Episode 55

”So, what exactly are you doing in a dangerous place like this?” Gill asked. ”A young girl like this? Clearly she must’ve gotten lost while playing nearby.” Taegrus reasoned, rubbing his chin. Kirik shot Taegrus a dubious look, concerned how a king could be so naive.

”Um~” Shyly, the girl shaped the rain clouds above to form her name and introduced herself as the princess of the merfolk. 

On land, the merfolk assume forms close to that of humans, but they don’t do particularly well with dry climates. Shaela had changed the weather to make things more tolerable for herself as she traveled the forests. Weather alteration was something the others had  never heard of before, clearly a powerful kind of magic.

”And?” Gill asked, still somewhat suspicious and unimpressed, or at least acting that way. “What exactly is your reason for being here?” ”Ah, well, about that~” ”Do you think you could hurry this up a bit and speak a bit quicker? This rain is irritating my scales.” Kirik grumbled attempting to shield his head from the rain with his hands. ”Ah, I can stop the rain, but~”

”But~?” Gill imitated the girl’s way of talking. ”I cannot comply by your request to change the way I talk.” ”You seriously can’t?” Kirik asked incredulously. ”No~ I was just joking~. I am the princess of the Coral Palace after all. In my preparations for coronation I studied international relations~. I learned that this was the way that foreigners spoke~. 

But it was starting to stress me out, so I made it rain to relax a bit~. If it starts to get dry again, I’ll have to start the rain again, so perhaps we should all press forward before that happens?” Though the girl had dodged answering what she was doing there, she continued forward with the others who abided only because they disliked the idea of having to walk through any more rain and mud.

”Gill, I forgot to ask earlier, what was that strange creature you conjured?” Taegrus asked, hoping to strike up a different mood.

“A kind of magical creature.” Gill answered. “Normally, strong magic takes some sort of catalyst. 

A stone for a focus, a verbal component. But in dangerous situations, I dislike making myself so vulnerable for such magic. Those small creatures can be used as magical focuses, I call them elementals. They can act independently in battle if necessary, and can be broken down to empower my magic. In a way I suppose they’re similar to your gems. They can be a magic catalyst or a weapon, as necessary.”

”Hm, seems you’ve put a lot of thought into this.” ”Only because I’m a genius.” Gill said very matter of fact like. “What about you, Kirik? Do you use magic?” ”Red Dragonoids do not rely on magic. We have our physical strength, and this is how we triumph over our enemies. Our strength is so great that it affords us special abilities akin to what you might call magic, though it is fundamentally different.”

”That’s certainly quite a feat. What do you do if you’ve run out of strength?” ”Nothing, we die.” ”How honorable. Truly the Red Dragonoids are a sporting people!” Taegrus said ”Is it any different should you exhaust your magic? We eat and train to grow strong such that we are never caught weary or unawares. This is why we respect what we eat, as it enables us to have the strength to live.” 

Kirik pounded his chest proudly. ”Just don’t go eating my elementals” Gill said, eyeing Kirik. ”I don’t need that kind of non-nutritional creature.” ”I don’t need your reasons, just don’t do it.” ”Um~.” Shaela called attention back to herself. ”Yes?” Taegrus turned to face the princess, as he continued to march forward. ”I can use magic too~.”

”We know.” Gill said, rolling his eyes somewhat. “The rain was a kind of magic, right? And?” ”Is there another kind of magic you’d like to see?~” Gill gritted his teeth. Something about this girl was irritating. Perhaps it was how ignorant she seemed of the world around her. But he didn’t want to agitate her and chance drenching his clothes again.

”Fine, then. Could you show us some of your spellwork?” ”As you wish~.” Shaela smiled. Shaela performed a quick motion and a powerful magic gathered around her. Gill observed how effortlessly the girl performed spellcraft. She had clearly studied under some great magicians, the benefits of a royal bloodline, he reasoned. ”Ei!”

From Shaela’s hands, sprung a huge spiraling torrent of water that surged ahead of the group and down the path with tremendous force. 

Taegrus nearly jumped at the force of the spell, Gill too, had to restrain himself from jumping at its strength. Kirik, as cool as ever, remained calm but observed with great interest. ”*Ahem*.” Gill cleared his throat after a moment. “I see, very well done.” 

If an attack like that was so simple for the girl to produce, Gill had doubts about whether he could halt a full force attack from the princess, though for now it seemed he wouldn’t have to worry about that. Taegrus, shook his fur, having been damped by the splash back from Shaela’s magic.

“That was fascinating!” Taegrus said. “You must tell me about your water magic. I’ve been interested in water magic for some time now, you know.” “You’ll have to wait on that lesson, I think.” Kirik interrupted. “It seems in our search for the castle, the castle has found us.” 

The others looked up, and indeed a large castle had appeared a short distance away where once there was only forest. The sun now hung low in the skies and the veil of night began to creep over the unlikely quartet.