“What’s that?” Cobal asked?
“What do you mean?” The other two replied.
“Do you hear that?” He held his ear towards the gate. “It sounds like faint humming.”
Suddenly the sounds seemed to shift and now he heard humming behind him. He turned around but saw no source to the sound.
A voice popped up next to Mana. “You smell like him.”
Mana let out a small scream and Cobal immediately drew his sword. “Identify yourself,” he yelled, not yet quite sure what was going on.
The voice turned angry. “And you smell like them.” It hissed at Cobal, clutching on to Mana’s back.
“Don’t trust this one, dear.”
Cassandra and Cobal could now see the source of the voice. Sitting hunched on Mana’s shoulder was a humanoid creature the size of a small cat. It had small arms and legs and was wearing what seemed to be a purple suit. Except it looked very different from the proper attire that Cobal was used to. He hadn’t seen clothes in this style in his lifetime.
Adorning his head was asymmetrically cut hair. One half was shaved off almost completely and the other half was dyed cyan and reached halfway down the creature’s back. Around it were floating orbs of light, the same lights that they saw near the gate.
“Who are you?” Cobal asked, keeping his sword trained on Mana’s shoulder, where the creature was.
It stood up and then hovered off of Mana’s shoulder, back towards the gate. “You’ve got a lot of nerve showing up here and asking me questions.” He looked them all over and lingered on Cassandra. “You I know nothing about, who are you?”
“Well that clears up everything.” He focused his attention on Mana next. “You’re the new hero?” He asked.
Mana nodded. “How do you know?”
“You have the same smell as that other guy, it’s an alien smell.”
“So you met Might?” Cobal asked.
“I’m not talking to you.” A strong wind pushed Cobal over onto his back in the shallow water.
As Cobal got back up the creature asked. “What brings you here, and why are you traveling with this guy.”
“I was summoned to this world a little bit over a month ago. Cobal here,” she looked at him, “has been showing me around and helping me out.”
The creature crossed its arm. “Has he now? Pretending to be your friend before he locks you behind a gate?”
Mana seemed to recoil at the thought, and quickly broke eye contact with Cobal.
This didn’t go unnoticed by Cobal. He had already been thinking there was something going on that made Mana scared of him and this all but confirmed it to him. Something was wrong, and maybe he could start getting some answers now. He stood back up fully and brushed some off the sand of the back of his head. “I mean no disrespect, but you and I have never met, and I don’t know why you are so hostile to me. If you explain, perhaps I can set things right.”
The creature looked all three of them over. “Sure, there’s something you can do for me to make me change my opinion of you.”
He floated down in front of the gate and flew towards it. Instead of going through it, a rippling surface akin to still water appeared. “As you can see, I cannot enter through this gate. My little sister was locked behind this by one of your court wizards. The scum tried to attack her and when she showed him who’s boss he locked her in here with his foul tricks. It’s a barrier that doesn’t allow spirits to go through. You human folk might be able to go through it. If you find my sister and bring her back, I’ll forgive you.” He gave an angry glare at Cobal.
“I want to go into the strange gate,” Cassandra said.
“Your attitude is gonna get us all killed one day,” Cobal replied.
“It hasn’t so far,” Cassandra rebutted. They both looked at Mana. “What do you think?”
Mana thought for a while. “If this person’s little sister is locked up in there, then I want to have a look and see if we can help her. She must be scared, being in a strange place she never wanted to go to, with no one familiar around.”
Mana took a deep breath and walked straight through the gate.
“She’s got guts, that’s for sure,” the spirit said, looking at the other two.
“Now, are you just going to leave her there alone?” The spirit gave Cobal a judgemental look.
“I’ll deal with you later,” Cobal said to the spirit, walking after Mana into the strange gate. Cassandra followed quickly after him.
Once Cobal walked through the gate he felt like he stepped into a completely different world. The idea that this is what Mana must have felt like crossed his mind quickly and he felt in awe of it. Mana was standing a little ways away from him, the water reaching just above her ankles. WHen he looked down he realized he was standing in knee deep water and Mana had started walking towards the lone bit of land they could see. Leading the path from where they stood to the island was a row of these strange gates that they saw outside, each one ever so slightly larger than the one before it. Cassandra appeared behind him and after exchanging a quick nod they both followed Mana towards the small island ahead of them. By the time they reached the largest of the gates they’d caught up to Mana, who was slowly wading towards the island as well.
