1 year, 8 months ago
1 year, 4 months ago
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Chapter 12
Published 1 year, 4 months ago

part one

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Everything continues as normal on the following day.  Or, well, as normal as possible, considering the things previously discussed yesterday. Caramel found it impossible to have a good night’s sleep. Even more impossible to actually continue exploring the Rift.

First of all, the light didn’t recede like in Bellacoste. Day and night cycles didn’t seem to exist here, so the Rift kept being blindly bright, disturbing Caramel’s whole sleep schedule. Not to mention her restless dreams, full of an unseen danger, something that crawled in the imaginary floors of her dreams. Everytime she woke up, it was with a heavy breath, heart racing, only able to fall asleep again by exhaustion.

Then, there was that blasted nature of the Rift. Magic that was harder to reach. Caramel was getting sick of the place.

Judging by the face of her companions, they didn’t seem to have a time much different than hers. Caramel could swear there was a collective sigh when, after a few more hours or walking, the swords around began to thin, and something could be seen in the horizon.

“Is that… smoke?” Rose asked, squinting her eyes at the distance.

“Yep.” Mishal answered, his tail swishing behind him. He was the only one who seemed unaffected by the rift, exuding energy instead. “Interesting. What wonders will we find from the Rift residents?”

“Hopefully Axel and Avalon.” Marzena made a frown at the blue vespire, earning a grin from him.

The knights, walking in front of the group, whispered something between themselves.

“It goes unsaid” started Reina, shooting only a glance to the group behind her. “But be careful. We’re not sure of who it could be.”

Silence befalls the group again. Caramel keeps staring at the smoke, wondering, wondering. It was the rift, it should be. Making her think weird things, making the whole trig unbearable.

“Indeed.” Rose speaks again. "Let 's go, then.”

Caramel shakes her head. The vines in her body squeeze her limbs a little, and she finally feels like she’s recovered some sanity. They resume walking.

Eventually, they reach out the campfire.

“Axel? Avalon?” Aoife calls out, her red body swirling in front of everyone else.

She was the first to actually see the figures, all of them huddled up around a fire. All their tired faces suddenly lighten up, eyes widening at their new guests. There’s Axel and Avalon, and another creature that… did not resemble a pouflon at all. Wonderful. Just another wonderful surprise.

“Oh my stars, how did all of you get here?” Axel blurts out, getting up from his spot. He’s a blue and white vespire, one that often offered jobs for mages and knights, quests to assist him in treasure hunting. Caramel herself never had the opportunity to meet them, since she started her training while the two of them were missing. Chances were, he and Avalon had a claw and poove in her companion’s training.

Soon, Avalon followed, her voice shaky:

“I can’t believe it! There’s really someone else here!”

The relief in their expressions is palpable. On everyone but the strange faces that stare back and forth between the group and the Vespire and pouflon.

“Yeah! We’re here to take you guys home!” Amy chirped.

“Thank the stars. I can’t stand a single more minute here.”

“How did you get here?” Axel asks, head tilting slightly.

“A long story.” Klondike steps up. “The gist of it is that the Rift finally stabilized back in Bellacoste, now we’re able to get here.”

Caramel smiles slightly, as if she is hearing a nasty joke between friends, by the way her eyes shake slightly.

“Huh, I guess a lot happened back home…”

Then, Avalon talks again:

“How long has it been?” She has a worried look on her face.

“Since you disappeared?” Aoife asks, shifting uncomfortably. “A few months.”

“Wait, what… That can’t be it.” It is hard to describe the face Axel makes when saying this. He blinks repeatedly at the group, and caramel can absolutely see the way his mind struggles to process the information. “We’ve only been here for a few days…”

Aoife tail twitches, making a soft sound.

“We’ve found that the Rift is full of mysteries. Who is that companion of yours?” She quickly changes the subject, pointing at the weird creature, who was just watching the whole scene unfold.

It`s a weird creature, something that none of them seem before. It resembled a Ursuki, kind of, being tall and fluffy. They were currently sitting, their hands clutching to something that Caramel couldn't quite see.

“Um… I’m Tiny.” A masculine voice declares. The poor thing looks so scared. On closer inspection, he didn’t have the claws typical to ursuki, but pooves instead, just. not quite. “Are you guys from Bellacoste, too? You know how to get out of here?” He suddenly talks more, getting excited. “Can we finally go home?”

Caramel almost laughs. Almost.