Welcome to Part 3 of Voyage of the Lotus, a series from the mind of Anders Lundell (aka Isharton), a talented freelance artist with a passion for Magic: The Gathering.
In the story of Voyage of the Lotus, the merfolk Latir has to protect the heart of her home from an alien threat. During this story, we will see Latir travel through worlds via a yet to be revealed means to find people that could help her in her quest.
Catch Up on Previous Entries in the Series:
Part 0: An Introduction
Part 1: Priorities
Part 2: The Whispering Ruins
Strange carvings decorated the rectangular ruins.
Sylvia had mentioned how they wouldn’t stop talking, yet she could hear nothing but her own panting and distant chirping of birds.
Latir walked up to one of the rocks and gently placed her hand on it. Then, a sudden burst of whispering could be heard and she quickly let go of the rock. The voices stopped. She looked at her palm and then back at the carvings. Once more she placed her hand on the rock, only to again hear the whisperings. It was true. They were talking by themselves.
Strangely, the ruins didn’t seem to talk to her, nor with each other. Rather they were whispering words at random.
”World, Another, Travel, Stars, Mage, Dark, Light, Greed, Spirits, together.”
Those were the words they kept repeating.
”Please, do you know how to save this world?” Latir asked the ruins.
”Travel, Stars, Mage, Dark.”
She asked again, ”This world is dying, something is coming and we don’t know what it is.”
”Travel, Stars, Mage, Dark.”
She noticed how they were now just repeating those four words.
”I don’t know what to do! The lotus begged me to save it, but now I don’t— ”
”Travel, Stars, Mage, Dark.”
For an hour, Latir tried everything. All from trying speaking in her native tongue to offering the flower forward to the ruins, but nothing happened.
With each attempt she felt it became more and more desperate. She did notice however that it would eventually go back to the series of ten words after some time had passed and then back to the four from before whenever she questioned the ruins.
But in the end, Latir and the ruins went silent.
Only Latirs heart could be heard. Her head lowered, she only had one thought in her head.
” Back to square one.”
Latir let go of the ruins and sat down at a protruding root nearby with the lotus still in her hands. Before she had taken on this mission, she would’ve loved to explore these ruins more, to learn more, but now she could feel nothing but a deep disparity growing inside of her once again. Suddenly, she felt like she was choking. A deep burning sensation flared up in her chest as her heart beat faster and faster. Trembling, she put her hand at her chest as she was now hyperventilating.
Had she been poisoned? Was the air down in these ruins foul?
These were her thoughts as she struggled not to fall over. She had failed. Her hopes and dreams now came crashing down on her as she sat there, a tiny blue speck in the great green forest.
The beasts will surely have overrun the entire forest by the time Latir will have gotten another lead on what to do. She know that in the end, they will have devoured both her and the lotus. The lotus lay in her now limp hands, still shimmering like it did back at Sylvia’s hut. Latir looked down at it, tears now streaming from her eye sockets.
”You’re nothing but a flower, are you?” she said, with a shaky voice.
Nothing. No changes in the lotus’s glow, no voice, nothing.
Her chest still hurt, and the burning sensation and shaking hasn’t ceased. The parental-aura the Lotus once had afflicted her with no longer affected her, and so a dangerous thought appeared in her mind.
She wanted to squish it.
Her fingers stiffened up, and in any moment she felt like she could close them together with the lotus between them. She felt so betrayed by the world. Bernard and his knights whom had sacrificed themselves, the people from her village that had lost their life to the scourge, yet the lotus, said to contain the very soul of this world, didn’t react at all. Surely, its nothing more but a pretty flower. No, its not even that, she thought as her finger began closing themselves. It’s a joke. A joke that a flower could ever be something so divine. Petals had began falling from it, and she really now believed that the lotus was nothing special.
Yet despite this whirlpool of emotions stirring in her head, Latir couldn’t bring herself to do it. She couldn’t crush the flower, but instead placed it back into her pouch. The beating had stopped and her breath had calmed down. She stared into nothing. She stood up and began walking. She wanted to do nothing but leave the ruins behind her. Her pace was a quarter of what she had kept while traveling for the ruins. She doesn’t feel like daydreaming of the ocean. In fact, she doesn’t feel like thinking at all. This time she gradually began hearing the sounds of the forest returning as she was distancing herself from the ruins. This put her more at ease. The silence had been killing her.
She wasn’t heading for the village like she originally had planned, but she was retracing her path back to Sylvia’s hut. She wasn’t sure if it was shame or fear that made her turn back, but she knew she wasn’t ready to tell her village that she had failed.
Latir walked for what seemed like days, occasionally stop to rest. After 6 hours, she arrived.
”Of course.” she thought to herself as she looked out at the display.
Before her lay nothing but rubble. She managed to make out some attributes of the trash which indeed confirmed her fears. This was Sylvias house, and something had destroyed it. Something huge. Latir then quickly ran up to the rubble and began calling for Sylvia. She peaked her ears but got nothing but silence in response. She turned whatever debris she could manage to lift and frantically searched for her ally, nay, friend.
Latir teared up as her hands dug through the trash and wood laying about until she then felt a sharp pain under her foot.