“It’s absolutely beautiful here,” she said to Cobal, not even looking behind her.
“It looks like something out of a children’s dream,” Cassandra agreed.
“I see something up ahead. I think it’s a person.” Cobal pointed in the distance, quickening his step so he’d be in front of the other two, hand on his sword.
Mana nodded as she saw the figure as well. “I wonder if that’s who we’re looking for.”
The water got more and more shallow and quickly they found themselves walking on sand, headed towards a small hut, two coconut trees and a hammock between them. Sitting on this hammock was a small humanoid figure, the size of a cat. The person seemed to have been asleep until a moment ago, and was slowly sitting up, looking at her visitors.
“Good evening,” Cobal said, slowly walking towards her.
It seemed to take her a moment before she realized what was going on and then immediately floated behind a tree. “Who are you, what do you want from me?”
She had a similar build to the small spirit they met outside of the gate except with more feminine features. Her hair seemed to grow in two different colors, a dark shade of purple and the brightest white you could see. Braided together they made for an almost pink coloration. Her eyes had the same two colors except opposite. On the left side she had a white eye and on the right side she had a purple eye.
“Your brother is waiting for you outside. He sent us here to help you find a way back,” Mana said.
“Really?” the spirit replied. She then hid behind the tree again, as if immediately regretting it. Peeking out ever so slightly she asked. “How do I know you’re not lying?”
Cobal was about to take a step forward again but then felt a hand on his shoulder. Mana stepped in front of him. “My name is Mana, I’m the new hero. Your brother recognized this, saying I smelled similar to the old hero, Might. That’s why he sent me and my friends here, to help you.”
The young spirit floated closer. “But I need my flute.”
“We can buy you a brand new flute after we leave this place.” Cobal offered.
She shook her head. “No, this is a special flute. This one allows me to use my magic. I can’t do anything without my magic.” She had a sullen look on her face, almost childlike. Somehow Cobal didn’t get the sense she was still a child though. “The flute allows me to use my spirit magic, no other instrument or tool can replace it.”
“Did you lose it before or after you came to this island?” Mana asked.
“I had it when I was sent to this place for sure,” fear filled her face for a moment, “when that scary man from the palace came and locked me in here,” she composed herself, “but after I woke up here it was suddenly gone. It contains old magic, no one can replace it.”
“Well I guess we better start looking for it then,” Cassandra said, immediately starting to rummage through the sand with her feet.
“Maybe we need some sort of a plan first,” Cobal offered.
“You think of that while I look for this thing.” Cassandra replied. She was already on hands and knees.
“From what I can see, this is some sort of enclosed space within a bubble. The question is if we can pass through the bubble, I’m assuming we can’t, and if the bubble continues below the surface, I’m assuming it does. Seeing as digging up the ground sounds like too much of a hassle for anyone to do, I suggest we closely inspect the sky and the surface first,” Cobal said.
Mana nodded. “Who does what then?”
Cobal looked at the small spirit who was curiously hovering near them. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Kimi’thania. I’m the spirit of music. Who are you?”
“I’m Cobal Blueyerd, third prince of the Blueyerd kingdom. This is the hero Lady Mana and that over there is Cassandra.” He looked at Cassandra who had somehow tripped while searching and was now half covered in sand.
“Are you sure my brother sent you to help and not to torment me instead?”
Mana chuckled. “He might have sent the wrong people, but he sent us with the best of intent.”
Cobal clapped his hands together. “I will search the water and try to swim to the edge of this space. I suggest Cassandra keeps digging through the upper layer of sand and exploring the surface of the island. Kimi’thania should fly up and look if there’s anything hidden in the sky or on the top of the bubble. I don’t think there will be, but it’s good to exclude places. Mana, you should investigate those gates. I assume that since the way to get here was by going through one of these gates, they might have a significance here as well.”
He looked at everyone, “is that a good plan?”
Cassandra was not paying attention at all, but this didn’t surprise Cobal. Mana nodded and Kimi’thania gave a hesitant nod as well.
Mana spoke to her as well. “It’s nice to meet you, Kimi’thania, I’ve never met a spirit before.”
Kimi’thania smiled. “You can call me Kimi, and I’ve never met a hero before either.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” Cobal said. They each started searching in different places, looking for a magical flute.