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Saturday, April 12, 2008 The Shield of Faith - Part Two

The airship reaches the outskirts of the Great Lake Ovalna in Merida Kingdom in midday and lower anchors there. After giving instructions to Quazar the centaur, captain of Aurora, Eidos Crydias and his teammates go down to the ground, on a hill near the lake.
The champions are fascinated by the exotic scenery of the lake. The water is like a sea of sapphires and diamonds, surrounded by a cluster of emeralds from the forest around it and a bright speck of emerald from the small island in the middle of the lake. They glitter under the shine of the golden sun, giving serenity and peace in the hearts of those witnessing it.
In order not to disturb that serenity, the champions choose to walk about half a mile to the lakeside. Eidos, however gives a look of resentment to Iris who gave that idea.
Ooh, my old bones, he thinks. I should’ve insisted landing on the lakeside and have those two angels ready to carry us anywhere, but no, the elf insisted otherwise and debated fiercely with Lord Adler. ‘Honoring their tradition will increase our chance to get the shield’ – and Adler just fell for it? Should’ve insisted. I should’ve insisted. And after that, I’ll find myself a new benefactor.
As they reach the lakeside, Cristophe’s team stand in wait. Then, to Chris’ surprise, someone emerges from the lake, gradually and slowly. First, a blue-skinned head with an aquamarine fin-like tuft on top, aquamarine eyes and long, pointy ears, wearing something that looks like a thin helmet comes from the water. It’s a water elf! As she walks closer, her beautiful face looks clearer and clearer And we can also see now the dress she’s wearing: a long dress made of fish scales with a fish fin-like big collar around her neck. Her bare feet are unique – three long fingers with fin-like skin between them – as a tool for faster swimming. Her hands, however are identical to humans’, giving more versatility to this fabulous, amphibious creature.
At the sight of her, Iris kneels down, and Chris follows suit. Eidos is rather doubtful at first but he finally kneels anyway. Only Adler doesn’t seem to budge. Two other water elves who seem to be the guards come out from the water, wearing fish scale armors and helmets.
The long-dressed elf observes the champions. Her eyes are met with Adler’s the one still standing. After staring at each other for a long time, finally Adler blinks and gets down on his knees. Chris watches it with much admiration.
So this is Res’marth, one of the Seven Paladins who defeated Vordac. She fought side-by-side with my great-great grandfather the Fireheart. None can surpass her Aquamancy (water magic) power in this world. Her unfathomable charisma can break an emperor’s pride, let alone Adler’s. She deserves my respect.
‘Rise, my children, and at ease,’ says the Water Elf Queen. ‘I’m Res’marth, Keeper of the Faith. Here is my domain, the Great Lake Ovalna. I really appreciate your respect for our traditions, our efforts to keep everything sacred and natural here.’
‘All thanks to Iris, Your Majesty,’ says Cristophe. ‘Without her knowledge, we would be at loss.’ Iris blushes on hearing that. The water elf smiles.
‘It would take days for Avariel to teach you the roots of our tradition. Luckily, like her queen, this wood elf is quite resourceful. Anyways, what’s your name?’
‘Cristophe Jean de Galantine Deveraux of Arcadia, Your Majesty.’
‘Oh, a Deveraux? Sure indeed! You do resemble Sage the Fireheart. He was the greatest hero of our time, and I was so honored to fight by his side. Ahh, the Seven Stars: Me, Sage, Gairon, Carolyn, Galliard, Quentin and Azrael, and all other paladins in the time of Fireheart. The paladins rose again to fight with Antoine, another Deveraux. And now, as another Deveraux sets foot here, it means new paladins will rise to thwart the scourge of darkness. And now let me help you to make that happen.’
Suddenly, the four champions feel something weird with their breathing. They’re choked! Eidos gasps for breath, Chris clutches his throat, and Adler even protests, ‘Ghaa... I-I can’t breathe! What witchcraft is this? Ah-arhe you th-thray-ing to k-kill usssh?’ Iris is choked too, but she seems to get used to it. Adler tries to reach for his sword but he feels to weak to move, being out of breath.
They are still in that state for some time until one by one they breath back to normal again. Iris is first, then Adler, Chris, and lastly, Eidos. But they soon realize that they are breathing with a different way, and Eidos asks,
‘W-what’s this? I-I breathe differently! Is this a... gill?’
‘Good guess, Eidos Crydias. But a man of science like you should’ve known better. I’ve transfigured your noses into amphibious gills. So, like toads, you’ll be able to breathe underwater as well. Now, the reason of me doing this is simply because as a keeper, I must keep the Shield of Faith within our domain, meaning underwater, in the lake. The spell is temporary, unless you want to spend most of your time underwater for the rest of your life. The spell will wear off in twenty-four hours, so find he shield within that time.
You may kill water monsters along the way, but please don’t harm the nagas, merfolks and my kind. Search the entire lake for the shield, but to save time, I give you one clue: Faith lies in the best protected place. Go now, and good luck!’
Once again, Eidos protests, raising his hand, ‘But I can’t swim! How can I move in there?’
‘You’ll soon find out. If you have faith in me and in Vadis, nothing is impossible.’ Saying so, Res’marth leaps up high in the air, far, far backwards, and dives into the lake with a splash.
Without further ado, Iris plunges into the water. Chris and Adler need some time to take off their armors and shield to move more quickly and freely underwater, and leave them in care of the two water elf guards, then both jump into the water with their clothes and swords. Eidos, however, is reluctant to go and stays where he stands. He looks totally frightened.
A minute later, Adler comes up to the surface and yells at his partner, ‘What’s wrong with you, Eidos? Don’t you want to come?’
‘I-I can’t, Sire. I’m too old for this, and I can’t swim,’ says the old chronomage. ‘I will slow you down, and the water will freeze me before long.’
‘Tchah! Rubbish!’ Adler yells louder. ‘Now get down here, you old fool! That’s an order! Or you can kiss your research fund good-bye!’
Hearing that, Eidos takes off his robe and his hat, mumbling, ‘Oooh, how I hate that man. He wants me dead, so he can take my airship for his own... Oooh, my poor old bones... Wish there’s a spell to reverse time so I can be young again...’
Still mumbling, he dives into the lake.

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