerged.
We reached the edge of the new lake and fought gravity to pull Hise onto land, but the ground continually broke off into the water as we struggled, widening the hole, expanding the lake, likely a beautiful occurrence for anyone not trying to pull their dying friend to dry land to tend to his wounds.
I breathed in deep and let out a sigh. I could now feel my sweat despite the water. If we pushed from within it, we could not get enough leverage. If we pulled from the land, the ground below us would simply fall in, and we would be back in the lake. Even the maid's help could not give us enough strength, and after a great deal of grunting, kicking, panting—despite Ali never giving up—I finally just began to let go of Hise and said "screw it"; we just couldn't get him out of the water.
Then I felt Hise's heart jump so suddenly that it startled my own. I was holding his left arm, my back against his chest, where I could clearly feel his pulse diminishing until he raised his own hand. He stretched out, the stress of his sudden motion spreading his blood into the water, enough red to weaken his maid's legs so that she ceased to kick herself afloat. I was forced to keep her head above water.
Hise reached for the crumbling land himself—Ali swam back, and I pulled away to give him room. With the poise and calm of a creature not of this Itallis, Hise dug his hand into the edge of the forming lake—it was as if his willpower alone kept the ground solid enough so that he was able to pull his giant form out of the water with near elegant silence, grace and poise you wouldn't link to a man of his stature—he was a man who had survived much, a man truly in tune with the spirit of Itallis.
I was actually the only one left gawking from the water as Hise rose to his feet. He breathed deeply in the sun, relaxed his shoulders, and rolled his neck. The others were quick to climb out and join him, ensuring he was okay, still impressed despite how accustomed to this they must have been.
"If I have just a few minutes of meditation, I can reconnect my body to the flow of existence on the planet," he said to Ali and his maid, one hand on each of them as he looked up to the clouds, an expression of calm that betrayed his pain.
"The winds will heal you," said his maid, ecstatically. Her voice was meek and quickly lost in the wind.
His body left red footprints in the grass as he made his way to his own knoll. His maid, tearing with admiration, scrambled after him so quickly that she nearly stumbled en route. He crossed his legs at the peak of the hill, knelt his head, and closed his eyes to listen to, I supposed, the sound and spirit of the winds of Itallis.
As I attempted to pull myself out of the water, the ground crumbled beneath me, since I was not Hise. Ali grabbed my hands to help pull me out, his expression now relaxed to his normal dreamlike and distracted poise.
"Good to see you're okay too, Assassin Man," said Ali.
"Yeah," I said, climbing on to the grass, wet, mud-soaked. "Good to see I'm okay, too."
I began to ring out my suit. Ali produced my hat from his pocket, rang it out himself, and threw it to me. I placed it on my head.
"The maids kinda tricked me," said Ali. "I mean, Hise probably told them them to trick me, to be honest. They pointed me out to the fields when I woke up, all the way out to the Medea Plains, but everyone was underground—they sent me out to the fields. Didn't matter though, I happened to hear the lightning blast and saw the hole pop open where you guys were."
"Lucky us," I said without any sarcasm, actually. In fact, I laughed.
"Hise's always hiding stuff from me anyway," said Ali, hand on his head. "Thinks I don't know—well, I kind of don't, but passing out in that cave got me to things anyway. Even people that care about me can't stop me, I guess." Ali watched Hise meditate.
I let myself lay out on the grass, unable to fight another laugh. "Whatever."
I felt a bump in my pocket as I lay. There was a stone—that's right, the whole reason this had happened in the first place: apparently Hise's maid had slipped one of the stones in my pocket during the confrontation. I pulled it out and gazed into my perplexed and exhausted eyes reflected in its pink hues. No idea what happened to the other one.
"That's the Philosopher's Stone, Assassin Man," said Ali.
I tossed it over to him with two fingers. "Congrats, Ali. It's yours."
He caught it with a confusion not unlike mine.
"A key to the Goddess Prison," I said. "Enjoy."
Suddenly a shadow overtook the sun. I looked back and up to see Hise, his wounds completely sealed off, a smile of approval on his face, the bloodstains on his body dried black in the shadow of the sun.
"Ready to return?" he said.
The sweet scented hills of the Medea plains, the landscape tinted in a peaceful fire evening orange with wind rolling the grass like ocean swells, and a mild mountain chill crawling in from a range beyond the plains—the walk back to Medea was the most pleasant I'd had in a very long time.
A small sliver, a slight glimmer of a string to reach out to, to hold on to keep myself afloat on this planet a little longer—maybe the shadows of birds passing overhead, and the distant patches of forest could be something to appreciate. The wind coaxed me to positive thoughts as it slipped through the seams of my clothing, cooling my skin as it sailed past.
"Those that reach the Goddess Prison can get the answers to everything," I said to myself.
I lied last time. I moved the end of Act I to this chapter <_< I think this works better. Revisions chopped it up quite a bit as well... It wound up really short >_>
Next week: Now that Ali has the stone, will we have our adventure? We'll see :)
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Ali So Far: The Goddess PrisonFantasy
Vinny is an assassin hunted by his own guild. Ali is a treasure hunter after the greatest treasure in the entire world. Lise is one of the most powerful mages on the planet. All three of them are headed the same direction: to the Goddess Prison, to...