Glancing down, she noticed it had been an arrow perturbing from a quiver lying under the rubble. It was the one Sylvia had used, she recognized it from yesterday. Latir leaned down and picked up the arrow and inspected it, not knowing why. Shen then came to a horrific realization. The quiver didn’t lie anywhere near any body nor did it look like there was a less quantity of arrows in it from yesterday when Sylvia had put it aside.
Sylvia never had the opportunity to fight back whatever had attacked her. Latir sat down with the arrow in her hands. Once again the world mocked her. First the ruins, and now this. Suddenly, a drop fell. Then another, and then it started pouring.
”Rain.” Latir thought to herself without lifting her gaze from the arrow in her hands as her body began to soak. She didn’t feel like paying nature any attention right now. She stood up, and then felt a sharp pain in her foot. She looked under it and noticed how the arrow had pierced the skin more than she had thought.
Growing up by the lake, shoes never were a thing. Frankly she saw them as a bother as she preferred to feel what she was stepping on.
They were now sore with scratches and cuts from running that much. Now, she realized how out of place she was. A merfolk, with little to no prior experience with knights, the forest or even fighting. All she was good at was Whispering, but now even that had failed her. What has she gotten from all of this except for bruises under her feet, loss of allies and a deep despair. She tip-toed on one foot over to a chair that had miraculously managed to keep upright despite the chaos that had unfolded here. She sat down on the edge of the seat, as her tail was slightly in the way. She leaned back and gave out a sounding sigh as she looked up into the rain.
She missed the lake. Her village where children ran around playing by the sandbanks, the smell of salted fish drying in the sun and the sounds of other people walking about. She thought to herself that maybe she should head home regardless her failure. Even if her adventure didn’t end in the worlds salvation, she still had no where else to go.
Then suddenly she heard something that made her spring back up from where she was sitting. She turned around and saw it. It was one of the monsters, it had snook up on her without her noticing one bit. Her eyes quickly glanced down, and she saw a giant hole in its torso from where it had been pierced. She realized, it was the monster that had fallen down with her, the which she had thought to be dead. It was still dripping green intestines onto the ground and it was barely holding itself upward. Latir took a step back, and immediately felt the pain in her foot once again stab at her. She fell backward to the ground. She figured that her time had come. Her mind was racing too much for her to find something to aid her.
The beast leapt forward with jaws filled to the brim with sharp teeth. Latir closed her eyes and braced herself. The only thing she could think of in this split second was one thing.
The sound of jaws snapping shut followed.
But then Latir opened her eyes, and she saw what had unfolded.
The monsters jaws was simply a few inches from her face, still gaping towards her. She looked up and saw it.
A giant drake had swept down and snapped its jaws over the thorax of the monster. The dragon then reeled back and with an almost effortless motion, it snapped the monster in half with the most unpleasant sound. Green body parts fell to the ground and splashed up at Latir who barely managed to avoid getting a chunky body part in her head. The dragon swallowed whatever was left in its mouth before looking down at Latir.
It was a mighty beast, much larger than the monsters. With a wingspan that felt like it could cover half of the area and teeth that seemed like it could rip chunks of mountains apart, it closed in on Latir who was now backing up on the ground. The drake could easily snap at her at any moment, however she chuckled. At least she wouldn’t die at the hands of the monsters. She felt her back-fins touch a wall that stood upright in the rubble. The dragon reeled back its head, towering a good portion above the tree tops.
Closing her eyes shut once again, she thought to herself how she had gone from the frying pan and into the fire.
Then she felt a sudden wet warmth up against her cheek, followed by another one right after the first.
She opened her eyes slowly, noticing that the dragon still had its head above the treetops, looking down at her with piercing yellow eyes.
Then she felt a push from the side and saw, there were two dragon pups right next to her, inspecting her thoroughly.
The pups where much smaller than their supposed parent, with large eyes and tiny wings. One of them got in closer and licked her cheek, making her realize that it was their tongues that was the wet warmth.
Latir giggled as they kept nuzzling her.
”W-wait, stop” She said as they began playing with her tail, bopping it.
Latir looked up at the drake and noticed something. It was smiling.
This was the first time she had met a drake this close, she had seen them fly over the forest in the distance occasionally, but she was certain it was smiling at her. The rain intensified, and Latir managed to stand up despite the pups constant nuzzling. On one leg, she managed to skip over to some vegetation in order to at least get some coverage from the downpour. She had a constant eye contact with the drake, making sure she didn’t make the wrong move while the dragon pups kept jumping around her, them finding it hilarious how she jumps up and down. She sat down and let out a sigh. The pups then sat in front of her, tilting their heads. Then suddenly, the drake that had kept completely still this whole time began moving its head towards the ground, crossing its forelegs much like that of the domesticated canine she had seen humans keep. It rested its head on the ground, still smiling at her.
She then felt a giant heavy shadow loom over her, she looked up and saw that it was the drake’s wing. It was shielding her and the pups from the rain. Latir looked at the drake with a confused expression.
”Thank you.” She said in her mind to the drake.
She then noticed how one of the pups had began poking its nose at her pouch, and she figured she might as well.
She opened it up and brought out the Lotus. Its light however, was much brighter, warmer than before. Latir looked down at it, contemplating over this. Daring herself to hope once more. She then said;
”Maybe you’re not just a pretty flower.” She uttered, with a smile on her face.