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The party worked silently as the made the ship ready to sail. Bevern took the lead, instructing them on what they needed to do, but he was always careful when speaking to Tyght.

After about an hour they were ready to cast off. Gaian and Bevern when down below to handle the oars to get them started, whilst Tyght was at the wheel. He knew which direction the Water Crystal was, but he was less than willing to share that knowledge with the rest of the party.

They slowly moved away from the shore. With only Gaian and Bevern working the oars their progress was slow at first. But once the wind caught the sails their speed picked up, and fortunately the wind was blowing in the right direction.

Gaian and Bevern came up on deck. “Tyght,” said Gaian, “Do you need a hand?”

“I’m fine, I’ll get us to the Water Crystal.”

Gaian and Bevern then walked over towards the front of the ship where Sianna was. “He is really giving me the creeps now,” she said.

“I know,” said Bevern, “Do you guys have any idea what happened back there with the pirates? It looked as though he was possessed.”

“His staff seems to be the centre of his power,” said Gaian, “It already had some power before we met Lisa, we saw him use it to cross the river of magma, but she seems to have increased its power exponentially.”

“But why would she make it do that?” asked Sianna, “It’s made him into a mad man.”

“Who knows,” says Gaian, “We don’t know anything about Lisa or where she comes from, only that she has given us this quest.”

“Hey,” said Bevern, “You’re right – we don’t know anything about her. What if she’s not on our side, what if she’s, I don’t know, evil somehow?”

“I’m not so sure, I got no sense of her being evil. And we’ve done what she has instructed us to do so far, in restoring the balance to the Fire Crystal, and stop the magma flowing, so I’m sure that she’s on our side. She must have given Tyght this power for a reason, and whilst he may have gone overboard, he was able to save us from those pirates. I doubt whether we would have defeated them otherwise, and so if it weren’t for him, Sianna...” He didn’t need to verbalise what the consequences would have been.

Tyght could see them having their conversation, and he could guess what it was they were talking about. He didn’t understand what it was that had come over him. One minute he saw the pirate threatening Sianna, and effectively blocking their passage to the Crystal, and the next he was consumed with rage. He only had one overriding thought – eliminate the threat to their quest. He didn’t know where his strength had come from.

He then heard a voice in his head, “Do not worry Tyght, all is well.” It was the same voice that belonged to the figure he had seen after he had escaped the cavern with the underground lake. “Our quest is progressing as it should. Do not fret over what these others think of you. Remember, they are but pawns in Leven’s plans. They will serve us well for now, but do not become too attached to them. There will come a time when you will need to eliminate them, but remember it is all for the greater good of the world.”

Yes, Tyght thought, We must focus on our goal, a lasting, prosperous peace for the world. But what of the Emperor? Isn’t he proposing peace for the world as well? How do we deal with him?

“The peace that the Emperor seeks is one built on fear and destruction, with man destroying the world for his own gain. In fighting for our peace, yes, there will be a war and with war some people will always die. But at the end of our war it will be nature who rules over man, and man will live in harmony with nature, thus preserving the future of the world. Stay true to the faith, Tyght. You have to be absolutely sure of your convictions in the great struggles that lie before us. But remember, it is one step at a time, the next step being the Water Crystal. Keep the ship on this course – it will get you to its location. Do not alter its course for any reason – it is important that you do this, Tyght. No matter what, stay on this course.”

Tyght placed some ropes on the steering wheel to keep it in place. He then walked towards the others, who all fell silent as he approached. “No,” he said, “Don’t stop talking on my account.”

“Tyght, what’s going on?” Bevern asked.

“I’m sorry?”

“You must know what I mean!”

“Ah, yes, the pirates. Lisa’s gift to me, through the staff, is to both protect us from danger, and to ensure the success of our quest. Therefore, should something threaten either us or our quest, the staff will act, through me if need be, to protect us.”

“And this is Lisa’s doing?”


Bevern paused for a moment, and then said, “She’s not a subtle one, is she?!” The others laughed, nervously.

“So,” said Gaian, “Do you know exactly where the Water Crystal is, or do you just have an inkling?”

“The staff is acting as a compass – it will point us in the direction of the Crystals, but it can not tell me what their exact locations are.”

The party seemed to relax a little, as they stood together looking at the sea. The ship was making steady progress, but there wasn’t much to look at. There were just miles and miles of water in every direction – by now Port Klempt was beyond the horizon behind them. There didn’t appear to be any life out here – there was no indication of any fish in the sea, or of any birds overhead. All that was above them, stretching to the horizon in every direction, were the black clouds with their lightning that they had seen everywhere else.

They appeared to be the only ship out here, when normally this would be a busy shipping lane. Despite tensions between the Republic and the Empire trade still took place between the two.

After a while it started to rain – fortunately it wasn’t acidic. But as the rain started to fall the winds picked up. “A storm?” declared Bevern, “We didn’t have any indication of any storms coming our way?”

“Look above you,” said Sianna, with the blackness of the sky still stretching to all horizons. “It’s amazing the seas have been as calm as they have been.”

Gaian climbed up the rigging to get a better look of what was ahead of them. But what he saw made his heart shrink. “There’s a Maelstrom up ahead!”

“What’s that?” asked Bevern.

“A giant whirlpool you idiot!” Sianna answered.

“That’s bad, right?”

“Gee, you think?!”

Gaian came back down and walked over to the wheel. A look of horror filled Tyght’s face, “What are you doing?!”

“Didn’t you hear me? There’s a Maelstrom up ahead! We’ve got to try and change course whilst there's still time!”

“No! We must stay on this course! It is the only way to the Crystal!”

“Well we’re just going to have to find another way!”

“There is no other way!”

“So you will have us all killed?!”

Tyght didn’t know how to explain it. The figure had been adamant that they must stay on this course, no matter what, but he had also been adamant that he didn’t tell the others of his existence. As he saw Gaian taking the ropes off of the steering wheel he felt the rage take over him again. “Get away from there!”

He somersaulted over to the wheel, kicking Gaian out of the way on his landing. He quickly got the ship back on course and resecured the rope, by which time Gaian was back on his feet and the others had joined him. Tyght was brandishing his staff, protecting the wheel.

“Tyght!” said Gaian, “This isn’t right! Something’s gone wrong with Lisa’s gift! We are heading straight for a Maelstrom. Once we get caught in it there will be no way out, and we’ll be heading straight down to the bottom of the sea! We’ll all die Tyght! Can’t you see that?”

“No, it is you who can not see! This is the only way to the Crystal! We will be protected!” The ship shuddered as it entered the Maelstrom. “Have faith!”

“In what?!” shouted Bevern, “You’re crazy!”

The winds got stronger, and the mast fell down, mercifully missing the party entirely. The ship was circling faster and faster, and it was now too late to do anything.

The ship suddenly broke in two, and Sianna was thrown immediately into the raging sea. “Sianna!” Gaian cried, but it was too late. Bevern was still standing next to him, but Tyght was on the other part of the ship that was now speeding away from them.

“So,” said Bevern, “This is how it ends...” Those were the last words that Gaian heard him say before Bevern was also thrown from what was left of the ship.

The ship was breaking up quickly, and Gaian held onto a piece of the guardrail. But, as he did so, a plank of wood that had broken off one of the other sections flew at his head, knocking him out cold.

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