Xeric scratched his short beard. The young man thought for a long time on how to word his wish. You had to be careful with djinn, he thought, and efreet were even more dangerous than them. In the dark basement storeroom, a pair of fiery red eyes gazed impatiently through the smoke. What appeared to be a horned man had a grin on his face, trying to look trustworthy. It worked surprisingly well.
The plan was simple: sneak aboard Captain Kem’s airship where she is keeping the philosopher’s stone, steal it from the cargo hold, blast a way out of the ship’s hull with alchemist’s bombs, and parachute back safely to the ground. Naturally, things never go according to plan.
Kara woke up and, yawning, got out of bed. She waved her hand vaguely towards the domestic robot, who had only just opened the door to her room. She was already awake, even though it was early for most other people, and could see its android silhouette in the morning light.
Darkness receded. Lodge opened his eyes. A bugbear must have hit him. Lurking in the shadows, even as the raid howled and frenzied all around him, the bugbears still preyed on fear through surprise attacks. Why it didn't finish him while he was down, he couldn't say, but he was glad to be alive.
A leaf, crimson red, falls into the water and floats on top. It flows down the stream, like a tiny boat in autumn colors sailing on the gentle water's flow. Above, the orange sky of dusk fades lazily in from the afternoon. Below, a carp swims in the opposite direction. Upstream. The koi is old. He was once a captive creature, the pet of nobles, bred for show, that like so many others were released into the wild. He swims forward against the current, with deliberate intent but pacing himself. He remembers the climb from previous years, and in his age knows that this will likely be his last attempt.
“Remember, we need to reach the bottom of the underground lake,” Len told her companions. “I need to put the catalyst there: it’s the only way it will restore everyone’s water supply, and have us be rid of the acid.” Asoka nodded and led them on into the tunnels, carrying a torch. Bosu, Lohuan and Fabia followed behind with Len, who would periodically prod at puddles on the ground with the butt of her spear. The cavern walls were wet, and in some places slick with a film of slime. It was not long into their descent into the darkness that their progress was paused by a pool of water that reeked with a sour, biting stench.