Part 66: Ambush

11 to Wakening Sun, Inalis, 45 days remaining

Continued from last episode

“Why won’t you die?!” I heard Father shouting from outside the door. There were some magical sconces in here that gave off a faint light, and Actaeon and Rendu and Shadow quickly joined me. Shadow looked chuffed, though, and later told me that he was trying to knock out the marble statues but they kept moving, even after he broke their heads or arms off. Briar, Torag, Clio, and the Lady of Coins all came in as well. Briar had summoned a sabre-toothed tiger to distract the statues while we made our way in here.

The Lady of Coins seemed genuinely shocked about the statues. It had been long since she was last on Talys, let alone in the vicinity of this secret passage, but it didn’t appear that secretive anymore. The new Queen must have expected someone to come this way and had put the statues to guard the way. She believed it was likely that the ruckus we made trying to defend ourselves was going to give away our position and suggested we make quick work of anyone in our way.

How odd it is to me that I’m fine with this. No, that’s not quite the right word. “Fine” would indicate that I agree to it, and that’s simply not the case. I see it as a necessity. The amazons we find in here are those that are loyal to the Queen without question – they’ll kill us without a second thought. We must be swift to get past them. But I’ll never be okay with hurting people.

The hallways here led towards the barracks, and we found an ambush waiting for us. Torag had gone at the front of the line and came back, wheezing and pulling out a spear that had been lodged in his abdomen. Briar patched him up while we fought off the rest. The Lady of Coins took off her mask and hood and we quickly turned away lest her magical gaze turns us to stone. The amazon warriors that had ambushed us were defeated quickly because of it. The Lady of Coins donned her mask again, then took a spear and broke the statues into pieces.

Another amazon warrior had come in later and sent four basilisk monsters at us – the same beasts that the League of Storms had used to try to murder Anora back in Altea. I threw up a blast of fire while Torag, Actaeon, Rendu, and Shadow destroyed the beasts. Clio cast a spell to hold the amazon beastmaster as Briar cast a spell to take her down. Briar and I went through the basilisks to quickly gather some of their venom and oil before we continued onward.

The Lady of Coins is an enigma. She’s hard to read, and that might be because she hides her face in that mask. No one can sense her motives at all. Obviously, I mean, she wants the throne of Talys, and she’ll use whatever means necessary to get it – the heroes of prophesy, in this case. I asked her – offered again – to help her cure her curse, but she declined. Clio asked about how she got the curse, and the Lady simply said she and her sisters worked out a deal for it, whatever that means.

As I think about it – the Lady of Coins and her motives, I mean – the more I feel like a fool. I guess it’s because I read those stories back at the library when you and I were young. Stories about heroes saving people and offering them redemption or salvation in some kind of way. Not in a religious sense, but rather a sense of wanting to help people and them choosing to do good instead of evil. It’s naive to think that everyone is capable or desirous to do something like that. Some maybe, not not all. The Lady of Coins? Could she ever be considered our ally? Could she ever be our friend?

We moved onward to the caves that stretch beneath the water towards the temple, and I had to let Leo be my eyes again. The air down here smells of dampness and earth, and very salty. Shadow found some unnerving tracks that we later discovered was an overly large hydra.

The hydra burst out of the stagnant seawater and roared, echoing terrifyingly in the caves. Shadow called out to us to make ready. Leo told me, “One will protect you, make yourself a light,” and casually tossed me off his back. Briar and I made some light and we saw the monster. The hydra, a dragon-like monstrosity, had I think ten heads, though it was hard to count.

It attacked Clio and Torag, but Leo jumped in front of them to protect them, disappearing in a puff of smoke. Sorry, Leo! I’ll bring you back in just a moment. Clio put a speed spell on Actaeon as she moved back, and we attacked as quickly as we could.

Torag stunned the monster so it couldn’t move. Actaeon jumped on top of it and started speed-slashing it with Xander’s Axe. Shadow put a multitude of arrows into it. Briar threw down a blast of lightning. Clio slashed at it with psionic energy. And I threw down a lashing of fiery energy onto it. The hydra was slain just as quickly as it tried to attack us when Actaeon released Triple A from the trap-sphere and our dinosaur friend immediately mauled the hydra.

Interestingly, Triple started chowing down on the dead Hydra and we saw something shiny in it. Rendu pulled out from its innards some jewelry and the Titan’s Bane sword, a titan-killing weapon that we might need very soon. While we were patching ourselves up, Shadow noticed something.

Where did the Lady of Coins go?